Women in Insurance Summit recap, and more daily news

The Women in Insurance Summit 2021 was chaired by Lee-Ann du Toit, Deloitte Actuarial and Insurance Services Partner. The summit opened with Partners Life Managing Director Naomi Ballantyne discussing her career in the industry as well as the values and lessons that she uses as part of her leadership approach. du Toit commented that there was a lot of focus on being genuine and brave and discussions focused on leadership, diversity and inclusion. Suzanne Wolton, Medical Assurance Society New Zealand Independent Director, discussed concepts around networks while Amanda Halfacree, Crombie & Lockwood Deputy Head of Financial and Professional Risks, explored gender stereotypes and personal biases. Agnes Naera, Global Women CEO, discussed resilience and learning from failures.

Other speakers included:

  • Rob Hennin, nib NZ CEO
  • Thérèse Singleton, Resolution Life NZ CEO
  • Brynlea Hunter-Morpeth, AIA NZ Chief People & Culture Officer
  • Toni Ferrier, AIG CEO
  • Tracey Barron, Southern Cross Healthcare Chief of Strategy
  • Michelle McBride, Insurance Chief People Officer, Tower
  • Alpha Woolrich, Veterinary Professional Insurance Society CEO
  • Claire Sutton, Asteron Life Executive Manager Life Portfolio and New Business
  • Amy Cavanaugh, Pinnacle Life General Manager Operations
  • Kato’one Kaho, AA Insurance Digital Delivery Manager
  • Melanie Harding, Willis Towers Watson Head of Operations
  • Justin Lim, Quashed Co-founder & CEO

“The Women in Insurance Summit 2021 wrapped up yesterday after a day full of inspiring keynotes and discussions across a variety of topics, ranging from effective leadership to good networking, mental health strategies, and the role of digital innovation in business.

The Summit was chaired by Deloitte actuarial and insurance services partner Lee-Ann du Toit and was opened by Partners Life managing director Naomi Ballantyne, who discussed her extensive career in New Zealand’s life insurance sector, and the values and lessons that she has incorporated into her leadership approach.

Commenting on the end of the Summit, du Toit said the speakers had provided some “fantastic discussions,” and thanked them for speaking openly and honestly about their career paths, and some of the challenges they have faced.

“I would like to thank all of our tremendous speakers for keeping the energy going and keeping us engaged with some fantastic discussions,” du Toit said. “There was a lot of focus on being genuine and being brave, and we had lots of leadership and diversity and inclusion discussions.”

“Naomi’s opening session was really, really valuable, and she was very honest with us about asking questions and understanding your business, and about surrounding yourself with smart people who challenge you to live up to your values,” she continued.

“We had a great discussion about networking with Suzanne Wolton, who got us thinking about whether we are getting the most out of our network, and also challenged us to share with others who we are and what we’re passionate about, rather than what we do.”

“Our panel discussion focusing on diversity, inclusion and equity strategies also focused on empathy, and on doing the right thing in the right way, mentorship, and paying that forward,” du Toit added.

“Amanda Halfacree spoke to us about gender stereotypes, and reminded us to examine our own biases. We also thought about defining our own career path, and seeking opportunities that light us up.

“Agnes talked about   and also learning from failures, and having that be part of your success. And, of course, our last session focused on digital innovation, and discussed all the different facets around staff, customers, systems and collaboration, and making the most of opportunities.” Click here to read more

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nib announce seminar series, and more daily news

nib has announced seminar series dedicated working together to protect, connect and empower nib members. The seminars will focus on nib’s new benefit option and the First Choice Network of health providers. Case studies and claim stories will be shared throughout the seminar. Benefits of nib First Choice, the selection process, and the development will be explored. How the Find a Provider directory can help empower members will also be discussed. Speakers include: Chris Carnall, Andrew Hurley, Dirk Labuschagne, Arishma Singh, Steph Walker, Andrew O’Hagan, and Sara Williams. Click here to register

“You’re invited to attend our upcoming seminar series where you’ll learn more about how together we can protect, connect and empower your clients, our members, to achieve enhanced health outcomes, and where we will launch our much-anticipated new benefit option!

There are two big focuses for our seminar series. First – we’ll reveal our most anticipated new benefit option. We believe this will make a positive difference for many of our members and encourage advisers to have healthy conversations with their clients.

We’ll also provide a refresher on our First Choice Network of health providers and how the revamped Find a Provider directory can enable you to connect and empower your clients to better choices in the provision of their health care.

What We’ll Cover

Product Launch

·         Introducing our new product benefit option

·         Case studies and claims stories

Find a Provider – nib First Choice

·         Benefits of nib First Choice and how the network was developed to help our members choose their health providers

·         How the network has contributed to a reduction in medical inflation and consequential premium increases

·         How nib selects and manages First Choice health providers”

Nib seminar speakers

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Partners Life announce new products, more daily news

Partners Life Chief Marketing Officer Kris Ballantyne announced two new products, Income and Expenses Cover and Moderate Trauma Cover. These new products were created based on the belief that insurers need to be sensitive in regards to pricing and affordability. The new IP product is designed to be an option for new and existing business. The cover is 25% cheaper than similar existing products. The Moderate Trauma Cover sits between the existing standard trauma cover and severe trauma cover. The cover is approximately 20% cheaper than other trauma covers offered.

“At a recent conference, Partners Life chief marketing officer Kris Ballantyne gave advisers an overview of their new products - Income and Expenses Cover and Moderate Trauma Cover. 

He told attendees that insurers "...need to be sensitive toward pricing and affordability for customers as prices go up".

"The truth about income cover is that the claims experience is declining fast for a number of reasons and has been for some time.

"Some of these reasons are self-inflicted wounds from insurers like ourselves...for example, mortgage repayment cover not offsetting ACC allowable income.

"This makes no sense objectively, but it's a good competitive edge. So it happened and everyone followed [and] that's a position we've created as an industry."

Ballantyne says in Australia the issue has become so bad that industry regulators have stepped in and started to mandate "...what products can look like, what products can be and how products are going to work".

"It is one of the worst product designs I have ever seen in my life, it actually offends me as a product person.

Ballantyne says some companies are taking steps to fix the problems with income cover such as better underwriting and raising prices to maintain profitability.

"The better long term solution is that we as an industry define how we are going to fix it rather than it being dictated to us."

Partners Life's response is the introduction of Income and Expenses Cover that Wright described as a disability income-style product with the key difference being it's about 25% cheaper than similar products already in the market.

"It also has an ability to account for household expenses as a loss of earnings paid position.

"But the definition of DI will change after one year to a reasonable occupation definition - by way of suitable experience and training - you get 80% of that same income.

"That's a way we protect against those long-lasting claims that start as one thing and transform into another.

He says the new product is an option for both new business and existing business as a retention strategy.

The second product launched is Moderate Trauma Cover, which sits between standard trauma cover and severe trauma cover.

"Trauma is going to keep getting more expensive, severe trauma has stayed more or less the same, but the gap between the definitions is widening."

Ballantyne used the example of the definition of cancer in trauma claims.

"It looks like the cancer definition on trauma requires malignancy, it requires spread - it doesn't.

"We are paying full trauma claims of hundreds of thousands, or in some cases millions of dollars, on stage zero cancers which are asymptomatic and shouldn't even be treated from a medical prognosis point of view.

"That is crazy and is only going to lead to more and more claims dollars being paid out and that price going up and up in the future."

Ballantyne says the severe trauma definition sits at stage four and stage three cancer where treatment is likely to fail.

"Where moderate trauma cover sits at stage two, at the point where it has spread, and does show malignancy and requires some form of treatment."

He says the Partners Life product will be about 20% cheaper than trauma cover offered today.” Click here to read more

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Accuro announces digital partnership, and more daily news

Accuro CEO Lance Walker has announced that Accuro has partnered with Optimation, a digital technology solutions provider, to develop a system to support innovation, efficiency, and a provide faster and more personalised digital customer services. Walker has said that the system will allow Accuro to better support new and existing members as well as helping to ensure future product implementations are more efficient. The new system will be at the center of the daily operation of Accuro, including managing policies, onboarding new members, choosing and changing plans, pricing, processing preapproval and claims, and providing services to members. The new system will help to minimise manual processes.

“According to Accuro chief executive Lance Walker, the company has teamed up with Wellington-based digital technology solutions provider Optimation to develop a new system to support innovation, efficiency, and provide faster, more personalised, digital customer services.

“As a not-for-profit cooperative insurer we are focused on delivering great customer experiences for our members and ensuring that our processes and technology enable that,” says Walker.

“This new system will allow us to better support our new and existing members and future proof us so that adding new products and services and responding to changes in the market is quicker and easier.”

The policy administration system is at the heart of Accuro’s day to day operations, including managing policies, onboarding new members, choosing and changing plans, pricing, processing preapproval and claims, and providing services to members.

“One of the real benefits we are targeting is a reduction in manual processes, which limits the ability of our team to focus on added value member servicing, and can impact on processing time and accuracy,” says Walker.” Click here to read more

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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.”

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Westpac Australia set to sell life insurance business, and more daily news

It is being reported that Westpac Australia is working alongside JPMorgan Chase & Co. to begin a formal sale process for the life insurance business. It is being reported that the sale process could begin this month, with AIA Group, Dai-ichi Life Holdings, and Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. being possible buyers.  There is a possibility that the sale may not go forward as sources have noted that Westpac is still weighing options, although Westpac has previously stated that it would focus on banking business by divesting non-core assets.

“Westpac is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to start a formal sale process for its life insurance business, according to a Bloomberg report. The sale process could start as soon as this month. AIA Group, Dai-ichi Life Holdings, and Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. are among the firms that have reportedly been sounded out as possible buyers.

Westpac is still debating the sale, and could still decide to keep the business, sources told Bloomberg. If it decides to sell, the bank may seek a premium to the life insurance unit’s net asset value of $1.8 billion – although the asking price will depend on buyer interest.

The life insurance business is likely to see continued pressure on earnings this year, Westpac told investors in November. The unit posted $229 million in income in the 2020 financial year before write-downs, Bloomberg reported.

Westpac said it would divest itself of non-core assets and focus on its banking business after a series of scandals resulted in the banking giant getting slapped with a record $1.3 billion fine in September. Since then, Westpac has sold its general insurance business to Allianz SE for $725 million and its Pacific unit to Kina Securities for around $420 million, Bloomberg reported.” Click here to read more

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Southern Cross highlights CareHQ, and more daily news

Southern Cross is reminding advisers and members of the CareHQ service. CareHQ is designed to make virtual medical consultations with  New Zealand GPs possible. CareHQ operates from 7am-7pm everyday. The consultations are possible via the CareHQ app. Southern Cross members are able to redeem a 15% discount on the standard price of $65.  Click here to find out more

 

CareHQ can connect your team with trusted medical care, quickly – 7 days a week, 7am-7pm. With the CareHQ app your team is only a few taps away from a virtual GP consultation. And Southern Cross members get a 15% discount if they access CareHQ via the My Southern Cross app – that’s a saving of $10 per consultation off the standard CareHQ price of $65.

 

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 Aon look to acquire Willis Towers Watson, and more daily news

After announcing its acquisition plans in March 2020,  Aon has submitted an application to the Commerce Commission to acquire Willis Towers Watson. Aon is looking to incorporate the five Willis Towers Watson offices across the country into wholly owned subsidiaries.

“New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has received Aon’s clearance application to acquire the entirety of Willis Towers Watson, as part of a global transaction.

The step was revealed by a statement from the commission, which is New Zealand’s competition, consumer and regulatory agency.

In New Zealand, Aon and Willis Towers Watson both offer a range of insurance brokerage services, including for commercial insurance, reinsurance, group health and welfare benefits, and personal and life insurance. Both firms also provide investment consulting services to institutional investors.

Aon has 58 offices across New Zealand, while Willis Towers Watson has five – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga, and Dunedin.

Under the proposed transaction, Willis Towers Watson will become a wholly owned subsidiary to Aon. According to the Commerce Commission, it gives clearance to a merger application if it is able to successfully prove that that the deal is unlikely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in a market.” 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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Financial adviser network raises capital and more trends in digital for advisers

The XY Adviser network (https://www.xyadviser.com/) is a popular place for financial advisers to trade news, talk about events, and get help and support. I know several New Zealand-based advisers that love the forum and have learned many useful new ideas from their peers through it. Other groupings, collegiate groups ranging from informal breakfast clubs, through service networks, to LinkedIn groups abound. But the shift to digital broadens the reach of networks considerably. Network effects mean that the bigger the network, the more valuable it is. Hence, the profound impact digital is having on adviser businesses. Two trends are moving in parallel - from installed software to web-based systems, alongside formal knowledge sharing in person to digital knowledge sharing in an informal context. Those changes in digital are having real-world effects: adviser businesses are able to access software solutions from around the world with more confidence due to the reference expertise that these social networks provide. One kind of growth creates another: XY is in the process of raising capital, such are the demands on their services. 

If the world of adviser technology interests you, do join me, with David Greenslade of Strategi on the FSC Get In Shape series hosted by Mark Banicevich. We're talking about all things adviser technology tomorrow at 10am. Here is a link to the events page on the FSC website: https://www.fsc.org.nz/Events.html if you would like to register for the webinar.