Identifying vulnerability key to protect customers from fraudsters
14 April 2023
Vero's Head of Consumer, Jane Brewer, says now more than ever is the time for organisations to be aware of additional risk in the customer environment, and to place a greater focus on proactively identifying, supporting, and protecting customers who are experiencing vulnerability. This is why the insurer's Customer Advocacy Teams and field representatives are proactively identifying customers who are experiencing vulnerability.
“New Zealand communities are currently experiencing a number of challenges that may lead to a vulnerable state for some, including the impacts of severe weather events and the rising cost of living,” Brewer says.
Through proactive calls and site visits, Vero Insurance representatives have contacted more than 695 customers and from these calls, identified more than 80 customers to wrap differing levels of additional care and support around, such as rebuild prioritisation and Lifeline Aotearoa referrals.
“Scams do not discriminate; unfortunately, they can happen to any one of us and at any time, but at this time we need to keep an eye out for fraudsters preying on vulnerable customers following the recent weather events in an attempt to take advantage of people when they're at their lowest.”
“Our field team recently identified a vulnerable elderly person who was approached by an individual posing as her insurer, requesting she pay them $1000, and putting undue pressure on her to complete this payment in order for her claim to progress. I can only imagine the stress and anxiety this customer must’ve felt during this interaction. I am relieved that we have been able to identify this vulnerability and ultimately help this customer by reporting the incident to the police and referring her to a service that can provide support,” Brewer says.
She says if their teams hadn’t been actively working to identify vulnerability, Vero wouldn’t have been able to support many of their customers at this very vulnerable time.
The insurer’s work on understanding customer vulnerability means their representatives are trained to listen for cues that customers may be experiencing vulnerability.
Brewer says that for customers who may be experiencing vulnerability, asking for help can be uncomfortable, but the potential benefits of these conversations can be huge.
“If a potential vulnerability is identified by the support team, we'll work with customers to suggest some possible solutions. In situations where we think specialist expertise could be helpful, our people know when and how to refer our customers so they can access that additional support. In other instances, the support we provide may be more specific to the situation; for example, we have recently organised for a wheelchair ramp to be built in a customer's temporary accommodation,” says Brewer.
To help the insurer provide the most appropriate assistance, Suncorp New Zealand has partnered with trusted community support services, Lifeline Aotearoa and Good Shepherd.
“Through the guidance of our community partner, Lifeline Aotearoa, we’ve also developed a unique training programme for our entire New Zealand workforce to ensure they can identify customers who may be experiencing vulnerability,” Brewer says.
The insurer is encouraging customers to access any user portals through official websites rather than through links in text messages or emails, and recommends that customers never provide or confirm credit card details or internet banking login details in response to an unsolicited phone call, even if they claim to be a representative of Suncorp New Zealand or Vero Insurance.
“This instance in particular highlights the importance of customers being aware that Vero, and their affiliated tradespeople, will be clearly identified by a Vero or MPS-branded hi-vis vest when they are visiting properties, and will never ask for cash up front or send a text message with a link in it. If in doubt, hang up the phone and call back on one of our official phonelines,” Brewer says.
If customers think they’ve been the victim of fraud from a communications or person posing as Vero, the insurer advises they should contact 0800 800 134 or their broker immediately.
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The information in this article has been compiled from various sources and is intended to be factual information only. Full details of policy terms and conditions are available from Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited or your financial adviser. For advice on product suitability, please contact your financial adviser. While we take reasonable steps to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate and up-to-date, it is subject to change without notice. Vero Insurance New Zealand and its related companies does/do not accept any responsibility or liability in connection with your use of or reliance on this article.