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Getting cross over Cancer cover

Jon-Paul Hale's recent column on Southern Cross Cancer Cover Plus got the company, well, cross. Here's the latest.

Monday, March 22nd 2021, 1:28PM 1 Comment

by Jon-Paul Hale

Jon-Paul Hale

Southern Cross got a little tetchy about my comments in the previous column, and some of that was justified. I didn't quite get it right, and I'm sorry about that.

All of this was after I sent the story to Good Returns to run.

The situation highlighted several things, one of which is a significant level of "meh if you say so". No, I'm not making excuses for being off base here. I'm sorry about that. We make mistakes, and we front up about them.

The discussion on the subject I talked about with Cancer Cover Plus was over several weeks, with several people, and not one corrected me on where I had missed a detail.

And that surprised me. I have many conversations where I get "J-P, not so fast with that", so it's not an isolated case of the echo chamber without challenge. I look for the challenge; it suggests I'm challenging current thinking, and I need to look harder to ensure my argument is correct.

It took pushing this well into Southern Cross to get an answer, which was less than helpful. Which is unhelpful when we look at the servicing issue we face. And no, this isn't another crack at Southern Cross.

We well know that when calling the provider, it doesn't matter who or what discipline, the chance of getting a 100% accurate answer is unlikely.

They do a good job, don't get me wrong there. But the newest staff to the company are usually the ones in the call centres, and interesting answers are often given. And I have 20 years of hearing about it from across the industry.

It's a problem but one that is difficult to solve without stifling career paths and increasing costs.

The management of the issue is more the internal approach. Correct – and guide when astray – and that's how people develop.

For the record here is what Southern Cross had to say:

Our product team ... have confirmed that Jon-Paul has incorrectly claimed that Southern Cross underwrite at claim time – we actually underwrite at time of application.

Therefore the exclusion example he has given of a policyholder claiming for breast cancer when their Mum has received a diagnosis after the policy was taken out is not technically true – as the policy holder would know the terms of their cover in relation to family history when they took their policy out with Southern Cross.

Tags: insurance Insurance Advisers Jon-Paul Hale Opinion Southern Cross

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Comments from our readers

On 22 March 2021 at 9:21 pm JPHale said:
Further to this, I have met with the team at Southern Cross to discuss this area and how policy documentation could be worded better. It was a positive meeting with a good discussion on the different perspectives.

In realation to the comments from Southern Cross, for the record I wasn’t suggesting they were underwriting at claim time, someone seems to have been a little off base there.

My suggestion was it was possible that the information provided to claims by the client, on the position I had taken, could result in a claim being declined.

This is the same sitaution and approach every insurer has when they are presented with information that triggers either exclusions or obvious non-disclosure.

That is quite different to underwriting at claim time where the insurer doesn’t underwrite initially and actively investigates the claim to decline anything that was pre-existing. (We don’t have many of these products in the market anymore if at all)

If Southern Cross wants to clarify their approach also doesn’t take into account these aspect when assessing claims, I would welcome that as a key difference to the approach from insurers on the whole. ;)

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