2018 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards

ALUCA’s inaugural 2018 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards night held on May 24th at Darling Harbour in Sydney was a wonderful testament for the best in the profession to recognise and reward the fantastic work being done by their peers and colleagues.

These special Awards were about celebrating the value great Life Insurance underwriting, claims, rehabilitation and other professionals/services contribute to this vibrant industry.

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Judging Process

In total we received 84 nominations across all of the categories. The smallest amount received being the 4 Underwriting leader entries all from Zurich and the 4 nominations for Underwriting teams.

The papers were judged via a 2 round process. A first round panel of judges marked and scored all of the papers separately and independently. They marked these against the key criteria for each of the award categories using a marking sheet. The scores were sent back and collated at a central level. Judges then met to  discuss the papers and the scores. The top 3 – 4 finalist entries were agreed on for each category.

The finalist papers for each category were then provided to a cross industry and external industry panel of judges who also all marked against the key criteria for each of the award categories via a marking sheet – these were all scored separately and independently. Once again, the scores were sent back and collated at a central level . Judges then met to  discuss the papers and the winners for each category. Any judging bias was removed first via a strong cross industry panel and where papers were very close, to remove any judging bias those 2 judges scores were taken out of the process.

Award  Judges

A huge heartfelt thanks to all of the wonderful judges involved in this process. It takes a lot of time to read and rate each submission against the key criteria. The 23 judges included:

  • Brett Clark, CEO,TAL
  • Mark Senkevics, MD, SwissRe
  • Dion Russell, MD, SCOR
  • Dr Ian Opperman, NSW Chief Data Scientist
  • Tracy Hibbert, CEO, Beyond Aptitude, GM Patties
  • Effie Fox, GM, Samsung
  • Elissa Dwyer, Heart Research Institute
  • Nick Kirwan, FSC
  • Dr Bill Monday, PacificLife Re
  • Peter Tilocca, ANZ
  • Tina Beilby, Zurich
  • Tony O’Leary, G & T Risk Management
  • Malcolm Weir, Comminsure
  • Natalie Cameron, MLC
  • Loraine van Eeden, TAL
  • Paula Bourke, SCOR
  • Carol Smit, ALUCA & AIA
  • Carly van Den Akker – ALUCA & SwissRe
  • Mary Sinclair-Porter, Zurich
  • Amanda Stow, OnePath
  • Devi Uka, ALUCA Deputy Chair, TAL
  • Amanda McKernan, ALUCA CEO & Adjunct Faculty, UNSW
  • Jim Welsh, ALUCA Chair & AMP

Our Thanks

A huge thanks and congratulations to everyone who was nominated for an Award. The judges were very impressed by the high quality of the submissions. Everyone should all be incredibly proud of their achievements. It was very close in a number of the categories.

Many thanks to all of ALUCA’s sponsors too who helped to make these Awards possible. A shout out to our platinum sponsors who each  awarded one of the winners in a category.

A big thanks to our Awards committee who all worked tirelessly to ensure the night ran seamlessly and no envelope mishaps happened like at the Oscars!

Thanks too – to Dean Mico and Lynette Mico the son and widow of the late David Mico who presented the David Mico  Excellence in Life Insurance education award. This special award dedicated in memory and  honour of  David Mico’s contribution to the Life Insurance industry through his work with IFSA (now FSC), he successfully worked to maintain the balance between the freedom to underwrite applications and assess claims fairly and the needs of the community at large. This award acknowledges an individual from the life insurance industry who has excelled in their on-going professional development in Life Insurance via education

Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum, AO
Visually impaired himself, his success as a lawyer, educator, and advocate for blind people is in large part due to technologies like tape recorders, voice synthesizing programs and computer scanning. Ron shared his very personal tale about his life, his challenges and achievements.
He was appointed to a full professorship at the University of Sydney making him the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship at any Australian or New Zealand university. He has served as chair or member of various federal and state inquiries including the 2012 inquiry into the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).  All of the audience were incredibly touched by Ron’s story and his quest to champion the rights of the disabled.

MC, Sophie Scott
The MC for the Awards night was ABC Medical reporter Sophie Scott who did an excellent job interviewing all of the award winners and keeping the event on time.

There were also many learning’s for next year – one being that Underwriters are a modest group of professionals!  On behalf of ALUCA thank you for joining us for an evening where we were able to truly celebrate and acknowledge all of the wonderful talent in the Life Insurance industry and the achievements each and everyone has made. Everyone should feel incredibly proud of the enormous and positive difference we make to the communities we all serve.

ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards Night 2019 – MELBOURNE

On that note stay tuned for ALUCA’s 2019 Life Insurance Excellence Awards night to be held in Melbourne. Nominations for all awards will open in November 2018.


ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Underwriting Team award – winner – AsteronLife Team with Mary Sinclair Porter, ALUCA Board and Tony O’Leary, ALUCA Life Member presenting the award

ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards Finalists & Winners, 2018

The award finalists and winners for each category are listed below with some of the comments we shared at the awards night as to why the winners were selected.

Individual Awards

1 ALUCA Life Insurance Leadership Excellence Award

This award acknowledges an individual life insurance leader who has demonstrated excellence above BAU by driving successful Life insurance strategies with strong customer outcomes.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Chris Austin, AMP Limited
  2. Amanda Ide, MLC Life Insurance
  3. Peter Tilocca, Onepath
  4. Tina Beilby, Zurich Financial Services      WINNER
Judges comments

The judges felt all finalists were ” very worthy recipients’  with a lot of discussion around each of the finalists and their tangible achievements  with a specific focus on leading teams to greater customer outcomes and their contribution to the industry. The winning nomination from Tina Beilby’s team for Tina was felt to have achieved stronger customer outcomes  with very clear tangible outcomes of her achievements and exceptionally strong testimonials both within and outside her organisation.

Prize selected by winner – Complimentary place to ALUCA biennnial conference in Hobart

 

2 ALUCA Life Insurance Claims Excellence Award

This award recognises an individual life insurance claims professional who has demonstrated excellence above BAU via their achievement of key claims business and customer outcomes.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Maieve Annersley, AMP Limited
  2. Ryan Gailey, BT Financial Group
  3. Matthew Austin, CommInsure WINNER
Judges comments

The judges commented that all finalists did demonstrate excellence in this category, However, the winner – Matthew Austin, set himself apart with demonstrably excellent customer outcomes and knowledge sharing, strongly attested to by colleagues, peers and customers alike.

Prize selected by winner – Complimentary place to ALUCA biennnial conference in Hobart

 

3 ALUCA Life Insurance Underwriting Excellence Award

This award recognises an individual life insurance underwriter who has demonstrated excellence via their achievement of innovative underwriting business/customer outcomes over and above BAU.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Roxanne Chapman, Zurich
  2. Stephen Connolly, Zurich WINNER
  3. Sarah Cosier, Zurich
  4. Simon Parry, Zurich
Judges comments

The winner, Stephen Connolly, was felt to be a great all-rounder who went above and beyond expectations of the role with a very sensitive and topical subject that will help underwriters in the daily delivery of underwriting decisions for customers with great use of FAQs to ensure consistency in the message being given to customers.

Prize selected by winner – 6 month coaching package

 

4 ALUCA Life Insurance Rehabilitation Excellence Award

This award acknowledges an individual life insurance rehabilitation professional who has demonstrated excellence via their achievement of innovative rehabilitation business and customer outcomes over and above BAU.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Karen Robertson, AIA
  2. Alexandra Russo, AMP
  3. Rebecca McMurray, Work Rehab WINNER
Judges comments

All finalists had achieved some great outcomes but the judges felt the winning submission for Rebecca McMurray, also provided tangible evidence of  doing more outside of their organisation, not just within. Rebecca also demonstrated innovation in the industry with strong regional  community involvement  with strong proof and tangible evidence of her achievements.

Prize selected by winner – 6 month coaching package

 

5  ALUCA Excellence in Life Insurance Rising Star of the Year Award

This award recognises an individual who has worked in life insurance for under three years who has demonstrated excellence in a claims, underwriting or rehabilitation role above BAU.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Donna McEwan, AMP
  2. Amlan Sharma, AMP
  3. Katie Hartley, CommInsure WINNER
Judges comments

The judges shared that each of the finalists had great submissions, going above and beyond their day to day role with clear outcomes.

The winners submission for Katie Hartley, clearly articulated the accomplishments that she had achieved with some really strong customer outcomes – the judges also noted that the winner included  testimonials from different external companies not just internal ones.

Prize selected by winner – 6 month coaching package

 

6  ALUCA David Mico Excellence in Life Insurance Education Award

A special award for an individual who has excelled in their on-going professional development in Life Insurance via education – open to all Life Industry professionals.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Carola Moore, AMP WINNER
  2. Christine Gan, CommInsure
  3. Daniel Devine, TAL
  4. Katherine Matherson, Zurich
Judges comments

Very strong and varied finalists who were all to be highly commended. Judges were impressed by the finalists ongoing commitment to their professional development.

The winning nomination from Carola Moore demonstrated her broad range of life insurance education showing how she had used her life insurance knowledge to bring a vast range of varied topics into the business to have a direct and improved impact on the customer experience.

Cash prize of $1,500

 

ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Claims Team of The Year award – winner – MLC Claims Life Insurance team with Chantelle Everett, ALUCA Board and Niamh McCormack ALUCA CMG Chair presenting the award

TEAM AWARDS

All winning teams to receive a bespoke speaker event especially for their teams.

7 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Claims Team of The Year Award

This award recognises a Claims team who have shown leadership and innovation as a team in the life insurance claims area that enhances customer outcomes above BAU.

Finalists & WINNER
  1. Fifita Ngaue – CommInsure Claims Team
  2. Alice Chiesa – MLC Life Claims Team WINING TEAM
  3. Jackie Cumming – Qinsure Claims team
Judges comments

The judges said that they felt the winning team  – MLC Life Claims team – addressed many parts of the claims process and achieved highly desirable customer outcomes. Holistically it was a compelling journey that they have been on and they had done something different for their customers – achieving great and tangible outcomes with proof and evidence of this.

 

8 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Underwriting Team of The Year Award

This award acknowledges an Underwriting team who have shown leadership and innovation as a team in the life insurance underwriting area that enhances customer outcomes above BAU.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Lisa New – Asteron Life team WINNING TEAM
  2. Gail Jones – CommInsure team
  3. Helen Molloy – TAL team
  4. Matthew Apps- Zurich team
Judges comments

This was another very close decision.  The winning  team – Asteron life – achieved something new and fresh. The finished project not only facilitated customer benefits such as much improved cycle times but also incorporates excellent management information data enabling ongoing improvements. Their team innovation cuts across the whole business. They also demonstrated clear improvements that had a positive direct impact on the customer experience by bringing the underwriter into each customer’s front room.  Although these changes first started in 2015 – they were a leader in change and the transformational part was delivered in 2017.

 

9  ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Team of The Year Award: Customer Service

This team award recognises teams working in life insurance who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to innovative customer care to provide great customer outcomes above BAU.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Neil Borthwick – BT Financial team – Claims
  2. Ciaran Curley – CommInsure Claims team
  3. Lucy Hartley – EM Life
  4. Rommel Luzaraz – TAL Direct Claims team WINNING TEAM
Judges comments

The nature of the award is based on customer feedback as well as what is being done to address the feedback. Judges loved the community effort in the winning submission from TAL’s direct claims team and the extra step that this team go to.  They were able to show how they took their customer service to the next level with lots of support and proof of this in addition to a great video clip.

 

10  ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Team of The Year Award – Innovation

This award honours a life insurance team working in the sector who have shown excellence in life insurance through innovative processes/products/services/data/ technology etc.

Finalists & Winner
  1. Neil Borthwick – BT Financial Claims team WINNING TEAM
  2. Amity McCarthy- Comminsure Digital Claims team
  3. Georgina Lamb – IPAR team
  4. Peter Tilocca- OnePath Underwriting team
Judges comments

This category brought much discussion amongst the judges as two finalists were very, very close but the winning submission from the BT Financial Claims team,  demonstrated their innovation excellence via their customer leading innovation delivering strong customer outcomes.

The  NSW Chief Data Scientist, Dr Ian Opperman who was one of the judges for this category wanted to make mention of the other very strong entry from the  IPAR team who were very impressive – with their depth of innovation which was to be commended.

 

ReB ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards Night

ALUCA’s inaugural 2018 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards night held on May 24th at Darling Harbour in Sydney was a wonderful testament for the best in the profession to recognise and reward the fantastic work being done by their peers and colleagues.

These special Awards were about celebrating the value great Life Insurance underwriting, claims, rehabilitation and other professionals/services contribute to this vibrant industry.

 

Judging Process

In total we received 84 nominations across all of the categories. The smallest amount received being the 4 Underwriting leader entries all from Zurich and the 4 nominations for Underwriting teams.

The papers were judged via a 2 round process. A first round panel of judges marked and scored all of the papers separately and independently. They marked these against the key criteria for each of the award categories using a marking sheet. The scores were sent back and collated at a central level. Judges then met to  discuss the papers and the scores. The top 3 – 4 finalist entries were agreed on for each category.

The finalist papers for each category were then provided to a cross industry and external industry panel of judges who also all marked against the key criteria for each of the award categories via a marking sheet – these were all scored separately and independently. Once again, the scores were sent back and collated at a central level . Judges then met to  discuss the papers and the winners for each category. Any judging bias was removed first via a strong cross industry panel and where papers were very close, to remove any judging bias those 2 judges scores were taken out of the process.

 

Award  Judges

A huge heartfelt thanks to all of the wonderful judges involved in this process. It takes a lot of time to read and rate each submission against the key criteria. The 23 judges included:

  • Brett Clark, CEO,TAL
  • Mark Senkevics, MD, SwissRe
  • Dion Russell, MD, SCOR
  • Dr Ian Opperman, NSW Chief Data Scientist
  • Tracy Hibbert, CEO, Beyond Aptitude, GM Patties
  • Effie Fox, GM, Samsung
  • Elissa Dwyer, Heart Research Institute
  • Nick Kirwan, FSC
  • Dr Bill Monday, PacificLife Re
  • Peter Tilocca, ANZ
  • Tina Beilby, Zurich
  • Tony O’Leary, G & T Risk Management
  • Malcolm Weir, Comminsure
  • Natalie Cameron, MLC
  • Loraine van Eeden, TAL
  • Paula Bourke, SCOR
  • Carol Smit, ALUCA & AIA
  • Carly van Den Akker – ALUCA & SwissRe
  • Mary Sinclair-Porter, Zurich
  • Amanda Stow, OnePath
  • Devi Uka, ALUCA Deputy Chair, TAL
  • Amanda McKernan, ALUCA CEO & Adjunct Faculty, UNSW
  • Jim Welsh, ALUCA Chair & AMP

 

Our Thanks

A huge thanks and congratulations to everyone who was nominated for an Award. The judges were very impressed by the high quality of the submissions. Everyone should all be incredibly proud of their achievements. It was very close in a number of the categories.

Many thanks to all of ALUCA’s sponsors too who helped to make these Awards possible. A shout out to our platinum sponsors who each  awarded one of the winners in a category.

A big thanks to our Awards committee who all worked tirelessly to ensure the night ran seamlessly and no envelope mishaps happened like at the Oscars!

Thanks too – to Dean Mico and Lynette Mico the son and widow of the late David Mico who presented the David Mico  Excellence in Life Insurance education award. This special award dedicated in memory and  honour of  David Mico’s contribution to the Life Insurance industry through his work with IFSA (now FSC), he successfully worked to maintain the balance between the freedom to underwrite applications and assess claims fairly and the needs of the community at large. This award acknowledges an individual from the life insurance industry who has excelled in their on-going professional development in Life Insurance via education

 

Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum, AO

The guest speaker for the night was Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum, AO who was such an incredibly inspiring man. Blind since birth he provided  first hand insights into blind technologies and innovations in the last century and demonstrated how this has  helped the visually impaired read and overcome some of the other challenges blind people face.

Visually impaired himself, his success as a lawyer, educator, and advocate for blind people is in large part due to technologies like tape recorders, voice synthesizing programs and computer scanning. Ron shared his very personal tale about his life, his challenges and achievements.
He was appointed to a full professorship at the University of Sydney making him the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship at any Australian or New Zealand university. He has served as chair or member of various federal and state inquiries including the 2012 inquiry into the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).  All of the audience were incredibly touched by Ron’s story and his quest to champion the rights of the disabled.

 

MC, Sophie Scott

The MC for the Awards night was ABC Medical reporter Sophie Scott who did an excellent job interviewing all of the award winners and keeping the event on time.

There were also many learning’s for next year – one being that Underwriters are a modest group of professionals!  On behalf of ALUCA thank you for joining us for an evening where we were able to truly celebrate and acknowledge all of the wonderful talent in the Life Insurance industry and the achievements each and everyone has made. Everyone should feel incredibly proud of the enormous and positive difference we make to the communities we all serve.

 

ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards Night 2019 – MELBOURNE

On that note stay tuned for ALUCA’s 2019 Life Insurance Excellence Awards night to be held in Melbourne. Nominations for all awards will open in November 2018.

 

ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards Finalists & Winners, 2018

The award finalists and winners for each category are listed below with some of the comments we shared at the awards night as to why the winners were selected.

 

Individual Awards

 

1 ALUCA Life Insurance Leadership Excellence Award

This award acknowledges an individual life insurance leader who has demonstrated excellence above BAU by driving successful Life insurance strategies with strong customer outcomes.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Chris Austin, AMP Limited
  2. Amanda Ide, MLC Life Insurance
  3. Peter Tilocca, Onepath
  4. Tina Beilby, Zurich Financial Services      WINNER

 

Judges comments

The judges felt all finalists were ” very worthy recipients’  with a lot of discussion around each of the finalists and their tangible achievements  with a specific focus on leading teams to greater customer outcomes and their contribution to the industry. The winning nomination from Tina Beilby’s team for Tina was felt to have achieved stronger customer outcomes  with very clear tangible outcomes of her achievements and exceptionally strong testimonials both within and outside her organisation.

Prize selected by winner – Complimentary place to ALUCA biennnial conference in Hobart

 

2 ALUCA Life Insurance Claims Excellence Award

This award recognises an individual life insurance claims professional who has demonstrated excellence above BAU via their achievement of key claims business and customer outcomes.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Maieve Annersley, AMP Limited
  2. Ryan Gailey, BT Financial Group
  3. Matthew Austin, CommInsure WINNER

 

Judges comments

The judges commented that all finalists did demonstrate excellence in this category, However, the winner – Matthew Austin, set himself apart with demonstrably excellent customer outcomes and knowledge sharing, strongly attested to by colleagues, peers and customers alike.

Prize selected by winner – Complimentary place to ALUCA biennnial conference in Hobart

 

3 ALUCA Life Insurance Underwriting Excellence Award

This award recognises an individual life insurance underwriter who has demonstrated excellence via their achievement of innovative underwriting business/customer outcomes over and above BAU.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Roxanne Chapman, Zurich
  2. Stephen Connolly, Zurich WINNER
  3. Sarah Cosier, Zurich
  4. Simon Parry, Zurich

 

Judges comments

The winner, Stephen Connolly, was felt to be a great all-rounder who went above and beyond expectations of the role with a very sensitive and topical subject that will help underwriters in the daily delivery of underwriting decisions for customers with great use of FAQs to ensure consistency in the message being given to customers.

Prize selected by winner – 6 month coaching package

 

4 ALUCA Life Insurance Rehabilitation Excellence Award

This award acknowledges an individual life insurance rehabilitation professional who has demonstrated excellence via their achievement of innovative rehabilitation business and customer outcomes over and above BAU.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Karen Robertson, AIA
  2. Alexandra Russo, AMP
  3. Rebecca McMurray, Work Rehab WINNER

 

Judges comments

All finalists had achieved some great outcomes but the judges felt the winning submission for Rebecca McMurray, also provided tangible evidence of  doing more outside of their organisation, not just within. Rebecca also demonstrated innovation in the industry with strong regional  community involvement  with strong proof and tangible evidence of her achievements.

  Prize selected by winner – 6 month coaching package

 

5  ALUCA Excellence in Life Insurance Rising Star of the Year Award

This award recognises an individual who has worked in life insurance for under three years who has demonstrated excellence in a claims, underwriting or rehabilitation role above BAU.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Donna McEwan, AMP
  2. Amlan Sharma, AMP
  3. Katie Hartley, CommInsure WINNER

 

Judges comments

The judges shared that each of the finalists had great submissions, going above and beyond their day to day role with clear outcomes.

The winners submission for Katie Hartley, clearly articulated the accomplishments that she had achieved with some really strong customer outcomes – the judges also noted that the winner included  testimonials from different external companies not just internal ones.

Prize selected by winner – 6 month coaching package

 

6  ALUCA David Mico Excellence in Life Insurance Education Award

A special award for an individual who has excelled in their on-going professional development in Life Insurance via education – open to all Life Industry professionals.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Carola Moore, AMP WINNER
  2. Christine Gan, CommInsure
  3. Daniel Devine, TAL
  4. Katherine Matherson, Zurich

 

Judges comments

Very strong and varied finalists who were all to be highly commended. Judges were impressed by the finalists ongoing commitment to their professional development.

The winning nomination from Carola Moore demonstrated her broad range of life insurance education showing how she had used her life insurance knowledge to bring a vast range of varied topics into the business to have a direct and improved impact on the customer experience.

Cash prize of $1,500

 

 

TEAM AWARDS

All winning teams to receive a bespoke speaker event especially for their teams.

 

7 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Claims Team of The Year Award

This award recognises a Claims team who have shown leadership and innovation as a team in the life insurance claims area that enhances customer outcomes above BAU.

 

Finalists & WINNER

  1. Fifita Ngaue – CommInsure Claims Team
  2. Alice Chiesa – MLC Life Claims Team WINING TEAM
  3. Jackie Cumming – Qinsure Claims team

 

Judges comments

The judges said that they felt the winning team  – MLC Life Claims team – addressed many parts of the claims process and achieved highly desirable customer outcomes. Holistically it was a compelling journey that they have been on and they had done something different for their customers – achieving great and tangible outcomes with proof and evidence of this.

 

8 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Underwriting Team of The Year Award

This award acknowledges an Underwriting team who have shown leadership and innovation as a team in the life insurance underwriting area that enhances customer outcomes above BAU.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Lisa New – Asteron Life team WINNING TEAM
  2. Gail Jones – CommInsure team
  3. Helen Molloy – TAL team
  4. Matthew Apps- Zurich team

 

Judges comments

This was another very close decision.  The winning  team – Asteron life – achieved something new and fresh. The finished project not only facilitated customer benefits such as much improved cycle times but also incorporates excellent management information data enabling ongoing improvements. Their team innovation cuts across the whole business. They also demonstrated clear improvements that had a positive direct impact on the customer experience by bringing the underwriter into each customer’s front room.  Although these changes first started in 2015 – they were a leader in change and the transformational part was delivered in 2017.

 

 9  ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Team of The Year Award: Customer Service

This team award recognises teams working in life insurance who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to innovative customer care to provide great customer outcomes above BAU.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Neil Borthwick – BT Financial team – Claims
  2. Ciaran Curley – CommInsure Claims team
  3. Lucy Hartley – EM Life
  4. Rommel Luzaraz – TAL Direct Claims team WINNING TEAM

 

Judges comments

The nature of the award is based on customer feedback as well as what is being done to address the feedback. Judges loved the community effort in the winning submission from TAL’s direct claims team and the extra step that this team go to.  They were able to show how they took their customer service to the next level with lots of support and proof of this in addition to a great video clip.

 

10  ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Team of The Year Award – Innovation

This award honours a life insurance team working in the sector who have shown excellence in life insurance through innovative processes/products/services/data/ technology etc.

 

Finalists & Winner

  1. Neil Borthwick – BT Financial Claims team WINNING TEAM
  2. Amity McCarthy- Comminsure Digital Claims team
  3. Georgina Lamb – IPAR team
  4. Peter Tilocca- OnePath Underwriting team

 

Judges comments

This category brought much discussion amongst the judges as two finalists were very, very close but the winning submission from the BT Financial Claims team,  demonstrated their innovation excellence via their customer leading innovation delivering strong customer outcomes.

The  NSW Chief Data Scientist, Dr Ian Opperman who was one of the judges for this category wanted to make mention of the other very strong entry from the  IPAR team who were very impressive – with their depth of innovation which was to be commended.

ALUCA CPLI Amnesty Extention

The good news is that due to popular demand for ALUCA ‘s Professional Accreditation and CPD program: Certified Professional Life Insurance (CPLI) ALUCA’s Board have agreed to extend the amnesty for all ALUCA members until the end of September this year to allow people plenty of time to find their certificates and other educational qualifications.

ALUCA’s Certified Professional Life Insurance(CPLI) accreditation program which clearly demonstrates the ongoing professional development required of Life Insurance underwriters, claims and rehabilitation professionals to ensure their compliance with the overarching ALUCA competency framework and demonstrates their high standards of professional development.

CPLI Accreditation Process

At the end of July 2018 ALUCA’s cross industry education panel will meet once again to work through the backlog of pending CPLI applications. The Education panel meet quarterly to work through all pending CPLI applications.

We still have a number of outstanding applications whilst we wait for members to locate their missing educational certificates or verify the time they have spent in Life Insurance in an underwriting, claims or rehabilitation role. If you have any questions or need help with anything please don’t hesitate to call us on 02  9431 8654 or send a note via e: secretariatofficer@aluca.com

For all ALUCA accredited members please remember that you must achieve a minimum of 35 CPD points each calendar year which will be pro-rated for members who become accredited during the course of the year. You can find all of the details via ALUCA’s website and you can update your points in the self service CPD part of the Members Centre so you can track your points.

Update from America – Hank George

Greetings from Milwaukee, where the last vestiges of our protracted winter (i.e., snow on the ground) finally disappeared in April.

If I digressed to characterize the wretchedness of January and February here on Wisconsin’s famed frozen tundra, you would likely judge me so disposed to hyperbole that you would not stop reading this report!

This update is based largely upon findings from our 2018 New Business Critical Issues Survey. It was conducted over a span of six months stating in October 2017. Chief underwriters from 93 insurers offering individually underwritten life insurance participated in this survey.

This project was funded by cosponsorship contributions from reinsurers and underwriting-related service providers. Nearly all reinsurers doing business in our individual life market stepped up to assist. Part of their motivation is that distribution of the copyrighted survey report is limited solely to cosponsors and survey takers.

This survey addressed a broad range of subjects. The one garnering the greatest attention is what we call “accelerated underwriting”.

 

Accelerated Underwriting (AU)

AU is defined as offering life insurance cover up to some maximum age and sum insured without mandatory paramedicals and laboratory tests despite charging same premium rates as those for fully underwritten business.

Based on this definition, 65% of companies offer accelerated underwriting for at least one individual life product. In a substantial portion of companies, AU is permitted on most or all life plans.

Only one insurer reported rejecting AU outright. Most of the rest were sorting out the matter at the time they took the survey. The “good money” (in race track parlance!) says that nearly all will follow suit and roll out AU in the near future.

Why?

Because those not offering AU will see virtually all of the best new business go to competitors. This will lead to substantial attrition in the ranks of their (increasingly disgruntled) advisors. In today’s tight market, these two outcomes carry a dismal corporate prognosis.

The three most significant drivers of AU development were, in this order, actuaries, chief underwriters and reinsurers. Sales/marketing executives and CMOs had notably lesser roles and barely 10% cited “outside consultants” as significant assets.

Such is the nature of the barren American marketplace for underwriting-related consultancy services nowadays!

Many larger insurers with robust retention limits and/or favorable reinsurance arrangements offer $1 million or more of cover on an accelerated basis. Some go as high as $2.5 million.

When asked what they consider the maximum age at which AU is practical based on the number of applicants likely to qualify, 42% said age 60 and 32% favored age 55.

Nevertheless, many of these same companies offer to underwrite on an accelerated basis through age 65.

What does it take to qualify for accelerated underwriting?

Most insurers require a handful of rapid-access evidence, typically consisting of:

  • An application, with the risk history taken by teleinterview or via online questioning
  • An MIB report
  • A motor vehicle record (MVR) noting any violations within a period of years
  • A pharmacy record listing all prescription medication taken over some interval, currently Rx records can be accessed on 7775%-80% of insurance seekers.
  • An electronic data report addressing a potpourri of financial details, court records, etc. et al

If the proposed insured qualifies for preferred risk cover based on the foregoing evidence, approval is “accelerated” by virtue of no need for a paramedical or lab tests.

The Achilles heel of AU is that insurers must rely on what the proposed insured tells them regarding such essentials as height/weight, tobacco use, HIV status and so on.

A recent paper in a major actuarial publication has fueled concern for rather generous understatement of weight and this is reflected in the survey as the domain conferring the greatest worry over potential material misrepresentation.

A majority of survey takers (61%) believe that nondisclosure of tobacco use – likely the most impactful of these issues – will exert a “moderate” adverse impact AU mortality.

Some of us old gits reckon the magnitude of “smoker’s amnesia” may be a tad more impactful! Time will tell.

 

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Testing

Americans have unfettered access to relatively-inexpensive DTC tests ranging from coronary artery calcium (CAC) scans and abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound to laboratory profiles so comprehensive they contain every routine blood test we use in underwriting except NT-proBNP.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the 10-component 23andMe genetic test profile for DTC testing and also created a fast track to accommodate sanctioning of other genetic profiles for this indication. DTC BRCA1-2 breast cancer gene mutation screening is also available at relatively low cost.

To make matters worse, a consensus agreement affecting the substantial majority of US states prohibits asking applicants whether they have had any medical tests not ordered by healthcare professionals (which, of course, defines DTC tests!).

When asked about the extent of their concern for nondisclosure regarding DTC testing, 44% said it was “moderate” and 36% owned up to just “minimal” concern.

Several survey takers commented that their views could change as more DTC tests (especially of a genetic persuasion) enter the marketplace.

Just as with the potential for tobacco nondisclosure hijinks, one wonders if the dominant viewpoint here is at least a bit naïve.

 

Marijuana Use

In the last few years there has been a gradual shift in how American insurers regard occasional recreational cannabis use by adults.

Instead of charging them the same base premium designated for cigarette smokers (indeed, most if not all tobacco devotees), a courageous few were countenancing non-tobacco rates for selected pot smokers, largely on a case-by-case basis.

In the new survey, 59% said “yes” when asked if they “permit adults who occasional smoke marijuana…to be eligible for ‘non-tobacco user’ rates on some basis.”

Only 12% had considered and then rejected this practice whereas 9% were weighing the merits of joining the majority. The rest had not as yet given thought to the question.

Our July CE course on Marijuana and Underwriting is based on 243 studies and review papers addressing every aspect of cannabis use and what is known of its links to various ailments, adverse motor vehicle consequences and, most importantly, mortality.

Our research shows that the weight of evidence strongly favors liberalization of underwriting of recreational marijuana at least to the extent that the majority of carriers are presently accommodating.

The matter of medicinal pot use is more problematic if only because many of the ostensible indications for cannabis therapy substantially impact mortality risk. In addition, there is markedly greater exposure when marijuana is smoked in a therapeutic context as compared to the doses absorbed by most recreational users.

 

Opioid Use  

Roughly one-third (1/3rd) of US companies now screen for opioid use on an age/amount and/or elective (underwriter discretion) basis. An equal share of carriers are considering this practice and no doubt most will chose to proceed.

Needless to say, this is being propelled by concern for the so-called “opioid epidemic”. Over half of respondents who felt they could speak to their life claims experience reported at least one recent opioid-related death claim.

Heroin-related deaths were rarely an issue for insurers until the last few years when they became as prevalent in the suburbs as inter city urban areas. Most of the larger policies are sold to persons living in the ‘burbs, as they say.

Insurance opioid testing protocols cover all major forms except tramadol and tapentadol. These two are distinct from other opioids in their mode of action but both can be abused. If the highly sensitive screening tests are positive, confirmatory tests are done before the insurer is advised of a positive result.

 

Underwriting Calculators

When I made what was likely my last-ever Association of Home Office Underwriters (AHOU) presentation at our 2018 conference, I went off on a wee tirade denouncing the use of so-called calculators to “aid underwriters” in assessing insurability of cancer risks.

My views are less than warmly received by some reinsurers given how widely calculators have metastasized within underwriting guidelines.

In the survey, we asked several questions about respondents’ perceptions regarding these confounded devices.

The substantial majority concurred that calculators increase the likelihood of avoidable errors by underwriters and also promote the deeply flawed perception that cancer cases can be routinely engine/machine underwritten sans human involvement.

Touché!

 

“Selfies”

An underwriting services-wannabe came upon the scene recently, pitching the proposition that one could distinguish biological from chronological age based on facial features on a “selfie”.

At this writing, we are aware of just one insurer using this resource.

When we asked if survey completers felt that selfies were “a viable source of accurate information for underwriting purposes,” two of 93 respondents replied in the affirmative.

Based on our research (which we wager is the most extensive yet undertaken), we congratulate the 91 chief underwriters who look askance of this proposition.

Meanwhile, there is at least one new service provider on the cusp of introducing epigenetic testing. This is a far more intriguing proposition than conventional genomic testing because it does not involve germline (inherited) genetic changes. Epigenetic changes arise over the course of one’s lifetime.

Our research to date suggests that epigenetic testing may indeed confer substantial value as a mortality marker. Certainly biological vs. chronological age distinctions would be far more credible on this basis as compared to “selfies”.

This said, there are many issues to be resolved (several of which could rule out epigenetic testing based on cost and other considerations). The jury, if you will, is still out.

 

Accelerometers

While just two companies currently offer lower premium rates and/or other perks to applicants willing to wear accelerometers (FitBit, et al), 18% are studying the proposition and just 4% have nixed the notion.

We appreciate the initial appeal of this concept.

What its promoters may not appreciate is the weight of evidence in published studies showing substantial attrition in device deployment that evolves over some interval of time…and regardless of incentives to continue wearing such devices.

As a sales gimmick, this gambit may make sense.

As a legitimate approach to improving mortality outcomes, a healthy skepticism must be maintained until such time as hard evidence – not merely wishful projections – confirms a sufficient and sustained payoff.

 

Fair vs. Unfair Discrimination

Respondents were shown seven potential risk assessment criteria and asked if they considered them to constitute fair vs. unfair discrimination as potential arbiters of insurability.

The strongest consensus was with religious affiliation, where 94% considered it to be an unfair form of discrimination. This was followed by race (90%), ethnicity (89%) and sexual orientation (86%).

Only 74% held that marital status was flawed risk assessment criterion and just 66% took this position regarding the use of personal purchase records in underwriting.

The last criterion scrutinized was zip code (our term for postal zone).

It is disconcerting that 1 in 4 respondents did not regard this as a grossly inappropriate underwriting consideration.

In most large America cities there are one or more postal zones wherein a high proportion of residents come from a single racial or ethnic group, making this a virtual poster child for unfair discrimination.

 

Underwriting Engines

Over half (55%) of 93 US life insurers currently have engines that facilitate “straight-through processing” of new applications, making at least some less-complex underwriting decisions without human intervention.

Half of these carriers created their engine internally, 30% acquired it from a reinsurer and the remainder from an independent software firm.

Only 5 insurers either stopped using or decided against deploying an engine. Most of the others were actively exploring this proposition.

 

Working Remotely

Approximately two-thirds (2/3rd) of US life insurers allow at least some of their underwriters to work remotely (that is, from home) on some basis.

In our currently prevailing “sellers’ market” for underwriting talent, those who do not accommodate working remotely are at a formidable disadvantage when seeking to hire veteran underwriters.

A slight majority (55%) of chief underwriters tell us they do not get significantly greater productivity from remote (vs. in-office). If you had asked this question 10 years ago, 80% would have said that underwriters working remotely were anywhere from 10% to 25% more productive.

Why did this changed?

In the early years when carriers were still experimenting with this practice, those who worked from home feared that they might be forced to forfeit this option. Therefore they worked harder and were thus conspicuously more productive than their peers laboring in the confines at head office.

Now that roughly half of all U.S. underwriters work from home there is no longer a perceived risk of losing this beloved option and thus little incentive to sustain higher levels of productivity. Indeed, there are substantial advantages for insurers even in the absence of heightened remote underwriter case output.

Some 34% of survey takers that embrace working remotely are presently amenable to underwriters with less than three years’ experience working remotely. A decade ago most required at least five years’ seasoning and above average performance ratings as eligibility criteria for working from home.

The success of work-from-home underwriting is underscored by the fact that 99% acknowledged being “pleased” with the impact of this practice.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Asked to opine on the future impact of AI, the majority concurs that human underwriters will continue to have the dominant role, with AI assisting rather than replacing most of their staff.

They also largely agree that underwriters will need to become more fluent with predictive analytics and gear up for greater contact with both advisors and their clients.

 

Other Topics

The majority of survey completers cling to the flawed perception that blood profiles must be done on a fasting basis.

This longstanding notion – now debunked by leading experts in clinical chemistry – has encumbering the paramedical process… because most advisors insist on scheduling their clients between 6 and 9 am!

Only 24% of insurers currently include exceptional parental longevity in their preferred risk guidelines. This is usually defined as both parents living anywhere from 80 to 90 years.

All of the evidence we have reviewed underscores the validity of this practice.

A combination of two antiretroviral drugs, marketed here as Truvada, is now widely used by individuals at heightened risk for acquiring HIV infection.

When asked how they handle these cases, 60% said they issue without any loading, 13% rate up the case and 27% decline coverage. It would be eye-opening to hear the arguments for these starkly differing approaches to this insurability issue. We shall be discussing this shortly at my life underwriting study group meetings.

Over the last half decade, ECG screening has scaled back dramatically and for the most part it has been replaced with NT-proBNP.

Just six survey takers have eliminated all ECG screening, whereas nearly half have dramatically reduced their use of the obsolete, client-unfriendly option.

We have challenged anyone to defend the use of ECGs in lieu of NT-proBNP screening. Predictably, no one has clamored for the opportunity to lose a debate on the matter!

Outsourcing of case underwriting remains in its infancy. The majority of insurers tell us they have not yet considered this option and are unlikely to do so. Of those that countenance this practice, just 7% outsource risk assessments to a notable extent.

The use of outsourced summarization of medical records is more widespread, with one-third (1/3rd) engaged in this practice.

It appears that the vast majority of these summaries are outsourced to India and, to a lesser extent, other Asian countries. It is apparently infeasible to get this done domestically on a cost-effective basis, and pricing competition among providers is substantial.

If you were weighing the pros and cons of outsourcing review of physicians’ records, would you focus more on the quality of the summaries than their unit cost?

How reckless is it to sublet one of the most important aspects of risk assessment on the basis of which provider will do it the cheapest!

Just 14% of survey respondents own up to using social media content in underwriting, with an additional 7.5% considering this option. The substantial majority has not considered this option as yet.

Let us end on a cheerful note:

Over 70% were “very satisfied” with support from their reinsurer. Just six were “somewhat” or “very” dissatisfied.

This concludes our review of the more interesting goings-on across the Pacific. Hopefully you found some of it interesting.

I would be remiss in not adding that most Americans disgruntled with our current president are clear-headed enough to back off from advocating his impeachment and removal from office.

For one reason…

His successor would be Vice President Mike Pence.

Anyone less than enamored of President Trump would be well served to Google Mike Pence (after a couple of stiff drinks!).

Best wishes for the continued success of ALUCA!

I welcome your questions and comments. You may reach me at hank@hankgeorge.com.

 

Hank George FALU

Hank George, FALU, is a longtime ALUCA member. He is self-employed as an educator and consultant, based out of his office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His websites are www.hankgeorgeinc.com and www.insureintell.com. Hank may be reached at hank@hankgeorge.com.

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Influenza – The Insurers’ Perspective – Daniel D. Zimmerman / RGA

Seasonal influenza is a unique public health conundrum: its epidemics are annual, yet even with the wealth of epidemiologic data now collected on it, predicting its activity and severity still remains a significant challenge. Recent modelling suggests that the global burden of influenza is worse than previously thought, accounting for up to 600 000 deaths annually.

Australia was particularly hard-hit by influenza in 2017. The May to October flu season had the highest levels of activity since the 2009 pandemic, with approximately 2.5 times as many laboratory-confirmed cases recorded in 2017 as in 2016. This increase may have been partially due to increased use of new, rapid testing technology which is now available.

Several factors contributed to last year’s difficult flu season, the most notable being the longer peak season, low vaccine effectiveness, and low vaccine uptake. Specifically, the peak season lasted longer than usual: typically, the peak is, at most, four weeks, but in 2017, it lasted for six weeks. The effectiveness of the 2017 vaccine in preventing a general practitioner visit was estimated to be low overall at 33% and even lower (16%) in preventing hospitalisation. The overall effectiveness was weighted lower due to the relatively poor effectiveness against the predominant circulating strain A/H3N2.

Mortality rates were consistent with recent years despite an increased number of deaths reported due to the overall greater number of infections. Also, despite higher hospital admissions due to influenza, the average clinical severity was lower than in the past based on the proportion of those affected who were admitted to the intensive care unit. More than half of the confirmed cases were from an influenza A/H3N2 strain. Deaths were concentrated among the elderly population, which is to be expected in H3N2-dominant years.

Australia’s 2017 flu season also foreshadowed that of the Northern Hemisphere, which had an early start and widespread activity as well. Overall U.S. vaccine effectiveness, at 36% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was not much better than that of Australia, and high numbers of hospitalizations were experienced among seniors as well as deaths among children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) holds technical consultation meetings twice a year – in February/March for the Northern Hemisphere and in September for the Southern, to recommend virus strains for inclusion in vaccines for their upcoming seasons. In September 2017, for the trivalent vaccines, WHO recommended including a new A/H3N2 strain, replacing the Victoria lineage B strain with Yamagata lineage virus, and retaining the H1N1 strain. For the quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIV), which are used in Australia for all under age 65, WHO recommended keeping the Victoria lineage B strain.

In many ways, choosing components of the seasonal flu vaccine is very difficult and complex. Researchers can assess and anticipate which viruses might predominate and how they might vary, but there’s no real telling until early surveillance data becomes available to determine the actual types and strains circulating for the current year.

Starting this flu season, two higher-immunogenicity trivalent vaccines (Fluzone® High-Dose and FLUAD) are being recommended for those age 65 and older. These vaccines contain larger amounts of antigen or an adjuvant to make the recipient’s immune response more effective. There is growing evidence that these vaccines do indeed provide the elderly with superior protection compared with standard trivalent vaccines. The trivalent vaccines are provided free of charge to all Australians age 65 and older. Many Australians have access to free flu shots under the National Immunisation Program.

At this point, even though flu season is just beginning in Australia (in the tropical North, flu is present year round), it’s too early to tell what the season might have in store. According to BlueDot, a data analytics firm based in Toronto, Canada which studies how infectious diseases disperse worldwide through analysis of big data, there have been more influenza notifications than in prior years at this time of year, although this could be the effect of increased testing. Recent surveillance data shows roughly equal incidence thus far of influenza types A and B. Of type A, approximately 60% is H1N1 and 40% H3N2. However, this early in the season no specific conclusions can be drawn. The demand for the vaccine is also up, which is favorable, but it is also leading to vaccine shortages. Government agencies are responding by working to secure additional sources of vaccine to meet the demand.

Developing strategies to fight both seasonal and pandemic flu requires a concerted global effort. Fortunately efforts are already under way: Bill Gates, in a May 31, 2018 column in the New England Journal of Medicine, cited several research initiatives that The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is partnering with and funding, including a Grand Challenge to accelerate the development of a universal flu vaccine.

Knowledge of an influenza season’s potential severity, either in advance or at onset of the season, would help insurance companies improve their mortality modelling regarding seasonal mortality variation due to influenza directly or indirectly from its complications. Also important to consider is that age is the most significant risk factor for influenza mortality: more than 90% of all deaths in recent decades have occurred in individuals age 65 and older.

References:

  1. 2017 Influenza Season in Australia, Australian Government, Department of Health, Information Brief. Updated 22 November 2017.
  2. BlueDot- https://bluedot.global/ (direct communication and consultation)
  3. Gates B. Shattuck Lecture: Innovation for Pandemics. N Engl J Med. 31 May 2018: 378(22); 2057-60.
  4. Ma H, Khan K. Seasonal Influenza and Mortality. ReFlections. 20 January 2018: 43; 11-9
  5. Iuliano AD et al., Estimates of global seasonal influenza-associated respiratory mortality: a modelling study. The Lancet. March 2018: 391(10127); 1285-1300.

 

Daniel D. Zimmerman, M.D., VP and Medical Director, Reinsurance Group of America (RGA,) is a member of the Global Support Team where he is responsible for case consultation, product development, internal and external education, client support, and representation to key industry professional organizations.  He has held leadership positions with the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and participated in program committees of the American Academy of Insurance Medicine (AAIM).  Dr. Zimmerman is also the assistant managing director for the RGA-sponsored, Longer Life Foundation (www.longerlife.org).

Dr. Zimmerman joined RGA in 2014 after previous career experience in clinical medicine and serving as a medical director for Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

Dr. Zimmerman’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology and medical microbiology and a Medical Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.  He completed training in both internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.  He maintains board certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine and American Board of Pediatrics as well as the American Board of Insurance Medicine.

Professional interests of Dr. Zimmerman include infectious diseases and their global impact on mortality and morbidity, assessing long-term risk in juveniles, public speaking and education, and protecting the ability of insurers to utilize all medical information in the course of underwriting.  He also enjoys research and writing and has contributed several articles to the Journal of Insurance Medicine.

 

 

 

Back to the Future – Shane Burdack / Swiss Re

Back to the Future – Financial Underwriting – A step back in history.

A Corporate Valuation Actuary (a very bright young colleague and a leader within the Swiss Re business and our wider industry), recently challenged me on the financial underwriting process of a risk that was now a claim. The claimant who is receiving an I.P monthly benefit in excess of $30,000 will also highly likely be receiving a TPD Own Occupation lump sum amount of $5million in the very near future.

Each of my colleague’s questions was balanced and fair. They were intrigued at the level of benefit the claimant would be receiving, (noting the I.P benefit had approximately 20 years yet to run). They also questioned whether the overall sums insured were justified and provided sufficient incentive for the individual to want to return to work, even in a different occupation, possibly outside their current industry.

This took me back to an article I wrote in 1999, published in the Academy of Life Underwriting’s “On The Risk” titled “DI Natured Cover-: Once Bitten Twice Shy – or Not?”.1 The article focused on the Australian Group DI market at the time and the eroding of prudent risk controls that I had observed via:

Product changes i.e. softening of member eligibility rules, increasing maximum benefit levels, a decrease in the minimum number of members required for usual group concessions, higher Income Replacement Ratios for large income earners, and relaxing of income definitions; and

Underwriting shift i.e. less stringent mandatory medical and financial requirements, loosening of financial underwriting standards with some insurers claiming that Group business did not require any financial underwriting consideration.

My then observations of our Australian Group DI market was made with a late 1980s, early 1990s U.S DI mindset where so called “product innovation” and loosening of underwriting standards had resulted in widely unprofitable DI portfolios and many U.S insurers withdrawing from the market.

This is a snapshot of my written response to my colleague. I reflect on a number of rather prudent risk selection controls and tools that were historically used to try and better manage the exact exposure correctly highlighted by my colleague’s balanced questions. Fair questions for all of us as risk technicians as we wrestle fulfilling the roles of “portfolio protection and business enablers“.

The Australian and New Zealand market used to have various product and underwriting mechanisms in play, to at least try and decrease exposure from similar scenarios such as:

  • Multiples of Income applied to determine maximum TPD levels of cover of around 10X an applicant’s Personal Exertion earnings.
    Today it is common for multiples of up to 25X to be used and some insurers may apply 30X at young ages reflecting years until retirement.
  • Where TPD of a set figure or greater was in force (as low as $500,000) or written in combination with larger I.P cover, underwriters would offset their respective financial underwriting I.P monthly benefit calculation. This approach varied by company and reinsurer but essentially the outcome was to either: 2
    • Offset the I.P M.B calculation by an assumed interest return of 5% that was deemed could be earned from the investment of the TPD Lump Sum payment to the applicant.
    • Offset the I.P M.B by an amount equal to the TPD Lump Sum cover figure as if it were being paid as a monthly benefit over a 5-year period.
    • Offset the I.P M.B calculation by an amount equating to 1% of either the total TPD benefit or 1% of a set percentage of the total TPD benefit.
      I’m not sure that these approaches, if applied today, would be well received. In fact, one would be laughed at trying to impose this philosophy. Even if we pitched the TPD trigger at the point this occurs to say AUD3 million to AUD3.5 million, this would significantly impact on I.P availability, which seems overly harsh.
  • The question of an applicants’ passive (investment) income levels and overall net asset position was once, more heavily scrutinised at the point of underwriting and adverse underwriting action taken to reduce levels of cover offered at inception – with cover often even declined.
    Today well, all of you who are underwriters will know that these factors are simply ignored unless the investment income level exceeds AUD250,000 p.a. OR Net Assets (excluding family home and superannuation) exceed AUD5 million (yes no typo, that’s AUD250,000 and AUD5 million respectively).
  • When large amounts of I.P cover for a business owner were considered by an underwriter, another serious consideration for the financial underwriting calculation piece, was a conservative valuation of the applicant’s business. Where this conservative value exceeded a set figure, the potential sale of the business and the proceeds to the applicant, were considered and factored into financial underwriting calculations, particularly the applicant’s overall net asset position and the level of I.P monthly benefit allowed.
    This approach is very rarely used today and arriving at a business valuation number is a challenge in itself and can be very subjective and influenced by many factors – especially during a period of disability.
  • Some I.P products had the feature that once a TPD benefit was paid to a disabled claimant, the I.P cover would automatically cease – though this was probably more common in the Group market rather than Retail.
    Not anymore.
  • Own Occupation definitions for TPD were not a feature in years gone by, and interestingly when first introduced, the premium loading was as high as 100% for this feature.
    Today, the premium Retail differential (loading for Own Occupation definition) is somewhere in the vicinity of 35-45% vs E.T.E Occupational definitions. 3

Raising the above points with my colleague resulted in further robust business discussion. This exchange reminded me that there are many insurance professionals in our market across multiple disciplines (underwriting, claims, product development and actuarial) who may not be aware of this history. Younger insurance technicians perhaps perplexed with the repetitive message of product unprofitability (losses) who maybe even questioning what can be done to “turn the tide” and return us to a sustainable industry setting. Appropriate questions and observations in an industry where we must continue to provide the ultimate support to our customers in their absolute time of need.

These historically used underwriting tools are not necessarily “fool-proof”. In fact, some of them arguably contain flaws. That said they were used in an attempt to alleviate possible risk exposure. Perhaps one, two or a tweaked combination of a few might be worth exploring.

Food-for-thought, ongoing discussion and consideration.

References

  1. DI Natured Cover: Once bitten, Twice shy – Or Not? Shane Burdack, On The Risk Vol.15 n.4 (1999).
  2. Lock Martin, Senior Underwriting Consultant Swiss Re, ANZ L&H Glenys O’Leary, G & T Risk Management Pty Ltd
  3. http://riskinfo.com.au/resource-centre/

 

 

Shane Burdack is a Senior Underwriting Consultant with Swiss Re Australia / New Zealand with a focus on cross functional stakeholder risk advice on underwriting philosophy, automation, innovation and product development. His career spans 25+ years across the reinsurance / insurance markets. He has been a member of local senior management executive teams via his Chief Underwriter and Claims Manager roles during his career.

He is an active participant and risk advocate in key industry bodies and represented the Life Ins industry on the Federal Government’s Human Genetics Advisory Committee (HGAC) from 2009 – 2012. Shane has been published in numerous national and international industry journals.

He presented at the 2015 FSC Annual Life Conference, facilitated the genetics plenary session at the 2017 FSC Life Insurance Conference and has delivered presentations at major ALUCA bi-annual and mini-conferences, retail insurer national risk conferences and key broker / distribution seminars. He is a Fellow- ALUCA, Senior Associate- ANZIIF, Associate- Academy Life Underwriting (with distinction) and also holds a Diploma in Health Counselling.

 

Are You Ready? – John O’Leary / ALUCA Conference Program Committee

Are You Ready?

Are you one of the over 350 delegates attending the premier Life Underwriting and Claims Conference of the year? There’s still time to register, with remaining places filling fast.

What’s new? What’s the latest? Is the Industry keeping pace? How can we improve our services to customers? Innov18 will get you thinking and take back ideas for your team and business.

Over 40 innovative presentations for you to choose from and attend.

Seven Plenary Sessions including:

  • Tim Longhurst – “Finding Better Ways”
  • Sue Langley – “Resilience”
  • And a panel of our leaders from TAL, SCOR, Swiss Re, MLCOA and Pacific Life Re discussing the future of our Industry

Choose from 36 Breakout Sessions from Industry experts:

  • Sally Phillips
  • Tony Baker
  • Debbie Kennedy
  • Matt Paul

To name only a few.

Learn about the latest developments in Behavioural Economics and big data, technology, wearables, social media & AI, pathology and genomics. Take in a view on the industry from APRA and an update on the Code of Practise from the FSC. Hear customer perspectives and expectations aswell as useful tips on influencing and collaboration. Experience a mock trial and the changing landscapes in law, risk assessment, the direct market and operating models.

With so much on offer, you may need to take a moment and relax or even network in our exhibition space which includes over 15 exhibitors.

October is not far away, so register now and remember to book your flights and accommodation as soon as possible.

John O’Leary
ALUCA Conference Program Committee

ALUCA Member survey results – Key challenges for 2018

Thank you to all ALUCA members who recently completed a survey designed to help ALUCA better understand its member’s needs and ensure the on-going relevance and value of ALUCA services.

The survey was used to gather insights on the key challenges members are facing in the next 12 months. It also included perceptions about the current economic and industry environment, thoughts around professional development and the key capabilities required of future underwriting and claims professionals as well as what members value about their membership.

The survey highlighted that the key priorities and opportunities facing Underwriting, Claims, CMO and Rehab professionals in 2018 continue to be complex and varied. Life insurance and re-insurance companies and their employees in Australia face a constantly changing regulatory environment, media and regulatory scrutiny and a changing business environment.

 

Business Environment – Update

Respondents’ optimism about prospects for the Australian life insurance business over the coming 12 months compared with the previous 12 months was high with 47% of respondents stating they were more optimistic. However optimism about the Australian economy over the next 12 months compared to the previous 12 months was weaker with only 31% of respondents stating they felt more optimistic.


Figure 1: Are you more or less optimistic about prospects for the Australian life insurance business over the coming 12 months compared with the previous 12 months?

 

Figure 2 Are you more or less optimistic about the Australian economy over the coming 12 months compared with the previous 12 months?

 

Key Challenges – Update

Survey respondents were asked to list the top three challenges they were facing in their role and business over the next twelve months. The top challenge identified by 34% of respondents was incoming regulatory change. Comments about this included the ‘unending Regulatory burden’, ‘engaging with regulators’ and ‘Will new business dry up with all the regulatory changes to how Life Insurance is sold?’.
The other key challenges identified included;

– The effect of market consolidation and mergers/acquisitions
– Keeping up with the rapid pace of technology
– Negative media scrutiny
and lifting consumer confidence.
– The skills shortage – recruitment and
retention of skilled staff

Figure 3 What are the top 3 challenges you are facing in your role and business in the next 12 months?

 

Capabilities and Professional Development

Survey respondents were also asked what they thought are the key capabilities besides technical skills that underwriters and claims managers will need in the future.  Responses included people/customer service skills (37%), decision making skills (32%) and strong business acumen (17%).

In addition almost three quarters  of survey respondents stated that they were interested in taking up ALUCA’s recently launched accreditation program – CPLI ( Certified Professional Life Insurance).

 

ALUCA: educate-develop-connect

The results from exploring what members valued about their membership to ALUCA were consistent with what we had previously learnt – regular seminars, education, networking, professional development and being part of an association specific to Life Insurance, Underwriting and Claims. All of these are central to our association and are captured in our tagline.

 

Summary

We welcome feedback anytime. Simply drop us a note: e: Ceo@aluca.com, e: chair@aluca.com e: secretariatofficer@aluca.com or on social media.

Interview with Aaron Widt, Underwriting Manager and former Chair of ALUCA’s Queensland group

Aaron Widt, Underwriting Manager – QLD, Personal injury portfolio & products- Insurance, Asteron Life  and former Chair of ALUCA’s Queensland group for the last 10 years.

What made you want to become a volunteer with ALUCA?
I would have to say my family. My grandmother and mother have been involved with Saint Vincent de Paul for many years and my father has been on AFL committee’s/ life member for decades, so I guess I was born into it and learnt volunteering from them. Grandma still does 3 ‘shifts’ per week at age 88 – she is a real inspiration to me and has provided many great life lessons on how to care for those around you and genuinely always be a good person in life. ALUCA is our association and has helped me progress from a junior underwriter to management roles therefore it was only natural I became involved to give something back and help those coming through our industry succeed with their own individual pathways.

What was ALUCA like when you first joined in QLD to what it is today?
ALUCA Qld has and will always be a relaxed inclusive sub-group. Ron Gurnett (Life Member) was my mentor in my working life and had been Treasurer since the association was formed, he inspired and encouraged me to get involved. The sessions always featured great industry speakers back then 10 years ago, however we did operate on a shoe string budget and ran basic sandwich lunch time events for 15-20 people. We started off with literally $50 in the bank account, through negotiations with and support of our national board we were able to secure regular grant funding to ensure we could engage more professional speakers and host events at larger venues for our local audience that has grown from 20 odd to over 100 members. So to be where we are today with a national funding model in place and being able to consistently produce quality events year on year is a credit to everyone involved.

What are you most proud of as your time as the Chair of the QLD Sub-Group committee over the last 10 years?
We achieved a number of objectives that we set ourselves throughout the last 10years with some very good sessions being hosted that our QLD team was able to pull together time and time again. There are a few highlights that spring to mind: Securing the national funding model is one, hosting several Gold Medallist Olympians, Simon Black AFL Brownlow medallist presentation was a personal highlight and of course our 10 year anniversary celebration was a tremendous night. Very proud of each of our committee members over the last 10years and the high profile of the 40+ speakers that we have presented. For me, the ultimate and proudest moments are when I see new faces joining us and the work and commitment of our ALUCA volunteers that has inspired, educated and connected up and coming young professionals in our industry.

What is the most memorable ALUCA event you held and why?
Having the honour of presenting Ronny with his ALUCA Life membership award at our 10 year anniversary function a few years ago was really a stand out.

What advice do you have for other ALUCA members who are thinking of putting their hand up to volunteer with ALUCA?
DO IT! Volunteering is at times, really busy, and I often describe it as a ‘thankless industry’ however the intrinsic motivation you achieve, the skills that you develop, the people you meet, the fun you have, relationships you build, and the self-belief and fulfilment it provides you cannot underestimate or replicate from undertaking paid work in your day-to-day occupation. Get in there and give it a go…

What additional skills and capabilities did you gain by being with ALUCA?
Building strong industry connections, understanding our industry more broadly and how to throw a great party!

If you had your time over again is there anything you would have changed during your time in the ALUCA QLD’s chairs role?
Honestly I feel very fulfilled with what we were able to achieve over the 10 years. I would say that we all have to play a bigger role and provide a stronger voice for what our industry provides our communities. Each and every-day, all of you, in our industry provide Australians with long-term protection for their families in the form of promoting healthy lifestyles, providing guaranteed incomes, protecting Lives, funding for removal of tumours and as my grandmother puts it’s, genuinely caring for and looking out for others when those less fortunate have unavoidable life events. Our industry provides millions of dollars every day to Aussies and if I had my time again I would have promoted this and involved our communities more in what we do.

4 words to describe ALUCA?
Educate, develop, connect, Enjoy

4 words to describe Aaron Widt?
Fun Loving Queenslander Mate

What’s next for Aaron Widt?
Keep loving insurance, enjoy great times holidaying in the snow and at the beach and everywhere in between with our kids and of course ALUCA conference in Hobart!

 

Postcard from Singapore

Greetings from 1º 22’ 0” N / 103º 48’ 0” E!

For the closet cartographers out there, you will know I am referring to Singapore, or Singapura – the Lion City.

Personally, I like to refer to Singapore as the Garden City as there are some truly spectacular gardens and nature reserves on the island, with the most well-known being Gardens By The Bay. Situated 1 degree north of the equator, we are well and truly in the monsoon belt and this brings some stifling humidity and heat, along with some of the biggest and best thunderstorms you will see anywhere in the world.

For such a small island city (around 720 km2) there is so much to see and do here for all ages. Theme parks on Sentosa Island, the renowned Singapore Zoo, the Garden Domes, Orchard road shopping, The Singapore Flyer…the list goes on. For me, I enjoy going to the local markets where you can bargain for an incredible variety of food. Eating is one of the national pastimes here, and there is no shortage of options – from the cheap (but very tasty) hawker centres, to fine dining venues. The ability to quickly jump to neighbouring countries for a long weekend, or a longer break, is one of the bigger appeals, for locals and expats alike.

I moved to Singapore over 12 months ago to work with one of the fastest growing demographics in the Asian market – High Net Worth (HNW). HNW is difficult to define as there is no formal definition, however the most accepted understanding of a HNW individual is one who earns over US$ 1 million per annum, and has investible in excess of US$ 5 million. Ultra HNW individuals generally have in excess of US$ 30 million in overall net worth. Capgemini, in their 2017 Asia Pacific Wealth Report, indicated that by 2025 the overall wealth held by HNW individuals in the Asia Pacific region will likely surpass US$ 40 trillion by 2025. The graph below, also from Capgemini, will give you some sense of where these HNW individuals are, and which markets are seeing the largest growth:

Asia-Pacific HNWI Population, 2010-2016, by Market

HNW life business in Asia is largely built on traditional products (Whole of Life, Universal Life and Variable Universal Life) for very large sums insured – up to US$ 200 million, although the vast majority of HNW business will have a sum insured well within US$ 10 million. There is little interest in any other typical insurance products or riders we would see in the Australasian market (Critical Illness, TPD, Income Protection, etc).

So why would ultra-HNW individuals need such large amounts of insurance? Well, we need to forget the insurance basis – insurance is not the driver for these products – the capital return on the investment component is the key attraction. Most of these products are single premium – very large amounts of money paid upfront – with the majority of this lump sum premium financed by a private bank, who offer these products as part of an overall wealth diversification portfolio plan for their client. The cost of this premium finance is lower than the rate of return provided by the insurers (most will offer a guaranteed return for a number of years). It is this interest arbitrage which makes these products an attractive part of the overall HNW wealth portfolio. The lump sum payable on death also provides some liquidity to the estate where the majority of assets are illiquid.

The underwriting of this business does require a much different outlook than what you would expect in the Australasian market. Firstly, this is mortality business only, so the technical challenges of disability and critical illness products are less evident.

Secondly, speed is of the essence. Most of this business is managed via international brokers who specialise in HNW, and they will often send the same application to many insurers – those that respond in the quickest time frame, and with the best offer will win the business. Insurers and reinsurers who are slow to respond, offer less competitive terms on each risk feature or who want too much additional information will be quickly dropped from consideration, leaving the fastest and most competitive company to win the business – always assuming they have adequate capacity. This places considerable pressure on underwriters to provide very competitive terms.

Finally, the financial risk profiling is delicate, to say the least. HNW individuals are very reluctant to provide evidence of both income and overall wealth. Often, wealth will be difficult to quantify as it is largely locked up in the family business, grown over many generations. Underwriters need to delicately balance the need to justify such large amounts of cover, with the understanding that overall wealth and income may need to be built on third-party information, plus some opaque proofs via internet based research.  It is also important to have a robust understanding of how the overall wealth was generated, as HNW products can be very appealing to those who are keen to launder money earned by less routine means!

So, turning to 2018 and beyond, what does the future hold for HNW insurers? The growth in this market over the past 4 to 5 years has been considerable, and cheap financing has had a part to play in the success story. The future growth of HNW products in this market will rely on several factors, including political and economic stability, understanding and managing regulatory reform and ability to provide product solutions for smaller and emerging markets in the region. The capability to innovate with market disrupters will be key to attracting the next generation of HNW individuals, given their appetite to be more open to volatile investment strategies. Interesting times ahead in a region which is experiencing substantial growth and strong opportunities for both insurers and reinsurers.

 

Andrew McPherson has been with Munich Re since 2015 and joined the Asia- Pacific operation in early 2017 as Senior Underwriting Manager, High Net Worth. Currently based in Singapore, Andrew has over 30 years of experience in the Australasian insurance industry and was Chief Underwriter for AIA Australia prior to joining Munich Re.