We all want to feel we have the best deal available and we’re not being treated differently to other customers. Consumer reports suggest this isn’t always the case when purchasing essential services, such as insurance – particularly when a customer is considered “vulnerable”.
Here is how the insurance industry is addressing the issue, as well as some advice on being treated fairly.
What is a vulnerable customer?
Each regulatory body has their own definition of an ‘at risk’ customer, but the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) describes a vulnerable consumer as someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care. This could be based on any relevant demographics including mental or physical capabilities, age or language barriers.
With a National Audit Office report suggesting that vulnerable customers are being charged more than they should be for services such as energy, water, insurance and telecoms, it is important that companies adapt to work with customers, and not against them.
The insurance industry is taking these reports seriously.
The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is proactively giving guidance on how to support potentially vulnerable customers. The information is designed to help avoid issues such as unnecessarily delaying the payment of claims because internal processes do not accommodate customer needs.
Some of the customer frustrations our team of specialist insurance brokers at All Med Pro Insurance try to address include:
Suitability and accessibility of products – Three million disabled people are thought to have been denied insurance or charged more based on their physical capabilities – a broker can quickly identify relevant policies.
Higher pricing – Explanation of pricing should be transparent rather than impersonal – something which you get from building a relationship with a broker.
Rigid purchasing journey – Purchasing online is not always able to take into account different circumstances. A broker can take the time to get to know a vulnerable customer properly.
Confusing policy information – Some customers may need additional support to understand what is included in their insurance cover, which a broker can talk them through.
Issues making a claim – Lack of training, rigid processes and poor communication could all contribute to a negative claims process. We aim to work with all customers to make any claim as stress-free as possible.
How can the insurance industry work with vulnerable customers?
The insurance industry is changing. Some of the CII’s guidance which is being implemented across the insurance industry includes:
- Sensitive recording of vulnerabilities on customer profiles and regular reviews of it’s relevance
- Pointing customers in the direction of more suitable insurance services if a company does not feel that they can provide adequate assistance
- Training of insurance staff to be able to sensitively deal with vulnerable customers
- Updating internal processes to provide suitable support to customers to ensure they receive the service promised to them.
Make sure you work with the right people
With insurance, it is essential for consumers who may be at risk of a negative service due to their circumstances, to get the information or level of support they need.
Insurance brokers should be able to help you through all of this by explaining all the technical jargon, highlighting what is covered in each policy and asking the right questions to get the best price and insurance coverage for you.
This kind of support is not usually accessible when buying insurance online or through comparison websites.
Insurance in itself is meant to protect people against risk, and in particular financial shock.
Vulnerable consumers should have the same access to this protection as anybody else.
At All Med Pro we follow industry standard practices and guidance to ensure all of our customers are treated fairly and given the support they need.