Article date: 18 March 2009
Since Norwich Union launched its pre-underwriting helpline for protection business in September 2006, the desk has handled over 31,000 enquiries. During 2008 the helpdesk took 19,356 calls, over double the 9,029 calls received in 2007, and calls in 2009 have continued at this increased rate. The helpdesk now takes between 350 - 450 calls a week from financial advisers seeking advice on a wide range of underwriting queries.
Questions about height and weight (10% of calls), diabetes (10%), occupation (10% of calls), and residency (9%) are most common. The helpline provides IFAs with up-front "in-principle" responses to queries on complicated cases without the need to complete a full application form.
The helpdesk was launched as part of Norwich Union's protection service promise and is open to enquires for all customers, compared to some services which only offer access for high net worth clients.
Advisers can speak to experienced underwriters to identify what special terms may have to be imposed for certain cases and whether a risk will be accepted on standard Norwich Union terms.
Michael Whyte, chief underwriter for Norwich Union, says: "The helpdesk is designed to provide up-front underwriting advice to our financial advisers in order that they have a clear picture of what requirements, if any, we may request when they submit an application for one of their customers. This can save time and expense for both advisers and applicants.
The service aims to eliminate frustrations for both applicants and advisers, particularly if a client is seen to be posing a particular risk. For example, if terms could not be offered, by answering questions up-front, rather than waiting for an application to be submitted and later declined, the process is made smoother and quicker for all parties."
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Notes to editors:
Calls received by the Norwich Union underwriting helpline were as follows:
2009 (to date): 3,097
Questions to the Norwich Union underwriting helpline can be categorized as follows:
Other medical - 29%
Height and weight - 10%
Diabetes - 10%
Occupation - 10%
Residency - 9%
Tumours - 6%
Family history - 5%
Other non medical - 5%
Ishaemic heart disease - 4%
Pursuits - 4%
Depression - 3%
Blood pressure - 2%
Financial - 2%
Multiple sclerosis - 1%
About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is one of the UK's biggest life insurers. It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
Norwich Union has strategic alliances with building societies and other leading UK brand names including CIS and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media
In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.