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Ballantyne: No more normal

Some advisers are writing more new insurance business during the lockdown period than they were in the weeks leading up to it, Partners Life managing director Naomi Ballanytne says.

Tuesday, April 21st 2020, 11:18PM

She addressed advisers in an online discussion on Friday, in which she acknowledged that insurance advisers were dealing with a “whirlwind of work”.

She said it should be expected that the process of “unlocking” New Zealand was going to be longer, harder, more complex and uncertain than the process of going into lockdown had been.

“We probably won’t ever return to how it used to be.”

That would have long-term implications on insurance products, she said, particularly those based on income.

Some industries would stop existing for a number of years – maybe forever, she said. “That’s going to have a significant impact on the available number of customers for our industry and potentially change the average length of policy and average lapse rates we will expect to experience.”

But she said some advisers were still forging ahead.

Analysis of managing agencies’ new business activity in the weeks leading up to lockdown compared to the same number of weeks in lockdown showed that the average was that advisers were writing 30% of their pre-lockdown activity.

But some were writing between 85% and 175%.

“There’s the challenge, they’ve proved it can be done so why don’t you go do it?”

She said she had heard some advisers say they were going to wait until the end of lockdown to restart their business but that was not the answer. Restrictions on face-to-face contact and events were going to be different for a long time, she said.

“If you’re waiting you’re going to have a very long wait.”

Ballantyne said some advisers were also worried that they could not sell disability products because of the restrictions some insurers are placing on them. “They don’t know whether their advice will be challenged because of that.”

But she said if indemnity income covers were the only option available that was still a good solution.

“We are the product providers. You’re just trying to give advice and use the products available to you to meet the needs of the clients … covers in place now with restrictions can be revisited later. That can’t be considered bad advice. Not recommending cover when it is needed might be.”

She said Partners Life considered premium holidays as if they were a claim from clients, which would create loyalty as claims did.

Ballantyne also addressed the adviser monitoring Partners Life is doing with its new matrix.

She said it was trying to show regulators that upfront commissions were not a bad thing and could be used to drive the behaviours they wanted to see.

Partners Life did not want to be in the middle of the advice process, she said, but wanted to demonstrate to regulators that the way they were paid was helping advisers be the “good guys”, with proof from clients to back that up.

Tags: insurance Insurance Advisers insurers Naomi Ballantyne Partners Life

« What life insurers are offering your customers under Covid 19Here's when Partners Life will check in on you »

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