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Hunting for protection heads

AIG is understood to be headhunting more protection specialists as it focuses on the UK advisory market.

Last month, Money Marketing revealed that AIG had appointed former Munich Re head of protection marketing Will Adler as protection product and planning actuary.

The move was seen as an indication that AIG was turning its attention on the UK intermediary protection market for the first time.

The insurer, which launched its first marketing campaign aimed at financial advisers last week, is remaining tight-lipped on whether it is attempting to lure industry gurus.

In other news MorganAsh, the protection outsourcing firm which tele-interviews applications for 23 big name providers, is set to begin tele-interviewing claims from April. The move is expected to speed up the payment of claims significantly.

Instead of claimants filling out a claim form, a trained MorganAsh nurse will call them to determine their medical and financial situation. MorganAsh then produces a report and based on this the provider will either make a payment or investigate the claim further. It expects to turn around claims in two to three days compared with the month it takes most providers to deal with claim forms.

The firm will launch the process in April with a mystery provider. Another provider is set to take it up in May and the firm says it is in talks with four other protection offices.

MorganAsh managing director Andrew Gething says: “Our nurses can get better quality information from claimants far more quickly and far more empathetically than the current process which is horribly inefficient and painful for the consumer.”

Meanwhile CBK Colchester principal Peter Chadborn has a hunch that smaller advisers will increasingly opt to use specialist protection providers in future.

He says most major life offices no longer build good quality relationships with smaller adviser firms and this will see the little guys take their business elsewhere.

He says: “Life offices have decided there are certain distribution channels which they will not bother having a relationship with and others they are going to concentrate on. Fair enough from a commercial aspect but how long will it be before the adviser community begins to value the relationships it has with specialist providers such as Bright Grey and Royal Liver and feel less inclined to do business with big players?”

Chadborn believes this was a major reason why Standard Life pulled out of the protection market last year and Scottish Widows stopped distributing products through advisers.

He says: “Standard Life was one of the first major providers to stop targeting its broker consultants for protection business. It was never a major player but I think its market share shrunk because its consultants no longer talked to advisers about protection. It was the same with Widows.”

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