Protection in Numbers  

Providers adapt to new ABI claims standard

Providers adapt to new ABI claims standard

Income protection providers have revealed they will review their methodology for publishing claims statistics after the Association of British Insurers changed the way it reports claims.

In response to announcements by the trade body over the change to the way in which the ABI calculates the number of claims paid in any given year, Paul Brencher, managing director of individual protection at Aviva, said the provider would be following this new process for 2017 and beyond.

He said: "Our recent Aviva individual protection claims report used the former ABI method and we believe this is consistent with other providers who have published their 2016 claims rates.

"We will use the new method going forward." Aviva will not be republishing its 2016 statistics, which it revealed earlier this month.

According to its 2016 claims figures, Aviva paid out 96.7 per cent of all individual protection claims in 2016.

Darren Lee, director of underwriting and claims at VitalityLife, also said VitalityLife would not be re-issuing its latest claims figures for 2016, which showed the provider had paid out 99 per cent of life insurance claims and 94 per cent of income protection claims.

Mr Lee said: "This change has minimal impact on VitalityLife because of our relatively young claims portfolio where the volume of previously accepted claims is already low.

"To avoid confusion we therefore don’t intend to re-issue our recently published income protection cover statistics and we expect each insurer to make its own decision in this regard."

However, he said VitalityLife supported the move by the ABI, adding: "We believe it will make income protection claims statistics comparisons more relevant from 2017 (claims year) onwards."

Income protection claims payments are effectively assessed on an ongoing basis, with periodic review of a customer's recovery and ability to return to work, with cessation of claims payments if they have recovered.

The former ABI method included the net effect of these ongoing payments, so if a claim had been made, for example, in 2015, then claims paid figures for 2016 would also include those figures.

However, Mr Brencher was quick to point out the new methodology did not "represent a deterioration in the actual quality of outcomes that our individual protection customers receive".

He said: "The assessment of whether insurers have delivered on their promises to customers with income protection policies requires a broader assessment than just the cash component of claims paid.

"It needs to also include the extent of specialist engagement with customers through rehabilitation support and case management that kicks in immediately on receipt of claims, as well as measuring successes in getting customers back to work where we can, which we know is of most benefit to their wellbeing."