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The pace of change, and why it’s important

What’s the most interesting thing an insurer has done in the last few months?

Monday, July 15th 2019, 12:14PM 1 Comment

by Russell Hutchinson

Before you answer that one, quietly, look at the following questions and make a note of your answers. A wee self-test where you are the candidate, examiner, and marker all in one.

  1. On average, how many companies make a change to at least one product in their range every quarter?
  2. How many companies made pricing changes to at least one product in the quarter to June 15?
  3. Which life or health insurer made the biggest loss in their most recently reported period?
  4. Which companies offer a pregnancy premium waiver in their income protection?
  5. Which insurer reported the highest return on net assets?

We could go on and on. Answers are below.

What’s the most interesting thing an insurer has done in the last few months? Here are three candidates:

  • AIA’s launch of Vitality is routinely mentioned first by advisers.
  • Partners Life’s needs analysis tool Evince is also commonly mentioned.
  • Southern Cross is delinking service commission from premium has just started to be talked about.

Staying up to date with all that is new, and significant, and working out just what it all means takes time.

It all goes to show: memory does not serve us best. One adviser told me a few weeks ago the reason they don’t use a one insurer, it was perfectly reasonable, but also about a decade out of date. This stuff changes all the time. How often? On average, each major insurer updates their entire range – product and price – each year. Plus, all sorts of other events occur: staff change, ownership, financial stability ratings, rules, software, policies, forms, service levels, brands, brochures, and the approach taken by underwriters and claims managers.

Did you check your answers? If you got them all right without having to check, well wow. If you were human, like the rest of us, you probably had to look them up. Congratulations if you checked. Checking is much better than guessing. Conceptually, the difference between the old regime and the new is checking, and documenting, as much as it is anything else. 

Answers: 1 = 5, 2 = 4 (being Asteron Life, Fidelity Life, Pinnacle, and nib), 3 = Southern Cross, 4 = AIA, Asteron Life, OnePath, and Sovereign, 5 = Co-operative Bank Life

Tags: Russell Hutchinson

« Can you spot the single-issue fanatics?How junk is junk insurance and why should you care? »

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Comments from our readers

On 16 July 2019 at 10:25 am Tash said:
I agree with Russell. Checking is better than guessing. But only Q4 of the five he posed have anything to do with client advice. It doesn't matter to me or clients how many product changes or pricing changes are made, as long as their product offerring remains appropriate (and I keep up-to-date with and fully understand the changes and what they mean for clients).
I don't care who makes a loss on a product or the msot profit. It has no relevance to clients or my recommendations. Worrying about insurance company profitability is the Reserve Bank's remit and not something I am qualified or expected to check up on.

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