Shepherds Friendly Society started life as a sickness and benefits society and was an amalgamation of various fraternal groups including the Royal Shepherds Sanctuary Benefit Society and the Ancient Order of Shepherds, some formed back in 1826.
Still known for reliability, trustworthiness, competence and care, Shepherds Friendly Society has grown from a traditional insurance provider to a modern, broadly based, financial organisation. More than 180 years on, Shepherds Friendly Society is now a multi-million-pound operation, looking after over 60,000 members throughout the UK, with insurance and investment products.
In 2006, Shepherds decided to diversify its distribution capabilities and entered the intermediary marketplace. It recognised that, as a late entrant to this sales channel, it needed to offer a differentiated approach to its main competitors. Fundamental to this was the ability to offer the MorganAsh full Big T tele-interview.
This was to ensure intermediaries could be offered high-speed, high-quality underwriting, which capitalised on the move towards electronic trading and, crucially, also removed the threat to the adviser posed by failing (or being accused of failing) to collect all relevant medical information.
The results are impressive – and the process has allowed Shepherds to diversify its income-protection product range significantly.
There have been no genuine contended claims with arguments about ‘non-disclosure’ at claim stage. Claims are promptly paid, and where non-disclosure has occurred (just once) it has been proven without dispute. Hence, in the eyes of many intermediaries and customers, Shepherds can offer a product that is perceived as ‘guaranteed’ to pay out on claim – and which protects the intermediary in the process.
Due to the detailed and complete information provided on the MorganAsh report, there is no need to collect any GPRs or put consumers through the inconvenience of medical tests. 99% of cases are underwritten from the tele-interview alone.
As confidence built with MorganAsh, service improvements were introduced, including removing the need for a ‘wet’ signature from the consumer – and removing checks on amended interview reports once they were returned by the consumer.
Once the tele-interview is returned, the case is normally underwritten and given terms within 48–72 hours. This means that for 99% of cases the total turnaround time for Shepherds’ new business underwriting is less than a week. This is a significant market differentiator over companies that still collect GPR and medical tests on a regular basis. The only cases that cannot be underwritten within a week are due to clients delaying their tele-interview, or they are waiting for the results of medical tests so that the underwriting has to be postponed until these results are known.
More recently, Shepherds has moved, with the support of MorganAsh, to enabling the intermediary to electronically book the tele-underwriting appointment time for their customer.
Volumes have doubled year-on-year and, with the introduction of their simple income-protection product, Shepherds is expected to continue to grow at this rate.
“The great benefit is the turnaround time, as we no longer have to go out for GPRs or medicals, everything is included within the MorganAsh interview report. We can provide intermediaries with what they want – quick, accurate underwriting decisions.”– Val Brookes, claims and underwriting manager,Shepherds Friendly Society
“Partnering with MorganAsh has been a great success. We have received a first-class service ever since we started – and the partnership has been central to our success in the intermediated market-place. We have had only one complaint in over five years!
“The thoroughness of the interview and our underwriting process means we have more confidence to pay out our claims – and our claims experience is better than we expected, allowing us to improve our morbidity reserving.”– Geoff Spencer, chief executive, Shepherds Friendly Society