The FSC’s Annual Life Insurance Conference was held in Sydney at the end of March. Now in its 8th year, this Conference brings together key life company and other industry stakeholders to address and debate the issues of today and tomorrow.
This year’s Conference addressed the usual wide range of topics and included a particular focus on claims issues, the Life Insurance Code of Practice and philosophical conversations relating to areas such as balancing ‘utmost good faith’ and reasonable consumer expectations with the challenge of industry sustainability.
Addressing the sometimes clashing elements of philosophy and process, MetLife’s CEO, Deanna Stewart, said a well-developed philosophy of life insurance could guide the internal and external behaviours of life insurers when dealing with consumers and other industry stakeholders, including advisers. She noted, “Philosophy should guide your policy, should guide your processes. As it relates to culture, it is like the guard rails of the behaviour that you are wanting to see in an organisation.”
the presence of lawyers in the claims process was evidence that change needed to occur
The new Life Insurance Code of Practice was given cautious approval at the Conference by regulators and consumer groups but they suggested this was just a first step towards genuine self-regulation. For example, ASIC Deputy Chair, Peter Kell, warned the key test for the Code was how it aligned with consumer outcomes, which had been an area of failure within financial services in recent years:
“The key test for a document like this is not going to be how you will adhere to clauses but that the code sets out some commitments to how you think your industry should behave,” Kell said.
From the consumer perspective, Financial Rights Legal Centre Principal Solicitor, Alexandra Kelly, said the presence of lawyers in the claims process was evidence that change needed to occur in that area and the proof of the Code’s success would be a decline in legal representation during claims:
“The proof will ultimately be once it is in operation and how insurers give effect to the provisions of the Code. The proof will be whether there is an over reliance on the exceptional circumstances clauses when it comes to timeframes and delays,” Kelly said.
“I think the proof will also be consumers no longer call me asking me where their claim is in the process,” she added.
An annual addition to the FSC Life Insurance Conference is its gala awards dinner. The fourth annual FSC Life Insurance Awards gala dinner was held on the eve of the Conference, in which this year, senior staffers at BT Financial Group and MLC were recognised for their leadership.
This year’s winners were:
- Industry Leader Award: Scott Moffitt, Head of Life Operations, BT Financial Group
- Industry Mentor Award: Russell Hannah, General Manager Sales, Retail Advice at MLC
- Young Achiever Award: Kathleen Williams, Head of Retail Risk, Optimisation and Compliance at AIA
- Consumer Innovation Award: AIA “Vitality”
- Industry Research Award: BT Financial Group for the “Measuring Health Outcomes” submission