On Wednesday we published our operational ratings benchmarking the key areas where advisers and clients interact with insurers. The first three insurers to be included were Zurich, The Exeter and Scottish Widows and in this article we look at some the areas where each insurer excel.

As we noted in our previous article that highlights what we benchmarked in our ratings (see here), our assessment considered ten areas that were highlighted by advisers in our “Understanding adviser preferences when dealing with insurers”.

To come in the top three in our rankings, Zurich, The Exeter and Scottish Widows scored well in a wide number of these areas and below we highlight some of the more impressive features of each proposition.

Annual Statements

Advisers have been calling for insurers to provide annual statements to clients for some time now and it is fantastic to see all three insurers make these available to both the client and the adviser. In terms of content, both The Exeter and Zurich highlight the effects of inflation on the cover, with Zurich also providing the servicing advisers details. For income protection, The Exeter highlight future increases in premium where age banded premiums are selected.

Claims Processes

Each insurer provides clients with a single point of contact within their claims team throughout a claim. Their claims handlers have been trained on how to speak to claimants and had medical training from a medical professional. Scottish Widows and Zurich’s claims handlers have also received training from specialist support groups. Out of the three insurers only Zurich open their claims call centre over the weekend. All three offer follow up calls to see if the client would benefit from any of their support services and all accept photocopies or photos of any documentation. In terms of being notified of a claim each insurer accept an email or phone call, however both Scottish Widows and The Exeter still require a claim form to be completed whereas Zurich will will capture the full details within the phone call.

Application Process

Both The Exeter and Zurich provide advisers with the ability to electronically delegate the completion of health questions to the client and where a joint life case is being submitted, Zurich enable each life to complete their own questions separately. Where disclosures are made that will result in certain features being removed, both Scottish Widows and Zurich will flag within the online application that these have been removed and specify the disclosure that has led to this decision. All three insurers do not require a client signature to put the policy in force and where non-standard terms are given through the online underwriting engine, Zurich will provide the reason in all cases.

Tracking facilities

Being able to quickly and easily understand what has happened, what needs to happen and when on an application can be a big advantage and help advisers answer any questions a client may have. It is also vitally important that this updated in real time. All three insurers offer real time information via their extranet with all insurers providing email notifications of any changes within 24 hours of an event happening.


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to interact with insurers electronically has been crucial. In terms of trusts, those that offer an online solution that does not require a signature have made it far easier to get the trust in place. Both Zurich and The Exeter offer online trust capabilities where a trust can be generated and put in place without the requirement for a signature from the client. On top of this both insurers enable advisers to complete the trust either before or after the policy is put in force.

To see how Scottish Widows, The Exeter and Zurich scored in our new operational ratings click here

The next three insurers in order of ranking will be published next week