"Technology has and will continue to move into the health space and the insurance industry needs to move with it."
We spoke to Chris Pollard, COO at the Exeter, about how technology will continue to impact the protection industry and The Exeter's new HealthWise app.
FR: What are your chief responsibilities at The Exeter, and what’s the most important part of your role?
My responsibilities cover administration, underwriting and claims for all The Exeter’s products, as well as overseeing the project and change programmes; a crucial area for such a dynamic and innovative organisation. As a member of the executive team and the board of directors, a significant part of my role will also include leading the organisation towards its and its member’s goals over the next few years. The most important part of my role is to maintain a clear focus on our existing and future members; and this is the case for all staff at The Exeter.
FR: You recently joined The Exeter after several years consulting for different insurers, reinsurers and advisers; what attracted you to The Exeter and what do you hope to bring?
The Exeter appealed not only due to its the mutuality where all staff are driven to meet the needs of our members, but also the appetite for innovation and the clear decision to focus on specific sectors. Having invested in new systems, launched the ground-breaking managed life product, The Exeter also recently developed the Real Life product providing opportunities for significantly higher risk customers to obtain life insurance; customers being increasing neglected by the mainstream market. The values and family feel of The Exeter was also very attractive. I hope to bring the benefit of my experience of leading teams though significant growth (Skandia, Bupa and Friends Life) to The Exeter and in helping to shape and deliver its strategic ambitions.
FR: How is technology impacting the way the protection industry works, and how should advisers react to its arrival?
Technology continues to have a massive impact on the industry; online transactions are instantaneous with information and data available immediately. For many years advisers have been able to secure cover for most of their customers in minutes. Technology has and will continue to move into the health space and the insurance industry needs to move with it. A new HealthWise app has recently been launched for The Exeter members which is tailored according to the type of insurance the member has giving access to a number of additional services, including GP consultations and second medical opinion. Technology will continue to impact the protection industry and I look forward to helping introduce digital solutions to the most important element of insurance, our claims’ service.
FR: You mentioned you’ve rolled out your HealthWise app to all your members, what are the main benefits?
Healthwise is an app that provides services from Square Health, who provide holistic medical support to customers. The Healthwise app allows members, from the comfort of their home, to access experienced, UK based GPs and a thorough second opinion service. In addition, income protection and health insurance members have access to physiotherapy and mental health counselling and life insurance members have access to a lifestyle and nutritional advice. HealthWise is designed to help our members remain healthy and happy and there’s no need to claim to use the confidential services provided.
FR: If you could see one headline about the protection market in 2019, what would it be?
“The many help the few, again” – we read a lot about the generosity of the public on sites such as Crowdfunding and our human capacity to help others is inspiring. This is how I’d like the public (and the media) to see the insurance community. Protection insurance is a reluctant, but very responsible, purchase. No-one wants to think about their mortality, or the likelihood of falling ill and being unable to provide for themselves and their families. Those who do take the sensible step of insuring themselves will not do so in the hope of falling ill, needing medical treatment, or dying. By purchasing their insurance, they join a remarkable “club”. A club where the thousands of members pay a small amount to create a fund to provide compensation to individuals and families unfortunate enough to need to claim. This was the very clear intention of George Holloway back in the 19th century and what he created is as valuable now as it was in the 1880s.