« December 2015 | Main | February 2016 »

Fixed Term Life Cover Enables the Coverage of People with HIV in the United States

This article on LifeHealthPro website explains that last month Prudential Financial began offering 10 and 15 year term life insurance policies to people living with HIV.

This is interesting. Essentially these folk have figured out that in very many cases people treated with the current basket of retrovirals and other tricks can live a long time with HIV. What is even more interesting is that this approach could be used with all sorts of other forms of long-term, chronic, disorders that will probably shorten life, but can be managed for a long time. I wonder if this approach could be adopted more often in New Zealand if we did not have such a fixation on a product which is, in effect, renewable indefinitely - but actually held for much much shorter periods. By removing the right of renewal at a fixed and known point coverage can be issued for lots of people, and they can get on with their lives in the meantime. 

Southern Cross Announces Insurance Benefits Not Seen Before in NZ

Southern Cross have recently made this announcement about new additions to their policies with a benefit not yet available in the country.

New Zealand’s largest health insurer Southern Cross is adding an allowance for prophylactic treatment and increasing the surgical claim limit on most of its plans.

Prophylactic or preventative treatment is treatment undertaken to prevent a disease or illness from occurring where there’s an identified high risk – recently made prominent by Angelina Jolie, who had her ovaries removed and a double mastectomy due to the BRCA1 gene mutation linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

Southern Cross Health Society is the first New Zealand insurer to offer this benefit as part of its plans.

Head of Product and Marketing, Chris Watney says, “Genetic testing can identify a person’s increased risk for developing a life-threatening condition and is changing the way people look at their health.

“If it’s highly likely a condition – such as breast cancer or ovarian cancer – will develop, prophylactic surgery can be recommended as the best course of action. We want to support members in this difficult decision and give them more options.”

The prophylactic benefit is a lifetime allowance that ranges from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on the member’s plan.

Gift of Knowledge, a national charity and support network for New Zealanders affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, has called the new benefit a “big step forward in recognising prophylactic surgery can be life-saving”.

“Every day we see families deeply affected by illness and loss from these cancers. While prophylactic surgery is never an easy decision for anyone to make, we applaud Southern Cross for supporting their members and leading the way in offering this as an option,” says founder Nicola Coom.


Content Creation - the Nemesis of the Adviser Embarking On a New Online Marketing Campaign

Lots of advisers have turned their face against online marketing. If you are reading this, I am guessing you are not one of them, or you at least have an open mind. If you are looking to do more online and you have done some preliminary study then you may have discovered that the biggest stumbling block is content creation. For many advisers verbal communication has led their skill-set, and written communication has followed. But even if you have previously been a competent and productive at writing client marketing material in the real world you will need to revise those skills for online.

There are tips that can save you from embarrassment, and irrelevance, and help grow meaningful connection with both current and potential clients. While there is a lot of material about general content creation there is very little specific to insurance risk advice.

We are contemplating creating some guidance to advisers and authorising some use of Quality Product Research content to participating advisers. If you would like to know more please drop us a line. 

Pharmac to Hear Palmerston North Nurse's Case

Kelly McNabb, a nurse from Palmerston North was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in December 2014 and was left no option but to try Avastin - a medication that costs $7,885 a fortnight.

In early February McNabb alongside some colleagues and friends will present her case to have the drugs funded publicly for those suffering similar conditions. 

Click here to read more.

Replacement of Insurance by No-Advice Sales

JP Hale has this excellent post on the risks of replacing a policy when you go and get a "no-advice" sale. This process is common, in effect, the new adviser says "I'm not advising on that other thing, just look at this and see if you like it". This is done with varying degrees of clarity, but must be happening on a large scale because we have both high levels of lapse and new business, persistent groups of the population that have no insurance and never have, and low reported rates of replacement business... not all of those numbers can be correct. Link.

IDS Expands Team for 2016 Growth

Independent Development Solutions (IDS) run by Barry Read has announced two new appointments to support the growing business for the year ahead. Trevor Slater will join the team as general manager and Angi Mann will move her role from a contractor to IDS to an employee as adviser relationship manager.

Full article here on NZ Adviser.

UK Star Economist to Tell NZ Industry Why Finance Needs to Come Back to Earth

As a guest of NZ's CFA Society UK economist and author John Kay will voice his harsh critique of the financial services industry. 

This article on Investment News NZ reads:

"Kay is booked for a two-hour CFA luncheon at Auckland’s elite hangout, The Northern Club, on February 11 to expound on his argument that the global financial services industry has grown too big for its boots.

The noted economist, author and Financial Times columnist put the case in his latest book, ‘Other people’s money’, that an oversized financial sector has “detached itself from ordinary business and everyday life”, according to promotional material.

“[Finance] has become an industry that mostly trades with itself, talks to itself, and judges itself by reference to standards which it has itself generated,” the publishing blurb says.

“And the outside world has itself adopted those standards, bailing out financial institutions that have failed all of us through greed and mismanagement.”

Jeffrey Stangl, CFA Society NZ president, said while Kay’s views might prove controversial they “dovetail” with the organisation’s agenda to lift standards across the industry.

“We invited [Kay] to stir the pot a bit, to get people thinking,” Stangl said.

“The CFA Society and Institute are all about creating a better-informed marketplace and thought-leadership for the financial community.”

For example, he said the CFA ‘Investor bill of rights’ chimes with Kay’s agenda to restore trust in the capital markets by raising ethical standards, transparency and consumer engagement.

“As part of that we’re promoting the ‘Investor First’ month in May this year,” Stangl said. “Change needs to start from the grass roots. “If investors demand more they have a great power to change the market.”

As well as his academic roles that include visiting Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and a Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, Kay is a director of a few listed companies.

Stangl said tickets were still available for Kay’s Northern Club gig, which seats a maximum of about 150. Professional continuing education credits are available for attending."

One in Five Lie to Their Doctor

Southern Cross have released the results of a survey taken out in November 2015 uncovering the truth about what people lie about to their Doctors.

"Do you smoke? How often do you drink? Do you exercise often? And how much do you spend on takeaways?

These are just some of the routine questions one in five Kiwis lie to their doctor about because they’re ashamed of their unhealthy lifestyle.

This startling stat was discovered during a recent Southern Cross Healthcare Group survey which showed that: 

  • 22% of people lie to their doctor
  • Of those who lied, 35% admitted they could be in better health
  • 33% didn’t want to own up to their bad behaviour
  • 30% were embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about their health issues
  • 25% were afraid of the response
  • 17% didn’t want to disclose personal information

Southern Cross Health Society head of clinical operations Geoff Searle says “If there’s one person you should be truthful to it’s your doctor.”

“You might think a white lie here and there won’t hurt, but it could seriously hurt your chances of a long and healthy life.”

The survey found that shame and embarrassment were the main factors stopping people from talking honestly and frankly with their doctors.

Lying about your exercise levels, how much you drink or smoke,  or deliberately omitting some of your medical or family history  will limit your doctor’s ability to give you the best health treatment, advice and to screen appropriately for a number of problems, says Taradale Medical GP Dr Mark Peterson.

“Doctors with a bit of experience are not going to be shocked or embarrassed by a patient’s admissions about their lifestyle - we have come across most things before. It is much better to be upfront to begin with because the truth usually comes out in the end,” says Peterson.

“Our Code of Ethics means that anything you disclose to your doctor will remain confidential and will only be shared with other health professionals with your permission.

“What’s important is putting aside any embarrassment and being  honest about your health – this is the only way to make sure you’ll get the timely advice and treatment you need.”


Editor notes:

The Southern Cross survey was conducted by TNS online amongst 2002 randomly selected New Zealanders and was carried out in November 2015. Responses were weighted to be representative of the New Zealand over 15 population by age, gender and region.


Insurer Technology Changes in 2016

There have been several news items about insurer technology changes. One came from McKinsey predicting a substantial fall in administration costs as technology investment lifts productivity. Another came from the US-based Life Health Professional news media which highlighted five different technology trends.

In fact we cannot reasonably expect to see much impact in New Zealand in 2016 - unless insurers move remarkably and unusually fast. Core systems, implementation of big data projects, and fundamental process changes all take a long time to implement. They also require investment and often the nod from off-shore parent companies.

I am worried that insurers may wait until it is too late: when they may be faced with a well-motivated start-up unhindered by existing investments and processes. There have been signs of this activity with both local and international focus of fintech investors on the insurance sector, which appears to be lagging behind banks and payment handlers in the necessary technology investments.