A combination of solid products across the range and competitive pricing has seen MLC Life record back-to-back victories as the Risk Company of the Year at the Money Management/DEXX&R Adviser Choice Risk Awards.
TAL, BT, ClearView and OnePath rounded out the finalists for the overall winner, with DEXX&R’s analysis of the insurers scoring the top three, MLC, TAL and BT, very close together.
DEXX&R chief executive, Mark Kachor, put this down to life insurance being “a highly competitive industry”.
Kachor said that this win topped off a few years of MLC performing “very well” in its insurance offerings, particularly regarding price.
“MLC came out on top again not because they had the best products across every category – they had good products but weren’t necessarily the product leader in every segment – but because of their pricing across the whole range,” he said.
MLC recorded additional wins in three individual Advice Choice Risk Product Awards, with ClearView also performing well with two wins. TAL won one category, as well as providing the insurance option for UniSuper in the two top places the fund received for its insurance inside super products.
MLC chief retail insurance officer, Sean McCormack, said that hte awards were a testament to the company's support for advisers and the advice channel.
“We believe in the value of advice, and believe Australians are better off when they have access to good financial advice. To support advisers, we have a responsibility to offer affordable products that are fit for purpose, as well as to invest in adviser efficiency initiatives to remove some of the barriers to writing insurance," McCormack said.
“In April this year, we launched a new digital underwriting platform to transform the underwriting process. Customers can now receive an indicative underwriting decision in as little as five minutes, resulting in greater underwriting certainty for the implementation of advice. Since the launch, we have tripled the number of immediate decisions we give at the point of sale.”
The winners and finalists in many categories were similar to that of last year; MLC went back-to-back in the three categories it won, for example, as did UniSuper for its term and total and permanent disability (TPD) benefits product.
“There’s hasn’t been much innovation or improvement on features and benefits over the last few years,” Kachor said as explanation. He noted that one exception was ClearView’s LifeSolutions Income Protection Super product, which rose from being a finalist in 2017 to winning this year as a result of improving the policy’s wording around returning to work during the waiting period.
Some of last year’s winners also fell from top places to being finalists this year, such as BT’s income protection in super product, TAL’s disability income product, and MLC’s term and TPD offering.
Kachor said that many of those to fall a few places did so not because of their pricing, which had stayed the same, but because their definitions had become more restrictive.
The Public Offer Super Funds (Group) Disability Income category was an exception to this, with all three finalists, UniSuper, First State Super and HOSTPLUS, being new to the podium for this award.
Based on an assessment of each insurance product’s benefits, features, definitions and premiums, the winners were crowned through a three-step process employed by DEXX&R.
First, the features, benefits and definitions of products were scored, and the results then weighted according to the importance advisers place on them as the second step.
The weightings were determined by a survey of experienced advisers on what factors they consider when selecting products to recommend to clients. This weighted score means that benefits advisers consider minor contribute very little to a product’s total score, while benefits that advisers think are important to client have a more significant impact.
In the feature weighting, for example, terminal illness had a higher weighting than the availability of an accommodation benefit in a lump sum product. Similarly, in trauma products the weighting applied to the score for high incidence events such as skin or breast cancer was significantly greater than the weighting applied for low incidence events such as cancer of the perineum.
The premium score was calculated by running a range of scenarios at five-year intervals from age 25 through to 60, for a range of insureds’ demographics and sums insured.
In the final step, a total product score was reached for each category by adding the above three scores. The weighting applied to each was based on adviser feedback for each category; for term insurance, for example, the premium score accounted for 70 per cent of the total product score, whereas for trauma and disability income it was just 30 per cent.
The overall Life Risk Company of the Year was determined by adding the scores for the highest-scoring product for each company in each product category, with a weighting applied to each product category reflecting the relative size of new premium written.
Risk Company of the Year 2018
Winner: MLC Life
Finalists: TAL, BT, ClearView, OnePath
Advice Choice Risk Product Awards – Outside Super
Term & TPD Products 2018
Winner: TAL: Accelerated Protection Life Cover & TPD
Finalists: MLC Insurance: Life & TPD, BT: Life & TPD
Trauma Products 2018
Winner: MLC Insurance: Critical Illness Plus with Extra Benefits
Finalists: OnePath: OneCare Trauma Premier, BT: Living Insurance Plus
Disability Income Products 2018
Winner: ClearView: LifeSolutions Income Protection
Finalists: TAL: Accelerated Protection Income Protection Premier, AIA: Priority Protection Income Protection
Business Overhead Products 2018
Winner: MLC Insurance: Business Expense Platinum
Finalists: Zurich: FutureWise Ongoing Fixed Expenses, Asteron: Life Complete Business Expenses
Advice Choice Risk Product Awards – Inside Super
Inside Super Individual (Guaranteed Renewable) Term & TPD Rider 2018
Winner: MLC Insurance: Life Cover & TPD Super
Finalists: BT: Wrap Life & TPD Super, TAL: Accelerated Protection Life & TPD Super
Inside Super Disability Income Product 2018
Winner: ClearView: LifeSolutions IP Super
Finalists: BT: Wrap Income Protection Super, MLC Insurance: Income Protection Platinum Super
Public Offer Super Funds (Group) Term & TPD Benefits 2018
Winner: UniSuper – Personal Superannuation (TAL)
Finalists: Russell Super Solutions (TAL), First State Super Personal Superannuation (TAL)
Public Offer Super Funds (Group) Disability Income 2018
Winner: UniSuper – Personal Superannuation (TAL)
Finalists: First State Super Personal Superannuation (TAL), HOSTPLUS - Personal Super (MetLife)