Benchmark Symposium 2021: Impactful Research, Compelling Insights
Recently, on 22 June 2021, we held a virtual version of our much anticipated annual Sanlam Benchmark. For 40 years, the Sanlam Benchmark research has enabled retirement funds, employers and intermediaries to empower their members to live and retire with confidence.
Michele Jennings, CEO of Sanlam Corporate: Group Risk (hereafter referred to as SGR), addressed the audience on topics that are currently top of mind in the industry.
As part of the presentation, she included the findings from a UK research survey done by Guidewire, as it aligned very closely with Sanlam Corporate’s own internal findings on clients expectations. The research was commissioned during COVID-19 to examine client perspectives on insurers, with the objective to gain insight into how insurers can improve client relationships and enhance their products and services.
With regards to service, the top qualities UK clients required were to pay claims quickly (at 40%), to keep data safe, having the option to speak to a person, followed by low premiums, clear terminology and the ability to communicate online.
Below we elaborate on some of the findings:
- How well did SGR do in meeting clients’ needs during the COVID-19 global crisis?
Michele confirmed that the Ombudsman’s report noted that insurer relief packages were not all equally generous, resulting in cover being reduced or lapsed, which is terribly unfortunate during a pandemic when cover is so crucial.
(This report released late in May highlights poor service, communication and claims declined as the main reasons for the complaints that reached their offices.)
However, the Sanlam Life complaints that reached the Ombudsman were proportionately very low, and the number of cases resolved wholly or partially in favour of the complainant was the lowest of all the insurers.
Also refer our article ‘What can be done to pay claims more quickly?’
- Personal engagement or digital capabilities?
Michele reiterated that personal engagement is something we are focused on in Sanlam Corporate, as we realize that new digital solutions should never be at the expense of a human touch and therefore Sanlam offers client solutions specialists, call centre agents, client relationship managers, senior managers, and even our executives, to assist clients when needed.
She also added that, looking purely at digital developments in SGR, we are starting to introduce capabilities similar as to Sanlam Corporate’s best-in-industry retirement fund administration digital capabilities. These new digital touch points aim to speed up service delivery, such as the online portal for submitting death claims and a fully digital, PPR-compliant member benefit statement. Also refer to our article “The rise of Online Education in South Africa“.
- How will Covid-19 impact group insurance premiums in the long run?
Michele noted that, although it was fourth on the list of priorities in the Guidewire UK research, the requirement for lower pricing is obviously a big concern for insurers at this stage.
On the one hand, members are under extreme financial pressure, and on the other hand, it is not sustainable for insurers to continue to carry the extensive burden of claims that far exceed the value of premiums they have received. As a result, a balance is sought.
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