In a complex, intimidating industry like insurance, it is heartening when an innovative customer-centric solution with clear benefits for financial advisers and their clients comes along. This is what financial advisers can expect from the Smart Underwriting process Momentum Corporate recently launched, says Regard Budler, Head: Product Solutions, Momentum Corporate.
Budler believes streamlined, more customer-centric services mean financial advisers’ valuable time is optimised. Rather than guiding employees through cumbersome processes, financial advisers are free to focus on providing professional advice and to bring their ‘best advice’ solution to life.
According to Budler, when an employee’s salary increase causes their insurance cover to exceed the free cover limit, they are required to undergo underwriting. If they don’t, they’re likely to join the huge and growing population of underinsured South Africans. A 2016 study by the Association of Savings and Investments South Africa (ASISA) shows that the families of South Africa’s 14 million income earners face a combined insurance shortfall of R28.8 trillion.
One of the many reasons for underinsurance is the underwriting process. Momentum Corporate’s research with financial advisers and employees identified that industry-wide this complex, lengthy, invasive, paper or telephone based process is a major ‘pain point’. It often deters employees from increasing their cover under group insurance arrangements when they should. An internal evaluation showed that over a third of eligible employees dropped out of the process.
“The research insights were a starting point for reimagining the underwriting process and reinventing this key customer touchpoint. On 9 May this year we implemented ‘Smart Underwriting’ – an efficient, customer-centric digital process and a first for group insurance in South Africa,” says Budler.
“Smart underwriting is our third ‘smart’ service over the last two years, following Smart Exits and Smart Retirements. With Smart Underwriting, employees who require underwriting, answer a few short, easy-to-understand questions about their health at a time that is convenient and in a fully secure, private digital space. Feedback is immediate, so at the end of the process they know that they are covered. We managed to reduce a process that previously could take up to three weeks to a process that now takes on average 10 minutes.”
Budler believes that making it easier for employees to participate in the process and increase their group insurance cover not only reduces the risk of underinsurance but also helps the employee to develop a better appreciation of the value they receive through their employer’s group insurance benefits.
Another valuable feature of the new service is that immediately after the health information has been submitted, the individual receives personalised health tips and guidance, based on their health profile. This creates awareness of potential health risks which may help to trigger appropriate behaviour change and could potentially reduce lifestyle-related death and disability claims over time.
Budler concludes, “Cumbersome, negative customer experiences exacerbate the ‘grudge’ aspect of the insurance purchase and can result in behaviour which leads to poor financial wellness. Insurers need to reimagine and reinvent each key touchpoint from the perspective of the customer and financial adviser. In doing so, we will truly transform the industry and improve financial wellness.”