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OPINION: Better understanding the customers we serve in 2024

[Published in the Asia Insurance Review]

For Australia’s life insurers, 2024 will mark a year of deep connection with the people they serve. Our industry is investing more than ever in better understanding the needs and aspirations of Australians from all walks of life.

By Christine Cupitt

While there have been notable improvements to ensure life insurance and life insurers are seen as accessible, understandable and trusted, there is always more work to do. 

Independent research commissioned by the Council of Australian Life Insurers shows that the main driver behind why Australians get life insurance is the financial protection and sense of security it provides their loved ones.

Life insurers have answered the call for generations and it’s clear that people see the value in their products. But at the same time, there are still too many working Australians who aren’t even aware they have life insurance. 

Building resilience

Increasing that awareness is intrinsically linked to building resilience in the Australian community and the national economy.  

We want to give people peace of mind when they’re making important decisions and provide a financial safety net during life’s biggest challenges. We also want to help future proof taxpayer funded services, which are straining under the pressure of an ageing population. 

To this end, when Australian consumers set their expectations, we must meet them. That includes giving them the information they need about life insurance, when they need it. 

Australians can expect positive changes in the year ahead to improve the quality of advice they receive across the financial services sector. It’s important that life insurers are included in the mix and allowed to provide limited advice directly to people when they ask for it, so we can begin to address the growing problem of underinsurance that’s leaving many Australians unprotected when times get tough.  

Of course, this should only happen with appropriate limitations and strong consumer protections to ensure better outcomes for people and their families. 

Cover is expensive

The bottom line is Australians shouldn’t be forced to pay more than A$3,000 ($1,900) on average for financial advice. For many people, that’s far too expensive. With just over 1,000 financial advisers who are helping people navigate life insurance products across the country, it’s also inaccessible. 

We want Australians to have the information and advice they deserve to make informed choices about their future, including their retirement.

As Australians live longer, they’re spending more time in retirement. There is a significant demographic change and longevity risk facing our nation, and life insurers stand ready to help Australia adjust as 5m people prepare to retire. It’s critical that they have sufficient savings and investments so they can live comfortably over a longer period. 

Retirement choices

We know how vulnerable this phase of life can be and we want Australian retirees to have more choice about how they maintain their lifestyle in retirement.  

Life insurers have a big role to play when it comes to protecting people’s financial security beyond their working life with products that offer a more reliable and stable retirement income. 

We want to support Australians to live in a healthy, confident and secure way over their lifetime. This means standing by them when they land their first full-time job, when they have a baby, when they can’t work because of illness or injury, and when they decide to retire. 

We’re here to serve Australians on their best and worst days. We’re the ones they hope they never need but know they’ve got to have. We’re Australia’s life insurers, and we’re here for life.

Ms Christine Cupitt is the chief executive officer of the Council of Australian Life Insurers.