Equity release clients go back to basics during lockdown – Canada Life

Jenna Brown reports

Clients using equity release to support day-to-day living accounted for more than a fifth of Canada Life’s transactions during lockdown.

The provider said equity release client behaviour had changed as a result of the strict lockdown measures imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

It said requests for lifetime mortgages to pay for international travel were, unsurprisingly, down during Q1 and Q2 when lockdown measures were at their most severe. Holiday related requests were down 5% during the period.

However, requests for loans to support day-to-day living grew by 5% to account for more than a fifth (22%) of equity release applications in Q2.

It also reported marginal increases in applications by clients who said they intended to gift the money released or for it to be used to help family members get on the property ladder.

Requests for equity release to clear existing mortgages dropped 10% during lockdown as people took advantage of mortgage payment holidays, the firm said.

Funding home improvements continued to be the most popular reason to take out a lifetime mortgage accounting for two-fifths (39%) of all requests over the six month period, with just a 1% increase between Q1 and Q2.

Requests to fund home adaptations, to make a home safer or more comfortable have also increased by 2% to account for 9% of applications in the last three months.

Canada Life head of marketing, insurance Alice Watson said: “With coronavirus transforming the world in a matter of months and turning many lives upside-down, it’s unsurprising that many are looking to release equity for different reasons than before. Over the last six months and in Q2 especially we can see that equity release has been used less as a means to fund the ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences and more as a way to support family members or day-to-day living expenses.

“As we enter into a period of increased economic insecurity I wouldn’t be surprised if this shift became more pronounced.”

She added: “As lockdown measures start to lift it will be interesting to see what effect this has on consumer behaviour. The full impact of coronavirus is still unknown, but the global pandemic has proved that the industry can rise to any challenge.

“Over the last few months alone, the market has demonstrated its resilience by adjusting to new ways of working and embracing technology and I’m confident that the market will continue to pull together to deliver solutions for advisers and their clients.”