Keeping one eye on the horizon

Providing insurance to one of the most underinsured countries in the world comes with obvious challenges such as the need to educate Kiwis on the benefits of protecting themselves from the unforeseen.

Financial commentators predict that the type of insurance consumers buy in 20 years will be very different to what’s on offer now. At Sovereign, we are preparing ourselves for the future by using the power of technology and data to target new areas of customer demand.

A recent digital triumph was our new ‘bank-grade’ hybrid cloud system delivered in a hugely ambitious – and successful – timeframe of just 10 weeks. A visible customer component is our Quick Quote web and mobile tool, which allows advisers to provide quotes instantly using their mobile devices. While it appears straightforward, it’s anything but. It involved building and deploying key enablers – such as a secure virtual data centre in the cloud (Amazon Web Services), a modern integration and business process management suite – and a configurable pricing engine, modern APIs and user interfaces.

Technology team_resellernews
The technology project team (L-R) – Nick Stanhope; Andrew Scott; Patrice de Marigny; Raffaella del Prete; Tony Lees; Linda Nightingale; Richard Beamish. Absent: Corina Elama; Feng Wu; Ross Stephenson; Liviu Elama and Michael Ung.

The new investment will give Sovereign speed, flexibility and choice. It will enable data-led automation, coherent omni-channel customer experience, machine learning and artificial intelligence – all necessities for a modern and customer-centric business. It’s a small step in a much bigger journey toward making insurance more accessible to more people.

We are also using data to increase our understanding of customer risk, behaviours and needs. Recent analysis told us our customers wanted simple and flexible support after an accident. As a result, we launched Accidental Injury Cover this month. This product complements traditional income protection products and ACC by providing our customers with access to an immediate payment they can use however they wish, whether it’s hiring some help at home, taking taxis or having some time off work. This is available as an optional benefit with no underwriting regardless of whether someone is in paid employment or not.

In the last financial year, we paid out around $70 million in health insurance claims, which gave our customers access to the best medical treatment options. Demand for effective and less invasive options continues to grow in the private sector and we are seeing greater capacity as more specialists and medical facilities come online in New Zealand, particularly in the area of cancer care. We’re constantly looking into our claims data to ensure that our products reflect demand.

The ability to respond to, and even anticipate, the needs of our customers means we can make a difference through our product design, provide greater choice and simply improve the user experience.

Our eyes are constantly fixed on the horizon because we are in the business of being there for customers in their time of need – today and tomorrow.

Originally published as Sponsored Content in the NBR. Republished with permission.

Author: Nick Stanhope

Nick Stanhope is the CEO of Sovereign, New Zealand’s largest life insurance company. Nick has 27 years of experience in the financial services sector, and has held a diverse range of senior leadership roles in New Zealand. Prior to joining Sovereign, he held the role of Executive General Manager of Wealth & Insurance at ASB Bank Limited. During his time at ASB he worked across a variety of key leadership roles within ASB including General Manager Corporate Banking and Working Capital Services, General Manager Business Banking and General Manager of Business Banking and Retail Specialist Services. Before this, he spent seven years at NCR of which the last three were with AT&T. Now, as the CEO of Sovereign, Nick leads a team providing more than 640,000 customers with life and health insurance.

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