Some of Australia’s largest superannuation funds have realised their customers need more information about default group insurance cover and have made dramatic changes to their systems.

At the 2017 Conexus Financial Group Insurance Summit, held in Sydney on August 29, executives from HESTA Super, Cbus Super, REST Industry Super and corporate super fund provider IOOF outlined recent efforts to make their group offerings more customer-centric.

Faster claims turnaround times and better communication were at the heart of a move to online statements, said IOOF national specialist, workplace super and group life, Peter Mann.

The move away from paper statements at IOOF had left customers “extremely happy” and more engaged with the company, Mann said.

“We really needed to make some changes to provide better services to members…We’re providing members with more information, so we’re communicating better with them, but at the same time that they’re perhaps and hopefully going to become more engaged with us,” Mann told the summit.

Using focus groups to guide their changes, IOOF streamlined its back-office claims process and moved to provide consumers more information about insurance.

“One of the biggest problems with the erosion of benefits comes from insurance premiums,” Mann noted. “So, our intention is that we’re going to have a banner box that will advise members if we haven’t had a contribution for that particular annual reporting period.”

REST employs Roger the chat-bot

REST customer service general manager Beth Parkin said moving to digital statements and enlisting Roger the chat-bot had “proved a winner” with members.

“In 2016, we went to 1.4 million members with our first ever digital statement,” Parkin said. “That’s 1.4 million out of our 2 million members. We focused on delivering an industry leading, visually appealing, interactive statement that was optimised for all devices…was easy to read and had simple navigation.”

One of the best parts of going digital was saving members $900,000 a year in print costs, she said. Improved engagement is the other major advantage.

“Our digital statement helped members easily see insurance as part of their superannuation account,” Parkin explained. “It helped them understand the type of insurance they hold and took them straight to the member centre to take action on their statement.”

It was clear from feedback that REST members wanted live contact on insurance questions.

“Roger, our chat-bot, has also been doing a good job. And the best thing about him is he’s 24/7 and doesn’t need a coffee break. He’s answered 2500 insurance questions so far.”

She said the fund would now explore social media as a channel to customers.

HESTA gets texting

HESTA insurance general manager Kelly Smith said the industry fund had made changes to its online services and administration process to improve the “insurance journey” for health and community workers belonging the fund.

“We have spent the last year having a whole lot of fun, laughing and shedding tears with our members,” Smith said. “Learning with them, using human-centred design.

“In one of our CX [customer experience] workshops, in two days with our members, we built four iterations of a digital prototype…and tested seven new insurance concepts with 15 members.”

Changes at HESTA have included: the introduction of SMS (text message) access throughout the claims and underwriting process, which has reduced complaints; turning the lengthy personal medical attendant report into a brief statement to improve turnaround times from doctors; and retraining contact staff to understand empathy and sympathy, so they can use the right language at the right time for members recovering from health issues, Smith said.

Cbus two years into overhaul

Cbus head of insurance, complaints and compliance, Noel Lacey, said his team was two years into a three-year program to enhance the member experience.

The construction and building industry super fund now provides total insurance coverage across its membership by including a professional worker category.

The fund appointed life insurer TAL in 2015 to drive its transformation by repricing and introducing insurance products.

“Particularly around the disability side, we’ve seen very substantial reductions in the premium rates for members,” Lacey said. “I’m talking around 40 per cent.”

He said streamlining the fund’s claims and other processes had allowed double the number of members, up to 80 per cent, to be accepted for death and total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance. An increase to its online capability tripled the volume of interactions with members overnight.

“It’s a clear message about how members want to engage,” Lacey said.

The 2017 Conexus Financial Group Insurance Summit was produced with thanks to support from platinum sponsors AIA Australia and TAL Australia, and silver sponsor Swiss Re.

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