For Australian life insurers, the decision to create a new peak body in June last year underscores the industry's commitment to address the evolving landscape after the Hayne royal commission in 2018.
Ms Christine Cupitt, who commenced as Council of Australian Life Insurers (CALI) CEO in January, said a “dedicated and collective” voice is needed as the industry prepares for potentially more changes in the months ahead.
These include the Government’s response to the Quality of Advice Review (QAR) final report’s list of 22 recommendations and an ongoing Treasury examination of the role of superannuation.
“So it's very good timing for CALI to have been created at an important time in the industry to really turn its attention to the longer term needs of the community and how we can better serve them,” Ms Cupitt said.
“Life insurance matters. It matters to the economy. And it also matters to the individuals who will obtain benefits from their insurer in the event that they get very sick or become disabled or their families need looking after in the event that they pass away.”
Before CALI, the industry was represented by the Financial Services Council (FSC). CALI members comprise 19 life insurers who collectively represent 99% of the direct insurance market and every reinsurance provider in the Australian market.
Asked how CALI is different from the FSC, Ms Cupitt said a “big part is looking at ourselves beyond a financial services context”.
“We are thinking about life insurance in the broader landscape of health and disability and physical and mental wellbeing for Australians,” Ms Cupitt said. “So we're thinking of ourselves more broadly than a finance sector, and how we can work across the economy, and what more the life insurance industry can be doing to support some of those health and disability objectives.”
She said CALI has a “highly engaged membership and board” that is very committed to making sure that “we work with governments, with stakeholders and with the industry itself to make sure that Australians have access to the right level of risk protection when they need it”.
And that is where challenges facing the advice sector are a matter of huge concern for the industry, Ms Cupitt said.
“We are concerned about the number of advisers who have left the industry and in particular the reduction in the number of advisers who specialise in writing life insurance and risk protection. Life insurers want to see a strong and vibrant and sustainable financial advice profession,” she said, reported Insurance News.