Two Victorian industry fund giants have become the first ING clients to roll out a new online application service for group insurance.

The $13 billion HESTA and the $7 billion HOSTPLUS have launched the online application, which allows their members to apply, change or upgrade their insurance cover online and is expected to significantly reduce the drop-off rate experienced when members undertake the slower, paper-based application process.

The drop-off rate is about 50 per cent for paper-based applications, according to ING.

The online application service is available to HESTA’s 650,000 members and HOSTPLUS’ 920,000 members, and will be gradually rolled out to the rest of ING’s industry super fund, master trust and stand-alone corporate client base.

The applications have been built specifically for the funds’ products. HOSTPLUS offers Death and Total & Permanent Disability (TPD), Death Only insurance cover and Salary Continuance insurance cover, while HESTA offers Death Cover, Lump-sum TPD and Income Protection cover.

Paul Trigg, manager, group risk market, life risk at ING, said the new online application, which is available through the front end of the super funds’ website, takes between five and 20 minutes to complete.

“We are not taking a retail system and butchering it to meet the group market,” he said. “It’s been purpose-built for the group market.”

The application process includes reflexive questioning, and Trigg said the short-form personal statement which was available via the paper application has been retained.

“One thing I was firm about was that we maintain that process in the electronic environment,” he said.

“If you were a clean skin on paper and you continue to be, you will be on the electronic version. If you’re not, you go through to the long-form application and the questions you have already answered are pre-populated.”

Direct data feeds from administrators, such as Superpartners, pre-populate the application with members’ personal details and existing insurance details.

The service includes an online case management system for administrators, enabling the streamlining of the application procedures and back office systems.

The funds’ administrator, as well as the trustee, have complete transparency of the underwriting process, and are able to view, track and report on members’ insurance applications online.

Gavin Pearce, executive director, life risk at ING said the use of technology dramatically reduces the time frame “and we believe it will dramatically reduce the drop-off rate”.

“We envisage this doing two things, one, a lot more people will apply, and two, a lot greater percentage will complete the transaction,” he said.

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