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.
The New Zealand insurance market is richer, bigger, and more complex than you might suspect. Through adviser demand Quality Product Research has expanded the number of companies researched to 28, and that number is still likely to rise.
If, like most advisers, you don't use anything like that number of companies, they may still be useful to you:
You may come across their products in the market and wish to do a comparison.
You may be looking for a product solution for a client and find it is offered by an insurer you were unaware of.
You may be approached by a new company and wish to build competence in advising on their products before you talk to clients about them.