“If a member of one of our client funds breaks an arm, wouldn’t it be great to be able to send them out a cheque and close the claim pretty much there and then. Of course if they haven’t returned to work after a period which the medical history books tell us is normal – in this case to eight to ten weeks – then we re-open the claim and have another discussion.” Mu is agnostic as to whether a discussion like that would best be had with the claims team at AIA, at a client’s administrator, or even by claims managers employed directly through the client super fund itself. “Naturally as a specialist life insurer we have capability and capacity to perform this function and promote doing so but it is about finding the most efficient way to service the claimant at this time and working in partnership with your client to determine what works best for their members. “There is not just one answer for this. But wherever the claim is managed or assessed, it’s important that after that initial contact, every effort is made to have the same person deal with the member on all their subsequent conversations during the claims process.”
Damien Mu, the chief distribution and marketing officer of group AIA Australia, can’t say it often enough. “It’s all about claims. A policy can look great on paper, but the moment of truth comes when a customer lodges a claim and is expecting to be paid.” The executive thinks it is high time the group insurance industry worked together to produce a more streamlined way of processing claims. “In many cases, the event that’s given rise to the claim is pretty indisputable. It’s a death, say, or in the case of income protection, it’s something like a broken arm. It’s obvious that it’s happened, and the insurer is able to look to extensive medical history in terms of what the typical recovery time from the in injury will be,” Mu says. “In cases like that, do we really need to be going through an arduous assessment process?” Mu is confident that in 20 to 30 per cent of cases, a “fast track” procedure can be initiated, where the requirements for a death claim can be satisfied in as little as 24 to 48 hours, while claims related to basic fractures or breaks can be turned around in two to five days once initial claims forms and evidence are received.