As most of the industry shows frustration with the incoming professionalisation regime, life risk industry veteran, Michael Molesworth, has warned that underwriters and claims assessors need to be subject to more stringent education requirements or risk community outrage.
He wrote on LinkedIn that, in light of the revelations of misconduct uncovered by the Royal Commission, the current lack of requirements for underwriters and assessors to have professional training and qualifications was stark, especially compared to the extensive requirements the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) was imposing.
“Based on the part that the underwriting and claims fraternity had in some of this misconduct, it is clear that major changes are essential and one step is to introduce mandatory professionally qualified underwriting and claims assessors where your knowledge and competency is independently measured against the requirements of your role,” he wrote.
“If consumers were aware that their crucial underwriting and claim decisions were being made by mainly unqualified assessors, their outrage would be palpable and definitely below community expectations.”
He called on the new draft Financial Services Council (FSC) Code of Practice to require underwriting and claims personnel with decision-making authority to be certified by an independent body.
Some insurers had been developing in-house assessor training courses, which Molesworth was concerned would avoid the exposure of any knowledge gaps to external scrutiny and tended to support poor or inappropriate cultures, performance and behaviours.
He also warned of the “chronically high shortage of high quality underwriting and claims assessors and [that] poaching of assessors across the industry is rife”, pointing out that when an assessor was poached, the new employer would have no independent means of determining their skills or knowledge.
As such, “poorly or semi-skilled assessors with the ‘gift of the gab’ or those who are good self-promoters or, worse still, those who are undisciplined technically, are able to achieve higher senior roles.”