Quality Product Research: Proposed rating for Agreed Value Income Protection: Occupational Retraining

Introduction

We continually review the ratings of all our benefits and have renamed “Occupational Retraining” to “Vocational & Rehabilitation Support”. Our intention with this review is to make clearer the difference between the features in readiness for more detailed research reports that are in development. Better describing the current variations and recognising that early intervention has the ability to prevent a client’s disability from escalating further and reduces more severe complications that may lead to a long-term claim – a positive outcome for the client, insurer, and employee.

Please find our proposed sub-items below.

Proposed sub-items 

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Notes

The monthly payment limit differs between insurers, however the necessity to offset is a similar feature. The major insurers (aside from Fidelity) offer coverage for Childcare Assistance, which is likely to be claimed more often than some of the other expenses. Partners Life receives a deduction for “benefit not available for all payment periods” as they do not offer their “Vocational and Retraining benefit” for payment periods which are less than 2 years. Similarly, AIA reduces their monthly payment to 6 months with 1, 2 or 5 year benefit periods. Fidelity is the only insurer that will not pay out the full benefit until the insured has returned to paid work (minimum of 20 hours). AIA, ASB and Partners Life are the only insurers that clearly offer assistance either during or after the waiting period - an important feature, as early intervention can significantly affect the length of a claim. 

Your feedback

We value getting your feedback on how these wordings are being applied to claims you may be aware of. Please email us with details of any recent claims to help us update our understanding.

Doreen Dutt, Research Analyst, Quality Product Research Limited, researcher@qpresearch.co.nz


Quality Product Research: Proposed rating for Coma (Trauma)

Introduction

Following on with our recent theme of revising ratings, we have reviewed Coma, re-assessing the item based on modern definitions.  A rarely claimed on benefit, yet significant coverage in the media when the insurer decides not to pay out.  

Below are the proposed items for Coma.

Coma

Notes

Momentum life is the only provider that requires the insured to be in a coma for 96-hours, while Westpac uniquely requires a permanent neurological deficit. Three insurers, Fidelity, Pinnacle and Westpac specifically exclude medically induced comas and a similar definition is observed in the use of life support systems and response to internal and external needs.

Few insurers continue to use the Glasgow Coma Scale in their definitions – here is a quick overview of what the scale demonstrates https://medictests.com/units/glasgow-coma-score

Your feedback

We value getting your feedback on how these wordings are being applied to claims you may be aware of. Please email us with details of any recent claims to help us update our understanding.

Doreen Dutt, Research Analyst, Quality Product Research Limited, researcher@qpresearch.co.nz


Zombie fee focus by regulators and more daily news

Investment News NZ highlights the issue of 'zombie fees' in its recent piece on ASIC's legal action against five AMP entities in Australia. "Zombie fees" are fees which carry on being charged even if no service is being given, sometimes even if the client has died. Of course, if an investment management service is continuing then some level of fee should continue but it is hard to argue advice is being given if the client is dead. In a sector which usually knows the age of its clients and offers products explicitly focused on end-of-life issues we are being challenged to be more active in identifying when a client dies, which is a matter of public record, rather than simply continuing to take the money. 

In a release, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says the legal action alleges five AMP entities “were involved in charging life insurance premiums and advice fees to more than 2,000 customers despite being notified of their death”.

Last year AMP paid out about A$9 million in a remediation program established to redress fees charged to close to 20,000 dead insurance and superannuation fund clients.

But the latest ASIC action comes in “respect of 2,069 deceased members affected by the retention of premiums, and 27 members affected by the retention of advice fees”.

Does this affect New Zealand? Not directly, in the Investment News NZ column it is clear that NZ entities are not part of the recent news. However, it is clearly unacceptable to continue to charge premiums and or advice fees long after a person is dead in either jurisdiction. We can expect that when conduct law passes here, a conduct program will need to envisage how to identify if a person has died and how to treat products while and end-of-life process is followed. Advisers, largely exempt from the conduct programs, will inevitably be caught by either their obligations under the Financial Advice Provider license, Code, or commitments to product providers. 

You can read more at this link: https://investmentnews.co.nz/investment-news/zombie-fee-charges-rattle-amp/ 

Other daily news: 

Kōura is calling for advisers that want to offer a 'facilitated' digital advice process. This underlines the trend towards convergence of digital and human in contrast to the binary view of development in the past. 

Pinnacle Life shares details of how a change in income may affect the need for life insurance. 

Adviser business values - those that are low and those that are high - are the subject of my recent piece at goodreturns. 

Seth Godin shares with us how not to miss a deadline - and how to - in two interesting and challenging posts: https://seths.blog/2021/05/how-not-to-miss-a-deadline/

 


Quality Product Research: (Inbuilt) Child Trauma – Part Two 

A reader has queried whether QPR takes the sum insured into account in our Research Ratings.  And the answer is yes, we do consider the amount paid by each insurer. In fact amount paid are a vital part of a value-based assessment approach - and something we capture much better than simple feature lists of benefits do. 

In trauma insurance, some companies pay the full benefit for an item, others only make a payment of 10% or 20% of the sum insured because the condition was not severe enough to warrant a full payment. Our score is varied according to how much would actually be paid. In the scenario for Child Trauma, we have a claims amount of $100,000 and calculate how much would be paid out by each insurer.  

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Furthermore, based on adviser feedback we have corrected our ratings to reflect the fact that Asteron does include the option to convert their child cover to adult trauma at age 21. Interestingly, if the parent is on Trauma Recovery (TR) and considering converting their child cover to TR with Early Trauma they are required to complete an application. 

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Your feedback

We value getting your feedback on how these wordings are being applied to claims you may be aware of. Please email us with details of any recent claims to help us update our understanding. 

Doreen Dutt, Research Analyst, Quality Product Research Limited, researcher@qpresearch.co.nz


Quality Product Research: Proposed rating for Benign Brain and Spine Tumour

Introduction

The World Health Organisation states that 130 different types of brain tumours exist. A benign brain tumour is a non-cancerous growth in a distinct area of the brain. The survival rates for patients with benign brain tumours are higher than others, however this depends on the size and location of the tumour within the brain.

Proposed sub-items

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Notes

There are some noticeable differences between insurers such as whether partials exist, or if the spinal cord or tumour on the pituitary gland is covered. We have tried to make the sub-items clearly demonstrate the variation between insurers.

Why is this important?

Although QPRs weighting of this item is low, it would be of high interest to those that have a family history of brain cancers. With a lot of insurers now having specialised cancer products we would like to ensure that our rating is relevant. 

Your feedback

We value getting your feedback on how these wordings are being applied to claims you may be aware of. Please email us with details of any recent claims to help us update our understanding.

Doreen Dutt, Research Analyst, Quality Product Research Limited, researcher@qpresearch.co.nz


AMP sell part of AMP Capital Private, and more daily news

It has been announced that 60% of the AMP Capital private markets investment business will be purchased by Ares Management. It was previously reported the non-binding sale was off the table. The new sale proposal is a more limited joint-venture that will allow Ares to acquire the majority stake in the AMP Capital infrastructure debt, real estate and other minority interests. This is stake is valued at A$2.25 billion. AMP will own AMP Capital’s public markets businesses, with the Multi-Asset Group transferred to AMP Australia.

“Ares Management will buy 60 per cent of the AMP Capital private markets investment business in a proposed deal announced this morning.

After ditching efforts to by all of the ASX-listed AMP in February, the US investment firm has instead opted for a more limited joint-venture arrangement to be explored over the next 30 days in a just-inked non-binding heads of agreement.

Under the deal Ares would acquire the majority stake in the AMP Capital infrastructure debt, real estate and other “minority interests” valued at A$2.25 billion, according to a release issued this morning.

“AMP will retain ownership of AMP Capital’s public markets businesses, which in FY 20 made a modest NPAT contribution,” the statement says. “The public markets strategy will continue, including the Multi-Asset Group (“MAG”) being transformed and transferred to AMP Australia, and actively exploring sale or partnership opportunities for the Global Equities and Fixed Income (“GEFI”) business.” Click here to read more 

In other news

Cigna: Cigna has announced multi-benefit promotion extended to 30 June 2021

Financial Advice: Concern adviser outreach may be shackled by FMA advertising rules

nib: nib conducting another review of existing members policies' exclusions and loadings. Members with special terms on their policies will be contacted by nib directly

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AMP sale proposal falls through, and more daily news

AMP has revealed that the non-binding sale proposal made by Ares Management in October 2020 will not proceed. AMP has highlighted that it will continue to engage with Ares Management in regards to AMP Capital’s portfolio review. The AMP Board has confirmed that a transformation strategy for AMP Australia and AMP NZ wealth management is likely to be the best option for shareholders.

“In a portfolio review of FY20, AMP have revealed that Ares Management have withdrawn their non-binding indicative proposal to buy out AMP.

The report stated that, “Following detailed discussions, AMP has been advised last night by Ares that it does not intend to proceed with its non-binding indicative proposal for 100% of AMP [at] $1.85 per share.”

While acquisition of AMP is off the table, the report states that, “AMP continues to engage constructively with Ares in relation to AMP Capital as part of the portfolio review.”

While the U-turn from global asset management giant, Ares, may come as a surprise to some, AMP’s broader position is one of positivity according to the report.

“The review has confirmed AMP’s transformation strategy for the AMP Australia (Australian wealth management and AMP Bank) and New Zealand wealth management businesses is likely to be the optimal outcome for shareholders. The AMP Board has therefore concluded the review of these assets.”” Click here to read more

In other news

Partners Life: Module 6 of Adviser Support Programme, titled final checks, is set to be released March 2021

Russell’s piece on Goodreturns: Smug or Juggling?

Cigna: Cigna December COVID-19 global impact study


Updated Quality Product Research Database v140

Institutional subscribers have just been sent the latest database from Quality Product Research Limited, v140. This version includes the following changes:

* AIA Living enhancements effective 01/12/2020 - no rating changes applied

* AMP Lifetrack enhancements effective 21/09/2020 - rating changes applied

* AMP RPP enhancements effective 21/09/2020 - rating changes applied

* Review of - TPD item in MP/IP


AIA enhance AIA Vitality, and more daily news

AIA has announced the addition of a new benefit to AIA Vitality. Customers will have the chance to earn an Apple Watch when weekly physical targets are reached. This change is intended to motivate customers to increase physical activity. To have the chance to earn the Apple watch customers will need to enter into an interest-free loan agreement to ensure upfront costs are covered. Once customers enter to agreement, AIA contributes to monthly repayments, if physical targets are met, customers will not be required to pay anything. Len Elikhis, chief product and vitality officer, has said that this new addition to AIA Vitality will offers significant value to customers.

“AIA recently launched a new benefit for its AIA Vitality customers, and is giving them the chance to earn an Apple Watch for reaching weekly physical targets – an initiative it says will be a strong motivator for customers to increase their physical activity.

 

To earn their Apple Watch, customers must enter into an interest-free loan agreement to cover the upfront cost. AIA then contributes to the monthly repayments, and if all physical targets are reached, the customer ends up paying $0.

 

Len Elikhis, chief product and vitality officer says the initiative offers “significant value” to the AIA Vitality membership base, which has been growing steadily since its launch.”

 

Elikhis noted that the new initiative is intended to make the Apple Watch Series 6 more accessible as well as encouraging members to achieve goals. 

“The Apple Watch Benefit is another example of the significant value AIA Vitality is providing for our members,” he concluded.

 

“The aim of the benefit is to make it easier for members to access Apple Watch Series 6 to further encourage our members to achieve their physical activity goals.” Click here to read more 

In other news

AMP: AMP Capital insider flies into top job

NZFSG: NZFSG Makes New Appointment


Fidelity Life discuss up front commission changes, and more daily news

Fidelity Life chairman Brian Blake noted that the Government missed an opportunity to reduce life insurance policy commissions through CoFI. In a market that is highly competitive, Blake says that a voluntary reduction in upfront commission is unlikely, although Blake said that Fidelity Life is confident that it has adopted changes that meet guidelines. Fidelity Life is set to launch an online adviser product accreditation programme and an adviser quality assurance programme. Similarly, it has developed good customer outcomes principles to ensure compliance.

“Fidelity Life chairman Brian Blake says the government has missed an opportunity to force down commissions on life insurance policies.

Blake says: "The failure to address high upfront commissions in the Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill was a missed opportunity in our view.

"In a highly competitive market like ours, without regulatory intervention it’s unlikely anyone will significantly reduce upfront commission levels and risk losing market share," he says in the company's annual report

He says Fidelity Life is confident it has adopted conduct and culture changes which meet the requirements of the Financial Markets Authority/Reserve Bank of New Zealand conduct and culture review.

The company will shortly be introducing an online adviser product accreditation programme, an adviser quality assurance programme and it has also developed good customer outcomes principles to help ensure Fidelity continues to meet the needs of its customers.

Further enhancements to its adviser proposition will be announced from early 2021, including some digital initiatives resulting from its Project Watson IT development.”

Although total comprehensive income and commission payments decreased, Fidelity Life experienced premium revenue increased. Fidelity Life has noted that it is looking to comply with RBNZ’s guidelines on prioritising capital protection. To comply, Fidelity Life would not be paying dividends this year.

“In the year to June 30, total comprehensive income fell from $20.7 million to $17.9 million. However, profit rose from $11.6 million to $17.0 million.

Insurance premium revenue increased from $275.47 million to $269.49 million and claims paid out rose from $125.7 million to $139.7 million.

However, commission payments fell from $57.37 million to $53.42 million.

The company’s earnings per share increased just over 10% from $8.73 to $9.62.

Fidelity says because the Reserve Bank has clearly advised all insurers that protecting capital should take priority over paying dividends, no dividend would be paid this year.

The Reserve Bank "expects insurers to take steps to protect, if not build, their capital positions to ensure the industry remains in a strong position to support New Zealanders through Covid-19 and this time of economic uncertainty."” Click here to read more

In other news:

FSC: Generations Digital Conference now available on demand

Southern Cross: Southern Cross have moved from Level 1 EY Building to Level 1 Te Kupenga, 155 Fanshawe Street

AMP: AMP receive buyout offer from US investment company

FMA: Consultation: Recognition of Australian adviser qualifications

Southern Cross: Hip replacements add to health insurer's bill