Planner satisfaction with life insurers has fallen significantly during the COVID pandemic as advisers sought to reassure nervous clients whose premiums continued to rise, according to new research.
Investment Trends’ Planner Risk Report surveyed more than 500 financial planners over the course of 2020 and found that just a quarter of respondents rated their main life insurer as ‘very good’, down from 57 per cent in the previous year’s survey.
Challenger brand Neos overtook the previously top-rated Clearview in terms of overall adviser satisfaction, with 56 per cent of those who used the insurer rating it as very good, compared to 54 per cent for Clearview. Zurich took out the third top spot for satisfaction.
The report revealed that 80 per cent of advisers had made changes to the way they delivered risk advice as a result of the pandemic. Around 30 per cent of advisers said they had engaged with clients more frequently during the crisis, while 23 per cent said they had scrutinised their clients’ premium levels.
A further 23 per cent of advisers said they had taken a closer look at insurers’ quality of service, while 22 per cent said they had accelerated their adoption of technology.
“Financial planners are re-evaluating all aspects of their delivery of risk advice – from their insurer relationships and technology stack, to the way they communicate and demonstrate value to clients,” Investment Trends associate research director King Loong Choi said.
“As planners help their clients navigate the pandemic, support from their insurers and technology partners will be crucial to lifting the quality of their risk advice.”
Unsurprisingly given current dynamics in the life insurance market, 61 per cent of advisers cited rising premiums as their biggest challenge over the course of the year.
The growing regulatory burden in the space was another key theme, with 53 per cent of planners citing compliance obligations as their top challenge, while another 50 per cent cited paperwork and admin requirements.
However, Mr Choi said adviser feedback indicated that the most successful insurers were those who provided comprehensive support as well as good value for money.
“When asked to describe in their own words how insurers helped them navigate COVID-19, planners most often acknowledged premium relief for impacted clients, proactive BDM contact and streamlined online processes,” he said.
“Competitive premiums matter for planners and their clients in their choice of insurer, but it isn’t the sole factor. Planners highly value proactive support, meaning that insurers that provide quality BDM support, ongoing communications and quick turnaround times will stand out.”
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