Southern Cross study reveal unexpected implications of COVID-19, and more daily news

Southern Cross commissioned a study to understand the overall wellbeing of New Zealanders. The health of over 3,000 New Zealanders was examined in the study. The research was conducted during Level 4 and 3 so the implications of COVID-19 on the health of New Zealanders were examined.

“The Southern Cross Healthy Futures Report, conducted in partnership with Colmar Brunton, sought to track the physical, emotional and social health of more than 3,000 New Zealanders. Research began in 2019, but the survey period encompassed the Alert Level 4 and 3 lockdowns, giving insight on how these events affected the nation’s psyche.”

Some of the results of the study have be revealed and have indicated that COVID-19 had a positive impact on the health of participants. When compared to pre-lockdown, the sleep hours of more participants increased, feelings of loneliness decreased, the sense of belonging and connectedness increased, and physical activity increased.

“The research’s preliminary findings, ahead of its full release this month, indicated that the slower pace of life resulted in more people feeling that they were getting enough sleep – from 46% prior to lockdown to 61% during the lockdown. The average hours of sleep increased from 6.97 hours to 7.29 hours, meaning more New Zealanders were able to meet the recommended range of seven to nine hours of sleep.

Despite being isolated physically from friends and family during lockdown, the study found that feelings of loneliness decreased by 8%, as did concerns of being a burden on others – from 41% to 34%. According to the study, Kiwis also experienced a greater sense of belonging and connectedness to their community, up from 44% to 49%.

Physical activity also increased, with 60% of respondents considering themselves physically active, up from 52% before the lockdown.” Click here to read more

That was surprising to me, because it wasn't my experience, but on reflection, and after discussion with others, I can see how that would have been the case for many people. My own experience was a lot more work, less exercise, and less sleep. I get a lot of incidental exercise from going to appointments - so endless zoom meetings knocked a lot of that out. Also, I was one of the people where work got busier, not quieter, as lots of new data needed to be collected, people to be interviewed, policy changes had to be made at insurers, and new planning concepts had to be developed. Having said all that, the experience for others was more likely to be more common - and I shared some of that too - the idea of a shared challenge (COVID-19) and the need to respond. 

In other news:

Partners Life: Naomi on Premium Increases

AIA: 2020 Top Insurance Workplaces revealed


Upcoming changes to independent audit requirements and other daily news

Internal affairs have reported that Cabinet have agreed to introduce an amendment to the current AML/CFT Act on 31 December 2020. All reporting entities will be required to have an independent audit completed every three years instead of every two years.

Cabinet has agreed to introduce a new regulation to extend the default time frame for AML/CFT independent audits from two years to three years. The implementation of these regulations is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and until the new regulation comes into force reporting entities must comply with the current obligation to complete an independent audit every two years.”

As a result of the change in regulation, the following expectations have been set in place:

“The Ministry of Justice advises us that they propose to have the new regulation in force by 31 December 2020. This would mean: 

  • Law firms, conveyancers, and new Trust and Company Service Providers are required to have their first independent audit completed by 30 June 2020. i.e. no change to the current timing.
  • Accountants and bookkeepers are required to have their first independent audit completed by 30 September 2020. i.e. no change to the current timing.
  • Real estate agents’ first independent audit would not be due to be completed until 31 December 2021 i.e. the independent audit due date for real estate agents would be extended from 31 December 2020 to 31 December 2021.
  • For any reporting entity that has already completed its first or a subsequent independent audit when the new regulations are implemented, it will have three years from the date of the last independent audit to complete the next one.” Click here to read more Audit Guideline

In other news:

AIA: HealthScreen service has resumed

Privacy Bill: The Privacy Bill third reading was completed in Parliament under urgency in a continuation of the 24 June Parliamentary session, with the Act coming into effect on 1 Dec 2020. The NZ Herald reports the key provisions as:

  • Mandatory notification of harmful privacy breaches
  • Introduction of compliance orders
  • Binding access determinations - If an organisation or business refuses to make personal information available upon request, the Commissioner will have the power to demand release
  • Controls on the disclosure of information overseas
  • New criminal offences
  • Explicit application to businesses whether or not they have a legal or physical presence in New Zealand

Financial Advice NZ: Bring in the Experts: Disclosure Requirements with MBIE webinar

Southern Cross: Southern Cross supports new safe haven for at-risk pets

RBNZ: Reserve Bank welcomes new funding agreement


Daily news update: Southern Cross report on member feedback and more stories

Southern Cross have reported that the feedback they received from members on the $50 million return has be positive. Additionally, it was reported that the credit return has been helpful.

Although helpful, Southern Cross have said that it is unlikely to happen again if we remain in Alert Level 1.

“Despite the significant chunk of savings made through April, Astwick says that as long as New Zealand stays at Alert Level 1, another giveback of a similar scale is unlikely – especially since the private health system was able to resume as early as Alert Level 3.” Click here to read more

In other news:

RBNZ: RBNZ released a statement supporting a worldwide multi-stakeholder appeal to keep and improve migrants’ access to remittance or money transfer services during the current economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

FMA: FMA statement on director liability and continuous disclosure

FMA: Auditor Regulation and Oversight Plan 2020-2023

Alert Level 1: what have advisers learnt from lock-down?


Daily news update: Partners Life discontinues funeral cover, and more stories

Partners Life announced that they will no longer be offering funeral cover to new applicants as they have found that demand for the product is minimal. Although this decision was made earlier in the year, Partners decided to prolong the announcement date to ensure COVID-19 updates did not overshadow this announcement. Customers with existing cover will continue to receive product enhancements.

“As such, we have made the decision to discontinue Partners Life Funeral Cover for new policies effective today (15th June 2020). While this change may seem sudden, we had originally intended to discontinue Funeral Cover earlier in the year, however wanted to ensure it did not get swept up in, or lost amongst COVID-19 related changes and communications.

Of course, clients with existing policies will continue to remain covered and receive product enhancements and full support from Partners Life for as long as they stay in-force, as is the case for all existing Partners Life policy holders.”

In other news:

Insurer says May, June claims levels are almost back to normal

COVID-19 has increased demand for financial advice

Alert Level 1: what have advisers learnt from lockdown?


Daily news update: FMA’s guide to customer vulnerability, and more stories

The FMA published their expectations for identifying vulnerability and handling vulnerable customers appropriately. This guideline provides further insight on the FMA’s conduct expectations for managing the specific needs of vulnerable customers. The document focuses on understanding vulnerability, staff capability, customer service and communications.

“This document provides further explanation on the FMA’s conduct expectations for serving the needs of vulnerable customers, set out in our April 2020 letter to financial services CEOs. We expect to issue more detailed guidance and feedback on vulnerability practices as we continue our engagement with industry over the coming months.” Click here to read more

In the document the FMA talks about identifying circumstances rather than 'types' of people that are vulnerable. The Human Rights Commission compiled a detailed guide to vulnerable people after the Canterbury Earthquakes. That guide also talks about situations and conditions and intersections between these. For example individually, neither poverty, nor family situation, nor work situation may make a person vulnerable. But a person who has recently lost their job, who also cares for someone who is unwell, and is experiencing financial stress, is probably vulnerable. 

In other news:

AMP: Insurer AMP among NZ businesses planning exodus from expensive city centre properties

Southern Cross: We’re here for a healthier New Zealand

FSC: FSC on licensing: "You don't have as long as you think"


Daily news update: AIA and Southern Cross share claims insights, and more stories.

AIA and Southern Cross have provided insight into their claim volumes during Alert Level 4 and 3. Len Elikhis, chief officer, product and vitality highlighted that there was a drop in claim volumes, although he expects claims to have been deferred and not avoided. 

“AIA chief officer, product and vitality Len Elikhis says that for AIA, the vast majority of claims come from surgical procedures. Although the lockdown period saw a drop-off in claim volumes, he says these are more likely to be deferred rather than avoided, making any significant claims savings unlikely.

With Alert Level 2 offering more room for non-urgent procedures, Elikhis says insurers will start to see those claims numbers coming back up, and customers who put their claims off for the lockdown period will be looking to access elective procedures.”

Similarly, Southern Cross experienced a drop in claims during Level 4, however they paid out over 120,000 claims for consultations urgent care.

“Kerry Boille, chief sales officer at Southern Cross Health Society says that Southern Cross has also seen a reduction in claims since the lockdown, but has nonetheless paid a significant amount in consultations and urgent care. She says the focus has been on communicating clearly and openly with members, and in switching to digital consultations where possible.

“We are continuing to process and pay claims, and while we did see a drop-off, we’ve paid over 120,000 claims since we went into Alert Level 4 and the start of lockdown,” Boille said.Click here to read more

nib tell us that Mercy Ascot is now running providing surgeries on Saturdays to try and clear some of the backlog of treatment required. With responses like that the predictions that the sector will not catch up (and some treatments will simply not be provided) are likely to be proven wrong. 

In other news:

Partners Life: My Underwriting Manager (MUM) now automatically prompts updated COVID-19 related mental health questionnaires.

Partners Life: Underwriting restrictions 2020

nib: Webinar on how to use nibAPPLY to be held 10 June 2020

Fidelity Life: Insurer to move 270 Newmarket staff to CBD: Fidelity Life leases new Fanshawe St block

Coronavirus: Saturday surgeries to clear Northland DHB’s 900-strong backlog

Elective surgery back on and Taranaki GPs as busy as ever in level 2


Fidelity Life on track to resume normal activity

“Labtests, Med Lab and many other labs are now back up and running for insurance-related blood work. 

 

Some GPs who were unavailable during the level 4 lockdown are also now resuming limited services, including for insurance medicals. 

 

Please note there may be limited availability for insurance-related blood work and medical exams. We recommend your customers phone ahead to ensure their chosen lab is open and they’re able to make an appointment.”

As a result, Fidelity Life are able to begin getting back to normalcy. 

“Now that lab services have resumed, we can start requesting the blood tests needed to progress pending cases. Our Underwriting team will go back over your pending cases and request these tests, however you’re also welcome to get in touch so we can action these promptly.”  

 

In other news:

SiFA: CoFI needs complete rewrite

Southern Cross: Health insurer Southern Cross charts course for clearing surgery backlog

AMP: AMP reports severe coronavirus hit

Partners Life: Lessons Of Resilience And How Saying “No” Is Part Of The Journey

AIA: Dealer groups should strengthen: AIA

Advisers say client engagement is "significantly up"

RBNZ: Advisers back removal of LVR restrictions


Southern Cross report on the effect COVID-19 has had on members

Southern Cross has reported that more than 1,000 of their policyholders have applied for the premium relief for redundancy and loss of income policies that the insurer has introduced. To better accommodate customer needs Southern Cross has been working alongside members to understand their needs during this time.

“Nick Astwick, Southern Cross Health Society CEO, says the company has redoubled its relief benefit offerings to all its customers, and “softened” the initial eligibility requirements to reflect customers’ growing need for financial relief. He also noted that while Southern Cross does not cover for acute care, it would still cover for any potential aftereffects experienced by affected customers.

“We’re here to compliment the services provided by New Zealand’s public health system, so there’s no cover in our policies for acute care,” Astwick explained.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Tower: Tower follows AA Insurance's coronavirus lockdown profit pledge

nib: nib Joins Forces With Top Footy Talent To Ignite Wellbeing Conversation

How insurers are supporting their advisers during lockdown

Insurers weigh up pandemic impact

Fidelity Life: Millennials Most Anxious About Post-Covid-19 Future As App Launched To Support NZers’ Wellbeing


Insurance reporting 101: insurer bad, client good

Take the article at this link, as an example: "Insurers may not pay out for coronavirus-related claims" Click here to read it at the site of Insurance Business NZ. The depressing thing is that the people interviewed in the article were actually talking about all the ways they will pay out - for example, if your travel is disrupted. The one circumstance under which they won't pay is this: 

“If your travel arrangements aren’t affected by the outbreak, but you have changed your mind or are nervous about travelling, there is no provision to claim under your policy.”

That's it. Horror of horrors, you aren't insured for changing your mind, but that gets made into the headline. One might be forgiven for thinking that the media had some sort of briefing card which says "insurance companies are always - always - to be painted in the worst possible light - select your headlines accordingly"