Life and health break-out sessions

Marty Fisher (Martha Fisher & Associates) co-facilitates the Life/Health breakout sessions.
Marty Fisher (Martha Fisher & Associates) co-facilitates the Life/Health breakout sessions.

One of the most popular Exchange traditions are the product-specific breakout sessions.  Here’s where insurance professionals and regulators can engage in an open dialogue where burning issues are first identified and prioritized(first break out) and then openly discussed to distill best practice solutions (second break out).

Life and health’s top four are…
Approximately 35 attendees (regulators and industry professionals) joined these break-out sessions and all contributed in their own way to the body of knowledge for the life and health sectors.  The top issues identified are captured below, along with the proposed best practices distilled from the group’s best thinking.

Topic 1:  Unclaimed property and missing policies—identified as a current issue due to stronger requirements for companies selling life products to find beneficiaries.

Best practices distilled:

  • Use death databases equitably throughout a company, not on a per-product basis.
  • Companies now providing in-house data searches, third-party, and investigative searches to ensure all beneficiaries are located for life policies.

Additional thoughts and issues noted:

  • The searches for beneficiaries has caused an uptick in social media enquiries as beneficiaries are opining whether the search is legitimate or phishing for information.
  • Companies presented noted that back payments are significant enough to impact reserve and the cost of investigations is also significant.
  • Many companies noted they are working hard to rectify what was an oversight—all companies thought they were in compliance with the law and are working to be proactive to ensure they deliver superior service to clients and their beneficiaries.

Regarding missing policies—defined as a consumer or beneficiary believing a policy was purchased, but not having documentation. All companies stated they worked to be compliant with the law and worked with stakeholders to provide prompt responses to any policy enquiries.

Best practices distilled:

  • Although different states handle missing policies differently, it was noted this is an area where DOIs and companies might work collaboratively to provide access to transparent information for beneficiaries.

Some companies present noted they are adding their own policies and procedures on missing policies and will include in self-audits so regulators know of their efforts.

Mary Petersen (IL DOI) provides assistance during the Life/Health breakout sessions.
Mary Petersen (IL DOI) provides assistance during the Life/Health breakout sessions.

Topic 2:  Churning/unsuitable sales—a top vote-getter for hot topics concerning the industry, due to the ongoing responsibility companies and regulators have to prevent or reverse the sale of products that are not in the best interest of the consumer (for what ever reason).

Best practices distilled:

  • Outbound calls from carrier to customer to confirm information and suitability of sale.
  • Dedicated suitability department to review all sales, not just on a spot or random basis.
  • Companies work to eliminate churn between agents by establishing a time limit into policy.
  • Many carriers make sure no funds are paid prior to suitability review.
  • Regarding document delivery, some carriers ensure delivery of documents via FedEx or agent to customer to have documentation of delivery/receipt.

Also noted:

  • All agreed the consumer has some responsibility to fully understand the life product contract and know difference in terms such as fair market value vs. full investment.  Agents, producers and carriers have the responsibility to understand products and have the ability to fully explain the products to consumers.
  • The NAIC has a compendium of suitability laws that can be accessed via the NAIC website.

Topic 3:  Sale of unauthorized product—defined here as the selling of product (mostly group) that has not been filed with the state.  The issues with this topic were many and included licensing of association/group discount plans, and the marketing of these products.  It was noted that due to the multiple states/multiple companies complexity, DOIs rarely have any actual authority over these plans making educating or warning consumers extremely difficult

Best practices distilled:

  • Some companies have used DOI alerts to keep consumers aware and to help shut down illegal operation.
  • Companies and DOIs can work together to notify DOI if an entity is illegally selling products using a company name.

Gerard O’Sullivan (CT DOI) facilitates one of the Life/Health breakout sessions.
Gerard O’Sullivan (CT DOI) facilitates one of the Life/Health breakout sessions.

Topic 4:  Complaint tracking and trending—some topics are evergreen and this is one such topic.  However, since complaint handling is what consumer affairs professionals do, then this topic remains the heart and soul of the group. The 2012 attendees chose to focus on how trending can be used to benefit the consumer:

Best practices distilled:

  • Many companies and agents are reviewing both justified and unjustified complaints to spot trends.
  • Companies are providing outreach communications explaining information such as rate increases to help avoid complaints.

To eliminate confusion, many companies and DOIs are working to determine if an interaction should be classified as a complaint or enquiry very early on in process. To do so, some companies proactively indicate to DOI how the company is classifying the consumer interaction and request verification (or negative consent) from the DOI.

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