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I have some questions

How much experience do you have with this stuff?

Our CEO, Ernie, was one of the three founders of Sovereign Assurance back in 1988. They are now the largest insurance company in New Zealand. He then co-founded Club life, now called OnePath and owned by ANZ bank. All in all, he’s been in the insurance industry for 46 years, worked around the world and is one of the most respected figures in the New Zealand insurance industry. We think that experience counts for something!

I’ve heard that most insurance companies do everything they can to not pay claims.

This falls into the realms of urban myth. We have all read stories in the press of people fighting with an insurance company who refuses to pay a claim, But we don’t ever read about the claims that are paid. The bottom line is that most insurance companies work hard to find a way to pay your claim, not deny it. And if there is a question about paying or not, we are your advocate and will work on your behalf to make the case for payment.

Really, do you honestly think insurance companies would still be in business if they never paid claims? We wouldn’t be dealing with them that’s for sure.

Just to give you some inside information, most claims are denied due to a nondisclosure by the client of something that would have prevent the insurance company from providing cover in the first place, usually a medical issue. This goes back to why we think you SHOULD let us help you fill out all those annoying medical questionnaires when we do an application. You then have certainty at claim time.

We’ve met most of the people in the claims departments at the insurance companies that we deal with, and we can assure you that they are real people (possibly your neighbours or part of your community) and they work within a set of guidelines that is designed to help them find a reason to pay the claim.

What the point in life insurance? I can’t spend the money when I’m dead!

Honestly, life insurance is the only one small part of the advice we give these days. There are so many products that take care of you when you are alive and that you are much more likely to need during your life time. Sure, at some point we are all going to claim on our life insurance. But what about the devastating effects of a serious illness or a disability that prevents you from working and earning an income. The needs are real, the effects or profound and the solution is actually quite manageable.

Isn’t it easier to just go into my branch and get my home loan?

In a word, NO! Applying for and negotiating a home loan is never an easy thing, so if we aren’t going to charge you a fee to do it for you, why on earth would you try to do it yourself?

The other thing is that we have a great programme that we call “Mortgage Assist” which could end up saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest paid to the bank and see you mortgage free much much sooner. The banks will also offer you a similar structure if you push them, but they won’t tell you how to really make it work for you. The bank is a bit like a casino, and at a casino the house always wins! We want you to win!

I have a good relationship with my bank, won’t I be able to get a better deal by going into the branch myself?

In our experience the days of the friendly bank manager that knows your name are long gone. But also, we are placing several mortgages a week with various banks and we know what sort of deals are available. The other thing is the banks are competing to get the attention of mortgage advisers and get some of that business, so we think we are getting better deals than the average person off the street.

Isn’t it better to buy from that company with the ad on the radio that says they won’t make me fill out all those annoying application forms!

We know the application forms seem long and confusing and horrible! We fill them out everyday! We won’t make you do it yourself and it’s really not as bad as it seems. But do you want to know why they are actually a good thing?

Every policy that we apply for for our clients, has a full application with lots of medical questions and there is a very good reason for that. We want to disclose every medical condition to the insurance company that we can. The insurance company then can do their medical “underwriting” which means when they issue a policy you know exactly what you will and won’t be able to claim for. Those companies that don’t make you fill out the long forms or make you get a medical exam done do their underwriting at the time you want to make a claim. That means, at the time that you are most stressed, you will need to answer all the medical questions and maybe get a medical exam. If they find that you had any conditions when they issued you that policy without having to fill out the medical questions, they may find a reason to deny paying your claim.

So, without the medical questions and long application form, you don’t really know if you are going to be able to claim until you really need the money! It’s not our idea of a good time.

What are you going to try to sell me? Aren’t insurance salespeople really pushy?

We’ve all heard the stories. Nobody has heard more stories about the horrible pushy insurance salesman that we have! We live with that stigma every day.

The reality today is that we are mostly highly trained professionals. We are regulated and licensed by the government, and held to a very high standard of conduct and ethics. We pride ourselves in being able to do great things for our clients. We know our profession is not the most glamourous or envied, we know we aren’t rock stars!

But what we at Riverstone truly pride ourselves on is being modern insurance and mortgage advisers who are trying to make our clients lives better. We actually care about you.

We are all about giving you advice that matters to you, and if the best advice is to not do anything and not buy anything from us then that’s the advice we’ll give you. It’s always your choice and we’d never push you into buying something you don’t want or need. It’s that simple.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy directly online or through my bank? Cut out the middle man?

Not really, no. But it’s a trickier question than that so we’ll try to give you some examples. There are some online insurance companies that will offer a discount up front but in many cases after a few years they start to recoup that discount and the premiums get more expensive. Plus, insurance is a surprisingly complex thing and it’s the reason that we are constantly training and upgrading our knowledge. It’s very difficult for the average person to know what insurance they need and how much. You may get a cheap deal on some life insurance that doesn’t really meet your needs, but what’s the value in that?

The bottom line is, that if you compared like-for-like insurance products the world over, the prices are almost exactly the same. Since the prices don’t really vary that much, it’s down to how much you buy and what features and benefits that package has, and if it suits your needs.

Given the fact that we won’t charge you for our advice and won’t pressure you to buy anything you don’t need, why would you try to do it yourself?