Insurers now offer the option of applying for insurance over the phone and through e-application software to make the process easier. What are the benefits for advisers and clients?
Completing the personal statement can be a time-consuming and intrusive experience for clients and advisers. In some instances it is the most significant obstacle to accessing insurance.
To begin with, many clients don’t think they need insurance.
They might think that they will never be impacted by disability or premature death (however the statistics show otherwise) or that they have insurance through their super (although not enough).
Once these objections have been overcome and the decision has been made to apply for insurance, traditionally the next hurdle is completing the insurance application forms, which can involve a lengthy discussion about a client’s medical history with the adviser.
Naturally, due to the sensitive nature of medical and health topics, this conversation can be an uncomfortable one.
Insurers who offer tele-interviews and can process applications electronically can make this part of the application process easier, eliminating the need to have that awkward conversation between an adviser and their client.
What is it?
Tele-interviewing is a service that allows trained insurance staff to complete the medical and lifestyle portion of the personal statement with clients, over the phone, at a time that the client can choose.
This gives advisers more time to focus on running their business and less time on completing forms.
Tele-interviews can take between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on the complexity of an applicant’s medical history.
As soon as the tele-interview is completed, the application will then proceed to underwriting – at this point, any loadings and/or exclusions are determined.
Advisers may be concerned that using the tele-interview service may erode the relationship that they have with their clients. However, it can actually help maintain the client relationship because advisers are able to demonstrate a number of benefits to the client when using the tele-interview service.
What are the benefits for clients?
- Tele-interviews provide an alternative to traditional methods of application for clients who would rather speak to a third party about their lifestyle, medical and family history.
- Trained insurance tele-interviewers complete the medical and lifestyle information of the personal statement, thus ensuring that all questions are completed and nothing is inadvertently missed.
- As all relevant questions are asked by trained tele-interviewers, this can speed up the underwriting process. Therefore, clients may be on full cover sooner. While interim cover applies between when the personal statement is submitted and when the policy goes in to force; cover is on a limited basis.
What are the benefits for advisers?
- Advisers are able to concentrate on providing strategic advice to clients and growing their business overall, rather than filling out forms because a significant portion of the workload in relation to applying for insurance is removed from the adviser.
- The adviser is also relieved from having to ask their clients uncomfortable questions about their lifestyle, medical and family history.
- The tele-interview conversation can be recorded. Therefore there is certainty about what a client has disclosed in their personal statement, which minimises any disputes at claim time.
Rachel Leong is product technical manager, life insurance, at BT Financial Group
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