AIA to join Relief Run, and more daily news

AIA NZ has announced that employees will be joining the Relief Run, a global initiative for those in India affected by COVID-19. AIA NZ alongside AIA Australia will contribute $30,000 to World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal. Employees will also complete 5km near the AIA House on 9 June 2021. AIA NZ CEO Nick Stanhope has said that it is important AIA joins this movement.

“AIA NZ are joining their Australian colleagues in the global initiative Relief Run, as the trans-Tasman business contributes $30,000 for the people of India devastated by COVID-19.

On Wednesday 9 June, the AIA NZ team will be running or walking 5km around the Smales Farm precinct in Takapuna, Auckland, and encourage participation from anywhere in the world.

“This is a global virtual event so anyone can take part from wherever they are,” says Nick Stanhope, AIA NZ CEO. “The scale of the tragedy in India is devastating, and we have family members, friends and colleagues directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. I feel it’s important we join this movement, and take this small step to make a difference.”

Australian AIA Vitality Ambassador and endurance athlete Samantha Gash is the co-creator of Relief Run, which last year raised more than AU$1 million in support of Australian bushfire relief efforts. Locally the Relief Run will be supported by AIA NZ Vitality Ambassadors Dame Valerie Adams and Ian Jones.

“It’s great to be able to get involved in supporting my fellow AIA Vitality Ambassador Sam Gash, and the Relief Run,” says Ian Jones. “I know the funds raised will have a big impact on the relief effort in India, and will undoubtedly save lives.”

All funds raised by Relief Run will go towards the World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal, which is sourcing equipment and supplies including beds, oxygen concentrators, food vouchers and tents for temporary COVID-19 care centres.” Click here to read more

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In other news

AIA: $597m in claims was paid in 2020. This includes COVID – redundancy, income protection and death claims

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Asteron Life: Jacques Van Heerden joins Asteron Life as BDM

From Good returns: Keeping up - but not with the Kardashians

 


Legal and regulatory review for the life and health insurance sector

24 May 2021 – Advertising Standards Authority calls for submissions on the review of its Code for Financial Advertising, with submissions closing on 30 June 2021. https://www.asa.co.nz/2021/05/24/media-release-consultation-on-code-for-financial-advertising/

25-27 May 2021 – APRA released statistics for life insurance, general insurance and superannuation in Australia. https://www.apra.gov.au/

25 May 2021 – Government Minister, Hon David Parker, announced that the temporary regime, introduced to protect New Zealand assets from falling unnecessarily into foreign ownership during the COVID pandemic, will end on 7 June. bringing into place a narrower national security and public order call-in power. This allows screening of investments in strategically important businesses that do not normally require consent under the Overseas Investment Act, such as those involving the acquisition of military technology or critical national infrastructure. https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/emergency-screening-overseas-investments-end-economy-recovers


Counting the cost of COVID-19 and what to do about it

A great piece of writing at this link. It highlights both the global total of excess deaths and what to do about the pandemic. Between 7m and 10m more deaths have occurred than the world would have expected based on past trends. This is likely to be a truer total toll (so far) from the pandemic than official figures for deaths from COVID-19. That is because many deaths occur without a formal diagnosis and are therefore not recorded as such - especially in poorer countries. It also highlights that the countries hit earliest were those with high levels of international travel (which fed some conspiracy theorists) but has now spread across the poorer (and less connected) world, where it will kill many more people. 


Asteron Life underwriting enhancements, and more daily news

Asteron life announced that as of 5 May 2021 enhancements have been made to the Underwriting Rules Engine (URE) within AsteronConnect. Asteron Life has said that the implementation of these new rules will mean more new business applications will be issued immediately through AsteronConnect.

Changes include:

  • Improvements to straight through acceptance rate for both advisers and customers
  • More assessments and acceptance of mental health conditions
  • More acceptance of Covid-19 related answers

“At 9pm on Wednesday 5 May we’re making some enhancements to our Underwriting Rules Engine (URE) within AsteronConnect. With these enhanced URE rules, more new business applications through AsteronConnect will be able to be issued immediately.

Some of the key changes you will notice are:

  • The Straight Through Acceptance rate for Advisers & customers is being improved - including both standard and substandard outcomes (exclusions, % loadings and combinations thereof).
  • More Mental Health conditions will be assessable and accepted by the URE, rather than referring to an Underwriter.
  • We are enabling more Covid-19 related answers to be accepted through the URE, especially
    1. For employee applicants requesting income protection.
    2. For self-employed applicants impacted by Covid-19 related trading restrictions.
  • For applicants not currently receiving a Government Covid-19 wage subsidy or other business income support and not working in the hospitality, travel, tourism or the international student education sectors.
  • For applicants with intended foreign travel plans that do not require a 14-day quarantine period upon their return to New Zealand. 

Advisers using paper applications will still need to complete the Covid-19 supplementary questionnaire when applying for cover.”

In other news

Russell’s piece in Good returns: Sharing is caring - consumer data rights for the advice sector

RBNZ: The Future Is Māori

Strategi: top tips for FAPland

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Southern Cross announces new product availability for advisers, and more daily news

In a package of announcements, including senior team role changes, probably the most significant is that Southern Cross has announced that their entire product set is now available to advisers to offer to their clients. 

 

Southern Cross has confirmed that there are now 884,000 people insured with Southern Cross. The use of CareHQ to release new products during the past few months were also noted. The enhancements of the  Cancer Cover Plus product has also been highlighted.  New group business is now the same price regardless of the channel used. A new National Sales Manager role has been created to support BDMs and Premium Partner network. Southern Cross has also noted that there is now a closer engagement between Premium Partners and the Southern Cross Executive Team. Southern Cross has announced a number of appointments, Margaret Smith has been appointed as Head of Business Engagement. Ryan Koppens has been appointed as Head of Sales Experience. Janet Osborne will continue to lead the BDM team with a focus on the Premium Partner programme. 

 

It has been quite some time since our last communication, Christmas and a fantastic summer have come and almost gone and we have seen much change in the last few months with more COVID-19 lockdowns in Auckland, good news in the form of the vaccine rollout and trans-Tasman travel bubble, and significant regulatory change with the introduction of the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act.

 

Through this period Southern Cross has continued to grow well ahead of expectations, and we now have 884k members who choose to insure their health with us. We’ve also delivered new products to market with our CareHQ virtual GP service, and our enhanced cancer care module Cancer Cover Plus.

 

Our support teams, front line call centre and BDM teams have all been working hard to meet your expectations as like you, we respond to a constantly changing environment. We have delivered significant change over the last few years to bring our adviser and direct channels closer together, including the following:

 

·       Our entire product set is now available for sale by our advisers

·       New group business opportunities are priced the same in the market regardless of channel

·       Creation of a National Sales Manager role for advisers to support the BDM team and our Premium Partner network

·       Closer engagement for our Premium Partners with the Southern Cross Executive Team

 

It’s vital that we deliver great customer experiences regardless of the customer’s choice of channel. So more than ever, a strong network of advisers is a priority for Southern Cross.

 

To that end, we are now taking further steps to support our adviser channel, and I’m excited to announce the following:

 

Margaret Smith has been appointed to a new role of Head of Business Engagement - many of you will remember Margaret from her time running the adviser channel.  Margaret’s remit is to strengthen our growth and align our teams in the adviser and corporate markets right across the country. Her team now incorporates all of our B2B account managers across the country.

 

Janet Osborne will continue to lead our BDM team, with prime responsibility for the Premium Partner programme, reporting to Margaret Smith and supported by Jamie Mellow as BDM Key Account Manager (Janet’s 2IC). We will also hire a new BDM executive to alleviate pressure on our BDMs and enable them to be more responsive to you - our Premium Partners.

  

Ryan Koppens has been appointed to a new role of Head of Sales Experience.  He will be picking up all of our operational and support teams that service our adviser channel and our direct sales teams.  He will also have responsibility for our customer-facing sales teams (phone-based and in-person) across Aotearoa.  Ryan’s remit is to ensure that the sales experience for our customers is always optimal, regardless of channel. 

 

Our goal with these changes is to support you with more dedicated and better aligned teams across Southern Cross, as well as a revitalised support structure to enable faster responses to advisers and their customers.

 

You can have absolute confidence that Ryan, Margaret and Janet will work together to support a unified approach to growth and a commitment to outstanding customer experiences and support. 

In other news

Fidelity Life: Fidelity Life has said that advisers must complete their accreditation before the end of June 2021

From Good returns: It's time to get serious about advice

From Good returns: [GRTV] Ballantyne talks about PI cover and industry movements

FMA: snapshot of sector

FA sector snapshot


Accuro on how COVID-19 impacted the industry, and more daily news

Accuro CEO Lance Walker has shared insight on how COVID-19 impacted the industry. Walker has noted that Accuro saw higher than usual levels of policy suspensions and lower claims during the second quarter of 2020, then higher claims towards the end of the year. Regardless, Walker highlighted that Accuro remained resilient because of the business continuity process in place. New business sales has been described as remaining at good levels during the initial COVID-19 period in 2020 and continuing into 2021. Walker has said that there has been very strong direct sales for individual policies and strong growth in group sales. Accuro has concluded that there is now a heightened awareness of the benefits of health insurance.

“The insurance industry took a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic last year, with many insurance providers and their people forced to quickly adapt to the unstable environment and address emerging risks.

Now that New Zealand has largely eradicated the pandemic, Accuro Health Insurance (Accuro) chief executive officer Lance Walker shared with Insurance Business how it impacted Accuro and the health insurance sector, the current challenges in the industry, and how to address risks.

Walker (pictured), who joined Accuro as a CEO during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, said the pandemic’s most immediate impact was that hospitals were not performing elective surgeries during the lockdown. As a result, Accuro saw lower claims during the second quarter of 2020, then higher claims towards the end of the year.

 

“We also saw higher than usual levels of suspensions due to financial hardship – although most of these are now reverting to paid policies,” Walker continued.

Despite the impacts of the pandemic on the sector, Walker shared that Accuro remained resilient, thanks to its business continuity processes.

“Like many organisations, the COVID-19 lockdown was a live test of our business continuity processes, and the team came through that with flying colours,” he said.

“We were able to conduct business remotely from day one with minimal impact on our levels of customer service (our levels of customer satisfaction remained above 90% for the 2020 year). This remote working model has continued post-COVID-19, with many of our team now choosing to work from home from time to time in line with our flexible working policies.”

Accuro’s new business sales also remained at “good levels” through both the initial COVID-19 period in 2020 and continuing into 2021.

“In particular, we have seen very strong direct sales in the individual space and strong growth in group sales,” Walker said.

“Our conclusion is that COVID-19 has heightened awareness of the benefits of health insurance – both for individuals and employers (who are even more focused now on employee health and wellbeing).”  Click here to read more

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From Good returns: If in doubt - disclose

From Good returns: Aussie advisers: Not keen on digital advice

Professional IQ: Claim v circumstance seminar

 

 


nib reveal benefits of COVID-19 support package

It has been a year since nib begun offering members its COVID-19 support package. nib has revealed that over 2,000 members were relieved from paying over $870,000 as a result of premium waivers and suspensions. Another 2,500 members were granted a six-month pre-approval extension for any delayed medical treatments. nib CEO Rob Hennin has said that nib is pleased that the support package ensured that members maintained their medical cover regardless of their financial circumstance. Hennin has noted that although the fight against COVID-19 isn’t over it is rewarding seeing confidence in the healthcare sector returning.

Community initiatives that nib is backing have also had positive impacts. A $150,000 grant helped Lifeline Aotearoa to meet increased demand. Lifeline Aotearoa reported receiving 20% more crisis calls because of the impacts of the pandemic. With the support of nib, Clearhead offered over 850 one-on-one mental health telehealth sessions and developed a platform in Te Reo to bridge barriers.

“It’s been 12 months since leading health insurer, nib New Zealand (nib), launched its COVID-19 support package to assist its members and the wider community impacted by the pandemic. Released last April, the package provided access to a range of initiatives to support member’s individual health and financial needs during the crisis.

More than $870,000 was provided in financial assistance in the form of premium waivers and suspensions, helping over 2,000 nib members maintain their health cover. Around 2,500 members were also automatically granted a six-month pre-approval extension for any medical treatment delays they may have experienced.

nib Chief Executive Officer, Rob Hennin, said swiftly introducing immediate support and expanding assistance as the pandemic unfolded and needs changed has enabled members to continue to put their health first.

“It’s been a particularly hard year for many, and the pandemic has highlighted how important our health really is to us all. We’re pleased that we’ve been able to support our members to maintain their health during this challenging period,” Mr Hennin said.

Expanded coverage for COVID-19 related treatment was provided to all members at no additional cost, while telehealth services helped members access GP or specialist services from home.

“As a health partner for our members, establishing safe and meaningful pathways for their ongoing health was a top priority. Funding telehealth services was one way we did this, and it’s become a permanent benefit for eligible members,” Mr Hennin said.

Beyond the member base, nib together with nib foundation, provided $1 million in funding to community initiatives across both New Zealand and Australia to assist with the increasing demand for mental health support during the pandemic.

“Last year alone, Lifeline Aotearoa received a 20% spike in crisis calls as a direct result of the pandemic’s impact on our mental health. Our $150,000 grant assisted them to provide more than 2,300 additional hours of counselling as well as further training to help meet the surge in demand for services,” Mr Hennin said.

“In addition, our support of Clearhead has helped facilitate over 850 one-on-one mental health telehealth sessions for Kiwis and medical providers at no additional cost. It also enabled the development of a Te Reo version of the platform helping to reduce the cultural and language barriers often faced by Māori communities when seeking mental health support,” he added.

Mr Hennin said that while the fight against COVID-19 wasn’t yet over, it was rewarding to see that nib’s efforts to support its members and the community were having a positive impact and that confidence in the healthcare sector was returning.

“With many people unable to get the treatment they needed or being fearful of going to the hospital during the height of the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see the volumes of claims returning to preCOVID levels. It gives us peace of mind, knowing our members are getting the necessary healthcare treatment to continue looking after their health and wellbeing,” he. said.”

In other news

LifeDirect: Compass Life heads in a new direction after buy-out

nib: nib brings back popular offer

Partners Life: May New Adviser Training Course expressions of interest now open

Partners Life: Partners Life back big-screen documentary

FMA value for money guidance for KiwiSaver and managed fund providers.


New FSC research findings, and more daily news

FSC CEO Richard Klipin presented the findings of new research at the FSC Get in Shape summit last week. Unlocking the Potential of Professional Financial Advice was centred around the response of those within the industry to the following questions:

·       How do you feel on the other side of Covid?

·       How ready are you for upcoming regulation changes?

·       What is your outlook for the future?

Klipin noted that findings indicated that the industry is in a time of change with a transition from a sales led approach to an advice led approach. With this change it expected that there will be changes to business models, remuneration models, and client connection methods. The research also showed that advisers had a positive outlook on thepost-COVID-19 reality. 

FSC CEO Richard Klipin unveiled the new research entitled, “Unlocking the Potential of Professional Financial Advice” at the FSC: Get In Shape events this week.

The research shows that the financial advice sector has remained resilient despite the challenges of Covid and regulatory change while continuing to provide ongoing value to Kiwis.

The FSC research committee asked the advice community three questions.

1. How do you feel on the other side of Covid?

2. How ready are you for upcoming regulation changes?

3. What is your outlook for the future?

Klipin said that the conclusion of the research was that “We are in a huge moment of change. We are moving towards the much more level footing of an advice-led [rather than a sales-led] conversation.

“Because of this, business models, remuneration models, how advisers connect with their clients are all going to change. It feels like this moment is unleashing an incredible opportunity for the industry.”

As well as reaffirming previous research that highlighted the benefits of financial advice during times of turmoil, the research also showed that advisers were feeling that they could weather the post-Covid storm.

“What we saw in Covid was a change in how people operated their businesses. The key change in this sector has been the pick up and the take up of technology.

 

The research found that many advisers are preparing themselves for the upcoming regulatory changes, with 57.5% of advisers reporting that they were preparing for changes relating to FSLAA and 32% of advisers saying that they would be ready when the law came into place. The research also highlighted that there generally was a positive response to the upcoming change.

When looking at how ready advisers are for regulation change the numbers are looking even more positive.

“At the end of last year, 57.5% of advisers said that [they] have continued to ready themselves to implement the required changes in FSLAA, 32% said they will be ready when it begins.

“This notion in some parts of the sector [that some are] wondering how ready are people? How many people are out there not doing anything? This data says that most advisers are well down the track.”

According to the research most advisers have a positive outlook for the future. Many of the respondents felt that the incoming regulation changes are positive for customers, and for advisers bothClick here to read more

FSC findings

In other news

FSC: in response to the Lockdown announcement and upcoming regulatory changes, the FSC will be running a Zoom session for those registered for the Christchurch and Dunedin Advice Summits on Wednesday 17 February 2021 from 08.00 until 10.00.

The Zoom session schedule is:

0800:  Welcome from FSC, CEO Richard Klipin

0805:  Opening Session: Hon Dr David Clark, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

0815:  Embedding the changes in the New Zealand Advice Sector

0905:  Comfort break

0910:  Disclosure – Focusing on your responsibilities ahead of 15 March 2021

0935:  Helping New Zealand’s advisers to grow – tools, tips and insights

0955:  Close - FSC, CEO Richard Klipin

 


Chatswood operating at alert level three

With the move to alert level three travel plans for this week have been cancelled. I shall be in touch with each of you to reschedule meetings that were planned for in-person with either Zoom or a tentative alternative date.  Staff are all used to working from home now and are well set-up to do so. We will clear messages and divert the office phone but you may still require mobile numbers to quickly reach Jerusalem, Kelly, Fran, Melissa, Ed, or me - feel free to drop us an email and ask if you do not already have these. 

If you are at an insurer and would like us to help publicise any event changes due to the alert level change please let us know we are happy to blog those for you.