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The many forms of financial resilience and how insurers can help

Russell Higginbotham, Head of Life & Health Products at Swiss Re, and Chairman of the ABI’s Protection Committee.This week's ABI event focused on how income protection can improve lives, and it was encouraging to see so many gathered for this important and constructive conversation.  This time, we focused on how we as insurers and reinsurers can help the Government deliver on its ambition to support more people with disabilities and help those with long-term health conditions stay at work longer.  The end goal for everyone is to strengthen the financial resilience of the wider population.

What, exactly, does it take to make someone more resilient?  The dictionary says resilience is "toughness", but we all know it takes more than being tough to survive – and thrive – after a debilitating injury or long-term illness.  Rather I believe true resilience comes across several stages from awareness of the need, to doing something about it (buying protection), to managing the risk (which in this case means taking care of your health) to being able to bounce back if something happens.  This could mean a financial payout, but it could also mean help and support with rehabilitation as part of that claim experience.

We, as insurers and reinsurers, can help at each of these critical turning points on the path to true resilience and security despite the unexpected twists of life.

We know consumers need this protection.  We know the full protective value of what we can offer.  But simply telling consumers this isn't enough.  We have to really understand consumer needs and reach them where they are receptive and ready to listen in conversations we've not considered before.

In the case of disability – the best risk management means managing your health.  We can help here too, and the opportunities are multiplying just as quickly as new technology is entering the market.  Take the diabetic population as one example – with the right monitoring and policyholder engagement we believe we can help diabetics improve their risk profile – to the point where they could actually be a better risk than someone who pays little attention to their own health.

If we continue to work harder at understanding consumer needs and tap into the new opportunities of our digital world then our products can build off that consumer awareness and benefit from stronger consumer appeal.  And once we've helped to put protection in place, we can also be there to pay a claim…and beyond as we find new potential to help with rehabilitation and return to work.  We, as insurers, can be uniquely positioned at the intersection of the consumer, the employer and the health and wellness providers – to help an individual "come back to life"  from cancer treatment, disease, surgery or other trauma to return to work and return to the life that is, in a word….resilient.

Russell Higginbotham, Head of Life & Health Products at Swiss Re, and Chairman of the ABI’s Protection Committee.

Last updated 29/03/2017