With consumer debt at record levels, most mortgage borrowers should consider some form of financial protection. Indeed, our sub-prime cover feature starting on page 39 this week looks at some of the problems borrowers who fall into financial difficulty can face.But the product specifically designed to protect borrowers from financial hardship, payment protection insurance, is now the subject of hostile media coverage and consumer watchdog criticism for being over-priced, poor value, opaque and of marginal benefit. One major problem is that brokers, who place some 60% to 70% of new mortgage business, are only responsible for 25% of all MPPI sales at most – even though they have access to better products than lenders in terms of pricing and cover. If MPPI should underpin your clients’ financial health, market penetration is woefully low and mortgage brokers’ contribution is much less than it should be. Perhaps the sales process is not cost-effective and too time consuming, or there is widespread concern about the products’ negative image. Or maybe it’s easier to pass, in favour of lenders’ inhouse products. But if those products are inferior to those available on the open market, how does that figure when it comes to general insurance regulations and best advice? There is concern among brokers that they operate in a best advice minefield, being far more exposed to mis-selling claims than banks and white label operations that enjoy information- only status and a less intrusive regulatory regime. Such concerns may be mere perceptions but there is real substance to the charge that when it comes to selling MPPI, it is not a level playing field. This, no doubt, is a significant factor in mortgage intermediaries’ seeming reluctance to sell the product. As an intermediary you should at least make your clients aware of the problems they could face without protection.