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The ABI teams up with Plain Numbers to help people who struggle understanding numbers

  • Independent research shows that 40% of people are not confident using numbers in their everyday lives, with 1 in 5 adults saying that they would avoid applying for a job if it involved frequent use of numbers.
  • The initiative with Plain Numbers is part of a wider drive by the insurance and long-term savings sector to strengthen customer trust and experience, including setting up a Consumer Advisory Group.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), together with some leading insurance and long-term savings firms, have joined forces with Plain Numbers, to help people who struggle with numeracy to better understand customer communications. Plain Numbers works with firms to help their staff present and explain numbers as clearly and simply as possible to help improve customer understanding. 

Plain Numbers’ other advisory partners include The Bank of England and HM Treasury.   

Today’s announcement is part of a wider drive by the insurance and long-term savings sector to put consumers at the heart of the ABI’s work and improve consumers’ experience of dealing with the industry. 

The link up with Plain Numbers comes as ABI-commissioned independent research1 highlights that: 

  • 40% of people do not feel confident in using numbers in their everyday lives.
  • One-in-five people say they would avoid jobs that involve frequent use of numbers.
  • 37% say that easier access to online numeracy tools would help; 30% would like more number practice and 25% say that clearer explanations would increase their confidence in dealing with numbers
  • 71% cite better explanations of numbers used in insurance and long-term savings documents as helping to improve their interaction with the sector.   

Plain numbersThe ABI is raising awareness among its insurance and long-term savings members of how they can work with Plain Numbers to help communicate use of numbers and their context to customers as clearly and as simply as possible. 

Firms that have signed up so far are Aviva, Bupa, Direct Line Group, Royal London, RSA and Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group. 

Barry O’Dwyer, ABI President and Royal London Group CEO said

Barry O'Dwyer“The insurance and long-term savings sector is committed to being as clear and straightforward with customers as possible. Numbers and their context are a big part of this. This partnership with Plain Numbers is a significant step forward in helping customers have greater confidence when dealing with financial products, and I would urge insurance and long-term savings firms to join the initiative.” 

Dr Yvonne Braun, the ABI’s Director of Policy, Long-Term Savings and Protection, said: 

Yvonne Braun Lack of confidence with numbers can make it very difficult for people to navigate their finances such as mortgages, insurance, retirement planning and, more generally, their household budgets. If our sector makes it much easier for people to understand numbers and their context, people’s financial resilience will grow.”  


Mike Ellicock & Alison Plant, founders of Plain Numbers, said:   

At Plain Numbers we are absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with the ABI and firms in the insurance and long-term savings sector. We see this partnership as a huge step forward in making sure that more people can understand the numbers that come with insurance. Together, we will help people make informed decisions and generate better consumer outcomes.”  

Cov19 support strap.pngTo underline the industry’s commitment to building numeracy confidence, today also sees a donation of £55,000 from sector wide charitable initiative, the Covid-19 Support Fund, to The Financial Times’ new charity, ‘The Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign’ (FLIC) which aims to improve financial literacy, where it is most needed. The donation will support FLIC’s innovative ‘Making Money Work’ course aimed at helping those working in the hospitality sector, which was especially badly affected by the pandemic, to develop the basic building blocks to manage their money. The Covid-19 Support Fund was established by the insurance and long-term savings industry in May 2020 to help support some of the people hardest hit by the pandemic, and to date has raised over £100m for charities around the UK, benefitting over half a million people. 

Today’s partnership with Plain Numbers and the creation of a new Consumer Advisory Group is part of a step change in how the ABI works with its members to improve its understanding of the issues consumers experience with insurance and long-term savings. Building on the extensive insight the industry already holds, this will also include new in-depth research to listen to the views of consumers. It follows the setting up of the ABI’s new Consumer Committee last year. This Committee is chaired by the ABI’s independent Chair, Baroness Nicky Morgan, and includes independent Non-Executive Director, Baroness Dianne Hayter, as well as CEOs from across the industry. 

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Notes for Editors  

Enquiries to:   

Malcolm Tarling                      020 7216 7410        Mobile: 07776 147667  

Sarah Aspinall                        020 7216 7412         Mobile: 07725 245297    

Helen Mitchell                  020 7216 7411         Mobile: 07834 328512 

Laura Dawson                        020 7216 7338         Mobile: 07725 245838   

Myles Langstone             020 7216 7335        Mobile: 07834 626206 

For more information about Plain Numbers: https://plainnumbers.org.uk/ 

1. Yonder surveyed a representative sample of 2,000 adults in the UK. The survey was conducted online between 7 and 8 January 2022.

The Association of British Insurers is the voice of the UK’s world leading insurance and long-term savings industry.  A productive, inclusive and thriving sector, we are an industry that provides peace of mind to households and businesses across the UK and powers the growth of local and regional economies by enabling trade, risk taking, investment and innovation.   

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Last updated 22/02/2022