Industry body wants more alternative distribution in group insurance

by David Keelaghan07 May 2018

The regulatory demands of life and health insurers have never been higher, so it’s important the industry maintains a voice in the corridors of power. Backed by corporate giants like Manulife, Sun Life and Great-West Life, The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) is one such voice, representing the interests of providers in this country. It’s a powerful force, but not the only group dedicated to advancing the interests of the life and health stakeholders.

Formed in 1997, The Canadian Association of Financial Institutions in Insurance (CAFII) is dedicated to driving change in the industry, particularly in the areas of creditor’s group insurance and travel insurance.

Last week, the group announced Canada Life as its latest member, joining the likes of Manulife and the insurance arms of BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC and Scotia.

According to co-executive director of CAFII, Keith Martin, the organization is growing at a steady place, with its board of directors committed to increasing resources. Those extra resources will be used to fulfill one of the group’s main objectives, which is enhancing consumer choice in the space through more alternative distribution. 

“Clearly we are in a period of unprecedented technology change and innovation,” he says. “I think the market has sufficient room for all of these innovations with the different products and channels. What CAFII emphasizes is that the consumer has the right to choice. It is up to them what channel they use to purchase their insurance.”

In Martin’s opinion, Canadian consumers are generally happy with the services being provided right now in the group health and travel insurance space. Happy doesn’t mean improvements can’t be made, however.

“We launched a consumer research study in 2015, and there was a high level of consumer satisfaction with travel and health insurance,” he says. “The highest levels of satisfaction was with consumers that made a claim.”

In focusing on creditor group insurance, travel insurance, and alternative distribution specifically, CAFII differs from the CLHIA, which is much larger and broader in scope. The two groups do share members, however, and alignment on most issues affecting the life & health space – G–19   for example.

“Our members that are members of the CLHIA will have to adhere to those guidelines, which we are a strong supporter of,” says Martin. “They are the lead on that, but we will provide support and emphasize the importance of those guidelines in terms of submissions to regulators and conversations with policymakers.”


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