Consultants deem innovation of income products necessary

By Insurance, News, Pensions

The income insurance market is becoming more complex due to the growing focus on sustainable employability. Yet according to consultants, insurers mainly concentrate on standardization. A mismatch between customer demand and product offer is brewing. IG&H spoke with several market parties in the insurance sector and provides concrete tools for product innovation.

It’s undeniable: currently, ‘sustainable employability’ is a trendy term. But the attention it receives seems appropriate. Not only should employers get a grip on the (financial) risk of rising absenteeism, the tight labor market also forces them to double down on being a good employer. This is difficult, so employers expect ‘customized’ support. At the same time, insurers focus on simplicity and cost reduction, which leads to less innovation and more homogeneity. As a result, income solutions tend to be suboptimal, and not all employers can realize their ambitions.

We’ve observed three axes for product innovation:

  1. Sector differentation

Conversations with employers have shown that their needs often depend on the sector in which they operate. Of course, all insurers use sectoral premiums, but other than that, consultants still find the sector-oriented offer insufficient, despite the success of (former) ‘pension subsidiaries’ Loyalis and NV Schade. For them, the sector approach results in lower premiums, less absenteeism, and a higher penetration rate.

What elements does such a sector proposition consist of? We’ve listed the three main ones:

  • Insurance conditions focus on the collective labor agreement (which is especially relevant to the WIA (Work and Income Act) supplement), so employees’ financial risk is optimally covered.
  • Additional services are focused on a sector’s issues. This starts with targeted solutions for the main causes of an inability to work, but it can be expanded to other relevant HR domains. An example includes services which promote older employees’ labor mobility.
  • An attractive risk profile is created by a broad inflow (via covering agreements or even collective labor agreements) and by building unique data on a well-defined group of companies. The result is that premiums can be reduced and/or returns can be increased.

Most sector propositions have been created by building reactively on a solution for one customer. But it’s also possible to adopt a proactive approach. In that case, a sector is selected based on several criteria (such as scalability, the collective labor agreement, available data, commitment to the sector), after which a proposition is created with specialized consultants. Not as a replacement for the existing offer, but as a valuable addition to it.

  1. Premium differentiation

Usually, premiums are determined based on historical absenteeism data. As a result, premiums are volatile and investments in vitality barely pay off. On top of that, the use of sectoral premiums means SMEs are ‘punished’ for absenteeism at the companies of competitors/colleagues. Of course, the ‘MKB Verzuimontzorgverzekering’ (absenteeism unburdening insurance for SMEs) will lead to premium stability, but it will ultimately have a price tag. Therefore, we believe that a more ‘customized’ premium contribution rate has potential for many employers, both small and major. Not to refute the solidarity principle, but to make investments in a healthy company more worthwhile.

Insurers struggle with the use of predictive data. The challenge lies in legal limitations and the complexity of data warehouses, but also in the unfamiliarity with the predictive power of customer and risk data. A good first step to detecting predictive elements is to have consultants and insurers bring together anonymized data. Historical absenteeism data don’t have to be abandoned: the flexible premium model forms a great intermediate alternative. In this model, historical absenteeism determines the basic premium, and the premium surcharge depends on investments in sustainable employability and short-term results (such as a reduction in absenteeism and lifestyle changes).

Furthermore, consultants believe a vitality budget may encourage employers to pursue a more conscious policy. Of course, the amount may depend on the scope of the contract and the risk profile. If the effectiveness of investments is proved, this can be translated into a premium discount.

  1. Flexibility of conditions

More and more often, an insurance is the closing entry of a vitality solution, and the conditions hardly vary between insurers. Consultants believe more flexibility is required to keep covering the growing financial risk. There is a particular demand for an automatic link to the rising state pension age. Furthermore, there’s a need for a more flexible contract term – standard options of 1 and 3 years, for example. Finally, consultants wish to see more options with respect to self-retention (stop-loss) and a higher maximum insured amount, especially for large employers (invalidity pension).

Solution guidelines for digital innovation
Product innovation doesn’t yield much if there’s no solid foundation. Therefore, we will provide concrete tools for improving digital services in our next blog.

Written by: Bob van Opstal (Manager Pensions) en Idriss Abdelmoula (Consultant Pensions).
More info: bob.vanopstal@igh.com

 

Income protection market: Dutch consultants call on insurers to raise the bar

By Insurance, News, Pensions

The Dutch collective income market is booming – its social relevance is greater than ever and margins are improving. Foreign insurers enter the market and several Dutch insurers make strategic acquisitions throughout the value chain. At the same time, consultants and insurers are increasingly at odds. IG&H spoke to several parties in the market to determine how they can break the tension and join forces to work on effective customer solutions together.

There is a strong consolidation in the income protection market. In 2018, for example, the 50 largest consultancies accounted for half of the total production – 60% without sick leave insurance. All insurers are fully committed to this leading group and are improving their services. Nevertheless, they don’t always hit the right note: insurers’ average NPS among income consultants is -15 in mid 2019. The average performance score is 7.1.

Gradually, the consequences are becoming clear. For instance, >5% of the total WIA/WGA premium is placed with foreign insurers, elipsLife being the main example. Their success primarily results from ample underwriting capacity, sharp pricing, and an equality-based collaboration model with room for services offered by the consultant. In addition, we’ve observed a development we’re familiar with in the non-life market: substantial growth of mandated brokers. By now, 35% of the sick leave portfolio has been placed with mandated brokers (2016: 25%) – with service providers (including Felison, Nedasco, and Mandaat) making a name for themselves. Often, they turn out to be the go-to solution in the SME segment: they offer administrative convenience and quickly arrive at a market-wide price comparison. Between 2016 and 2018, their portfolio grew by more than 50%, and their market share in the intermediary sick leave market has increased to as much as 12%.

We believe insurers can improve their services on three axes:

1.    Mismatch between customer demand and product offer

Sustainable employability is high on employers’ agendas: absenteeism costs are rising, and in this difficult labor market, all attention goes to being a good employer. At the same time, income issues are growing more complex, and customer needs increasingly diverge.

A common observation is that many insurers opt for standardization – which, of course, results in simplicity and lower costs. But it also leads to a limited response to sector-specific needs and a lack of product innovations. Furthermore, consultants believe predictive data are still underused. For example, they are open to a model in which investments in sustainable employability lead to lower premiums. After all, it improves the risk profile, which means the insurer can benefit from a decreasing claims ratio. Finally, they indicate that the risk appetite of Dutch insurers seems to wane, making it difficult to insure a growing part of the market.

2.    A lack of digital innovation

As a result of consultants’ professionalization and cost pressure from the market, they place increased demands on digitalization. A much-heard adage is, ‘Stagnation means regression’ – which concerns administrative processes, among other things. Requesting information during quotation processes is often time-consuming, and the lead time for customized quotations increases. Furthermore, consultants expect more digital insight into customer and risk data so it can support their consultancy and serve as an additional service for employers.

3.    Declining trust due to conflicts of interest

Both consultants and insurers support employers in improving sustainable employability through consultancy and various prevention & reintegration services. This often leads to conflicts of interest with consultants and insurers ‘competing’ for access to the customer and the associated revenue. To many consultants, recent acquisitions by Aegon, a.s.r. and NN also fit into this picture. They fear that insurers will become competitors in an increasingly important part of their business model. Therefore, their message is clear: actively seek collaboration so the customer ends up getting the best solution.

In-depth solution guidelines

Our conversations yielded more than a problem analysis. In fact, they’ve provided concrete tools for a better collaboration between consultants and insurers. Curious? We’ll explain them in our next three blogs.

Written by: Bob van Opstal (Manager Pensions) and Idriss Abdelmoula (Consultant Pensions).
For more information, contact Bob: bob.vanopstal@igh.com