James Daley

By James Daley

Our Spring 2020 life insurance customer experience ratings have been published today, with few brands shifting around in the tables.

Smart Insurance has been pipped to the top spot by Budget, one of a number of brands in our life tables underwritten by Scottish Friendly. Budget, and its sister brand Beagle Street, have made improvements to the clarity of their purchase journeys, pushing up their transparency scores slightly.

But there's very little between the top four - which also include Virgin Money, another brand backed by Scottish Friendly.

Scottish Widows and Lloyds Bank lead the charge from the more established life insurers - both making it up into our gold tier.

No claims data

We update our life insurance customer experience ratings twice a year in May and November. Our transparency analysis, and the complaints scores, are updated in both periods. But claims data is normally only updated in April/May - as life insurers only publish this once a year.

It's always a struggle to get all the claims data we need. Insurers have become increasingly slow to publish in recent years. But Covid-19 has brought things to a standstill, with many insurers deprioritising publication of last year's claims data while they deal with the raft of challenges that the pandemic is throwing up.

Reluctantly, we decided to publish our spring ratings without any update in the claims data. That means we're still using 2018 data for now - and will move to 2019 data at our next update in the autumn.

Before Covid-19 got going, we'd begun work with the Protection Review to get the industry to expand the claims data that it publishes, and to commit to publishing earlier.

Insurers agreed to take our suggestions away, and we've given them this year to consider what they can do.

Hopefully in 2020, we'll see all insurers publishing claims data by the end of the first quarter - and with a greater level of detail about why claims were turned down.

Congrats to the Scottish Friendly crew

But none of this should take anything away from Budget - which would almost certainly have still been number one in the tables, even with the new claims data had been included.