“Partnerships between superannuation funds and life insurers are essential to bringing together the right people, skills, and expertise to deliver exceptional experiences and create shared value for the fund, insurer and the members they serve,” writes Dan Taylor, General Manager of Group Partnerships at Australiasian life insurance giant, TAL.
Life insurers are experts in developing products to protect people when they face unfortunate circumstances, while superannuation funds specialise in helping Australians build wealth as they work, so they feel confident in retirement.
As we look to the future, and technology and connectivity become more central to our experiences, operations and expectations, the nature of those partnerships and how they deliver value for members is evolving and transforming. This will accelerate in the coming years.
Responding to consumer needs and expectations
Consumers, particularly ‘digital natives’, have increasingly higher expectations of the service experience their providers deliver.
Traditionally, superannuation members have had low engagement with their super and limited interactions with their insurance.
Recent events – such as the raft of regulatory reforms in superannuation, the global pandemic and its effects on market volatility, as well as the Superannuation Early Release Scheme – have prompted many Australians to pay closer attention to their super.
Additionally, further consolidation of that industry through mergers and acquisitions is increasing the size of superannuation funds, with a greater focus on achieving economies of scale, increasing efficiency, and providing a digitally-led experience.
Over the past four years at TAL there has been a four-fold increase in the number of superannuation fund members engaging with our digital insurance solutions and the number of people proactively applying to change their cover has doubled.
Setting the foundations for the future
With increased expectations from consumers, alongside continued advocacy for greater member engagement from government, regulators, superannuation funds and insurers, there is a significant opportunity for insurers to capitalise on that demand to improve their digital propositions.
TAL is transforming our group insurance solutions to deliver seamless member experiences and forge digital partnerships with funds. This ongoing program leverages enterprise-wide technology and design investments, as well as experience from our retail and direct insurance channels.
In an environment where complexity surfaces through products, regulation, manual processes and legacy technology, and beyond, we have defined five principles to guide our delivery focus.
- Scalable: delivering robust and modern technology – architecture, coding and cloud adoption – and simplified products to provide increased performance, availability, and resilience.
- Seamless: enhancing the member experience so it’s seamless, fast and simple to navigate, integrating TAL’s services through APIs so members can seamlessly manage their superannuation and insurance together.
- Simple: simplifying products, processes and language to enable more efficiency, automation and intuitive digital journeys, with information and support to guide members along the way.
- Speed: supporting more members to choose digital pathways and increasing automation to enable faster underwriting and claims journeys, providing opportunities to drive back-end operational efficiencies while also connecting members to people when they need help.
- Service: increasing real-time transparency across underwriting and claims interactions to provide greater confidence, consistency and fairness for members while evolving ways of working to facilitate stronger partnerships.
We can provide significant benefits by shifting our focus from digital product manufacturing – where we create branded portals for every partner which are expensive to build and maintain – to delivering a range of scalable insurance services through digital platforms, connected via APIs. This includes automatic updates to registry systems, greater transparency for members and contact centre teams, increased speed in decision-making, and faster development times.
Creating value for members through speed and simplicity
Partnerships between insurers and superannuation funds have the power to demonstrate value and improve engagement with members through technology. Through the advancement of TAL’s technology and digital strategy, we see significant opportunities to improve understanding of insurance, while also driving speed, simplicity, and confidence in outcomes for members.
We advocate for providing a digital solution for members and work closely with our partners to continually enhance the experience. Last year, TAL received almost 75,000 applications from members to increase their insurance, with around 86 per cent being submitted electronically.
When members submit applications online compared to filling out paper forms, we automatically reduce the administrative component of that process, halving the time it takes to process.
Increasing the underwriting straight-through processing (STP) rate, and driving faster time to decisions, is an important measure for us given the improved experience and efficiency gains available. Optimising our underwriting rules engine and introducing new features – including helping members better understand and acknowledge where we might not be able to provide them with cover – has allowed us to increase STP (straight-through processing) rates by 20 per cent.
Optimising the online experience is crucial for driving increased satisfaction. Advanced cloud technology and API integration have cut almost one minute off the time we take to provide a member with a decision confirming their insurance application.
Based on member feedback, we are completely redesigning our digital underwriting, simplifying products and processes, and enabling better triaging and fewer questions, to deliver a more seamless experience. Bringing eligibility for insurance upfront means members will no longer have to spend unnecessary time providing information that may ultimately result in a negative outcome. Better focused and more timely support will be accessible across both digital and teleservices, and clear language principles will support increased understanding and confidence amongst members.
New technologies like artificial intelligence will enable us to achieve faster times to decision with machines supporting better triaging of cases and decision-making where applications would traditionally be referred for a person to review.
Claiming with confidence
For many members, the convenience and ease of access that comes with a digital experience can lessen the burden of the claims process. We are continually looking for opportunities to streamline the claims journey to help improve members’ experiences when they’re sick or injured.
TAL’s Claims Assist uses tailored automation to create efficiency in the administrative side of the claims process. This is achieved by simplifying the tracking of a claim, allowing members to upload documents, and providing clarity around any information requirements that are still outstanding. By removing some of those administrative aspects from the claims consultant’s role, it allows our team to focus on supporting claimants through the more personal or complex aspects of their claim.
Typically, around 45 per cent of eligible members access the digital service with over 70 per cent of them engaging through their mobile phone or tablet. Providing a digital claims experience is no longer just an option; it’s a base expectation from members.
Beyond this, expanding self-service across the claims journey, including lodgement, integrating health and recovery services like TAL Health Connector, and providing members with faster payments, will increase their confidence in TAL and support efficiency gains for funds and administrators.
At TAL, we are building our future as a digital insurance partner. Leveraging our scale and multi-channel experience in life insurance and digital engagement, we will work collaboratively with superannuation funds, and their technology providers and administrators, to support faster and more seamless experiences that are critical for increasing engagement, generating efficiency and supporting better member outcomes.
A 20-year veteran of corporate innovation, Dan Taylor currently heads up TAL’s group partnerships function,.