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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Hatherly

AFRM Client Newsletter Q4 2019

Originally published 18 December 2019

Hard to believe we are at the end of the year already. 2019 seemed to fly by. For me, it was a year of both personal and business challenges. If nothing else, it has taught me the importance of resilience. Never has this become more evident to me than this year – when I found myself in our clients’ shoes. I suffered a medical episode which required me taking time off work and also seeking AFRM’s support to make a claim.

Please take a few moments to read the following case study to hear my story.

Having now experienced it from both sides of the table, I can safely say that at AFRM we will always go the extra mile for you. And with the end of another year comes the time to look back at what we have achieved to ensure we are staying true to our vision and mission. Accordingly, we have reviewed all the service surveys completed by our clients through 2019 and the results, I believe, are of interest when considered against the background of recent and ongoing industry challenges. We looked at all client responses to just one question:

What was the most important benefit to you of receiving our advice?

Interestingly, only one client in the whole year of survey responses put dollars saved above all the other benefits we can provide – just one. Meanwhile, a whopping 34 per cent cited “Having it all taken care of by professionals” as the most important benefit AFRM’s service provides. Close behind that was 28 per cent of clients saying that “Having the best cover for me/my family” was the most important benefit provided by our service. Third most popular benefit of the service provided by AFRM to its clients in 2019 was “Peace of mind;” at 18.75 per cent. Just over nine per cent of clients cited “Knowing AFRM will assist at claim time” was the most important benefit our service provides to them. The same number said they could not say one single benefit provided by our service was more important than all the rest. In fact, one said that what they valued most highly was the level of communication AFRM provided “and understanding where I was coming from re my needs.” But it is clients' comments like the following that make me just so proud of my entire team and I am sharing it with you to assure you of the quality of service the AFRM team will provide to you too. This client was among those who could not isolate just one benefit of the service as being more important than the rest:

“All of the above really - but it adds up to peace of mind for me, when I did not have any for a long time and felt there was no one to go to for help that had our best interests at heart.
“I feel AFRM fills that gap in the market."
"I wish the same was available regarding super and investment guidance / support.”

Another client commented that AFRM’s “professionalism of the advice and service is key.”

While another added that: “knowing AFRM will be in my corner if I ever need to make a claim is comforting.”

I have made much this year of our expertise in assisting your clients when the time comes to make a claim but I hope the tone and content of all of the client comments I have shared in this note serves to underscore how important to us it is to provide only the highest levels of professional service and support. May I take this opportunity to thank you for your business through another year and may you and your team have a wonderful and peaceful Holiday Season, however you choose to spend it. AFRM looks forward to working with you again in the New Year of 2020.

Until next time, live your life well!


Nicholas Hatherly

Managing Director AFRM


Case Study

“The medicos’ latest suspicion is that I’ve had Acute Viral Encephalitis, from which I can make a full recovery. Fingers crossed. "All my friends joke to me about whether I have good insurance in place and I assure them I have. "After my 30-day waiting period, my income protection policy commenced.
"All of a sudden, I was a claimant of AFRM. "And I can honestly say it’s a pretty good feeling.”

My current claim makes what AFRM does very real.

In May 2019, my wife Simone and I were on a long coming (and I’d say well deserved) Europe holiday. We’d already had eight days in Switzerland and were enjoying our 8th night and midpoint of what was a fabulous Scenic river cruise along the Rhine and Moselle rivers.

However, on that 8th night, Simone woke up to find me awake, standing in our cabin, holding my head and cursing fiercely (words that have no place in a communication such as this).

Basically, at the time my “lights were on and nobody was home.” I have no memory at all of the next three days.

When I became “conscious” again I realised I couldn’t tell the time on a clock or use a knife and fork. I knew it was a clock. I knew it was simple maths, but I couldn’t work it out. I slowly became competent again over the next five days but there’s still a piece of that time missing.

This condition, or episode, was a mystery to all. I had the best medical care in Germany. All my doctors on standby when I got home and I am now going through second opinions.

In all, I have been off work for seven months and nobody has been able to come up with a definitive diagnosis. I’ve had a myriad of tests, the latest of which you can see in the images accompanying this case study. It is a 72-hour EEG requiring a set of leads attached to my head for the whole period.

I’d like to think it is actually a really cool bandana and set of beaded dreadlocks, but I am pretty sure no one is going to buy that.

I’m not fully recovered and won’t be coming back to work anytime soon. The medicos’ latest suspicion is that I’ve had Acute Viral Encephalitis, from which I can make a full recovery. Fingers crossed.

All my friends joke to me about whether I have good insurance in place and I assure them I have. After my 30-day waiting period my income protection policy commenced.

All of a sudden, I was a claimant of AFRM. And I can honestly say it’s a pretty good feeling.

Because I’ve had permanent illnesses and injuries in the past, I’ve had no choice but to keep my old Lumley Life (now TAL life) and Aviva (now MLC life) policies from late 1990s.

Fortunately, my team at AFRM are very conversant with the old contracts and it was great that they could check everything. We know what’s happening around the IP claim management and TAL have been great so far. We have good communication with them.

We’ve also had a good look at the MLC “own occupation” TPD and trauma benefit. This story so talks to the need for “own occupation” TPD.

I can do some duties, enough to work, but can I do my own occupation? 

For the last seven months it’s been a clear “no.”

I have, of course, kept tabs on the business and its communications with our partners and clients, and have been in touch with my fabulous leadership team on management issues but I certainly have not been able to perform my role as full-time Managing Director of AFRM.

And if that continues, I’ll be making a claim for TPD (or maybe a Trauma claim, depending upon a medical diagnosis). That gives me the financial reassurance I need.

What’s been happening to me all this time is that I’m now considering all the same circumstances we, at AFRM, talk to all of you about.

Have I enough cash flow? Will I be able to work again? Is my family going to be financially secure and if I can’t work again, will I have enough to survive comfortably? At the age of 55, these are scary discussions to have with my wife, Simone.

There is always an element of doubt too. They say they can fix me, but after such a serious event, do I want to return to work in the same highly-demanding capacity as I previously worked - or even at all?!

I won’t really know until the Doctors are finished with their tests and diagnosis but you can’t help having these thoughts over and over again. As they say, you’re dead a long time.

AFRM has successfully managed more than $170m in life claims for its clients and there’s no prejudice with the selection of the claimant. I am now one too.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your risk advice.

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