BT Financial Group (BTFG) has been named as Risk Company of the Year in the Money Management/DEXX&R Adviser Choice Risk Awards, securing the win from TAL and OnePath, which had taken the top spot for the past four years.
BTFG, Life Insurance Products, National Manager Scott Moffit attributes the win to proactive product development and transparency in the claims process as well as offering choice to advisers and clients as to how they access and pay for life cover.
"We have been active in product development while there has been a contraction in the market and we have expanded our range in key areas. We also invested in the service proposition to advisers, Moffit said.
"Phil Hay (BTFG Head of Life Insurance) is also very vocal about transparency in our claims process and we have evolved that to a high degree and it has played a large part in our advice offering."
BTFG's success in the awards follows a number of years of working on the claims process according to BTFG, National Claims Manager, Life Insurance, Paula Bourke.
"We understand that being transparent about our claims service is important for building trust with advisers and consumers. Since we are confident that we strive to deliver the best we can, we continually allow independent assessors to review our claims service."
The win for BTFG comes three years after it opened its life insurance offering to the independent financial adviser sector with Moffit stating that BTFG's state based underwriting services had created 'better rhythms' between the group and advisers and greater sustainability and consistency in the underwriting process.
He said regular examination of the claims process and retention rates, in conjunction with underwriting, have also benefitted the group in the past one to two years.
"We clearly monitor what takes place in the customer set, which fits with underwriting, and we have feedback loops around our rules and their application," he said.
"At the same time in claims we have invested in people to ensure we can deal with advisers and the claims of their clients. We want to get people back to wellness and work and have created programs to help them get better and remain active."
TAL Life general manager for retail distribution Niall McConville stated his group's Silver placing, for the second consecutive year, comes from being a risk insurance specialist which focuses heavily on the retail financial advice sector.
"We interact with planners every day and we see more of them specialising in life and risk insurance because general advice is too broad, so in that regard we are specialists working with specialists," McConville said.
"We have also spent the last 12 months focusing on the education of financial planners and advisers and how to move consumers beyond treating life insurance as a commodity and how they can articulate the value of life insurance to them."
OnePath's continued presence in top end of the awards - it won this category last year - can be attributed to consistency over time according to, ANZ Global Wealth head of life insurance Gerard Kerr.
He said the OneCare products offered through OnePath had been consistent in terms of their delivery even though the market has changed and faced challenges.