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Insurer's innovative way to give support to frontline workers

Connecticut and Massachusetts healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis are being given the ability to apply for free life insurance. MassMutual has committed to offering three-year term life policies. Eligible workers will not be expected to undergo medical testing. MassMutual has said that they could accommodate 140,000 policies and plans to offer policyholders aged 18 – 50 a $25,000 death benefit and $10,000 to policyholders aged 51 – 60. 

Click here to read more


MassMutual has innovated in the provision of life insurance as a charitable tool in the past and now appear to be making a habit of it. It is a strategy that could be picked up by insurers or advisers, it just takes a little creativity to develop an attractive program and knowledge of who to talk with. 




Fidelity life - wellbeing offer to launch - updated Link

Fidelity Life is launching the Sharecare service to their clients in less than one week. Watch this video to see how one woman completes the RealAge test, engages with personalised content and is rewarded with Green Days as she changes her behaviour over time. 

Updated the link which was broken - apologies, fixed now.

FSC: Nineteenth Message

The Financial Services Council is running a series of webinars about future changes coming to financial advice regulation. These follow on from the Get In Shape Advice Summits in February. The first was held on Friday, attended by over 300. The next two are:

COVID-19 Deaths probably underestimated

Graphic detail, a data feature from The Economist, highlights an excess of deaths in line with the COVID-19 crisis, but not attributed to COVID-19. The implication is that if excess deaths rise and fall in high correlation with recorded COVID-19 deaths, and the exceed expected mortality, they are probably COVID-19 deaths. It is only where actual deaths minus COVID-19 deaths are falling below the expected line that other effects are likely: either a real drop in non-COVID-19 deaths (such as arising from reduced accidents) or some predicted deaths being counted as COVID-19 due to the presence of COVID-19. 

Annotation 2020-04-24 094053

Do take a look at the whole article: 


Fidelity Life issue underwriting guidance

Fidelity Life has issued underwriting guidance. This is valuable as underwriting on a case by case basis is required, providing guidance helps advisers and clients know what to expect: 

"New underwriting guidelines

Industries like travel, tourism, import/export, hospitality and retail will be particularly hard hit by Covid-19. On the other hand essential services like supermarkets and food producers, for example, will be largely unaffected.

The good news is at this time there’s still no need to put any broad, mandatory policy exclusions in place. And to be clear we’re still taking a case-by-case underwriting approach.

But, following discussions with our reinsurers, we’ve now introduced some new underwriting guidelines to ensure we’re consistent, particularly with disability cover and with individuals, occupations and industries impacted by Covid-19.

The guidelines include:
• postponing certain new business applications
• limiting maximum cover levels
• reintroducing an underwriting questionnaire
We’re not sure how long we’ll need to keep these guidelines in place but we’ll continuously review our position and let you know as soon as anything changes.

We want to help customers get disability cover

With the exception of Redundancy Cover all our products remain on sale.

With disability cover we’re committed to working with you to help customers get cover wherever possible. This means:
• We can still offer disability cover to many industries and individuals. We may also be able to underwrite agreed value benefits where there’s no change to duties, income or hours worked as a result of Covid-19
• We may be able to offer disability cover to individuals whose income could be impacted by Covid-19 by considering indemnity value benefits or limiting the benefit period. Wherever we can, we will look at options to provide cover
• We’re happy to include salaries and wages into income calculations, however in the present environment we can’t consider bonuses or commission payments"


Those income protection changes amount to a substantial change in policy. Given Treasury forecasts for the economy through to the end of 2021 I would not expect a return to pre-crisis IP underwriting in the near term, and perhaps, never. 

More details can be found at this link: https://advisers.fidelitylife.co.nz/media/q4nb13jv/fidelity-life-underwriting-guidelines-22-april-2020.pdf

Some Economic Outlook Resources

Swiss Re's paper offers a good global insight - thanks to Financial Advice New Zealand for picking up on this one. They predict a deep but relatively short recession in comparison to the global financial crisis. "Short" is a relative term, as in many markets worse affected by ours, that recession lasted years. They are worried about inflation due to the massive stimulus being applied to western economies. 

When The Economist wrote this article about the importance of a hedge against sudden inflation (published in January, back when COVID-19 was barely known) I did not really think this was the biggest risk - quite the reverse. It now looks to be wise indeed. 

Tony Alexander's articles provide a view laced with plenty of local data to help bring it all back home to our current situation. He's an optimist, but perhaps not as optimistic as Vittoria Shortt, ASB Bank CEO, who was reported in the NZ Herald as saying that the economy will be back up to about 80% of its capacity in level three - although when you scan her quoted statements in the article they are all more conservative than that. 

Asteron Life: Webinars

Asteron Life are hosting a number of webinars this week, below is a list of the topics:

Watch a demonstration of how to use AsteronConnect. From how to quote, understanding the application process, the underwriting rules engine and how to submit business through to Asteron Life via the e-app.

Learn how Asteron Life’s many Optional Trauma Benefits can work together to offer the perfect Trauma solution as well as affordability levers to help your clients keep their cover for longer. This session will get you thinking outside the box.

Why Asteron Life
You will gain an understanding of the Asteron philosophy of being a sustainable business. This is a high level overview of our points of difference, how you can leverage discounts and create a package for your clients that addresses short and long term needs as well as client affordability.

Adviser Portal (BEN) Campaign Tips
This session will cover an overview of our Business Enquiry Network (BEN) and how you can use its tools to connect you with your clients during and after Covid-19, including how to run campaign reporting.

Disability Income in Covid-19
Asteron Life has six Disability Income contracts, each designed to meet different needs of clients. This session will help you determine which DI cover is more suitable for your client’s individual circumstance, especially in a Covid-19 environment.  

Personal Insurance Overview 
You’ll gain a high level overview of all of our lump sum benefits and their points of difference in the market.

NEW - Claims
NOTE: These sessions will be offered in the week of 27 April.
James Thomson from Claims will lead you through our Claims philosophy, the impact of Covid-19, valuable claims statistics and help answer some of your FAQs.

Each webinar session will run for 60 minutes, which includes 45-50 minutes of content and 10-15 minutes for questions. 

Click here to register.

Normal in the new not-normal

All underwriting involves balancing a range of factors, but income protection underwriting is at least an order of magnitude harder to get right compared to life cover. Mental health, financial underwriting, and moral hazard play a much greater part. So many insurers are adopting a wait and see approach to the product until it is possible to assess the full impact on the economy of the control measures deployed against COVID-19. But now is not a normal time - as this announcement from Asteron Life illustrates, and I think underlines the point not just for them, but also for other insurers: 

An update on underwriting

With many clients facing uncertainty around the future of their businesses and jobs, Asteron Life will continue to consider requests for Disability Income cover on their individual merits at time of application.

To remain consistent with our usual underwriting process, applicants who are currently working at full capacity in their usual hours and duties can still be considered for Disability Income cover. Applicants who are not currently working will have their Disability Income cover assessment deferred until they return to work in their usual capacity. If you’re unsure as to whether or not a client is eligible for Disability Income cover, please contact your aligned underwriter or BDM for guidance before submitting an application.

As one adviser put it to me recently, maybe you don't need to have a lot of new rules, maybe you just need to underwrite. The point here though is that very few people right now are working at full capacity in the usual hours and duties. Essential workers are, mostly. I am, and many knowledge workers in the financial sector will be, albeit from home. Just that change in location will affect the approach of some underwriters. But most of the workforce aren't. That cannot be ignored. If you aren't working in your normal hours, or your normal duties, and you aren't receiving your normal pay, and your business (or sector, or employer) doesn't have its normal future, you can't really expect to get normal IP terms. So underwriting in the time of COVID-19 is difficult and as I pointed out in my post below, income protection may never be the same again

QPR Update

The latest QPR database has been sent out to subscribers and it has also been updated on Quotemonster. This version includes the following changes:

Remediation to:

  • AIA Future Insurability (Indexed vs Level)
  • Partners Life Covid-19 related changes

Product updates on QM:

  • You can now quote Partners Life Indemnity LOE with TPD Booster