More women than men are aware of the limitations of state health and welfare support, but fewer actually fully engage with group protection benefits and services, according to research from Legal & General.
Describing the phenomenon as a ‘group protection benefits gender paradox’, 66 per cent of women and 63 per cent of men find group income protection (GIP), critical illness cover (CIC) and EAPs relevant to their health, wealth and happiness. But women are far less engaged, with only 56 per cent having engaged with these benefits, compared to 68 per cent of men.
L&G defines engaging with the policy as including reviewing and adjusting cover levels according to need, using embedded value services or making a claim.
Only 14 per cent of women with a CIC policy have ever tweaked or topped up their policy, compared to 24 per cent of men. Just 20 per cent of women have engaged with a GIP policy, compared to 38 per cent of men. Almost half of all women with an EAP – 49 per cent – have never used any of the benefits on offer and 24 per cent of women with GIP did not know if their policy came with free mental health and rehabilitation support, compared to 12 per cent of men.
A fifth – 22 per cent – of women with GIP do not consider it relevant to them or their family, compared to 26 per cent of men, as do 25 per cent of women with CIC and 35 per cent with an EAP. When asked why, in all instances, ‘I feel the state provides this kind of support’ was featured far down the list of priorities.
Key reasons for women citing GIP as irrelevant were ‘I don’t read all the company information – there’s just too much to take in’; ‘I’m never off sick so I don’t need it’; ‘I don’t understand the benefit’.
Top reasons for a lack of engagement with CIC were ‘My partner sorts out all the insurances we need’, suggesting that women are not always included in the decision-making process about a benefit that has relevance to both parties in a relationship.
Engagement with EAPs was low because ‘I’d be concerned my employer may get to know too much about my health or private life’; and ‘my employer doesn’t really communicate the existence or relevance of benefits’.
L&G’s research found that when the product is understood, its relevance and value is realised. Of those that have used GIP, a higher proportion of women – 27 per cent – than men – 17 per cent said this was because ‘in the current climate, I am concerned about the pressure on NHS services so I want to protect my health the best I can’. This response was the thing women value most about the policy, on an equal footing alongside: ‘Financial peace of mind’ and ‘Nice to know my employer cares’.
The top reason for women valuing CIC was ‘Nice to know my employer cares’, followed by ‘Protecting the family, not just me’, and ‘Valuable addition to my overall reward package’.
Sian Fisher, CEO of the Chartered Insurance Institute and co-founder of Insuring Women’s Futures says: “The insurance and personal finance profession must improve the way it engages with women, help them consider the immediate and longer-term financial implications of their life choices or change in circumstances and empower them to take action to improve their financial resilience.”
Legal & General distribution director, group protection Colin Fitzgerald says: “One of the key findings from our study is the disparity we have identified among the opinions and behaviours of women when it comes to their group protection policies. On the one hand, it’s reassuring to find that a high percentage of women understand the relevance of these benefits when it comes to self-provision due to the limitations of state health and welfare support. On the other hand, the data shows a disconnect when it comes to how well women actually understand and therefore engage with the products and services available, particularly when compared to men.
“This signals a real need to position and communicate these products to women in a way that will help to educate, empower and increase engagement.
“These findings present an opportunity for advisers to expand the breadth of their consulting to include – in partnership with insurers – helping employers discover how to communicate effectively and making use of the tools some providers have in place to help to do this.
“Segmented and customised benefits and wellbeing communications that are designed to cut through the ‘noise’ and connect with people are key, with a focus on storytelling and humanising benefits, as opposed to insurance-speak, which can often be peppered with jargon, in a one-off communication.”
The post Gender engagement gap in group protection identified appeared first on Corporate Adviser.