Supporting vulnerable customers even more important during cost-of-living hardship
16 May 2022
The cost-of-living crisis has heightened the need for insurers to support customers experiencing financial vulnerability, says Grant Willis, Head of Asteron Life.
Speaking at the 2022 ANZIIF Business Breakfast on 13 May, Willis shared what Asteron Life is doing to help customers through temporary hardship caused by inflation and rising interest rates.
“Identifying and helping customers who are experiencing vulnerability, including financial vulnerability, is a key focus for Asteron Life,” he says. “While anyone can experience vulnerability regardless of their demographic or financial situation, we’re very conscious that many of our customers are experiencing a hard time right now.”
Willis shared Asteron Life’s approach to helping customers in trouble, which starts with its employees, who are specifically trained to identify clues that customers might be in strife – even if they don’t explicitly share the information themselves.
“And beyond the training we provide, our people are empowered to help customers, and to respond if, for example, the conversation with the customer is about more than some simple changes to their premiums, or if they are actually facing a significant financial or personal issue.”
Willis says Asteron Life’s team are well versed in referring customers to its community partners including Lifeline, Shine, and Good Shepherd among others, who can help them to get the support that they require.
He says the company also has mechanisms in place to provide financial relief if customers need it.
“We are very conscious that the current economic situation may require Kiwis to make trade-offs in their household budgets,” he says. “For us, this means working hard to ensure that we are making support options available so that customers don’t need to cancel their insurance – and potentially sacrifice their long-term financial resilience – due to short periods of hardship now.”
Willis says over the last few years Asteron Life’s customers have accessed millions of dollars in premium waivers and holidays.
When it comes to helping to reduce the chances of customers getting into vulnerable situations, Willis also believes underinsurance among Kiwis is something that should be addressed.
“Underinsurance is already a significant issue facing New Zealanders, which is another catalyst for financial vulnerability among communities. It’s important that insurers and advisers do everything they can to identify customers who may need a leg up and people don’t miss out on taking out these important policies.”
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