Individual protection sales hit 2,088,214, a 5.9% increase from 2017 and the highest level since 2004, according to Swiss Re.
Swiss Re’s Term & Health Watch 2019, in conjunction with iPipeline, also reported term sales overall growing by 5.5% year-on-year, term sales without critical illness (CI) increasing by 7.3% to just over a million (1,088,457). Terms with CI increased 1.7% to reach 484,236. However, standalone critical illness policies dropped by 1.4%
New term sales with a CI benefit accounted for 30.8% of total new term sales.
Furthermore, income protection policies increased by 22.6% and 58% of those were written with benefits paid to a selected retirement age.
Fully-underwritten whole life policies increased by 8% and guaranteed acceptance whole life policies, by 2%.
Maxine Udall, marketing and research manager at Swiss Re, as well as author of the report, said: “Despite ongoing political uncertainty and consumer caution, the individual protection market has performed well. Uncertain times can perhaps prompt discussions about personal financial security. The directly-authorised sales channel has continued to do well. With the number of first time buyers and remortgages up in 2018, there were good opportunities to discuss protection needs.”
Dave Merrick, head of life insurance at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “It’s encouraging to see an increase in people putting provisions in place to protect their families. No-one likes think about leaving their loved ones behind, but a life insurance policy could offer the help they need at a very difficult time.
Swiss Re also split the protection sales by gender. Of level terms without critical illness, males accounted for 51.5% of new policies (316,899) while females took on 48.9% (303,764).
Level term with critical illness saw 117,118 policies by males and 110,771 for females with 51.4% and 48.6% of the total respectively.
The divide increases when it comes to new income protection sales with males having 62% of the policies (54,522) and females garnering the remaining 38% (33,481).
Chloe Gilbert, clients project manager, Swiss Re, and co-author of the report added: “While there are more women buying income protection cover than in the past, the data and equivalent data for employer-sponsored policies show that women are still under-represented in terms of coverage. There is scope to do much more. Some people may prefer talking to a woman, yet the majority of advisers are male. More female advisers may be one of the keys to unlock the potential here.”
Udall continued: “It is great to see that income protection sales increased for the fifth consecutive year. At a time when people are working later in life, it is good that the majority of these new purchases have benefits potentially paid through to retirement.”
“There is always much more to be done and continuing industry engagement with Government is essential to create the environment in which those who make provision, for example to meet their rental costs or to top up their workplace benefits, are always better off than those who don’t. But it’s not just a product issue. If we are to continue to grow the market, more of the collaboration seen in 2018 is needed – and a few more good news stories along the way will help too.”