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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Hatherly

AFRM Referral Partner Newsletter - 7 May 2020

I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with an update.

I have been more ‘hands off’ over the past 12 months. While I have not been involved in the intricacies of running the business, I have still been maintaining an overview and answering questions, as best I can, when needed.

I have now been diagnosed with encephalitis and continue to be off work and on claim. My case underscores the importance of any business having an appropriate Succession Plan and Keyperson insurance protection in place; each of which are among the services provided by AFRM. This is a great example of the advice we give. An unplanned event will rock up one day and you need to consider how are you going to be able to deal with it? We are now at a point where my health hasn’t improved and given the length of time that has passed, we need to appoint an Acting Managing Director so that person can take AFRM to the next level and also provide certainty to the business and our external stakeholders alike. Rather than having an empty chair and other members of the Leadership Team taking on parts of my role, I am pleased to announce that the Board is putting Rob Vitnell, currently AFRM Director and General Manager Victoria, into the chair to take on the role of Acting Managing Director of AFRM, with immediate effect. Doing so will give me time to step back a bit further and give me time to get well. All my doctors keep telling me that will not happen while I keep my head in the business. It is what I say to all my clients and Amanda (Anstess), Rob (Vitnell) and Damien (Jones) have all said it to me: “Nick what do you say to all of your clients? Stay away. Let yourself get well. Let the insurance do its job.” I have decided it is time I had better take a bit of my own advice. There are three different doctors telling me to take a proper break. For my existing personal clients who are seeking advice, administration and claim services, the AFRM team will appoint another of our highly-skilled and experienced advisers within the business to take over management of your risk advice, just as I have been doing over the past six to 12 months. However, in terms of management succession, we have been working on it for many years. Rob has been the Managing Director designate for the last four or five years. We have been grooming him towards moving into that role. Being a younger guy, Rob has always been one to challenge me on all the things we do and I have always valued that from him because he has great vision, he is a great adviser and he has got great people skills – most of the time. (Just joking Rob!) Rob is always looking for new and better ways to do things. So now is the time to give him that leadership opportunity. Rob has been managing and growing AFRM’s Victorian business as General Manager Victoria. He understands the company, and the culture more importantly. He is passionate about claims, which is the “why” of what we do. We are totally of one mind that the best interests of our clients always come first. Supporting Rob is the strength and experience of the whole Leadership Team. Rob has been with AFRM 12 years, Damien Jones, General Manager – Services, has been with us 11 years. Amanda Anstess, General Manager– Client Relations, has been with us 19 years and Wathana Farley, our Accountant, has been with us 15 years. They all thoroughly understand the business. They all have a passion for what we do. They love the company and how we help people. They are a strong team that have worked together well for many years. And that depth of experience also carries into our advisers. Phil Hatherly has been with AFRM for almost 13 years. Daniel Musumeci has been with us for 14 years and even our younger advisers, Justin Beeforth and Sam Brennan; who have been with us five and four years respectively; are both incredibly good advisers and passionate about what they do. We have a strong business and the entire team, including all our administrative staff, are passionate about helping people. I have always said helping people is at the core of what we do. It is only appropriate that I give some space in this communique for a brief message from AFRM’s new Acting Managing Director, Rob Vitnell:

I am honoured that Nicholas, the Leadership Team and the Board of AFRM have faith in me taking on the role of Acting Managing Director of AFRM. Nick has long been something of a father figure to me. He has always been extremely supportive and generous. Accordingly, I am going to continue do my best to help him through the health challenge he is now facing and to continue the great work AFRM does in helping as many people as we can. Nick’s passion to ensure we are there to help our clients when they need us most has rubbed off on everyone in the AFRM team. That passion is with us every day and we intend it remain a core element of the AFRM culture into the future.

Please take the time to read the following case study which illustrates how AFRM’s extensive knowledge of insurance policy terms and definitions, along with its strong relationships with insurers, enabled us to successfully challenge a client’s rejected Trauma claim. Until next time ‒ whenever that may be ‒ live your life well! Sincerely, Nicholas Hatherly Managing Director AFRM


Case Study

"We’ve recently reviewed the medical definitions in trauma, income protection and total and permanent disablement plans, and we have applied some of them so that your cover is up to date with advances in medical technology and treatments.”

In December 2018, Olive [name changed to protect client privacy] asked AFRM for assistance after a Trauma claim for Melanoma excision had been rejected by her insurer. Olive had lodged a claim for trauma recovery benefit in August 2018, after being diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma - Clark level 4, back in 2011.

Olive had come to AFRM from another adviser and as such we were not involved in the lodgement of her original claim. AFRM’s Melbourne office team investigated the case and found that the reason the claim had been rejected was that Olive had a very old Trauma policy that was established in 1993; and that the medical definitions within it had effectively not kept up with the latest medical knowledge and definitions. A frustrated Olive wondered why she had been paying her premiums for all these years only to find the medical definitions within that policy were obsolete. AFRM contacted the insurer, on Olive’s behalf, and asked for a copy of the policy. Curiously in December 2018, after rejecting her claim, Olive received formal correspondence from her insurer notifying her that the medical definitions within her policy were being updated. The letter advised: 

“We’ve recently reviewed the medical definitions in trauma, income protection and total and permanent disablement plans , and we have applied some of them so that your cover is up to date with advances in medical technology and treatments.”

Armed with this information and a thorough analysis of the terms and definitions within the original policy, early in 2019 AFRM reached out to senior management at the insurer seeking a review of the previous decision. Thanks to the respect with which AFRM is held in the industry, the insurer dedicated a claims Team Leader to the address the matter the very next day.

After further discussions between AFRM and the insurer relating to the fact that Olive’s policy definitions should have been automatically upgraded over time, by late March 2019, the insurer advised AFRM that the matter was under formal internal review. In late April 2019, AFRM was advised that the formal review had found in favour of Olive. It noted that: “Upon further review and investigation, [the insurer] have obtained clarification that an upgrade to your Client’s Policy did take place in 2004.” Olive was ecstatic to hear from AFRM that the original decision had been overturned and that she was being awarded close to $200,000. Even better, the benefit was backdated to the original diagnosis in 2011, increasing the payout amount by almost $100,000 from what it would have been otherwise. Through the course of clarifying details of the benefit payment, Olive was kind enough to comment to AFRM’s Associate Adviser, Sonal Brar:

“I thank you once again for being patient with me and I really do appreciate the help.”

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