Pinnacle Life explains why it sometimes deletes Facebook comments and more daily news

Pinnacle Life has a good post explaining why it sometimes deletes Facebook comments. We have probably all seen comments which fall into this category: a real problem, often with an insurer, but sometimes not even with a life insurer, let alone the insurer who runs this particular page. There is genuine hurt and heart behind the complaint, but sometimes this strays into abuse. They explain:

We don’t believe other people should be able to use our page or posts to promote themselves or their beliefs, including spreading misinformation or disinformation. If our feed is used in this way, we will hide or delete those comments.

For example, we get genuine complaints from people who have been let down or treated badly by their insurer from time to time. Our first step in these instances is to check if they are a Pinnacle customer. Of all the complainants on our Facebook page, none have turned out to be a Pinnacle customer. These folk often have valid reasons to be angry or upset. These stories upset us too.

We usually reply to these comments offering support but also pointing out that every company and policy is different. If, however, the commentator turns it into a platform for a tirade against the insurance industry, we will hide or delete those comments.

In the last 12-18 months, the type of comment we have hidden the most has been to do with covid and covid vaccines. We will hide any comment that purports the covid vaccine to be a cause of death or injury or that insurance companies won’t cover you if you have had the vaccine or any other type of misinformation. We have written several blogs about covid and the vaccine, outlining the fact that covid makes no difference to whether you are covered or not, and neither does the vaccine.

Any comments with swearing or bad language will also be deleted!

The whole post offers a good insight into what it means to manage a social media page.

 

More daily news:

Southern Cross has won the Reader's Digest most trusted health insurer survey

AIA is hiring three underwritiers

The FMA published an article on NFTs. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/fma-stories/spotlight-on-nfts/


Partners Life explain new MUM feature, and more daily news

Recently Partners Life held webinars explaining the features of the new Client Access to Personal Statement feature on the online underwriting platform MUM. For future reference, Partners Life has published a video explaining the new functionality and demonstrating how it works.

“Thank you to everyone who gave up their valuable time to attend the webinars introducing our new Client Access to Personal Statement (CAPS) feature for our Online Application - MUM (My Underwriting Manager).

This new functionality allows you to send your clients a unique, secure link to complete their personal statement in their own time, on their own device. The ability for your clients to pre-complete their underwriting disclosures prior to your meeting can save time at the kitchen table and may reduce the need for multiple client visits.

For advisers who are dealing with clients in a different geographical location, this assists you in providing clients access so that they can complete their own personal statement, enabling a smoother end-to-end advice and application process.

During the process you can view how your clients are progressing with completing their personal statements, and you can also jump in at any stage should they need assistance.

If you were unable to attend the Webinar session and would like more information and a demonstration on how it works, please click on the link

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International Women's Day 2022 from Fidelity Life on Vimeo.


More insurers share views on COVID-19 data and vaccinations, and more daily news

Head of Asteron Life, Grant Hill has announced that Asteron Life and its reinsurers have decided to monitor the long-term effects of COVID-19. Hill noted that they still need more data to ensure they implement effect underwriting processes.  

Similar to Asteron Life, AIA has said that they will monitor the situation, although acting CEO Sharron Botica has noted that new customers are not currently required to disclose whether they have had a vaccination against COVID-19. Botica has said that the underwriting approach will not change without new evidence.

Simon Tohill , General Manager of Strategy and Marketing has said that it is too early to understand the implications of the Government’s decision to transition from the elimination strategy to living with Covid-19.

Chief Insurance Officer Kath Johnson has said that Fidelity Life has decided treat existing unvaccinated and vaccinated customers equally. New customers will not be asked about their vaccination status and financial hardship support will continue to be offered.

“Head of Asteron Life Grant Willis says Asteron and its reinsurers are closely monitoring the medical developments around Covid-19 and its long term impacts.

"At this stage, we need more data to inform any decisions on how we underwrite for it in future.

"Kiwis tend to be under-insured when it comes to life and income protection type covers, and we think it’s important that New Zealanders know that there are still options for them when it comes to personal insurance, even if they have suffered from Covid-19 or other major health issues.

"Covid-19 has created a lot of uncertainty and hardship for many New Zealanders, and we have worked hard to ensure that our customers can keep and feel confident in the insurance they have purchased from Asteron Life."

Willis says Asteron has not applied any blanket exclusions for Covid-19 and have offered a range of support options to help customers keep their insurance cover in place through short-term periods of financial vulnerability.

AIA NZ acting chief executive Sharron Botica says AIA does not ask new customers to disclose their Covid-19 vaccination status as part of its underwriting process.

"We continue to monitor the developing situation, but at this time there is no new information that would cause us to change our current underwriting approach," she says.

General manager of strategy and marketing for Cigna New Zealand, Simon Tohill says it's also too early for them to "...fully assess the impact of the Government’s recent change in strategy from elimination to living with Covid-19.

Fidelity Life's chief insurance officer Kath Johnson says as a customer-led business Fidelity aims to give its customers certainty in an uncertain world.

"We currently have no plans to treat existing unvaccinated customers any differently to vaccinated customers and we don’t currently ask new customers if they are vaccinated.

"We continue to provide financial hardship support to our customers who need it, including as a result of Covid-19.

“In relation to potential underwriting changes in the future, we’ll make any decisions based on facts. Together with our reinsurers, partners and our industry body the Financial Services Council, we’ll keep monitoring medical developments closely, including the long term impacts of Covid-19.” Click here to read more

In other news

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Will life insurance costs rise due to COVID-19?

Will life insurance costs rise due to COVID-19? Will vaccination status make a difference? Back at the start of the pandemic both regulators and the industry scrambled to assess the impact of COVID-19 on life insurers. The good news was that the mortality profile of the disease tended not to hit the insured population so hard. While we still believe that these estimates are fundamentally right and insurers are capable of managing the expected claims as the disease spreads throughout New Zealand, there is some evidence from overseas (such as this company in the US) that there could be some cost impacts. The results of the vaccination campaign may be big factors in whether we see these changes here. Our vaccination effort recently saw us overtake the US and the UK for the share of people that have had at least one jab - and that level looks likely to rise further over the coming months - but that still leaves the question of the un-vaccinated. Rob Stock writing for Stuff.co.nz has a good article on that at this link. I expect that vaccination status will be a factor in underwriting soon, and therefore on price.


The biggest threat to the life and health insurance sector:

An insurable event is one which can be defined, measured, and is uncertain. Uncertainty is crucial. Things that are certain cannot be insured. Another feature of an insurance contract is asymmetrical information – we know general risks – like how likely cancer is – the insured knows specific risks – like how their health is. We have an obligation to each other, defined in law as utmost good faith.

But of course, you know all that.

Some people don’t, and some of them are actively working to break down the essential elements of the insurance process. One of those is the right to underwrite. We need to defend that. If a person knows that they are much, much more likely to suffer a critical illness such as cancer, they will be much, much more likely to seek insurance. This anti-selection causes headaches for both insurers and everyone else in the same risk pool: people with normal risks who end up paying over the odds for their cover. Pricing for risk is vital. Does this make me heartless about the problems of the person who is far more likely to develop cancer – not at all – I am glad to contribute to the costs of their care and support them, as we do through our health service and welfare benefits if they are needed. But some people believe private insurers can be compelled to cover people without pricing for the risk to the general good of all. I wish this were the case, but if we do compel insurers to take uninsurable risks, we are likely to see insurance enter a swiftly downward heading spiral: as costs rise the healthier and wealthier lives head for the exit, relying on higher savings and family to help. When that happens the remaining pool must be re-priced higher, which in turn makes the cover un-affordable for all but the worst risks. Then the risk pool fails – and no one has cover. A valuable risk sharing tool is lost.

If the aim is to destroy the insurance industry, depriving millions of a valuable risk sharing tool, the best way to do that is to deny the right to price risk. That takes all sorts of forms: the most common we have heard of recently is that we should not be able to price for mental health risks, or that we should cover cosmetic procedures in health, or that policies should always return the whole of the premium paid, or that we can’t ask all the questions we need to when underwriting, or that it is okay for the insured to withhold medical information. We must always push back against the idea that each of these would be a cost-less decision to take and would not harm other New Zealanders. Each would have consequences. Things that are certain - or very nearly certain - like events in the past or inherited conditions which emerge in later life, are not suited to insurance. As a society we need to look after people who suffer in this way - and that is probably the role of government, not insurance.

Of course, when it comes to underwriting, insurers could do more around education. Looser underwriting rules may have an adverse claims impact. Most clients cannot know that.  Material non-disclosure is not very common, normally it’s a genuine mistake. Mistake or not, some of the non-disclosure can be driven by fear or shame. Being clear about the benefits of underwriting can help reduce these a lot - as can smart question design.

 

In other news

From Good returns: 'Hole in one' cover and the design of insurance products

AIA has announced data can be passed from Iress’ Risk Researcher tool to AIA’s Quote Builder and eApp. Click here to read more

Health insurer nib has replaced the free travel insurance cover feature that was part of Ultimate Health with some additional mental health coverage. Details are to come.

 

Not vaccinated yet? Click here to get it done: https://bookmyvaccine.covid19.health.nz/


Partners Life underwriting process updates, and more daily news

Partners Life has announced that there will be several changes made to the underwriting process from 27 September. The updates include the removal of certain requirements for large sums assured cases, changes to Monthly Disability non-medical limits and Trauma Cover non-medical limits, making questionnaires available on MyPartnersLife, and making the latest Adviser Underwriting Guide available on MyPartnersLife.

“The following changes were implemented into our systems over the weekend, and are effective today, Monday 27 September 2021:

Removal of some requirements for large sums assured cases
We have reflected on what value each of our limit requirements give to us, and have identified that a number have rarely affected the outcomes in the past. As such, we have removed the following from our standard limits requirements:

  • Resting ECG’s. This means that the Code C Medical Examination is no longer required to be completed by a Senior Physician, and a GP medical will now be sent in its place
     
  • HIV and Hepatitis C blood tests from Code B blood tests
     
  • HIV, Hepatitis C, Full Blood Count and ESR blood tests for Code C and above, where Life Cover does not exceed $5,000,000 and TPD Cover does not exceed $3,000,000

Changes to Monthly Disability non-medical limits
We have reflected on our non-medical limit sums assured for monthly disability cover, and have heard your comments around clients issuing cover at either $7,999 per month or $14,999 per month.  As such, we have changed the limits by $1 as a quality of life change, so you can now issue up to $8,000 per month on the personal statement only and between $8,001 and $15,000 per month with an additional Code B blood test and PMAR.

Changes to Trauma Cover non-medical limits
Previously our guidelines considered industrywide standalone Trauma Cover, while the rest of our non-medical limits only considered the risk held by Partners Life. We have updated this to now reflect all Trauma risk held by Partners Life, and have increased the non-medical limit from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.

Questionnaires available on MyPartnersLife
Historically when clients have had to provide additional disclosure after you have submitted an application, our underwriting team has requested relevant questionnaires be completed from the application form.

With the continued growth in MUM, we recognise the use of our paper application form is fast becoming a thing of the past. As such, we have digitised all of the manual application form questionnaires, which are now available on MyPartnersLife’s forms section.

Adviser Underwriting Guide
We are also pleased to advise that the latest version of our Adviser Underwriting Guideline is available on MyPartnersLife. This updated guide incorporates all changes to our product offerings made since March 2020, including the addition of our new Moderate Trauma Cover and Income and Expense Cover. It also reflects the updated non-medical limit requirements indicated above.”

In other news

Asteron Life: Feedback improves Asteron's trauma cover

From. Good returns: [The Wrap] It's time to check in on advisers' wellbeing

AIA:

GRTV Adam and Sam.mp4 from Good Returns TV on Vimeo.


Fidelity Life announce lockdown new business underwriting approach, and more daily news

Fidelity Life has announced the approach they are taking for managing new business and underwriting processes for medical examinations, tests, and occupational and financial underwriting requirements under different alert levels. Below are the different approaches.

Medical.

Level 4.

For all Auckland based customers we need to revert back to asking a series of medical questions. These questions will be different for each case, and therefore our underwriters will contact customers to telephone underwrite prior to issue.

Level 3 and 4.
Medscreen paramedical services are unavailable in Alert Levels 3 and 4. Nurses will be able to resume visits to customers for medical exams and blood tests at Alert Level 2.

Where medicals and bloods are required due to non-medical limits (refer to our underwriting guide), you do have the option to consider reducing levels of cover to no longer require these. However, you should consider this in line with advice provided to the customer and review the levels of cover once the situation changes.

Occupational and financial.

The Covid-19 lockdown may be having an impact on the financial stability of some customers’ business or employment. Our underwriters must take a prudent approach to the underwriting of disability cover where there are signs of financial impact due to Covid lockdown and for applicants in continued ‘at risk industries’ such as travel and tourism, retail and hospitality.

We’ll be taking a ‘case-by-case’ approach to the underwriting of disability cover and aim to contact all customers to telephone underwrite and try to gather the information we need.

Customers who can’t work during Alert Level 4 may require a short deferral of disability cover until restrictions are lifted and we can ensure that their employment or business continues without serious impact.

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Southern Cross: Chris White set to be new CEO after Terry Moore retires on 1 October 2021

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nib report on financial growth, and more daily news

nib New Zealand recently reported on the financial results for the 12 months to 30 June 2021. nib announced that it had experienced good results despite COVID-19 related uncertainties and disruptions. Premium revenue was $277.8 million (NZD), a 9.8% increase from the same period last year. The increase in premium revenue has been credited to strong policyholder sales and pricing adjustments.  An underwriting result of $26.8 million (NZD) was achieved, this is up 3.6% from the same period last year. Click here to read more

“nib New Zealand today announced its results for the 12 months to 30 June 2021 (FY21) with premium revenue lifting 9.8% to NZD$277.8 million and underwriting result1 of NZD$26.8 million up 3.6% on the same period last year (FY20: NZD$25.9 million). 

nib New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Rob Hennin said the business delivered another good result despite the uncertainties and disruptions caused by COVID-19. 

 

“From the onset of the pandemic our key focus has been on the health and wellbeing of our members, travellers and employees, which is why we swiftly enacted our member support package that, to date, totals AU$45 million across the nib Group,” Mr Hennin said. 

 

The full year result includes the full release of the initial NZD$9.0 million COVID-19 provision, matching the expected claims catch-up for deferred treatment.

 

“While there was some initial impact on healthcare access, claims have quickly bounced back which means our members have been able to get the healthcare treatment they need,” Mr Hennin said.

 

Premium revenue growth for the period was driven by strong policyholder sales and pricing adjustments. Net policyholders increased 1.6% impacted by the decrease in inbound international students due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

 

“Excluding international students, policyholder growth was 5.0% supported by the performance of channels including group, adviser and our whitelabel partner, the New Zealand Automobile Association. Since we acquired the business, we’ve grown policyholders by 50%,” Mr Hennin said

Mr Hennin said growth in nib’s net promoter score (FY21: 34 vs FY20: 33) reflected nib’s digital transformation progress, with investment in system modernisation improving the member experience.

 

“We’re big advocates of digital healthcare as it addresses many of the barriers that prevent people from accessing healthcare. That’s why we’ve teamed up with digital-first providers like Tend to make it easier for our members to see a GP, coupled with Zoom pharmacy which improves medicines adherence by delivering prescriptions direct to a patient’s home or work,” he said.

 

Mr Hennin said nib also continues to work with its key partners and members to roll out population health initiatives that deliver significant health and wellness benefits to the community. 

 

“For example, we’re supporting Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s Body Warrant of Fitness programme which helps members to access quality healthcare providers and increase their health knowledge and literacy. By providing free primary health checks, the programme aims to improve their health outcomes through early detection and diagnosis of any potential disease,” Mr Hennin.

 

“We’re also actively developing solutions to expand these initiatives to other iwi,” he concluded.

 

nib New Zealand Chairman, Tony Ryall said FY21 also demonstrated the importance of good health and the role private health insurance plays in helping Kiwis to achieve better health outcomes.

 

“The pandemic has heightened community awareness of disease risk and the need to better manage that risk. Our partnership with Honeysuckle Health reflects this thinking as we look to deploy advanced data science to more precisely predict and treat health risks, moving towards prevention over cure,” Mr Ryall said.”

In other news

AIA: Rosalyn Lambert will be on leave until mid-next year with Anna Biss stepping into her role.

From Insurance Business Mag: What does 'fairness and integrity' mean in the advice journey?

Pinnacle Life: Should health and life insurers change the way they underwrite policies?

Cigna: Cigna appoints experienced lawyer, Jeremy Valentine, to its leadership team; Valentine was formerly of Co-op Bank


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.”

In other news

Russell’s piece in Good returns: Sharing is caring - consumer data rights for the advice sector

RBNZ: The Future Is Māori

Strategi: top tips for FAPland

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Cigna set to implement number of new processes, and more daily news

Cigna is set to implement several changes, including a new commission structure, a new specific injury product, new eApp and online Adviser Hub, and new underwriting processes. The announcement was made during Cigna Live. During the livestream, David Haak, General Manager of Distribution, discussed the changes to commission by noting that advisers would no longer be paid on a 13 month basis, instead payments would commence from month two. Cigna will also offer an 'as earned' payment option that will allow advisers to spread out commission payments.

During the session Alison Manning, Head of Product, announced that a new specific injury product would be introduced. The product will focus on offering financial support to customers that suffer injuries such as fractures or burns. Unlike other products, this product will offer cover up to $5,000 for single injuries and more for multiple injuries, regardless of age and smoker status. Cigna will not consider any offsets due to ACC payments. Payment will be a lump sum and will provide cover for surgery after an accident. Customers will be able to include this product as an add-on to other policies.

Chris Hand, North Island Regional Manager, noted that Cigna has been developing a new eApp and online Adviser Hub for the past 12 months. Hand said that the new hub is intended to offer advisers and customers more data security. The new hub is also set to streamline the quoting and application process.

Similarly, Cigna is set to improve underwriting processes. Chief Operating Officer Debbie Eyre highlighted that the new underwriting approach will ensure disclosure processes are made easier. This change includes shorter questions to increase completion rates. Cigna plans to have a single simplified underwriting process for all products. 

“Cigna's top brass made the announcements during a live webcast to more than 1200 advisers and industry commentators this morning.

General manager of distribution, David Haak gave some information about Cigna's new commission structure but did not cover specific rates as that information would be sent to advisers at a later date.

However, Haak did say the new commission structure would be simplified and tailored to individual advisers.

He says renewal commissions will be paid from month two, instead of month 13 and 100% of documented commissions would be paid out.

We understand this to mean that commissions are paid to the financial advice provider, who may pay them on to dealer groups or service providers. The payment of renewal commission from month two has the effect of increasing the commission paid in year one, but not at month one, clearly. 

"There will also be an 'as earned' payment option where you can spread out commissions over a longer period, instead of a lump sum."

Cigna head of product, Alison Manning also announced a new specific injury product that would provide more financial support for injuries like fractures or burns.

Manning says cover is not determined by age or smoker status and would provide up to $5000 of cover and a higher payment for multiple limb fractures.

It will also cover second and third-degree burn cover and can be used as an add-on to any other policy.

Accidental injury cover is a valuable addition to the product range - there are now three insurers offering similar products, so we shall be adding the rating to research subscribers (available at quotemonster.co.nz). 

She says the new product was called for by advisers and "Cigna had listened and tailored the product on feedback from the industry".

Cigna's specific injury cover will not take into account any offsets due to ACC payments, will be paid out as a lump sum and will also provide cover for surgery after an accident.

Cigna's North Island regional manager Chris Hand gave a brief overview of the company's brand new eApp and online Adviser Hub that has been developed over the past 12 months.

He says the new hub will provide more data security for advisers and their clients as well as streamlining the quoting and application process allowing advisers to send questions to clients directly before any face to face meetings.

"In many cases, this will lead to instant cover and allow advisers to amend quotes on the fly."

Cigna's chief operating officer Debbie Eyre commented on the company's new underwriting approach that she says will make the disclosure process easier and clearer for its customers.

This will involve a new, shorter set of questions designed to increase disclosure rates and "maximise completions at point of sale".

"Regardless of the level of cover...there will be just one ruleset and one questions set...and will apply to almost all of our products - income protection, mortgage cover, trauma, life cover and waiver of premiums.

"This will mean our underwriting team are freed up to talk to you about more complex cases." Click here to read more

In other news

From Good returns: From army life to life insurance - a big gun leaves the industry

Quotemonster: QuoteMonster appoints new general manager