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Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

27 Sept 2021 - Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon David Clark, August 2021 diary released with the following potential financial services sector related meetings noted:

  • 12 Aug 2021 – Financial Markets Authority (Chair of the Financial Markets Authority)
  • 26 Aug 2021 – Financial Markets Authority (Mark Todd (Chair), Rob Everett (CE), Edwin Mitson (Government and Industry Relations))

https://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2021-09/Hon%20Dr%20David%20Clark%20Proactive%20Diary%20Release%20%20August%202021.pdf

28 Sept 2021 - Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Bill completed second reading in Parliament. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_109905/financial-sector-climate-related-disclosures-and-other

29 Sept 2021 - Digital Identity Services Trust Framework Bill introduced into Parliament, designed to establish a legal framework for the provision of secure and trusted digital identity services for individuals and organisations. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_116015/digital-identity-services-trust-framework-bill

29 Sept 2021 – FMA announced the appointment of its current Head of Enforcement, Karen Chang, as Acting General Counsel until the FMA’s new Chief Executive joins next year. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/fma-appoints-karen-chang-as-acting-general-counsel/


nib announces Clearhead content series, and more daily news

nib has announced that Clearhead has launched a new content series in partnership with former All Black and Clearhead ambassador Nehe Milner-Skudder. The initiative is designed to support the wellbeing of most at-risk communities and in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week. Clearhead aim to open up a dialogue about mental wellbeing among Maori communities. Throughout the series, Milner-Skudder shares his mental health story and strategies that helped him in his journey. Milner-Skudder has noted that he is proud to be part of the initiative and hopes that his story helps more Māori to seek help when they need it.

“In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) and to better support the wellbeing of our most at-risk communities, Kiwi digital mental health company, Clearhead, has today released further resources to provide more tailored support for Māori, in partnership with nib foundation.

Alongside a suite of culturally appropriate upgrades across its website, Clearhead has launched a new content series with former All Black and Clearhead ambassador, Nehe Milner-Skudder (Ngāti Porou, Tapuika), with the hope of encouraging more open conversation about mental health across Māori communities.

The content series features Milner-Skudder sharing details of his own mental health journey, and the tips and strategies that helped him overcome his struggles – including the importance of reaching out to others for support.

Clearhead CEO, Dr Angela Lim says that while Māori populations are consistently over-represented in Kiwi suicide statistics and are twice as likely to experience mental health issues than non-Māori, most of the resources available in New Zealand are not designed to address these inequities.

“It’s important to note that the loss of indigenous culture and heritage can lead to challenges with identity, confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of belonging. We know from our own user data that Māori are 75% more likely to feel as though they don’t belong – and some of that comes down to not having adequate culturally responsive wellbeing support,” Dr Lim said.

“We wanted to help bridge that gap and respond to the feedback of our Māori users, who want to see content that looks and sounds like them to improve the chances of the material resonating,” she said. 

Clearhead ambassador, Nehe Milner-Skudder, says he’s proud to lend his support to the cause, and hopes that by sharing his story, more Kiwis (and in particular more Māori) will feel more comfortable to reach out when in need.

 “I used to see vulnerability as a weakness, but I’ve grown to understand that it leads to great strength. I think that’s a difficult mental obstacle to overcome, especially as a proud Māori male. What I hope people get from me sharing my story, is that you’re never alone in this battle and that there are resources and tools out there to help anyone who’s struggling,” he added.

The series of 20 videos sharing Milner-Skudder’s journey will be released via Clearhead’s Facebook Page during MHAW and will sit permanently on Clearhead’s website. Clearhead’s Māori-friendly website refresh is also live from today and now incorporates Kiwiana designs and includes a more holistic wellbeing journey, taking into consideration Māori models of care such as Manaakitanga – a principle that captures the idea of caring, supporting and uplifting others.

nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, says “While mental illness doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone, at any stage in their life, we know Māori are 30% more likely go on with these conditions undiagnosed compared to other ethnic groups*.

By funding the development of these resources through our foundation, we hope to help reduce some of the stigma around seeking support and promote Māori feeling more comfortable and empowered to seek help if and when it’s needed,” said Mrs Tribe.”

 

In other news

Financial Advice: The new draft Constitution

Financial Advice:  Financial Advice NZ 2021 Awards entries close 30th September

FMA: Momentum builds in KiwiSaver as scheme reaches $81 billion


Legal and regulatory review for the life and health insurance sector

28 Sept 2021 – FMA released its KiwiSaver Annual Report for the period ending 31 March 2021. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/kiwisaver-reaches-81-billion/

28 Sept 2021 - The Government released the draft legislation outlining the details of the policy limiting the right to deduct interest costs on residential property investments.

https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/details-interest-deductibility-rules-released

https://taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz/news/2021/2021-09-28-interest-limitation-proposals


Partners Life underwriting process updates, and more daily news

Partners Life has announced that there will be several changes made to the underwriting process from 27 September. The updates include the removal of certain requirements for large sums assured cases, changes to Monthly Disability non-medical limits and Trauma Cover non-medical limits, making questionnaires available on MyPartnersLife, and making the latest Adviser Underwriting Guide available on MyPartnersLife.

“The following changes were implemented into our systems over the weekend, and are effective today, Monday 27 September 2021:

Removal of some requirements for large sums assured cases
We have reflected on what value each of our limit requirements give to us, and have identified that a number have rarely affected the outcomes in the past. As such, we have removed the following from our standard limits requirements:

  • Resting ECG’s. This means that the Code C Medical Examination is no longer required to be completed by a Senior Physician, and a GP medical will now be sent in its place
     
  • HIV and Hepatitis C blood tests from Code B blood tests
     
  • HIV, Hepatitis C, Full Blood Count and ESR blood tests for Code C and above, where Life Cover does not exceed $5,000,000 and TPD Cover does not exceed $3,000,000

Changes to Monthly Disability non-medical limits
We have reflected on our non-medical limit sums assured for monthly disability cover, and have heard your comments around clients issuing cover at either $7,999 per month or $14,999 per month.  As such, we have changed the limits by $1 as a quality of life change, so you can now issue up to $8,000 per month on the personal statement only and between $8,001 and $15,000 per month with an additional Code B blood test and PMAR.

Changes to Trauma Cover non-medical limits
Previously our guidelines considered industrywide standalone Trauma Cover, while the rest of our non-medical limits only considered the risk held by Partners Life. We have updated this to now reflect all Trauma risk held by Partners Life, and have increased the non-medical limit from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.

Questionnaires available on MyPartnersLife
Historically when clients have had to provide additional disclosure after you have submitted an application, our underwriting team has requested relevant questionnaires be completed from the application form.

With the continued growth in MUM, we recognise the use of our paper application form is fast becoming a thing of the past. As such, we have digitised all of the manual application form questionnaires, which are now available on MyPartnersLife’s forms section.

Adviser Underwriting Guide
We are also pleased to advise that the latest version of our Adviser Underwriting Guideline is available on MyPartnersLife. This updated guide incorporates all changes to our product offerings made since March 2020, including the addition of our new Moderate Trauma Cover and Income and Expense Cover. It also reflects the updated non-medical limit requirements indicated above.”

In other news

Asteron Life: Feedback improves Asteron's trauma cover

From. Good returns: [The Wrap] It's time to check in on advisers' wellbeing

AIA:

GRTV Adam and Sam.mp4 from Good Returns TV on Vimeo.


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

23 Sept 2021 – First Parliamentary reading of the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2021-22, GST, and Remedial Matters) Bill completed, with referral to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_115767/taxation-annual-rates-for-2021-22-gst-and-remedial-matters

24 Sept 2021 - MBIE issued advice that the Responsible Lending Code has been updated to reflect the revised start date of 1 December 2021, while noting that Chapter 12 of the Code continues to come into force on 1 February 2022. https://www.mbie.govt.nz/assets/responsible-lending-code.pdf


FMA identify poor value product, and more daily news

The FMA released their findings on the value of credit card repayment insurance (CCRI). The FMA has concluded that CCRI is a poor value product for all customers. As a result of the findings, the FMA is now urging over 200,000 New Zealanders to evaluate if they still need this insurance. The conclusion was based on factors including that there is a limited level of underwriting completed and that customer’s medical and occupational circumstances aren’t assessed. Additionally, the FMA found:

  • Providers’ insufficiently checked customers’ suitability for CCRI, failed to take account of individual circumstances and relied on customers ‘self-assessment’ of their suitability
  • Providers had poor communications with CCRI customers
  • Consumer understanding of CCRI’s features and benefits was poor, with some not realising it was optional
  • Providers revealed a number of processes, systems and administrative failings, including incorrect premium charging
  • CCRI benefits reduced significantly when a consumer reached age 65, with many of the benefits - the policy definitions which can trigger a claim - no longer applicable, yet consumers premiums were not decreased to reflect this.

Click here to read more

“The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) - Te Mana Tātai Hokohoko - is urging an estimated 200,000 New Zealanders who have credit card repayment insurance (CCRI) to check if they still need the product, after a review found it to be poor value.

CCRI is a form of insurance which covers some, or all, of a customer’s outstanding credit card repayments in certain circumstances, including in the event of a customer’s bankruptcy, redundancy, injury, illness or death.

The FMA review, published today, has confirmed that CCRI is a poor value product for customers.

This is based on several factors including the limited level of underwriting completed by providers when they issue a CCRI policy. The underwriting process involves an assessment and calculation of the amount of risk the insurer is taking on for the person buying insurance. With the CCRI product, providers do not assess a customer’s medical and occupational circumstances. These factors mean numerous exclusions and prescriptive conditions are applied when someone makes a claim on the policy, so customers may not receive the benefits they expect.

The FMA report also found providers treated CCRI as a low-touch product, with customers receiving little communication or engagement. Therefore, many customers did not make claims. Because claims are being declined due to numerous exclusions or customers simply not making claims, this has resulted in providers experiencing low claims loss ratios and accruing significant  profits. The amount paid out in claims to customers is low compared to the insurance premium collected by providers.

The loss ratio for CCRI was reported as low as 10%, meaning around 10c is paid in claims for every $1 received in premiums. This compares, on average, to loss ratios of 80% for health insurers and 47% for life insurers.

CCRI withdrawn but still earning $20 million

The Joint Reserve Bank of New Zealand and FMA report into conduct and culture of the life insurance industry highlighted concerns about CCRI in 2019 and since then insurers have stopped selling it to new customers. The FMA remained focused on this product given an estimated 200,000 New Zealanders still hold in-force policies, with insurers earning around $20 million in premiums annually.

“We found underwriters and distributors are not displaying sufficient levels of customer care in their suitability assessments and communications with customers,” the report said. Product suitability assessments are a critical part of customer care, where a customer’s personal circumstances should be checked to ensure the product meets their needs and financial position.

James Greig, FMA Director of Supervision, said: “New Zealanders should check if they have CCRI and ask themselves whether they still need it. We encourage customers to contact their provider to check if this product is still suitable for them. Some providers indicated their sales process for CCRI had involved customers ‘self-assessing’ whether the product was right for them, based on product terms and conditions, and disclosure documents. This is unacceptable.”

Mr Greig noted the Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill before Parliament will introduce obligations and duties for insurers to put customers first. “Insurers need to focus on managing conduct risk to ensure customers’ interests are prioritised,” he said. “This is an essential requirement of the new legislation, so insurers need to invest in the systems and processes to meet these obligations and show they are putting customers’ first.”

The FMA found:

  • Providers’ insufficiently checked customers’ suitability for CCRI, failed to take account of individual circumstances and relied on customers ‘self-assessment’ of their suitability
  • Providers had poor communications with CCRI customers
  • Consumer understanding of CCRI’s features and benefits was poor, with some not realising it was optional
  • Providers revealed a number of processes, systems and administrative failings, including incorrect premium charging
  • CCRI benefits reduced significantly when a consumer reached age 65, with many of the benefits - the policy definitions which can trigger a claim - no longer applicable, yet consumers premiums were not decreased to reflect this.

Inquiries ongoing, remediation underway

The issues uncovered in this review are concerning and the FMA’s inquiries remain ongoing.

Some providers have remediated, or are remediating, customers affected by any of these issues. The FMA will continue to engage with providers to ensure this activity progresses and is prioritised.

The review was carried out to better understand the suitability of CCRI for consumers and followed the 2019 Life Insurer Conduct and Culture review, which found certain insurance products provided poor value.

Sixteen underwriters and distributors participated in the review, which involved gathering qualitative and quantitative data between October – December 2020. This included gross written premium, claims ratios, dates CCRI was offered, suitability of processes, product reviews and any known issues.

The FMA received 13 consolidated responses from underwriters and distributors, with some of them related entities or part of a parent organisation.”

In other news

Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week

FMA: FSC Connect: Financial Advice and Advisers in Focus

From Good returns: [OBITUARY] Highly respected adviser passes on


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

23 Sept 2021 – RBNZ advised that it will proceed with its proposal to tighten Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR) restrictions on lending to owner-occupiers to reduce risky mortgage lending from 1 November 2021. https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2021/09/reserve-bank-tightens-lvr-restrictions

23 Sept 2021 – FMA media release advising that credit card repayment insurance is a poor value product, urging customers to check policies. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/credit-card-repayment-insurance-a-poor-value-product-customers-urged-to-check-policies/


Industry awards finalists revealed, and more daily news

The Life Insurance Company of the Year award finalists for the 9th Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance awards were recently announced. Finalists include AIA, Asteron Life, and Fidelity Life. Additionally, Amy Cavanaugh, Pinnacle Life General Manager Operations and Len Elikhis, AIA Chief Officer - Product and Vitality are among the finalists for Young Insurance Professional of the Year award. Click here to read more

“The top New Zealand insurers will have their time to shine at the upcoming awards hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF).

This year will mark the 9th year of the awards that aim to "...unite all sectors of insurance for a celebration of excellence, professionalism and community".

The finalists were announced this week with Fidelity Life up against Asteron Life and AIA NZ for the top life insurer award.

The 2019 awards also saw Fidelity Life's Ben Holloway win the gong for the young insurance professional of the year.

This year, Pinnacle Life's Amy Cavanaugh and AIA NZ's Len Elikhis are two of seven young professionals nominated for the award.

"This year’s awards are centred around 2020, celebrating how our industry has supported the customer, community, and its people," the ANZIIF says.

The judging panel will explore how organisations or individuals have contributed to professionalism in the insurance industry and how they have successfully addressed issues by implementing innovative change.

The ANZIIF expects more than 400 of the industry’s top professionals spanning the breadth of New Zealand insurance to attend the awards being held at the Cordis in Auckland on Wednesday, November 17.

2021 ANZIIF New Zealand Insurance Industry Awards finalists:

Life insurance company of the year:
- AIA New Zealand
- Asteron Life
- Fidelity Life

Insurance learning programme of the year:
- AA Insurance
- AIG New Zealand

Young insurance professional of the year:
- Stephen Cantwell, FMG
- Amy Cavanaugh, Pinnacle Life
- Len Elikhis, AIA New Zealand
- Joseph Fitzgerald, Wotton + Kearney
- Steph Kelly, FMG
- Daniel Mathieson, Sherpa
- Megan Wolak, Delta Insurance

ANZIIF lifetime achievement award: Announced on the night”

Amy Cavanaugh:

Lo-amy-clr

Len Elikhis:

Aia-elt-len-elikhis

 

In other news

From Good returns: Life cover - the hard sell for Kiwi insurers

Swiss Re: How much more life insurance needs to be sold

From Good returns: Full licensing - what does it look like?


AIA announce new research project, and more daily news

AIA NZ has announced that it will be sponsoring an independent research project, NZ Adviser Wellbeing Research. The project aims to understand the mental health and overall wellbeing of advisers. AIA is working with Australian researchers Dr Adam Fraser and Dr John Molineux who were both part of a similar study conducted in Australia earlier in the year. The study will explore the current mental health of New Zealand advisers, the habits and attitudes of advisers with positive mental wellbeing as well as the mindsets and behaviours necessary to manage market disruptions. Chief Partnership Insurance Officer Sam Tremethick has noted that AIA is looking to understand the key challenges experienced by advisers. Advisers looking participate can click here.

 

“AIA NZ is sponsoring an independent research project to better understand the mental health and wellbeing of financial advisers in New Zealand.

The project, called the ‘NZ Adviser Wellbeing Research’, aims to understand the current state of mental health of NZ financial advisers, explore the habits and attitudes of those advisers who are currently experiencing positive mental wellbeing, and understand the mindsets and behaviours needed to evolve and manage significant market disruptions.

 

Sam Tremethick, Chief Partnership Insurance Officer AIA NZ, says “We’re looking to undertake a ‘temperature check’ on how advisers are going here in NZ. We know there has been a lot of change in recent times, and this research will seek to understand the key challenges experienced by financial advisers locally, particularly in light of increased regulation, operating in a global pandemic and changing client needs.”

AIA NZ is working with Sydney-based researchers Dr Adam Fraser, founder of The e-lab, and Dr John Molineux who specialise in producing reports of this nature. The pair undertook a similar research project earlier this year in Australia, which was a first-of-its-kind study into Australian financial adviser wellbeing.  Sponsored by AIA Australia, key findings showed poor levels of mental and physical health among financial advisers including

·               73% of respondents had high levels of burnout from stress

·               67% had experienced some level of depression

·               61% had poor sleep due to stress. 

“At AIA NZ we’re committed to helping people live healthier, longer, better lives, and we want to understand how we can better support the NZ adviser market to understand and improve their own health and wellbeing,” Sam says. 

The research findings will highlight future opportunities and inform practical applications for improving wellbeing for NZ advisers, and will be shared widely to benefit the broader industry.
Take part and share your views! Please click the link to take part in the NZ Adviser Wellbeing Research

 

The NZ Adviser Wellbeing Research is open until 10 October 2021 to all financial advisers in New Zealand, not just those involved in the life insurance business. It is not a requirement to have previously placed business with AIA NZ.

 

To encourage participation and show our appreciation, AIA NZ will donate $10 to the Mental Health Foundation for every NZ Adviser Wellbeing survey response received (up to $2,500). Please share your views today; these findings will benefit our industry as a whole, and offer valuable insights into current states of adviser mental wellbeing,” Sam says.  ”

 

In other news

Cigna: Specific Injury short-form application is now available for adding to existing business. The form can be accessed on Adviser Hub.

Cigna: Cigna Live remains postponed until further notice

Partners Life: second educational module: Policy Ownership has been released

Fidelity Life: underwriting and medical forms are now on Adviser hub

Fidelity Life: signatures can be drawn straight on editable forms using a touch screen or inserted as an image

Fidelity Life: application forms are being updated so they can be filled in and signed by customers at home

Fidelity Life: if advisers need to contact Fidelity Life to update anything regarding applications advisers will need to cc the customer or attach their original email for records. This includes:Disclosing medical history, financial detail, occupational or even pastimes. Any changes to their application, for instance a change in sum insured, wait period or benefit period.Start date confirmations and similar notifications

 

 


QPR: group life and health product research

Many advisers come across clients who have cover with a major employer group scheme and would like to be able to access research to support recommendations to either retain, replace, or dispose of this cover. "Wrap-around cover" with very high excess levels so that benefits such as good non-Pharmac drugs coverage can be offered is a common component of advice - but understanding what is actually covered already is a key part of making any effective recommendation. As many of these groups have terms and conditions specific to them, or are at least based on a different 'foundation' product to current retail offers, it is not simply a matter of looking at current retail policies. Therefore, we are often asked if we compare group life and health insurance on Quotemonster as part of the quality product research service. QPR does not, although at times Chatswood does, offer bespoke comparison to larger adviser groups and insurers - this is not an economic solution for most advisers. However, we are now defining the scope of work to add group life and health comparison to the site. If you would like a say in how the new service works we would be delighted to hear from you. In particular we would like to know what the most common group schemes you come across are and which you would most like us to provide research on. Please send your comments to either Treena Jordan, Doreen Dutt, or me.