Life Insurance in United Kingdom [ 2020 review ]


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Life Insurance in United Kingdom | Brands Disappear

The history of Life Insurance in the United Kingdom started in London 1706. The first UK Life Insurance company was founded ‘the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office’.

Wind the clock forward several 100 years, to more modern times. Read in our timeline from the 90’s to date, ‘how many once great Brands offering Life Insurance in the Uk sadly disappeared’.

Brand names for those of a certain age, may fondly (or not) remember, all set alongside some other Uk and World events. Events that help shape how & why many of these iconic names maybe went.

Let’s go back to the 1990’s

The previous decade, the 1980’s, saw the rise of the “yuppie” & then Stock markets crash in Black Monday. It now starts with German reunification.

This decade also began after Tim Berners-Lee had published a formal proposal for a World Wide Web called the Internet. Freddie Mercury died. The Spice Girls formed. Friends on TV. Clinton & Mandela elected Presidents & Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister. The Channel Tunnel. Small Banks crisis & BCCI. Mobile phones getting smaller. Texts. Man Utd kids. Dot-Com bubble. Titanic movie.

Princess Di. The Gulf War. Rwanda & Bosnia Conflicts. USSR breakup. Hubble Telescope. Harry Potter is first published. Dolly the Sheep. Hong Kong. The Euro. Google & Ebay founded.

The 90’s Life Insurance Industry

Life Insurance in United Kingdom at that stage, there was maybe over 250,000 financial advisers or sales agents operating? They were all working for what they believed was their ‘Best Life Insurance in Uk’.

The man from the Pru however was no longer going to take your cash, going from door to door. It was direct debits now mainly, for your dear Nan’s old penny style insurance plans.

In the previous decade, critical illness insurance was invented in South Africa. This continued to slowly develop by most life insurers, covering maybe 4 conditions i.e. heart attack, cancer, stroke and coronary artery by-pass surgery.

Typical Insurance Plans sold

Banks, Building Society or Insurance Companies Advisers all thought they were selling their own best life insurance in uk, or pensions, or savings to their customers eg; products like endowments, flexible life cover, PEPS’s or PPI.

The Banks tended to include expensive PPI (payment protection insurance) onto all their credit products. It was often missold, wether it was required or not. The PPI future scandal was already brewing here to explode into the next decade.

The Insurers called their plans exotic sounding names like Eagle Star’s rainbow universal life plan. Or more affluent sounding Abbey Life’s Wealthmaster or Allied Dunbar adaptable life plan. Axa Equity and Law multiplan covered several protection areas under one policy.

Many of these plans typically combined life insurance with an investment element. This was very popular back then but soon was to cause many future problems ie; the endowment mis-selling scandal lasting well into the next decade and for some the impact is ongoing.

Life Insurance in United Kingdom [ 2020 ]

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Life Insurance Sales Sales Sales!!!

There was hot competition amongst all these Providers and Advisers, then regulated by the PIA for ‘commission sales sales sales’ above all else.

Unfortunately as the decade progressed, stock market dips, changing economic conditions and tax laws meant people were often told their plans were now not on target. Either the Insurers or Advisers had failed to properly explain the pitfalls ?

Many insurers endowment mortgage policies matured well below their target value. This left stressed homeowners with very hard decisions to make about what best to do. 

Something had to give for these companies UK operations & their large sales forces. Mis-selling Complaints, Mergers & Takeovers became the name of the day.

Inflation dropped from 14% to 8%. New internet finance brand names also emerged & prospered like Egg, Cahoot & First Direct. Turbulent end or a new start to the millennium for the Life Insurance sector.

Year 2000. The Start of the New Millennium

So the previous century ends and the new millennium started with a bang, not a bug. These following events maybe helped to shape life insurance in the Uk for this millennium.

We had the long awaited Dome & various millennium bridges. Nokia 3310 phone, 3G and ipod. You Tube and Facebook. 9/11 and Iraq invasion. Economic China. Tsunami & Hurricane. Global Recession and more Banking Crisis at the end of the decade. Northern Rock. Posh and Becks. Bend it like Beckham. Avatar.

George W. Bush elected US President & David Cameron becomes Prime Minister. Big Brother. Pop Idol, X Factor and Simon Cowell. Tiger Woods. Roger Federer. Concorde last flight.

The Noughties. UK Insurance Regulation & Consolidation

Into the 2000’s and for life insurance in the uk, this industry was now being regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). They started to introduce much stricter regulations into the sector for both advisers & insurers.

Advisers now needed higher qualifications for both tied advisers or IFA’s to continue to practise. This meant some people started to leave this industry in the 1000’s. Things were getting tougher and Insurers sales forces were dwingling rapidly. In their place came Insurance Networks, absorbing the departing financial advisers. Meanwhile, Inflation dropped from 8% to 4%.

Online Comparison Sites continued to develop. Some people even started to buy & compare their life insurance online & without speaking to anyone !

Many insurers therefore decided to close to new business, while others merged or were acquired by banks or so-called market consolidators. These consolidators, like Phoenix Life & Windsor Life began to acquire the closed book business of some once best providers offering life insurance in Uk.

Correspondingly, some Insurers setup new brand names like Royal London with Bright Grey. Or the parent company name only like Aviva or Aegon.

The 2010’s Decade

This world decade was characterised by nature’s own events. Eruptions with an Icelandic Volcano & then ends with the beginnings of a Pandemic. These events all helped to shape life insurance in the Uk.

London Olympics. Chile mine rescue. Haiti earthquake. Japan Tsunami. Arab spring. Syrian war. Terror attacks. Ebola & Zika virus. Black lives matter. Protests. Donald Trump. Brexit. Technology. Hacking.

Malaysian plane. Charlie Hebdo. Global Warming. Sustainable. #MeToo. North Korea. Oscar Pistorius. Gangnam Style. Adele. Michael Jackson. Usain Bolt. Sepp Blater. Avengers movies. Boris.

Life Insurance in the UK More Regulation & Consolidation

Into the 2010’s, and the insurance industry switches from the FSA, to now being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FCA. They continued to introduce more tougher regulations & rules onto both advisers, banks & insurers. Against this backdrop, interest rates were low and house prices rose.

Adviser numbers reportedly dropped. What was once perhaps 250,000 people involved in regulated sales of life insurance cover several decades ago, this had probably dropped to around 30,000 in the 2010’s.

The market was also splitting between ‘advised’ sales & ‘non advised’ sales. Martin Lewis Life Insurance advice says, be careful between the 2 different sales routes when buying life insurance.


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People began to find it harder & harder to find out who was now looking after their existing or older plans.

More & more Insurers close to new business, merged or were consolidated. Insurers or indeed other large companies customer services often went offshore. It could be you were even being charged for the call also on 0870 & 0345 numbers. Press 1, then Press 5. “Please hold the line, your call is important to us”.

Maybe 20 minutes later, after having a choice of music to listen to, you finally get hold of someone to actually talk to. However, it was only to find that they could find no trace of your life insurance policy !

The 2020’s Insurance Industry?

Entering into the Pandemic, many advisers & life insurance uk staff have been forced to work from home either permanently or maybe visiting their main offices once a week.

This has driven people to interact with their advisers via Zoom style meetings, none face to face, or just over the phone.

Problems buying Life Insurance without advice

People will continue to buy life insurance, critical illness & income protection without advice, some not understanding what they are buying. Future problems may arise therefore at a claim.

A typical example is when people do quotes off our website. They get confused between Terminal Illness Cover & Critical Illness Cover. Some automatically assume they are the same things, believing if suffered a critical illness, then their life insurance policy with terminal illness will still pay out (See explanation below).

Alternatively, include critical illness with life cover into all their quotes and wonder why it was so much more expensive, so give up altogether.

We can see a rise in the best uk life insurance providers perhaps selling cheaper white labelled insurance plans but with low start premiums. Often these are confusingly labelled as having guaranteed premiums. However, all that is guaranteed is the price rises to follow an insurers age based price chart.

This enables someone to buy a policy perhaps 50% cheaper initially. However, over the longer term the costs rise annually such that in the future it could become too expensive to maintain ?

Life Insurance in the UK | New Brands emerge?

At the start of this decade, we already have LV= insurance involved with Bain capital about a potential sale. This fell through rather dramatically & now Royal London a fellow mutual possibly re-involved in future discussions. Will it be that we have a new Royal Victoria Insurance or London Victoria Insurance brand happens in the 2020’s ?

I can see further consolidation of life insurance companies in the uk, as more merge for economies of scale. This leaves maybe fewer traditional insurers offering cover.

Hopefully, you will still have several types of providers offering plans to their customers, either small or large. Financial Mutuals & Friendly Societies, Life Insurers, Banks, & Building societies

The United Kingdom Life Insurance industry still operates as one of the world’s biggest financial markets. It is still a major employer & leader and will continue to be heavily regulated. According to Statista, businesses involved with life insurance in the Uk, had a 70% market share of the total UK insurance market, providing a large range of financial services products. 

However, I still see a great future for Brokers & Agents as the uk financial services market continues to evolve. People (Human beings) need to still understand what their chances are of making an insurance claim, and the big impact it may have on their finances.

Just like machines, we do break down. In this event it could be catastrophic for them & their families both financially, emotionally as well as physically. If nothing else, the 2020’s Pandemic proved that nobody is invincible.

Moving forwards, there will also be the continued growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) upon both Financial Services and the marketplace in general.

‘AI’ will likely impact both underwriting, insurance risk and advisers. Will ‘AI’ also….way way into the future, replace us all?

Article by Martyn Spencer Financial Adviser

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Rather than visit the High Street, many people now search the web looking in 2022 to compare the Best Leading Companies offering Life Insurance in the UK. 

Looking at the above Life Insurers who operate in United Kingdom and we transact business with however, there is no short answer as to which is the 'best'. 

What UK Life Insurance Plans maybe suitable for you, can be unsuitable for somebody else and their personal situation. Unsure what types of plans are available ?

Please get a Free no obligation quote from our website first to get an idea of both cost & terms available; it is always best to speak to one of our Professional Advisers when buying.

View these main UK Life Insurance product areas - all highlighted below 



A whole of life policy that will always payout whenever death may occur. Premiums maybe fixed or reviewable. There are only so many Insurers that offer this product. Deals are age dependant & sum assured. 

Our Best UK Deals for this Life Insurance in UK are via Royal London | LV= | AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon | Vitality Life


Designed to cover a repayment mortgage on death or terminal illness as it decreases during the plan term. You can usually amend the rate it reduces.

Our Best UK Deals | for this Life Insurance in UK are via LV= | Royal London | AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon | Guardian 1821 | Vitality Life | The Exeter


Offering a lump sum family protection if the policy holder dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness during the term.

Our Best UK Deals | for this Life Insurance in UK are via AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon | Guardian 1821 | Vitality Life | Royal London | LV=| The Exeter


Offers an income for family protection if the policy holder dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness during the term.

Our Best UK Deals | for this Life Insurance in UK are via Vitality Life | Royal London | LV= | AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon | Guardian 1821 | 


Helps ease financial worries if you or your children are diagnosed with a critical illness as specified by UK Insurers.

Our Best UK Deals | for this Insurance are via Guardian 1821 | Vitality Life | Royal London | LV= | AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon 


Providing security by way of a tax free income if you are off sick or have an accident or disability as specified by UK Insurance Companies.

Our Best UK Deals | for this Insurance in UK are via Vitality Life | Royal London | LV= | AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon | The Exeter


Either a no medical whole of life policy that will payout after an initial waiting period or alternatively an underwritten whole lifecover.

Our Best UK Deals | for this Life Insurance in United Kingdom are via Vitality Life | Royal London | LV= | AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon | One Family


Offering company protection for a key person, loan or share protection or an employee dies, is diagnosed with a critical or terminal illness during the term.

Our Best UK Deals | for this Life Insurance in UK are via Vitality Life | Royal London | LV= | AIG | Zurich | Aviva | L&G | Aegon | 

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