Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector
Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

Seasons greetings and best wishes for the break

Card screen grab for blog v1

Our best wishes for your well-earned break

After years of using the same Christmas-themed card with a traditional tree on it, planning well ahead, we took a much more clearly southern hemisphere approach in January, using some artwork that focuses on what New Zealanders tend to do in the summer: head to the beach. At the time we did not know how particularly appropriate that shift in focus was going to be!

How has the life and health insurance sector performed for its many stakeholders?

While many will want to say good riddance to 2020, reflecting on a challenging year shows that there is an awful lot to admire in how the industry has performed: Insurers were able to reassure clients that their policies would work. They were able to offer a wide range of methods to support clients – allowing premium holidays, refunds, rate increase deferrals, and cover changes that helped people manage through the economic disruption that was a big part of the year. Claims services continued even through a tight lockdown, with insurers finding workarounds for signatures, meetings, and examinations, to help meet clients needs. That was impressive.

Like many others we were grateful for flexibility when we had to reschedule meetings, shift them online, and other aspects of our usual service had to be rapidly reconfigured for delivery in a digital-only context. We are fortunate that we can operate almost all our business functions entirely online – although we will take the credit for making decisions to have most of our IT infrastructure in leading cloud facilities. We are most proud of how the Chatswood and Quality Product Research teams performed through this period to enable continued support to our customers.

Through a period of disruption, what opportunities can be found?

The effects of COVID-19 disruption are real and likely to take some time to flow through the economy and into the financial accounts of insurers. Recent results show what we can expect from others yet to report. Economic modelling suggests the worst period for unemployment lies ahead – although so far, we have outperformed the models. There are reasons for optimism: vaccines, the power of digital to enable change, and evidence of greater flexibility and resilience than expected.

The environment will improve but relying on that alone is insufficient. Plenty of our 2021 workplan is laid out for us due to the scope of legal and regulatory change but merely responding to that will also be insufficient. Every research paper highlighting underinsurance is really underlining an opportunity for growth – those growth opportunities are ones we must build. We must build them - hoping for a mere return to what once was fails to recognise market reality and environmental change.

So, as well as meeting the requirements of the new Privacy Act 2020 that came into force on 1 December; as well as playing our part in the implementation of FSLAA on 15 March; as well as working with RBNZ on the implementation of IFRS 17 and the IPSA review; and as well as working with MBIE on new conduct law, we have to invest in the new. We have to work to bring new products to the marketplace. We have to work with the changed distribution environment – realising the long-predicted increasing business size in advised distribution. We also have to work to build better digital: there is such a great opportunity to displace some of the low-quality online insurance offers with better – an opportunity to open new frontlines against ignorance and indifference through digital advice.

Happy holidays and opening hours information

Opening times: On Tuesday the 22nd of December we will close the office at midday, and open again on the 11th of January, but you can call Russell on mobile any time. Our best wishes to you for the holidays and the New Year.

Thank you for your support, from all the team at Chatswood: Fran, Jerusalem, Kelly, Rob, Ed, Wanyi, Melissa, and Russell

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