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Advisers wary of dabbling in online sales

Advisers say they are unsure how much of a business benefit it would be to be able to offer insurance online.

Tuesday, October 22nd 2013, 5:42PM 3 Comments

by Susan Edmunds

Fidelity Life has announced its products will be available via InsureYou. 

Chief executive Milton Jennings said the online market was the fastest-growing part of the insurance industry globally.

He said people who bought insurance from an adviser who offered InsureYou would get the benefit of online purchasing with personalised support when it was needed.

Applicants who meet underwriting criteria will receive documentation within eight minutes if they are accepted online.

Jennings said: “Advisers offering the InsureYou service can grow their business offering while providing clients with a new level of efficiency when considering insurance decisions.  Advisers can capture all clients’ insurance needs with just one click. Ultimately InsureYou combines the best of the online and adviser worlds and connects the two.”

But adviser Matt Phillips, of Top Half Financial Services, was unconvinced. “We have looked at it before, maybe we will again. We originally we decided not to proceed as it was Tower products only with no advice done entirely online.”

He said it would be hypocritical for advisers to criticise direct sales on one hand and then offer insurance sales with no advice on their own websites.

Sean Minhinnick, of Liberty Financial Solutions, said it was possible his firm might trial InsureYou for a year. 

“In one respect, it’s the way of the future, if you don’t have an online presence it can be a commercial impediment. But the people who trawl the internet looking for the cheapest price are not a natural fit for authorised financial advisers.”

Other insurance options online gave significant discounts for policyholders’ first year of premiums, he said. If the InsureYou options did not compete on price, and there was limited advice, he said he could not see what real value there was to offer the customer.  “We might need to consider whether we should be involved at all or whether we should just let that part of the market do what they want to do. Maybe later when their needs are more complex, they might need an advice, or maybe not. We need to accept we can’t help everyone.”

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Comments from our readers

On 23 October 2013 at 11:06 am Andrew said:
XPLAN offers its users a simple iFrame element that they can put on their public websites to allow full Insurance quotes (Life, Trauma, TPD and Income Protection) across ALL major life insurers with instant online quote results. A simple form is then used to trigger a referral for the Adviser with the clients info, needs analysis results (if completed), quote results, preferred insurer (if selected)and contact details. The online space is not just about "no advice" direct sales, it is being widely used as a tool to drive clients to full advice models.
On 24 October 2013 at 3:42 pm Johnny said:
Having been involved with an online operation, I can say the biggest issues are with the "off-line" interface, like paperwork signing, so paperless apps like this arrangement are a god-send.

Good on Sovereign for understanding this as well.

This will mean more people will get insured, and that can't be bad. And before you all climb in, I'm only talking about life insurance here.

That's the sprat to catch a mackeral, or the entree if you like, to a broader customer relationship to be had in the future.

On 20 November 2013 at 1:39 pm MJS said:
Johnny - that is so right. Fidelity (not Sovereign, sorry) has limited this to simple lump sum benefits which are easily measured/assessed. As the direct provider, I will be in touch with that new client as soon as practical, and will soon see if a full advice process is needed or wanted.

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