Australia’s largest life insurer by market share says it will not exclude new business from COVID-19 victims that have recovered from the virus, as it works to boost service resources in the wake of surging client queries relating to the crisis.
A spokesperson for TAL told ifa the insurer had no exclusions for COVID-19 for new customers in addition to existing policyholders, and that it would only seek to restrict new business from current sufferers of the disease.
“While we are unable to underwrite any new customers who have recently tested positive for COVID-19, we do intend to underwrite new customers when they have fully recovered,” the spokesperson said.
“New customers are able to take out cover subject to our usual underwriting requirements and processes.”
The spokesperson said TAL had “played a leading role” in the FSC’s recent announcement that member insurers would not exclude frontline workers from life cover regardless of when it was taken out.
Responding to reports around insurers facing difficulties responding to a rapid rise in customer queries as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the spokesperson said TAL had “substantially increased” the number of staff deployed to work in customer service roles.
“Increases in new business volumes did initially cause some delays in turnaround times,” the spokesperson said.
“However, with the additional resources service is now returning to normal processing times.
“Understandably medical reports and blood tests for underwriting are taking longer at this time due to the strain on the medical system.”
The TAL spokesperson said processing times for new claims had not been affected by the crisis, and that the insurer had received “a small number of claims” directly relating to COVID-19.
The insurer was also offering a range of options for clients facing financial hardship, including temporarily reducing or suspending cover until 30 September at the latest, without the need for additional underwriting when the original cover was reinstated.
The news comes as recent Plan for Life statistics showed TAL had eclipsed AIA as the largest insurer by market share in the Australian risk market during 2019.
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