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Friends leads on protection processing

Norwich Union comes bottom of 10 providers in a Life Policies Direct life insurance and critical-illness cover underwriting table while Friends Provident has a commanding lead.

The findings, which assess the average time that it takes product providers to issue acceptance terms for an app- lication show that NU took 40 days to underwrite, compared with the fastest firm in the survey, Friends Provident, which took only 11 days.

LPD managing director Jason King puts NU’s slow pace down to the amount of questions on its application forms and describes the company as having an “over-cautious underwriting ethic”.

Scottish Equitable is second in the underwriting league table, with a turn-round time of 19 days,followed by Royal Liver on 20 days.

Liverpool Victoria, Legal & General, Scottish Widows and Bright Grey took between 21 and 24 days.

Standard Life took on average 34 days and Axa Sun Life, which launched last year with a tele-underwriting facility, took an average of 36 days.

King admits that “speed is not everything” but says that it has become significantly more important as fierce pri- cing competition has broa- dly created some level consistency in policy premiums between providers.

He puts Friends Provident’s success down to the heavy investment in the company’s systems as well as their efficient and communicative underwriting philosophy.

King says: “IFAs such as us spend a considerable amo-unt of our time and resources trying to push applications through the new business process. Providers which take longer than others to process new business are a considerable cost to the IFA industry.”

Norwich Union head of media relations James Evans says: “In the summer, we witnessed underwriting problems and backlogs. Since July, we have significantly reduced the backlogs. We are looking at a start to finish review of underwriting procedures and looking at how we can change operations.”

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