The Importance of Inclusive Design for Insurance Firms

Insurance companies are required to ensure that all of their products and services meet the needs, characteristics, and objectives of customers in their target market, including those with protected characteristics or characteristics of vulnerability. One effective way to achieve this is by implementing inclusive design practices throughout their products and services. By collaborating with clients to understand how they interact with a product or service, insurance companies can improve accessibility and comply with the Equality Act 2010. Additionally, by incorporating inclusive design, insurance companies can prioritise the best interests of their customers and adhere to regulations set by the Financial Conduct Authority, including the treatment of customers with characteristics of vulnerability and the new Consumer Duty.

When hearing the term ‘inclusive design’, you might think of it as simply making products and services accessibility-friendly. It goes further than that; inclusive design is not limited to certain needs and groups. Inclusive design aims to remove barriers for as many people as possible.

Therefore, firms should not be designing for ‘vulnerable people’ but rather, they need to ask what people in these circumstances are vulnerable to and why. They could also look at defining what good and bad outcomes might look like for these groups of customers, to assess what measures need to be taken to prevent harm and enable them to make informed decisions.

Let’s look at subtitles as an example. They are most commonly used to aid those who are deaf or hard of hearing but also benefit a wider audience. They can help those who are watching or listening to something in a noisy environment, assist someone who is learning English as a second language or help people understand accents and jargon.

Another example of an effective inclusive design is Touco’s third-party money alerts. Activity on a user’s bank account would trigger a text message that would be sent to a trusted person, such as a family member or partner. Originally aimed at people with mental health problems that needed support with money management, it turned out to have additional benefits. It encouraged users to stop overspending or recognise which account money should have been coming out of. 

Microsoft’s inclusive design principles provide guidance on creating effective products and services that a diverse group of people can use. These principles include: 

Recognise exclusion

Recognising how it feels to be excluded may be uncomfortable, but it is essential to understanding the experiences that your customers face. It makes us confront our biases, such as what we perceive as ‘typical’, which can unintentionally cause people to feel excluded. 

Solve for one, extend to many

Something that was originally created for people with a disability can also benefit a wider audience. The aim is to improve the experience of everyone and not just those who would normally struggle interacting with particular products and services. 

Learn from diversity

Having insight into diverse perspectives is a key component of successful inclusive design.

A product or service you can easily use may cause difficulty for others, and recognising why will help you understand the barriers that your customers may face. 

Humans are diverse, so why shouldn’t the design of products and services be as well? 

Even though smaller firms may feel this to be a costly and time-consuming exercise, there are still steps everyone can take to work towards implementing more inclusive design. This may involve a review of existing processes – some of these may already be more inclusive and focussed than you realise – and identifying opportunities where the design could be adapted.

About the author

Regine joined RWA between 2021-2023 having graduated from Loughborough University with a 2:1 in Graphic Communication and Illustration. As a Digital Content Assistant, Regine used their graphic design and illustration experience to create engaging e-learning modules. 

Get UKGI Insight In Your Inbox

Regular business news and commentary delivered direct to your inbox each week. Sign up here