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AMP launches insurance tele-interviewing

AMP has launched a tele-interviewing tool for its advisers as the first step in what will be a "substantial" new range of tools, technology and processes for its AMP and AXA adviser networks.

Thursday, October 6th 2011, 1:30PM 12 Comments

AMP marketing and distribution general manager Blair Vernon said the tele-interviewing tool, called Easy Write, was reasonably common in other markets but is new to New Zealand.

He said the tool was developed in reaction to the growing complexity of medical information required for clients' personal statements, and aimed to free up advisers' time and provide clients with greater certainty around their cover.

Vernon said it also has the benefit, in the new regulatory regime, of providing more certainty to the adviser.

Vernon said the way the system works is an adviser talks to the client about their insurance needs, ascertains their financial planning goals - including risk cover- examines and presents options which they agree on.

"But when it gets to the actual component of the personal statement they facilitate an appointment with one of the tele-underwriters who then calls the client at a time pre-determined by them. We then have a specialist underwriter who completes that statement with them on the phone."

Vernon said clients often feel uncomfortable sharing intimate medical information with an adviser, and also that an adviser may not have sufficient medical understanding to ask further, relevant questions.

He said the process had proved popular so far with AMP advisers.

"Far from replacing them it's actually freeing up their time. Many of our advisers say this is fantastic because I can see more clients now."

He said many advisers had been increasingly concerned about the time it took to complete personal statements and the increasing complexity around medical issues.

"Many of our advisers, they've said that's great that I don't have to be involved in that piece [of the process]. I don't personally add value to understanding their medical history, therefore I'd rather have someone else do that."

AMP is using staff in Australia to conduct the tele-interviews as the system was already in use there, and they can take advantage of the time difference to call New Zealand clients in the evening.

Vernon said the tool was piloted on a small group of AMP advisers before being rolled out across the whole network, and that it will soon be deployed across the AXA network.

"We're just taking it in phases to manage the deployment and make sure that we are able to take on board the feedback from advisers and clients to make sure we develop in concert with them."

He said Easy Write was the start of "substantial range of tools and technology processes that we're rolling out across both AMP and ultimately the AXA adviser network," which will, "improve tools and process systems for both advisers and clients."

"The essential goal is to save time for the adviser but also to get more certainty for the client. . . the resounding feedback I had from the advisers I worked personally with on that was it takes away the concern about disclosure risks."

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Comments from our readers

On 6 October 2011 at 2:27 pm 6ftndr said:
they should all offer this!
On 7 October 2011 at 10:42 am Alf said:
This is certainly not the first time tele-phone underwriting has been conducted in NZ. Club Life, OnePath and I think Partners Life have all offered the service.
On 7 October 2011 at 10:57 am steven de jong said:
Yeah Right .... First step to building the capacity to offer products direct utilising tele-underwriting. When the carrier undertakes half the application process, only a matter of time before they do the easier second half. Watch this space.
On 7 October 2011 at 12:33 pm Dirty Harry said:
Balderdash: "Far from replacing them it's actually freeing up their time. Many of our advisers say this is fantastic because I can see more clients now."

This from the oldest average aged adviser force seeing an average of 3 clients each a week?
Weekday golf anyone? The same company that has already tried and failed at direct marketing – remember ERGO?

In the 170 odd years AMP has offered insurance have they ever required, expected or even assumed their agents have any medical knowledge? The whole point of being an adviser is to help the client figure out what they need, then help them get it. No way would I ever trust someone else at that critical part of the process - step 5 - implementation. If it all goes pear-shaped due to a non-disclosure it won’t be the Australian tele-operator (who would have left the company by then) on the hook!

If you can’t build relationships with customers and if any of the six steps are too hard, then you are in the wrong job.
On 7 October 2011 at 12:44 pm Amused said:
Golly! AMP has only now just discovered telephone underwriting? Surely not??? Little wonder then that they are struggling to hold onto advisers. I see the AXA guys and girls jumping ship left right and centre at present and who can blame them. AMP head office continue to live in their own little world fed to them by their network of BDM's who never engage with advisers and refuse to take constructive feedback on board about their products.
On 7 October 2011 at 7:34 pm Ron Flood said:
Guys, I think you have all missed the point. This is not telephone underwriting as we have known it. This is the underwriter contacting the client and completing the full personal statement with the client.

If all companies do this then there will never be another case of non disclosure involving an adviser. The client will not be able to say "but I told my adviser about that condition".

Think about it!
On 7 October 2011 at 8:21 pm Brian Klee said:
Tele-underwriting is only immediate stage of where the NZ industry needs to be. Tele-interviewing is the next step up and practiced extensively in UK and more recently USA and Australia. This is the gold-medal process as it incorporates clincially qualified nurses with an underwriting knowledge used to drill-down complex cases. The sooner Advisers are restricted to collecting basic information the better because overseas evidence has proven a win-win-win-win for all parties, i.e. a better consumer experience, more time for the Adviser to acquire new business, more time for underwriters not having to get advisers to complete applications and most importantly, less challenge claims and non-disclosure. With the use of technology tele-underwriting and tele-interviewing is the future.
On 11 October 2011 at 3:00 pm anon2 said:
Really - Good?

Do we honestly believe underwriters will get the best answers from clients over the phone - see their face when the hesitate.

Imagine and u/w just going through the same old process day in/day out - they'll pick up on less than advisers and there will be more non-disclosure.
On 12 October 2011 at 5:57 pm Dirty Harry said:
If Flood and Klee are right, then this sort of setup sounds pretty good for the client. I still stand by my earlier comments that many advisers are not busy enough to say they don't have time to complete the forms.

I also believe that if any of the six steps are too hard you might be in the wrong job. However, if this process goes hand in hand with legislative changes requiring the companies to ask better questions (already under way?), then this could be a real butt-saver for some of the more ordinary/lax advisers out there.
On 12 October 2011 at 9:40 pm Brian Klee said:
To respond to your points anon2, tele-interviewers are more often Registered Nurses, not non-clinical trained underwriters and the overseas evidence is very clear - applicants prefer to talk with someone who knows what they are talking about and the non-disclosure rate is very significantly lower.
On 13 October 2011 at 11:30 am Kate said:
My only concern is that I cannot control the quality of the person that phones my clients. I know the type of service I deliver and my approach with clients and I would be worried that an underwriter may not treat my clients as carefully as I do.
On 13 October 2011 at 11:47 am Dirty Harry said:
Good point Brian. Having written policies on nurses/anesthetists/doctors in the past all I had to say was 'go for it, the person reading this is medically trained and will understand it' and off they go. If anybody can appreciate talking (through the form) to someone who knows their stuff it's them. Mr and Mrs client can perhaps receive comfort from the same, at the very least a good explanation for WHY they need to know in the first place, and the most ordinary of advisers will be comforted by ducking/hiding behind the process. Still struggling to see it add so much value to a competent and experienced adviser though.
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