Opinion: Asteron on the true nature of insurance

The main theme on display at a recent Asteron launch was claims. It was a 'back to the future' type of presentation.

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 5:44AM

by Russell Hutchinson

It showcased their new team, general manager Anthony Vriens and the new risk products manager Bharat Mehta. They were joined by Australian risk marketing specialist Sue Laing to push the theme that it's all about claims.

That means reminding clients about claims. It means talking about how likely a claim is, and how you would work with the client in the event of claim. The logical – although probably rarely followed conclusion, is that this should be on display in every interaction that an adviser has with a client.

Mehta said they had consciously looked at increasing the number of ways a client could make a claim under their policy. Evidence of this was in a raft of new benefits – mainly peripheral to the central claim promise, but adding some 'touch-points' with specific client groups – such as a new premium waiver during pregnancy for income protection.

Another good example is a new partial TPD benefit, which does restore some credibility to a benefit that was beginning to be viewed as one where claims were unlikely.

There was some refreshing honesty in the wider presentation about whether Asteron, or the industry, had done well enough in areas such as customer service and technology. Although the inevitable presence of an I-phone in the powerpoint slide (no other phone is seen in powerpoint any more) was not matched by any new technology announcement. Let alone an application that actually runs on an i-phone.

However, deciding to make an unflattering comparison deliberately in a presentation shows a degree of willingness to self analyse which is laudable. It also makes the advisers in the room feel like they are inside the tent, and part of a conversation, rather than outside, merely being 'told'. Admitting, for instance, that in some areas they had "done half the job quite well" means that to better that score, more will need to come.

We will wait with interest to see what it will be.

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