Fidelity Life ratings under review, and more daily news

It has been reported that the A- (excellent) Financial Strength Rating and the A- (excellent) Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating are under review. This is a normal development in the case of substantial acquisitions. AM Best's decision comes after it was announced that Fidelity Life is set to purchase Westpac Life. AM Best have applied an "under review" status with developing implications status on Fidelity Life’s ratings to assess the financial and operational impacts the purchase will have on Fidelity Life. The rating status will remain in place until the purchase is complete, and AM Best is able to conduct an assessment of Fidelity’s credit rating fundamentals. Click here to read more

“SINGAPORE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AM Best has placed under review with developing implications the Financial Strength Rating of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “a-” (Excellent) of Fidelity Life Assurance Company Limited (Fidelity Life) (New Zealand).

These Credit Ratings (ratings) actions follow the announcement on 6 July 2021, that Fidelity Life has entered into an agreement with Westpac Banking Corporation to acquire its New Zealand life insurance business, Westpac Life-NZ-Limited for NZD 400 million. The transaction also includes the establishment of an exclusive 15-year life insurance distribution arrangement with Westpac New Zealand Limited.

Concurrently, Fidelity Life has announced an equity investment of NZD 140 million from a new investor, Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation Limited (Ngāi Tahu Holdings), to fund the acquisition partly. Fidelity Life’s current largest shareholder, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, and Ngāi Tahu Holdings are expected to fund the majority of the acquisition.

The transactions, which are subject to customary closing conditions, including shareholder and regulatory approvals, are expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

The under review with developing implications status reflects the need for AM Best to assess fully the financial and operational impacts of the acquisition and the funding structure on Fidelity Life’s rating fundamentals, including on its balance sheet strength and business profile.

The ratings will remain under review pending completion of the acquisition, and until AM Best can complete its assessment of Fidelity Life’s post-acquisition credit rating fundamentals.”

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Partners Life on benefits of private health care, and more daily news

Partners Life Managing Director Naomi Ballantyne has shared some insights into the benefits of medical insurance and private health care. Ballantyne has said the difference in available treatments, waiting times, and procedure time limits in public and private health care can be vast. Ballantyne has said that the key benefits of medical insurance are having individual-specific treatments available and hospitals not bulk buying treatments. Ballantyne has expanded by saying that unlike public health care providers, the private system offers every option available, with a focus on options more specific to each circumstance. Ballantyne has noted that the only limitation to private health care is ensuring treatments are Medsafe approved and approved by specialists.

“New Zealand’s public health system takes care of millions of Kiwis each year, but when it comes to treating more complex illnesses, the benefits of having private health insurance are often not well understood – and, according to Partners Life MD Naomi Ballantyne, the difference in available treatments can be huge.

The limitations of the public system include the types of drugs it has access to, waiting times, and the time limits set on certain procedures - all of which Ballantyne says can make a significant difference to somebody’s treatment process, particularly when dealing with a physically and emotionally difficult illness, such as cancer.

She said that access to individual-specific treatments is one of the key benefits of having medical insurance, as these types of treatments are not usually subsidised and can be expensive to access without an insurer’s help.

“The public system ‘bulk-buys’ their treatments, whereas the advantage of the private system is that it doesn’t need to do that,” Ballantyne said.

“In the private system, you are offered every option that you can get, and these options are often more specific to an individual’s circumstances rather than everyone just being given the same type of chemo, for example. In the private system, the doctors can offer drugs that are specific to a person who has a certain type of illness at a specific stage, and if you have private insurance, that’s all funded.”

“As a private insurer, we are not limited to whether something is subsidised or not,” Ballantyne explained.

“We’re only limited to whether it is Medsafe approved and whether your specialist has recommended that for you. That’s a huge difference between someone who is just given a generic treatment through the public system, or someone who has to sell off their assets to try and pay for a specific drug that isn’t subsidised.” Click here to read more

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FSC: FSC Consumer Research to be launched 15 June 2021

ACC: 95% of sexual abuse claims fall through ACC system

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Cigna implements new commission, and more daily news

Cigna has implemented several new changes to their commission model. Advisers will now receive 100% of Cigna’s documented commission rates, regardless of their persistency rates or group affiliation. With this change, advisers will now have the power to decide how commissions are split. Commission payments will now begin from month two. Cigna has said this change was introduced in acknowledgement of the extra time and effort advisers are putting into their businesses. Another change is giving adviser the option of choosing the payment period with the as earned option. Advisers can now choose between upfront payment and spreading the payment over the first two years. Advisers that choose to spread payment over two years will ensure that there is no clawback if a policy lapses during that time. Cigna has added more selection to their discounting options. These options have been linked to spread commissions.

Renewal Commissions will now be paid from month two

We recognise that the servicing of your customers doesn’t start from month 13, it starts from the moment their policy is issued.

With the new regulatory environment you’re now operating in, we acknowledge the extra time and work you’ll be dedicating to your business. So we want to support you further as you work harder to protect your customers.

From now on you’ll be paid all the commission

All Advisers, regardless of persistency level and/or Group affiliation, will now receive 100% of our documented commission rates. We can help facilitate any splitting of commissions you need to do, but you are in total control of where it goes.

We’re introducing an ‘as earned’ payment option

Choice matters. So we’re giving you option to receive your commission payments over the first two years, instead of upfront. With this option there’s no clawback if a policy was to lapse in the first two years.

More flexibility with our discounting options

To provide you more flexibility and options to suit your customer’s needs, we’re adding more selections to our discounting options and we’ve linked these to our spread commissions.

Updating our commission to include best in market features reflects our ongoing commitment to you and helps ensure New Zealanders have continued access to the quality advice you provide.”

Cigna commission table April 16 2021 3
Cigna commission table April 16 2021 3
Cigna commission table April 16 2021 3

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Cigna: Insurance for living campaign 


FSCL complaint foreshadows implications of non-disclosure, and more daily news

After speaking with an adviser a woman proceeded to cancel her $300,000 policy and add a trauma/critical illness policy. After suffering a back injury a month after making the changes, the woman’s claims were denied.

“The woman met with an insurance adviser to review her cover – she already had a $1 million life insurance policy with one insurer and another $300,000 policy with another, but no trauma, critical illness or mortgage replacement cover.

The adviser recorded that she was working 28 hours a week as an accountant in her own company and studying part-time.

It was recommended she combine her life insurance policies with one of the existing insurers and cancel the $300,000 policy. The adviser also said she should include some trauma or critical illness cover and mortgage protection cover in case she could not work for a period of time.

The woman accepted the adviser’s recommendations. She cancelled the $300,000 policy and a new policy providing cover for trauma/critical illness commenced in October. In November she tripped and fell, injuring her back.”

When speaking with the adviser the woman noted that she worked 28 hours and studied part-time, when claiming she told her insurer that she worked 30 hours a week and informed ACC that she worked 40 hours a week. Her insurer discovered that she wasn’t  working and instead was a full-time student. The woman proceeded to lodge a complaint against the adviser stating that she wasn’t informed that she would need to provide financial statements and a result of the advice she’s cancelled her $300,000 policy.

“She submitted a claim under her trauma/critical illness insurance, stating that she had been working as an accountant for 30 hours a week. She also stated on her ACC form that she had been working for 40 hours a week.

When the insurer asked for documents to corroborate her income, she was unable to provide convincing information. The insurer then discovered that she was a full-time student. The insurer declined the claim and voided the new insurance policies but later reinstated the $1 million life policy that she had before the changes were made.

The woman complained that the advice she had received from the adviser caused her to lose the $300,000 life insurance policy that she had cancelled on the adviser’s advice. When the complaint was not able to be resolved directly with the adviser, she went to FSCL.

She told the dispute scheme the adviser had not told her she would have to provide financial statements to support any claim.”

Although the FSCL concluded that the advice given was sound advice, the chain of events highlights the importance of risks of non-disclosure.

““We were satisfied that the advice to increase the cover with one insurer and cancel the smaller policy was sound advice and had not caused any loss,” FSCL said.” Click here to read more

Advisers reading the reports will notice inconsistencies and gaps. The story is plainly larger and more complex than is being shared. As such, there is no real basis for making form judgments. In more general observations we should probably note the increasing likelihood of client complaints and the difficulty of managing disclosures - making sure that clients are really clear about the importance of accurate disclosure and helping them to achieve that - for their benefit and ours. After all, complaints just cost us all money and reputation. 

In other news:

Southern Cross: a Risk Partner – Sales and Marketing role is currently being advertised

Strategi: Strategi are offering remote AML/CFT audits

RBNZ: Reserve Bank extending mortgage deferral scheme

RBNZ: Monetary Policy Statement Explained Q&A with RBNZ Chief Economist and External MPC Member

FMA: Sorted Money Week has begun


ACC to delay invoicing

ACC are delaying CoverPlus Extra invoicing for three months. Although CoverPlus Extra payment plans will be paused, all customers will remain covered at their agreed amount. Customers on a payment plan with an outstanding amount owing may have their next installment taken before being paused. ACC will be in touch if there are any further changes.

Click here to see ACC’s response to COVID-19


ACC reveals billion dollar fall-related claims data

Apparently falling over is the most common way Kiwi's injure themselves. In 2018 ACC spent $1.1 billion on fall-related claims. The number is claims increased to 785,063 up from the 781,122 received the previous year. Click here to read more. Any kind of information like this reminds me that while avoiding the risk is a great place to start (wear sensible shoes, think safety first, use a grab rail, get fitter) there is no way I would want that as my only strategy. Some mitigation and then financial risk transfer is definitely in the picture. 

 


How likely is death in a plane crash?

Of course, it depends. The main factors are whether you fly on commercial airlines, or military transports, or choose a wingsuit and jump off a cliff. If you chose the first option, it's pretty safe:

 

I still remember the "passenger accidental death benefit" rider that used to be offered by some insurers. In fact, flying on a commercial airline is one of the safest things you can do. Riding your own motorbike one of the more dangerous.


Winston Calls for Kiwi Insurance Company

In this Newstalk ZB report Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, has called for a new government-owned, New Zealand Insurer. Peters is talking about a general insurance company, but before you consider the wider question - life insurance - Gerry Brownlee has points out that, in effect, NZ already has one: AMI, as a result of the bailout required after the Christchurch earthquakes.

If you apply the same logic to life insurance, the state already owns at least one of those: Kiwi Insurance Limited, part of the Kiwibank group of companies, is already state owned. Plus, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund owns a substantial stake in Fidelity Life Assurance Company.

There could be many directions of argument on the idea of a new general insurer, owned by the state. Although there strong strand of economic nationalism behind what Peters has said he might find that there are others that worry about the high levels of concentration of insurance brands under two large Australian-owned insurers. Those voices might welcome a new insurer joining the field. Still others might reflect that like-it-or-not government is always, kind of, the insurer of last resort, (for example - supporting AMI, running ACC and EQC) so acquiring still more risk might not be such a bright idea. The first step is to be clear about whether there really is a problem with general insurancee in New Zealand - what evidence of actual market failure is there?

Meanwhile, since we're on the subject of general insurance, the New Zealand Initiative has an excellent report on the insurance system following the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes. You can find the report at this link, but here are three summary recommendations as they apply to private insurers:

  1. Government should follow through with proposed changes to insurance that make private insurers the first port of call for claimants in major events, but strengthen audit procedures appropriately;
  2. Government should quickly seek declaratory judgments in key test cases arising after a major disaster; and
  3. Government should consider mechanisms like the Reserve Bank’s OBR for failed insurers.