MLC Life Insurance appointed a new chief underwriter at a time when the firm and the industry are experiencing significant levels of growth and transformation.
Debbie Kennedy is formerly the group head of protection strategy at UK-based life insurer Royal London. In her newly expanded role, she will report directly to chief customer officer of retail advised insurance, Melissa Heyhoe.
At MLC Life, Kennedy will manage a team of about 130 people and is responsible for developing and executing underwriting strategies together with all new business and underwriting operations.
During her time at Royal London, Kennedy was instrumental in innovating technology and data analytics in life insurance, including the development of automated underwriting tool UnderwriteMe, which MLC Life launched in Australia in July. She's also helped launch a diabetes product and streamlined underwriting proposition for mortgages.
Prior to joining Royal London, she held a number of senior management roles including managing director of shared services at Capita, a business process outsourcing service to the UK life and pensions industry. She has also worked for AXA Life Insurance and Swiss Re.
Heyhoe said Kennedy's intimate knowledge of UnderwriteMe and innovation in the area of predictive analytics will be invaluable as MLC Life seeks to provide a more streamlined and efficient underwriting process for customers and advisers.
Separately, MLC Life announced it is expanding its Best Doctors service by providing customers access to medical advice or a second opinion from a global network of medical specialists at no additional cost regardless if a claim is made or not.
From October 1, customers with MLC Insurance, MLC Insurance (Super), MLC ProtectionFirst, MLC Personal Protection Portfolio or MLC Life Cover Super product can access the service.
Best Doctors also helps customers identify a specialist in their local area or submit medical questions online to a panel of GPs.
Customers and their families can obtain medical advice over the phone and they can use the service without making a claim, and can do so for an unlimited number of times, Heyhoe said.
Best Doctors chief executive Peter McLennan said 10% of cases in Australia are misdiagnosed; having easy access to a second opinion from an international expert is incredibly important.
MLC Life partnered with Best Doctors in 2009.