It's time for advisers to lead
Russell Hutchinson says we know Kiwis are under-insured and it's now time for advisers to help fix this problem.
Monday, April 23rd 2012, 8:43AM 1 Comment
There is plenty of good evidence that there is an underinsurance problem in New Zealand. At the macro-economic scale there is the share of GDP spent on insurance. At the micro-economic scale there is the number of people without any cover, and the amount spent per household on cover.
In amongst all that there seems to be precious little discussion of how to tackle the problem. You need to prepare yourself to talk about this issue with your industry associations and insurers.
There is already a risk that the solutions will not involve advisers: recently the Financial Services Council (formerly the ISI) announced some consumer research to look at barriers to purchase - but this doesn't involve advisers, yet.
But advisers must be part of the solution. In markets that sell lots more insurance than New Zealand, advisers form a large and valuable channel.
Employers do too, and superannuation schemes, and direct, but always advisers form the largest share.
One problem with asking why people haven't done something prudent and relatively easy for their own financial wellbeing is that they rarely give completely honest answers.
They give a socially acceptable rationalisation for their failing.
Try with friends a range of questions such as "why aren't you fitter/happier/slimmer/better prepared for retirement?"
The honesty you get back will be roughly proportional to the strength of your friendship. I can admit to a good mate that I just can't shift my lazy arse off the couch but to an anonymous researcher I'll probably say that it's all just too complicated. The challenge for insurance advisers is that from there it's only a short step for a client to then say "why doesn't the government do something for me?" So get involved.
A couple of weeks ago I suggested a new social norm - trying to get people to see that a baseline level of life, trauma, and income protection is needed.
That's a step we can take to try and shift an ingrained consumer attitude.
We can also ask more people to buy insurance.
Advisers should be leading the debate on ways to tackle underinsurance - or you might not like the solutions.
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