Liz Booth speaks to two Public Trust Award winners about building trust in the profession
Building public trust is a journey, not a destination, according to two of the CII’s Public Trust Award winners.
Independent consultant Johnny Timpson and Claire-Talbot-Jones, business development director at Chartered broker Talbot Jones, agree that much more work is needed to develop and maintain public trust in insurance as a profession.
However, both also believe that a lot of good work has been done and great strides have been made in maintaining the sector’s public image.
Level of trust
Mr Timpson, who won the Building Public Trust Consumer Champion Award for his consistent commitment to educating consumers about insurance and financial planning matters, says: “We have a base level of trust in insurance. That is clearly evidenced by the numbers of people who buy non-compulsory insurance cover.
They simply would not do that if they didn’t have trust in the system.”
However, he says it is slightly depressing to think that the recent Financial Conduct Authority consultation on a new duty of care to consumers was needed.
“Treating customers fairly was introduced 15 years ago and yet the industry has not come out of the recent Covid-19 crisis as well as we should have done,” he says.
Ms Talbot-Jones, who scooped the Building Public Trust in Insurance Award for her support of Newcastle-based Millin Charity, which helps women become self-employed and achieve financial freedom, admitted there were good and bad outcomes from the pandemic.
“We work with some excellent insurers who are trustworthy and who did not shirk their responsibilities. The pandemic did cost insurers some damage to their reputation but there were also insurers who went beyond expectations. The key for me is that, as brokers, we encourage our clients to look beyond the price and at insurers that do take their responsibilities seriously,” she says.
Making a difference
Ms Talbot-Jones was delighted to have won the award “because we are such a small company and I am delighted that the CII has recognised that smaller entities can make a difference”.
She says the firm has a strong ethical approach, which involves recruiting the right people and also encouraging best practice throughout. “It really pays to have integrity,” she says, “and not to look merely for short term gains.”
Mr Timpson adds that it is crucial insurers continue to work with multiple agencies to improve access to insurance for all and to take particular care of vulnerable groups. He calls for greater clarity on the principles of insurance but also on each cover sold.
He says the pandemic should have taught the profession that clarity of wordings, but also understanding of what the implications of those wordings are, is paramount in building consumer confidence and trust.
That has been eroded over the years by events such as endowment mis-selling, protection payment insurance mis-selling and most recently by the business interruption insurance court case.
Driving up standards
However, says Mr Timpson, every individual in the profession can make a small difference and help drive professional standards upwards.
“There is no silver bullet in all of this,” he says. “It requires significant engagement between insurers, the third sector, government and institutions. If anything, the pandemic and now this consultation on the duty of care give the industry an opportunity to review the end-to-end approach towards engagement with consumers, the way to improve financial awareness and capability of consumers, to provide solutions and have a relationship with them. It is a lifetime journey.”
As Dr Matthew Connell, director of policy and public affairs at the CII, concludes: “When people buy insurance they are buying a promise. That is why we have to address the needs of all consumers as creatively and resourcefully as we possibly can – to build the trust that makes our promises resonate with the public.”
Liz Booth is contributing editor of The Journal
Image credit | Ikon
The 2021 winners
The winners were announced at a virtual ceremony, led by CII president, Julie Page.
The Building Public Trust Consumer Champion Award was won by Johnny Timpson for his consistent commitment to educating consumers about insurance and financial planning matters.
The Consumer Inclusivity Initiative Award went to St James’s Place Wealth Management for their inclusive ‘whole customer’ approach, which encourages consumers to consider how life events can impact their financial resilience.
The Building Public Trust in Life, Pensions and Long-term Savings Award was won by Kevin Carr, chief executive of Protection Review, for action he has taken that resulted in increased trust in the profession.
The Building Public Trust in Insurance Award was given to Claire Talbot-Jones, who has supported Newcastle-based Millin Charity, which helps women become self-employed and achieve financial freedom.
The Building Public Trust Consumer Marketing and Awareness Award was given to Dubai-based Oman Insurance Company for its PR and marketing activity that has “educated and encouraged consumers to take action to improve their financial resilience”.
The Talent Attraction Initiative of the Year Award went to the African-Caribbean Insurance Network for its work attracting fresh talent to the profession and retaining skilled people.
Honorary Fellowships were awarded to Dr Wang He, previously vice-president of People’s Insurance Company China, for his contribution to insurance scheme projects plus educational support to students; and Jane Portas for her involvement in the Insuring Women’s Futures initiative.
President’s Awards were presented to Callum Beaton and Grant Scott, for their significant contribution to the work of the CII for many years.