Providers defend protection claim calls to advisers

Providers defend protection claim calls to advisers

Protection providers have defended their record when it comes to informing advisers when clients make claims against their policies.

A number of major players in the sector, including Zurich, AIG and Holloway Friendly, have said they always notify advisers when claims are made.

It follows calls from advisers to ensure they are kept in the loop when clients make claims so they are able to provide emotional support and guide them through the process to ensure mistakes are not made.

Tom Baigire, chief executive at Lifesearch, told FTAdviser that the issue was one of the main areas in which he would like to see protection providers make progress.

He said: “It is very personal stuff we are getting involved in. If you are distraught and your life is at its lowest ebb, dealing with any instruction is almost impossible.

“What we can do is talk to the client as a friend – an expert friend – who can say ‘don’t worry, you don’t need to do that’. We can give simple guidance.

“A good intermediary is the agent of the customer. There is no time when that is more important than at the claim stage. 

“Often our job is saying ‘don’t get angry with the insurer’. 

“Lifesearch will pick up the phone and ring a specialist, whereas an insurance company can’t do that. As we interpret it, our remit is to care.”

Alan Lakey, director at Hertfordshire-based CIExpert, echoed Mr Baigrie’s concerns.

He told FTAdviser: “What companies often forget is we are the intermediaries and first port of call. 

“Most [clients] phone me, but around 30 per cent go straight to the insurance company.

“There should be an agreement that they will copy us in on all correspondence, and it does not happen.

“We can stop non-claims from going through: if I phone up and the lady says it is a critical illness claim, and I say ‘no it is income protection’, it ensures the right claim is made.

“And also, I can keep an eye on them to see they are being dealt with properly.”

But most insurers contacted by FTAdviser said they always notified advisers when claims were made - although some have opt-outs for customers who do not want the information to be passed on.

Simon Jacobs, head of underwriting and claims at Aegon, said: “We always endeavour to notify the adviser about a protection claim, where the customer making the claim has an adviser in place. 

“At Aegon, we offer services to help advisers and customers avoid issues with claims. This starts from the outset of the policy with pre-submission underwriting helpline to help advisers ensure all information and health queries are captured correctly at application stage. 

“Then at claim stage the tele-claims service takes some of the burden off people claiming for critical illness by helping them capture the details correctly, completing the form on their behalf by phone.”