In these challenging times, we think customers deserve more. So, we’ve improved our renewals process, making things simpler and fairer for our members and brokers. The result? Happier members and excellent retention figures throughout 2020.
Improvements we’re making to our renewal process
- Significant investment in our renewals team
- More personalised service
- Renewals dealt with on a case-by-case basis
- Premium price changes explained in detail
- Tips on how to reduce premium without necessarily reducing insurance cover
It’s tough for everyone right now
How can we not start with COVID-19? The pandemic has presented a challenge like none other we’ve seen in our lifetimes, adversely affecting individuals, families, and businesses, utterly disrupting entire societies, and subjecting us to a prolonged period of economic pressures.
The narrative for insurers is uncertain. How will consumers and businesses continue to justify paying for premium insurance products? Fortunately, improvements we made to our renewals process at the end of 2019 have left us well-placed to mitigate this uncertainty. It means that now we’re helping our members better than ever.
Insurance premiums will rise in 2021
Against expectations, most health insurance providers are reporting fewer claims from customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals have cancelled or postponed elective and non-essential medical treatments, while public hospitals have handled most COVID-19 cases.
Unfortunately, this won’t lead to lower premiums for customers. Long-term trends continue to drive premium inflation, while many insurers are taking a big hit on other product lines. We’re sorry to report that we expect a rise in premiums in 2021 across the industry.
Of course, public understanding of the need for high-quality healthcare has never been higher. Customers may find themselves caught between this understanding and continued premium inflation.
What can insurance providers do to help?
Insurance renewals need to get more personal
It seems almost everyone these days, from multinational corporations to tech and entertainment companies, sees the importance of more targeted, personal communications. With the notable exception of our industry.
Meanwhile insurance customers put up with generic renewal invoices, and no explanation of premium increases or product benefits, all issued automatically on ‘no-reply’ emails. We think insurance providers should do better, and start to catch up with other sectors. William Russell has always had an excellent reputation for member satisfaction, and now we’re taking steps into the age of personalisation.
We’re hiring to improve our renewal process
In a time when businesses are cutting staff numbers, we invested in our renewals team. More hands on deck mean we can approach each renewal on a case-by-case basis. To us, all members are equally important. It doesn’t matter whether the net premium is US$200 or US$200,000: each member’s renewal has a named agent working on it. So, when we do issue a renewal invitation, it comes from a real person who knows the member’s plan inside out.
We don’t shy away from explaining premiums
Over recent years, our pricing model has become increasingly sophisticated. Now, hundreds of factors contribute to the final premium that members see on their renewal invitations. Most importantly, we’re in an excellent place to explain to members how we arrive at their renewal premium and why it might have increased. Perhaps the cost of private healthcare has surged in Southeast Asia, or we’ve updated a discount for a particular excess, or we’ve tweaked our pricing model for an age group.
We highlight every change, explaining the thinking behind it, and quantify its impact. And we put this information front and centre—not hidden in swathes of small print.
Options for members to reduce premiums
But it’s the empathy on top of this transparency that sets us apart from our competitors. We don’t relentlessly upsell our members. Instead, we show them ways in which they might reduce their premium without significantly reducing their insurance cover.
A classic example is a member choosing a Silver or Gold plan with a high excess, which would typically exclude them from many of the out-patient benefits. In such scenarios, a Bronze or SilverLite plan might be more appropriate, so we’ve even created a guide for members who are looking for realistic ways to reduce their premium.
Of course, COVID-19 changed everything. So, we took things a step further. If a member is experiencing financial difficulties, we will offer to downgrade their plan temporarily. When the member is in a better place, we will restore their original plan with nothing more than a short declaration. We don’t impose onerous forms and paperwork.
Speaking in clear English
Explaining renewal premiums to members in clear and intelligible English is vital. Not everyone is an insurance expert, and not everyone speaks English as their first language. We avoid insurance jargon that requires a dictionary or glossary, we adhere to our tone of voice guidance, and we pull apart every phrase and sentence in search of clarity.
So, what about the bottom line?
Not only has the verbal feedback we’ve received from members and brokers on the changes we’ve made been overwhelmingly positive, but our agents have enjoyed the increased responsibility and engagement at the point of renewal. After all—our agents are real people, and they value real, frank interaction with the people and businesses they serve.
On the quantitative side, the improvements to the renewals process have significantly boosted our retentions figures. In renewals completed during the months of March through to August, we retained 92% of premium value of our individual members. Our Feefo rating has also increased from 4.4 to 4.5 since the beginning of the year. Our renewals teams have been energised and invigorated by the results and feedback from members, reinforcing our belief that what’s right for our customers is also right for William Russell.
We’re a healthcare partner, not just an insurance provider
“The changes we introduced at the end of 2019 have really started bearing fruit. Not only are we making the renewal process easier for our members and brokers, we’re also generating far higher levels of engagement than before.”
Michael Lewars, Commercial Director
Whether we’re dealing directly with our members or working with you, we believe in long-term relationships. That’s why we’re committed to providing successful outcomes to all parties in every aspect of the member experience, and why better, easier-to-understand renewals are so important to us.