04 May 2021, Cheltenham
iPipeline® – a leading provider of low code / no code content-enabled digital solutions and services to the life and pensions market – today announced Q1 Industry Protection sales figures through its adviser platforms, primarily SolutionBuilder and AssureWeb, which processes approximately 50% of all UK intermediary sales.
The Q1 data reveals new business volumes were up 10% during the first three months of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, while like-for-like business grew 7%.
With growth across most protection products in the first quarter of 2021, iPipeline’s data suggests the industry is continuing to recover after a turbulent 12 months, particularly when compared against a pre-Covid Q1 2020.
Life Insurance sales were strong, with decreasing life applications up 21% compared to Q1 2020 – thanks in part to significant competitive pressure in this space, which led to a reduction in pricing.
Level life policy sales were also up on last year – by 16% – and the average life cover amount was 4% higher than in the same period in 2020. Critical Illness (CI) volumes also increased substantially, with level CI up 12% year-on-year and decreasing CI up 6%.
iPipeline’s data also shows that sales into multi-benefit products also continue to grow – 30% of new business applications were on a multi-benefit basis in Q1, compared with 26% in Q1 2020.
On the negative side, volumes for underwritten whole of life were down 23% compared to Q1 2020 while Income Protection (IP) sales fell 8%. IP volumes were very strong in Q1 2020 but fell heavily during the first lockdown. They have been recovering throughout 2020 and this continues into 2021 – possibly impacted by the number of employees on furlough.
All advice channels saw improvement during the first three months of the year, with call centres seeing an 18% increase in new business compared to the same period in 2020.
After being hit hard during the first Covid-19 wave, mortgage brokers have now seen things pick up significantly, with 7% growth compared to Q1 2020. Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) have also started to see some shoots of recovery after a challenging year, with iPipeline reporting a 3% uplift for the channel compared to the first three months of 2020.
Paul Yates, Product Strategy Director at iPipeline, said: “The protection industry, like many others, has had a very challenging 12 months, but we are seeing some positive signs. Our Q1 data shows increases across life and critical illness and an uplift across all channels. The pandemic has made people realise they need protection more than ever and the best intermediaries are becoming more efficient and effective. We therefore expect to see protection volumes continue on their pre-pandemic grow trends driven by better products, better advice and sales process and better technology in 2021.”
Andrew Wibberley, co-chair of the Income Protection Task Force said: “It is encouraging to see IP sales continue to recover, and there is clear potential for significant growth in the months ahead. There’s increased awareness that our collective and individual vulnerability can be confidently protected as restrictions on product offerings have been removed and underwriting returns to a pre-Covid state.”