Client-centric approach key to insurer's success
Malan said the prevailing economic conditions are challenging for businesses and in the life market there are some indications of slower growth and an increase in lapses because consumers’ pockets are under pressure.
“However, where policyholders see the value of their life cover, they do tend to hold on to this important protection, even when times are tough. BrightRock offers clients a fundamentally different product design that precisely matches their needs and adapts to changes in their lives. It’s a client-centric approach that creates a unique solution for each and every client, and makes it clear what the value of their cover is,” said Malan.
He added that another important consideration in tough times is affordability, rather than simply choosing the cheapest premium.
“However, clients tend to flock to providers that can offer them better value for their money. Brightrock’s needs-matched approach strips out unnecessary waste, offering clients an average of 40percent more cover for the same premium. We believe this has been a key driver in the strong growth we continue to see,” said Malan.
He added that BrightRock has maintained its position as the fastest-growing life insurer in its market segment over the past number of years.
“Last year, we achieved 43 percent growth in total premium income (as at December 31, 2018) and, contrary to the industry trend, our lapse experience has also been significantly better than expected. We expect this growth to continue and see BrightRock continuing to innovate and create products that meet clients’ needs. In terms of what this milestone means for us in the context of this tough economic climate, we feel it is a particularly important milestone, because BrightRock is delivering on our promises to clients and putting money in their pockets in difficult times when they need it most,” said Malan.
The insurer has grown strongly since its market entry in 2012, and today covers more than 2 million lives across its individual life, life assistance and group risk offerings, while the latest available industry new business volume survey, published by SwissRe, placed BrightRock among the top four insurers in South Africa, with the majority of lump-sum disability business sold by independent advisers in the large premium market category placed with BrightRock.
Malan said an example of the insurer meeting the needs of clients’ precisely and adapting to changes in their lives, throughout the duration of the policy and at the point of claim, is that BrightRock was the first insurer to offer clients the option of choosing an income-based payout for death claims or to offer them the ability to change their choice of a lump-sum payout to a regular monthly income amount.
He said they can do this at claim stage, when families best understand how an illness or injury will affect their financial needs.
“We are seeing the impact of these unique features not just in the strong take-up of our product among independent financial advisers, but in other significant metrics such as lower-than-expected lapse rates and, of course, in the nature and extent of the claims we pay,” he said.
Malan cites the removal of unnecessary barriers to claim as a key differentiator of the BrightRock approach; an example of this is removing 14-day survival periods for critical illness claims and general waiting periods for claims such as Parkinson’s disease, he said.
According to BrightRock, another feature is that the insurer pays out on diagnosis whereas other insurers would require the client to wait a set period of time or for their condition to have deteriorated before claiming.
The result is that in many instances, BrightRock pays out claims that competitors would not have paid, that the payout amount is larger than with other insurers, or that clients qualify to claim sooner than they would have with another provider.
Malan added that another example is the patented Trauma IQ assessment, which pays for lower-severity accidental injuries that are typically not covered by other critical illness-products in the market.
He said some of the features introduced by BrightRock, have since been adopted by competitors.
Malan cites the examples mainly from BrightRock’s individual life product and its more recently-added group risk offering, launched last year, and sees the business expanding further into other markets and product categories in the medium to long term.
In February, BrightRock introduced its tied agency force, BrightRock Financial Advisers.
Malan said it’s an important step that would not only increase the insurer’s market share in its existing product categories, but provide a distribution foothold for future product additions to the BrightRock client offering.
“We have always envisioned that our business would grow into a multi-product financial services institution of scale. With R1 billion in claims paid, we believe we have delivered unequivocal proof of concept for our needs-matched approach in one of the world’s growing and innovating markets, to continue finding better ways to meet clients’ financial needs throughout their lives and to continue changing our industry in the process.”