How we protect you while you protect your family
17 Sep 2021
As titles go this is longwinded, dry … coincidentally, adjectives that are regularly thrown at financial services, particularly when it comes to detail, small print, and compliance.
Speak about protection with a LifeSearch adviser and you’ll hear pre-prepared messages and legal statements. The conversation might be heavy on detail. Some questions may feel like they come from left field or dwell for yonks on a throwaway comment made six minutes prior.
You’ll certainly hear that calls are monitored for quality and training purposes.
This level of detail - it’s a good thing. It’s how we protect you while you protect your family.
Calls are recorded for quality and training purposes
Anyone who’s ever used a telephone knows this phrase but not, perhaps, the work that goes on in its name; at LifeSearch anyway.
Dozens of ‘Searchers in several teams work underneath these words in our Best Practice, Compliance and Development departments. These teams uphold the quality of our service to ensure customers get good outcomes, and hear all the information they need to hear. Where mistakes are made (we’re all human) they tie off loose ends in individual cases and feed into LifeSearch training so our service can perpetually improve.
John Rogers works on the LifeSearch Best Practice team. He and colleagues are a safety net to ensure LifeSearch advisers go into the right depth of detail, leaving no stone unturned to reveal and comprehensively understand the customer’s circumstances.
“We check all advisers’ work to see that nothing gets missed and every opportunity to identify need is taken,” says John. “In some cases, we’ll call the customer back, after our review, to inform them of an additional protection product that speaks to their circumstances.
“Even if we’re 90% sure the customer won’t take the product, our role as advisers is to make them aware it exists and explain what it does. It’s not for us to assume anything, it’s for us to check applications and ensure advice was 100% properly delivered in the name of proper protection.”
What’s proper protection?
If LifeSearch were an insurer, we’d have loyalty to our own products and, give or take, one question roadmap. As an independent intermediary, our priority is to give the customer a wider view - not just an isolated product or policy. Our priority is protecting families properly.
Proper protection is exploring in depth the customer’s current circumstances, income, benefits, family set-up, financial obligations, health, and lifestyle and relating all the above to products and policies that exist across the UK protection market.
And that’s a lot of providers all across the market. It’s insurers big and small, general and specialist, multinational and regional. It’s products you know and others you don’t. It’s insurers you’ve heard of and others you haven’t.
Such broad product and policy possibilities requires detail and questions. We need all the relevant info so we can accurately match customers with protection that tightly and accurately fits their needs. AKA, it’s proper protection.
It’s why we drill deep into certain subjects: we know what insurers offer, and we know the info they need to give a yes. We also know that being so thorough will save time and stress when it matters.
Do we really need all that small print?
When advisers read preprepared statements, they’re laying the legal framework of a financial contract that could last for decades. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires companies like ours to be compliant, accountable and focused on the best thing for the customer, as LifeSearch Head of Compliance Maddy Gunn explains.
“It’s all there for consumer protection,” says Maddy. “FCA regulations are built on what has gone wrong, or what can go wrong, so they’re there to safeguard customers making big financial decisions about their future. Remember that insurance policies come into play when people are vulnerable, or have health conditions, or have suffered trauma, or are in a life changing situation. At that time, they need the policy to pay out – without hiccups – to the precise terms both parties understood and agreed to.”
Protection products are designed to do a job later. If a customer or their family claim on a policy, it means something bad has just happened. At this time, disputes can arise and claims can be questioned, so producing a permanent record of the customer’s answers, circumstances, choices and intentions, and the agreement as all parties understood it, is key to finding solutions.
“I know of a gentleman who set his policy up on a non-smoker basis,” says Maddy. “He told his insurer, the same white lie he told his wife, yet he’d been a heavy smoker for years. He sadly died and, as part of his claim, a doctor’s report showed his true smoker status.”
“The insurer didn’t pay the claim to his family, as was their right to do in those circumstances. But just imagine being sure your mortgage would be taken care of if your partner died … and then having your future completely jeopardised.”
It’s how we protect you …
Our Best Practice and Compliance frameworks are there to ensure poor outcomes are avoided, and where any mistakes made are caught as quickly as possible so the customer can be put back into the correct situation - the one they should’ve been in.
Advisers communicate key information in such a way that certain topics come back to the table so any relevant corrections can be made. The conversation is shaped to ensure customer and adviser proceed with 100% truth and clarity for both parties
If an agreement’s foundations are flawed, we risk it running for 20-plus years and failing to do what we all want it to do: pay out and help loved ones through dark times.
At best that means delays. At worst we’re talking non-payment: families not getting the funds they were counting on and being left in dire straits.
So this is how we protect you while you protect your family. A little long, maybe a bit dry … but we don’t apologise for it.
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