AMP Life is preparing to transition to its new owner, Resolution Life. As part of this process, it is important our customers have the right information.
Customers can feel safe that AMP Life will continue to deliver on customer promises and services. This doesn’t change under Resolution Life. Importantly, all the terms and conditions of a customer’s policy will remain unchanged after the sale completes. AMP Life will remain well capitalised and paying claims will always be our priority.
Who is Resolution Life?
Resolution Life is an international insurance and reinsurance group whose management has a 16-year track record in providing quality service to in-force insurance customers. AMP Life policyholders will benefit from Resolution Life’s deep expertise in managing in-force insurance policies and its commitment to customer service. Since 2003 various Resolution entities have acquired, reinsured, consolidated or managed 28 life insurance companies, serving the needs of over 10 million policyholders. Resolution Life focuses on delivering policyholder benefits in a secure, well capitalised environment.
Resolution Life is backed by large investors who are leading financial institutions, insurance companies, pension plans, sovereign wealth funds and family offices. Resolution Life is a global business with operations in London, the US, Bermuda and with the AMP Life acquisition, Australia and New Zealand.
Is Resolution Life subject to the same legal and regulatory requirements as AMP Limited?
Yes. Resolution Life will be subject to the same Australian and New Zealand regulatory requirements as AMP and as all other life insurance providers in Australia and New Zealand.
Under both Australian and New Zealand law, AMP Life has legal obligations to ensure that policyholder’s interests are prioritised ahead of shareholder’s interests if there is a conflict. AMP Life is regulated by both the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in New Zealand and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority in Australia and will be subject to the same conditions in the future as it is today, including that the company is well capitalised.
Why is the sale to Resolution Life good for customers?
Customers can feel safe that AMP Life will continue to deliver on customer promises and services. This doesn’t change under Resolution Life.
Importantly, all the terms and conditions of a customer’s policy will remain unchanged after the sale completes. AMP Life will remain well capitalised and paying claims will always be our priority.
Resolution Life recognises the strength of the customer focus, experience and commitment of the AMP Life management team and employees which remain the same under Resolution Life ownership, including the Chief Executive Officer, Megan Beer, the AMP Life leadership team and the highly skilled teams of AMP Life.
As part of the Resolution Life Group, AMP Life becomes part of a global manager of in-force life insurance portfolios.
Since the end of 2018, AMP Life’s business model has been to focus on existing customers, rather than focusing on new business sales. After the sale, AMP Life’s business model will be unchanged. Servicing existing customers will be our priority.
Customers will benefit from Resolution Life’s specialist in-force policyholder focus and global expertise in managing in-force life insurance portfolios.
Paying claims remains our priority
Paying claims will always be AMP Life’s priority. This doesn’t change with the sale.
Customers terms and conditions of their policy remain unchanged after the sale. AMP Life will continue to operate under the fundamental insurance principle of utmost good faith in dealing with all customer’s claims.
AMP Life paid out NZ$186m in claims in 2019 in New Zealand. The same teams managing AMP Life in 2019 and today will continue to manage the company after the sale.
AMP Life will continue to be a life insurer licensed by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, and subject to Australian and New Zealand law.
This means there are legal and regulatory measures to ensure we meet customer promises by paying claims and doing so in a timely manner.
New legislation is currently proposed in NZ that will regulate conduct of all life insurers. If passed, this will apply to AMP Life as it will to all life insurers who operate in NZ. AMP Life will continue to operate under the NZ Financial Services Council Code of Conduct and the Financial Services Council Code of Practice in Australia.
Does the sale of AMP Life to Resolution Life mean life insurance premiums will go up?
AMP Life’s pricing product and pricing philosophy is based on ensuring our products remain relevant, competitive and sustainable. Pricing reflects a range of factors, including the market environment and claims experience of specific products. Our priority is to ensure our products and pricing remains sustainable, competitive and relevant and this does not change as a result of the sale to Resolution Life.
What is an in-force life insurance portfolio?
An in-force life insurance portfolio refers to the current policies held by customers of AMP Life.
AMP Life does not seek to acquire new customers, instead AMP Life chooses to focus on the customers it already has. This will not change with the sale to Resolution Life.
What is an in-force life insurance specialist?
An in-force life insurer focuses on its existing customers. AMP Life became an in-force specialist following the sale announcement. AMP Life will remain an in-force life insurer, regardless of the sale to Resolution Life. AMP Life made this change to its business model in response to the market environment for life insurance.
AMP Life is focused on servicing and retaining our customers, and this will not change with new ownership.
Will AMP Life be a ‘zombie fund’?
A zombie fund is a colloquial expression from overseas for a participating life insurance fund that is closed to new customers and where the fund has capital constraints which prevent it from investing in growth assets. This is not the case in AMP Life whose funds are well capitalised to withstand market shocks. Customers should not be concerned by such language
AMP Life’s participating fund has been closed to new customers for over 20 years in Australia and New Zealand. Over this time, the assets of the participating fund have grown as customers continue to pay premiums and make changes to their policies, the fund earns investment returns, while benefits are paid out to customers. Over time, the participating fund will inevitably run off as benefits are paid to policyholders.
AMP Life has plans in place to manage this gradual run off over the next 50 or so years and these plans will continue to be refined, benefiting from Resolution Life’s global expertise in managing the run-off of participating funds.
How does a participating policy work?
Many of AMP Life’s products are participating products, such as whole of life and endowment products. Your policy schedule will tell you if your policy is a participating policy. These policies have both savings elements (the policy pays out at maturity or earlier if you surrender) and protection elements (the policy pays out if you die earlier).
A participating policy means that policyholders participate in the profits of the life company from these policies, generally receiving 80 per cent of the profits. The shareholder’s share of the profits, the other 20 per cent share, was established at demutualisation of AMP Life (and also National Mutual Life Association of Australasia).
The terminal and annual or reversionary bonuses added to these policies are the way that the profits are shared with policyholders. These profits primarily arise from the investment of the assets of the life company in shares, property, bonds, and other assets. These bonuses are guaranteed additions once added to the policy. Terminal bonuses are paid at the point of paying out the policy, either on maturity, death or surrender. Terminal bonuses are not guaranteed and can be varied at any point in time. The shareholder only receives a share of profits when bonuses are paid to policyholders.
This means that there is alignment of the interests of the participating policyholders and the shareholder, currently AMP Limited, and in future Resolution Life. It is in both the participating policyholders and shareholder’s interests that the life company is run well and continues to maximise the profits from the participating policies over the duration of the policies.
These participating products have not been sold in New Zealand and Australia for over 20 years. Customers have continued to pay their premiums, receive their bonuses and the protection of their life policies over this time. There will be no changes to the terms and conditions of these policies with the sale to Resolution Life.
Where do the bonuses come from and how do I know that Resolution Life will continue to pay them?
The terms and conditions of all policies remain the same after the sale to Resolution Life. This includes the right to bonuses.
The bonuses largely arise from the returns on investment monies invested for you and are directly linked to the performance of the funds and assets that the money is invested in. Where there are actual or expected lower future investment returns (e.g. lower government bond rates) or underperforming markets (e.g. the global financial crisis or the current recent experience due to uncertainties with COVID 19) then this will impact the level of the future bonuses paid to you and the revenues received by the shareholder.
Terminal bonuses at any point in time are not guaranteed into the future. Terminal bonuses are generally adjusted up or down more quickly to respond to market conditions and enable the fund to be more aggressively invested for your benefit.
Reversionary or annual bonuses already declared are guaranteed at maturity of your policy.
At any time between your annual policy notice, you can call our call centre or contact your adviser if you would like to receive a current value assessment of your policy.
How do I know that Resolution Life won’t mismanage the assets or invest in less risky assets, as these are cheaper to manage and therefore leave me with very low bonuses?
The investment returns form part of the profits of the participating business and form the basis for your bonuses. Profits are shared between the participating policyholders and the shareholder in an 80-20 share. This was agreed at demutualisation and is a legal requirement for the company. This means that for every $100 of profit declared, $80 goes to the participating policyholders in bonuses and $20 to the shareholder as retained profits and ultimately paid to the shareholder as a dividend, provided the Fund has sufficient capital to protect against future adverse events.
It is not in the interests of Resolution Life to strive for lower returns for policyholders or to strive for excessive returns from extreme levels of risk. Resolution Life brings access to additional and global pools of quality asset managers and direct assets. This means that AMP Life can continue to manage the investment funds in a well-diversified manner seeking to maximise returns while at the same time having regard to liquidity to meet their requirements to be able to pay policyholders when required and sufficient capital to support the guarantees underpinning the policies.
Who controls all of this money and how do I know Resolution Life won’t just take it all and use for themselves?
The assets that back all policyholder liabilities are held within what is known as a statutory fund. This is mandated by Australian and New Zealand law. This means that these assets are ringfenced (much like trust assets) and have strict legal requirements around how they are managed.
Regular reporting is provided to the regulators in Australia and New Zealand on the statutory funds. There is no ability for Resolution Life to use the funds in the statutory fund for their own purposes. The role of the AMP Life Board under the Life Act in Australia and the Insurance Prudential Supervision Act in New Zealand is to ensure that in the investment, administration and management of the assets of a statutory fund, a life company gives priority to the interests of owners of policies. If there is a conflict between shareholders and policyholders, the policyholder interests must be prioritised ahead of shareholder interests. This is a legal requirement of directors. The AMP Life Board has a majority of independent directors, which means they are independent of Resolution Life and of management.
The assets of the statutory fund are invested to achieve an appropriate risk adjusted investment return. For protection policy types, like term insurance, disability insurance or annuities, the assets are invested in a prudent manner to seek to ensure that there are sufficient assets to meet the future claims on policies. For participating policies, the assets are invested in a diversified pool of growth and defensive assets to generate higher expected returns. The higher levels of risk on these investments may lead to higher profits which will be used to increase bonuses for participating policies.
Will I still be able to contact AMP Life?
The management team and employees supporting AMP Life customers will be the same under Resolution Life ownership, including the Chief Executive Officer, Megan Beer, and the Executive General Manager of New Zealand, Therese Singleton.
AMP Life will maintain a physical presence in New Zealand to service our New Zealand policyholders.
New Zealand policyholders will continue to be able to call our people in New Zealand if they need to speak to us about their policy or be supported through the claims process.
Resolution Life’s head office is located in Bermuda and Resolution Life have offices in the UK and the US. Importantly, AMP Life has offices and people in Wellington, Auckland, Sydney, Parramatta, Melbourne and Brisbane. Our AMP Life teams supporting our AMP Life customers will remain the same under Resolution Life.
Are customers “captured” by AMP Life?
Retaining our customers is a priority for AMP Life and we do this by ensuring our products, pricing and service meet our customers’ reasonable expectations. We understand customers have a choice when it comes to their life insurance provider and we want to ensure they continue to remain with AMP Life.
The sale of AMP Life requires regulatory approval. AMP Life is regulated by both the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in New Zealand and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority in Australia and will be subject to the same conditions in the future as it is today. The sale, worth AU$3bn, is the purchase price for the business in Australia and New Zealand.