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Emma Thomson: How a charter can make protection claims right

The Protection Distributors Group has launched a Claims Charter to address weaknesses in the claims process

The Protection Distributors Group is made up of 11 protection-focused distributor firms. Our purpose is to work together for the benefit of consumers and to help our industry improve so more people can benefit from protection insurance.

Following on from our successful Funeral Payment Pledge Campaign (which has so far got six insurers including AIG and LV= to introduce advanced payments to bereaved families to cover funeral costs), we’ve recently launched our Claims Charter to further improve the experience of claimants.

Lucy Brown: Excellent claims statistics prove protection’s worth

Our members all support our clients and their families at claims stage. As advisers, we believe it’s the right thing to do. Through helping claimants, we’ve identified weaknesses in some claims processes. Our Claims Charter seeks to address that. It’s not a complete wish list; there’s some amazing work being done to help claimants but to expect all insurers to deliver all those things is not realistic.

The charter aims instead to focus on getting the basics right. It asks insurers to commit to the following:

  • A dedicated claims team, with a phone-based claims process supported by digital documentation to assess claims efficiently. Paperwork is only used where there are no alternatives possible or at the claimant’s request.
  • No potential claimant can be turned away by anyone who isn’t on the claims team.
  • Claimants to have a named point of contact with updates at least every two weeks, unless otherwise agreed, to keep them informed. Queries from claimants to be responded to by the end of the next working day
  • Intermediaries to be notified of all claims when made (no opt-in or opt-out option offered) to ensure records can be updated, support can be offered and to avoid distress caused to clients and families through the intermediary not knowing about a claim.
  • Proactively offer our funeral payment pledge and/or advance payments to speed up death claims where there’s no trust in place, or where other factors could delay payments.
  • Once a claim is approved, claimants to receive payment within 72 hours (ignoring external factors out of insurer control).

We’re delighted that Zurich, Aegon, British Friendly, Old Mutual Wealth and Holloway Friendly all meet the Claims Charter and we hope others will shortly.

Developing a claims experience with customers in mind

PDG member and London & Country head of protection Lucy Brown says: “Ensuring claimants receive the best possible support is of utmost importance. We applaud the many fantastic initiatives being offered by insurers to help claimants, but there are some gaps in the services offered so will be lobbying for every insurer to meet the standards set out in our charter.”

Aegon head of claims and underwriting Simon Jacobs says: ‘The PDG’s Claims Charter is a positive initiative for claimants and the requirements are at a level that should be achievable for all claims departments. These processes work for Aegon and we’re proud to go above and beyond the expectations set out in the charter. The customer experience at point of claim is at the heart of any protection policy.”

Emma Thomson is chair of the Protection Distributors Group

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