Integrity Life raises $43 million to continue building the future of life insurance.

Integrity Life raises $43 million to continue building the future of life insurance.

We are thrilled to announce that we have secured $43 million in our recent series B round of funding. There was a strong interest in the raise, that took place before and during COVID-19 and given the instability of the global economy, this significant investment is further endorsement of the importance of our digital-led approach.

The majority of the capital has come from institutional funds managed by Schroder Investment Management (Switzerland) AG, a member of the Schroders group (“Schroders”), with support from existing institutional shareholders Leadenhall Capital Partners and Daido Life, and smaller parcels coming from Australian and International sophisticated investors.

Chairman Eric Dodd, said of the investment “We’re thrilled to have the confidence and backing of Schroders, who have recognised that our approach to Life Insurance in Australia is changing the game. Our ethos of ‘digital when you want it, human when you need it’ allows us to marry the convenience of technology with an empathetic approach that guides everything we do. In an industry that is crying out for innovation, we’re excited that this injection will enable us to bring more Australian firsts and step-change improvements to both the financial adviser and customer experience”.

Scott Mitchell, Portfolio Manager for Life Insurance Linked Securities at Schroders said, “We are excited to support Integrity Life in its next phase of growth as it continues to strengthen its position in the Australian life market. The investment provides Schroders’ investors with a rare opportunity to support a digital-focused business that provides access to diversifying life insurance risks, such as mortality, critical illness and disability.”

The money will be used to support the expansion of our operations and continued development of our digital-led insurance offering.

Eric Dodd continues “we are on a growth trajectory, despite the backdrop of COVID-19 and a possible global recession, our low-cost operating model and flexible technology systems give us a significant advantage to adapt and pivot to keep pace with change. We are very excited about the future and what we’ll be bringing to market”.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers, partners and investors who have helped us achieve this significant milestone. You support means a lot to us and allows us to continue to disrupt the industry and improve life insurance in Australia!

 

 

    Integrity Life

    Integrity Life

    From the newsroom

    Why Australians value their possessions more than their life.

    Why Australians value their possessions more than their life.

    Australians are much better at insuring their possessions than they are at insuring themselves. Underinsurance (or inadequate insurance) is a big problem in Australia, but it is particularly severe in life insurance. A survey conducted by the Insurance Council of Australia[i] (ICA) revealed that 83% of households believe their home and contents may be underinsured – but underinsurance was defined as a policy which covers 90% or less than the rebuilding cost of their property. On the other hand, when it came to life insurance, underinsurance was much more serious. Rice Warner[1] estimated that an average Australian family would be covered for less than half (47%) of their basic needs, and only 28% of the amount they would need to maintain their existing lifestyle.

    Integrity’s own research backed these finding up. We found that 45% of Australians would not have sufficient insurance in place to meet the costs of a funeral, living costs or medical treatment, let alone the ongoing financial burden if the primary earner in their family died or became unable to work. And 20% said they didn’t even know whether they had any insurance at all.

    The statistics are sobering, but not surprising. For one thing, attributing a dollar figure to physical possessions is relatively easy compared with putting a price on a life, or the consequences of death, a serious accident or illness. But more importantly, sometimes it’s only when the unthinkable happens that we are forced to confront the reality of a life turned upside down overnight – including what the real fallout, financially and emotionally, will be now and into the future.

    Another problem we all face is the overwhelming desire to avoid talking about life insurance, because it means talking about death. In fact, when 1,000 Australians were polled about topics of conversation they tried not to have, right up at number three was what would happen to them or their family financially in the event of a death or serious illness. It ranked just behind offering uninvited opinions about relatives and in-laws, and up there with opinions about a partner’s friends. The desire to avoid conversations about the financial ramifications of death and disability was stronger even than discussions of salary or sensitive medical problems.

    There are lots of cultural reasons that we don’t like talking about death or disability, it’s not something that’s peculiar to Australians – but what is peculiar to Australia is our frequently laissez-faire attitude towards serious but uncomfortable topics. The classic “she’ll be right” attitude which imagines everything will work out can also lead to the belief that the government will provide a safety net in the form of a disability pension or workers compensation. While there are government safety nets available when things go wrong, they are very unlikely to offer financial support adequate to your needs or maintain your lifestyle.

    Starting the uncomfortable conversation

    A good financial adviser is the right place to start a conversation about life insurance and income protection – because insurance should be a central tenet of any financial plan. At its heart, financial advice is about translating dreams into financial outcomes by creating and implementing a plan – which includes budgeting and investing for the long term. Insurance is central because it answers the question “what happens to my dreams and plans if I can’t earn an income anymore, or if I die?”. If something unexpected happens, insurance can help fill the gap between where you are now and where you need to be, it’s a hedge against events you can’t plan for, and hope won’t happen.

    Until very recently, this hasn’t been as simple as it sounds – because life insurance has been complicated – and difficult even for financial advisers to navigate. The policies themselves have often used (and continue to use) complex language – in fact, Australian income protection policies are among the most complex in the world. In addition, the Royal Commission exposed and suggested changes to widespread practices – the structure of commissions and cold-calling as a sales tool for example, which had enabled and even encouraged bad behaviour.

    The good news is that post Royal Commission, future-focused advisers have a prime opportunity to re-establish themselves and their service offering – to redefine the purpose and direction of their field. And part of this opportunity is the ability to work with insurance partners which offer life and income protection insurance which is simple, transparent and fair. Because the truth is that life insurance and income insurance should not need to be complicated and opaque to serve both the insured and the insurer.

    At its heart, insurance is a bit like crowd funding, but in reverse. Rather than waiting for something to happen and then starting a personal GoFundMe page, income and life insurance is like a large and wide-reaching GoFundMe page, with many Australians pooling their funds to provide for the small number in the pool who will require financial help. When we asked Australians about whether they had contributed to fundraising campaigns for families adversely financially affected by an accident or illness, nearly 45% (44.8%) had – which indicates that nearly half of all Australians have first-hand knowledge of the real difficulties families without sufficient means face when things go wrong.

    It was the desire to fundamentally disrupt the industry, improve life insurance and make it easier for all Australians to protect their life goals and dreams that Integrity was created. We believe that as a smaller, technology-driven insurer we are better able to offer transparent easy-to-understand, simple-to-use insurance products. Our aim is to be crystal clear about what is and isn’t covered upfront, and to be responsive and most importantly of all, to treat people respectfully and fairly when they make a claim.  

    The bottom line is that underinsurance is a serious problem – not because life and income protection insurance is a nice to have product, great in theory but not really applicable to most people’s lives, but because the consequences of the death or serious illness on a family can be devastating, not only in a financial sense but in more far-reaching ways.

    [1] Rice Warner, Underinsurance in Australia 2017 Report

    [i] Canstar, Underinsurance in Australia: how much cover do you need; February 2020

    Scott Hodgson

    Scott Hodgson

    Chief Underwriter

    Buying life insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Buying life insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In countries like the US and Thailand, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a rush of ‘panic buying’ for Life Insurance, and even here in Australia we are seeing an increase in policies (mainly in the direct market) as consumers rush to protect themselves and their families.

    But is Life Insurance a good ‘panic buy’ and how has the application process changed?

    Fools rush in.

    The short answer is ‘no’. It’s not something you should buy on a whim for a number of reasons. The products are complex and small details can have massive ramifications in terms of outcomes. It’s also a purchase that often involves a lot of conversations with partners, loved ones, and even those outside the family. Life insurance involves making decisions about how you want to live, and die, and these are not the kinds of decisions you want to rush through. We always recommend speaking to a financial Adviser (see https://fpa.com.au/, https://www.afa.asn.au/ or https://www.adviserratings.com.au/).

    Applying for insurance – what has changed?

    With social distancing here to stay for the foreseeable future, the normal process to getting life insurance has changed for many people. Everything from being able to meet face-to-face to getting medical exams are a little more challenging now. But what’s important to know is that life insurance companies are taking new clients, including those on the front-line and even if you have the potential to be exposed to COVID-19 through travel or your job.

    1. You may not need a medical exam. Actually, many applications depending on the type of cover and your personal circumstance have never needed any medical examinations or ‘physicals’. If you do need an examination, our providers have safeguards in place to manage infection (and always have had) and we consider the risk is no greater than any other personal care you might need in these times – like getting your hair cut. In many cases where we may need medical data we’re looking at existing medical records, prescriptions and other data points to get you covered.
    2. Collaborative conference applications. Where normally a Financial Adviser may sit with you in person at their office or your home, many are now using video conferencing to kick off the application process. There are some insurers (like us) who have designed in the ability to ask the health questions we need in the application process, that is online on a sharable screen so that client and Adviser can complete the process together via video-conferencing for a much more collaborative and engaging process. 
    3. You may be asked new questions. For example, have you recently been on a cruise, or been in contact with anyone who has contracted COVID-19 – many underwriters like Integrity who use a digital process, where you are only asked further questions relevant to your initial answers have not yet needed to ask questions this specific.
    4. You won’t need to fill in any paperwork. If you don’t have a printer, or feel like going to the post-office, or are inclined to complete pages and pages of questions – you may be able to take advantage of ‘smart forms’ that are 100% online and only ask the questions that are relevant to you – based on your previous responses. It saves considerable time completing applications and no painful paperwork.

    Life insurance is now firmly on many people’s radar where previously it was the kind of thing that was put off until ‘later’. Make sure though when you are considering a policy to understand the process and that you’re generally not comparing apples with apples.

    Scott Hodgson

    Scott Hodgson

    Chief Underwriter

    Supporting clients, customers and community during COVID-19.

    Supporting clients, customers and community during COVID-19.

    It’s been heartening to see how Australians everywhere have come together to help flatten the curve and support each other during these unprecedented times. Whether it’s through physical distancing, local manufacturers turning their trade to producing essentials (like hand-sanitizer) or just supporting positive mental health with a bit of fun, we’re all doing out bit to ensure we get through this together. We’re no different. We have made a number of significant changes to how we do business in order to support Adviser and Broker clients, our customers and communities. Here are just some of those initiatives.

    Adapting our claims process.

    Our role is to be there when people need us most, and there is no time when you will need help more than at claim time. To guide our systems and processes we have a simple and straight forward claims philosophy. We treat all people who lodge a claim the way we would want to be treated if we were in their place. Integrity isn’t just our name, it’s also the way we do business.

    We’ve eliminated claim forms for almost all claims and replaced them with a tele-claim process that allows us to collect the information we need for a claim quickly and with less follow ups for additional information. We’ve even extended this to generating fully personalised treating physician questionnaires so that busy Doctors can provide information on a claim without having to wade through pages of questions.

    We’re also continuing to pay ongoing benefits even if medical information is temporarily unavailable from hospitals and medical centres. This ensures your clients keep getting paid without putting any additional pressure on medical professionals during this time.  

    Financial hardship.

    We have invoked our financial hardship policy for anyone who has lost a job as a result of COVID-19 or who has had a significant reduction in hours/pay. Not only have we introduced premium waivers, but we’re also allowing suspension of cover for 6 months or 1 year, depending how long the policy has been in-force.  

    Ongoing support for our frontline.

    As we have always done, we’re continuing to support Australia’s frontline workers by maintaining our standard application rules. This means no loadings or exclusions for frontline workers and we have expanded the definition of ‘frontline’ to include many additional essential jobs like Pharmacist, Police Officer and Aged Care worker.

    Supporting Advisers and their clients through technology.

    Our Award-Winning Adviser portal was built to accommodate both remote working for Advisers and remote applications for clients. We have a number of features that support this like; an adaptive portal that can be accessed on any device from anywhere with an internet connection, our “Send App to Client” feature which allows Advisers to get clients to complete their background and medical information via a secure link in the privacy of their own home (eliminating the need for tele-interviews or paper forms), and we have a raft of features that save Advisers time – like virtual underwriting.

    Supporting our people.

    Our entire company was able to transfer seamlessly to ‘working from home’ within 24 hours and we continue to comply with all physical distancing rules with minimal impact to underwriting, applications or processing of claims. We’ve been fortunate as a new operation to be able to leverage the same technology that big tech companies like Google and Facebook use. This means all our people can access everything they need to support your clients and our customers remotely. We’re ensuring they’re able to be here for the long-haul too with a number of programs to support and sustain positive mental and physical health.  

    If you would like more information on any of these initiatives, feel free to get in contact with us

    Lesley Mamelok

    Lesley Mamelok

    Chief Executive Officer

    April 1 changes to Integrity’s retail products summarised.

    April 1 changes to Integrity’s retail products summarised.

    In line with the removal of Agreed Value from our Income Insurance product, we also wanted to take the opportunity to make some other changes based on your feedback. Please find below a summary of these changes.

    Income Insurance.

    • Removal of Agreed Value – this change aligns Income Insurance to the sustainability measures announced by APRA in early December 2019. Although no longer on sale, any Agreed Value cover will be guaranteed renewable and can be updated at any time in the future (subject to a few conditions).
    • Addition of a new Waiting Period: 1 Year – This change aligns the Waiting Period on Retail with the Five+ Benefit Period providing advisers and their clients complimentary product offerings. We now have 30, 60 90 days, 1 and 2 year waiting periods across all Income Insurance.

    TPD.

    • Increase to maximum Cover Amount to $5m – this is in response to direct adviser feedback. You asked for it, we delivered! TPD cover amounts are min $50k – max $5m
    • Aligning definitions to make things easier to understand – the definition of ‘Activities of Daily Living’ now includes the addition of a 6th limb ‘using the shower or bath to bathe’. Now our ADL definition is the same across Retail and Group.

    Care Support Package.

    • We have increased the timeframe for submission of reimbursements – where previously this was 30 days we are now allowing claimants more time to lodge their claim and have extended this to 90 days.

    Policies owned by Diversa via Integrity’s Here for You Super Plan.

    • Introduction of ability to pay premiums on a monthly basis in the form of direct debit – we have introduced the ability to pay premiums on a monthly basis in the form of direct debit. This change is in response to adviser feedback and will allow members of the Super Plan to make monthly contributions to pay their premiums. 

    The final note.

    Pssst…and just so you know… we have also extended our 8% Lifetime Discount offer to 30 April 2020 to give you a bit more time to take up this great offer.

     

    William Rogers

    William Rogers

    Head of Retail Product

    Your questions answered on COVID-19.

    Your questions answered on COVID-19.

    As we navigate unprecedented events, we want you to know we’ve got your back. We have a number of ways we’re ensuring the least interruption to our normal operations or any reduction in service levels. We’ve had a few questions about COVID-19 with regards to your clients’ Policies and our operational capability, so we wanted to provide you with the details.

    Is Integrity open for business?

    Yes, and we will remain so! As a cloud-based Insurer, the tools we need to serve you and operate our business are accessible to us from any secure location. Our Claims Assessors, Underwriters and Customer Care teams also operate using cloud-based technology, so whether they’re in the office or working from home – our service and delivery to you and your clients will not be impacted by remote working.

    What about new business? Can people still apply for insurance during the pandemic?

    Yes, Integrity’s underwriting and new business processes are operating as normal and we’re taking new applications every day! You will notice that there are some additional questions related to potential exposure to COVID-19. Integrity is a signatory to the FSC COVID-19 initiative to support frontline healthcare workers, so there are levels of cover available to customers working in those roles – these questions are to ensure we accurately assess applicants in relation to our current customers.

    Are there any restrictions on cover due to Coronavirus?

    Integrity does not have any blanket exclusions specific to pandemics or the current Coronavirus and just as we assess any health issue according to the risk it presents, we’re assessing COVID-19 in the same way. Clients will be asked questions related to potential exposure to COVID-19 as well as other health history as is normal when applying for life insurance. They will need to comply with their normal duty to disclose any existing illness when they apply. As a signatory to the FSC COVID-19 initiative to support frontline healthcare workers, we’re committed to ensuring healthcare workers who are keeping Australia safe have access to insurance.

    For more information, you can download our COVID-19 Product Coverage guide.  

    What about medical screening for underwriting?

    We know that medical facilities are operating at capacity so we’re doing everything we can to reduce the burden. This means that in many cases we’re taking advantage of existing medical documentation rather than requesting any new medical screenings or test. It should be noted that our current rate of tests required for underwriting is less than 5% (as at August 2020).

    While we do expect there to be some delays in receiving medical information from medical centres due to their increased workload, we are communicating frequently with all our partners to ensure any delays are known and accounted for so you can communicate this to your clients.

    What about financial hardship?

    We have a Financial Hardship policy that we are invoking for any client who has reduced capacity to pay based on the current situation. All you need to do is get in contact with us and we can support financial hardship in a number of ways including waiving premium or suspending cover. You can download the policy here

    Does Integrity have the funds to pay a large number of claims?

    As a APRA regulated Life Insurer we have met all of APRA’s current and previous capital requirements. Additionally, we are reinsured which means that we spread all our risk with another insurer.

    How will COVID-19 affect my client’s ability to claim on their policy?

    Integrity Cover does not have any blanket exclusions for any issues or health concerns related to COVID-19 or any other pandemic. Any Claim we receive, including one where the cause of death is Coronavirus (COVID-19) – will be assessed under our Claims guidelines.

    What happens if an insured client with Income Protection cover gets sick from COVID-19 and is unable to work?

    Where an insured person is disabled and unable to perform their usual occupation due to a sickness, injury or illness for a period longer than the waiting period set out on their Integrity policy schedule, it is likely they will qualify for an income protection benefit. All income protection claims will be assessed under our claims guidelines.

    Can an insured person claim if they are prevented from attending work due to company or government restrictions.

    In order to receive an income protection benefit an insured must meet the definition of disability as defined in their Integrity policy. This requires that a person be suffering from an injury or illness. Restrictions on attending a workplace based on company or government advice would not satisfy the definition of disability and would not lead to a benefit payment.

    What about an insured person who is already on claim who may have trouble accessing their normal treating doctor?

    As there is additional strain on medical services presently, we have implemented a number of measures to support clients.

    • For any insured people who are already on claim, we’re using alternate methods of information collection and may continue to pay Income Insurance benefits for a period even if medical evidence is delayed.
    • We’re working with a variety of practitioners who are able to support clients via video conferencing or telehealth.
    • We have also hired additional permanent staff at Integrity to ensure our team have the time and space to work with our clients to find alternative ways we can support them.
    • Finally, we’re scoping additional support in areas like Mental Health which is an area of growing concern and demand.

    We would encourage anyone suffering from a health condition that could be made worse by exposure to COVID-19 to contact us to discuss our ongoing information requirements as we do not want to expose anyone to increased risk by attending hospitals or medical centres.

    What about needing to lodge a new claim?

    Please contact us if you need to lodge a claim.  We will conduct an assessment over the phone and consider how best to gather the required medical information without exposing the insured to unnecessary risk or placing additional burden on medical service providers.

    I still have more questions, what do I do? 

    If you have any further questions on this, please get in contact with us any way you choose, or contact your BDM. 

     

    Integrity Life

    Integrity Life

    From the newsroom