Whole of Life Assurance - United Kingdom (UK) Protection Insurance 2020

Whole of Life Assurance - United Kingdom (UK) Protection Insurance 2020


Whole of life assurance accounts for the second-largest share of the protection market. The whole of life market grew in 2019. The majority of policies sold are guaranteed acceptance, and tend to be sold unadvised. Changes to electronic communications are bound to make it harder to reach out to potential customers. Meanwhile, independent financial advisors dominate the underwritten space. COVID-19 has led to delays in completing sales and has forced life insurers to tighten their underwriting guidelines. The market is anticipated to dip in 2020 before returning to growth.

The report provides an in-depth assessment of the whole of life market, looking at current and historical market size with regards to changes in contracts and premiums. It examines how whole of life products are distributed, and highlights key changes in the competitive landscape, as well as the proposition of the key market players. It provides five-year forecasts of contracts and premiums to 2024, and discusses how the market, distribution, and products offered are likely to change in the future, as well as the reasons for these changes. The scope of this report covers the market for individual regular premiums only.


  • The whole of life market grew in 2019 to reach £105.6m in new business premiums. Growth was driven by sales of guaranteed acceptance (over-50s) policies.
  • SunLife is by far the largest provider of whole of life policies, with a 39.9% stake of the market in terms of contracts sold in 2018.
  • COVID-19 has led to delays generating sales, due to challenges obtaining physical medical examinations and GP reports (underwritten policies) and issues processing paper-based applications (guaranteed acceptance over-50s policies).
Reasons to Buy
  • Examine the size of the whole of life assurance market.
  • Learn about the short-term and longer-term implications of COVID-19 on the market.
  • Understand the influence of other factors on growth.

  • Executive summary
  • Critical success factors
  • Background: The Protection Market
    • The number of contracts in the protection market increased for the third consecutive year as the impact of RDR faded
    • Whole of life is the second-largest protection product
      • Table Protection market: number of contracts (000s)
      • Table Protection market: new business premiums (£m)
    • The restricted advice channel has shrank as customers favor being fully advised or buying cover independently
      • Table Protection market: number of contracts (000s)
      • Table Protection market: new business premiums (£m)
  • The Whole of Life Assurance Market
    • Guaranteed acceptance policies drive growth in the whole of life market as the underwritten segment continues to shrink
    • More than nine in 10 policies sold are guaranteed acceptance products
    • Opposing poles in distribution as most guaranteed acceptance policies are sold directly, while underwritten policies rely on IFAs
      • Table New business premiums (£m)
      • Table New business premiums (£m)
  • Market Drivers
    • Costs associated with dying are rising
    • Changes to the Funeral Expenses Payment scheme are unlikely to have a significant impact on over-50s policies
    • Higher inheritance tax thresholds make underwritten policies a niche market
      • Table Inheritance tax threshold
    • Underwritten whole of life policies evolve as COVID-19 spreads
    • COVID-19 poses challenges in processing underwritten applications
    • COVID-19 creates a backlog of applications for guaranteed acceptance policies
    • The ePR is expected to supersede the PECR
  • Product Launches & Innovation
    • COVID-19 results in adoption of virtual screenings
    • Other product launches and innovations
  • Competitive Landscape
    • SunLife is by far the largest provider of whole of life policies -SunLife remains the largest provider of
      • Table Number of new whole of life contracts by insurer and market share, 2015-2018
    • Company profile: SunLife
    • Company profile: Royal London
    • Company profile: AIG
  • Forecasts
    • COVID-19 will slow down growth of the whole of life market in the short term
    • New business premiums will dip in 2020 owing to challenges processing applications
    • Life insurance claims are expected to increase in 2020
    • Whole of life claims will be disproportionally high
    • COVID-19 will accelerate digitization within life insurance
    • Non-advised sales will grow but stricter legislation could pose challenges
  • Appendix
    • About this report

Download our eBook: How to Succeed Using Market Research

Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.

Download eBook