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TAL is pioneering underwriting education in Australia

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The life insurer is making sure its advisers and customers understand how pre-existing medical conditions can affect their policies.

Life insurance giant TAL kicked off a new underwriting education initiative yesterday with a suite of educational materials that will help its advisers better explain to their clients how and why back pain can affect the terms and conditions of their policies.

The ultimate objective of the initiative, which will eventually include educational programs for other pre-existing health conditions, is to make the underwriting process as transparent as possible to customers who otherwise might feel helpless when an insurer excludes a health condition from their cover and they can't understand why.

As part of this process, customers will be provided with a fact sheet that outlines the health and insurance risks associated with their condition, explains why TAL has decided to exclude the condition and offers a roadmap of potential outcomes including future underwriting reviews.

“We understand that the underwriting process can be a confusing time for customers, which is why we aim to support our customers and adviser partners as best as we can by equipping them with simple, evidence-based fact sheets that outline their health condition and associated risks, as well as explaining the underwriting process and potential outcomes for their specific condition," TAL general manager for health services Dr Sally Phillips said in a statement.

TAL is also using this as an opportunity to promote spinal health (and in the future, other health conditions) with customers, who will have access to information regarding pain relieving techniques, treatment options and community support programs. Advisers will also learn how to discuss pain management with their customers.

"We recognise that mental, physical and financial health are intrinsically linked so it is important to look at health across these dimensions. By providing customers with practical tools and techniques to help manage any ongoing health condition, we can empower customers to live their best life through good health,” Dr Phillips said.

According to TAL musculoskeletal manager Gavin Law, the company chose to focus on back pain first because not only is it one of the most common health conditions in Australia, but it also poses unique challenges to the underwriting process – namely that there is often no specific problem or disease that can be identified as the cause of pain.

TAL life insurance advisers can access the spinal exclusion underwriting fact sheets and "Healthy Back" information booklets from the TAL Adviser Centre.

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