Health Insurance editor David Sawers poses the questions
LV='s managing director for protection tells Health Insurance editor David Sawers why he believes the provider has the brand and team in place to take on the big boys
It is unusual for a managing director to speak so highly – or at all – of his competitors, but Iain Clark seems quite comfortable giving praise where praise is due.
In any case, it is clearly a testament to the confidence he has developed in his own organisation and the team around him since he joined LV= in July of last year.
Aviva, he says, has done a “great job” raising awareness of protection through its national advertising campaigns last year. PruProtect, he says, was “great fun” to work for. He also learnt a lot during his time at Legal & General, where he has spent most of his career.
However, Clark’s attention – and loyalties – are now of course focused firmly on LV=. So what attracted him to the role? The fact, he says, that LV= is “more of a speedboat than a supertanker” which “can change course quite quickly”.
“It’s pure economies of scale,” he says. “Within bigger businesses, the requirement of different business units means that certain things get put onto a conveyor belt which means that they come along when they get to their turn. Within this business if we see there is a strategic business requirement for something to be done then it will be done. That’s one of the things that brought me here – the speed of change and nimbleness of the society allows us to change in the marketplace a lot quicker than others.”
A PERIOD OF CHANGE
Changes have certainly come thick and fast since Clark joined LV=. This year has already seen the provider announce changes to its underwriting rules which should result in an increase in the number of applications receiving an immediate online decision. Last year, application processing times were reduced and the provider had cut average telephone interview times to around 15 minutes. Also last year, LV= enhanced its underwriting service by gathering more evidence up-front and introducing new medical underwriting limits. As a result, less than 8% of LV=’s protection applications now warrant a general practitioner's report, down from 18% in 2008.
Clark says more fundamental changes to product are in the pipeline – although they remain under wraps for now. In fact, in spite of its heritage – formerly known as Liverpool Victoria, LV= was founded in 1843 – Clark says the organisation has a “curiosity” and desire to do new things that is sometimes not so apparent at other protection providers.
“The company is curious and wants to do things, whereas possibly in some of the bigger companies I’ve worked in they are more restricted to what is or actually has happened to them in the past,” he explains. “The curiosity here is great, the attitude is welcoming. We’re relentless at trying to do things and get things done properly.”
According to Clark, the next 18 months will see LV= position itself “as a differentiator” in the marketplace.