Southern Cross has published details of their 2018 benefit review. A series of changes are planned for implementation on 10 December, to apply to Wellbeing One, Wellbeing Two, and Ultracare. These include:
Frequency limits for specialist consultations. Which excludes oncology, excludes skin-related specialist consultations, but these are subject to the skin lesion services benefit. It also excludes psychiatric consultations (which remain in their own existing benefit).
There are a series of measures included in the skin lesion services definition with a reduced benefit limit, and skin surgery eligibility criteria.
Limits on tooth extraction and obstetrics will apply to most plans.
Some benefits are also being removed from some plans entirely, including: obstetrics benefits from First Cover plans, and the sterilisation allowance from most plans except Ultracare. The public hospital cash allowance, funeral allowance, and waiver of premium are being removed from all plans.
Extensive documentation of the changes, and plan types affected, can be found by for advisers in the Adviser Gateway section of the Southern Cross Medical Society.
A recent poll done by RiskInfoNZ asked advisers to consider outsourcing clients' claims to an advocacy service in order to devote more time to building their business.
74 percent answered 'No',
14 percent answered 'Yes'
12 percent answered 'Not Sure'.
This is quite a sensitive subject, with strong feelings on different sides of the debate. For example, at the recent Financial Advice New Zealand conference Jane Eschenbach made it clear that she feels advisers should handle their own claims.The benefits, in a small advice business, of handling your own claims are significant.
Closing the circle from recommendation to claim, creates a positive feedback loop: you get to see exactly how well the product and company perform when it really counts.
The benefits of engaging with the customer again, delivering on the promise of the product, are powerful.
Providing process help - navigating the tasks required to make a claim, for example - is highly valued by the client at a time when their personal resources are probably at a low point.
Obtaining referrals from the resolution of the claim.
On the other hand, specialisation has always been a factor in increasing efficiency of businesses. Larger advice businesses routinely have specialist claims teams. You might say that scale and specialisation tend to go hand in hand. What are the benefits?
Specialisation allows deeper learning - some one who deals with claims all day, gets better at them
Specialists have more familiarity with rarer claims types and events
Where a generalist may need to seek legal advice, a specialist may have already received an opinion on this type of situation
Avoiding handling claims allows for more specialisation in advice-giving
There are some reputational risks to consider - in the UK some claims management businesses have become associated with poor practice. They have chased business from policy-holders that may be eligible to receive compensation for policies that were sold badly by banks. While some would argue that this is a valuable service allowing consumers that may otherwise be unaware of the compensation available, there have been some systematically poor practices associated with them.
The field in New Zealand, however, is wide open. Advisers that do not have to opt for an all or nothing approach. You might handle most claims yourself, but call in support for review and backup on more demanding cases - or if you just need the help due to workload issues.
You can Click here to read more on the Risk Info article.
Naomi Ballantyne, CEO of Partners Life, has announced an end to offshore conferences. Link. Describing the recent media focus on revelations from the Australian Royal Commission, and then referring to the recent reports and commentaries by the regulators (RBNZ and FMA), the email explains that the current conference incentive, involving travel to Vietnam and Cambodia, will be the last.
Financial Advice NZ are inviting members to participate in an exclusive member-only Group Life and TPD insurance scheme. The offer is valid until the 30th of October and eligibility rules can be found here.
The heart of the advice process is advice. Essentially we have to answer the question 'what is good advice?' and then answer 'how can I make sure that happens?' the more rigorous and provable the answers to those questions, the easier the whole process gets, after which answering the question 'how can I prove that did happen?' becomes easy. For everyone: advisers, clients, insurers, regulators, and so on. This is the bit of the work that interests me most. Most advisers have a kind of theory of advice, a vision of 'ideal', and a great gut feeling for 'the best job in these circumstances'. These skills, formed by long years of working with clients are usually excellent. But most advisers are best at face-to-face communication with clients, not documenting their advice process. That may require some help.
Understanding your version of 'good advice' is difficult. I've even heard corporate lawyers struggle to define it with vague 'I think you know it when you see it' types of answer - but we really have to do better than that. Although houses may vary in size, style, configuration, and location - and many other characteristics - we also know that there are some criteria we can use to determine poor quality housing: overcrowding, lack of insulation, heating, ventilation, security, and so on. Understanding those criteria and how we check them is essential.
Gareth Vaughan has an excellent article, rich with detail, on the Co-op Money transaction with Pinnacle Life. First, let me be clear - Co-op Money NZ is not the same as Co-operative Life, often abbreviated to Co-op Life, a subsidiary of The Co-operative Bank.
Co-op Money NZ has sold a book of life business to Pinnacle Life, and non-life business to Provident. My understanding is that this is a move that has been contemplated for some years. The sale conclusion, however, was timely, as pressures from systems changes at Co-op Money NZ have been affecting the balance sheet. Lots of detail in Vaughan's article. Link.