A global life insurer has launched a research program with the University of Oxford to look at new approaches to income protection for more workers in the 21st century.
Zurich’s Agile Protection program, launched in partnership with Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, will look at the potential for developing frameworks involving different stakeholders so that more workers are provided with flexible protection and financial support in an increasingly fragmented labour market, according to a statement.
One aspect of the program includes two multicountry surveys (including Australia). The first survey examines consumers’ behaviours when engaging with insurance and exploring their behavioural tendencies to help improve product and service design.
The second survey looks at the priorities of employers when it comes to protecting their employees and the extent to which they recognise worker risks as part of their broader management framework.
Zurich said the results for both surveys are due for publication in Q3 2019.
Another key feature of the program includes a series of recommendations to improve income protection for individuals, including those in non-traditional employment.
Recommendations will be directed towards governments, employers, insurers and other financial institutions and intermediaries, as well as individuals and households, that Zurich is looking to publish in Q3 2020.
Zurich noted that workers entering the labour market today will typically switch employers several times throughout their careers.
“There has been an increase in the use of different types of employment contracts, such as gig workers in the sharing economy; and increased longevity is extending working lives and creating a growing need for career breaks for responsibilities like caring,” Zurich said.
“These factors mean many people are lacking any kind of financial safety net to support them now and as they approach retirement.”
The chief executive of Zurich’s Australian life and investments business, Tim Bailey, said the responsibility for delivering solutions needs a co-ordinated approach between individuals, employers, governments and insurers.
“Through Agile Protection, we are looking to develop workable models that reflect and meet the needs of today’s workforce, providing more people with the support they need,” Mr Bailey said.
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