Swiss Re’s Term & Health Watch publication has reported 5% year-on-year (YoY) growth in the UK long-term individual protection market in 2016.

The report shows growth across all individual protection product lines. In 2016, 1,767,138 new individual term, whole life, critical illness and income protection policies were sold in the UK, representing an increase of 4.9%.

Lines with strong growth were term life cover only (+7.1%), income protection policies (+9.8%) and guaranteed acceptance whole life policies (+5.8%).

Fully-underwritten whole life policies were the only products to show a reduction in 2016, with sales decreasing by 22.3%.

The report said the hard work being put in by providers and distributors to improve accessibility is working, especially relating to the increase in mortgage-related protection sales.

However, over the long term, Swiss Re said there is a need to respond to the rapid cultural shift away from house purchasing towards renting, which will have the biggest impact on consumer need for insurance propositions.

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Ron Wheatcroft, Technical Manager at Swiss Re, said: “If we can work with the Government to achieve a position where self-provision over and above state benefits always pays, the potential to grow the income protection market is massive.”

He said while the 6.3% (132,930 people) increase in people covered by employers on an insured basis is further good news, the reality is that many employers will not purchase cover for their workforce.

Maxine Udall, Swiss Re Marketing and Research Manager and principal author of the report, commented that at a time when consumer spending is under such pressure, the increase in sales across all product lines is great news.

Udall said: “Growth for simple life cover is very encouraging. Almost 11% of policies are bought directly by consumers. Direct purchases are becoming more established.”