Asteron Life appoints new CEO, and more daily news 

Suncorp New Zealand has permanently appointed Jimmy Higgins as CEO. Since the departure of Paul Smeaton in July Higgins has been the acting CEO. Higgins joined Suncorp Group in 2008 and has had various roles within the company. Suncorp Group CEO Steve Johnston has said that Higgins is highly experienced and has a deep understanding of the industry.

“Suncorp New Zealand has today announced the appointment of Jimmy Higgins to the role of Chief Executive Officer, effective today.

Higgins joined Suncorp Group in 2008 and has held a range of senior and executive positions across its Australian and New Zealand insurance businesses. Prior to being appointed acting chief executive, he held roles in the New Zealand business as CFO and executive general manager, claims.

Before joining Suncorp, he was a Chartered Accountant specialising in audit and forensic accounting.

Suncorp Group chief executive Steve Johnston says Higgins is a highly experienced financial services executive with a deep understanding of the insurance industry and New Zealand insurance market.”

Higgins noted that he is proud to be part of Suncorp New Zealand and that he is excited to lead it towards the future.

“Higgins says: “Our business is uniquely positioned to make a difference in the lives of Kiwis and I’ve always felt very proud to be a part of that.

“Suncorp New Zealand has gone from strength to strength in recent years and I’m excited to lead a team of truly passionate people as we shape our business for the future and continue to deliver more for our customers and intermediary partners.”” Click here to read more

In other news

nib: Putting Health into Life and Work Seminars to be held at North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday 20th October from 9:00am - 11:00am

nib: Putting Health into Life and Work Seminars to be held at Riccarton Park Functions Centre on Thursday 22nd October from 12:00pm - 2:00pm

Regulator on poor processes and bad outcomes

Income protection: Lessons from over the ditch


Extensive commission changes and another new agency agreement

Several companies have updated commission terms and one has a new agency agreement: 

  • AIA - has ended temporary extra commissions that were part of a limited-time offer
  • Asteron Life has rejigged initial commission, and added a temporary extra, as well as extended aggregator override. 
  • Fidelity Life has ended new business commission on indexation increases
  • Partners Life has issued a new agency agreement giving additional powers to manage expected conduct obligations. Possibly the most interesting addition is a new section which requires an adviser whose client wishes to be served by another adviser to negotiate the sale of the renewal commission - or have it switched, with compensation paid by Partners Life if they cannot agree. 

More details are available to subscribers to the commission comparison report. 


Asteron Life upfront commission enhancements, and more daily news

Asteron Life has announced that upfront commission rate will be 190% effective October 5 2020. The decision for this change has been credited to working towards sustainability by ensuring more New Zealanders can access independent financial advice. Asteron Life has announced that it is offering a temporary 10% Covid-19 support in addition to upfront commission changes, which means upfront commission will total to 200%. This additional support is set to be reviewed at the end of June 2021. A summary comparison is available for subscribers to the Quarterly Life and Health review and much more detail in the Quarterly Commission Comparison. These have just been published to subscribers. For subscription information please contact Kelly Pulham or Russell Hutchinson. 

In other news

Cigna: General Manager- Distribution role being advertised

Fidelity Life: Sharecare October Eat More Greens Diet Challenge launched

Fidelity Life: Sharecare October Stress Relief Challenge launched

Fidelity Life: information about Centr^, personalised daily digital health and fitness program by Chris Hemsworth can be found in Sharecare

Kiwibank: Senior Conduct Manager role being advertised

nib: Mental Resilience webinar


New Asteron Life Head of Life appointed, and more daily news

Asteron Life has announced that Grant Willis has been appointed as the new Head of Life. In this new role Grant will oversee the core functions of product, pricing. sales, operations, claims as well as client servicing.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Grant Willis to the newly established Head of Life role, effective immediately.

He comes into the role from a career in financial services, including the past nine years at Suncorp New Zealand, most recently as Executive Manager – Life, in Insurance Solutions, and from 2011 to 2016 was Asteron Life CFO. Grant has also held senior roles at AIG NZ, Colonial Fiji (a subsidiary of CBA), ASB and Sovereign.

As Head of Life, Grant will oversee the core functions of product, pricing. sales, operations, claims and client servicing. His appointment will enable us to focus on continuously improving customer outcomes in partnership with you.”

In other news

FSCL: FSCL celebrates 10 year anniversary

FSC: Generations Digital Conference registration open

Partners Life: Expressions of interest for 3 day October Virtual New Adviser Training Course now open

Partners Life: licensing information webinar to be held 24 September at 11 am


Asteron Life premium increases, and more daily news

Asteron Life has made changes to premiums effective 21 September 2020. The introduction of premium increases has been in response to claim costs being higher than expected. The premium increases will only impact customers on a stepped premium. Depending on customer segments, increases will be between 0% - 6%. Please refer to the table below. 

“These increases are in response to higher than expected claim costs observed in our most recent claims experience review. Based on this, we have adjusted our long-term claims outlook and updated premiums to ensure that our business will remain sustainable to support our customers both now and in the future. We perform regular reviews to keep any increases small, and as manageable as possible for customers.”

The new rates will not apply to quotes created before 21 September, but the quotes will be valid for only 30 days. The premium changes will affect existing customers after their next policy anniversary or after 21 October 2020.

“The new rates will apply for new customers from 21 September 2020 and will be reflected in policy documents. Quotes created before 21 September will be valid for 30 days.

The changes will apply for existing customers from their next policy anniversary on or after 21 October. Customers will not see any specific reference to the change in rates, but renewal notices will continue to mention that premiums can increase due to changes in market conditions.”  

 

The increases are higher, generally, for female lives than for male lives in trauma. They are also higher for both younger lives and older lives, across all product types, while the changes for lives at the main ages of acquisition (between about age 35 and 50) are more limited, probably constrained by competitive pressures. More details will be given in the forthcoming quarterly life and health report. 

 

Product 

Benefits 

Increase 

Personal Insurance 

 

Life cover 

0-6% 

Trauma recovery cover
Life cover buyback benefit Trauma reinstatement benefit Continuous trauma benefit 

Standalone 0-6% Accelerated 0-4% 

Income protection cover Mortgage and rent cover Mortgageandliving cover Immediate assist package Specific injury support benefit 10-hour benefit 

0-6% 

Business Insurance 

Life cover 

 

0-6% 

 

Trauma recovery cover
Life cover buyback benefit Trauma reinstatement benefit Continuous trauma benefit 

Standalone 0-6% Accelerated 0-4% 

SmartLife 

 

Life cover 

 

0-6% 

Trauma recovery cover Trauma (standard)
Trauma deluxe
Life cover buyback benefit Trauma reinstatement benefit Continuous trauma benefit 

Standalone 0-6% Accelerated 0-4% 

Mortgage repayment option (disability) 

 

0-6% 

SmartLiving 

SmartLiving value SmartLiving deluxe 

0-6% 

SmartBusiness 

 

 

Life cover 

 

0-6% 

Trauma recovery cover Trauma (standard)
Trauma deluxe
Life cover buyback benefit Trauma reinstatement benefit 

Standalone 0-6% Accelerated 0-4% 

 

Income Protection 

Income protection (personal and business) Specific injury support benefit 

0-6% 

 

 

 

In other news

Southern Cross: AA Insurance and Southern Cross recognized for diversity efforts

Southern Cross: Coronavirus: Did lockdown actually make some of us happier?

nib: nib outlines strategy of 'data-driven personalisation'

FSC: register for Generations 2020 digital pass


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