Why should I consider Emerald Life insurance if I am a woman?
Emerald Life was set up originally to ensure equality of experience and equality of product for the LGBT community when buying insurance. However, many of the issues that our LGBT customers face - such as assumptions as to marital status, or incorrect forms of address - are also issues that many women face in buying insurance. We wanted to correct that, and encourage women to consider protecting themselves financially
What are the issues faced by women in insurance?
Women still face discrimination in many walks of life, and the financial services sector is no exception. Many of the offerings from mainstream insurers will assume (through their marketing imagery and call centre scripts) that if you are a woman you are, or should be, married with children. If you do not fit into that stereotype, then you may feel disengaged from the process of looking after yourself financially. Women tend to consider longer-term financial planning much less than men, and we want to encourage women to talk to us and to use our resources to make sure that they are adequately protected for the future.
What has Emerald done to deal with these issues?
When we launched, our aim was to provide equality of service to the LGBT community, and we did that by examining and changing both policy terms and the customer journeys. Many women also expressed an interest in what Emerald was doing (and became customers) and so we undertook the same examination looking at the issues that some women face. Many of the issues overlapped with those raised by member of the LGBT community. So, for example, we make no assumption as to family structure - we will not assume that you are married, whether or not to a man, we will not assume children, or the desire for children, and we let customer choose whichever title they want. We were the first insurance company to allow customers to choose the gender-neutral 'Mx' title. Our home and wedding policies have cover for legal expenses for customers to bring a discrimination claim, and our travel insurance also includes extra protection while abroad in the form of Consular Care - a 24/7 global assistance program with in-country support in 190 states. In particular we think that this is useful extra protection for single women travellers. But if there is more that you would like to see, tell us and we will see what we can do!
How do you deal with the issues that arise with transgender women?
We want to make sure that we hear from many parts of the transgender community. We convene regular meetings of our transgender advisory group - T-Squad - to check that our products and services meet the needs of the transgender community.
How are you covering bisexual issues?
Many insurers are still guilty of assuming that a customer's
partner will be the opposite sex. For bisexual customers this may involve the
example of an awkward conversation that occurs when a consumer informs an
insurer that their new partner is of a different gender to their previous
At Emerald, these kinds of conversations and assumptions never
happen – because our respectful call-centre staff are specially trained in
working with the LGBT community.
Another way in which we've considered bisexual customers is
through our policies. We know bisexuals may face the same discrimination as our
gay and lesbian customers, so the extra discrimination protection in our
policies applies to bisexual consumers too. This includes our legal expenses
cover in our wedding policy if you suffer discrimination from a supplier
because of your sexuality (whether gay, lesbian or bisexual) or gender (if you
How do you give back to the community, particularly relating to women's issues?
Emerald Life was set up as an organisation that both gave back to the communities that we support, and advocated for positive change. On the advocacy point, we were the first insurance company to allow the use of the gender-neutral title 'Mx', and were at the forefront of offering fairly-priced travel insurance for single-parent families.
You can see the charities and organisations that we support here. We are particularly proud of our support of WOFFF, the Women Over 50 Film Festival, held in Brighton every year, and our support of the Winter Pride Art Awards which encourages submissions from cisgender and transgender women.
Lastly, the insurance sector remains very male-dominated. Our CEO Heidi McCormack is involved in advocacy to change that through TWIN (the women's insurance network) and other groups.
What do you mean by supporting 'non-traditional families'?
Many insurers still think that their average customer is the male head of a nuclear family with 2.2 children, 2.2 dogs and 2.2 everything else. We know that today's society is much more diverse, yet needs just as much protection. We want to make sure that our products and services are suitable for everyone, so if you are part of a single-parent family, we have fairly priced policies. If you are same-sex parents, we have a specially trained call centre on LGBT issues, and our travel policies cover foster, adopted and surrogate children. And we make no assumptions as to whether you have a partner. We certainly won't automatically assume that you are married with kids - we leave that sort of assumption to other insurers!
Do you have plans for other advocacy work?
Yes we do. We have already submitted our views to the Association of British Insurers on how to ensure fair coverage for women, the LGBT community and BAME customers. We also work with the Chartered Institute of Insurers on their Women At Risk/Women In Risk program which looks to ensure women are better protected by insurance, as well as trying to bring about more gender diversity within the insurance sector.
Where can I find more information about the issues faced by women in insurance?
I would love to follow the work done by your CEO on equality issues. How do I follow her?
We regularly post news and blogs about our work on equality. You can follow Heidi's views on equality and particularly women's issues on her twitter feed - @heidiemerald.