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


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


Normal in the new not-normal

All underwriting involves balancing a range of factors, but income protection underwriting is at least an order of magnitude harder to get right compared to life cover. Mental health, financial underwriting, and moral hazard play a much greater part. So many insurers are adopting a wait and see approach to the product until it is possible to assess the full impact on the economy of the control measures deployed against COVID-19. But now is not a normal time - as this announcement from Asteron Life illustrates, and I think underlines the point not just for them, but also for other insurers: 

An update on underwriting

With many clients facing uncertainty around the future of their businesses and jobs, Asteron Life will continue to consider requests for Disability Income cover on their individual merits at time of application.

To remain consistent with our usual underwriting process, applicants who are currently working at full capacity in their usual hours and duties can still be considered for Disability Income cover. Applicants who are not currently working will have their Disability Income cover assessment deferred until they return to work in their usual capacity. If you’re unsure as to whether or not a client is eligible for Disability Income cover, please contact your aligned underwriter or BDM for guidance before submitting an application.

As one adviser put it to me recently, maybe you don't need to have a lot of new rules, maybe you just need to underwrite. The point here though is that very few people right now are working at full capacity in the usual hours and duties. Essential workers are, mostly. I am, and many knowledge workers in the financial sector will be, albeit from home. Just that change in location will affect the approach of some underwriters. But most of the workforce aren't. That cannot be ignored. If you aren't working in your normal hours, or your normal duties, and you aren't receiving your normal pay, and your business (or sector, or employer) doesn't have its normal future, you can't really expect to get normal IP terms. So underwriting in the time of COVID-19 is difficult and as I pointed out in my post below, income protection may never be the same again


Quotemonster updates

A monstrously big few weeks of development and change on the Quotemonster platform. Here is a list of recent updates: 

Research Updates:

  • AIA Life new policy wording May 2019
  • Sovereign Life new policy wording May 2019
  • Sovereign Mortgage Protection new policy wording May 2019
  • Sovereign IP Indemnity Value new policy wording May 2019
  • Sovereign Loss of Earnings new policy wording May 2019
  • AIA Medical new policy wording May 2019
  • Asteron Remediation Special Events and Child Benefit
  • OnePath Remediation IP, Trauma, TPD

New:

  • The Statement of Advice report now displays an expiry date
  • Asteron Life Trauma now defaults to ‘Trauma Cover with Early Trauma Benefit’ in the Settings window
  • Improved usability on small Apple screens
  • Changed the way company selections work on the Research screen. If you select companies under a single benefit it will not save this selection for other benefits . However, if you choose ‘Package’ first and then select companies it will save this selection for each of the benefits.
  • Added a new option for printing prices from the Benefit Details screen. If you click on the price for a particular company the price details screen now has an option to print out the price for that single company as well as an option to print all price

Improvements:

  • If you are combining providers for Life and Health benefits the health premium will now displays on the Head to Head report
  • Clarified the wording on the AIA Trauma Early Cancer Upgrade option to make it clearer that it is female early cancer
  • Made the Income and Expenses section of the Statement of Advice match the Needs Analysis screen
  • Improved the Needs Analysis Life and IP cover amount calculations
  • Fixed a problem with Adviser Comments on the Statement of Advice
  • Fixed an issue with Head To Head on existing quotes and tidied up the report printout
  • Made improvements to the way customer logos appear on reports
  • Fixed a problem with the research report not displaying the same companies as those selected in the Research screen.

 


Asteron Centre Evacuated Over Quake Risk

From the news: 'Six-year-old Asteron Centre on Featherston Street has been evacuated due to possible earthquake damage to its stairwells. The 15-storey building in Wellington has tenants including Inland Revenue and the Civil Aviation Authority. Click here to read more.'

We hope the Asteron Life staff can get back to normal happily when this is resolved. Our best wishes to all those affected by the earthquakes. 


Premium Comparison V81 - Tableau Version

A Tableau version of the latest Premium Comparison Database is now available to all subscribers. It has the same data as Premium Comparison V81 that was sent out a couple of weeks ago.

You will need Tableau Reader 9.1 to open it, which can be downloaded for free here:

http://www.tableau.com/products/reader


Asteron Life Workability Pricing Live from 11 August on Quotemonster

Asteron Life's newest income protection product "Workability" will be live for quotes on quotemonster from from 11 August. Research will follow in the next couple of days. 

Robyn Prentice, Manager - Product, Suncorp Life, talked with a real sense of mission about the problem of people not insuring their income because they are scared off by the high price of traditional income protection products. Workability is designed to address that need. Although with a focus on price you can imagine that the product will not compete in terms of high replacement ratios or long lists of generous features. After one year the "own" occupation definition switches to one based on "education, training, and experience."

Nonetheless it does manage to surprise in a couple of areas. The focus on rehabilitation means that a client could qualify for a rehabilitation benefit even before a total disability benefit is paid. That is interesting - and one of the claims people we spoke with felt that was a feature which could be used in many claim circumstances. 

We will write in more detail about the product when we publish the research later this week. 

This is how to find the new product on quotemonster: 

Workability Pricing


Coming up: Asteron Life Announce Price Increases

Asteron announced last Friday a series of pricing changes that will take effect from 10 August. The lines of business are:

  • Personal and Business Insurance
  • SmartLife (includes SmartLiving, SmartLife Max, SmartBusiness, and Income Protection)
  • Smartplan
  • Economyplan
  • Careplan
  • Incomeplan

Here is a table of the premium changes:

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Asteron (Australia) Proposes 'Naked Commission' Model

Asteron Life Australia has recently proposed a wholesale model in its confidential submission to John Trowbridge, LIAWG independent chairman.

Asteron Life executive manager Mark Vilo outlined the main points of its response to the Trowbridge Report and commented directly on the level commission proposals at a recent adviser roadshow in Sydney.

“One of the things we put forward in the response was the idea of having a form of naked or wholesale pricing, in the same way that the investment fraternity do,” he told the audience.

“The adviser acts as a wholesaler. If the client comes to Asteron Life, they pay the full rack rate, but if they go via adviser they get the wholesale rate and the advisers can dial up the fee.”

Please note this article refers to Asteron Australia

Click here to read more.