Last year was a significant one for Royal London in Ireland, with the company investing heavily in the Irish market by establishing its business as a separate subsidiary of its UK parent, The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Ltd, which has over 190 years of heritage in Ireland.
The largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, the company’s performance in Ireland was particularly strong, with new business sales increasing by 20% to €152m, up from €126.5m in 2018. Its new business contribution also increased to €15m from €12.2m the previous year. Performance was strong across all products, particularly Mortgage Protection and Term Assurance.
“2019 was another excellent year for Royal London,” said Noel Freeley. “Building on our 190 years of heritage in Ireland, we invested heavily in the Irish market by establishing a full subsidiary which means that we are now registered in Dublin and fully regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.”
Moving quickly to a working-from-home schedule for most of the team as soon as Covid-19 hit, providing peace of mind for customers became the key focus: “We kept all our phone lines open and our award-winning service continued uninterrupted for our brokers and customers. We were able to offer an online underwriting system and a secure eSignature service, which meant that applications could be completed from start to finish electronically, removing the need for face-to-face meetings or post.”
It was supplemented by a digital medical carried out by remote nursing staff for the small number of cases needing medical examinations. “We received very positive feedback on the service from customers and brokers alike. Indeed, a lot of my colleagues have quite enjoyed being able to spend more time at home with their families whilst still being able to do their job well,” he added.
“Royal London offers valuable life and serious illness insurance products through financial brokers across the country. The impact of Covid means that there is a much greater awareness of the need for these products that provide financial security and so we do continue to see a large demand.”
The company quickly implemented flexible options for customers having difficulty paying their premiums: “This meant they could continue to benefit from valuable cover whilst deferring the payments required over a longer period, and customers have been very happy with our approach on this.”
Adding to an already uncertain 2020, Brexit and its eventual outcome is a key event in the year’s calendar. “We established our Irish business as a subsidiary so regardless of the outcome of Brexit, our products and services to our customers will be unaffected. I am hopeful that the challenges of Covid-19 will reinforce the need for all involved to see common sense and find sensible solutions.”
Insurance — be it house, health or life — is viewed by many as a necessary evil, or at least something kept low on the ‘to do’ pile. However, times of global turbulence do help the general public to view it in a more beneficial light. “During these times people become even more aware that the unexpected can happen and it’s critical for the insurance industry to be there for customers when they are most in need.”
In 2019, Royal London as a Group paid 99.7% of claims totaling more than €645m, helping up to 120,000 customers. In Ireland, its average claim amount paid per customer for life cover was €126,298. “Every day we see heart-breaking stories from our customers who have lost a loved one or suffered a life-changing illness. Not only do we aim to pay their claim quickly, we also provide a ‘Helping Hand’ service that allows our policyholders to access a one-to-one support service with a dedicated nurse adviser who can help them cope with the devastating effects that illness or bereavement can have. This is offered to the policyholders or their family. We aim to show that insurers care about providing the right support to customers in addition to paying the claim,” he added.
“We know that thousands of homeowners have had to apply for payment breaks on their mortgage. The cost of mortgage protection is comparatively low, and the vast majority continue to pay their premiums. For those customers who got in touch with us asking for a payment break we have provided help to them and we will always try to find a solution.