Outsourcing your protection business administration
ABR editor Rob Kingsbury visited outsourced protection admin service LifeQuote to see first hand what the company offers and how it operates
When I meet with Neil McCarthy, marketing director of LifeQuote, at the company’s Chichester office, he shows me an article from a national newspaper. It’s about a widow whose life insurance claim on her husband has been rejected because of an error made on the application form. “It struck me that this is just the kind of situation, where the client has lost out and the financial adviser is blamed, that we can help avoid,” says McCarthy (pictured left with MD Rob Quayle)).
LifeQuote is an outsourced protection administration service. Advisers use it to take over all the admin needed to move a protection application forward, from the point at which the client has been given full advice and the product(s) have been chosen to fulfill the client’s needs.
There are three dedicated units to the service. First is the client contact centre, which at an arranged time will talk to the client, asking all the questions required by the insurer, as well as contact and, where necessary, chase doctors’ surgeries for relevant medical information.
“We train our staff to be able to get the client to answer the insurer’s questions fully and honestly, so the insurer has all the relevant information to properly underwrite the cover. It’s a skill to be able to get the right answers. It has to be factual and not an interpretation of a situation or of a condition or what the client has said. There are soft skills involved, especially where you might be asking the person for quite intimate details about at times emotional areas of their lives.
“From the client’s perspective, having a trained member of staff talk to them helps demystify the process and so makes it easier for them to give the answers needed. It also means advisers do not need to have these kinds of conversations with their clients,” McCarthy adds.
The second dedicated unit works with the adviser firm. “It’s important to us that we build a rapport with the adviser firm doing the business, getting to know their preferences and how they like to work, because that way we can all work more efficiently and more productively.
“Overall, our aim is to relieve the adviser of the time consuming aspects of writing protection business. They can concentrate on dealing with the client and finding the right solution and then pass everything to us to complete,” McCarthy says.
The third unit deals with obtaining and paying out the commission from the insurers.
The firm has 90 staff in total, and typically, the client contact staff work late afternoon and evening, when people are mostly going to be around to take a call, while the adviser admin and accounting units work office hours.
As well as the outsourced service, LifeQuote has its own insurance quotation portal where advisers can obtain quotes from a range of providers for life, critical illness, income protection and business protection products. It can produce up to 24 quotes from one request, and through a pre underwriting service aims to deliver a decision in principle from the selected insurers within 24 hours.
Efficiencies in the service are obtained by using one submission and case tracking system, and McCarthy says the firm developed its Intelligent Protection tool to enable advisers to match prices and priorities with the client’s budget and protection needs. Depending on those needs, cover can be arranged with one provider or several fulfilling the different types of cover.
It has also linked with iPipeline and IRESS so that users of their quotation portals can access the LifeQuote protection admin service from those systems.
“Advisers can prepare quotes in their portal of choice and then upload them to LifeQuote to complete,” McCarthy says.
“Using our system they don’t need to learn a range of different providers’ systems and forms. It’s all about making the journey simpler and easier for both the adviser and the client.”
From the adviser business owner’s point of view, LifeQuote takes full responsibility for collecting the underwriting data from the client, records all calls and all case notes and documents are downloadable for audit purposes.
Additional benefits for firms using the system are the Management information and access to a white label capability, LifeQuote Consumer.
The MI available to a firm can be useful in developing staff and the business, McCarthy says. “We’re able to give a good indication of the client contacts that are happening in adviser firms. From the type of quotes being processed and by which advisers, firms are able to see who is doing what kind of business and at what volumes. There may be for example eight advisers in a team of 10 that are doing consistent volumes of protection business and another two hardly doing anything at all. The management can then have a conversation around that. It may be more training is needed on how to introduce protection, or simply that they have a different client bank that is less in need of cover,” he explains.
LifeQuote Consumer is available to LifeQuote customers and offers a consumer-facing portal that advisers can add to their own website. “LifeQuote Consumer offers adviser firms an online capability for simple products – term assurance, decreasing term and critical illness. It gives the adviser firm a different capability as well as allowing them to segment their clients with simple self-serve options,” McCarthy says.
MBO and developing technology
The company provides outsourced services to national adviser firms like Intrinsic, firms within the Tenet and PTFS networks, advisory firms like Fairstone, Chadney Bulgin and Alexander Hall, as well as the aggregator Confused.com.
When we meet, McCarthy and managing director Rob Quayle have just undertaken a management buy out of DirectLife, the company that owns the LifeQuote service, from insurer Cardif Pinnacle.
McCarthy says the move will enable the firm to build on its existing business as well as create new technology applications for the adviser market. “Essentially, it will give us more scope to shape the business going forward. Owning the business means all our decision-making is now with in-house management, which means we can effect change at a faster rate and have a faster response to the things we want to do.”
In this respect, he says, “our focus will be on better understanding the business needs of the LifeQuote customers and making changes to the system to help make intermediaries’ lives simpler and easier. Currently we estimate that we save advisers around three-hours per case. Over a month or a year that can add up to a lot of time which they can use to see more clients.
“Our aim is to develop the service to help improve the adviser and client journeys making them more efficient. Through delivering that simple, adviser-friendly experience, we want to encourage more intermediaries to realise the benefits for their clients and for their business of writing protection business.
“Our five year plan is to be working with a wider range of intermediaries and partners, helping them protect more clients and growing their protection business.”
Addendum: On 15 November 2016, Lifequote announced that all advisers using the LifeQuote protection platform now had access Aviva’s full range of protection products.
McCarthy said: “Aviva’s launch of its new protection range is great news for advisers as it provides a solution for all budgets. Uniquely, we’ve worked with Aviva to include the full range of add-on options within the LifeQuote screens themselves, enabling the adviser to pick which of the additional benefits they require.”
Visit LifeQuote website