Partners Life offer guide on customer affordability considerations

Naomi Ballantyne recently discussed concerns that advisers have brought forward in a video that Partners Life have published. Advisers mentioned that their clients were receiving contradicting advice from other advisers. In the video, Naomi discussed the options advisers have when dealing with similar situations.

“Recently we have been contacted by a number of advisers expressing concern about some of their Partners Life clients receiving advice from other advisers, which conflicts with the advice they gave their client to retain and amend their existing covers.

What should they tell their clients when asked why they would receive such conflicting advice from two different advisers? To help answer this question, Naomi has put together a short video explaining to clients the questions they might want to ask should they be faced with this dilemma.  You can easily share this video with your clients from our Facebook page, should you think this might be useful to any particular client.”

 

In other news

nib: organisations with 15 or more people now can have all pre-existing conditions covered

Asteron Life: Understanding and supporting client vulnerability webinar

Partners Life: Steve Wright on Disability Covers

 


Partners Life awarded 5 star rating for 10th consecutive year, and more daily news

Partners Life has been awarded a 5 star rating from the Lewers Life Insurance Benchmarks Study for the 10thconsecutive year. This award is symbolic for Partners Life as it has been awarded a 5 star rating every year since first beginning operations. The Lewers Life Insurance Benchmarks Study works to evaluate the satisfaction of independent financial advisers.

“For the 10th year in a row, we’re very excited to announce we have received a 5-star rating from the Lewers Life Insurance Benchmarks Study.  What makes this extra special is that we have achieved this rating every year since we first opened our doors 10 years ago; the only Life Insurer to achieve a consistent 5-star rating over this entire time.

The Lewers Life Insurance Benchmarks Study measures the satisfaction of independent financial advisers in New Zealand, and this achievement reaffirms for us that we are servicing our financial advisers and as a result their customers, to the highest industry standard.”

More than 300 advisers from across the country participated in the study. Partners Life anticipated a lot of feedback as a result of many changes and amendments being introduced during the past year. Partners Life has acknowledged that the response from other insurers and has said that it is essential for sustainability.

“The Lewers Life Insurance Benchmarks Study was completed by over 300 independent advisers across the country who provided their views on the delivery of all insurance providers in the New Zealand market. In 2020 they spoke to a larger cross section of advisers who deal with Partners Life than in previous years; a critical element in gaining greater depth of feedback on the initiatives we introduced over the past 12 months. We knew that some of the changes we had introduced in the past 12 months would garner significant feedback. Specifically we anticipated there would be a strong reaction to our leadership position in introducing DI product and pricing changes in early 2020 to address the sustainability of the product in the New Zealand market long-term, and we really do appreciate your feedback on how we were placed competitively because of this.  It is heartening to us to see that since the study was completed, there has been significant competitor movement to follow our lead – something we believe is essential for the sustainability of this product line.”

In other news:

Fidelity Life: Senior Marketing Manager role is currently being advertised

FSC: New disclosure regulations: practical implementation webinar

Partners Life: New Adviser Training Course Registration

Partners Life: Ross’s Story


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

 

 

 


Growing number of advisers taking a more holistic approach and more daily news

Professional IQ has reported that a growing number of advisers are taking a more holistic approach in their processes. Rod Severn, Professional IQ CEO has said that advisers are aware of the benefits of adopting more holistic approaches as it helps in accommodating the financial constraints clients are facing as a result of COVID-19.  Severn said that the adoption of a holistic approach means an adviser needs to spot areas that need more attention and refer clients to others with the necessary expertise. It has been reported that clients value a more holistic approach.

“Taking a “holistic approach” to client finances is becoming more important in light of the cashflow pressures faced by many as a result of COVID-19, and Professional IQ College CEO Rod Severn says more and more advisers are starting to see the value in utilising this method.

Severn says that a holistic view doesn’t mean advisers need to become “experts in all areas” - simply that they need to spot areas which may need attention, and to refer clients to other specialists where necessary. He says clients find a lot of comfort in working with an adviser who takes a 360-degree view of their finances, and who understands their position against a broader political and economic landscape.”

Severn noted that some advisers have expressed interest in completing additional strands as part of their Level 5 qualification while others have expressed interest in completing additional strands after completing their qualification as they see the value in diversifying their knowledge base.

“Severn says that some advisers have expressed interest in pursuing additional strands as part of their Level 5 qualification, and are seeing this as a step towards diversifying their advice capabilities. He says that, ultimately, a well-rounded approach will result in better client outcomes - something every adviser is focused on demonstrating to the regulators. 

“We’ve had some interest from advisers who want to do more,” Severn said.

“When they completed the qualification for the area that they specialise in, they’ve then come back and told us that they want to do an additional strand because they think they can use that in their business moving forward.” Click here to read more

nib: The Blues Coach, Leon MacDonald and Sky Sports presenter Kirstie Stanway joined mental resilience webinar

Partners Life: Partners Life will be sponsoring podcasts produced by Cure Kids

Fidelity Life: Adviser Development Manger role is being advertised

AIA: Senior Marketing Manager is being advertised

FSC: there is still a chance to register for the Generations conference

Wealthpoint: Wealthpoint creates new head of investments role


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. 


AIA introduces claims management service, and more daily news

AIA has announced the launch of AIA 360, a free claims management service that is on offer to eligible IP customers. AIA currently spends over $1.1 million annually to assist customers on disability claims and has 26 case managers assigned to 1,300 cases.  This averages to 45 cases for each case manager. Chief Customer Officer Sharon Botica has said AIA is able to improve processes and offer better support with AIA 360.

“The insurer is launching AIA 360, which is described as "a personalised end-to-end claims experience providing support, guidance and rehabilitation."

The programme will be available to eligible income protection claimants and is offered free of charge.

Currently the company spends more than $1.1 million a year helping people on disability claims. It has 26 case managers looking after 1,300 rehabilitation cases.  This is about 45 cases for each case manager.

"We keep these numbers low so we’re able to provide a good level of individualised and tailored care and support to each customer," AIA chief customer officer Sharon Botica says.

She says the programme will provide support and guidance throughout the claims journey.”

Advisers will be able to offer customers support during the digital claim process. Although the service is currently being offered to those making IP claims, AIA is looking to expand the service offering in the future.

“Botica says will the company is trying to digitalise many of its processes, DI claims management requires the personal human-to-human touch.

"People are in a very vulnerable position when they claim," she says.

Botica says advisers will be able to give clients comfort that if they have to make a DI claim, there is a full service to support them.

360 Care will give clients confidence at claim time, she says.

360 Care is an evolving claims experience that will be available to more claimants in the future.” Click here to read more

In other news

Cigna: David Haak appointed as new General Manager – Distribution

Professional IQ: Advisers find “unexpected benefits” from completing Level 5

Strategi: AML compliance update webinar

FMA: World Investor Week live Q&A webinar

FSC: Financial Services Council  Annual General Meeting 2020

Partners Life: transparency, trust & the right thing to do webinar


Partners to publish company insights, and more daily news

Rob Stock, writing for Stuff.co.nz tells that Partners Life has announced that it will be releasing a publication that reveals insight into many aspects of the business in the coming weeks. Chairman Jim Minto has said that information about complaints, unsuccessful claims, IP premium increases, and withdrawn products will be included in the publication.

“Life insurer Partners Life will begin publishing information about the $2.7 billion-a-year industry which is usually kept from the eyes of the public, and is challenging other insurers to do the same.

In about four weeks, Partners Life’s chairman Jim Minto said the company would begin publishing information including the number and types of complaints the company received from customers, and the proportion of claims not paid.

It will reveal 9 per cent of its claims made were not paid.

Other uncomfortable information it would reveal include the 12 per cent increase in premiums on its trauma and income protection policies, which had seen spikes in claims, and the 314 complaints it had from among its 201,000 policyholders.

It has withdrawn its funeral cover, a type of insurance the FMA and Reserve Bank criticised as poor value, and will reveal details of changes in its underwriting on policies to limit the risk presented by the Covid-19 pandemic when accepting new policyholders.”

Naomi Ballantyne said that the evidence Partners submitted to the FMA and RBNZ should also be shared with customers. Naomi suggested that the publication of such information would encourage competition to offer fair treatment and create a record of insurer promises, minimising backtracking.

“Naomi Ballantyne, Partners Life managing director, said in 2019 the FMA and Reserve Bank told insurers to provide evidence that they were not ripping off customers.

Insurers had to comply, leading to the September 2019 report in which no insurers were named and shamed.

Ballantyne said: “Having done that huge piece of work, and having the regulator know all of the things we do, we said, ‘Well, that’s great to tell the regulator, but no-one else knows’.”

“All that information we provide to them, we felt we should provide to our customers,” she said.

If all life insurers published the information it would encourage competition around good behaviour towards policyholders, but also create a public record of promises from insurers to policyholders, making it hard for companies to backtrack on them.” Click here to read more

This is a valuable initiative. Of course, much of this information is hardly confidential - but the level of detail in the disclosure is new. I know that the industry, working through the Financial Services Council, is keen to develop more data sharing. Meanwhile, pro-active disclosures of this type are valuable, adding to the transparency in the market and allowing journalists and consumers to understand what happens at insurers. 

Common claims payment reporting is a difficult area - defining what counts as a potential claim is critical to establishing an accurate and comparable number. For example: given Partners Life's high levels of income protection and trauma coverage a claim decline rate of 9% does not sound particularly bad, given the usual disagreements, misunderstandings, and that fraud is real. An insurer that issues only life insurance could probably report a much lower number - because death is harder to fake than, say, attempting to stretch out an IP claim because the jobs market is tough right now. An encouraging thought is that having a good conversation about what claims get paid, and what should not, gives confidence to consumers in what they are buying and its sustainability. 

In other news:

Suncorp: Customers only cutting insurance as an “absolute last resort”


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


Deloitte report on the New Zealand life insurance sector

Deloitte's report on the New Zealand life insurance sector provides a comprehensive overview of the structural differences between the New Zealand environment and the markets with which it is often compared. It provides context for the comparisons that are inevitably made as part of the debate over issues such as efficiency, commission payments, claims ratios, and channel mix. Rather than give quantitative answers to challenges - such as concerns about the level of commissions - it seeks first to explain the situation. Some assertions are made, usually about the possible causes of some features of the market, but refreshingly, without advocating for any particular prescription. Except for one: the report suggests caution. I think that is wise. Dramatic changes have been made to the Australian life insurance sector. It appears to be much the worse for them. In a sector where contracts are commitments for decades of cover, often with fixed terms, and sometimes with fixed premiums, it seems wise to exercise caution. Anyone writing a background paper for a strategy session would do well to set this as background reading or use the issues as a checklist for their decision-screens. What solutions you may bring to each of the issues, that will be up to you. Link: https://www2.deloitte.com/nz/en/pages/financial-services/articles/deloitte-issues-paper-life-insurance-sector.html#  


Advisers warned against cyber-attacks, and more daily news

After the NZX cyber-attacks, financial service businesses are being warned by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The high cyber security advisory that was issued addresses the current threat and details how attacks could happen. The NCSC has said that businesses should review current plans and systems in place.

“A high cyber security advisory has been issued by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), warning financial services businesses about the current threat and outlining how the attacks could occur.

Affected entities have received ransom emails demanding payment in Bitcoin, along with a threat of a significant distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against internet-exposed infrastructure if the ransom is not paid.

The NCSC said financial services firms should review their plans for responding to a DDoS attack to ensure they were up to date, and review their systems architecture to identify any potential points of failure. ”

Katrina Shanks has said that advisers need to avoid being complacent and instead need to know the strength of their current cyber security processes. She continued by saying that cyber-attacks affect consumer confidence and that there are many options for those looking to improve their cyber security.

“Financial Advice NZ chief executive Katrina Shanks said advisers would need to understand how up to date their cyber security processes were and what protections they had in place. And should avoid “being complacent”.

She said there were a lot of options available to businesses that wanted to improve their cyber security. “You do get what you pay for.”

She said there was a risk to consumer confidence when high-profile financial services firms such as the NZX, were repeatedly felled by the attacks.” Click here to read more

In other news

Level five isn't the big issue for advisers; It's something else

FMA: FMA releases new investor guide to bonds

Deloitte: Tricky to compare NZ insurance to other markets - report prepared for Partners Life