The gender agenda – don’t let the politics get in the way of the core messaging

Everyone is in a spin about the gender legislation, and rightly so. There are fears of higher prices, possibly for both sexes. There is all round consumer confusion. Most people are worried about their car insurance premiums – particularly women who are less accident prone, and certainly less prone to having the sort of accident that writes off the car.

From the industry point of view everyone involved, particularly those firms that sell and advise on the really important things like protection and annuities need to consider if the core messages have changed. For example, just because it may become more expensive for a woman to buy life insurance, but perhaps less expensive for her to buy income protection, and more expensive for a man to buy a lifetime annuity, do the fundamentals change from 2012 onwards?

Is the rationale for buying this sort of product, or indeed for selling or advising on this product, going to be different? For example will the reason(s) for protecting your income change because it’s become a bit more expensive? With critical illness survival rates continually on the rise is there less or more reason to buy cover?

That is not saying the change is good news or the right thing to do. The ruling from the European Court of Justice has confused ‘discrimination’ with ‘differentiation’ between the sexes based on properly researched statistics. It will certainly not be much fun explaining to someone that this product costs a bit more because politicians and judges decided that is the way things must be.

Like any time driven piece of legislation no doubt marketing departments all over the UK will be consulting their agencies on how best to respond.

However one thing is clear to us – the need for protection and a proper pension provision has not changed. The UK is still underinsured and under-provided for the future. Core messages must still establish the need and then take consumers through the journey of conversion. The winners will be those who frame the gender agenda in the smartest way.

Of course, you may think differently. In which case we’d welcome the debate.

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