Risk awards: Making insurance more accessible

Money Management/Dexx&r Adviser Choice Risk Awards 2009

Gold: Asteron Life

Silver: Zurich Life

Bronze: AIA Australia

Asteron Life believes bringing income protection guidelines for part-time workers out of the “dark ages” helped it win this year’s Adviser Choice Risk Disability Income Product Award category.

Head of product David Wright believes the introduction of the new contract guidelines this year was instrumental in its Income Protector product winning gold for a second consecutive year.

Zurich Life won silver this year for its Income Replacement Insurance Plus product and AIA Australia took out the bronze for its Priority Protection — Disability Income Plus Plan.

Wright said the changes were made specifically because the general contract guidelines for part-time worker income protection were in the “dark ages” with respect to the required number of hours worked per week.

The changes were also part of an overall effort to make the product more accessible and flexible to advisers, while making insurance more accessible to consumers than ever before, he said.

“They’ve been particularly important in the current economy, where some people are ether re-entering the workforce part-time or being forced into part-time work because of a lack of availability.”

Wright also highlighted the introduction late last year of an Income Update Benefit in Income Protector.

“It enables clients to increase their benefit by 10 per cent or $1,000 per month every year without any need for medical underwriting.

Yet another initiative, Recovery Booster, increases the payment by one-third if the income protection disablement is a result of one of 30 defined trauma conditions.

“Typically, income protection is limited to 75 per cent of earnings, so this is a great way for clients to receive 100 per cent of their pre-disability earnings.”

Head of Zurich Life Colin Morgan credited the success of the Zurich Income Replacement Insurance Plus product to “innovation in the absolutely critical area of definition of disability” in income protection policy.

“What we have in the product policy is actually two definitions of income, which is proving really successful among advisers,” he said.

“This two tier-definition structure gives consumers twice the opportunity to get assessed as to whether you’ll be acceptable for a claim or not.”

One of Zurich’s definitions involves assessing a client for a loss of income instead of assessing the duties a client couldn’t perform when disabled, which is in fact the basis for Zurich’s second definition, he said.

In terms of the first definition, according to Morgan, “if you could demonstrate your income dropped by 20 per cent as a result of some form of accident, injury or sickness, then you would be eligible for a claim”.

AIA Australia head of adviser services David Mounsey said the Priority Protection — Disability Income Plus Plan, was characterised by its segmentation strategy as well as a “consistent combination” of features and price.

“In general, we offer the IFA market a very good product that is highly ranked in terms of research while retaining a competitive price.

“The product is also suitable for both white collar and blue collar workers as the product contract is targeted at an age group — generally anyone from 40 to 50 — rather than a target market,” Mounsey said.

“This means that an adviser knows that AIA has an income protection product in our Priority Protection plan that will probably suit most of their clients.

“It also eliminates them having to sort through competitor products on the basis of whether they are suitable or unsuitable for particular clients.”

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