Guest : Peter Tshiguvho, CEO of Metropolitan Retail

Just like most South Africans, you probably want what is best for yourself and your
family. Supporting your dreams is the need for financial security and the knowledge that
you can weather any storm. With this in mind, you have dutifully taken out a funeral
policy, a life policy and invested in a retirement annuity or pension plan.
And then something major or unexpected occurs that makes you re-evaluate your
entire situation. Enter switch triggers – significant changes in circumstance that alter
your financial ballparks – such as marriage, birth, changing jobs, buying a new house or
an illness.
Some switch triggers are more low-key – perhaps your policy has reached the end of its
term, you are feeling the strain of too many financial commitments, or you are in debt. A
reflex action might be to cash in your policies or switch to a cheaper option.
In fact, financial strain is something many South Africans struggle with. A Metropolitan
study shows that many people do not budget properly and do not account for
fluctuations or unseen expenses. Fluctuating fuel, electricity and commodities prices
don’t make it any easier to budget with certainty.
The reality is, however, if you do not stick to some kind of savings regimen and insure
yourself against unexpected events, your dreams and financial security could quickly go
up in smoke. If this happens, you may not be able to give your children the best
education possible, buy a new car or enjoy a relatively stress-free retirement.
So, what do you need to consider before switching policies, cashing them in or deciding
not to have them at all? While price is often the main consideration when choosing a
particular policy, there are many other factors that should be considered before making
a final decision.
Service delivery
According to Bain’s Customer Behaviour and Loyalty in Insurance Report, which
surveyed more than 174,000 retail insurance consumers in 18 countries, insurance
customers worldwide want insurers to be accessible, accurate, fair, fast, empathetic and
reliable – for every customer in every encounter.
If you are considering changing your policy, it is important to first consider how well the
insurance company has treated you in the time you have been insured with them. Has
the company responded to your queries quickly? Are the employees friendly and
helpful each time? Do they listen to you properly? Are your issues resolved to your
satisfaction? Was it easy to make a claim or resolve an issue?
Conduct research – will the company you are considering changing to be able to offer
the same service? Will it honour your claims? Does it have the necessary financial clout
to do so? Here it may be helpful to check reports by industry benchmark bodies such as
the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi), which is conducted by Consulta,
or Ask Afrika Orange Index to find out more about the reputation of the company you
are considering.
A critical trait of insurers who manage to build customer loyalty is their ability to adopt
a customer-centric approach in every aspect of the business. Key to this is harnessing
the immense amount of data that is available to understand customers in an allinclusive
way and give them what they want.
In this respect, do you feel like your insurer understands you and is offering you
products that make sense to you and that are relevant to your particular life-phase?
More than insurance
Today, customers expect more than just insurance from their insurers. Benefits can
include repatriation services if a family member dies far from home, assistance with
arranging a funeral and advice that extends to all parts of a person’s financial life goal
that they are trying to provide for.
The best protection for you and your family
Switching life policies to a cheaper option could be a short-term solution with adverse
outcomes. Some of these include: new waiting periods, a significantly reduced pay-out
for your family in the unfortunate event of your death or removal of valuable premium
waiver benefits.

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