Insurance Gap: Research reveals gay people drastically underinsured

Over a third (37%) of the LGBT community, as compared to 25% of the overall population, do not have any form of insurance. This equates to more than 800,000 gay and lesbian adults in the UK without any form of insurance. The figure rises even further when LGBT couples become parents, according to the latest YouGov research commissioned by Emerald Life, the UK’s first full-service insurance provider tailored to the LGBT community.

Emerald Life’s independent research has uncovered a significant inequality of experience when buying insurance, ranging from product features that don’t suit, online tick box options that fail to reflect diversity or call centre scripts that are inappropriate for the community. The 37% insurance gap is 50% higher than the national average. The research suggests this, together with the historical poor treatment of the LGBT community by the insurance sector, could be switching off gay and lesbian adults from buying policies that they may need to better protect themselves and the things they love.

Emerald Life commissioned two YouGov polls to capture the sentiment of the LGBT community towards insurance and life needs. The first study of over 1,000 adults looked at community attitudes around the UK and the second survey of 2,000 adults compared LGBT attitudes with their straight counterparts and figures for the UK population at large.

Key findings: The UK picture

- LGBT community members were 50% less likely than the national average to hold any insurance policies at all (37% versus 25%).

- Less than half the LGBT community polled claimed they or their partner had home contents cover in place (44%), only three quarters of the national average (60%).

- Only a third of the LGBT community surveyed (33%) claimed to have valid travel insurance in place. Whilst broadly on a par with straight people (35%), this finding was perhaps a concern given the community’s propensity to travel more frequently.

- LGBT community members polled were half as likely as the national average to hold private medical insurance (5% versus 10%) and were one third less likely to have any form of life cover in place (19% compared to 29%)

Key findings: Differences within the community itself

Emerald’s new research also explored the differences within the LGBT community.

- A major variation was noted between London and the Midlands. LGBT community members in the capital were far more likely to hold common forms of insurance (e.g. travel 49% and health insurance 25%), whereas those in the East or West Midlands were the least.

- Community members in the North West were the most likely to have life (35%) or pet (27%) insurance, but elsewhere this fell to as low as 11%.

- In relation to parenting, life insurance quickly became much more important to members of the LGBT community with children (36% versus 26%). Whilst this mirrors a more general trend also found with many straight parents, the celebrated growth of parenting in the LGBT community also carries an education warning on the need for couples to not let insurance fall off the radar at a time when many are, understandably, juggling new priorities.

Despite these differences, across the board, the proportion of gay and lesbian adults that held basic insurance policies remained below the national average.

Steve Wardlaw, Chairman of Emerald Life commented: “People ask why we launched an LGBT insurance provider. This is why. At a time when technology has made insurance increasingly accessible, giving customers purchasing options that avoid the need to sit in front of a person and discuss one’s life in detail, it is of national concern that the LGBT community still lags behind when it comes to having basic insurance cover for the everyday things that matter.

“We already knew from our previous research about the inequalities gay people have faced when buying insurance. We suspected that the community was under-insured compared to national averages, but the extent of that insurance gap is a shock. Marketing quick fixes won’t solve this issue. It requires a serious and concerted approach to understand the reasons behind the gap. Then we need to fix them.”