Protecting Vulnerable Customers

Protecting vulnerable customers is a key focus for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – the body that regulates the UK insurance industry. It is also a priority for us at Park Home Assist. The FCA defines a vulnerable customer as someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to harm. This may be particularly so when a firm is not acting with the appropriate level of care. All customers are at risk of being vulnerable, but the risk is increased by certain factors, such as poor health, life events (e.g. bereavement or additional caring responsibilities) and lack of family support. Age can increase the risk of customers becoming vulnerable: At Park Home Assist, 3,000 of our policyholders are aged over 85, and 78% are over the national retirement age of 65.

Understanding the needs of vulnerable customers

As we have been specialising in insuring park homes, leisure homes and holiday homes for 18 years, we have an in-depth knowledge of our customers. We train our insurance advisers on the details of our specialist insurance products so that they can fully explain them to our customers and answer any questions that they have. We encourage our insurance advisors to think about how they would speak to their parents or grandparents when dealing with older customers.  We understand that many older people don’t want to shop online and would much rather speak to a real person. In fact, they often value the contact with our advisers, especially if they live on their own. Therefore, our team of advisers is available on the phone during office hours, as well as on Saturday mornings. We always try to put ourselves in the customer’s position, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable. We’re not just there for them to renew their policy or make a claim, but all year round. It’s a culture we embrace throughout our organisation, training staff to treat our customers with kindness and compassion. We always ask ourselves: “What is the right thing to do?” Putting people before short-term profit is also good business practice, as we are rewarded with high client retention and referral rates and excellent customer satisfaction scores.

Handling claims for vulnerable customers

We aim to treat all customers fairly but recognise that vulnerable customers may need some additional support. Our dedicated claims team, Davies Group, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so customers can call them as soon as they need to make a claim. We also have and two in-house claims co-ordinators, Tina Brown and Tina Robinson, who ensures that claims are managed efficiently and progress in a timely manner. They can help to explain the process and any steps that customers need to take, or information they need to provide. Video technology is a useful tool to speed up claims processing, but we recognise that some people may find this a bit daunting, so we are always willing to be patient and support customers to use it effectively. Detailed information about what to expect when making an insurance claim is also available on our website.

Providing home emergency insurance cover  

We have introduced an optional Home Emergency Cover enhancement to our park home insurance policy. This provides peace of mind should a home emergency occur, and the home owner has no excess or call-out fees to pay. This also protects vulnerable customers by reducing the risk of exploitation by rogue traders. To date, more than 54% of customers have taken up the Home Emergency Cover.

Providing insurance cover in high flood-risk areas

The effects of flooding can be devastating and impact a whole community, and even more so for the elderly or vulnerable. At Park Home Assist, we aim to actively promote Flood Re, the government-backed reinsurance scheme to provide affordable insurance cover to customers whose properties are at risk of flooding. We are one of the few insurance companies who do this for customers in park homes or leisure homes. Risk-analysis technology helps us to better understand the geographical risk of flooding in locations on a home-by-home basis. This enables us to make to more informed underwriting decisions. If we believe that there is a high-risk of flooding, we need to exclude this from the park home insurance policy and replace it with Flood Re cover. This means we can still provide important peace of mind for customers – the knowledge that they have insurance cover for flooding, while not being penalised with huge insurance premiums. In 2021/22 we identified 103 postcodes (approx. 2,060 homes) which previously would have been declined flood cover and examined them on a home-by-home basis to assess the true risk. We actively promoted Flood Re to the people living in these areas who were eligible for Flood Re cover.

Adding personal touches

During the Covid pandemic, it was even more important to provide a personal service to our customers. Many elderly customers were shielding and feeling particularly isolated or vulnerable. We created a puzzle book, which we sent out to those customers we identified as elderly, single, or likely to be shielding. Our customers were very grateful to have a surprise gift that would occupy them and we received lots of thank you cards and calls. In addition, at Christmas we sent out personally-signed Christmas cards to thousands of customers and hampers to those over 95, or those who had told us they had recently been bereaved. As well as protecting our vulnerable customers and treating all customers fairly, we aim to continue to be a friendly face in the often faceless industry of insurance.

Please note all insurance cover is subject to acceptance of terms and conditions.

This is a marketing article from Park Home Assist, multi award-winning providers of residential park home insurance.  If you would like to speak to an advisor regarding insurance for your park home, please contact our friendly team in our Northampton office on 01604 946 796.

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Published – 10/02/23