Financial advisers need to 'step up' and advocate for their clients during the claims process, says Affinia general manager Craig Parker.
Mr Parker's comments come amid reports that lawyers are increasingly acting for clients during claims, according to a statement by TAL-backed dealer group Affinia.
“The increased involvement of lawyers in claims is worrying because this is a role advisers should be performing on behalf of their clients,” said Mr Parker.
“The involvement of a lawyer will not influence the decision of an insurer. Claims advocacy is the role of the adviser,” he said.
Those in the legal profession may not have the same “intimate knowledge” of a client's personal and financial situation as the adviser, said Mr Parker.
“Nor do they hold the same strong relationship with insurance companies or the understanding of the intricacies of each specific product a client may have,” he said.
“Claims advocacy is a key service proposition of the financial advice profession and if this is not carried out during this current period of heightened claims, advisers are missing out on a crucial opportunity to demonstrate their value.”
Such value could be demonstrated by helping clients manage a disability, recuperation, return to work and other financial considerations, he said.
Mr Parker also pointed out that advisers are spending a greater percentage of their time helping clients deal with claims for 'living insurance' (disability and income protection) as opposed to life insurance (death).
“Disability cover and income protection over the past decade have become more popular as consumers consider the impact of not being able to work again. Trauma/critical illness cover in more recent years is also being taken up,” said Mr Parker.
The result is that the ratio of living to death benefits now sits at an historic high at 2.5:1, according to TAL statistics.
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