Life insurance in times of uncertainty: tips from an industry pioneer

Britannia adviser - Ian Wallace

During this time of global uncertainty, it pays to talk to your financial adviser about your investment and life insurance concerns. As you’ll know from previous articles, we talk a lot about investments in times of uncertainty, but today we want to remind you how important it is to have your life insurance plan in place, and to give you some tips and things to think about.

To do this, we’ve picked the brains of Britannia Financial Planning's life insurance expert, Ian Wallace. Ian is a pioneer in the industry having started straight out of school, and only two days after the share market crashed in October 1987! Despite being told that he was crazy for getting into the industry, Ian forged ahead, and, prior to the regulation of financial advisory services, was the first life insurance adviser in New Zealand to incorporate life insurance into financial planning.

We asked Ian to answer some questions we hope will be of help and reassurance to you.

What is the main benefit of having a life insurance adviser?

A good life insurance adviser helps people uncover for themselves their financial vulnerabilities and guides them through putting in place the protection they need for themselves and their dependents – and provides comfort that they have an advocate if the unexpected happens. I don’t like it when I have clients suffering and need to make a claim,  but the rewards of being with them through these stressful situations and managing the financial burdens with the use of the protection they trusted to me, is so fulfilling. I love the relationship aspect of this industry and I know that my fellow Britannia advisers share the same passion as I do.

What has been your experience during the Covid-19 era so far?

Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on the life insurance market and clients’ general approach to insurance.

During the initial lockdown, I spent most of my time on the phone or in video meetings, reassuring clients how what they had in place would protect them if they suffered from Covid-19. Many of my small business clients just called to vent their stresses. The fact that they felt comfortable enough with me to do that was good. There has been a huge surge of clients wanting to revisit the adequacy of what they have in place in the last few months.

What advice would you give to anyone who is concerned about their life insurance now?

My primary advice to anyone with life insurance is do not cancel anything without careful consultation with an unbiased financial adviser (preferably your current Britannia scheme adviser), and with detailed consideration of that advice.

One of the most important things to understand is that sometimes insurance products you already have in place will offer superior protection than what is currently available.

If your budget is an issue, your financial adviser can work closely with all of the insurance companies to assist with premium relief for a period of time. If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance, please contact your financial adviser as soon as possible. If you are talking to an adviser other than your Britannia scheme adviser don’t allow yourself to be ‘sold a product’ which may be inadequate, or insufficient, for your current needs, or that is based purely on the monthly cost. Unfortunately, I have recently seen a number of examples of this happening across New Zealand.

What about people who don’t have any, or only have minimal insurance in place?

My advice for anyone requiring insurance now, for protection for the next 5-10 years is, ‘review and place it NOW’. Don’t wait! With the uncertainty of the financial markets as a result of Covid-19, insurance companies are risk-averse and are only going to be increasing prices and offering progressively more restrictive terms in the near future. Companies cannot alter the terms of policies which are already in place.

If you have any questions or concerns about your life insurance, please get in touch with your Britannia scheme adviser today.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account individual circumstances. It is not intended to provide comprehensive or specific financial advice. Before making an investment decision you should talk to your Authorised Financial Adviser.


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Product Disclosure Statements for the Britannia Retirement Scheme and the Integral Master Trust are available from the Scheme's issuer, Britannia Financial Services Limited, phone 0800 500 811.

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