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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nib on Pharmac review, and more daily news

Dr. Graeme Jarvis has written a piece on Stuff about the Government’s plan to conduct a review into Pharmac. In the piece, Dr. Jarvis notes that the review should be seen as being for the good of the country, as long as the review is intended to update an outdated system, improve Pharmac’s performance, and expand access to publicly funded medicines. Transparency, timeliness and equity have been described as being the focus of the review. 

“That this Government has decided to have a review into Pharmac should be seen as positive by the country, and good public sector governance. This assumes, of course, that the review truly aims to look at ways to modernise a 27-year-old system and both to improve the way New Zealand accesses publicly funded modern medicines and to enhance the agency’s performance.

Performance for any health service should not be about PR, such as modelled graphs reporting assumed, rather than actual, savings. It should be about health outcomes achieved. Hopefully, the review can lead to the generation of meaningful health outcome measurements for patients, not myth-based savings indicators.

Transparency, timeliness and equity seem to be key areas of focus in the review. Safety of medicines is not – that is rightly a statutory role for Medsafe, not Pharmac. However, given recent deaths following an enforced brand switch of an epilepsy drug, now subject to a coronial investigation, the safety of Pharmac’s cost-driven decision-making processes should be within scope.

Timeliness of decision-making is an issue. New Zealand takes 2.5 times as long as the OECD average of nine months to publicly fund modern medicines, all of which have undergone rigorous review internationally, including assessment of clinical need and effectiveness. Why the delay? Hopefully the review will answer this question.

Despite New Zealand’s comparable wealth on a GDP per capita basis, it funds between two and 10 times fewer modern medicines than our OECD peers. Why the disparity? Is it technical or fiscal rationing? Only the former is considered in-scope for the review.” Click here to read more

nib has noted that New Zealanders can take Pharmac out of the equation by signing up to Ultimate Health with Easy Overlay promotion. The campaign begun April 1 and will continue until 30 June 2021. The promotion is only being offered on nibAPPLY.

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Cigna: Cigna Live registration still open

 


Fidelity Life looking to improve legacy systems, and more daily news

Fidelity Life CEO Melissa Cantell has said the insurer is looking to improve current legacy systems to ensure a seamless process for advisers. Cantell has said that legacy systems are not equipped with the technology to meet business and customer needs. Cantell notes that although they have a lot of information, there is no way of extracting useful insights. To minimise manual work for employees and to improve adviser interactions, Fidelity Life is looking to introduce a new core platform later this year. Fidelity Life has been working on the new platform for the last few years. The majority of Fidelity Life’s business will be moved to the new platform. The change is expected to change the way Fidelity Life works with advisers. Internal and external trials of the new platform have been positive.

“Research has shown repeatedly that New Zealanders who get financial advice end up better off. However, poor legacy systems have often been a pain point for advisers dealing with insurers - something which Fidelity Life CEO Melissa Cantell said her company is looking to change quickly.

“My experience of many industries is that everyone has a technology challenge in some way, shape or form, but insurance and financial services seems to have more than many,” Cantell commented.

“There are many old legacy systems that were not built with today’s businesses or customers in mind, and we’re not any different to anyone else.”

“The old systems are just not fit for purpose any more, and they’re hard to get data out of - we’ve got so much information, but the insights just aren’t there because it’s so hard to get it out,” she explained.

“It’s hard for our people to work with lots of manual processes, which means more time handling process and less time helping customers. Then you have our advisers who are trying to connect with us, and it’s imperfect because our world isn’t great, and theirs is somewhere on their own spectrum.”

Fidelity Life is looking to roll out a new technology platform from the middle of this year - something Cantell said has been a significant project for the insurer for a number of years now, and will allow advisers to work with Fidelity Life on a ‘whole other level.’

“We have a new core platform which will have us migrating a big chunk of our business on to a brand new, clean, built-for-us platform,” Cantell said. “We’re moving everything across, and our entire on-sale book will be on that new platform.”

“It has many components to it, but one of the things we’re particularly excited about is our new adviser portal,” she added.

“The way our advisers work with us will be on a whole other level than it is now. Once that’s there and we’re clean, tidy and not managing the complexity of our own internal systems, we’ll start to think about what else we can do beyond that.

“We’ve already piloted the platform on part of our business internally and externally, and it’s all been going well, so we’ll soon be turning it on for everything.” Click here to read more

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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

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

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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


Managing adviser business during COVID-19

Clifton Warren from Professional IQ College ran an webinar titled “Coronavirus: How to Grow During Restrictions”. Over 60 insurance and financial services professionals from across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and USA were in attendance.

Some of the topics discussed in the webinar include:

  • managing existing clients
  • managing prospects
  • managing producers and teams remotely during a crisis

Click here to watch the free webinar


Professional IQ: Business Risk Analysis

Professional IQ are hosting a webinar on the 21st of August titled 'Business Risk Analysis' held by Trevor Slater.

Details below:

To reach a destination or achieve a goal you must have a plan and/or a map of how you are going to get there.

Imagine if you were travelling in a foreign country and wanted to get from town A to town B.  If you didn't have a plan including such things as a time frame, the type of vehicle etc and a map (whether the old fashioned type or a GPS) it would be extremely hard to efficiently and effectively get from one place to another.

Most of us set goals in our personal and business lives.  However, whilst we often take action to ensure we reach a goal in our personal lives what we often fail to do  in our business lives is to look at the risks that may prevent us reaching those goals.

Almost all of the things that we do at work involve risk of some kind, but it can sometimes be challenging to identify risk, let alone to prepare for it.

In this short workshop Trevor will introduce you to an easy to use risk analysis model that will help you to identify risks to your business, give these risk an impact and probability rating and create controls to minimise their impact.   

It includes a session on working on your own actual risks and ways to analyse them and minimise their impact.  In addition Trevor will explain how this model can easily be adapted to a tool that can be used to analyse your customer's risk exposure.

Click here to register.

 

 


Professional IQ: When Clients Don't Have to Disclose

Professional IQ are holding a webinar titled 'Non-disclosure: when clients don't have to disclose'. They will look at the limited instances when an insured does not have to disclose information to an insurer. Using case studies from complaints to the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme ("IFSO Scheme"). Click here to read more or to register. 


"I Am Disappointed" PAA CEO on Membership Support for Education Programmes

Rod Severn has issued an email to PAA members telling them off in plain language. He reminds them that one goal of the PAA is "...to promote our members as educated and professional advisers" and then proceeds to lay out some detailed numbers about the low proportion of members that register for educational events and the rate of no-shows for the events even when registered. 

I know that this is an issue that regularly frustrates training providers. When we run events we like people to attend if they say they will, and let us know if they are not going to make the meeting. We always try to do the same when we are in the same situation. But Severn has a broader point to make than one about manners: 

"It doesn't reflect well on our industry and the level of commitment many members have to professional development ​when only 22.3% register to attend and​ only 16% actually show up."

Imagine if 9,000 registered advisers were actually undertaking one week of study each, per year, and sharing all that knowledge with their clients - the shift in New Zealand's overall financial literacy would be dramatic. 


The World of Insurance

Professional IQ are hosting a workshop that will open your eyes to the importance of insurance and, with a focus on the Christchurch earthquake as an example, the valuable contribution it makes to our global economy.

Workshop contents include:

  •  The origins of Insurance
  •  How Lloyds of London evolved 
  • Modern day insurance 
  • World disasters 
  • Christchurch and it's impact on the global Insurance underwriting market 
  • Why was Christchurch unique in terms of consumer protection, and 
  • Where to from here post the earthquake. 

Click here to register and to find out more.