CANSTAR has researched and rated 14 direct income protection products from 12 insurers to determine who offers outstanding value for money and is pleased to congratulate NobleOak on an outstanding achievement.
CANSTAR caught up with Anthony R. Brown, Chief Executive Officer to find out more about the trend towards buying online and the benefits of doing so.
Q: Buying financial products online is slowly coming of age in Australia. Have you noticed an increasing trend towards buying online over time?
A: Yes I have. Technology has had a significant impact across a number of financial services segments including banking, general insurance and health insurance sectors over the past 10 years.
However Life insurance has been much slower to move online, with only one in three people currently researching their Life insurance needs online, according to the results of a research project commissioned by NobleOak Life Insurance in February 2016.
This is clearly changing quickly, as people become more web savvy and awareness for the need for Life insurance across the community increases. There is much stronger willingness to make a life insurance purchasing decision online without a financial adviser than in the past, and this trend continues.
Insurers need to provide better online information and tools to help customers understand and make informed decisions with respect to the Life insurance products available – so they can get the cover they need.
Q: Has that trend been stronger in some demographics than others?
A: It’s no surprise that the younger generations are leading the shift to online, but the broader insurable population are also becoming more tech-savvy as a result of their experiences with online banking, online trading and online shopping.
The need for life insurance continually changes depending on your life. Certain events typically change the real or perceived need for life insurance. These include the birth of a child, taking on significant debt (i.e. a new mortgage), death of a friend or family, or starting an SMSF.
Q: What are the benefits to consumers in buying life insurance directly?
A: Two of the key benefits of buying directly are choice and control. As people become more comfortable researching and purchasing Life products online, they open up a broader range of products to choose from. This puts the purchaser in the driving seat, so they are not oversold something they don’t need.
Similar to other products and services available online, there are often savings for consumers who buy Life insurance directly from the insurer, as the “middle man” costs are cut out.
As more information and tools become available to help educate consumers about Life insurance, their level of confidence to purchase without an intermediary also increases.
At NobleOak one of our key product offerings is – Premium Life Direct, a comprehensive package that offers a range of benefits often only found in products offered through financial advisers. That gives the consumer control and saves them money.
Q: How often do you review your product pricing and features?
A: Maintaining a strong value proposition for our customers is of critical importance to us. We ensure that we continually monitor the needs of our customers and competitor products. Our product team regularly consider opportunities for product improvements and innovation. These contributing factors dictate when and how often we revise our products.
Q: Are there any traps for consumers to be aware of when buying directly? What are some questions that they should ask before making a decision?
A: We don’t believe there major risks to buying Life insurance directly from an insurer compared to buying through an adviser.
However, it’s important to understand the differences between competitive products available. Product review engines such as CANSTAR and customer rating engines like Feefo, are very useful to help the customer navigate across the large number of products available.
If a consumer is looking to purchase directly, it’s essential they take the time to read and understand the information that is available to them and ask questions to the insurer if anything is not clear.
At NobleOak we offer phone-based customer support so people can call and ask about our products as well as telephone based underwriting to assist people through the application process.
Q: I note that you don’t spend a great deal on advertising – what strategies do you use to get your name out there?
A: Yes, we avoid spending a lot of money on mass advertising to enable us to pass savings directly to our clients and members through reduced premiums.
As a direct Life Insurance and Income Protection provider, we focus on building strong relationships with a broad variety of organisations and help them deliver products that are relevant to their members. Targeted online advertising and social media platforms also form a key part of our marketing strategy.
Our key marketing channel is however “word of mouth” from happy customers. We believe if we provide the best products and the best price, the word will spread and we can limit mass marketing.
We rely on a range of research providers and industry awards to help raise awareness of NobleOak and our product offerings. The CANSTAR product ratings are an important tool for us to further promote the quality and value of the NobleOak products.