Director and risk specialist of Tiffen Insurance Solutions, Katherine Hayes, discusses with Risk Adviser how she helped her female clients and encouraged them to take up life insurance.
What do you think is the biggest contributor to women not taking up risk insurance?
I would have to say the biggest contributor would be women not recognising their value or discounting their value. This is especially the case when they have a family. I find women often put everyone else in the family first and leave very little for themselves, often only weighing the income they bring in and ignoring the value they bring to their family's lives. Typically their spouses earn more so they tend to view their partner’s income as being more important and if there is any budget constraints, it is the partner’s insurance that becomes the priority.
What do you think are the greatest challenges to advisers who are trying to get women to protect themselves?
Beyond helping them to realise their own value, I find women tend to ask more questions, usually because they have more concerns that need to be addressed. Whether it is explaining why their income protection cover costs more than the equivalent cover for a male, through to concerns about the impact of premiums being funded from their super should that be one of the funding sources being considered. Though this is easily addressed by simply acknowledging their concerns and giving them the information they need, and then the time needed to make a decision.
What has your experience been when trying to get more women to buy insurance?
I tend to paint pictures about what happens to one person in the family affects the entire family, both emotionally and financially. When we talk about cancer and the need for trauma cover, we talk about the experience of undergoing treatment. Most people, when asked, confirm that they would cut back their work hours to provide care and support for their partner during treatment. So if a woman is the lower income earner and receives a diagnosis of cancer, sometimes they may not place great value on their lost income, but they understand the need to fund the primary income earner’s time off work or being able to access medical treatments that may give them their best chance at being with their family for longer. In short, if they place greater value on others over themselves, I find showing them how insuring themselves means they can be there for those they love one way or another. Though one group that rarely needs this reminder is single mums who I find to be the most aware of their need for insurance and they just need someone to guide them. They already know how much a small change can have devastating impacts.
Do you have any strategies to encouraging women to buy insurance?
Years ago, I read a study that looked at the impact on a marriage should one of the partners need ongoing care. The study showed that in a good marriage, if the female needed ongoing care from their spouse the marriage was at a much higher risk of breaking down, but the reverse seemed to be true when the roles were reversed. Women in poor marriages who become carers for their partners tended to stay in the marriage. So I refer to some outcomes as marriage money. Of course this is not true of all couples, but I focus on a message of securing their independence and giving both men and women a choice when it comes to being able to become their partner’s carer or to continue working and source that role externally. Then I make sure they know that it is my role as the adviser to be there with them when everything goes pear-shaped, to be their advocate and remind them why they took out the levels of cover that they did. From there, my role is to help them budget and plan for those financial and lifestyle goals using the claim proceeds.
What do you feel risk specialists can do to tap into a wider female client base?
Be a woman. Women generally find it easier to relate their concerns to other women. If you’re a man and gender reassignment isn’t your thing then surround yourself with female advocates, whether that be past claimants, women in your personal/family relationships or your employees. Women tend to talk more, so really look after your existing female clients if that’s where you want to grow.
Any additional thoughts?
I find that women are more likely to have a situation arise where they need to bring young children to an appointment or face having to reschedule if their care plans go astray. If you can accommodate children, the gesture goes a long way. I keep a basket of toys to entertain kids and a stick vacuum handy to clean the office afterwards. Our office even has a baby change table in one of the toilets. In short, if you bring understanding and solutions to the challenges women face, they will become your most loyal clients.
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