For Discovery Life financial adviser Peter van Beek, the policies he sells are rewarding clients for having a healthy lifestyle with up to half their premiums back after five years.
"The more that Integrated clients pursue a healthy lifestyle, the more they get back. Clients can also tailor their life policy package to get between 5% and 35% PayBack annually and after turning 65 their premium payments can stop under the Paid-up Standard funding pattern, while the benefits continue, unaffected. Peter says this premium cessation happens if a client is under 45 at policy inception, while clients older than this at inception will stop paying premiums after 20 years. Also, by Integrating their Vitality membership, Vitality drive membership, credit card, medical aid plan with their Life policy, they stand to drastically reduce their premiums, while increasing the value of their PayBacks to up to 50%, he adds.
Peter says, "I don't sell a product, I provide solutions for problems people don't know they have.” Asked which product combinations he advises for different clients, the Gauteng broker is equivocal. "It's vital to identify a person's needs and determine what's important to them from the outset. You can't make the same recommendation to a bachelor as you would to a guy with three children and a wife, or one with kids and an ex-wife – it's critical that you know the family,” he adds. "If there's a client family history of cancer you make sure you max out the sickness cover that you can afford. If you start the journey with the knowledge your policy will become a future asset by getting some of your premiums back and you have built in benefits like severe illness for life, it makes all the difference. "Let's say you have a stroke at 80, that payment that can be used to help with frail care as well,” says Peter. With 27 years in the business under his belt, he still does financial needs analyses but can walk into a client's home and quickly sum up how to protect them. For example, a client with two children and a stay-at-home wife. "They'll want to protect their children's education should the policyholder become disabled, become severely ill or die. Basically, I want to help them ensure that the standard of living they're currently providing continues should the policyholder die, get sick or become disabled.”
Integrating your Discovery products generates big PayBack
"As for how I'd recommend Discovery product Integration, it's a no-brainer; I'd actually rather have you take less cover and structure your policy correctly over time. You don't want it to run away with you, cost-wise. Rather reduce your risk slightly by living a healthier lifestyle while taking out a policy that's sustainable forever.” Peter says his frustration with traditional, less versatile life insurances is that people take them out based on short term savings, which could well result in them paying substantially more over the long-term. "It's a bit like buying a car with massive balloon payments at the end. It's hooks you in and then you find you can't afford it anymore. Discovery has a unique advantage because you can choose how your premiums grow over time and can select that at say 65, you stop paying premiums but retain life cover and benefits until you die. In my view that's a huge benefit. You could be creating an inheritance for your children for example and you can leverage off the capital for the future. It's the opposite of a balloon payment. Perhaps a bit costly initially, but much, much cheaper down the line! It's fantastic, up there with Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy!” he laughs.
Stay fit, strategise and plan, he advises
His highest PayBack-earning client is a retired 50-year-old.
"While he could protect his pension capital, he obviously lost his disability and death benefits when he left, so he was looking for smart replacement cover. He's married with no kids and is a road runner; Comrades, the Two Oceans, the Boston Marathon, you name it. The reality is that he was living a very healthy lifestyle already. All we did is reward the good behaviour. Yes, he's spending a lot on his life policy but he got more than half of his premiums back,” says Peter.
His advice to clients is to make sure they have the appropriate cover for where they are in their lives and their personal circumstances, and to do whatever is necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle to ensure the highest possible Vitality status. "You have to invest strategically on the Discovery platform,” he emphasises.
How has he seen clients spend PayBacks? "It varies from Greek holidays to reinvesting it to boost their Discovery benefits down the line. The bottom line here is to understand the benefits of wellness and to be rewarded for it. It's very important to understand the journey of the full life of your Life Plan – one of the biggest failures of this industry is that clients don't understand (or are not led to say), where they'll be in 15 years' time.” Of all the professions he's encountered, poorly paid teachers generally get it right. "They're incredibly penny-wise. Often, they tell me at the beginning of a discussion that they don't know if they're doing it right, but they generally are!” he observes.
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