Risk awards: Focus on flexibility in trauma products

Money Management/Dexx&r Adviser Choice Risk Awards 2009

Trauma Product

Gold: Asteron Life

Silver: ING Life

Bronze: Aviva

A focus on providing consumer benefits that offer real value, as well as relying on research criteria, guided Asteron to the winner’s spot in this year’s Adviser Choice Risk Trauma Product Award category.

Asteron Life’s Recovery Package, which took out silver in last year’s awards, finished ahead of ING Life’s Trauma Premier rider product and Aviva’s Aviva Protection — Recovery Money product.

Asteron Life head of product David Wright said the insurer had continued with its main definitions in line with medical advances and consumer decisions.

“But we have also looked at other areas for innovation in enhancing flexibility and value for advisers in the upgrades we have implemented during the past year.”

He said, for example, that the insurer had designed many offers for newly qualified people, mainly in the medical and legal professions, which include both recovery insurance and income protection needs.

“These offers are really intended to encourage younger professionals to take out insurance, and also to make the process simpler for them.”

The product guarantees an amount of cover to these professionals regardless of their earnings, he said.

A young doctor, for example, with annual earnings of $50,000 will be offered a benefit based on $100,000 income in recognition of their future earnings capacity.

Another upgrade highlighted by Wright was the provision of a 20 per cent discount on cover for cancer, whereas previously these clients had to pay full premiums.

Gerard Kerr, ING Life’s head of marketing, retail products and reinsurance, highlighted changes to the lump sum products, notably a reduction in the number of definitions of trauma conditions.

“Where there was overlap among our top trauma conditions, such as with quadriplegic, paraplegic, etcetera, we now just call these

simply trauma.”

Changes were also made to some definitions in situations where ING was making staggered payments to clients, so that now only one payment was made, Kerr said.

These changes embraced about “five or six progressive conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease”, he said.

“We were previously paying a certain amount when clients were diagnosed, then the remainder of the payment once a degree of disability was established.

“Now, if we know someone’s condition is going to progress, we give them the whole amount of money when we know the diagnosis.”

Another key change was to a longstanding rule that cover does not really start until 90 days after the policy has commenced, he said.

“We’ve now changed that rule on the basis that it is not fair to a certain extent on the client to have to wait.

“From a client’s point of view, they’ve done their bit when they’ve actually signed the application and sent it through to us, and it should then be up to us how long we take on the underwriting.

“As a result of this change, we now actually start the 90 days process from when we receive the application from the clients,” he said.

Aviva research and public relations manager Sue Voglis said the insurer’s competitive advantage in the trauma category is its child support benefit.

“No one else in the market is offering this, which offers a benefit of up to $10,000 if a child suffers one of the critical conditions,” Voglis said.

“In addition, as a parent you don’t have to specify that [condition] as [the benefit] is offered automatically in the product,” she said.

Voglis also highlighted the breadth of coverage of the conditions (35) applicable to Aviva Protection.

There is also now provision for partial payments for less serious conditions, such as melanoma, she said.




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