Life - Articles - New guide to improve support for autistic customers


Working with members and autism support organisations, we've published a good practice guide for the insurance and long-term savings industry on supporting autistic customers.

 Providing appropriate support to autistic customers is a key part of the industry’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. We worked with our members to develop the ‘Supporting Autistic Customers’ good practice guide after we identified several barriers autistic people face when trying to access insurance and long-term savings products.

 Launched to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day, the guide explains the unique experiences of autistic people. It sets out the challenges they might face when interacting with the industry, such as understanding complex policy documents, financial jargon, or long-term concepts such as pensions, and having difficulties making decisions.

 Alongside case studies, the guide offers a collection of practical actions and recommendations that firms could consider applying, including:

 Dividing complex documentation into manageable sections and segmenting it into stages to reduce confusion.
 Signposting to reasonable adjustments or additional support.
 Providing and abiding by service level agreements, including highlighting response times and setting out the overall steps of a customer journey to help better manage anxiety.
 Providing detailed context for why information is needed and how it will be used when asking certain questions or requesting specific information.
 Sending follow up documentation after conversations or transactions, including summarising key points discussed, agreements made and any actions needed.
 Investing in training for employees so that they can recognise diverse communication styles and implement inclusive practices.

 The recommendations in the guide are aimed at catering to the challenges autistic people face, but could also benefit others with other co-occurring conditions, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

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

 Yvonne Braun, ABI Executive Sponsor for 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.

 “Making our sector more inclusive requires continual dialogue, collaboration, and improving practices. As part of our industry-leading DEI Blueprint we have been working together with groups supporting autistic people such as GAIN and NAS, and we are grateful for their help in reviewing this guide. We’ll continue to work with them and other stakeholders to keep the recommendations up to date so that they offer the best support for autistic customers.”

 Christine Flintoft-Smith, Head of Autism Accreditation and Projects at the National Autistic Society, said: “We have welcomed the opportunity to support the review of the newly released guide to support autistic customers produced by ABI. 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. 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.”

 “The ABI plays a significant role in guiding insurers across the UK towards best practice. We at GAIN are proud to have them as one of our earliest members and supporters, and the release of their latest good practice guide on supporting autistic customers will go a long way towards helping the industry better support a neurodiverse population.

 Vic Mazonas, General Manager at GAIN, said: “This good practice guide aligns with priorities set out by the FCA’s guidance on fair treatment of vulnerable customers – which may apply to autistic people – as outlined in this article from 2021.

 “Insurance, when it works the way it should, makes people more resilient to challenging circumstances by offering protection from some of the financial burden and stress people may face. We know from studies such as the VEQ that autistic people face significantly higher rates of experiencing challenges around financial security, employment, social support.

 “Anecdotally, I know many of my autistic peers have found it challenging to access insurance products. With my modest amount of experience in the industry, I’m accustomed to helping friends who finding the process daunting or confusing, lack confidence that they understand whether a policy represents good value and meets their needs, or found premiums for products such as life insurance unaffordable as their more direct interpretation of some screening questions impacted how their neurodiversity was viewed by the provider.

 “My hope is the guidance offered now by the ABI will help make insurance more accessible to my autistic peers, and I am delighted to see the hard work that went into producing this guide now come to fruition.”  

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