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Insurers say ABI is not up to scratch

So the spat between Lifesearch and the Association of British Insurers continues. The protection specialist advice firm surveyed 23 insurers and five reinsurers to find only 6 per cent believe the ABI does a good job representing its members. The ABI is unimpressed.

Lifesearch asked whether the ABI could improve on how well it currently reflects the views and needs of its members, among other questions chosen by the respondents. A significant 67 per cent said it needed to improve and 24 per cent declined to comment.

Lifesearch policy adviser Matt Morris says: “Although some companies have expressed dissatisfaction with the ABI in the past, we are surprised by the overall unanimity of the results.”

ABI spokesman Jon French says: “I do not think that Lifesearch’s findings reflect reality. We are always looking to improve like any quality organisation and if any member company wants to talk to us about improving the service the ABI offers, we are more than happy to discuss this.”

Lifesearch’s research also found that 56 per cent of the life offices and reinsurers surveyed believed the protection industry could benefit from an agreed level of standardisation and simplification while 15 per cent said it would be detrimental to the market and 29 per cent were not convinced either way.

In other news, more providers are jumping on the tele-underwriting bandwagon. Lincoln Financial Group and Pioneer are the latest to sign up with tele-interviewing specialists Morgan Ash.

Lincoln piloted the service and found it caused a significant drop in non-disclosure rates compared with the old application forms system. Requests for GP reports were cut by almost two thirds compared with the previous system and clients were willing to provide more personal health details during the tele-interview than they would in a face-to-face interview with an adviser.

Chief underwriter Keith Robertson says: “Tele-interviewing provides a significant opportunity for clients to provide the relevant information we need in a convenient manner. We have always paid out on valid claims and have never sought to refuse payment because of the non-disclosure of irrelevant information. However we are always keen to improve our business process so that we can deliver better service to financial advisers and their clients.”

Meanwhile other providers have been busy little bees.

Axa launched a new protection-specialist website this week which provides customer and adviser testimonial videos, product literature, up-to-date industry and company news and an adviser tool kit with aids and demos to help educate and engage clients. It also links to the online point of sale extranet.

Aegon Scottish Equitable made its business protection toolkit available to all advisers online. The toolkit aims to help advisers approach and explain business protection to potential clients and, as a result, more accurately meet their needs.

And Bright Grey announced it was launching its own expert underwriting system, becoming the first provider not to use a reinsurer’s system. The system, called interactive quote and apply, aims to speed up the application process and improve the pass rate to enable clients to get cover more quickly.

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