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Challenges and opportunities

By Sarah Scott, marketing consultant

On 22 February this year the charity Diabetes UK launched a fundraising initiative, #Swim22. They challenged individuals to swim 22 miles over the course of 89 days – a distance that equates to the width of the English Channel.

Because of the time period the challenge is spread over, it might seem like this should be pretty easy. But when you think that this is 1,770 lengths of a 20m pool and that anyone taking part would have to swim an average of almost 20 lengths every day of the challenge, it becomes clear that it’s quite an undertaking.1

Being a particularly ungainly and inefficient swimmer, I’ve managed to find two volunteers from the office who were prepared to don their swimming goggles and rise to the challenge. We’re a few weeks into the challenge now and I’ve heard several (competitive) conversations about how many lengths they managed to swim last night/over the weekend and when they were next heading to the pool. Surely this kind of friendly competition has to be a good thing?

And while they’re busy trying to outdo each other, I’ve been trying to raise awareness of the disease across the company as well as some much needed funds for Diabetes UK.

Why diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in someone’s blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. It can have serious consequences if left untreated, with thousands of people in the UK suffering heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, amputation and blindness each week because of their diabetes.

In the UK around 700 people a day are diagnosed with diabetes. Since 1996, the number of individuals with diabetes has more than doubled, from 1.4 million to almost 3.5 million. What’s more, an estimated 1.1 million people with diabetes have not yet been diagnosed.2


Living with diabetes can be difficult and managing the condition can be stressful. As well as lifestyle changes to make, there are a lot of different aspects of the condition to manage and keep an eye on1. And partly as a result of all these medical complications, people with diabetes can struggle to find competitively priced insurance.

You may have experienced difficulties yourself when faced with clients suffering from the condition. It can be very difficult to find suitable protection with providers sometimes manipulating existing products, asking numerous and possibly intrusive underwriting questions to make the cover fit the customer.

The opportunity

Royal London is committed to growing the protection market and making protection more accessible and relevant to all types of customer, including those with chronic health conditions. That’s why we’re developing an innovative Diabetes Life Cover product. It will be a bespoke product, designed specifically for diabetes sufferers, offering competitive pricing without the heavy ratings normally seen in the market.

We’ve stripped away parts of the process, asking questions relevant to someone with diabetes to get a much more accurate picture of their condition. We've also shortened the application process, enabling them to go on risk within a very short time.

Once on risk, we’ll also be able to offer specialist support. Customers will have access to our Helping Hand service from the day their plan starts. This will give them advice, support, diet tips and even access to specialist diabetes nurses. We hope this will prove particularly valuable for people who feel they could use a little extra help in managing and understanding their condition.

Offering cover for individuals with chronic health conditions is an area not only where we see room for improvement in the market but also where you could potentially find opportunities to grow your protection business.

Phase one of the product launch will start soon with a small group of advisers; we’ll then roll out to the rest of the market as the year progresses. You’ll soon be able to offer cover specifically tailored to diabetes customers you may have previously had to turn away.

If you’d like to sponsor Laura and David to raise funds for Diabetes UK, you can do so here

Sources: 1 –, March 2017;  2 –, Facts and Stats, October 2016



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