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Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

28 April 2022 – IRD issued a special report on FDR foreign currency hedges with changes arising from the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2021–22, GST, and Remedial Matters) Act 2022 enacted on 30 March 2022. https://www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz/news/2022/2022-04-28-fdr-fx-special-report

28 April 2022 – FMA published under FMA Stories a Q&A session with FMA’s Tammy Peyper talking about investing and what to do when markets get rocky. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/fma-stories/q-and-a-with-the-financial-markets-authoritys-tammy-peyper/

28 April 2022 – RBNZ Deputy Governor and General Manager Financial Stability delivered a speech on New Zealand’s Experience with Macroprudential Policy. https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2022/04/our-evolving-view-of-macroprudential-policy

29 April 2022 – RBNZ media release noting strong public interest in the Future of Money following recent RBNZ consultations on the topic. https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2022/04/reserve-bank-pleased-with-strong-public-interest-in-the-future-of-money

Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

28 April 2022 - Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon David Clark, March 2022 diary released with the following potential financial services sector related meetings noted:

  • 16 March 2022 – Financial Markets Authority (Mark Todd, Chair, Samantha Barrass, CE)
  • 16 March 2022 – Fincap  (Ruth Smithers, CE and Jake Lilley, Senior Policy Adviser)
  • 18 March 2022 – NZ Bankers Association Council (Hon Grant Robertson, NZBA members)
  • 30 March 2022 – Speech at Open Finance Report Launch (Video conference attendees)
  • 30 March 2022 – Retirement Commissioner (Jane Wrightson)


Partners Life new claims platform live and more daily news

Partners Life and Fineos announced that Partners has moved onto the new claims platform, from their media release:

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand--(BUSINESS WIRE)--FINEOS Corporation (ASX:FCL), the market-leading provider of group and individual core systems for life, accident and health insurance, today announced that Partners Life has become the first life and health insurance company in New Zealand to go live on the FINEOS Platform. The FINEOS Platform is a purpose-built end-to-end SaaS core platform for life, accident and health insurers.

The Partners Life and FINEOS partnership replaced the insurer’s existing system with FINEOS Claims, giving Partners Life unparalleled operational and customer service benefits. The FINEOS Platform includes a market-tested, pre-configured business and regulatory content pack for the region known as FINEOS LISA (Life Insurance Solutions Australasia). Internally, the company will experience improved risk controls and claims management workflow covering life, TPD, trauma, income protection and medical products.

More daily news:

A New Zealand writer, Nicola McDougall, has a best selling personal finance book in Australia, The Female Investor.

Register with FANZ to hear from Tony Alexander next week giving an economic update

Cancer treatments not funded by Pharmac in New Zealand are covered in this Stuff article - always a good reminder about the value of private medical cover

Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

26 April 2022 – Ho David Parker, Minister of Revenue, released a speech titled “Shining a light on unfairness in our tax system.” https://www.beehive.govt.nz/speech/shining-light-unfairness-our-tax-system

27 April 2022 – RBNZ published its responses to feedback received on its proposed policy for debt serviceability restrictions (DSRs) on residential mortgage lending. https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2022/04/feedback-on-debt-servicing-restrictions-framework-informs-future-policy-direction

Pinnacle Life explains why it sometimes deletes Facebook comments and more daily news

Pinnacle Life has a good post explaining why it sometimes deletes Facebook comments. We have probably all seen comments which fall into this category: a real problem, often with an insurer, but sometimes not even with a life insurer, let alone the insurer who runs this particular page. There is genuine hurt and heart behind the complaint, but sometimes this strays into abuse. They explain:

We don’t believe other people should be able to use our page or posts to promote themselves or their beliefs, including spreading misinformation or disinformation. If our feed is used in this way, we will hide or delete those comments.

For example, we get genuine complaints from people who have been let down or treated badly by their insurer from time to time. Our first step in these instances is to check if they are a Pinnacle customer. Of all the complainants on our Facebook page, none have turned out to be a Pinnacle customer. These folk often have valid reasons to be angry or upset. These stories upset us too.

We usually reply to these comments offering support but also pointing out that every company and policy is different. If, however, the commentator turns it into a platform for a tirade against the insurance industry, we will hide or delete those comments.

In the last 12-18 months, the type of comment we have hidden the most has been to do with covid and covid vaccines. We will hide any comment that purports the covid vaccine to be a cause of death or injury or that insurance companies won’t cover you if you have had the vaccine or any other type of misinformation. We have written several blogs about covid and the vaccine, outlining the fact that covid makes no difference to whether you are covered or not, and neither does the vaccine.

Any comments with swearing or bad language will also be deleted!

The whole post offers a good insight into what it means to manage a social media page.


More daily news:

Southern Cross has won the Reader's Digest most trusted health insurer survey

AIA is hiring three underwritiers

The FMA published an article on NFTs. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/fma-stories/spotlight-on-nfts/

Long covid research and more daily news

Bloomberg reports on research which finds that Covid may persist in the gut and, by inference, in other organs, for months. This is explored as a source of some of the symptoms of long-Covid, an over-arching term for all symptoms that last beyond the initial infection rather than a single discrete disorder:

In the largest study tracking SARS-CoV-2 RNA in feces and Covid symptoms, scientists at California’s Stanford University found that about half of infected patients shed traces of the virus in their waste in the week after infection and almost 4% patients still emit them seven months later. The researchers also linked coronavirus RNA in feces to gastric upsets, and concluded that SARS-CoV-2 likely directly infects the gastrointestinal tract, where it may hide out.

Fidelity Life announced Toitū carbonreduce certification and more daily news

Fidelity Life are celebrating Earth Day with the announcement of achievement of Toitū carbonreduce certification. As more clients are interesting in aligning their purchases (including advice) with their values and concern for the future of the environment it will become increasingly important to be able to talk about the suppliers of financial products and their commitment to the same goals. While insurers tend to have relatively low carbon footprints relative to their size in financial terms, and so they have not yet been very actively questioned on their green credentials, we think it only a matter of time before the question is more common. From their media release:

To celebrate Earth Day today New Zealand’s largest locally owned life insurer Fidelity Life has formalised its commitment to a lower carbon future with the achievement of Toitū carbonreduce certification.

Fidelity Life Chief Customer Officer Peter Doherty says achieving Toitū carbonreduce certification is an early step for Fidelity Life on its sustainability journey.

“As the largest locally owned player in New Zealand’s life insurance industry, our customers, people, partners, shareholders and the wider community expect us to step up and help the country meet some big challenges, like climate change.

“Our initial sustainability focus is Kaitiakitanga and, for us, this means protecting the environment just like we protect our customers. It’s still very early days - moving into our new 6 Green Star building recently was our first significant stake in the ground, and now achieving Toitū carbonreduce certification formalises our commitment to a lower carbon, more sustainable future.”

Toitū’s carbonreduce programme is certified to the ISO 14064-1:2018 global standard and involves measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and committing to a reduction target.

Fidelity Life’s total net GHG emissions for the year ended 30 June 2021 were 503.41 tCO2e (tonnes of CO2 equivalent). It aims to reduce emissions by at least 38% by 2030 through focusing on areas including work-related transportation and the company’s supply chain.

More daily news:

  • Cigna's Gail Costa is hosting a Cigna Live Adviser Event with David Downs as guest speaker on 28 April, registration link.
  • Compliance Refinery is running a session on the psychology of the complaint, registration link.

Have a great ANZAC weekend


Conduct and brand

Recently, working through conduct requirements, I was struck by the similarity between the guidance on conduct given by the FMA and the brand advice offered by marketing guru Seth Godin. So often, in the past, we have heard of good compliant processes referred to as best practice. To judge by many 'band-aid' compliance processes which add another form rather than renovate the whole process, the 'best practice' part is usually something of an aspiration. However, in this case, the process for good conduct and the process to achieve a great brand are very closely aligned. The FMA document is lengthy, whereas the Seth Godin post is short, so I should point out the similarity I found is present throughout the FMA document where it talks about director's obligations around product and pricing, but best shown in the three dot points listed under 'what we want to achieve' at the bottom of page four.