With the belated arrival of televised debates onto the General Election scene - half a century after they debuted in the USA, it's clear that presentation and communication skills will have an even greater influence on the eventual outcome as much as policy substance.
So I started to muse on how appealing the Protection industry might appear in an election, given the wealth of presentation and communication resources at our disposal.
All parties have long had a bedrock of support, based loosely around people tending to vote according to their wealth - rich voting Tory, poor voting Labour and so on. The protection industry has products for all socio-economic groups from small funeral expenses plans to large sums assured for inheritance planning so our natural voter base encompasses the vast majority of the country. A natural campaign asset to make any election strategist jealous.
In the age of the 24 hour news cycle, can we generate the human interest stories that will get us the all-important column inches and TV news snippets? It's a sad but true fact that individual tragedy sells papers. If you assume that many of claims we pay out involve some element of this, then clearly we have another asset - especially as our raison d'etre is to make tragedy more bearable through the products we provide. So what newspaper editor wouldn't leap at the series of bittersweet stories we could feed them. Surely a winner; so why don't we see more positive protection stories in the media?
What about our campaign promises? After all, we call ourselves the life protection industry but we don't actually protect lives in the sense of having supernatural powers to prevent accidents. All we do is protect our customers and their families from the financial impact of sickness and death - hugely beneficial but maybe our self description contains an element of over promise.
Would the electorate trust us? Well, we don't channel our profits into buying duck houses, or charge policyholders for the cost of cleaning our moats. We do get challenged on rejected claims - even though the payout ratios for he likes of critical illness have increased to around 90% across the industry. Despite this, it's still the 10% rejected claims that get highlighted, so maybe we need our very own campaign spin doctor to highlight our good news story.
OK, how about our track record? At a high level, the oft quoted ‘protection gap' hasn't shrunk, but that could have more to do with demographics than us being ineffectual. Maybe there's an element of shooting ourselves in the foot - a campaign ‘gaffe' if you like, by continually harping on about the ‘gap', rather than accentuating the positive in terms of the number of people we do cover.
We even have our very own ‘Nanny State' story to tell - remember how quickly pension term assurance was withdrawn once the Treasury realised how popular it was. Put another way we can legitimately find other parties to blame. But I think one thing this election is demonstrating is that consumers really want to hear what a party will do, rather than why another party is wrong.
So what do you reckon? Do you think our platform is robust enough to stand up to the rigours of a hectic election campaign or is there a missing piece of the jigsaw you think I've overlooked?
Do you think ‘Vote Insurance' is catchy enough to win a mandate - or just the name of another niche product designed to cover you for the five minutes you spend in a polling station every few years?
Furthermore, would you vote for the Insurance Party yourself based on this manifesto I've outlined here - or even campaign out in the wider world?
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