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Cigna plans income protection offer for grads, tweaks eApp

19 May, 1:13pm by Jenni McManus

Cigna New Zealand is working on an income protection offer aimed at young professionals who are new to the workforce.

Full details are yet to be unveiled but the insurer told more than a thousand participants at a recent webinar that new graduates in professions such as medicine and the law would not need to show two years’ proof of income – the industry standard - before applying for agreed-value income cover.

“The requirement has been removed for new professional occupations,” Cigna’s chief operating officer, Debbie Eyre, told the meeting.

Two further “product enhancements” are due to go live before the end of June. Simon Tohill, Cigna’s general manager strategy and marketing, says these will target medical definitions to ensure they remain relevant and in line with current medical practice and transparency in policy wording.

Eyre says uptake of Cigna’s eApp, which has been in the market for a year, has been high and 83% of the firm’s business is now done through the app. It means advisers can get business written on the spot, she says, and further changes are coming that will increase straight-through processing rates, mainly because of better disclosure. For advisers who’re not confident with the technology, Cigna offers training sessions on the app.

In the past 12 months, other improvements had enabled Cigna to increase the benefit amount that can be accepted automatically through the underwriting engine, Eyre says, meaning fewer applications need to be referred to an underwriter. Conditional acceptance decisions within the underwriting engine have been introduced for mortgage payment cover so customers (and their advisers) know immediately whether they are covered medically.

With regulators “very active” at the moment, Tohill says hundreds of advisers have used Cigna’s compliance platform for training and to complete their annual recertification and declarations. A traffic light system gives them an immediate fix on their compliance status and any outstanding requirements. It is integrated with MBIE’s financial service provider register.

Eyre says occupational codes have been updated, giving more clarity within the engine about occupations that Cigna will insure. And the pay-later feature, where applications could be submitted and the payment details provided later, has also been popular.

Since January, advisers have been able to use a new income protection calculator that previously had been accessible only to underwriters.

“It gives [advisers] a clear and transparent process to work through income and expenditure to determine what level of cover [the] customer needs,” Eyre says. “It also enables insight into the underwriter’s thinking and assessment methodology.”

Cigna’s New Zealand life insurance business was sold to Chubb, the world’s biggest listed insurer, in October last year in a deal which, including other acquisitions, is worth US$5.75 billion. New Zealand CEO Gail Costa says the purchase is progressing well and is expected to be completed next month.

Cigna New Zealand recently reported a 12% increase in net premium revenue for the 2021 year. Sales were up 22%.

Financial Planning