60 Seconds With…James Watson

James Watson, sales director, Paymentshield

Has the Payment Protection Insurance mis-selling scandal damaged the insurance industry?

It has certainly caused an uproar but it’s difficult to quantify the impact it will have. The market offers some well regarded products such as income insurance that are different from those involved in the scandal.

Why is the protection gap in the UK so huge at £2.3 trillion?

The volatile marketplace has shown us that nothing is ever secure but sadly there is still a naivety among consumers when it comes to protection. They are naturally confident and never think they will be in a tricky situation but they would regret not having the appropriate insurance in place if the worst happened.

Do welfare cuts present an opportunity for insurance firms?

Hopefully they will make people think twice about relying on government benefits and start thinking about putting a safety net in place. It gives intermediaries a better opportunity to explain the benefits of insurance products.

Why are more insurers underwriting at the point-of-sale?

In the past it has been up to consumers to volunteer information but parliament is debating an insurance bill to improve transparency and service. Under it, insurers must ask consumers specific details to assess risk before the sale goes through. The onus will be on brokers to ensure policy details are understood by consumers. It should ease claim disputes and reduce costs.

Who is the best person you have ever worked with?

I did a science degree and worked with Dave Leader, who was the maddest of mad professors. He made me realise a career in science was not for me.

What three items would you take to a desert island and why?

A sunbed, swimming shorts and a crate of beer. You may as well enjoy yourself as you could get rescued one day.

Do you have any secret talents?

I’m an accomplished tightrope walker.

Who would you most like to play you in the movie of your life and why?

Me. So much in my life has seemed to pass in an instant and it would be good to relive the experiences I have had.

What book are you reading?

The Accidental Salesman by Chris Lytle.