Is the ‘illness race' on critical illness policies about to start up again? I hope not, because recently some additions to critical illness products seem to have been borne entirely out of the desire to find something to add to the list to create a perceived advantage over other companies' consultants rather than introduce something that has genuine customer value.
Surely creating good customer propositions must mean more than just going to a medical dictionary and finding some obscure new illness to add to your product?
I thought I would try to play this game for a while to see what I could come up with. I googled “the rarest serious illness”.
The first thing in the list that Google returned to me was called Multifaceted Rudraksha. What a fantastic name for an illness, I thought. Not only does it have a fantastic name, it also doesn’t sound very pleasant does it? Imagine sitting in a consultant’s office and being told that you have Multifaceted Rudraksha.
The actual fact is that you wouldn’t be sitting in a consultant’s office being told that you have Multifaceted Rudraksha, because further investigation on the internet revealed that it isn’t an illness at all. In fact, Multifaceted Rudraksha are Nepalese healing beads, which are part of a holistic treatment for serious illnesses – hence why it appeared in a Google search.
Joking aside, I don’t believe it’s against the realms of possibility that if such a term were included in a policy, advisers and clients would assume – like I initially did –that it was indeed an illness and the company including it did indeed have a competitive advantage over those that did not.
It feels a little like all those adverts for shampoo and conditioner that include such interesting ingredients as Multi-ceramide X Factor 4. No one has any idea what these ingredients are but they are used to create competitive advantage – and softer, shinier hair, obviously.
While critical illness cover and shampoo are completely different products I am slightly concerned as we approach the 30 April deadline for the implementation of the new ABI standard critical illness definitions that we could see similar tactics being employed to create perceived commercial advantage.
I am not against innovation, far from it; I sincerely wish that market conditions were such that we could develop totally new product concepts and promote them through all channels. But what I do not like is nit-pick marketing, which ultimately does not benefit the consumer, but does give sales consultants an extra tick in another box. Does it not perpetuate the view that many consumers have that insurance policies are all about tricky small print?
Over the next couple of months we’re bound to see many press releases, company guides to critical illness definitions and sales aids showing how one company has a bigger list of conditions than the others. Sales consultants will be eagerly try to make appointments to explain how their offering has the advantage.
Within this melee of activity I hope that we all remember that the vast majority of our customers don’t know a Myocardial Infarction from a Multifaceted Rudraksha, and that we shouldn’t use things that the majority of our customers don’t understand as the main means of differentiating our products.
Focus on a core dependable list of conditions, value for money (as opposed to cheapest price) clarity and lack of small print and the availability of non-financial extra benefits which is all much more consumer focused than illnesses that sound like shampoo ingredients.
But if you’re at all intrigued about Multifaceted Rudraksha visit http://rudrakshanepal.com/.
Roger Edwards is products director at Bright Grey.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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