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Comment: It’s about more than helping to buy

The changes to Support for Mortgage Interest are now with us, meaning homeowners are even more at risk if they are unable to keep up their mortgage payments.

Helping clients buy their dream homes is a rewarding occupation, but it shouldn’t end there; helping them and their families stay in that home should illness or early death strike is a key part of the advice process. State benefits have never been generous, but this latest element of welfare reform has made discussing the need for protection all the more important.

Making clients aware of the risks of illness and death is of course not easy. Consumers are typically optimists at heart, but whilst people don’t like to consider what will happen when the worse happens, it’s important they do so they can make an informed choice about the risks and options available.

Fortunately, protection solutions have become more consumer friendly in recent years and insurers have not only sought to improve coverage, but many have introduced added benefits to make buying cover more appealing.

Advisers and clients must of course focus on the core purpose of the product which is to provide a financial safety net should illness or death occur. But the added benefits that many insurers such as British Friendly, Vitality, LV= and Canada Life now offer certainly help to make cover feel better value for money. Cheap gym membership, virtual GP services, retail discounts, cinema tickets, health and legal helplines have all helped to make protection solutions more attractive. Policyholders can make use of their cover without the worst having to happen meaning they are more likely to keep it in place. Good news for both consumers and advisers.

It’s not just added benefits that have helped advisers get clients to understand the benefits of cover. Protecting the mortgage is one aspect of protection advice, there is also personal and family protection to discuss too and for clients with families, the trend to increase coverage for children within critical illness plans has proved particularly useful. Aviva, Legal & General and Royal London all offer enhanced child cover options, giving parents both peace of mind and reason to buy.

The mortgage process is long and cumbersome, so it’s understandable advisers may feel a discussion about Protection might seem a step too far. However, now there are more hooks to entice customers into discussing Protection, it’s worth another look.

Emma Thompson is head of customer care at LifeSearch

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