Reimagining life insurance will benefit Australians

By

06/02/2018

SPONSORED CONTENT | The life insurance industry is re-inventing itself. It is becoming far more engaged with its customers, as well as expanding its range of services and how they are offered. But it’s a journey without end; the industry needs to continue identifying innovative ways to meet evolving customer needs and expectations.

Reviewing the claims process is a big part of how this industry is reinventing itself. It means changing the conversation during claims time from simply paying up and walking away to engaging clients by helping them to rehabilitate and return to work. These times in people’s lives are often some of the most difficult they will go through; it’s our responsibility to be proactive and compassionate, to move from merely processing claims to a support and assist approach with timely interaction and payment.

Early intervention is key. If a person is off work for 20 days, they have a 70% chance of returning to work. After 70 days, the chance of returning to work falls to only 35%.

For this reason, insurers want to do more to help rehabilitate customers and return them to work. With a change in legislation, Governments could to allow life insurers the ability to offer Australians early rehabilitation benefits and medical expenses. Currently, federal legislation restrains life insurers from offering these services.

As a consequence, there is a funding gap for some people that prevents or delays their access to rehabilitation programs and other medical treatments. If remedied, the rewards would be widespread; individuals could return to work earlier, our industry would be on a sounder footing, and less government spending would result.

This campaign, also advocated by the FSC, is a good illustration of how the life insurance industry is being reinvigorated. Substantial change is underway, and the beneficiaries will be individuals, government, the industry and the wider community.

That said, there is still an urgent need to create a greater public awareness of life insurance and how it benefits the community.

Research shows that only about 30% of Australians are aware they have life insurance in superannuation. That’s a figure the industry needs to improve. But once aware of life insurance, it’s significant that more 70% see its inclusion as a real positive.

After all, we make an important difference to people’s lives at the very time they are often most vulnerable. And it’s not just when crises happen. We appreciate that customers want to engage in their health and wellbeing, the very reason we have introduced our AIA Vitality program.

This program rewards members for improving their health and encouraging positive behavioural change. This in turn improves customer retention and reduces claims. Most importantly, it means people are living longer, healthier, happier lives – precisely how our industry should contribute to the community. It also means we have an ongoing positive conversation with our customers instead of only reaching out at times of crisis. This is a paradigm shift in the way we look after our members: it is reimagining life insurance.

Make no mistake. This long journey of improvement is one the industry must take. We must forge closer relationships with our clients; in some instances, we must regain their trust and confidence. Products need to be simplified; conversations conducted using language clients understand. We need to remember it’s both an insurance and a health journey, and the better this is appreciated the more clients will benefit. When people believe it’s a service, not a transaction, then we will know we are successfully reimagining this industry – to the benefit of individuals and society.