CII calls for action as SMEs worry over policy exclusions

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The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has revealed actions insurers can take to restore trust in the insurance profession as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) become increasingly concerned about policy exclusions.

While the UK was in lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19 in April, CII’s Public Trust Index surveyed 1,000 consumers and 1,000 small businesses from across the UK, and asked them to share whether the insurance profession was performing as they expected.

The poll showed SMEs that had experienced little financial impact due to Covid-19 restrictions were still focused on the same issues as before lockdown—most importantly, renewal pricing.

SMEs that had been somewhat affected by Covid-19 were concerned about how the policy had been explained to them—levels of transparency and the quality of advice they have been given.

Significantly affected businesses reported they wanted immediate assistance around their claim and to know that the policy was going to address their needs.

The worst affected SMEs reported concerns about the transparency of their policy, stating they wanted more “clarity of language” so they knew how and when they could make their claim.

CII has urged the profession to take a three-pronged approach to building trust in light of the latest trust index findings.

The insurance profession must find better ways to address the issue of renewal pricing. CII pointed to initiatives such as the Guiding Principles and Action Points for General Insurance Pricing, which have resulted in a gradual improvement in SMEs’ perception of how insurers reward loyalty.

But renewal pricing is still SMEs’ biggest concern and they want more reassurance about the specific measures insurers take to ensure existing clients are treated fairly compared with new clients.

CII also recommends that the insurance profession improve advice processes (and non-advised buying processes) to ensure clients understand both the insurable and non-insurable risks that they face, and what they can do about each one.

Finally, CII believes the insurance profession should reach negotiated claims settlements wherever possible.

There is still scope for firms to reach agreements with clients about the level of assistance they can give. Assistance given at an early stage will build more trust than compensation given at a later date, according to CII.

Dr Matthew Connell, director of policy and public affairs for CII, said: “Firms that are affected by coronavirus are becoming more concerned about exclusions in their own policies, especially around liability and property insurance.”

“If we, as a profession, don’t rise to the challenge of improving understanding among SMEs, we risk moving into a ‘forced trust’ position where they no longer trust that the policy will protect them adequately but continue to rely on it because of a lack of other alternatives.”

“SMEs understand the value of insurance, but they want a better conversation about how to manage risks. The way in which insurers manage the effects of the coronavirus is going to have a lasting impact on trust in the profession, especially for SMEs, who have a higher level of dependency on their protection during significant business interruption.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk