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Insurers encouraging advisers operating remotely

Most of the people I know have had a very busy few days - apart from those that were already in self-isolation. The small business buyer wasn't at Pak N Save - they were at PB Tech. Not everyone is at the same place in their journey of digital transformation, and this week is a rough one for those that have more manual processes. For them, as for all of us, digital provides a welcome slice of good news.

Start with your basic hardware set-up (a reasonable laptop or desktop computer, a decent internet connection, microphone, camera, good chair, a good room in which to set it all up). Perhaps you already had an extensive home rig - and you just had to plonk the work laptop down on the desk. But maybe you've been busy with family and the pieces are in boxes taken from work over the last few days. You might want to check out some of the shots of home set-ups that people are sharing online to get some ideas. Here are two great links: 

https://refuge.nolayingup.com/t/show-us-your-rona-rig-wfh-set-up/24073

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-18/global-traders-creating-the-ultimate-work-from-home-rona-rigs

I particularly like the ones that show innovation, with things like computers squeezed into odd spaces, some DIY to get desks and screens that work well, and so on. The hardware, the physical office set-up in space is just the tip of the iceberg, however. It's the software, the tools, the process and the attitude you bring that makes the difference. 

Here digital has some great news for you - even if your software set-up is minimal, it doesn't matter. Digital can be adopted and improved well during your isolation - services can be set-up, signed up, and learned purely online. If you haven't done this before, you can get help online. Your tech support people will be delighted to help you - remotely, of course. Insurers have already got a wide range of online tools covering quoting, needs analysis, application, and underwriting. Quotemonster is operating - usage is up about 20% - so you can do needs analysis and write SOAs. 

There are also lots of online resources and a blizzard of emails from insurers about how cover works (normally for existing clients), how underwriting will work during this period (some restrictions on available product and some additional underwriting rules and processes), and how claims and administration work with most teams operating from home (its a bit slower, and call volumes are higher).

If you can offer a reassuring message to clients, I expect it will be gratefully received. If you can reach out to prospects and the wider community, some will doubtless respond. 

 


Delay of start of financial advice regime confirmed

Sharon Corbett, Manager Financial Markets Policy, at MBIE has made the following announcement: 

The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has agreed that the start of the new financial advice regulatory regime set out in the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act 2019 will be delayed from 29 June 2020 to early 2021.

The new regime is important for promoting consumer confidence in financial advice and the Minister remains committed to seeing the changes through. For now, however, it’s important the financial sector focuses as much as possible on supporting its customers as well as its own staff and their families.

The exact revised date of the new regime will be communicated in due course, well in advance. We expect the new commencement date to be in March 2021 at the earliest. 

The transitional licensing application window will be extended until the same date in early 2021 and the new Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services will also come into force on that date.

The existing regime under the Financial Advisers Act 2008 will continue to apply in the meantime until the new regime commences.

We are still working through all the flow-on implications from this delay and the necessary legal mechanism to effect this change. We are aware that market participants are at varying levels of readiness for the new regime and that the delay will impact everyone differently.

The FMA has confirmed that transitional licensing will also remain open and the FMA licensing team will continue processing applications as resources are available and in time for the start date of the new regime in early 2021. Those who have already had licences approved or who have already submitted a transitional licensing application will not need to reapply – please see the FMA announcement and FAQs which will shortly be updated.

The disclosure regulations that were due to be made this month have now been delayed so that the commencement dates of those regulations can be updated. We hope to make these regulations available within the next couple of months.

We will be in touch when we have more details to share. We’d be grateful if industry associations could please pass the message onto members.

Thank you for your understanding in these challenging times and we hope that you are all staying well.

Kind regards

Sharon 

Sharon Corbett

MANAGER, FINANCIAL MARKETS POLICY

COMMERCE, CONSUMERS & COMMUNICATIONS BRANCH


AIA receives Gender Tick accreditation

AIA New Zealand is excited to announce that it has been awarded the YWCA Gender Tick; becoming the first insurer in New Zealand to be recognised with this prestigious recognition.

Gender Tick is an accreditation programme for businesses designed to show commitment to providing fair workplaces for all employees regardless of gender. The programme independently assesses employee policies and processes to ensure that businesses are on the right track and are doing the right thing for their people.

AIA New Zealand’s CEO, Nick Stanhope, says:

“This award is testament to our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion and to our company philosophy of ‘doing the right thing, in the right way, with the right people’.”

“Over half of our leadership team and six out of our ten executive leaders are women. As a company we have long been committed to a diverse and balanced workplace that supports our people to succeed, and so it is great to have been recognised with this accreditation.”

Theresa Gattung CNZM, who chairs the board and is herself a long-standing advocate for gender equality in the workplace, says:

“I am absolutely delighted. As a company we have made deliberate efforts over many years to introduce policies and practices that advance equality and women’s empowerment.”

“To be recognised with the Gender Tick, alongside other leading Kiwi companies, is proof of our commitment to gender equality, diversity and to creating a workplace where our people can be empowered to succeed.”

Gender Tick Director, Dr Kaisa Wilson, says:

“Receiving the Gender Tick is an important recognition of doing the right thing. Our assessment showed that AIA New Zealand is not only doing the right thing but is excelling in several areas across leadership, policy and processes, and transparency which all help to support employees regardless of gender.”

Gender Tick

In order to achieve Gender Tick accreditation businesses must demonstrate excellence in the following areas:

  1. Gender inclusive culture
  2. Safe Workplace
  3. Flexible Work & Leave
  4. Leadership Representation
  5. Equal Pay

For more details on the YWCA Gender Tick programme visit https://www.gendertick.com/


Partners Life and Cigna offer claims reassurance

As most people cancel their life and trauma insurance before retiring, the majority of life and trauma policyholders are younger and more likely to survive COVID-19. For this reason, life insurers are not expecting an increase in claims as a result of COVID-19. In this article both Partners Life and Cigna confirm that they have pandemic insurance in place, but also remind customers that they have relatively low levels of insurance on those that are most likely to be affected. Click here to read more :

"From a claims point of view, we don't believe it will come across in our claims experience on the types of products we sell," said Naomi Ballantyne, founder and managing director of Partners Life.

Most people cancelled their life and trauma insurance long before they retired, meaning most policyholders were younger, and had a very high likelihood of surviving a Covid-19 should they be infected.

I expect all New Zealand life and health insurers are in good shape to meet all claims.


Message from FSC about COVID-19

The FSC has issued a message to all policyholders who are worried about the effects of Covid-19 on their current policies, Richard Klipin has suggested that they should contact their financial advisers or insurers. Furthermore, people looking to take out new policies are advised to honestly answer all questions, including their recent travel history.

Click here to read more.


FMA confirms list of essential financial services - and helps insurers out with a claims

The FMA has confirmed a list of essential financial services, worked out in conjunction with the council of financial regulators in a recent statement:

The Government has confirmed that financial services are essential services that will continue operating when New Zealand moves to level 4 in its COVID-19 response.

The Council of Financial Regulators (CoFR) has consulted with the Government to provide detail on those financial services that should be considered essential services. This includes all financial institutions and suppliers or providers to those entities that are essential to ensure continued operation of our financial system and access to this system for all New Zealanders.

The detailed list includes specific inclusion for suppliers where they support essential operations, including the importance of those involved in claims: 

Access to medical records through doctors’ surgeries
Psychologists, counsellors etc. (mental health claims)
Access to medical laboratories for medical tests
Private hospitals and associated staff/professionals
Access to external medical specialists.

This will be a great relief to insurers and their clients. While we all expect that health resources will go first to saving lives, while there is capacity to provide help with claims, it is important.  Some clients depend on claims payments these for their livelihood. Even for clients that are not on claim, confidence in insurers is an important component of confidence in the financial system.

 


COVID-19 and the implications for health and longevity

It has long been reported that New Zealanders have high life expectancy. We know the leading causes of health loss, but we do not know how severely COVID-19 will affect the the health of New Zealanders.

A good view of mortality data (note: written about 36 hours ago, as things are changing fast) is available in this Brookings Institute data. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/03/23/a-mortality-perspective-on-covid-19-time-location-and-age/ 

Age and underlying health conditions are major factors in the case fatality rate, which also makes the underlying health of New Zealanders a subject of great interest right now.

Below are images from the Health and Independence 2017 report that illustrates causes of health loss and the number of years New Zealanders are living in poor health. 

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 8.16.38 AM

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 8.16.54 AM


Chatswood Operations - Running Remotely

I am glad to confirm that we have now completed the shift to remote working for the Chatswood team. Of course, for several of our team (Rob, Shaun, Wanyi) this is the usual mode of operation. For Fran, Kelly, Jerusalem, and me, we are now well set up to help you. Feel free to call, email, or schedule online meetings with the same freedom that you would have done before. 

At this difficult time I would like to wish you all well, personally, as you seek to reassure co-workers, staff, clients, and perhaps your friends, or children, that we will emerge from this current crisis at some stage. Now is the time to get on with what needs to be done. A great antidote to worry is work.