Advisers are the answer to closing Britain's £2.3trn protection gap in 2010, says Direct Life's head of new business Phil Jeynes.
Swiss Re, Friends Provident, and Aegon all released research last year highlighting a widening gulf between individuals' perception of how well they are covered and their actual low-level of protection.
As the industry enters the New Year with the same weak levels of consumer awareness of protection as it started 2009, only a proactive approach by advisers will improve the situation says Jeynes.
"The ball is in advisers' court with this. They are the ones dealing with customers face to face all the time. Protection is very rarely bought, it's sold," he says.
Following the funding failure last year of the consumer protection engagement initiative, headed up by LifeSearch's Tom Baigrie, the hunt is on for a replacement project going ahead.
But Jeynes says with government backing for an education programme which highlights the inadequacy of state cover unlikely, and divisions among the large insurers about how to manage a joint enterprise, advisers must rely on themselves to grow the market.
"If the whole of the market grows there is more for all, which is why we need to increase consumer awareness and thereby increase the market," he says.
He adds: "Providers could pool resources to expand the market but if they grow it the same way as now the current largest holders will just keep their bigger share. Growth through competition and innovation is much healthier."
Giving his predictions for 2010, Jeynes forecasts the protection industry will benefit from gradual improvements in the mortgage market, and expects more IFAs will look to protection as a source of commission and to avoid adviser charging.
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