Partners Life and Cigna offer claims reassurance

As most people cancel their life and trauma insurance before retiring, the majority of life and trauma policyholders are younger and more likely to survive COVID-19. For this reason, life insurers are not expecting an increase in claims as a result of COVID-19. In this article both Partners Life and Cigna confirm that they have pandemic insurance in place, but also remind customers that they have relatively low levels of insurance on those that are most likely to be affected. Click here to read more :

"From a claims point of view, we don't believe it will come across in our claims experience on the types of products we sell," said Naomi Ballantyne, founder and managing director of Partners Life.

Most people cancelled their life and trauma insurance long before they retired, meaning most policyholders were younger, and had a very high likelihood of surviving a Covid-19 should they be infected.

I expect all New Zealand life and health insurers are in good shape to meet all claims.

The truth behind back pains

Back pain is the leading cause of disability in most countries. Doctors often prescribe addictive pain relief as it is the simpler to prescribe medications and order tests than telling patients it is unlikely to resolve their back pain. Doctors willingness to prescribe pain relief is why back pain is a major reason for people getting addicted to opioids.

Americans spend $88b USD annually to treat back and neck pain, while the best treatment for most back pain is non-medical. Cigna found that 87% of clients who had surgery were still in so much pain two years post-surgery that they need additional treatment. Click here to read more. Many of these medical interventions have a dubious track record for success. 

We might speculate that in combination, non-specific pain, medical willingness to try something - anything - and long-term income protection could be either immensely valuable, or dangerous to long-term health, or perhaps, at different stages, both. 

From 1 February, OnePath becomes Cigna

Cigna formally absorbs OnePath from 1 February. Quoting from an email sent to advisers recently they announced: 

"We’re pleased to let you know that we have received approval from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and on 31 January 2020 the OnePath business will be transferred to Cigna. This means the two businesses will begin operating as one – Cigna"

Congratulations to Cigna on the successful completion of the merger. Adviser familiar with other mergers will be able to appreciate how quickly, and in many respects smoothly, this has gone. Also announced under the same email are changes to the agency agreements. These, like AIA's recent changes, introduce new obligations for both advisers and Cigna. These relate to the expected requirements under the Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill. Although these requirements will probably undergo some change, the transfer of all OnePath business to Cigna means that a new agreement was required.

CIGNA announces intention to bring all OnePath life insurance business to CIGNA book

CIGNA's recent announcement:

Since Cigna Corporation acquired the OnePath Life business at the end of November 2018 from ANZ Bank, OnePath has continued to provide cover to its policyholders as part of Cigna.

Please be advised that we are intending to combine the businesses by transferring the OnePath Life insurance business to Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand (Cigna). If this is approved by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the insurer of all OnePath policies will change to Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand Limited.

As part of our application to the Reserve Bank, we are required to seek feedback from policyholders.

We wanted to give you a heads up so you can support your clients through the process and respond to any questions they may have. We have included a copy of the letter and FAQs that your clients will receive. We will have these posted by the end of this week.

You can rest assured that none of this will change our day-to-day business operations or how we support you, and there will be no change to your client’s policy and service they receive. Having a single legal entity will help us operate with greater efficiency to deliver to both you and your customer’s needs.

Where your client has multiple relationships with OnePath, they will receive one communication directing them to our contact centre for any questions.

If your client wants to provide feedback through you, we would appreciate if you could provide this to us via the online form at Of course we are always available if you need us or have any questions yourself, please contact your Business Partnership Manager.

Kind regards,

Gail Costa
CEO, OnePath New Zealand and Cigna New Zealand

Arohanui Christchurch, kind regards insurance companies

Our sense of unity was solidified after the atrocious Christchurch terror attacks. The Prime Minister, other governing bodies, those with a platform and communities all around the country demonstrated what it means to be a New Zealander. The outpouring of support was not limited to individuals, corporate entities were quick to condemn the shootings. 

Major insurers have pledged to make an exception on the terrorist exclusions in policies at this time to provide cover for those affected by the attacks. Although AIA policies do not include this exclusion, they have set up a dedicated customer support team for clients affected by the shootings. Similarly, Fidelity Life have set up a customer and adviser care team. NIB have expressed their willingness to assist advisers and affected clients during this time by ensuring employees are available to offer all those affected the appropriate support.

Cigna has pledged to honor claims made by customers affected by the attacks, although many of their products “don’t have these exclusions”. Partners Life have taken a similar stance by choosing to refrain from applying the terrorism exclusions to the very few policies that include this exclusion.

AA insurance, State and AMI have all agreed that the terrorist exclusions will not be applicable to those affected. All three insurers will work to ensure clients that were affected experience a seamless claims process. Click here to read more 

Insurance CEOs express mixed responses

Asteron Life CEO, Paul Smeaton, assures that the company is taking “steps to improve people’s trust and confidence in our industry”. Cigna CEO, Gail Costa echoed Smeaton’s view stating the need for improvements on existing services. Although Smeaton has publicly stated his company’s commitment to improving practices, Naomi Ballantyne, Partners Life Managing Director, has been hesitant to publicly respond to FMA and RBNZ’s report, as she believes that they currently do not have enough information to respond. These responses highlight the need for change that has been ignited within the industry.