Some customers may be reluctant to contact their insurers or banks to ask for help in light of the COVID crisis, fearing it may negatively impact their credit history or ratings, according to ongoing research conducted by Suncorp New Zealand.
Executive manager for consumer insights and culture Claire Sutton says that advisers have a significant role to play when it comes to getting their customers the help they need, but that insurers also need to make sure they’re sending a strong, clear and consistent message with regards to their support options.
“This work has shown that in tough times, making customers feel OK about asking for help is the key thing that insurers can do to support them,” Sutton said.
“Brokers and advisers play a critical role in supporting customers through financial vulnerability, and we rely on them to identify and connect us with the customers who need the support we are offering.”
“We know that right now many people are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID and many people have lost income or experienced reduced income,” Sutton explained.
“If financial hardship is a barrier to those customers keeping key insurance in place, the COVID hardship options we have could make a big difference to the day to day quality of their lives, and to the positive perception of insurers and their broker.”
Sutton says that broker feedback around insurer support measures has also been very valuable, as it helps insurers better understand the realities of those who have had their income affected as a result of the pandemic. However, she says a ‘small percentage’ of customers are still concerned about the impact that taking up support measures might have on their finances.
“Brokers can also provide customers with expert advice and have been great at giving us feedback about whether our support is effective, and ways that we can better help customers who have experienced lost or reduced income due to COVID,” Sutton commented.
“In our research, a small percentage of consumers responded they were worried that by talking to an insurer or other financial institution about their financial situation it may affect their policy or credit rating, so it’s on us to make space for those conversations and to learn to identify and respond to indirect cues that might indicate some form of vulnerability.
“We want our customers to know that it’s OK to ask for help, and that we are here for them, and our brokers and advisers are playing a really important role in helping to support this.”