Putting Customers at the Centre of Life Insurance Policy Management

29 Apr, 2022

AMS was fortunate to sponsor an Financial Services Council (FSC) panel discussion on how we can make the NZ Life Insurance Industry more sustainable.  Attended online by over 300 from across the industry the panel included: Claire Bolingford, Director of Banking and Insurance for the FMA; Consulting Actuary David Chamberlain; Melissa Cantell CEO of Fidelity Life Insurance; and AMS Head of Insurance Management, Richard Taylor. 

Claire Bolingford’s opening address gave some good insight into the inflight regulations and reforms the industry is undertaking.  One of the key messages was how the industry was looking for the Life Insurance sector as a whole to put the customer at the centre of all they do.  While there is reportedly good engagement at a board level there is still more work to be done to ensure every touchpoint, across the whole organisation, takes a customer centric view.

It made the point we should all be constantly asking ourselves: “what is in the best interest of the customer?” It was a good reminder Life Insurance is a very long term – not short term – play. Even in today’s consumer led market, customers often don’t understand what they are getting and are still hugely reliant on the advice given as to what the end benefits mean.

Life insurance brings different challenges

In the world of life insurance, a policy is largely only looked at when someone is in a state of trauma or has passed away, with advice dependent upon engaging with a person. Contrast this to consumer products where the feedback is instant and regularly sought out by the customer online.  While it is a state the life insurance industry has worked around for years, the move to put increased focus on the customer can only be a good thing for us all.  

Good communication is also largely dependent on the methods of engagement available.  As the world moves to increasingly engaging online we need to be even more aware of catering for those who aren’t digitally literate.  Life insurance deals with a very broad demographic and a ‘one size fits all’ approach is just not going to cut it.

This also creates challenges around bringing new products to light in a constantly evolving market.  This not only includes a broader, aging demographic but also the need to cater for a range of ethnicities with different beliefs and requirements across a wide range of technologies and channels. 

The advent of Covid-19 has also seen an uptake in Life and trauma related products. There was strong discussion of the role the Life Insurance industry has in needing to be there for customers at the time of major life events to ensure they are making good decisions.  It makes the role of the ‘advisor’ increasingly complex and important. While the human touch is still a high priority, it was recognised there is a role technology can also play in deepening the understanding of the options and helping to identify which is the best-fit.

Customer at heart of design

In recognising that, it was also noted that any innovation has to put the customer at the heart of its design to ensure it is sensitive to different customers needs. This sees technology working hand-in-hand with human interaction to make Life Insurance delivery not only more susatainable but far more accessible for the wider public.

The spotlight was also put on the complexity in maintaining products as they are brought to market. Every single instance needing to meet ever-changing legislative compliance and the technical challenges of making sure policies remain available and accessible across the decades they exist. It is something we continue to work hard on at AMS.  The challenges in maintaining legacy policies that are decades old, alongside those who have just been introduced has never been more apparent.

While we look to serve those life insurance companies who are our customers, the discussion was also a timely reminder that ultimately the customer we serve is the policy holder.  In making sure their policies remain relevant for their lifetime, in a highly customer centric manner, is an outcome we all want and strive to achieve.

A recording of the full discussion is available here.