Quality Product Research Limited has rated Southern Cross Life Insurance (underwritten by CIGNA) subscribers will be able to review the rating on www.quotemonster.co.nz from the middle of next week. The product rates 91.6% in most situations (it depends on the sum insured) and has slightly more limited special events increase in cover provisions and slightly tougher exclusions than the highest rated products.
Southern Cross has decided to distribute life insurance to current customers. They will offer a CIGNA product, branded Southern Cross. CIGNA should be congratulated, this is an institutional distribution partner on a par with landing, say, a major bank or building society, and is one of the best known brands in New Zealand. For Southern Cross is extends their product range into a valuable area - I am sure many health insurance clients expect Southern Cross to offer life insurance and are surprised when they do not. Here is the press release:
Not-for-profit health insurer Southern Cross is launching into the life insurance business.
It’s a natural extension for a Kiwi institution with a significant track record in looking after people says Head of Product and Marketing Chris Watney.
“Southern Cross has been looking after the health of New Zealanders for over 55 years. We believe people will feel confident buying life insurance from an organisation and a brand they know and trust.”
Southern Cross Life Insurance is backed by specialist life insurer Cigna, and will complement Southern Cross’ range of insurance products which includes day-to-day, basic surgical and more comprehensive health insurance plans, as well as critical illness cover, travel insurance and pet insurance.
Watney believes there is a natural synergy between health insurance and life cover.
“Like health insurance, people purchase life insurance at important junctures in their life - it might be when they get a student loan, start a family, buy a home or get married.
“This is something our members have been asking of us for some time and we think the combination of both life and health products under one brand will make sense to people.”
Southern Cross Life Insurance will provide cover of up to $1 million and be available for purchase online from tomorrow.
Watney says, “We have chosen to focus on selling our life insurance online because in this busy world, people increasingly use the internet to compare and purchase insurance products. However we also have a team just a phone call away should customers want to talk to someone.”
Customers in good health will be eligible for a 10% healthy living discount. An additional discount of 10% will be available to Southern Cross Health Society members.
Note: The quotation tool and website for Southern Cross Life Insurance will be online from the 31st March.
According to research done by Cigna cancer ranks as the number one health concern for Kiwi's. This interesting article on Stuff.co.nz states that cancer claims may not be paid out by private medical insurers as much as expected.
Both Naomi Ballantyne, CEO of Partners Life, and Rob Hennin, CEO of nib agree that while coverage for non-Pharmac drugs was really important for consumers, it wasn't the largest driver of claims cost.
That's interesting. We think that highlights how emotive the issue of rationing is.
In effect, no one likes to believe that money should limit the health-care provided. Most grown-ups realise at some point that the public health system is limited in some way. So even though it is very good value for money and we all still love having it, in some way we are kind of shocked and want to buy private medical insurance to restore us to the belief that whatever care is required it will be available... Of course, insurance has limits too, but the emotive part of the purchase process, especially when you have dependents is you want to be able to say 'we'll do everything we can'.
The other eye-catching point was the almost casual reference to buying trauma cover - but this is a really important point. Because Trauma is paid on diagnosis and not tied to any particular use of the money, if you really want to buy even completely unproven treatments, then you should buy a lump of Trauma cover. You may then make the choice that if the worst comes to the worst you will spend the final few months you have on earth in comfort
Independent research conducted for the annual Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score found that of the study comparing 11 countries New Zealanders were not only the chubbiest, but were "wildly off the mark" in estimating how fat they were.
"I think it's normal to be overweight now," New Zealand Nutrition Foundation dietitian Sarah Hanrahan said. "More than half the population is overweight. You will see more overweight than you will see within the normal weight range, and in some parts of town it will be even more than that."
Those surveyed who reported enjoying watching rugby were statistically fatter than the average person.The figures are from the annual Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score survey, with a sample size of 1000 New Zealanders, 50/50 male/female, various ages from 25+.
Some of the surveys top insights include:
New Zealand’s overall health and well-being score was 62.7, slightly below the average score across all countries surveyed of 63.4.
44% rated overall health and wellbeing as excellent or very good.
The highest health and well-being score was achieved by those in the 25-29 age bracket (49%), this falls to 40% from 40 and stays there.
Family health and wellbeing is the most important to new Zealanders at 50%, this is followed by physical wellbeing at 40%
Spending time with family was the most important for those aged 50+
More than half of Kiwis have juice and almost 30% of Kiwis have fizzy drinks in their fridges.
Cancer was rated the greatest health concern, ahead of debilitating illnesses, heart disease, and depression
Contrary to popular belief, just 5% drank alcohol daily; this was highest among 60+ at 14%. Almost half drink alcohol at least once a week, averaging 3.5 standard drinks per session.
An average of 34 hours a week are spent on digital activities (internet browsing, social networking, email, online video, gaming and online shopping) compared to Thai people who spend an average of 54 hours per week.
New Zealand had the highest percentage of overweight and obese people out of all countries surveyed.
I have just spent the morning at the Mind the Gap campaign launch, held at the Robb Auditorium in the Auckland School of Medicine. The programme has been put together by the FSC and is sponsored by Asteron Life, CIGNA, Partners Life, and Sovereign. The launch compiled lots of income protection statistics, stories, and strategies to lift the rate of income protection insurance in New Zealand. This needs to be done, as income protection insurance is arguably the cover that is needed more than any other - but it is the least used insurance product. More people have medical insurance than income protection.
But the exciting thing is that this can be turned around quite easily. Most of the obstacles to taking out income protection can be overturned. The resources at the site, including the case study videos, are good tools for doing that. Link.
Funeral cover is often the subject of complaints, and the one reported recently highlights the issue of competency among the often elderly purchasers. In this case the report was headlined "Family should know when elderly sign up for funeral insurance..." an article by Georgia Forrester from the Manawatu Standard.
The story talked about how the purchaser of the cover believed that it was a 'savings plan.' This must be the kind of case that makes people at CIGNA sigh. Personally I would have liked the reporter to tell us why they thought it was a savings plan, because nothing in the CIGNA marketing material or policy would suggest that it is. The policy document is really, really straightforward and says this, just to make sure there is no misunderstanding:
This Policy does not have any surrender or cash value.
You begin to wonder what else CIGNA could have done. You cannot spend a lot of time describing what a product is not - the field is simply too large, and it ends up being confusing. You cannot spend all your time trying to figure out ways your customer will misunderstand you, and clarify those, for the same reasons.
But the marketer in me reminds me that it is simply not okay to blame the customer.
As it happens there were clues to the problem in the article - although perhaps out of manners this was not tackled directly. The problem may have been one of competency. When the son of the applicant said that he felt the family should know when an elderly relative signs up for insurance this is because he must have had doubts about competence, and feel that the family could have helped.
Older people do not like to surrender their freedom, or necessarily admit when they may doubt their ability to manage. Even if it was agreed that insurers should advise family, they have no legal right to do so. The law does not cease to respect privacy simply because of age. There is another downside which must be avoided when involving family - the sad fact that some families are not the best guardians of the welfare of elderly relatives -- elder abuse occurs.
Perhaps, if the volume of these complaints begins to look higher than the norm for other types of covers, then subtle and respectful ways to test the competence of the person applying may need to be found.
Jenée Tibshraeny, at interest.co.nz, has a good piece about "navigating the road blocks preventing you from comparing 'apples with apples' when shopping for life insurance." As we spend a lot of time comparing policy documents we agree. The article is well worth a look.
"Of the 20 life insurance providers I’ve looked at, only half have published their policy documents on their websites.
These include AA Life, ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Cigna, Co-op Bank, Countdown, Kiwibank, Pinnacle and Westpac.
Those that haven’t include AIA, AMP, Asteron, Fidelity, MAS, OnePath, Partners Life, SBS, Sovereign and Volo."
Although I have to point out that AIA, AMP, Asteron, Fidelity, OnePath, Partners, and Sovereign do make their documents available publicly online: through sites like LifeDirect, KiwiCover, and others. If you google them, you can get several links to their policy documents.
Tibshraeny then moves on to highlight the differences in wordings. This is trickier territory. There's a difference between "bad" differences which are merely confusing and make it hard to compare policies and "good" differences which make a policy demonstrably better than the others. There is a difference between documents that have a lot of superfluous words and details for cover that you did not buy, and those that have lots of long words because they cover more medical conditions.
There have been some interesting developments in the UK to help raise consumer confidence in wordings.
But it all starts with a policy document.
Of course, most consumers do not read the document before they buy, but it is hard to argue that they should not have the opportunity to do so.