Stonebridge launches new ASU partnership with Wessex Group

Stonebridge, the national mortgage and protection network, has launched a new Accident, Sickness, and Unemployment (ASU) partnership with independent insurance provider, Wessex Group, for Stonebridge member firms.

Created by Wessex Group, in conjunction with AmTrust via Qualis Credit Risk, the new product, Homeowners Income Protection (HIP), is designed to work as a flexible and competitively priced product for advisory firms to offer clients as part of their protection suite.

The new ASU offering comes with several key features, including: flexible options for full ASU, AS cover, or stand-alone U cover, a maximum 12-month period when the benefit is payable, optional wait and excess periods, and more.

Stonebridge said the new product provided further protection options for its member firms to offer their customers and was welcome in the context of Consumer Duty and its focus on advisers delivering positive consumer outcomes not just on the mortgage but providing access to as wide a range of protection products as possible to ensure individuals and their families had the optimum cover for their needs.

Stonebridge and Wessex Group are running a series of introductory webinars that cover the product in detail and outline appropriate consumer scenarios.

Rob Clifford (pictured), chief executive at Stonebridge, said: “We’re very pleased to be adding this new ASU product from Wessex Group to our array of protection products and to be working closely with both Wessex and the Qualis protection team to provide our members and their clients with this excellent product.

“Regardless of network, advisers have not had an array of ASU choices in recent years, and it’s therefore important we provide our AR firms and advisers with access to a product that is increasingly in demand, particularly in a Consumer Duty context and for individuals who need to protect themselves against greater levels of uncertainty.”

He added: “Data from AmTrust suggests demand for ASU products saw a 25% increase between the first and second halves of 2023.

“This trend has continued into 2024, and with the unemployment-only cover option available, we can cater for what we anticipate will be increased demand for these product options.

“We’re looking forward to working with Wessex to educate our member firms and their advisers about the benefits of this product, where it is appropriate, and how they can utilise it to serve consumers.”

Nigel Preston, joint managing director at Wessex Group, said: “We are very pleased to be launching this new ASU product with Stonebridge, one of the leading networks operating in the UK today, who are committed to providing their AR firms and advisers with as many protection product options and opportunities as possible.

“We believe this new ASU product will meet a growing demand from homeowners and, in particular first-time buyers, especially in these challenging economic times.

“Recently, advisers have had slim pickings to choose from in terms of ASU product cover for their clients, and this has often meant consumer advice has focused on Life Insurance and Critical Illness alone, which, while valuable in their own right, do not address the short-term income impacts of an accident, sickness, or unemployment event.

“Now, however, we can provide a real alternative, one that is competitively priced and, more importantly, one that allows advisers to deliver peace of mind to clients should they suffer an accident, sickness, or unemployment, and the loss of income this can often result in.

“Adding the ASU product to the adviser’s toolkit means they also have a further touch point for their existing client relationships, many of whom may not have the cover they need, should the worst happen.”