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SIMPLIFYING THE RETIREMENT FUND DEATH CLAIMS PROCESS

By Dolana Conco, Regional Executive at Alexander Forbes

 

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, and during this difficult time, you don’t want your loved ones to have to worry about finances.

Your family will receive a share of your retirement savings and a life insurance pay-out if you die while being a member of a retirement fund. The trustees of the fund have a legal responsibility to make sure that death benefits from the fund are paid to those who are financially dependent on you.

If your death benefit is through a policy that is separate to the fund, then the trustees will not be involved and this benefit will be paid out according to the nomination of beneficiaries’ form that you’ve completed with that specific insurer, or else your employer will decide.

 

What retirement fund members need to do

  1. Keep your ‘Who needs financial support when I die?’ form up to date

This form is so much more important than anyone thinks – even though it is not a last will and testament. The trustees must, by law, find all the people who are financially dependent on you, as well as those whom you love and would want to leave a portion of your death benefit to when you die. Those who depend on you for financial survival are called your dependants. Examples are your spouse or life partner, children (of any age), parents, people you need to pay maintenance to or anyone else in your life who depends on you financially.

If no one is financially dependent on you in any way, you can choose someone else as a beneficiary (family, friend, or even a charity). If you choose to give your death benefit to a charity when you die, the money will first be paid to your estate and then paid over to the charity of your choice. If this form is not up to date, it could take the trustees much longer to identify who should receive a share of your death benefit from the fund.

 

  1. Submit the correct documents

The most common reason for delays in paying an insured death claim is that there are missing, incomplete or incorrect documents submitted with the claim. Your employer can assist with what is needed and can check that the form has been completed fully and correctly before submission. In general, the following information is needed:

  • a certified copy of the death certificate
  • the identity document or passport of the deceased member
  • a copy of a pension-backed housing loan (if applicable)
  • proof of the extent of any financial dependency of the beneficiaries

What your retirement fund needs to do

The trustees of your fund have a legal duty when you die to distribute your death benefit from and through the fund. The trustees must find all dependants and nominees to decide how to share the retirement savings and life insurance pay-out fairly. To make a fair decision, the trustees will consider the following factors, among others:

  1. Age of the beneficiaries
  2. Relationship to the deceased
  3. How financially dependent they were on the deceased
  4. Their financial affairs
  5. Their future earning potential and prospects
  6. The total amount of the retirement saving to be distributed

The trustees can choose to give a beneficiary no pay-out, as the law doesn’t say that every beneficiary must get some money. However, they must consider the needs of each beneficiary and the amount available for distribution.

If there’s information that the trustees may not have considered when they made their decision and the draft resolution has already been prepared, your family needs to contact the trustees urgently. The fund’s administrators will pay the death claim once they get a response from all beneficiaries, or if no response has been received within 30 days of sending the draft resolution document.

There are various reasons for delays in paying a death claim from or through the fund, including the employer not completing the claim form in full, missing or incorrect documents, investigations for the trustee resolution taking longer than expected, outstanding tax issues and beneficiaries not providing their bank account details.

Make sure your family knows what can go wrong and what to do to make the process run smoothly – it all plays a part in leaving a legacy that you can be proud of.

 

Top 10

WHY BETTER PLANNING COULD BE THE INSURANCE INSURERS NEED

Adam Bimson, Chief Customer Officer, Vuealta

 

Insurance is predicated on the ability to plan effectively, to model accurately, and to predict the likelihood and impact of certain events. Whilst already facing significant regulatory, competitive, and customer disruption, the industry, like all others, has now been deeply disrupted by the pandemic. From an operational perspective, insurers have seen their workforces dispersed, their technologies stretched to the limit, and customers put under immense pressure – and in turn, that strain has been put on the insurers themselves.

Then there’s the increase in customers focusing on wanting to better protect themselves. Separate reports have found that the number of people making wills has risen at the same time as life insurance has seen a spike in interest. And for commercial lines, corporate customers are carefully scrutinising their current and future business disruption insurance, again with an eye on increasing their cover.

When is a growth in customers a problem? When you can’t handle each one properly. No business wants to fail due to too much success, but if insurers do not adapt rapidly, that is the risk they entertain. Whilst there may be an uptick in demand in some areas, the market is still awash with competition and tight margins.

Adam Bimson

Added to this are the demands of IFRS17, due to come into force in January 2023. That may seem a long way off, but the reporting requirements it places on insurers will require significant organisational, data and technological change, all of which needs to be started now.

 

Two challenges to overcome to achieve better insurance

This all points to the need for a fundamental shift in the way insurers operate in not one, but two areas.

Firstly, there is the need to adapt their operational model so that the effects of disruption, whether driven by the pandemic or regulation, do not impact the experience their customers receive.

Secondly, they need to reinvent their business so that the services and products they provide are both appropriate for customers and capable of withstanding future upheaval.

In both instances, technology, or rather the ability to consolidate, analyse and action data-driven insights through the use of technology, may offer the solution.

Why? Because as with so many things, the issues that insurers face are built on data. Being able to harness it gives them a much better chance of tackling those issues head-on. For instance, when it comes to operational models, better visibility (powered by data), combined with accurate scenario-based modelling and planning, will aid the development of a more agile organisation. Whether it’s adapting to a reduction in staff headcount as infections spike in different parts of the country or anticipating when customer service functions may be impacted by local lockdowns and increased restrictions. Being able to identify problems and react accordingly will be critical to delivering operational continuity and, therefore, unimpeded customer experience, and data lies at the heart of this.

Then there’s how it can be applied to evolving products and services for customers. Customers, whether consumers or businesses, are going to want to feel covered by their insurance – insurers will want to balance this with the need to not overexpose themselves to events that could appear out of nowhere. Here’s where the combination of accurate data use and the right digital tools, such as artificial intelligence-driven solutions, can help insurers take a major leap forward. Premiums can be adjusted, and more dynamic products tailored to the needs of customers can be developed.

Being able to use data more effectively is going to play a major role in complying with IRFS17, both in getting ready for its implementation and meeting its requirements in the years to come. Complying with a reporting standard will drive an investment in data and technology, but harnessed correctly, that investment can unlock wider benefits – the same commitment can be used to cover off all the challenges already covered.

In short, those that use technology effectively, and plan for scenarios appropriately, are more likely to build the types of products and services that fulfil both those objectives, and ultimately keep customers coming back.

 

Planning for the unpredictable

Much like other sectors, insurers need to revamp their business models. Technology, and the better use of data, offers a solution to both operational and customer experience challenges.

Planning for the unpredictable may seem impossible, but by using a variety of data sources, and more importantly, by being able to connect them all and read them effectively, insurers can ensure they continue to meet customer expectations while preparing their businesses for whatever comes next.

 

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Finance

GEOSPATIAL DATA VISUALISATION MAKES SENSE OF MASS OF COMMERCIAL PROPERTY INSURANCE DATA

Heikki Vesanto, Manager GIS Data Science, LexisNexis Risk Solutions UK & I

 

Like most areas of the general insurance market, data, analytics and technology are helping commercial property insurance providers make faster and more accurate decisions based on a holistic view of risk.  The big difference in commercial property (and to an extent home insurance) is that it is quite literally a picture or map of risk that’s being created – right down to an individual property outline – through the evolution of desktop based geospatial data visualisation tools.

Knowing that visual imagery is more intuitive and speeds up the ability to assess risk, data visualisation tools developed specifically for the insurance sector have become increasingly sophisticated.  They help make immediate sense of the huge and growing volume of data at the market’s disposal.

This data includes the characteristics of a property (floors, height, roof type etc.); its location; the individuals behind the business; the crime and environmental risks including near real-time data on flood and river flows direct from the Environment Agency plus customer and policy data held within an insurance providers’ own databases.

Heikki Vesanto

All this data can now be analysed, aggregated and visualised in map form for use within the insurance continuum – marketing, pricing, underwriting, claims. It reveals where exposures and accumulations exist in an instant and shows insurance providers where there is capacity to write more business.  Fundamentally, the inclusion of all this data allows insurance providers to more accurately price each risk upfront relative to its unique profile.

The demand for this level of insight is only set to grow as commercial insurance providers face changing risks on two fronts. The first is climate change and the cost of claims emanating from extreme weather events. Profitability in commercial property insurance is significantly affected by weather conditions and a recent report suggests commercial property insurance rates were up around 20% on average in Q3 2020[i].

The second is the shift in the use of commercial property space, partially caused by the pandemic.  Surveys suggest that the enforced exodus of workers from offices could be permanent for at least part of the week[ii].  Indeed, several banks across Europe have confirmed they will be closing branches and asking staff to work from home[iii].   There are also questions over the future of town centres which were already in decline before COVID-19.

Understanding which insured properties are vacant versus occupied in a flood, fire or a severe storm, knowing roads closed due to fallen trees, where flood water will flow or how a fire in one building could spread to another is now possible through the evolution of geospatial data visualisation tools such as LexisNexis® Map View, enabling complex property data to be quickly and easily understood and acted upon.

When a weather event occurs, insurance providers can look at a specific geographical region, a postcode, an address or a single property outline, pulling on a wide range of data including live feeds from the Environment Agency.  This means that rather than wait for an influx of claims to assess the exposure to a climate event, they can upload their policy and claims data to visualise the risks and exposure for a whole book of business. They can understand which policyholders could be impacted and where on the ground resources need to be located.

The flexibility of the tools offered today makes it easy to filter down to the risks most of interest, focus on one property for underwriting purposes or a whole block of properties in the path of a coming storm.

The use of ‘live’ data also means that Estimated Maximum Loss and Potential Maximum Loss can be calculated.

Risk can be assessed as needed or a constant monitor created for a whole commercial property portfolio. Looking at a whole portfolio alongside past claims may also help insurance providers price more accurately and understand how they could help mitigate future claims and potential losses.

As well as supporting underwriting, pricing and claims management, with this visual depiction of risk, insurance providers can easily identify areas where they can sell more business in large cities and automatically see where they have areas of high concentrations of Sums Insured for reinsurance calculations.

Insurance specific geospatial data visualisation tools are enabling the insurance market to utilise the increasing availability of ‘live’ and new data sources related to commercial property risks.  This is helping the market to price with pinpoint accuracy, manage their portfolio and get on the front foot when a weather event hits to limit their losses and protect policyholders.

 

[i] https://www.artemis.bm/news/commercial-property-insurance-price-rises-accelerate-globally-in-q3/

[ii] https://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/london-office-market-collapses-amid-pandemic-deloitte-survey-finds/5109149.article

[iii] https://www.ft.com/content/a15f17d3-dc86-4030-85fe-74a29eb1fafa

 

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