Expansion of FMA power funded by market participants, and more daily news

Although the Government agreed to increase the FMA’s budget to $60.805 million in the coming years, a Cabinet paper that was recently released showed that market participants will be covering the majority of the funding through an increase to the levy on financial service providers.

“A Cabinet paper released by the ministry last week shows that participants are picking up the tab as the regulator’s budget increases significantly over the coming years.

The paper said the FMA has faced an expansion of its regulatory remit and broader cost pressures in recent years.

In April, Cabinet agreed to increase the FMA’s appropriation over three years to $60.805 million by 2022/23.

Cabinet agreed that the majority of this increase – $23.501 million per annum by 2022/23 – would be funded via an increase in the existing levy on financial service providers.”

To minimise drastic increases to the FMA levy, increases will be introduced in phases over the next three years.

“The funding and levy increases are now being phased in over three years instead of two.

“This is to lessen the impact of increased levies on financial services businesses at a time when revenues may be lower because of the economic impact of Covid-19. This adjustment complements the other lines of support the Government has been providing businesses to cushion the impact of Covid-19,” the paper said.” Click here to read more

In other news:

FMA: FMA is promoting Financial Advice’s Money Week

FMA: Proposed full licensing conditions – submissions close 7 August 2020

FSC webinar: Research Report 2 Launch

RBNZ: AMP Life documents explaining structure and purpose of new arrangements

Fidelity Life moves 3000 policies to the cloud and more daily news

The first phase of Fidelity Life’s technological update is now completed. The $25 million change is part of Fidelity Life’s digitisation process that will ensure 3000 policies are relocated to the cloud.

“New Zealand's largest locally-owned insurer, Fidelity Life, has completed the first phase of its $25 million technology transformation, migrating of 3000 policies to a Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud platform.  

The project, which was nicknamed ‘Watson’ for the innovative spirit of Fidelity Life founders Gordon and Shirley Watson, underpins the company’s five-year transformation strategy, built on the idea of "reimagining life insurance for New Zealanders".”

Project Watson is in collaboration with Datacom, Theta, DX Labs and Microsoft. In the past 12 months Fidelity Life has worked to update different aspects of the business to accommodate the implementation of Project Watson.

“The project has been delivered with the assistance of partners Datacom, Theta and DX Labs as well as Microsoft.

Fidelity Life chief technology officer Dan Wilkinson said the strategy required a high degree of ambition and innovation, and a traditional approach wouldn't cut it. 

Over the past 12 months we’ve focused on bringing our people along via fundamental improvements to the entire technology ecosystem, such as a new virtual desktop solution which enabled a seamless transition to remote working during the Covid-19 lockdown," he said.”

The transformation is designed to ensure sustainable growth is achieved as well as improving the support offered to advisers and partners.

“Fidelity Life’s transformation was all about delivering sustainable growth. 

“Project Watson will drive innovation, productivity, resilience and improved support for our advisers and partners," Wilkinson said. 

"Most importantly, though, it will allow us to develop simpler, more flexible products and deliver good outcomes for our customers."” Click here to read more

In other news

Kloogh victim despondent protections not in place

AMP: 'Retirees' stick with KiwiSaver, AMP says

RBNZ: Transparency And Disclosure Critical To COVID-19 Response

Australia: AMP hit with two lawsuits in the same week, and more daily news

AMP in Australia has been served with its second lawsuit in a week. The latest lawsuit is a result of advice being provided on life insurance products while the first is related to AMP’s ‘buyer of last resort’ policy.

“AMP has revealed that it has been served with a class action lawsuit regarding advice it provided for certain life and other insurance products, according to Reuters. This is the second lawsuit it has faced this week.

The first lawsuit involves financial advisers who have filed a class action against the Australian firm on changes to its ‘buyer of last resort’ policy.”

AMP has said that AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd and Hillross Financial Services Ltd would work to defend the proceedings.

“The company stated that its units AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd and Hillross Financial Services Ltd would defend the proceedings.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Understanding funeral insurance: valuable, or unnecessary?

Advisers often "fall over" on good record keeping

Financial Advice: Bounce 2020 Conference registration

AIA: Former Newpark CEO joins life company

Legal and regulatory update: IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts implemented, AML/CFT Suspicious Activity Report released

30 July 2020 – IFRS advised that a new two-part webcast in a series to support the implementation of IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts is now available.


31 July 2020 – The Police FIU website noted the release of a new ongoing monthly AML/CFT “Suspicious Activity Report” being the successor to the “Quarterly Typology Report”, with the first report published dated June 2020.


Privacy Code Submissions Deadlines Approaching

During July the Privacy Commissioner called for public submissions on the proposed repeal and replacement of New Zealand’s six privacy codes of practice under the Privacy Act 2020, with the new Act coming into force on 1 Dec 2020. The six codes are:

The proposed changes, limited to align each code with the new Privacy Act, include:

  • Cross-border disclosures
  • Changes to collection rules
  • Unique identifiers
  • Minor drafting changes

The closing dates for submissions are now approaching:

  • Health Information Privacy Code and Justice Sector Unique Identifier Code - Open: 15 July 2020 /Close: 12 August 2020
  • Credit Reporting Privacy Code and Superannuation Schemes Unique Identifier Code - Open: 22 July 2020 / Close: 19 August 2020
  • Telecommunications Information Privacy Code and Civil Defence National Emergencies (Information Sharing) Code - Open: 29 July 2020 / Close: 26 August 2020

Adapting adviser businesses to accommodate vulnerable clients, and more daily news

Strategi Group recently released their white paper on vulnerable clients, they are now urging advisers to have processes in place to better accommodate vulnerable clients. It is especially important for advisers to update processes and procedures as a significant number of current clients could potentially become vulnerable clients as a result of COVID-19. Similarly, clients may have already become vulnerable clients. 

“Strategi Group has urged financial advisers to ensure they have “adequate policies, processes and practices” in place to assist vulnerable clients, as the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on financial health across the globe.” 

Strategi highlighted the different factors that could hinder clients and have them fall in the vulnerability spectrum. Common hindrances faced by New Zealander include literacy difficulties and mental health disorders. With one in four New Zealand adult facing literacy difficulties and one in six New Zealanders living with common mental health disorders. In the current environment, existing money and job security concerns will be amplified. With unemployment rising, Strategi suggest advisers adopt a more holistic approach in all aspects of their business. 

“In its recently released white-paper, Strategi explained that vulnerability has many faces - one in four New Zealand adults have literacy difficulties, while one in six are diagnosed with a common mental health disorder. In a 2018 report, it was revealed that 68% of people reported money worries while 47% were concerned around job security - figures which have likely risen significantly over the past months.


With unemployment set to rise and vulnerability likely to rise with it, Strategi says advisers need to take a “holistic approach” to delivering good results.


“Vulnerable clients need to be considered throughout the whole client journey, and in all interaction,” Strategi states. “This includes from how you design products, through to how advice is delivered.”


“One of the essential features of delivering good outcomes for vulnerable clients is ensuring staff are well trained to identify these clients in the first place,” the report continues.” Click here to read more

In other news:

PartnerRe: PartnerRe hires new CEO as net income dives

Non-banks get Covid boost


Greater effects of unemployment, and more daily news

RBNZ released its unemployment report to understand if unemployment in one region of the country could influence unemployment in different regions. Upon completion, RBNZ found that unemployment in one region does affect unemployment in other regions although the impact varies. It was found that unemployment in Auckland and Waikato has the biggest impact on other regions while unemployment in Taranaki and Southland have the least impact.

“The paper finds rising unemployment in Auckland and Waikato has the biggest impact on unemployment around New Zealand. In contrast, rising unemployment in the Upper South Island, Southland, and Taranaki generate few spillovers into other regions.”

RBNZ has determined that the information in this report can assist in setting and amending future monetary policies to support employment in New Zealand. Similarly, the identification of regions with greater impacts will help in the improvement of unemployment forecasts.

“The modelling indicates that regions with the largest spillovers can be used to improve the accuracy of national unemployment forecasts.

This can help inform the Reserve Bank when it sets monetary policy to achieve its mandate in supporting employment in New Zealand.” Click here to read more

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In other news:

Fidelity Life: Sharecare August challenge allows user to go into the draw to win a 'Winter Wellness' bag from My Food Bag worth $189.99 if they earn 20 Green Days over a 30-day period

Fidelity Life: Sharecare August challenge walk into winter gives puts users in the draw to win a Fitbit Versa 2 worth $359.99

Fidelity Life: Premium changes for some income protection cover, Key Person Cover and for new level trauma (including Trauma Multi) covers effective from 1 August

Strategi: Whitepaper - Vulnerable clients

RBNZ: Introduction of Bill marks exciting new phase for Te Pūtea Matua

Legal and regulatory update: quarterly regulation metrics released

30 July 2020 – NZX released its Quarterly Regulation Metrics for Q2 2020, containing information on NZX Rules and policy consultations as follows:

·        Consulting on proposals to amend the disclosure setting for direct listings, with submissions closing on 31 July

·        The proposed “Hygiene Review” of Listing Rules has been deferred to later in 2020

·        Considering submissions on the consultation on the introduction of a Mid-Point Order Book, an anonymous unit order book, intended to be made available in 2021.

AIA set to host online health and wellness event, and more daily news

It was announced that AIA will host an online health and wellness event, AIA Live, on August 2 2020 from 2 pm to 10pm. The event will be focused on mental wellbeing, exercise, activity and rest, nutrition and personal growth while also incorporating music and comedy into the sessions. AIA Life is set to solidify AIA’s commitment to encouraging healthy living. 30 sessions will be running during the event to appeal to people of all ages and in different regions.

“AIA, the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group, today announced plans to host its first ever regional online health and wellness event, spanning 13 markets and headlined by AIA’s Global Ambassador David Beckham.

AIA Live will be broadcast on Sunday 2nd August and will include more than 30 unique sessions, delivering health and wellness content to inspire, motivate and educate people across the region as part of AIA’s commitment to helping them live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives. Key themes will include mental wellbeing, exercise, activity and rest, nutrition, personal growth, as well as light-hearted moments of music and comedy.

AIA Live has been designed to appeal across all age groups and multiple markets, celebrating the cultural diversity of the region while at the same time bringing people closer together to deepen their knowledge of health and wellness in a fun and engaging way.”

Although registration is required, AIA Live will be hosted on AIA’s Healthy Living YouTube channel. This event allows AIA Vitality members to earn points. As part of the event AIA New Zealand ambassadors Ian Jones and Jess Quinn will be hosting activities. Jess Quinn will be running a body image workshop while Ian Jones will be holding a HIIT workout session.

“AIA Live will be hosted on AIA’s Healthy Living YouTube channel and AIA Vitality members will be able to earn AIA Vitality Points for taking part. By registering for the event, participants will also earn the chance to win significant prizes including trips to London to watch Spurs play and meet their first team players, as well as signed footballs from David Beckham, virtual cooking lessons with Jeremy Pang, and merchandise from our other ambassadors. AIA also plans to host similar days in China and India in early September, with tailored content for those markets.

AIA Live will be broadcast in New Zealand on Sunday 2nd August from 2PM-10PM. As part of the event, AIA New Zealand ambassadors Jess Quinn and Ian Jones will be taking part with Jess running a body image workshop and Ian demonstrating an at-home High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Kiwibank: Thousands of Kiwibank customers caught up in privacy breach

Southern Cross: Health screenings 101

AMP: KiwiSaver Still Attractive In ‘retirement’

Legal and regulatory update: introduction of RBNZ bill and details on FMA levy amounts

28 July 2020 – The government, RBNZ and Treasury announced the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bill was introduced to Parliament. This is the first of two bills resulting from the Phase 2 review of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989. As part of the broad-ranging review, the Government has decided that the current Act will be replaced with two new pieces of legislation – the ‘Reserve Bank Act’ and a ‘Deposit Takers Act’.


29 July 2020 – FMA and MBIE advised of the release of details of FMA levy amounts for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years, and the outyears. It also covers the levy amounts for the new Financial Advice regime, which commences on 15 March 2021. Further details are available on the MBIE website at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/about/news/changes-to-fma-levies/ and at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/business-and-employment/business/financial-markets-regulation/crown-entities-we-monitor/financial-markets-authority-funding/

Australia: dramatic reduction in accessibility of advice on life insurance

Research in Australia shows underinsurance increasing and predicts that in the near future only the very wealthy will be able to access personalised advice from an adviser, due to recent regulatory changes. This is the consumer version of those stories we have been sharing about the number of Australian advisers leaving the sector. 

“On the current trajectory, within three years, only the wealthiest 15 per cent of Australians will be able to access life insurance with personal advice,” the group said.

Read more here, by Sarah Kendell, at Independent Financial Adviser. 


nib partner with Ronald McDonald House, and more daily news

nib announced that they will maintain their partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities to support families at this time. During lockdown nib worked to provide 28 rooms in both Auckland and Wellington with necessary appliances to ensure social distancing requirements were met by all. The $20,000 investment ensured each room was equipped with a fridge, kettle, toaster and microwave.

“Deemed an essential service by the Ministry of Social Development during Alert Level Four, RMHC New Zealand, like many other services, had to adapt to ensure they could continue to provide free accommodation to families when their child is in a hospital away from home.

In order to meet isolation requirements, 28 rooms across the Auckland and Wellington houses were converted into self-contained units, to enable long stay families to remain in their ‘home-away-from-home’ during lockdown.

With the communal kitchens closed, nib bolstered its existing RMHC New Zealand national partnership with a further investment of $20,000 to enable each room to be kitted out with a fridge, kettle, toaster and microwave to ensure families could function safely in their bubbles. A further 12 rooms were also supplied with kettles for short stay families, so social distancing could be maintained.”

Amy Tribe nib foundation Executive Officer has said that nib is proud to continue supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, says nib is proud to continue supporting an organisation that helps so many Kiwi families, especially during a time of such difficulty.” Click here to read more

Nib partners with Ronald McDonald House  July 27 2020

In other news:

FMA: FMA released an update of its Immediate Priorities during Covid-19 response and recovery over the next 3-6 months together with a related FAQs webpage

FMA: FMA upset at KiwiSaver report leak

BNZ: BNZ economists expect “straightforward” OCR hold

Financial Advice: Non-Bank Lenders discussing different market requirements and products which are available

What is your advice business like?

Seth Godin, in one of his pieces describing the shift to online absolutely nails the definition of which businesses can most effectively compete with big tech, and which cannot: 

What if the work you do is:
not based on innovative or flexible customer interaction…
If it is, it’s pretty likely that you’ll be replaced by a combination of robots, AI and outsourcing.
If they can find someone or something cheaper than you, they’re going to work overtime to do so.
The alternative is to be local, creative, energetic, optimistic, trusted, innovative and hard to replace.

If your compliance process makes your business compliance-based, standardised, and repetitive... then it is turning you into robot food. On the other hand, if it is helping you deliver that business described in the last line, you are future-proofing your business. 


Westpac change decision on claim, and more daily news

Rob Stock, reporting at stuff.co.nz tells us: After Joe Lobban’s death his partner Sam Robertson was informed by Westpac Life that they wouldn’t pay out the $480,000 life insurance claim as the insurer believed that Joe had failed to disclose medical information when applying. After seeking legal help Sam was able to ensure the claim was paid out.

“A year after her partner died of a heart attack, a New Plymouth woman and her two school-age daughters have finally been told by Westpac Life it will pay out on his life insurance.

Westpac Life told Sam Robertson in May this year that it would not pay the $480,000 claim, alleging Joe Lobban had failed to disclose medical information when he applied for the policy in 2014.

It was a blow for Robertson and her daughters who were scraping by on benefits, living in a rented house.

But Robertson, aided by lawyer Tim Gunn, got Westpac Life to reverse its decision, though he said was “unfortunate that this has taken the intervention of an insurance lawyer to have Westpac honour their policy"”

Sam made the claim in May 2019 after Joe died of a heart attack but was informed of Westpac’s decision to decline the claim in May 2020. After Sam’s lawyer Tim Gunn challenged Westpac’s decision, the insurer informed Sam of its decision to pay out the life insurance in July 2020.

“Lobban died in May last year of a massive heart attack, aged just 30.

The fit and active share milker had an un-diagnosed congenital heart condition.

Robertson made the claim to Westpac Life two weeks after Lobban’s death, but it took the insurer until May this year to indicate its intention to decline the claim.

After Gunn challenged the legality of Westpac Life’s decision, it reversed its decision in a letter dated July 14.” Click here to read more

We would like to highlight that we do not know the entire story. Overwhelmingly the industry has a great record on claims, but of course, a few claims can be either paid when they should not, or denied when they should not. 

In other news:

Asteron Life: TalkBack feedback programme introduced

sigma 4/2020: World insurance: riding out the 2020 pandemic storm

Financial Advice: Adviser Peer Support registration

Consumer NZ seeking to end the sale of funeral cover, and more daily news

Consumer NZ has again criticised funeral insurance policies citing high premiums. Jon Duffy, Consumer NZ CEO used an example of an 85-year-old policyholder who has paid $18,900 in premiums after taking out a $10,000 funeral insurance for herself and her son in 2003. Fidelity Life denied requests to refund the additional amount paid in premiums as the policy had worked as it was designed. Jon Duffy has said that charging customers excessive amounts to cover a guaranteed event isn’t acceptable.

“Consumer NZ has taken aim at the poor value of some funeral insurance policies, highlighting a complaint it received from a customer who paid $18,900 in premiums for a policy worth only $10,000.


Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy says the customer, an 85-year old woman, took the insurance out in 2003 to cover herself and her adult son, and was given cover of $5,000 for each life insured. Over the next 17 years, she paid out almost $9,000 more in premiums than the policy would ever have paid out.


The insurance was provided by Fidelity Life, which has refused to refund the additional premium and says the policy had worked “as designed.” Duffy says that since funeral insurance covers an event which is guaranteed to happen, selling funeral policies that result in customers paying thousands more than they would ever get back “doesn’t wash.””

This is a curious position - to define the value of an insurance policy solely by the payment that would come from it. For example, over the years, I have definitely paid in many thousands more in premium for car insurance than they have paid me out. It enables me to drive on the roads without fear of ruining someone else's life, or my finances, by an expensive crash. I will never receive back in claims what I have paid in premiums, but I still got - and continue to get - good value from the contract. 

When asked to comment the FMA stated that funeral insurance had been identified as a product that offers customers poor value in their joint life insurer conduct and culture 2019 review.

The FMA appears to have a more nuanced view, simply citing poor value:

“In response to an enquiry by Insurance Business, the FMA noted that it had already identified funeral insurance as a product that “often provides poor value” in its 2019 review into life insurer conduct and culture, conducted alongside the Reserve Bank. 


“The review considered funeral insurance to be a ‘poor value product’ and consequently had poor outcomes for customers,” it stated. “[The review] also provides an example of poor conduct involving funeral insurance.””

In part, poor value is a function of the small sums insured in these products: the administrative costs of insurance companies, especially using manual processes common for this market as many of these consumers struggle with the internet, make each policy subject to a relatively high component of administrative costs. 

Consumer NZ is looking to end the sale of funeral insurance and other products that offer customers poor value.

 “Consumer NZ says it will push for a law change that will prevent companies from selling funeral insurance, along with other products which offer poor value.” Click here to read more

I think that Consumer are referring to their support for new draft conduct law, which is also supported by the industry in concept. The advantage of a principles-based approach is that blunt instruments, like banning all funeral cover, can be avoided. After all, if you are 67, have several serious conditions, and no financial assets, but you wish to avoid burdening children with your final expenses, then a $75 a month will cover that financial risk, right now. There are simply not many other solutions, except save, and the cost will be borne by others should you die. Of course, if you keep paying it until you die, you may pay more than the sum insured. Life insurance is something best replaced by financial assets at some point in your life. 

FSC Connect Webinar : Media, Journalism and Opinion through COVID-19

FSC: Get In Shape Session 6: An opportunity to redesign your advice process

Financial Advice: Trusted Adviser mark achievable for all members over time: Shanks

Incentives for the right behaviour, and more daily news

Victoria University’s Economics of Disasters and Climate Change Chair Ilan Noy made a few suggestions when addressing Insurance Council members. To begin Noy pointed out that insurers could incentivize more clients to take out policies by introducing products that offer a greater scope of cover.

“Victoria University of Wellington’s Economics of Disasters and Climate Change Chair Ilan Noy said that, at the moment, insurance doesn’t realistically incentivise risk reduction as much as it needs to. He says part of this needs to happen through lobbying the government to make certain changes, but also potentially providing new products with an increased scope of cover.”

A common issue faced by clients during the lockdown was confusion over their cover limits. To minimize confusion, Noy encouraged insurers to either introduce new products or adjust current risk limits.

“Noy says insurance can also incentivise customers to directly reduce their own risk, and its other crucial role is improving and speeding up recovery from an event. He says a major problem during the COVID-19 pandemic has been confusion over limits of cover, and this may need to be remedied with new products or adjusted risk limits.” Click here to read more

The question of directly incentivising behaviour that reduces risk is always vexed. There are two main levers for providing feedback on risks that are controversial: the first is the willingness to offer cover or not, the second is the price for cover. These are strong, market-based, mechanisms which are employed all the time. A I know of a couple who first took proper control of their adult onset diabetes when they were deferred for cover by an insurer - it suddenly became real for them. I also know that insurers are routinely criticised for not offering cover to people they deem uninsurable as this is seen as 'unfair'. I also know that when insurers charge more for certain risks - for example, housing in coastal districts and earthquake zones - they are again criticsed heavily for a lack of 'fairness'. In a country where we have made desperately slow progress on climate change this price signal should be celebrated. 

The link between product design and incentives also reminded us to link to the question of IP pricing and product design - see below. 

Price is an incentive. In many activities, it is time to pay attention to it.

In other news:

Fidelity Life: two roles in the design team are being advertised  

FMA: Head of Banking/Insurance role being advertised

FMA: FMA publishes derivatives issuer Sector Risk Assessment

Should we be warning consumers about IP prices?

FMA survey findings, and more daily news 

Part two of the results of the FMA’s investor confidence survey have been revealed.  Although the focus is on investment, it is interesting to see the current thinking of New Zealanders in terms of accessing financial advice. The survey found that males are more likely to seek out an adviser. Although only 17% of respondents were Asian, they made up 30% of the total respondents that would seek help from an adviser. Gillian Boyes, FMA investor capability manager has said that more people are looking for financial information. 

“Those looking for an adviser were significantly more likely to be male – at 63% compared to 49% across all investors, with investments outside KiwiSaver, working full-time and more confident in New Zealand financial markets. Nearly 30% of those looking for an adviser were Asian – Asian people were just 17% of the survey respondents.


FMA investor capability manager Gillian Boyes said advisers would need to try to tap into other markets and find people who were not necessarily even thinking about investment advice now.


She said people were generally much more engaged and looking for information about investment and finances. “It’s an ideal time for advisers to reach out.””

During Money Week, Financial Advice will run a joint event with the FMA at The Base in Hamilton to address questions the public may have around money.

“The FMA and Financial Advice NZ will run an event during money week at which people will be encouraged to bring their money questions to advisers at The Base shopping mall in Hamilton.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Financial Advice: Financial Advice set to hold hour-long webinar every day of Money Week for consumers

Financial advice: Money week webinars are as follows:

·       Monday 10th: Financial Planning – Hannah McQueen

·       Tuesday 11th: Mortgage Discussion – John Bolton

·       Wednesday 12th: Insurance Discussion – Peter Leitch

·       Thursday 13th: Retirement Planning – Liz Koh

·       Friday 14th: Investment Discussion – Paul Sewell

Revealed: New Zealand's Top Advisers 2020

Partners Life: Expressions of interest now open for our 3 day New Adviser Training Course - August 2020

FMA: Proposed standard conditions consultation submissions close 5pm on Friday 7 August 2020



Partners Life reverse waiting period for self-employed clients, and more daily news

After making changes to underwriting guidelines for self-employed customers earlier this year Partners Life received feedback that they used to further improve processes. Adviser feedback focused on the 4 week waiting period for Income Cover, Mortgage Repayment Cover, and Household Expenses Cover.

“One of the changes we made was to restrict the waiting period options to only 4 weeks for self-employed clients across these products. This change was designed to facilitate early engagement with claims case managers when a self-employed customer had become disabled. We determined that longer waiting periods would make early intervention and return to work management much less effective.

While we still believe this to be the case, we also understand that forcing a shorter waiting period onto customers can impact on affordability and can also cause issues for advisers when trying to combine business cover such as Loss of Revenue with personal income protection products. In addition, we appreciate that shorter waiting periods do expose us to more claims because we get all the shorter ones and we pay more for the longer-term claims (because we start paying sooner).

We know from your feedback that this restriction of waiting period choice has been a significant issue”.

Based on the feedback received, Partners Life are implementing the previous waiting period effective July 23, 2020.

“In response to your concerns, and because we believe our other changes will provide enough of the protection we are seeking, we are reversing the restriction on waiting period options for self-employed clients with effect from Thursday 23 July 2020.”

In other news:

The Insurance (Prompt Settlement of Claims for Uninhabitable Residential Property) Bill was read a first time in Parliament and referred to the Governance and Administration Committee.

Department of Internal Affairs: Department of Internal Affairs released a summary of its AML/CFT findings in relation to the legal sector.

Financial Advice: Financial Advice New Zealand Free Webinar Series

COVID-19 and the insurance industry outlook - no, it isn't over...

In April almost everyone I know became an amateur epidemiologist, or at least, COVID-watcher. Today, many of my non-insurance colleagues are blessed with an almost-normal life. We have been fortunate - meaning it is vital to acknowledge that good policy and a little good luck, brought us here. The industry, however, has to take a slightly longer view. So what does COVID-19 mean for us now? 

On a cases per million bases I chose the following visualisation to help show where New Zealand is positioned, and just how fortunate we are. The US and Brazilian data shows how a badly managed response looks. No detailed critique here, you can find plenty elsewhere. 

The World detail in this chart is deeply suspect data. Some countries are so poor they have inadequate resources, some are so badly managed the data is deeply flawed, some are merely bad at testing. Germany shows how a poor start can quickly be converted into a good outcome - on a cases per million basis it is now doing better than Australia which is battling a resurgence in the disease. 

Removing the US, Brazil, and World, allows us to zoom in on the better performers: 

Australia's resurgence is instructive. It proves several things - given that the Victoria outbreak came from badly managed isolation, it was right that media were highly critical of security breaches. Given that it has happened it is right that government has been slow to create travel bubbles. Australia shows how fragile our position is until there is better news on the vaccine front. The longer we can contain the virus the better our chances get. I am still using the much maligned contact tracing app and signing in where I see the forms - even though most people aren't. Why? if someone breaches isolation and there is an outbreak that data is our best chance of avoiding a nationwide lockdown, again, which is proving so damaging to Victoria.

Removing Australia allows us to zoom in again on the best performers (setting aside China). To further reveal differences, I have switched to a log scale: 


Japan is battling a resurgence too, not at the level Australia is, but still ten times as many cases as we are managing (all in isolation). South Korea sits in between, just a little worse than us, but with those cases also being in well managed isolation, like ours. Taiwan has half the cases that we do on a per million basis. Vietnam, functionally none - both would be great places to travel agreement with!

For the insurance industry, whole of pandemic modelling remains a concern. A worst-case scenario would commence with a resurgence along the lines seen in Victoria, which breaks out into general community transmission. Choices we make today, could help. During lock down I cursed myself for not preparing better - but how many of us are wearing masks, even if just when we have a cold? Very few, and those are Kiwis with links to China, Taiwan, Japan, or South Korea. How many of us are contact tracing still? Few, yet that data could have helped Victoria avoid a second lock-down.

It is complacency which would undo all the good work of the team of five million, some of whom are hurting a lot from that sacrifice.

There is good news from the UK, US, and China, about potential vaccines. But the disease is still out there waiting for us. If we are to avoid thousands of deaths then we must remain vigilant. That is not a job solely for the government - it includes us. 

Even if we continue to track along the 'best case' scenario - cases only in managed isolation, and reasonably quick economic recovery, we can expect a fair measure of misery for those worst affected: lost jobs, lost homes, and disrupted lives. Those tend to have claims effects - IP claims last longer, trauma claims are deferred, some turn into life claims. 

But are they just little lies?

Stuff has this great article by Nile Bijoux about people being willing to lie to their insurer. Those are general insurers, but it seems a stretch to believe that the same people happy to lie on their car insurance application would suddenly become gravely honest when filling in a life application. Perhaps people don't really think of lying to their insurer as a big deal - so many do it. This is borne out in other markets too - in the UK it is estimated that it adds the equivalent of about $60 a year to every insurance policy. If that margin were applied to the 2.5 million life, trauma, IP, and TPD, policies in New Zealand it would mean about $150 million in fraud costs each year.