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The need for certainty in uncertain times

08 August 2017Jaco Gouws, Old Mutual
Jaco Gouws, Protection Product Head at Old Mutual.

Jaco Gouws, Protection Product Head at Old Mutual.

South African consumers are feeling the pinch. Amidst ongoing political uncertainty and economic setbacks, their gross earnings have decreased while financial pressures have increased. In these challenging times, the importance of trusted, solid advice coupled with comprehensive and reliable risk protection becomes even more important.

According to Jaco Gouws, Protection Product Head at Old Mutual, peace of mind is paramount for consumers in the current strained environment. “When times are tough, advisers need to prove their value for clients, and offer tailored solutions that talk to the full scope of their clients’ needs. While building long term wealth remains top of mind for many clients, it is equally important to have appropriate risk cover in place so they can continue to build wealth.”

Navigating the often-tricky risk insurance landscape and making sure people are covered adequately and cost effectively demands the stewardship of a professional financial adviser. “Nobody wants to have to deal with financial stress when trying to recover from a severe illness,” says Gouws.

“While advances in science and technology have increased our chances of surviving a critical illness or an accident, the costs associated with lifestyle adjustments and rehabilitation have also increased.”

“It’s critical for advisers to partner with providers who can be trusted to make good on policy promises and who ensure that innovation is underpinned with dependability,” believes Gouws.

After reporting annually on its claims statistics, Old Mutual identified a worrying increase in the prevalence of certain severe illness claims. GREENLIGHT cancer claims, by far the most common of the big four severe illness claim types, showed an alarming increase of 12%, from 52% of severe illness claims in 2013 to 64% in 2016. Coronary artery bypass graft claims have also increased and have doubled since 2013, from 5% of claims in 2013 to 11% in 2016. The remaining two severe illness claim types – heart attacks and strokes – have remained steady since 2013, with stroke claims remaining at 8% in 2013 and 2016 and heart attack claims dropping slightly from 18% in 2013 to 17% in 2016.

Gouws explains why assessing a provider’s track record in paying out claims is critical for advisers. “Insurers should be looking for ways to pay claimants, not looking for loopholes to avoid payment. Old Mutual paid out 96% of all GREENLIGHT claims in both 2015 and 2016.

In an increasingly commoditised industry, a commitment to continuous innovation should also be a key consideration for advisers when assessing providers.

“Old Mutual has a distinguished history of innovation,” says Gouws. “In 2001 we introduced 100% only benefits, we were one of the first companies in 2004 to offer the option to claim multiple times on a benefit, and in 2009 we pioneered severe illness benefits that pay 100% on all the Standardised Critical Illness Definitions Project conditions.

“After noticing an alarming increase in the prevalence of severe illness claims over the years, we enhanced our severe illness Premium and Elite cover to include even more medical conditions that customers can claim 100% for and improved the definitions of existing conditions. We call it ‘100% Peace of Mind’, and it’s just our way of continuing this tradition of innovation and improvement,” he added.

Gouws concludes that advisers have a critical role to play in helping clients to navigate the sometimes complex risk insurance landscape. “By combining the advice of experienced, professional financial advisers with cutting edge product innovation and robust underwriting procedures, we can ensure 100% peace of mind and get claims paid efficiently when your clients and their families need it most,” he says.

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