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Advisers rate Sovereign and AXA tops

Sovereign and AXA are the only two New Zealand insurers to achieve a five-star rating in the Beaton Benchmarks 2011 survey of life insurance intermediaries.

Monday, August 15th 2011, 7:21AM 17 Comments

by Benn Bathgate

The Beaton Research and Consulting Survey asks advisers to rate the service and support given by life insurance providers.

Sovereign was the only life insurance company to consistently score above 80% in overall satisfaction for the last four years, while AXA delivered the most improved performance over the past 12 months.

The report also revealed Sovereign had earned the strong loyalty of 78% of all the advisers surveyed, the highest score of any insurance provider.

AXA was rated as the strongest performer on BDM added value, and is regarded by advisers as the market leader in technical advice.

Beaton reported that Sovereign performed significantly above the industry on the technical advice they provided advisers on legal and regulatory matters, rated by advisers as by far the most important factor for driving overall satisfaction in 2011, which Beaton said was "most likely a reflection of the regulation changes currently underway."

Beaton Research's Rebecca Sheils said that for the advisers surveyed this year, "the technical advice regarding legal and regulatory matters comes out as being most important by a significant amount."

Sheils said Sovereign and AXA's strong performance in this key area was one of the reasons for their strong overall showing.

"AXA and Sovereign are doing well in the areas that matter most to advisers," she said.

Sovereign also performed strongly in product quality and was named as the company advisers would be most likely to recommend to colleagues, while AXA performed strongly with regard to claims service.

For Sovereign's chief distribution officer David Haak, the survey results are especially pleasing given the challenging year advisers have faced.

"We've committed a great deal of time and resources to helping advisers come to grips with the new legislation, and we're happy to see evidence that this has been valuable to them," he said.

"It's great to see such a strong performance across every category of advisers and demonstrates our commitment to providing a high level of support to all advisers."

AXA general manager, wealth protection products, Mark Ennis, said the company's strongly improved showing reflected a range of initiatives they have implemented over the years to help the adviser market.

He also said the showing should ease some of the adviser market concerns after AXA's takeover by AMP.

"I think the two companies coming together allows a scale, and for us to take the best from both organisations. It's a result we're really pleased with."

Benn Bathgate is a business reporter for ASSET and Good Returns, email story ideas to benn@goodreturns.co.nz

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Comments from our readers

On 15 August 2011 at 9:36 am IFA said:
Is this surprising when they both run very large "tied" agency forces (though, of course, tey don't call them that)?
Because of this the results will always be skewed in their favour.
It would be intersting to see results from IFAs.
The comment that one of the suppliers has performed strongly in product quality is interesting to say the least when you look at independent research (or even your own judgement).
On 15 August 2011 at 1:37 pm Jones said:
I wonder if there's a correlation between these results and commission payments? I seem to recall that Sovereign tops the tables for commission payments ... just saying ...
On 15 August 2011 at 2:04 pm MandyT said:
You know, it's when the rubber hits the road that defines a good insurance company...as in, how a company deals with a claim. That should be the main focus in our industry, but for some reason it's often overlooked. Not even rated in the independant research companies, which defies belief. Good on AXA for consistently rating highly in the survey on their attitude towards claims. This should be the main factor in the independant research, as without a good claims paying attitude, it doesn't matter how many bells and whistles they offer, their policies are worthless, as are the ratings. Unfortunately you only find out at the end, at claim time and by then it's far too late.
On 15 August 2011 at 2:51 pm Tell it Straight said:
I agree totally with IFA. I wonder if the feature header should have read, "Sovereign & AXA adviser networks rate Sovereign & AXA tops"
On 15 August 2011 at 5:14 pm AFAMike said:
Similarly agree with IFA.
As an IFA, I have the capability of dealing with both these organisations and have avoided one of these companies because their new business department and processes are still stuck in the 20th century (sometimes feels like the 19th century). It's time Beaton talked only to independant advisers and then we'd really find out which companies are performing and which aren't. The research virtually worthless in it's current form
On 15 August 2011 at 10:24 pm Hmmm said:
My understanding is that the survey breaks up advisers into 2 fields - tied and otherwise - and AXA & Sov came out on top for both. I'm pretty sure Sov pay bugger all for commissions.
On 16 August 2011 at 9:30 am IFA said:
Hmmmmmm Doesn't Sov pay 200% for YRT life?
On 16 August 2011 at 9:55 am ChrisH said:
..as MandyT notes..when its claim time that is when the small print shows up ...Have a claim with AXA for loss of income for 18 plus months now and the amount of paperwork,emails questions and every month reminder of my permanent disability, plus delays of payments and being treated like some bloody low -life is something that they tend to go for...any future insurance purchase should be sighted from the aspect that it has already happened and back track from there..my thoughts only,from a postion of where the rubber has met the road!!!!
On 16 August 2011 at 10:24 am wiseone said:
So many old schoolers on here. Yes Sovereign has a QFE with high quotas but AXA doesnt and their "agents" were cut loose and have no quotas so I am told. Is this just typical tall poppy syndrome? Im not an adviser but I say Congrats to both companies on their results.
On 16 August 2011 at 10:57 am Hmmm said:
IFA - yep - it does pay 200% - but hardly anything on everything else. Altogether it evens out about 140%.

Agree with wiseone - well done AXA and Sov - Ralph did a lot of great work for the industry.

We should be using the results to talk to all companies about how they can lift their game and increase industry standards as a whole.
On 16 August 2011 at 10:59 am Non-Sovereign Hater said:
Curious how results match market share. That's not acknowledged by many here. BTW, Sov pay eff-all for all other benefits except YRT life, in comparison to their competitors.
On 16 August 2011 at 11:30 am Ron Flood said:
Comments from IFA would suggest he/she is not as independent as he/she makes out. What has 200% commission got to do with this argument. A 45 year old non smoker can obtain $500,000 cover with Sovereign at a cost of $697.38. All other providers charge over $700 with the max being $755.40.

I suggest that you start looking at what is available out there rather than slagging of at a company just because you don't like them.
On 17 August 2011 at 5:40 pm A-ha said:
It's all very well to quote an "annual" premium of $697.38 compared to over $700 but how many people actually pay premiums annually!!!
On 18 August 2011 at 9:00 am Ron Flood said:
And here I was thinking that regulation and education would increase the standard of advisers in the field. How wrong could I have been.

For the benefit of those who do not have the facility to compare premiums from different companies, I confirm that the annual premiums mentioned previously, when converted to monthly still has Sovereign as the cheapest.

Sovereign monthly premium is $60.75 with the most expensive being $65.81. The moral of the previous post was that it doesn't matter what the up front commission is if in fact you can still provide cost effective cover to your clients.

If you are happy to receive 180% commission and your client pays $65.81 that's your call. You're client isn't going to live any longer by paying a higher premium.

On 18 August 2011 at 9:45 am Non-Sovereign hater said:
A-ha, that's what's called a buuuuurrrn. Well said Ron, as usual.
On 22 August 2011 at 10:46 am IFA said:
Response to Ron
My comment on 200% commission was in response to Hmmm's comment on Sov paying bugger all in commission.
It has nothing to do with the arguement about the results of the survey.
If one reads the original article there were two points I questioned;
1. The worth of the results when the top-rated companies had large "tied' agency forces. I do understand the AXA situation - that's why the word is in inverted commas! Similarly Sovnet.
2. It was Sovereign that commented on the improvement of their products. My comment was that maybe they still weren't up there with others. This does not detract from their ability to get it right on claims.
It seems from some of the comments that people are unable to read what is actually written without trying to read into it what isn't there, usually to press their own opinion.
My comments did not imply that either AXA or Sovereign were not good companies to deal with (though some have chosen to infer this). I believe they are but when one is reporting on the results of surveys it is essential that the full disclosure is given on who was surveyed is given.
If anyone has an issue with this then please feel free to argue thier point but please don't read into comments anything that isn't there just because you have something you want to get off your chest!

On 22 August 2011 at 1:48 pm Andrew Logan - IRESS said:
@Mandy T - Research providers focus on objective, measurable aspects of a suppliers product at a Qualitative (Policy wordings) and Quantitative (Quote tools) level. Claims handling, policy administration, underwriting experience etc is very subjective and often the same supplier is viewed quite differently between advisers based on personal experience. For this reason, we include tools for advisers to be able to include their experience (or subjective views) with the objective research to form a Combined Risk Rating when making recommendations for a client.
Commenting is closed

 

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