AIA digital makeover driven by COVID-19 crisis, and more daily news

Sam Tremethick, AIA distribution executive, revealed that AIA is in a better position now that it was a year ago. This has been credited to people being more risk averse and understanding the need for protection.

“When New Zealand went into the first lockdown, AIA settled into a period of big business and even bigger change. Since then, innovation and technology have reshaped the way that the business functions.

AIA distribution executive Sam Tremethick told Good Returns that like a lot of industries AIA took a hit in the April/May period, but quickly bounced back to a point where “year on year as of today we are doing better than this time last year”.

Tremethick attributes the rise in the insurance business to “a direct result of people being more risk averse than normal and just being conscious of the need for protection”. But along with a rise in business came a chance to reshape their processes for the company that during lockdown shifted to being almost 100% of staff working from home."

Sharron-Moana Botica, chief customer officer, said that understanding how to offer advisers support during lockdown was key. Last August’s launch of AIA hub resulted from adviser feedback and has been continuously enhanced. The current platform, eApp Share, is described as revolutionary. Through the use of eApp, margins of error have been minimised, application times has been accelerated, and customer experience has been improved. The introduction of eApp has also allowed AIA to reflect on processes and current practices. Currently, 75% - 80%  of all applications are submitted through the app, AIA is considering whether to move the application process solely to eApp.

“AIA chief customer officer Sharron-Moana Botica said that during lockdown, figuring out how to support advisors was key. “In August last year we launched our new online platform AIA hub into the New Zealand market. But when you have a digital tool you always need to be enhancing it. So this latest development is what we call eApp Share.”

eApp Share is a tool that may prove revolutionary for advisers. Botica said that the digital program “was developed in response to feedback from advisers who wanted to continue the collaborative process of filling out an application.” Collaboration is key to the program which allows the adviser to push out documents to the client, the client to fill out the disclosures in their own time, and for the conversation to continue between client and advisor during the entire process.

Moving the processes online have also meant huge strides forward in narrowing down margins of error. While paper applications have a 30% error rate, the eApp Share program’s internal validation systems have managed to remove the bulk of these errors. This is because the system prompts users to submit accompanying information and the forms show where information is required before they can be submitted.

It has also increased speed, whereas paper applications took around five days, the digital system has no such reliance on printing, scanning and signing. Typically it takes customers between 10-30 mins to complete their part of the eApp form.

Botica says as well as improving the customer experience, eApp Share has aided AIA internal systems. “It helps us to look at what are the types of disclosure that are coming through. We can do a lot of analytics on our underwriting and the types of question sets that we use.”

With 75-80% of applications now processed through the eApp system it looks like it is here to stay. On whether we could see AIA moving to a 100% eApp system any time soon Botica said that “we are in conversation with their advisers on the ground. Becoming more digital is part of our future, not only in the business space but also in our servicing and claims side.” Click here to read more

In other news

Suncorp New Zealand a finalist for Sustainable Business Awards

AIA: AIA awarded Insurance Employer of the Year in NZ Women in Insurance Awards

FSC: Get In Shape Session 9  - Risk Management and Implementing a Risk Framework in your Business

Financial Advice webinar: Unlocking the Code in the New Financial Advice Regime Part 2


Asteron Life introduces mental health support, and more daily news

Asteron Life announced that the Best Doctors service will provide free access to different mental health experts to customers with disability insurance. The service will allow customers to access general advice as well as services from psychologists and psychiatrists. 

“Asteron Life today announced that customers with disability insurance will now have access to the Best Doctors service at no additional cost. The Best Doctors package provides direct access to a multidisciplinary team of mental health experts, including psychologists and psychiatrists, as well as general advice on mental health conditions and guidance on how to navigate the mental health system.”

Graham Hill, executive manager Life Distribution said that Best Doctors works to ensure customers are connected and make medical decisions with confidence. Graham continued by saying that having access to expert medical advice in the current environment is relevant while Mike Morris, the country manager of Best Doctors said that the importance of virtual care has been highlighted this year.

“Best Doctors connects our customers with leading medical specialists, and enables them to make medical decisions with confidence,” says Graham Hill, executive manager Life Distribution at Asteron Life. “Like insurance, the service is really about being there for people when it matters.”

 

Hill says that in the current Covid-19 environment, mental health support and the ability to get expert medical advice from your own home is particularly relevant.

 

Mike Morris, the country manager of Best Doctors has said “This year has shown us that virtual care is incredibly important and effective. There has never been a better time to offer people access to virtual care and we’re delighted to be bringing new services to Asteron Life customers.”” 

Asteron Life is offering advisers virtual training sessions. Times available are:

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Wednesday 9

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Thursday 10

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Monday 14

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Monday 21

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Monday 28

 

Click here to register

Click here to read more

 

In other news

RBNZ: Has the Reserve Bank responded differently to upturns and downturns in inflation and economic activity?

FMA: COVID-19 response insights

Financial Advice webinar: Panel Discussion: Obtaining or Updating your Level 5 Qualification in Financial Services

 


Privacy Act 2020 insights, and more daily news

In a recent Financial Advice NZ webinar, Campbell Featherstone and David Ireland from Dentons Kensington Swan spoke about the implications of the impending changes to the Privacy Act for advisers. The key take away message was that ensuring compliance is also about an adviser’s reputation, their client’s safety and confidence as well as public confidence.

“As part of our webinar series Bring in the Experts, Campbell Featherstone and David Ireland from law firm Dentons Kensington Swan talked about what this piece of legislation means for financial advisers, and the practical steps you can take to ensure your privacy settings are fit for purpose for the new regime.

The overarching message is that being compliant with the new Privacy Act isn’t just about legislation; it’s about your reputation, your clients’ safety and confidence, and public trust in financial services. Let’s dive in.”

Privacy Act 2020 does a number of things including replacing the existing Privacy Act while maintaining the overall principles. Key components of the Act include data minimisation, access expansion, and data breach reporting.

“As you’ll know, the Privacy Act 2020 repeals and replaces the 1993 Act. While the overall principles are mostly unchanged, the ‘refreshed’ version of the law acknowledges that a lot has happened in the past 27 years in the way businesses interact with clients and collect information.

Under the new principle of ‘data minimisation’, all companies – including financial advice businesses – must only collect and keep personal information that is needed (e.g. data related to the advice you provide), for only as long as it is needed (e.g. at least seven years as per FAP licence standard conditions).

The Privacy Act 2020 gives individuals in New Zealand a right to access the personal information you hold about them (with a few exceptions). Importantly, unlike current legislation, the Privacy Commissioner will now have the authority to compel the release of this information (upon the individual’s request) by issuing an ‘access direction’. Failing to comply without a reasonable excuse can result in a fine of up to $10,000. 

Data breach reporting shifts from voluntary to mandatory. It’s important to note that this obligation only concerns ‘notifiable’ privacy breaches. What’s notifiable? Generally speaking, if it’s reasonable to believe that the breach would cause serious harm to an individual, then the breach is ‘notifiable’.

The threshold may not always be clear, so the experts at Dentons Kensington Swan recommended a cautious approach – when in doubt, notify the Privacy Commissioner as soon as possible.” Click here to read more

In other news

FMA: FMA offers investors insight into bonds

Asteron Life: AsteronConnect is being updated to cover options available for all occupations according to the current Underwriting guide

FSC: the FSC has published Code of Conduct guidance, educational materials resource pack, and a facilitator guide

FSC: Risk Management and Implementing a Risk Framework webinar

FSC: Privacy - Reviewing your obligations under the Privacy Act webinar


Asteron Life offer customers access to updated Best Doctors, and more daily news

Asteron Life has announced that it will be offering customers the option to access medical advice online and over-the-phone. Eligible customers are those with an existing Asteron Life disability insurance, their children, partners, parents and parents-in-law can all access the service. Please refer to the table below on who are eligible and who are not.

Click here to register for a webinar on Best Doctors

On sale:

Personal Insurance Business Insurance Employee Insurance

Income Protection Cover

Mortgage and Living Cover

Workability Cover

Business Disability Cover

Farmers Disability Cover

Business Expenses Cover

Income Protection Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off sale:

Qualifying legacy products Qualifying legacy covers

Income Protection (all versions)

Incomeplan

Key Person

Business Expenses

Personal Insurance:

  • Mortgage & Rent Cover

SmartLife:

  • Mortgage Protection Insurance - Disability

SmartBusiness:

  • Farmers Disability Cover
  • Business Expenses Cover

Smartplan:

  • Income Protection
  • Business Income Protection

Applications near the 1,000 mark, and more daily news

Information realised by the FMA show that 949 transitional licence applications had been approved as of 21 August 2020. The approved licences represent over 7,000 advisers. Katrina Shanks said that she expected more applications to be processed as she doesn’t see a sign of an exodus.

“The FMA said that, as of August 21, it had approved 949 transitional licence applications, representing more than 7,000 financial advisers.

Everyone offering personalised financial advice must have their own financial advice provider licence by March 15, or work under the umbrella of another provider.

Financial Advice New Zealand chief executive Katrina Shanks said she expected more applications were still to happen.

She said there was no sign of an “exodus” from the sector and there were 10,000 financial advisers registered.” Click here to read more

Chatswood produces a running estimate of the total number of financial advisers we expect to be covered by the regime which will be updated and shared in the forthcoming life and health sector quarterly review. 

In other news

Asteron Life: Ahead of next week’s launch, Asteron Life have made information and resources available at Showcase. Advisers can initially use the password AsteronLife2020 

AIA: AIA reveals grant winners

FMA: FMA appoints director of investment management

How to write about money

Partners Life: Partners Life Employee of the Year held virtually


nib financial growths amid COVID-19, and more daily news

nib New Zealand announced that the 12 months to June 30 2020 has been an overall successful year for the insurer. nib experienced a 10.2% growth in revenue to NZ$253.1 million while also prioritising their efforts to support members and the community through COVID-19 related relief and other initiatives. The underwriting results also increased 11.2% to a total of NZ$25.9 million.

“nib New Zealand today announced an improved operating performance for the 12 months to 30 June 2020 (FY20) lifting membership, revenue and earnings.

nib New Zealand premium revenue grew 10.2% to NZ$253.1 million while underwriting result was NZ$25.9 million, up 11.2%. The FY20 underwriting result includes a NZ$9.0 million COVID-19 deferred claims provision for an expected claims catch-up in healthcare treatment deferred during the peak of the COVID-19 that is expected to occur in FY21.

nib New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Rob Hennin, said nib performed well in FY20, reporting good financial results alongside its strong focus on supporting members and the community throughout COVID-19.

“Helping our Kiwi members stay safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been a priority, which is why we moved quickly to implement an extensive support package,” Mr Hennin said.”

As part of their member support initiative nib has provided COVID-19 financial hardship support to over 2,000 members, premium relief and suspension options to over 5,000 members, extended cover for COVID-19 related treatments, expanded GP and specialist consultations through telehealth, and extended treatment pre-approvals.

““To date, we’ve provided more than 2,000 Kiwis members with access to financial hardship support, including premium relief and suspension options, postponed premium increases for over 50,000 members and extended coverage for COVID-19 related treatment across all levels of hospital cover, at no extra cost.

In addition, we expanded cover for consultations with GPs and specialists through telehealth, ensuring members could continue to see their medical practitioner during severe lockdown restrictions. We also extended treatment pre-approval from three to six months, meaning over 1,000 members did not have to reapply for surgery approval if they experienced delays in accessing hospital treatment."

In partnership with nib foundation, nib has donated $1 million to Lifeline Aotearoa and Clearhead as part of their community support initiatives.

"Further, we made a $1 million donation, together with nib foundation, to Lifeline Aotearoa and Clearhead, helping support our communities and the ongoing mental health needs of New Zealanders,” he said." Click here to read more

In other news:

Nib: Episode 4 of nib’s webinar series is set to stream September 2 2020 at 11:30am 

AMP: AMP makes top-level changes amid allegations

Asteron Life: Asteron Life profit drops

RBNZ: RBNZ to lead Asia-Pacific Central Banks working group

Financial Advice: Economic update by Economist Tony Alexander


Insurer wins argument over chronic pain claim, and more daily news

The Court of Appeal revealed its verdict on the case between Asteron Life and financial adviser Peter Taylor. According to the story: Peter Taylor made an Income Protection claim in 2010 saying that as a result of his bone cancer he was suffering from chronic pain. Peter was able to get payments after supplying the required information on his medical condition and ability to work, but in 2014 Asteron Life suspended the payments stating Peter’s earnings made him ineligible for payments.

"The Court of Appeal released its judgment on Wednesday.

Taylor first took an Asteron Life income protection policy in 1994 and made a claim in 2010, saying he had bone cancer and suffered chronic pain.

Taylor was required to provide progress reports to Asteron describing the current state of his medical condition, whether he had been able to work, what income he had earned from working, and certain other matters.

He received payments until September 2014, when Asteron suspended them. It was concerned that he was earning at a level that would make him ineligible.”

Unhappy, Peter went to court arguing that he was still entitled to payments.  Asteron Life stated that he was no longer entitled to payments and counterclaimed for repayment of the amount paid out to Peter. The court noted that Peter used the payments for holiday homes, cars and overseas trips and ruled in favour of Asteron Life. The insurer was awarded $371,286.70.

“Taylor went to court seeking a declaration that he was entitled to continuing benefits under the policy, and wanting arrears of payments.

Asteron denied he was entitled to any further payments and counterclaimed for repayment of all sums previously paid.

It said he had made false statements about the extent to which he worked while on claim.

The High Court sided with Asteron and it was awarded $371,286.70. That court noted that he had used his insurance payouts to fund a holiday home, cars and overseas trips.”

Peter then took the case to Court of Appeal. The judge again ruled in favour of Asteron Life saying that Asteron Life was entitled to a reduced counterclaim payment of $51,835.64.

”The Court of Appeal said Asteron was entitled to succeed in its counterclaim but could only recover payments made in respect of the periods about which Taylor was found to have dishonestly provided false information.

“The judge declined to find that the initial claim made in July 2010 involved false statements that breached Taylor’s obligations in relation to making claims. So Asteron’s claim as pleaded, which was founded solely on the allegation of breach of utmost good faith, could not succeed in respect of the initial period from January 2010 to July 22, 2010.

“There may well have been another basis on which the payments made in respect of that period could have been recovered. But they were not pleaded by Asteron, and Asteron did not give notice that it intended to support the High Court judgment on grounds other than those accepted by the judge.”

That reduced the amount owed to Asteron by $51,835.64. Taylor has since sold his insurance broking business. Click here to read more

In other news:

Financial Advice webinar: Economic Update by Economist Tony Alexander

Financial Advice: 2020 Conference registration

AIA: COVID-19 UPDATE


Aon to offer clients free wills, and more daily news

Aon has partnered with Footprint to offer current and new clients with corporate life insurance policies the option to have their wills drawn up free of cost. This partnership is designed to save clients estate admin fees and increase the number of full-time employees with wills in New Zealand.

“Aon is the first company in the sector to provide and cover the cost of Wills to all existing and new clients with a corporate life insurance policy through employee benefits – and already, several group insurers are engaged, with more to come. This industry-first move will see Aon provide security and education for all aspects of life insurance and end of life planning, saving people on average $5,000 in estate administration fees in instances where a life insurance policy has no Will attached to it.

Footprint chief executive Angela Vale says, “The data tells us New Zealanders are consistently under-Willed, especially in certain age groups. Only 37% of full-time employed people in New Zealand have a valid Will."”

Anson Davies, Aon Life general manager has said that the insurer has worked to understand what clients are looking for, while Geoff Blampied, Aon CEO stated that the industry has responded positively. Geoff continued by saying that the initiative could potentially reach 70,000 policyholders in the first phase.

“Aon Life general manager Anson Davies says, “We have done extensive due diligence to ascertain what our clients are looking for and what their employees value, and we are pleased to be launching this offer through our partnership with Footprint and in collaboration with key partners in the insurance industry”.

 

This is further supported by Aon NZ chief executive Geoff Blampied who says, “We are excited that the industry is responding positively to the initiative, which has the potential to reach around 70,000 Kiwi policyholders in the first phase.” Click here to read

In other news:

Asteron Life: Covid-19 support extended until 31 October 2020 for customers facing financial hardship

Asteron Life: MedScreen is currently not operating in Auckland while visits outside of Auckland will continue 

Nib: nib member support package has been extended to the end of September.

Financial Advice: Update on the Privacy Act webinar

What does ‘treat fairly’ mean in new conduct law?

 

 


Westpac change decision on claim, and more daily news

Rob Stock, reporting at stuff.co.nz tells us: After Joe Lobban’s death his partner Sam Robertson was informed by Westpac Life that they wouldn’t pay out the $480,000 life insurance claim as the insurer believed that Joe had failed to disclose medical information when applying. After seeking legal help Sam was able to ensure the claim was paid out.

“A year after her partner died of a heart attack, a New Plymouth woman and her two school-age daughters have finally been told by Westpac Life it will pay out on his life insurance.

Westpac Life told Sam Robertson in May this year that it would not pay the $480,000 claim, alleging Joe Lobban had failed to disclose medical information when he applied for the policy in 2014.

It was a blow for Robertson and her daughters who were scraping by on benefits, living in a rented house.

But Robertson, aided by lawyer Tim Gunn, got Westpac Life to reverse its decision, though he said was “unfortunate that this has taken the intervention of an insurance lawyer to have Westpac honour their policy"”

Sam made the claim in May 2019 after Joe died of a heart attack but was informed of Westpac’s decision to decline the claim in May 2020. After Sam’s lawyer Tim Gunn challenged Westpac’s decision, the insurer informed Sam of its decision to pay out the life insurance in July 2020.

“Lobban died in May last year of a massive heart attack, aged just 30.

The fit and active share milker had an un-diagnosed congenital heart condition.

Robertson made the claim to Westpac Life two weeks after Lobban’s death, but it took the insurer until May this year to indicate its intention to decline the claim.

After Gunn challenged the legality of Westpac Life’s decision, it reversed its decision in a letter dated July 14.” Click here to read more

We would like to highlight that we do not know the entire story. Overwhelmingly the industry has a great record on claims, but of course, a few claims can be either paid when they should not, or denied when they should not. 

In other news:

Asteron Life: TalkBack feedback programme introduced

sigma 4/2020: World insurance: riding out the 2020 pandemic storm

Financial Advice: Adviser Peer Support registration


ANZIIF to offer conduct and culture training course, and more daily news

It has been announced that ANZIIF will offer Building Integrity, a conduct and culture training course. The course is focused on the FMA’s view on conduct, conduct issues, consequences and improving customer outcomes.

“ANZIIF has announced a new training course for insurance professionals in New Zealand called Building Integrity, which will focus on conduct and culture issues across the sector.

ANZIIF says the course is designed to educate insurance players on the FMA’s view of conduct, and it will explore what conduct issues exist, the consequences that may come with them, and how an insurance professional or organisation can develop a strategy to improve customer outcomes.”

Rebecca Slingo, general manager, learning has said the course is recommended to anyone in the industry. The duration of the course is 90 minutes and covers five different sections:

  • fire & general
  • underwriting
  • broking
  • claims
  • life insurance

“General manager, learning, Rebecca Slingo says the course is “highly recommended” to anyone in the industry looking to make improvements to their customer service.”

“The Building Integrity training course has five sections, and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete. It is designed for insurance professionals across different regions, and covers multiple areas of insurance including fire & general, underwriting, broking, claims and life insurance.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Asteron Life: Asteron implemented a vulnerability framework to help employees recognise vulnerable customers

Asteron Life: The ability to offer firefighters a special code when quoting in AsteronConnect was improved and is now effective

Asteron Life: COVID-19 SME index found that 85% of SMEs surveyed experienced declines in revenue

Asteron Life: COVID-19 SME index found 44% of SMEs applied for the wage subsidy to pay employees

Asteron Life: COVID-19 SME index found that one in four SMEs are considering making changes to their life insurance

Replacement case puts spotlight on 'churn'

Greens want ACC extended to cover sickness