The Protection Distributors Group has launched a new charter to help families unable to pay for funeral costs due to claim delays.
The Protection Distributors Group Claims Charter aims to improve basic levels of best practice undertaken by insurers.
Over the last two years the group has driven market wide changes with its Funeral Payment Pledge campaign, which addresses the issue of families not being able to pay for funerals because of delays paying death claims due to probate.
The group asked insurers to commit to advancing payments to families to at least cover funeral costs and insurers including AIG, Aegon, Aviva, Royal London and LV have all introduced these early payments because of the campaign.
Zurich, British Friendly and Old Mutual, who already offered similar payments, have supported the initiative.
The new charter states a dedicated claims team should be available, with a phone-based claims process for claimants to submit and manage their claim.
This should be supported by digital documentation to assess claim efficiently, and that paperwork should only be used where there are no digital alternatives possible or where a claimant requests it.
The charter also states no potential claimant can be turned away by anyone not on the claims team.
Emma Thomson, chairman of the Protection Distributors Group, said: "The Protection Distributors Group has based the Charter on the experiences of its members helping their own clients with claims and we are delighted that Zurich are the first firm to sign up to the Charter, both delivering the required standards and exceeding them.
"We hope to see a number of other insurers signing up to the charter shortly.
"Our consumer-focused group, which currently consists of nine protection distributor firms, is also now able to grow and widen its level of influence to better represent the many different types of distributors advising on protection insurance.
"Its purpose is to raise awareness of protection matters to both consumers and intermediaries, using its collective expertise to instigate changes to benefit consumers and help more of them access protection cover."
The charter also stated claimants must have a named point of contact, with regular updates at least every two weeks, unless otherwise agreed, to keep them informed of the progress.
The charter also states intermediaries must be notified of all claims to ensure records can be updated and no potential distress is caused to clients and families through the intermediary not knowing about a claim.
Finally, it said once a claim is approved, claimants must receive payment within 72 hours.
Kusal Ariyawansa, chartered financial planner at Appleton Gerrard Private Wealth Management, welcomed the charter.
He said: "This is a very good value add and a necessity during a distressing time. To have a telephone-based support unit, digital paperwork and the guarantee of not being turned away is comforting.”
Geoff Butcher, UK claims officer for Zurich, said: "The Protection Distributors Group Claims Charter is a great initiative to outline sensible best practice and campaign for improvements where these basic standards are not met.