July 26, 2021

Thanks to our guest blogger Sophia Kleanthous, Campaigns Advisor, Policy and Public Affairs, Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), for this commentary about the role for insurance in later life resilience. Here, she talks about the important work of the CII’s Insuring Futures Programme.

In addition to her role at the CII, Sophia Kleanthous is a Trustee at ALLFIE, the Alliance for Inclusive Education and founder of Ableism and Me, a global campaign to combat and raise awareness of everyday ableism and fight for disability rights worldwide. 

The insurance sector has a key role to play in supporting later life resilience. Although people often associate the sector with product-based solutions such as long-term care or critical illness insurance, professionals working in insurance have an even more important role to play in starting conversations about later life.

The Chartered Insurance Institute is the professional body for the sector which is focused on building trust with both insurers and the public. A key part of this is the Insuring Futures Programme which encourages the insurance sector to support protected groups and issues around inclusion.

The first stage was the Insuring Women’s Future’s Programme: a volunteer programme co-founded by a small group of women in the insurance profession and sponsored by the Chartered Insurance Institute in collaboration with a wide variety of leading insurance professionals, businesses, policy and third sector organisations and experts on issues relating to women’s risks.

This programme published a manifesto in January 2020, and one of its key findings was:

“Women make up the majority of unpaid and paid carers, and caring is the lowest paid occupation in the UK. Our ageing population has significant implications for women, our society and economy. A ‘national conversation’ is required to consider caring including: who cares, how care is rewarded and paid for, and carers’ pensions including a carers’ pension top-up. Gender needs to be part of the dialogue and inform policy.”

The work of the CII on an ageing population takes this recommendation forward, both in terms of creating a conversation about caring, and in understanding the needs of people who are experiencing later life as a protected group in their own right.

From speaking to the wider insurance and financial adviser sector, there is a great deal of evidence that a market for products to prepare for care costs before retirement does not exist.

A survey conducted by the CII of more than 2,000 consumers showed funding care provision is not even among the top six financial priorities discussed with family members. Discussions around care provision ranks below unexpected expenses, getting on the property ladder and pension provision.

This is despite a 2019 Age UK report that found:

  • by the end of 2019 one in seven (1.5 million) of the total older population had care needs
  • by 2030, if governments fail to act this could increase to 2.1 million.

Only 11% of all those surveyed by the CII are making provision for their own care needs now (from people aged from their mid-to-late 20s to 75-plus).

At the end of 2019, the CII conducted an examination of secondary research in ageing, care and later life and the specific NGOs and charities that work in these areas. It showed that:

  • there is a distinct barrier around the language used by insurance and wider financial services professionals with older consumers,
  • overall holistic and wellbeing is just as important in later life as financial resilience.

As a result, the CII’s later life campaign will look at the kind of conversations people need to have with their families, friends, insurance professionals and financial advisers to create and build more resilience throughout their entire life. The campaign will focus on the conversations that families need to have and how insurance and financial advice professionals can support this.

Guidance for insurance over our life cycle

The CII is creating a life cycle guide which will advise the public what to do in each stage of life to support their own later life financial resilience. This will be turned into a variety of communications that our members and other stakeholders will be able to use to encourage people to start crucial conversations about care.

Often, the conversation does not have to be about care funding or big decisions about where to live and who will take on major caring responsibilities. The conversations can be about something as simple as who people can rely on to access key information and make decisions if they are not able to.

This process can then encourage thinking about simple steps to make people’s care environment more manageable, steps that will lead to better resilience in later life.

We know that the issue of care will not be solved overnight, but we can make the first steps towards creating a national conversation about this crucial subject.