Will getting the COVID-19 vaccine impact my ability to claim?

Will getting the COVID-19 vaccine impact my ability to claim?

We have seen a few comments across social media in regard to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The question seems to be, because a vaccine is ‘self-inflicted’ that potentially an insurer wouldn’t cover damage or death as a result. We wanted to make it absolutely clear from our perspective where we stand.

If someone is already insured with us, then they are covered under the terms of that contract. So, they can make a claim based on the products they have in place – whether the claim is triggered by COVID-19 or anything else.

Since the onset of COVID-19, we have made a commitment (and stuck to it) not to have any specific or contractual exclusions related to COVID-19, that includes in respect to being vaccinated.

So, in short, getting the vaccine will not impact your ability to make a claim at Integrity.

Of course, for new applications we reserve the right to underwrite the risk presented by each individual and if someone has been infected with COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms, then we have to decide whether to accept them and on what terms (but just like any other impairment).

The same is true for the vaccine, if we are underwriting a new application and the COVID-19 vaccine (or any vaccine for that matter) causes side effects in a particular individual, it is something underwriters will consider.

Scott Hodgson

Scott Hodgson

Chief Underwriter

Attracting new buyers to advice and insurance: exclusive research report.

Attracting new buyers to advice and insurance: exclusive research report.

Today we launch exclusive research to help Advisers understand how to attract and retain new customers. Acquisition of new customers and profitability are critical for practices and we hope this can offer part of the solution. In our early testing of the report, we got some feedback we wanted to address upfront, so here are some questions you may have had…

Are Millennials even profitable to service?

We know that writing risk is becoming an even more significant challenge on small cases (where the compliance requirements are the same as writing a large case) but what we highlight in this report is that Millennials are up to 40 years old, they are a large cohort that spans a wide-range of ages, and they may not be who you think they are. Additionally, as the dominant workforce, they are creating the expectations on which Advisers and their offerings will be compared. So, it’s worth getting across how they think and behave. We also believe there are opportunities to change the way some practices operate that will drive greater efficiency, thereby reducing operational costs (and increasing profitability), while also appealing to how this cohort prefers to engage with financial services. 

Why has Integrity done this research?

We believe that our role in the industry is bigger than just providing products. We believe we have a role in supporting a sustainable industry, in educating clients and Advisers and supporting them personally and in business. This report was commissioned by us because we identified a challenge brought on by COVID-19. As lockdowns happened across the country Advisers found themselves overservicing existing clients while struggling to acquire new ones. We wanted to support new acquisition as a means to help support their businesses.

What do we do next? 

We have a range of ideas and solutions, as well as system features, we have already built to support the strategies and ideas outlined in this research. So, when you’re ready to have a chat, so are we. Download the research paper here.

    Integrity Life

    Integrity Life

    From the newsroom

    Why don’t more women have adequate life insurance?

    Why don’t more women have adequate life insurance?

    According to Financy*, just 33% of women reported having any life insurance at all, compared to 48% of men. On this, International Women’s Day, we look at two of the complex reasons why.

     

    Life insurance is calculated by income, not contribution to the household.

    The traditional calculation for how much life insurance is needed is based on your current income, the idea being that if you were to be sick, injured, or die, that is what you would need to be replaced. With women still earning less than men overall (13.4%^ – 2020) according to these calculations, women need less life insurance than men.

    But the value of our life and role in the family is so much more than income. The primary purpose of life insurance is to replace a lost income when a provider of the family dies. So, in this context it makes sense for women to have less insurance than men, but if you think about a couple where the woman both works and does the lion’s share of childcare and household tasks – then the cost if she was unable to work, or if she died, is significantly higher. In fact, women do 72%# of all unpaid work in Australia.

    Therefore, not only would you need to replace the income, but you would also need to replace the work to look after the kids, and the home and everything else that she contributed to the household. This is not something traditional measures take into account.

     

    Stay at home parents may not believe life insurance is for them.

    Traditionally women make up most of the stay-at-home parents in Australia and as we have explored, unpaid work doesn’t always factor into life insurance calculations. However, the financial literacy around the role of life insurance could be stopping more women having an adequate safety net in place. 

    When it comes to life insurance, Rice Warner’s Underinsurance in Australia 2020` report found the current level of insurance held by Australians covers 92% of basic death needs, but only 29% when it comes to total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance.

    As a single parent, experiencing a major injury or illness would have even greater ramifications for both financial, emotional, and logistical support. Having insurance as a single parent, may even be more important than if a partner was available to step in.

     

     

    1. *https://financy.com.au/should-more-women-be-thinking-about-life-insurance/
    2. ^https://www.wgea.gov.au/publications/australias-gender-pay-gap-statistics
    3. #https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/women-undertake-72-of-all-unpaid-work-in-australia-the-consequences-are-egregious/
    4. ` https://www.ricewarner.com/new-research-shows-a-larger-underinsurance-gap/
    Integrity Life

    Integrity Life

    From the newsroom

    Expanding our paramedical offering for a faster application process.

    Expanding our paramedical offering for a faster application process.

    We’re pleased to announce that we have added three new paramedical providers to our panel.

    This expansion gives you even greater choice in providers, while speeding up the process, and improving the end-to-end experience of your clients who require further health screening tests for us to assess their application. Plus, once you let us know your preferred provider from our panel, we’ll take care of the rest.   

    We spoke to our GM of Operations, Bridget Ramunno, about this significant change.

    What has brought about this change?

    Bridget Ramunno: The application process is a really critical time for Advisers to secure clients for life, so we’re always looking for ways we can improve that experience.

    One area we identified for improvement was the process of organising health screening tests which are sometimes required at application. By adding additional providers with complimentary capabilities, we are able to speed up the application process, reduce the advisers’ effort to get applications inforce, as well as improving the health screening experience for their clients.

    Who do we have on board?

    BR: In addition to Unified Health Care Group (UHG), Integrity welcomes Health Predictions, Prestige Paramedical, and EQ Pathology to provide both medical retrieval and health screening services.

    Why is this good news for Advisers?

    BR: We have partnered with some of the best providers in the country to give our Advisers even more choice.

    The process is designed to take the heavy lifting off Advisers. So we’ll do everything from securely transferring all the relevant information to the providers, and then ensuring Advisers are kept in the loop at every stage. This transparency allows them to keep their clients informed, stay on the front-foot, and in turn, create a better application experience.

    Early results show that on average health screening requests are completed end-to-end in just 4.5 days and medical report retrieval services average around 6 days. But we’re anticipating reducing this even further.

    What do Advisers need to do to set this up?

    BR: Just get in touch with your BDM or our Customer Care team and let us know which provider you wish to use. Then, if tests are required and you want us to organise, we’ll take care of the rest.

    Bridget Ramunno

    Bridget Ramunno

    General Manager, Operations.

    Rethinking the experience of life insurance.

    Rethinking the experience of life insurance.

    “What’s right for customers”, “ethics”, “diversity and inclusion” and “leadership”. These are great values! They were the values that adorned the walls in Wells Fargo offices across the USA while they perpetrated one of the worst financial scams in the history of the country. In a similar vein, some of the worst offenders in our own Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry had similar values hanging on the wall, boasted on their websites, and sold to their customers. What this tells us is values aren’t enough. Values only matter if they’re reinforcing the culture of an organisation. While values can be printed on posters, memorised, repeated – they’re not lived and experienced until they’re part of ‘culture’.

    Why is this important? Because the culture of an organisation ultimately dictates the customer experience as well as what decisions an organisation will make, what is acceptable, what is not. It’s much more powerful, but it’s also much more work to get right – but worth the investment.

    Take New York based insurer, Haven Life. Not only are they one of the fastest growing insurers in the United States, they have an NPS (Net Promoter Score) of 74 – which is 30 points above industry average*. How do they do it?

    1. They believe that life insurance can be something you can feel good about and celebrate, and their mission is to make life ‘less hard’. This belief is shared by all employees and so infuses in every email they write and every phone conversation they have. The impact is positive conversations about the product and a helpful attitude with a focus on simplicity.
    2. Handwritten welcome cards are sent to every new customer from the staff. It might seem like a small thing, but they have become famous for it. It also has the impact on culture of clearly demonstrating that customers are important. Just saying “we value customers” doesn’t make it part of culture – this small act does.
    3. Their annual report, the most important statement about ‘success’ that a company produces, is mostly focused on customer stories and how they have achieved success for their clients. You can check out their Annual Report here.

    At Integrity, we also want to be famous for our culture and passion for customers and we are championing initiatives that put clear focus on achievement through people and supporting customers when they need it most.

    • We have a brand new initiative called ‘Application Concierge’ which is designed to support Advisers and clients in getting on-risk as quickly and simply as possible, because we know it can be a stressful time.
    • We built a re-charge room to ensure our people always have the energy and enthusiasm do the best for clients.
    • Our staff send handwritten ‘recognition cards’ to each other each week and they’re read out in front of the whole company. We do this to encourage people to always go above and beyond (and to support each other).

    These are just a few examples, and we have a long way to go, but the important thing is to be committed to real action and real change… not just words.

    *https://customerthink.com/rethinking-the-experience-of-life-insurance-interview-with-adam-weinberg-of-haven-life/

     

    Bridget Ramunno

    Bridget Ramunno

    General Manager, Operations.

    What are the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on life insurance?

    What are the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on life insurance?

    When we have so much to deal with in the ‘now’, like regulatory change (and uncertainty), technological transformation, and supporting client needs today, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s on the horizon. But what makes us good at our jobs (Adviser and Underwriter alike) is the ability to see the writing on the wall and ensure we take steps now to plan for what’s to come. Here are some key areas to watch that are likely to have broad impacts for Advisers, insurers, and clients.

     

    More Australians may become critically ill over the next two years.

    Data from the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), analysed by the Heart Foundation, reveals a 10% drop in GP visits for the management of chronic disease in March 2020, equating to 96,000 fewer visits compared to the same time last year*. In fact, across the board fewer of us have been visiting the doctor to get check-ups – between 30% to 50% , with a 40% drop in pathology^.

    What does this mean? Well we know the rates at which Australian’s develop chronic diseases, we’re just seeing the delay of those being discovered and treated. From a client point of view, not discovering these things sooner may make them harder to treat, and from an industry point of view, the increase in severity means bigger payments and potential cases for increasing the cost of premiums.

     

    Mental health impacts are still largely unknown.

    We do not yet know the impacts that long term isolation or living through a pandemic will have on people, but we do know enough about psychology and claims data to know that we are likely to see an increase in mental health issues. Acknowledging this very issue, the Federal Government pumped an additional $500 million into suicide prevention and mental health support as part of their COVID-19 response.

    That said, it’s not only mental health issues and resulting claims caused directly by the pandemic, but as we have seen, people’s ability to access social support (emotional and practical) through extended family and other social interactions has been significantly affected by restrictions on movement and travel. This means for people who were already managing mental health concerns, their access to support has been limited. What we may see is not only relapse but mental health conditions on top of other long-term illness or injury.

     

    Increased cost of Income Insurance.

    While not a direct result of COVID-19 and more to do with the unsustainability of the products, the increased cost of II or IP (income protection) is likely going to compound the two other issues. Not the least of which because so many insurers cross-subsidise their products. Integrity, of course, does not.

     

    So what does this mean for Advisers and clients?

    It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone if prices for new protection policies started to rise, which means getting cover in place now may not be the worst idea. Whether we see price increases – and how big these may be – will largely depend on market forces, but either way, insurers are expecting a significant rise in claims – which often leads to higher prices.

    Advisers have another important role to play here too and that is keeping their clients covered, even as financial pressure continues for many clients. Integrity, like many insurers, has options like premium waivers for financial hardship and ‘premium breaks’. These should always be the first resort before cancelling and removing cover altogether.

    *http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/downloads

    ^https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/coronavirus/the-illnesses-being-missed-thanks-to-covid19-and-skipping-doctor-visits/news-story/1226638711cf48ae8dd0d39bdb088e86

     

    This information has been prepared without considering your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on it, please consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.

    Scott Hodgson

    Scott Hodgson

    Chief Underwriter