The Life Insurance Market
With all this doom and gloom surrounding us at the moment, I want to continue the Christmas good cheer and begin 2009 by writing about what insurers are getting right, rather than what they are getting wrong.
The development of online systems has perhaps made the most significant impact on the application process, and there are now some excellent versions available. Those systems that offer a complete online experience from start to finish by giving us the flexibility to access, amend and start plans throughout the process are the best; they give us the most control and save valuable time. Friends Provident should be congratulated for leading the way here.
Tele-underwriting has moved on considerably in the last two years and has become an important consideration when recommending the best provider. It enables customers to arrange cover more efficiently and will also reap future rewards with fewer claims being declined for non-disclosure.
Underwriters form a vital part of the sales process, and there will be many familiar with the term ’business prevention team’! How things have changed. We speak daily to underwriters that really understand our needs and actively help us secure business by working with us to find the best solutions for our customers.
There may not be as much product innovation as we’d like, but we must not forget there has been some. Pru Protect’s Serious Illness Cover, Fortis’ Real Life Cover, Pioneer’s Income Protection and LV=’s Mortgage and Lifestyle Plan are a few key ones that have pushed the boundaries. One of the most successful innovations has surely been the menu product, first launched by Scottish Provident and now offered by most. In the current climate more customers are considering their protection needs, but they also want real value for money. Menu plans can offer convenient, tailored solutions for customers at an affordable price, particularly the versions with the most flexibility.
It amazes me how so few providers have really embraced the paperless age, but those that have are making a huge difference. Electronic pipeline updates, electronic lapse warnings and the ability to provide information by email or phone really help us to process business more efficiently and support our clients better. Post is largely inefficient and wastes paper. Go green!
There are of course many other things that providers are getting right; great staff, sensible processes, reducing premiums for exclusions, higher non-medical limits, improved claims handling, personal advice helplines, greater underwriting transparency…the list could go on.
BUT (and of course there has to be a but), ALL providers are not doing ALL of the above. If they were, I’d probably be out of a job! What is clear is that if one provider can do something that makes a positive difference to intermediaries and clients, all should at some point be able to do the same. Or something even better.
Providers do seem to have a greater appetite for change than they used to and I look forward to seeing them deliver more improvements this year.
This article appeared in 8th January edition of Money Marketing.
Post your own comment