The AFA says legal firm, Maurice Blackburn, has jumped to a range of conclusions in relation to the data contained in the most recent release of APRA’s life insurance claims and disputes statistics (click here).
In offering an alternative view, AFA GM, Policy and Professionalism, Phil Anderson, took aim at the Maurice Blackburn statement (attributed to the firm’s Superannuation and Insurance Principal, Josh Mennen), for drawing a conclusion about the relative value of life insurance advice delivered by financial advisers, by relying on and interpreting a single statistic as the determining factor in its argument.
The key statistic cited in the Maurice Blackburn statement relates to the claims paid ratio for TPD cover. This ratio represents the dollar amount of claims paid out in the reporting period as a percentage of the annual premiums receivable during the same period. The TPD data referred to by Mennen is taken from the report’s Table 2:
According to Mennen, the APRA report “…has some very compelling data that makes clear that group insurance through super remains a crucial product that delivers significantly greater value for consumers than other policies, including those supposedly tailored by financial advisors.”
Mennen references the TPD data from Table 2 in support of his argument, which he reinforces by highlighting the dispute rate differential between group super and individually advised disability income insurance claims. He states:
“This reinforces that while advisor-sold policies are often marketed as a bespoke product, too often they are compromised by conflicts of interest, including insurers paying trailing commissions that result in poor product selection and claim disputes caused by underwriting complications.”
Characterising these and other statements in the legal firm’s release as uninformed, Anderson says the statement is directly at odds with a comment made by APRA in its report, in which it urges caution in interpreting the information presented in Table 2 as a measure of consumer value.
Countering the Maurice Blackburn line, Anderson points to other data such as the average benefit paid statistics, also sourced from the APRA data, according to Anderson, which paints another picture:
Anderson: “In our view, the most meaningful measure of value for clients in life insurance is what the client or their family receives in the event of a life insurance event and how this aligns with their actual needs.”
He continues, “The average claim benefits demonstrate very clearly that those clients who receive specific tailored life insurance advice from a financial adviser receive a benefit far more relevant to their circumstances and their household debt and living costs. This clearly demonstrates significantly more value for financial advice clients,” says Anderson.
Anderson adds that Maurice Blackburn has sought to utilise the claims paid ratio (Table2) as the sole determining factor of value. While he concedes this is certainly a useful measure for all product types, he says it is not a complete measure in two important ways:
- It does not include all costs that clients experience
- It does not take into account the [relative] complexity of the product
Also supporting the argument for the value of advice and financial advisers, Australian Financial Risk Management’s Victorian Director, Rob Vitnell, has released a response in which he says he is astounded by the lack of evidence used by Mennen to justify his statements.
Vitnell points to other data in APRA’s claims reporting dating back to the first half of 2017, which reveals only a very small variance between individually-advised and group claims outcomes across all product types except TPD:
He says what the Maurice Blackburn statement holds out to be compelling data, therefore, is utterly baseless:
“Put simply, good advice leads to good claims outcomes,” concludes Vitnell.
Click here to read the statement released last week by Maurice Blackburn.
…And click here for the full AFA statement made by Anderson, as your measured comments are welcome.