James Carey talks about his role at MetLife and what we're doing in product development in the wake of legislative changes and the backdrop of COVID-19.

What is your role at MetLife?

I manage a team of around 40 people working across product development and pricing for our superannuation fund partners and corporate broker segment.

What is MetLife doing in regard to COVID-19?

We’re monitoring the COVID-19 situation both here in Australia and around the world. For us the health and safety of our people and our customers is our priority, while making sure we can continue to deliver the service they expect of us.

We know this is a challenging time for everyone and that there are people relying on us, especially at this time. Our Business Continuity Plans are robust and we’ve implemented a number of actions to protect our people, our partners and our customers. You can find more about what we’re doing here.

Why is default insurance important?

It’s important because it's available to all working Australians without any underwriting. It’s a safety net that provides an amount of cover if someone suffers an unexpected injury or illness that means they can’t work, or in the unfortunate event of death.

It’s efficient because everybody gets it automatically when they join a new employer and sign up to a superannuation fund. It’s also cost-effective because insurers can offer cover at favourable rates due to the large volume of consumers we can cover at once.

It’s at a time like this, that you can see the importance of this sort of insurance protection.

Given the recent changes to PYS and PMIF do you see further changes to default insurance?

Yes. The changes will have a substantial impact on the number of Australians that aren’t insured. Going forward, there will be continued scrutiny across the industry on affordability of insurance. Trustees will need to think about the trade-off between the amount and cost of cover so premiums aren’t eroding super or retirement balances.

Do you think the regulatory changes in the insurance industry has had the intended impact for consumers?

They've certainly had the impact the government was looking for. There have also been some unintended consequences. We’ve seen many examples since PYS’ July 1 introduction of people trying to lodge a claim but finding their cover was turned off because they didn’t opt in.

Is MetLife sending this feedback on PYS and PMIF to the government?

Certainly, we will be. The challenge with this legislation was always that it assumed consumers are engaged with their superannuation, and most people aren’t.

How successful has the consumer communication been?

Unfortunately, many people haven’t responded to communication from their fund. One major reason is the contact details  that the superannuation funds have are often out of date.

This means a large proportion of the population probably didn't receive any communication. Many who did possibly didn't understand the consequences, and therefore didn't respond. So, there’s a substantial proportion of the population losing this important safety net. We share research and behavioural insights with our partners to help them tailor their communications for greater cut through. Across our super fund partners we saw opt in rates between five per cent and 24 per cent.

How does MetLife Australia leverage its Global footprint for the benefit of its partners and customers?

MetLife operates in 40-plus countries and is incredibly diversified globally, this means that with years of rich data and insights we can uncover patterns and predict behaviours that help us design products and services that flex as our customers’ needs and lives change. We also have access to very fertile territory exploring new innovations across health and technology through our Innovation Lab – which can benefit customers in the future.

Find out more about MetLife’s Global footprint