Insuring Women’s Future committee produces pledge for insurers around a “whole customer” approach

The Chartered Institute of Insurance (CII) has issued a call to action to the insurance industry today in bid to help women better navigate their financial journey through different life stages.

Insuring Women’s Future (IWF), part of the CII, launched its Living a Financially Resilient Life in the UK manifesto this morning, at an event held at the BFI IMAX cinema, South Bank. The manifesto lays bare key financial issues faced by women across eight life stages, between the ages of 17 and 70. It also offers practical recommendations on how organisations, employers and industries can support women in improving their financial resilience.

Speaking at the event, Sian Fisher, chief executive at the CII, said that the insurance industry has a “central role to play in society, supporting women and men in managing their financial resilience to risk” in all their life journeys.

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CII’s IWF event at BFI IMAX 

Other industries have also been called upon as part of the manifesto’s action points, including personal finance, the wider financial services profession, government, regulators, financial guidance bodies, professional and trade bodies, employers and the third sector have been urged to join forces and take forward the recommendations of the IWF committee, led by the CII.

This is because the root causes contributing to women’s lack of financial parity is “deeply embedded in social attitudes, a lag in legal and social care systems as society has changed and greater financial complexity in financial life [requires] improvements in financial engagement and wellbeing,” added Jane Portas, IWF steering committee chair and lead author.

The manifesto, which is the culmination of three years of research and includes contributions from more than 150 individuals, follows the CII setting a challenge back in July for Women’s Futures ambassadors to ‘Talk to 10,000’ during Talk Money Week, which commenced on 18 November.

In October, the High Court rejected a judicial review into how the government raised the state pension age for women; at the time Fisher spoke out saying that she hoped the focus following this would highlight retirement income problems that many women face today.

Insurers influence

The manifesto recommends key actions for insurers in order to improve women’s financial future and resilience; primarily, the IWF encourages both insurance and personal finance firms to commit to the Inclusive Customer Financial Lives pledge.

This aims to empower insurers to support customers in making product purchases that reflect their life circumstances, rather than gender assumptions. The pledge further commits insurance organisations to guide customers on navigating life events that could impact insurance coverage, such as having a family.

The IWF additionally recommends that insurers adopt a ‘whole customer’ approach to products, services and the customer journey, to consider women’s financial lives and milestones in order to support good financial outcomes, as well as improve overall financial engagement and awareness.

The CII-backed programme also emphasised that financial wellbeing should be a central strand of insurers’ customer strategies and that a coordinated and collaborative approach is vital; financial and pensions regulators, financial guidance bodies, professional and trade bodies, financial services and the third sector should deliver a united and cohesive stance on improving female financial resilience.

With this in mind, the IWF calls on the insurance profession and associated trade bodies to develop industry guidance and professional standards on how inclusive customer approaches and wider customer financial wellbeing strategies can be achieved in a coordinated strategy.

Alongside the Inclusive Customer Financial Lives pledge, the IWF manifesto also launched the Financial Flexible Working pledge; to mitigate the affects of part-time working and child rearing on women’s financial resilience.

Differentiating between men and women

The IWF’s manifesto suggests insurance approaches need to be modernised, so that considerations around customers’ changing financial lives and circumstances are embedded within the insurance process; the manifesto highlighted that customers need to be better informed on how life events impact the insurance products they buy and the service they receive from insurers.

This point was further clarified by Hilary Banks, regional sales director at Vitality, who was involved in the inclusive customer outcomes workstream. She said that better signposting of information was vital, especially for groups such as second policyholders, who are not always informed of instrumental benefit changes. Customer preferences should be updated to ensure that all named policyholders are kept informed.

Banks also said that benefits for men and women need to be differentiated in order to be more relevant; this would require new education for advisers.


“Communication, or certainly the lack of communication, when customers were applying for insurance products, renewing their insurance products or when they were notifying insurers of life changing events, that actually, because of the lack of communication, they could find themselves in positions where they were being financially penalised unfairly,” she said.

“I think it would be a great shift in the right direction to actually start seeing benefits out there that are designed specifically for men and women and the different needs that we have.”

Data story

However, an essential element of implementing the manifesto recommendations lies in collecting gender-disaggregated data from the government, regulators, financial services firms and financial guidance bodies; the IWF believes this information should be used as part of inclusive policymaking, for supervisory review practices, financial guidance and advice practices.

The manifesto calls on the FCA, in particular, to collect and publish gender disaggregated product and customer data on approved and certified persons under the Senior Manager and Certification Regime.

Ageing population

Statistics in the manifesto highlight that people are living longer; it predicted that a baby girl born today has 29% chance of living to 100 years old. Meanwhile women are having children later in life – many conceive in their 40s.

Taking time out of work for child rearing or caring for a loved one has also caused a gap in pensions saving – it is predicted that pension parity will not be before the year 2100.

But only 52% of women and 49% of men who are married, or cohabiting do not consider their relationship life circumstances when setting up their insurance policies, and 46% of people are oblivious that cohabitees have no financial rights. On top of this, more people are living alone – around eight million.

Analysis of statistics such as these has led the IWF to identify 12 perils and pitfalls that women can encounter during their financial life journey, these include: 


  • Girls’ apprenticeship gap
  • Young women’s graduation burden
  • Female financial capability imperative
  • Gender pay gap
  • Cohabitation pitfall
  • Motherhood and caring penalty
  • Flexible working sacrifice
  • Women’s wellness threat
  • Divorce and separation setback
  • Domestic abuse danger
  • Women’s pension deficit
  • Longevity trap


Claudio Gienal, chief executive at AXA and Ireland, said: “This report is the first step to securing financial resilience for future generations.”

Meanwhile Keith Richards, chief executive at the Personal Finance Society, part of the CII, added that it has pledged to engage policymakers on the changes and recommendations stemming from the latest IWF work, in particular regarding the retirement provision deficiencies.

“It is time to better engage everyone in how to take charge of their financial future,” he said.

The IWF is a voluntary market-led programme established by the CII to improve the financial resilience of women.

Portas closed today’s event by emphasising that men have a vital role to play too, as role models and advocates for their female relatives. 

She said: ”Men have a huge role to play and the power to really work with us to make change.”