Zurich is happy to share information about the proportion of claims it declines for non-disclosure – which fell from 7% last year to 3% – but says data about the amount of claims declined in general could create problems.
“If the industry could come up with a clear way of publishing stats and was consistent about what counts as a claim, it would be good for all concerned,” says Phil Brown, director of underwriting and claims at Zurich. “But we need to do this before we go out publicly with the numbers. Another issue is whether the market gets into an ‘our data is better than yours’ league table – I don’t think that would be a good thing at all.”
Insurers that refuse to publish their stats, however, could be contributing to the low levels of trust in the industry. Rod McKie, head of marketing for individual protection at AEGON Scottish Equitable, the most recent provider to publish IP claims stats, says it did have concerns about how people would compare the results and the different ways in which insurers classify a claim. However, highlighting to consumers what IP can do for them outweighed these concerns.
“We didn’t want to highlight comparisons, but to show the importance of IP,” says McKie. “Our decision has been well-received in the marketplace.”
What’s more, some providers believe that publishing stats helps them to explain why some claims are not successful, rather than just focusing people’s attention on the declined claims figure.
Paul Hudson, chief executive of Cirencester friendly, says: “It is important that customers understand the reasons why claims are paid and why sometimes it is not possible to pay claims. Unfortunately it is easy to focus on the negative rather than the positive, and to be able to address the negative – i.e. claims being declined – it is important to understand exactly why this is so. This process of education of the customer is important and fits in with Treating Customers Fairly and the education of consumers generally.”
Advisers who have been pushing for claims stats publication can look forward to data from AXA in the near future. Stuart Lawson, protection marketing manager at AXA, says it has not published its claims stats to date because it has only been in the market for a short time, but believes it is important from a transparency point of view.
“Given the greater profile of stats in the industry – for life and CI – we see it as a good thing. AXA is very much into paying claims and publishing stats is something we are looking to do. Three to four years is when a book of business is large enough to make stats meaningful, which is why we are doing work on it now.”
Some insurers, however, point out that while IP is primarily about paying someone an income if they cannot work due to illness or injury, it has other benefits too. The majority of providers now offer services that help claimants get better and return to work – services that are traditionally the preserve of the group IP market. Friends Provident’s Jones believes it is this that the industry should focus on.