’Understanding autism and how to better support autistic customers is essential,’ says executive sponsor

The ABI has published a new guide to help the insurance industry support autistic customers.

Published today (2 April 2024), the document will outline the challenges they might face when interacting with the sector, such as understanding complex policy documents, financial jargon or long-term concepts.

It will also offer a collection of practical actions and recommendations that firms could consider applying.

This includes simplifying complex documentation, directing individuals to support resources, adhering to service level agreements and outlining customer journey steps, providing context for information requests, sending follow-up summaries after interactions and investing in employee training for inclusive practices.

The ABI said that while recommendations in the guide were aimed at catering to the challenges autistic people face, they could also benefit others with other co-occurring conditions, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Yvonne Braun, the ABI’s executive sponsor for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), said: “Understanding autism and how to better support autistic customers is essential if we’re going to offer services that meet the needs of all our customers.

“We have set out clear recommendations to improve the experience of autistic customers within our industry and we hope firms will implement these practices in their organisations.”

’Significant role’

This guide builds on a collaboration between the industry and organisations, including the Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment and Neurodiversity (Gain) and Ambitious about Autism, to explore employment opportunities for neurodiverse talent.

Neurodiversity refers to the idea that differences in neurological functioning – including conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia, for example – are natural variations in brain development, rather than disorders or disabilities.

Christine Flintoft-Smith, head of autism accreditation and projects at the National Autistic Society, said that the ABI ”plays a significant role in guiding insurers across the UK towards best practice”.

”We encourage all providers to consider how they can adapt their practice and provide reasonable adjustments in order to deliver autism friendly services and support,” she added.

”We hope that the guide will enable providers to reflect on how they support their autistic customers and prompt them to seek further support and guidance if they require it.”