The Australian Life Underwriting and Claims Association has released a white paper which focusses on addressing the ongoing sustainability of income protection insurance in the areas of financial underwriting and claims.
The paper, named IDII Financial Underwriting and Claims Better Practices, delivers recommendations made by a panel of industry representatives, following the May 2021 release of the Actuaries Institute’s DII Taskforce report, which included a reference product and a sustainability guide developed in response to APRA’s IP intervention.
ALUCA’s white paper highlights five key areas…which …would have the biggest impact on the issue of individual income protection insurance sustainability
ALUCA’s white paper highlights five key areas in its 67-page report which it believes would have the biggest impact on the issue of individual income protection insurance sustainability from the perspective of financial underwriting and claims.
The five key areas are:
- Income definitions and treatment – white paper section 7, where better practices include:
- Clearly define Insurable Income, Ongoing Business Income and Passive Investment Income
- Remove reference to “personal exertion” from calculation methodologies and from the policy conditions
- Use the customer’s share of adjusted net profit as a basis for calculating a monthly benefit and also pre and post-disability income
- Include an ongoing business income offset clause in the policy conditions
- Clearly articulate the basis on which the monthly benefit will be calculated to the customer at every possible opportunity throughout the application process
- Create a clear philosophy on passive investment income and ensure the underwriting process adheres to this
- Financial profiling, questioning and financial evidence collection – white paper section 8, where better practices include:
- Profiling of insurable income, ongoing business income, passive investment income, income fluctuations, working hours, occupation and duties, gaps in employment, basis of employment and macro-economic factors
- Obtaining appropriate information via the application process in all areas
- Validating evidence provides more accurate assessments, particularly for more complex business structures
- Underwriting and claims philosophies should be the same and align to the policy conditions
- Standardised calculators to assist in achieving consistency in calculations.
- Significant income calculation adjustments – white paper section 9, where better practices include:
- Depreciation: it’s a legitimate expense, it shouldn’t be added back in calculating insurable income
- Income splitting should only be considered as an addback to the extent that the function doesn’t have to be replaced
- SGC Superannuation should be paid to superfunds where possible
- Self-employed superannuation payments could be included as an addback when calculating insurable income. However, where there is a super rider benefit or option on a policy for self-employed these payments should not be included in calculating insurable income
- Policy conditions and underwriting and claims philosophies should be designed to address government subsidies provided
- What to consider financially should the industry consider a policy term expiry – white paper section 10, where better practices include:
- Regular collection of information provides tighter control, assuming insurers can act on this information
- Gathering information and reviewing the customer’s financial and occupation position at least every 5 years.
- Underwriting and claims solutions where there is a crossover between IDII and personal TPD – white paper section 11, where better practices include:
- Methodologies for assessing a customer’s personal disability insurance needs should consider both long term IDII and personal TPD holistically
- Consideration of a joint product offering combining IDII and personal TPD into one product.
The white paper panel also noted in its summary that as well as any appropriate amendments to approaches and practices, it was important that:
- All professionals in life insurance underwriting, claims and rehabilitation roles are appropriately trained and qualified, with such qualifications being transparent to the wider community
- There should be a transparent industry standard Competency Framework underpinning relevant training solutions (which has been addressed via ALUCA’s Life Insurance Competency Framework)
- All practical work performed by life insurance underwriting and claims professionals should be measured against community standards and expectations, as well as legal and regulatory requirements
ALUCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Amanda McKernan, said she was excited for the paper to be released to the market and reinforced the importance of the next steps:
“It is important that the industry drives and adopts these recommended better practices to achieve industry sustainability,” said McKernan, who also emphasised the importance of life insurance professionals being adequately trained and qualified to perform their tasks which will help with implementing the outlined better practices.
Click here or below to access ALUCA’s IDII Financial Underwriting and Claims Better Practices white paper, which also includes a set of tables that summarise the variations that might be considered to a number of income-related definitions and other factors impacting underwriting and claims assessments and the risks (high, medium or low) accompanying the approaches taken to address what are considered to be sustainability-related issues.