Westpac Withdraws Gold Term and Gold Disability Income Cover

As of 15 March 2021, Westpac no longer offers Gold Term Cover (death, critical trauma, TPD) and Gold Disability Income Cover (Indemnity Income Protection). Existing policy holders, however, can continue to make amendments (i.e. increase and decrease cover amounts). Westpac Life continues to offer term life, TPD, critical illness and Agreed Value income protection in other products. For further information please click here


Cigna premiums to increase, and more daily news

Cigna has announced that from 15 April 2021 there will be changes to underlying premium rates on Life, Trauma and Disability covers across Assurance Extra, Business Assurance, Business Extra and Agribusiness Extra. Changes to Life, Trauma and Disability cover are a response to feedback and market developments. The price changes represent the changes. The price changes will be applied for new customers but current customers will have the new rates applied on their next premium review date after 15 April 2021. Applications that are submitted  before 15 April 2021 and issued before 15 May 2021 will not be immediately affected by the price changes. All changes are listed below:

 

·     Life cover rates on Assurance Extra, Business Assurance, Business Extra and Agribusiness Extra are increasing by 3% for yearly renewable, 5-year level and 10-year level premium structures.

·     Alongside this we’ve increased our large sum assured discounts for customers with over $500,000 of life cover.

·    Trauma cover on Assurance Extra, Business Assurance, Business Extra and Agribusiness Extra are increasing by 3% for yearly renewable premium structures.

·    Accelerated Complete Disablement Cover on Assurance Extra, Business Assurance and Agribusiness Extra are increasing by 3% for yearly renewable premium structures.

·    Disability covers including Income Cover, Mortgage Repayment Cover and Premium Cover are increasing dependent on factors including age, gender, wait period and benefit period. The increase will generally vary between 1-10%, however in some cases customers will experience a decrease.

 

“We wanted to give you a heads up about upcoming increases to the underlying premium rates on our current Life, Trauma and Disability Cover pricing across Assurance Extra, Business Assurance, Business Extra and Agribusiness Extra.

 

The new underlying rates will come into effect on 15 April 2021.

 

Over the past year in response to feedback, and in line with market developments, we’ve made a number of enhancements to our core Life, Trauma and Disability cover to make it easier for customers to access support when the unexpected happens.

 

These new competitive rates reflect the recent enhancements and will contribute to the long-term sustainability of our products while remaining good value for your customers.

 

For new customers: The refreshed rates come into effect on 15 April 2021 for all new policies.

 

For existing customers: The new rates will be applied to existing customers at their next premium review date from 15 April 2021. Customers will receive notification of their new premiums via the renewal letter which is sent prior to their premium review.

 

Any applications submitted before 15 April 2021 and issued before 15 May 2021 will be honoured at the old rates and will not be subject to the new rates until the first premium review.” Click here to read more 

In other news

FMA: the FMA has issued a public warning to Roger David Gannon of Gannon Insurance

Cigna: Simon Prentice to join Cigna as Business Partnership Manager based in lower South Island

Cigna: Sharon Duffell new Christchurch Senior Underwriter in the New Business & Underwriting Team

Cigna: Multi-Benefit Discount extended until 30 June 2021

 


Asteron Life set to run regulatory webinars, and more daily news

In response to high demand, Asteron Life is set to run three webinars focused on the upcoming regulatory changes. The webinar will walk advisers through the new requirements and will help them understand what they need to do. Asteron Life has noted that templates for the new process will be available. The three webinars will be held on:

  • Monday 22 February at 1pm
  • Tuesday 23 February at 11am 
  • Tuesday 23 February at 1pm

With just weeks to go, this webinar will step you through the new requirements and help you understand what you need to do. Because each FAP and adviser has different information to disclose, Asteron Life cannot provide templates for the new process.

If you haven’t yet thought about this vital requirement or are still a bit unsure, please enrol for this webinar today - there are three available sessions for you to choose from, click here to register for one now. 

In other news

Partners Life: Naomi Ballantyne hosted a digital ‘Fireside chat’ during Level 3 to discuss things happening within the industry

Financial Advice: Financial Advice made a submission on the proposed guidance on the advertising offers of financial products under the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013

Insurance Advisernet Australia: Insurance Advisernet Australia celebrates its 25th year

AIA: AIA is in search of a qualified actuary with experience in pricing to join on a 12 month contract

Gen Re: Finding a Way Forward for Disability Income Insurance in Australia - Is IDII Functioning Sustainably Elsewhere?

RBNZ interns

RBNZ: RBNZ farewells Summer interns


Cigna announce product enhancements, and more daily news

Cigna has announced that they have enhanced aspects of Income, Mortgage Repayment, Complete Disablement, Trauma and Premium Covers. The enhancements include changes in wording and benefits. The changes were made effective as of 11 November 2020. The changes are designed to give customers more flexibility during the claims process as well as allowing customers with a low-grade tumor or a listed progressive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease to claim.

“We’ve made enhancements to a number of definitions and benefits across our Income, Mortgage Repayment, Complete Disablement, Trauma and Premium Covers.

Among the changes is the addition of an alternative 10-hour disability definition to our base Income, Mortgage Repayment and Premium Covers. This will give your customers more flexibility when applying for a total disability claim.

The enhancements also include removing the severity requirements on the full Trauma benefit criteria, making it easier for your customers with a low-grade tumor or a listed progressive condition such as Alzheimer’s disease to claim.”

Below is a full list of benefit changes.

“We have made the following enhancements to our Assurance Extra Income Covers, Mortgage Repayment Cover and Premium Cover:

  • Adding an alternative (10 hour) Total Disability definition

Assurance Extra Income Cover, Mortgage Repayment Cover & Premium Cover

We’ve introduced an alternative total disability definition to our base covers where if an illness or injury causes the life assured to be unable to work more than 10 hours a week in their pre-disability occupation, they may still be considered for a Total Disability Benefit. Any income they’ve earned from working within these 10 hours, will be subtracted from the benefit amount payable.

  • Total Disability Benefit & Partial Disability Benefit –Removal of the 14 days & 7 days total disability criteria

Assurance Extra Income Cover & Mortgage Repayment Cover

We’ve removed the 14 days initial period of total disability criteria under our Total Disability Benefit, and the 7 days initial period of total disability criteria under our Partial Disability Benefit. This has improved the claim-ability of this cover, meaning the life assured is more likely to qualify for a claim payment.

  • Total Disability Benefit – removal of limitation for concurrent Mortgage Repayment Cover and Income Cover claims

Assurance Extra Income Cover

We’ve removed the limitation (added in April 2019) under all our Income Covers which reduces the Income Cover benefit after 6 months if the life assured is also getting a Mortgage Repayment Cover benefit for the same disability.

  • Recurrent Disability Benefit – Extending period of recurrence from 6 months to 12 months

Assurance Extra Income Cover, Mortgage Repayment Cover & Premium Cover

We’ve extended the period of recurrence to 12 months under all Assurance Extra Income Covers, Mortgage Repayment Cover and Premium Cover regardless of the selected payment term. Previously the period of recurrence had to be 6 months if a payment term of 2 years or 5 years was selected under Income Cover or Mortgage Repayment Cover.

  • Return to Work Benefit – adding an additional scenario for claim

Assurance Extra Income Cover & Mortgage Repayment Cover

We’ve added an additional scenario for claim, where, if the life assured has been accepted for a Vocational Retraining or Rehabilitation Benefit that resulted in them returning to full time employment or self-employment, they may now get extra financial support under the Return to Work Benefit

  • Premium Cover – Refund premiums paid during the waiting period upon acceptance of a Disability Benefit claim

Assurance Extra Premium Cover

Going forward, if a Disability Benefit claim has been accepted, the premium waiver would be applied retrospectively from the first day of the life assured’s disability. This means that at the end of the waiting period, we will reimburse any premiums paid in respect to coverage during the waiting period.

In other news

Does New Zealand really need four dispute resolution schemes?

Why do so many clients go without income protection?

nib: nib talks 2019/2020 results

 


What could be the IP impact of "long-COVID"?

A back of the envelope forecast for "long-COVID" impact on IP claims: 

Start with cases - about 1,950 if we are considering current known cases, or whatever number your modelling predicts for whole of pandemic. Assuming very good containment, not much more, let's hope it stays that way. The apply your estimate for "long-COVID" I am using 20% at the moment which gives us about 400 cases in New Zealand. But not all of these will be in employment and own income protection. In fact as 42% of cases are 'imported' we can assume that most of those do not own income cover issued by New Zealand insurers. That leaves us with roughly 240 cases. FSC underinsurance research showed income protection cover at about 20% of the market - or a possible 48 cases of 'long-COVID' where a claim may be possible.

Well, well, within the capability of the industry to manage. Economic impacts on people that have claims from other causes are likely to be more problematic. 


Science behind high Income Protection premiums, and more daily news

Recently we reported that Income Protection prices are on the rise as a result of the Australian market and COVID-19. New Zealander insurers are now being urged to amend processes and premiums before regulators intervene and introduction mandatory guides. Partners Life begun the conversation when revealing that it has increased IP premiums by 12% and made policy changes. Kris Ballantyne, chief marketing officer, has said that Partners wishes to offer affordable policies that customers can maintain for as long as they need. AIA and Cigna have both noted that they aren’t looking to introduce significant premium increases.  

“It took insurer Partners Life to break the silence last month when it revealed a brave plan to start publishing the content of discussions with the Financial Markets Authority.

 

In doing so, it revealed it lifted its income protection premiums by 12 per cent in the past year, and had made policy changes, including not allowing self-employed people to any longer select an “agreed value” of income to be covered, instead limiting cover to actual loss of earnings.

 

Partner’s Life’s chief marketing officer Kris Ballantyne said the company was a “first mover” on income protection, driven by wanting to provide policies they [consumers] could afford to keep as long as they needed it.

 

It was a big challenge as there were a lot of agreed value policies covering self-employed people, and owners of small businesses.

 

Neither of its two big rivals, AIA nor Cigna, was expecting to make such large premium increases, though AIA had stopped selling new policies in which the income covered automatically increased by 5 per cent a year.

 

AIA chief product officer Len Elikhis said that over time, “the insured’s benefits would creep up and approach the insured’s income”.

Shane Burdack, senior underwriting consultant as Swiss Re Australia highlighted that customers with significant wealth had very little incentive to return to work when on claim, resulting in increased premium prices.

“Swiss Re senior underwriting consultant in Australia, Shane Burdack, said that in New Zealand insurers gave little thought to the net wealth of policyholders.

 

Yet people with significant wealth – sometimes through investments, sometimes because of payouts from other insurance policies – had a low incentive to go back to work, and stayed “on claim” for longer driving up costs.” Click here to read more

  

In other news

nib: nib takes place among top 100 most diverse firms worldwide

Southern Cross: Southern Cross is offering members a $149 voucher when they join Snap Fitness on a minimum 12-month term

Southern Cross: Southern Cross is offering members 10% off the retail price of a monthly LES MILLS On Demand subscription

 

 

 


Fluctuations in Income Protection prices, and more daily news

The New Zealand Herald have reported on Income Protection price increases. Financial advisers have credited the changes to IP to the Australian IP market although COVID-19 has played a role in the change in pricing and the underwriting process. During the FSC digital Generations 2020 Conference, Kimberley Robinson from Swiss Re Australia warned that it was important that New Zealand insurers make amendments. Robinson highlighted that in Australia the regulator had to step in after losses totaled A$3 billion in a five-year period. Robinson said that the losses were a result of an increased focus on sales volumes, cross-subsidisation, a competitive market, and in some instances, insurers providing more benefits on claims before claim time.

At an industry conference held online this week by the Financial Service Council insurance underwriter Swiss Re warned that New Zealand insurers also needed to make changes.

Kimberley Robinson, product solutions leader at Swiss Re in Australia, said Australian regulator APRA had intervened after big losses in the sector which added up to around A$3 billion over five years.

"We have suffered losses on individual income protection on an unsustainable level."

Robinson said factors contributing to those losses included an increasing focus on sales volumes over profitability, cross-subsidisation of the product and a fiercely competitive market.

"In some cases we were providing customers with more benefit on claim than they earned before claiming."”

To tackle issues relating to sustainability and customer support, the FSC recently set up a CEO life insurance forum and ran its first meeting. Although Richard Klipin didn’t comment on the pricing of IP, he noted that the sector is not growing and that it is instead expanding sideways. Klipin highlighted that the challenge for the industry to transforming insurance into something that is relevant, affordable and accessible. He continued by saying that insurers need to focus on having the ability to deliver on the promise of cover

In other news

nib: nib is sponsoring the Norwood and Miraka Limited Charity Golf Tournament for a third year

Advisers on Banks survey results revealed


Cigna: multi-benefit discount campaign details

Cigna has announced a multi-benefit discount campaign for customers over 30. The discounts applies to all new Assurance Extra policies issued on or after 9 September 2020. Depending on a customer’s age and the number of qualifying benefits they choose to take up alongside their Life or Life Income Cover, the discount amount will vary. As a result, policies with multiple people may have different levels of discounts applied. Alternatively, a single policy may only have discounts applied to certain covers.

The discounts available are:

  • 3% for customers aged 30-39 who take out LIFE + one or more other qualifying benefit
  • 5% for customers aged 40+ who take out LIFE + one other qualifying benefit
  • 7% for customers aged 40+ who take out LIFE + two or more other qualifying benefits

To be eligible customers must have a Life Cover in place and have a minimum sum insured amount of $200,000 and have a minimum of one qualifying cover.  Covers selected from the same group will be considered as one qualifying benefit in the discount calculations. Please refer to the table below for more details.

Selection

Benefit Group

Minimum Sum Insured

Covers that qualifies under the benefit group

Mandatory

LIFE

$200,000

Life Cover

Life Income Cover*

Optional

TRAUMA

$100,000

Trauma Cover - accelerated

Trauma Cover - standalone

COMPLETEDISABLE

$200,000

Complete Disablement Cover - accelerated

Complete Disablement Cover - standalone

MONTHLY DISABILITY

$2,000 per month

Income Cover - Agreed Value

Income Cover - Indemnity

Income Cover - Loss of Earnings

Income Cover - Loss of Earnings Ultra

Mortgage Repayment Cover

 


Partners Life update waiting period restriction on QFA, and more daily news

Partners Life has announced that the waiting period restrictions for self-employed customers have been lifted from QFA. The revision to waiting periods was applied to Quote and MUM immediately after the announcement in July. The update to QFA means that advisers can quote all wait period options for their existing clients’ Income Cover, Mortgage Repayment Cover and Household Expenses Cover.

 

“In late July this year we announced a revision to our restrictions on waiting periods for self-employed customers, allowing you to quote all waiting periods on Income Cover (Indemnity Loss of Earnings), Mortgage Repayment Cover and Household Expenses Cover.

 

“The system changes were applied immediately to Quote and MUM allowing you to quote and apply for cover for new clients. The system updates to Quote for Alteration (QFA) required additional time to implement and we advised short-term workarounds to quote on waiting period changes for your existing clients.

Today we are happy to confirm that restrictions on waiting periods for self-employed customers have now been removed from QFA.

Effective immediately you can now quote all wait period options for your existing clients’ Income Cover (Indemnity Loss of Earnings), Mortgage Repayment Cover and Household Expenses Cover.

In other news:

Fidelity Life: MedScreen is currently not operating in Auckland, MedScreen paramedical visits are still happening in other regions

Fidelity Life: it is recommend that all new business is submitted via e-App

Women in Insurance New Zealand goes virtual

FSC: Get In Shape Session 7: Using Technology to make your business more effective