In November 2019, Protection Guru published a report entitled “Adviser Preferences when dealing with insurers” that canvassed six different “tribes” of advisers in order to understand how advisers interact with insurers. The report highlighted a number of areas where advisers would like insurers to improve in terms of their operational capabilities. Based on this feedback we have benchmarked insurers on their current ability to support protection advisers and their clients in ten areas. In this article we explain these ten key areas in terms of why they are important and how we benchmarked the different insurers.
Protection Guru’s new operational ratings are now live and we will be publishing the scores for three new insurers each week which highlight how strong each provider is in the ten areas as listed below.
To view our operational ratings and the first three providers click here
Annual statements are seen by many advisers as way of keeping clients up to date with the cover they have in place and the benefits this provides to them. Many advisers we spoke to state that the provision of an annual statement is a great way to remind the client of the cover in place and the need to review this based on current circumstances.
In this area we looked at how an annual statement is provided to the client, whether this was also provided to the servicing adviser and what is included within the statement in terms of information about the policy, the effects inflation may have had on cover and importantly whether the servicing advisers details are included.
Unsurprisingly, claims processes were seen as a particularly important area of insurers’ operational process. Advisers were particularly keen on ensuring that submitting a claim was as easy and streamlined as possible for their clients without causing any undue burden.
Our benchmarking in this area focuses on how a claim can be submitted, the claims handlers themselves, what documentation is required and the additional support that is provided to the client or beneficiary of policy if different. Particular emphasis has been placed on whether the insurer allocates a dedicated claim handler to the client throughout the process of the claim, whether the insurer informs the adviser that a claim is in place and how the insurer makes sure that the details of the claim is only captured once from the claimant.
Practice Management System Integrations
Our discussions with advisers highlighted the stark differences between how ongoing advice is supported by insurers and investment and pension providers. Those advisers that predominantly advise on investment and pension highlighted that they review their clients situation at least once a year and for the investment and pension business this is relatively easy as they are provided with values electronically via integrations with their practice management system. For protection this is much harder as no insurer provides in force policy information and all insurers require advisers to contact them either through their extranet or phone to obtain these details. This area looks at what integrations insurers have with the major practice management systems in the market.
The application process brought a number of challenges for advisers and in particular where clients have some form of disclosure that might lead to further underwriting.
Within our application process benchmarking we have looked how applications can be submitted via the insurers extranets including what automatic decisions can be given, whether the system can provide rationale or indicative costs for non-standard decisions, can the health or other questions be delegated to the client for completion online and whether a signature is required.
Quotation Portal Integrations
The vast majority of advisers we spoke to use a quotation portal to obtain comparative quotes and there was a range of portals used. Where the client has a clean bill of health the process was seen as relatively simple, however where there are disclosures and the adviser is not using a portal that can provide underwritten quotes they are required to contact the insurer directly to obtain indicative figures.
In this area we have looked at what portals each insurer provide quotes to and how they integrate with them in order to pre populate details of the quote to the insurers own application within their extranet.
Online client access
Providing clients with access to their policy online can help the client understand what cover they have in place and any additional benefits they might have access to.
Our benchmarking on this focuses on what details of the policy the client can access online along with what changes they can make in terms of change of name, address or bank details as well as any changes to the policy that can be made online by the client.
Online adviser access
This area focuses on what the adviser can access within the insurers extranet in terms of lists of clients with in force policies, what policies they hold and the details of the policy itself. We also consider whether the adviser can make changes to the clients’ basic details online including change of name, address, bank details or premium payment date.
In force policy amendments
Within our discussions with advisers we found that most advisers were relatively comfortable with the ability to make changes to policies where the risk is being reduced (i.e. decrease term or sum assured). More problems were encountered where changes are being made that increase the risk (i.e. increase term or sum assured). Advisers stated that there were very few opportunities to make such changes online and as such it is often just as easy to put a new policy in force where this is the case.
In this section we looked at what capabilities insurers provide so that advisers or their clients can make changes to the actual policy terms online. This includes changes to the sum assured and policy term.
Tracking pipeline cases through to terms issued was a key area of friction for most advisers we spoke to. Whilst many firms stated that they go on to insurer extranets to obtain data, all stated that most insurers do not provide sufficient information which means they usually revert to a phone call. This is an area where advisers want to be informed as soon as anything changes and want the ability to understand what is required on a case at any point in time.
When benchmarking tracking facilities, we looked at what information insurers provide to clients during the application and underwriting process through email, their extranet and if a mobile app or SMS notification service is available. We look in detail at what triggers a notification to the adviser and importantly whether information on what has happened and when along with what needs to happen and when is provided.
The ability to be able to create a trust electronically that does not require signatures (wet or electronic) has been exemplified throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. All advisers we spoke to agreed that not enough protection plans are put in trust and that the easier the process is, the more likely it is that more clients will do it.
In this area we consider what capabilities each insurer have when it comes to trusts and whether these can be set up online, if the process is signatureless, requires a digital signature or wet signature and what different trusts are available.
To request a copy of our “Adviser Preferences when dealing with insurers” click here