Chatter From The Chair – Summer 2020

This time last year I reflected that relevance and resilience were key themes for the life insurance industry with the changing market and environmental conditions – that continues to hold true for 2020 and the new decade ahead.

With Coronavirus upon us and a new world around us we are re-thinking how we engage members, support you through this and provide you with relevant content, virtually and continually. What was new yesterday is most certainly old today, so we will need to be agile, efficient and work with our members to support you in your roles and your education.

2020 will not only be a big year for our industry but also for ALUCA. I’d like to thank our sponsors for their continuing support and welcome new gold sponsor AIA, new silver sponsor, Moray and Agnew and Bronze partner QSuper. I’d also like to thank all of you, our valued members for being part of the leading life insurance industry association in Australasia run by members for members.

With so much change, both within our industry and externally, there has never been a more important time to stay connected – and this goes to the very heart of what we do – educating, developing and connecting our members. Now, more than ever we need to work together to support each other and our customers through these uncertain times. Please remember that if you do change companies you need to update your membership details so we can continue to stay connected. If you are not currently in a role, we want to continue to support you and stay connected. Contact our secretariat office and they will help you. This also applies to those on maternity or paternity leave.

ALUCA’s Board met last month for our annual strategy day. A key theme was to ensure we continue to support the industry and our new vision reflects this: Driving Professional Excellence. Education and professional development remain front and centre to our strategy. We are committed to continuing to provide a free, up to date and high value life insurance competency model specific to Life Insurance underwriters, claims and rehabilitation professionals. Our Certified Professional Life Insurance (CPLI) ALUCA membership accreditation program has been growing and recognises a wide range of qualifications and education providers to meet robust industry competencies and standards.

I’m delighted and very proud to share that we now have an Education Advisory Board that is headed up by the esteemed and globally recognized Professor: Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB MD DSc FFOM FRCP FLSW who has spoken at a number of ALUCA conferences and events over the last few years. The Education Advisory Board will provide their input and advice around our competency framework, accreditation, education and continuous professional development program.

We have been continuing to build our relationships with key industry stakeholders locally, meeting with ASIC, APRA, ANZIIF, FASEA and the FSC and further afield with LADUCA in NZ, LUCID in UK and AHOU in USA.

Other news includes ALUCA Board’s succession plan. Later this year I will be stepping aside as ALUCA’s long-standing Chair and am delighted to welcome as the new ALUCA Board Deputy Chair, Mark Raberger who is Head of Health, Customer & Marketing at Metlife Australia who will transition to the role of Chair later this year. Mary Sinclair-Porter, Head of Underwriting at Zurich is the new ALUCA Board Secretary as well as jointly heading up the conference committee. Congratulations to them both.

You will by now have seen that we have proactively postponed to March next year ALUCA’s biennial conference, “customeyes”, which will still be held on the Gold Coast and ALUCA’s Awards night has been moved to later in the year. The safety, health and well being of all our members, volunteers and partners are paramount and we are here for you during these challenging times. We hope you enjoy the additional complimentary webinars and content we have been providing for members.

Stay well and safe and as always, I welcome your feedback and comments

Best regards,

Jim Welsh
ALUCA Board Chair

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ALUCA / Turks Legal Mental Health In Life Insurance Panel Session

ALUCA was very proud to co-host with gold education sponsor partner Turks Legal a special mental health in life insurance panel session on October 31st at Turks Legal’s offices in Sydney.  A range of senior industry speakers spoke on the panel providing their insights and key perspectives.

The esteemed panel included the co-author of the Actuaries Institute paper on Mental Health & Insurance, Geoff Atkins, Principal, Finity Consulting, Margo Lydon, CEO of  Superfriends, Nick Kirwan, Senior Policy Manager, Life Insurance  from the FSC, Carly Van Den Akker, Head of Life & Health Solutions at SwissRe and Glenn Baird, Head of Mental Health at TAL and moderated by John Myatt from Turks Legal.

The session and topic came about from the Life Insurance Future Thinking group (LIFT) session held and hosted by Turks Legal. The Life Insurance Future Thinking group consists of the finalists and winners of the ALUCA and TurksLegal’s scholarship alumni program. They were joined by several key thought leaders with the topic being Mental Health in life Insurance. Geoff Atkins, co-author of the Actuaries Institute paper on “Mental Health & Insurance” joined the session. A key view about mental health and insurance in this paper was:

“…..this is a genuine issue in our society and our economy, and it behoves the insurance industry to pull its weight……Many have been working hard and improvements have been made, but some aspects would be more effectively developed on an industry-wide basis.”

The LIFT session discussed this and more, providing many relevant insights about the challenges that we face in life insurance with the growth in mental health looking at the key issues and solutions from a product design, new business and underwriting and a claims perspective. The panel speakers all further explored these.

The panel reflected on how mental illness is now the leading cause of work absence and long-term work incapacity in the developed world. The value of mental health claims is far higher than in most other claims type. For TPD the average amount paid for mental health claims is almost 65% higher than other claims types. This ties in with the recently released FSC/KPMG Australia data that reveals that life insurers pay out more TPD claims caused by mental health conditions than for any other cause – accounting for 24.1 per cent of all TPD claims.

While many insurance products respond to Mental Health, there is a growing burden of claims being made with the proportion of mental health claims reported to the insurer increasing steadily between 2011 and 2015.

It was a really stimulating and highly relevant session touching on the need for the industry to collaborate further to address mental health and life insurance.

A paper will shortly be distributed from this session to all members. Many thanks again to Turks Legal and all the panel speakers.

2019 ALUCA TurksLegal Scholarship Winner And Finalists

L-R: Jim Welsh, Chair, ALUCA; Amanda McKernan, CEO, ALUCA; 2nd Runner-up Honor Grant-Hennessy, OnePath; 2019 Scholarship Winner, Cy Lindeberg, BT Financial Group; 1st Runner-up, Celeste McFadyen, CommInsure; Alph Edwards, Partner TurksLegal and Scholarship Judge; Darryl Pereira, Partner TurksLegal and Scholarship Judge.
(2nd Runner-up Torrent Woodard, BT Financial Group not pictured above accepted his award at the VIC ALUCA PD Day on 17 October 2019).

We are delighted to share the winner and runners up of the ALUCA Turks Legal scholarship award now in its 13th year. The winners were announced by Turks Legal at the NSW Professional Development Day at Darling Harbour with 3 of the finalists being present. Many thanks to Turks Legal and to everyone involved, including all of the industry judges and entrants. Congratulations to all who submitted a paper. There was a great cross selection of entries and the judges commented on the high quality of papers submitted.

2019 Winner of the 2019

Cy Lindeberg, Health Support Consultant, BT Financial Group
For her paper on ‘The Role of Rehab Advisors in Improving Customer Outcomes’.
Prize: An overseas conference package valued up to AU$8,000 including return travel, accommodation, $1,000 cash and registration to an industry overseas conference of Cy’s choice

1st place runner-up

Celeste McFadyen, Case Manager, CommInsure
For her paper on ‘‘Developing Empathy Skills’.
Prize: AU$1,000 Visa pre-paid gift card

Two x 2nd place runners-up

Honor Grant-Hennessy, Senior Underwriter, OnePath and
Torrent Woodard, Senior Research and Development Underwriter, BT Financial Group
Honor’s paper was on ‘Will we really miss the duty of disclosure when it is gone?’  and Torrent’s paper on ‘The origins of Protecting Your Superannuation’.
Prize: AU$250 restaurant voucher

Well done to Cy, Celeste, Honor and Torrent  – they should all be very proud of what they have achieved.  You can read the winning paper from Cy in the Spring edition of RiskeBusiness and the runners up papers in the ReB Summer edition.

Alph Edwards, Partner of TurksLegal’s Life Insurance, Superannuation & Advice practice and member of the scholarship’s judging panel for the last thirteen years mentioned that all the papers were of an extremely high standard (it was a vintage year) so the competition was tight but Cy’s paper ultimately stood out in the judges’ eyes for its balance of empowering optimism and  innovative thinking but with a solid and empathetic understanding of the great challenges facing injured and ill customers.

ALUCA Deputy Chairperson, Devi Uka who was also a member of the scholarship’s judging panel said how the high standard of submissions had made the judging challenging. She was also pleased to see the ALUCA TurksLegal Scholarship highlighting the talent that is in the Life Insurance industry.

The 2020 ALUCA TurksLegal Scholarship will open in July 2020.

About The Scholarship

The ALUCA TurksLegal Scholarship, now in its 13th year, offers life insurance professionals a unique educational opportunity to attend one of three major international life insurance conferences of their choice, while contributing to the ongoing debate on cutting-edge issues affecting the future of risk insurance in Australia.

The scholarship is open to financial members of the Australasian Life Underwriting and Claims Association Inc. (ALUCA) working in the life insurance industry including superannuation trustees and administrators. It was developed through a partnership between ALUCA and specialist insurance law firm TurksLegal.

This year’s cutting edge questions were derived by the judges from a list of suggestions made by lawyers in the Life Insurance, Superannuation & Advice team at TurksLegal who threw their ideas in the pot to get everyone thinking.

The successful applicant is selected on a range of criteria including understanding and insight of the topic, sound evidence, research, and presentation skills.

The judging panel is drawn from the ranks of the industry’s senior leadership and includes:

  • Brett Clark, Chief Executive Officer, TAL
  • Gavin Pearce, Chief Operating Officer, Life & Investments, Zurich
  • David Campbell, Chief Operating Officer, MetLife
  • Malcolm Weir, General Manager, Life Customer Services, CommInsure
  • Jeremy Houghton, Head of Strategy and Corporate Affairs, AIA
  • Linda Winterbottom, Claims Rehabilitation Consultant, RGA Reinsurance
  • Evgeney Schkola, Case Manager Income Protection Claims, CommInsure (2018 Scholarship winner)
  • John Myatt, Partner and Practice Head of Life Insurance, Superannuation & Advice, TurksLegal
  • Alph Edwards, Partner, TurksLegal
  • Darryl Pereira, Partner, TurksLegal
  • Devi Uka, ALUCA Vice-Chair

2020 ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence Awards…Opening in November

In the meantime, don’t forget ALUCA will be opening up later next month for nominations for the 3rd annual ALUCA Life Insurance Excellence awards.  So stay tuned.

Chatter From The Chair – Spring 2019

2019 has been a big year for both the industry and ALUCA. Tying in with Amanda’ s update, I wanted to provide a quick update on the key headlines from our strategy day.  We want all members and stakeholders to be clear about who we are and what we do, which remains fundamentally unchanged. We remain a wholly and resolutely independent, not-for-profit member association, run by members for members. Education and professional development remains core to what we do and who we are, and we are happy to be working closely with the Life CEOs, other associations and ANZIIF to further evolve our CPLI program, the Life Insurance competency framework, for the good of our members and industry, and will continue to provide this open sourced to both.  This is something we acted on when we saw the need for a competency framework back in 2016, long before the Royal Commission was mooted, and we will continue to hold people to the highest standards.

We’ve continued to grow year on year, and we have now almost reached 2000 members.  As part of our ongoing good governance processes, we have been advised that we will need to transition to “a Not-For-Profit company limited by guarantee”.   This will not change who ALUCA is, or what we do, but helps futureproof our association and simplify our governance requirements.  More information and consultation with our members will be coming out before the end of the year.

We’ve been working hard to ensure the working party recommendations into the Hayne Report specific to Life Insurance underwriters, claims and rehabilitation professionals are understood and actioned. This has included updating the life insurance competency framework earlier this year. We are working closely with Executive Leaders to encourage more members to not only gain professional education but to also become ALUCA accredited CPLI members.

A key strategic focus is continuing to invest and evolve our competency framework that underpins ALUCA’s accredited Certified Professional Life Insurance membership which is continuing to grow as you will have read in Amanda’s update.

I encourage you all to become an accredited CPLI member and invest in your ongoing education. Personally, I am proud of my technical knowledge and learning of my own life insurance discipline.  I’m proud of the hours I have spent securing formal qualifications, the hours I have spent at (many!) ALUCA seminars, and the new things I learn daily from my colleagues and peers across the industry. I am sure that each and every one of you is similarly proud of your own education, technical knowledge and capabilities.   There has never been a better time for you as individuals, or us as an industry, to show we are proud of who we are and what we do, and to give our customers peace of mind that they are dealing with a true professional throughout all of their interactions with us

Before I sign off, I’m delighted to share the news about the 2019 winners from our two key gold education partnerships which you can read more about in this edition of ReB. Firstly, the prestigious ALUCA Turks Legal scholarship, which is now in its 13th year. The 2019 winners were announced at ALUCA’s NSW Professional Development Day. Congratulations to the winners and everyone who was involved and who applied you should all feel very proud of your achievements.

Thanks and congratulations to our other gold education sponsor MLC and to Monash for partnering with ALUCA once more to deliver the ALUCA MLC Monash scholarship award that recognises up and coming allied health student talent and the crucial role that they play in the life insurance industry. I had the pleasure of judging this and was impressed by the talent that shone through.  Well done to the winners and all involved. Thanks again to both Turks Legal and MLC’s dedication and commitment to the ongoing education and professional development of both the industry and ALUCA members.

Best regards,

Jim Welsh
ALUCA Board Chair

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CEO Corner – Spring 2019

We are well and truly into Spring, fast approaching summer, and ALUCA has had a very busy quarter. Each ALUCA Sub-Group have held their Professional Development Days. My congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in making these events such a success. I personally valued the many relevant insights and learnings in addition to the networking opportunities with other Life Insurance professionals who are all facing the same industry challenges. These events showcase what ALUCA is all about educating, developing and connecting ALUCA members.


There are a lot of exciting things happening at ALUCA right now which we’ve been sharing via our recent emails, leading on from our strategy day. ALUCA is committed to being wholly independent and member-led, and believe that the time is right for us to share the significant IP we have invested in the ALUCA life insurance competency framework so that the industry can respond positively and pragmatically to the recommendations contained in the Hayne Royal Commission report. We are not only dedicated to the ongoing education and professionalism of our members but also to raising the professionalism of the industry. I’ll let Jim, our Chair comment more about this.


Education is key to what we do. We are committed to continuing to invest and evolve our competency framework that underpins ALUCA’s accredited Certified Professional Life Insurance membership which is continuing to grow. Some organisations now have 54% of their members who are accredited – congratulations to them – and Victoria have more accredited members than NSW with WA, being the state with the most accredited members ,so the challenges is on!

We still get a lot of enquiries about how ALUCA’s accredited Certified Professional Life Insurance (CPLI)  membership works – it provides recognition for both your formal education and for the competencies, knowledge and skills you have gained during your years as a life insurance underwriting, claims and or rehabilitation professional. Starting as an affiliate member, moving to an associate, associate fellow and fellow.  We’ve worked on updating this to ensure that members wanting to upgrade understand that they need to have both educational qualifications which tie back to the Australian Skills Qualifications and standards – in addition to years spent building their competencies in Life Insurance. You need both to qualify and if you have more years of experience than education you can apply for the lower of the 2 or the other way around, so if an Allied Health graduate comes in with only 3 years LI experience then they can only apply for the lower level. Fellow level is the highest and hardest – we have defined what the paper should be versus an article which you can view on the website or just call or email us to answer any questions you may have.

We’re doing a lot of work to help encourage members to gain professional educational qualifications. You can learn more about where to gain qualifications on the ALUCA website. We’re also working on developing a training plan template to assist members identify their capability gaps and complete these via 5 key CPD areas similar to the FASEA requirements for advisers.  We’ll be sharing more about this over the coming months.

Other exciting developments include the Board signing off on further evolving and updating the ALUCA website and Member centre as well as providing a Learning Management System to provide 24/7 educational content in partnership with our key sponsors. In addition to a Womens Forum, Educational Advisory committee and mentoring program.

I look forward to catching up with you all at an ALUCA end of year event or at the upcoming ALUCA AGM on November 21st.

Warm regards

Amanda McKernan

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2019 ALUCA-MLC-Monash Award Scholarship Program

Picture: The six finalist students attended an ‘Insurance 101’ welcome event hosted by Josh Agar at MLC Life Insurance’s office on 1st August 2019, attended by ALUCA Board members Mark Raberger and Amanda Stow along with Amanda Ide from MLC Life Insurance.

The 2019 ALUCA – MLC- Monash prize winners for industry collaboration for Allied Health Students was announced at a special final awards presentation and prize night at MLC Life Insurance’s office on 10th October. It was attended by ALUCA Chair, Jim Welsh who was part of the awards panel along with key MLC and Monash staff including Professor Marilyn Baird.

The six finalists prepared a (written and verbal) response to key questions facing underwriting and claims professionals today. They were each supported by their MLC mentors from the insurance underwriting and claims business units provided by MLC.  The MLC mentors assisting in developing the students understanding of the life insurance industry and supported them for the duration of the award process.

A huge thanks to all of the judges involved:

  • Marilyn Baird Associated Dean, Learning and Teaching (Monash University)
  • Natalie Cameron Chief of Customer Operations (MLC life Insurance)
  • Mick Jones Chief Underwriter (MLC Life Insurance)
  • Lyndon Kirk Executive Lead, Wellness (MLC Life Insurance)
  • Amanda Ide Executive Lead, Retail Claims (MLC Life Insurance)
  • Jim Welsh Board Chair (ALUCA)

Congratulations to the 2019 winner of the ALUCA – MLC – Monash prize for industry collaboration for health students, Monash University student Charles Chu with his winning submission: Beyond a binocular view: the interface between behavioural economics and income protection packages.

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Recent New Trends in Thyroid Cancer


New trends in thyroid cancer – a true incidence rise or over-diagnosis?

Thyroid cancer (TC) is the most prevalent endocrine cancer,
accounting for about 95% of all such malignancies. The
incidence of this cancer has increased dramatically in the
last three decades.


Traditionally, thyroid cancers are classified according to
their histological cell of origin (see box) as well as whether
they are well differentiated (papillary and follicular) or poorly
differentiated (medullary and anaplastic), with the latter
having a poorer prognosis.

Recent New Trends in Thyroid Cancer-1

Papillary carcinoma is the most common thyroid cancer (70–80%). It is also the most common type in women and lives under 45. Usually has an excellent prognosis and tends to be localised.
Follicular carcinoma causes about 10% of all thyroid cancers. Typical age of diagnosis is older than the papillary type, and again affects more female lives than male. Hürthle cell carcinoma is an aggressive subtype.
Medullary carcinoma represents about 3–10% of all thyroid cancers. Around 70% of cases occur in older lives (>50). In those younger, it is nearly always associated with a strong family history.
Anaplastic carcinoma is an extremely aggressive tumour that represents less than 5% of all thyroid cancers. It generally occurs in older individuals.
Primary lymphoma represents less than 5% of all thyroid malignancies, with Non-Hodgkin’s B cell tumours being the most common.
Causes/risks Exposure to ionising radiation is the most established direct cause of thyroid cancer, and it was the first solid tumour type noted in Japanese atomic bomb survivors; similar tumours have been seen in areas exposed to radioactive fallout from the test sites in the Pacific as well as in Ukraine in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The thyroid isparticularly sensitive to irradiation because it concentrates radioactive fallout iodine as it creates thyroid hormones1. Many tools used in medicine also require radiation exposure, notably x-rays and CT scans, and the risk of triggering cancers in later life is particularly problematic in children, with an estimated 1,000 future thyroid cancer cases attributed to undergoing such scans in the US in 2007, for example2. Consequently, in many health jurisdictions thyroid shielding is required when undergoing ‘routine’ but required radiological investigations. Diet may play a role in two ways: iodine deficiency, if prolonged, triggers a rise in thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which in turn results in more thyroid follicular cell formation. In regions with extensive iodine deficiency, more follicular cell than papillary cell carcinomas are reported. TSH plays a critical role here, as demonstrated by improved survival and reduced recurrence of thyroid cancer in patients treated with TSH suppressors such as L-T4. Obesity and its associated issue of insulin derangement also seem to be distinct risk factors. One study found that 50% of papillary carcinoma patients had insulin resistance. Overall, it appears that for every 1kg/m2 in BMI the risk of thyroid cancer increases by 1% and the risk is particularly elevated for females3. One of the primary functions of the thyroid gland is to produce and regulate the secretions of hormones (thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) used to regulate our metabolism. Given the gender disparity, many researchers have speculated whether other hormones, notably oestrogen and progesterone, could play a part in carcinogenesis in the thyroid gland; recent studies have begun to suggest an imbalance between the two oestrogen receptor (ER) isoforms, α and β, that may indeed be responsible for triggering cellular abnormalities in the gland.


Genetic factors also increase the risk for developing thyroid tumours. About 6% of malignant papillary tumours are familial and up to 30% of medullary cancers have a hereditary component. Certain syndromes are associated with a higher likelihood of developing thyroid cancer. These include Gardner’s syndrome, Cowden’s disease, familial medullary cancer and multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) types 2a and 2b4.

Environmental factors

Other environmental factors, especially chemicals, could explain a rise in mutations – most notably nitrate contamination of drinking water and the use of pesticides such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, exposure to which may either increase the cancer risk or induce thyroid cell proliferation5


Globally, TC is the 16th most common cancer diagnosed, with 298,000 cases diagnosed in 2012; female lives constitute 70–75% of the diagnoses 6 . Curiously, of all cancers that can occur in both sexes it is thyroid cancer (apart from breast cancer) that has the biggest gender disparity. That said however, the cancer presents at a later stage and has a worse prognosis in men.

Future projections

It is projected that by 2035 the diagnostic incidence rate in the UK will rise by 74% in males and 77% in females, the largest rate of increase across all cancers. However, it will remain a rare cancer in the UK (only 1–2% of all cancer diagnoses), with only around 6,800 people affected, up from 3,388 in 2014 7.This pattern of incidence rise is repeated across the world. In the United States the number of cases has tripled since the 1980s to over 57,000 8, in France rates have increased by 8–9% per year over the same period and in Japan rates have grown by 52% in men and 86% in women in the period since the mid-1970s 9. China has seen the most dramatic rises,where TC is now the second-most frequently diagnosed cancer in both sexes in ages 15–4410.


Over two-thirds of adults will be found to have nodules in their thyroid when undergoing an ultrasound scan (almost all of them are benign), an example of ‘look and you’ll find’ 11 .Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that when South Korea introduced a programme in 1999 under which patients could elect to purchase such a service incidence rates of thyroid cancer exploded, with the result that by 2011 the thyroid cancer diagnosis rate was 15 times the rate seen at the beginning of the programme. This prompted a pressure group within the Korean medical community (the “Physician Coalition for Prevention of Over-diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer”) to call for an immediate halt to the screening in 2014, a move which was followed by a decrease in diagnostic incidence of 40% in 3 months12 .This trend has also been observed globally, with an estimated 50–90% of thyroid cancer (particularly in women) being the result of over-diagnosis. This over-diagnosis has been particularly problematic in countries that rely on an ‘insured model’ of health care provision. Loehrer et al. reported a 26% rise in thyroidectomies to treat thyroid cancer in Massachusetts once the state insurance scheme there was expanded to cover treatment of the disease. In an effort to combat this, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a recommendation against screening for thyroid cancer (in particular the use of ultrasonography),stating in effect that the harm from treatments outweighs any long-term benefit. If the over-diagnosis hypothesis was the only cause of the incidence rise, we should see rates increasing solely in the lower and less aggressive types. Yet the incidence has
increased for all types by 3% annually in the last 30 years,with mortality increasing by 1.1% per year for all types and by 2.9% p.a. for advanced-stage papillary in the same period 13.

Recent New Trends in Thyroid Cancer-3

*Korean screening data derived from Hyeong Sik Ahn: Quarterly average number of patients who underwent surgery for thyroid cancer.


In the US, the 5-year survival rate for thyroid cancer overall is 98.1% and varies from 99.9% (68% of cases) for localised disease to 55.3% for distant disease (4% of cases) 14 . Papillary thyroid cancer, the most common subtype of well differentiated thyroid cancer, causes nearly 90% of cases, and has by far the best prognosis, with universal 5-year survival and 10-year survival rates of 92–95%15 . In 2007, Pelizzo et al. demonstrated that survival continues into the second decade and beyond16 . However, some histological forms, notably the anaplastic type, cause symptoms, and grow and spread very rapidly. The median survival is 5 months and less than 20% live longer than a year. The 5- year survival rate is around 10%17,18 .

Recent New Trends in Thyroid Cancer-4


This rise in incidence in the population is being reflected in claims in certain markets, particularly for products like critical illness. This is indeed the case in South Korea given the screening issue discussed above, and it is also evident in China. In China TC accounts for 30–42% of all cancer claims in some portfolios, overtaking breast cancer as the number 1 cause of cancer claims. There is evidence that this trend may also be emerging elsewhere for some CI claim portfolios; in the UK, for example, it is the sixth most common cause of female cancer claims – so at least our experience from the numbers of our branches in Shanghai and UK. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the Association of British Insurers is recommending in its 2018 CI minimum standards that stage 1 papillary tumours should be excluded from the cancer benefit.


Product developers, actuaries, underwriters and claims assessors should expect to see thyroid cancer cases with increasing frequency, particularly in markets where presymptomatic screening is prevalent. This rise is predominantly a result of over-diagnosis of indolent tumours, although emerging environmental issues may also be contributing to the incidence rise. While certain types of thyroid cancer can be life-limiting and aggressive, in many instances the disease has little impact on life expectancy and should not be considered a ‘critical illness’.


Paul Edwards
Manager, Medical Risk Research
Tel. + 44 20 3206-1736








BIBBINS-DOMINGO, K. et al. Screening for Thyroid Cancer: Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force JAMA May 9, 2017 Volume 317, Number 18 BROWN, T. et al Occupation cancer in Britain: Remaining cancer sites: brain, bone, soft tissue sarcoma and thyroid British Journal of Cancer, 2012, 107, S85-S91 BUTLER, C. ‘Thyroid Cancer: evidence-based review’ Internal Hannover Re UK Life Branch document, March 2014 CANCER RESEARCH UK,, Accessed May 2018. DAVIES, L. The USPSTF recommendation on Thyroid cancer, don’t check your neck; editorial JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery August 2017, Vol 143, No 8 HYEONG SIK AHN & GILBERT WELCH, H., ‘South Korea’s Thyroid-Cancer “Epidemic” — Turning the Tide N Engl J Med 2015; 373:2389-2390 December 10, 2015 IGLESIAS, M.L. Radiation-induced thyroid cancer Arch Endocrinol Metab 2017 Mar-Apr; 61(2):180-187 LOEHRER AP Association of Insurance Expansion With Surgical Management of Thyroid Cancer JAMA Surg. 2017 Aug 1;152(8):734-740 O’NEILL, J.P. et al. Anaplastic thyroid cancer Oral Oncology, 2013, 49, 702-706 PELIZZO, M.R. et al. Natural History, diagnosis, treatment and outcome of medullary thyroid cancer, 37 years of experience on 157 patients EJSO, 2007, 33, 493-497 PELLEGRITI, G. et al. Worldwide increasing incidence of thyroid cancer; an update on epidemiology, Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, vol 2013,965212 SCHARPF. J. Achieving active surveillance for thyroid cancer – not a euphemism for watching a ticking time bomb JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, August 31 2017 SOSA, J. Striving for Clarity about the Best Approach to Thyroid Cancer Screening and Treatment: an Editorial JAMA Surgery August 2017 Volume 152, Number 8 STEELE CB, THOMAS CC, HENLEY SJ, et al. Vital Signs: Trends in Incidence of Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity — United States, 2005–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017; 66:1052–1058. DOI WANQING CHEN, et al. Cancer incidence and mortality in China, 2014 Chinese Journal of Cancer Research

1 See IGLESIAS, 2017
2 See PELLEGRITI, G. et al., vol 2013
3 See STEELE CB, et al., 2005–2014.
4 See BUTLER, C, 2014
5 See PELLEGRITI, G. et al., vol 2013
8 See SCHARPF. J., 2017
9 See PELLEGRITI, G. et al., vol. 2013
10 See WANQING CHEN, et al., 2014
11 See DAVIES, L., 2017
13 See SOSA, J., 2017
14 See BIBBINS-DOMINGO K. et al., 2017
15 See SOSA, J.,2017
16 See PELIZZO, M.R. et al., 2007
17 See BROWN, T, et al., 2012
18 See O’NEILL, J.P. et al., 2013


EVIDENCE ALERT / Mental Disorders and associated mortality

Dr Oleguer Plana-Ripoll has published another high impact article, this time in The Lancet. For those that don’t know he and his team published an article in JAMA Psychiatry earlier this year on psychiatric co-morbidity[1]. This previous paper was discussed in an earlier edition of ReB.

The new article published on the 25th of October 2019 explores the association between mental disorders and mortality[2]. It is understood that those suffering from mental disorders can have an increased risk of early death compared to those without mental disorders.

The paper by Plana-Ripoll et al analysed data from over 7.3 million people from Danish health registries. They found that people with a mental disorder had higher mortality rates compared to the general population, and that all types of disorder were associated with higher mortality (all cause). They also looked at specific cause of death and observed those with any mental disorder had elevated risk of death for all analysed specific causes (with the highest risk due associated with suicide and substance misuse). They also analysed mortality rates for specific groups of mental disorders. It should be noted those diagnosed with a mental disorder included in the study were seen by a psychiatrist in a hospital (inpatient, outpatient, or emergency department) and so probably represent more severe cases.

The study is rich with detail and worth exploring, it is fantastic that Dr Plana-Ripoll has made a website available to explore the study and the findings.

Dr Plana-Ripoll was kind enough to present his findings at a breakfast meeting held at Munich Re on the 22nd October.

  1. Plana-Ripoll, O., et al., Exploring Comorbidity Within Mental Disorders Among a Danish National Population. JAMA Psychiatry, 2019.
  2. Plana-Ripoll, O., et al., A comprehensive analysis of mortality-related health metrics associated with mental disorders: a nationwide, register-based cohort study. The Lancet, 2019.



Mental Health Month & Beyond Blue

Supporting Small Business Owners To Improve Their Mental Health & Wellbeing At Work Guide

October is mental health month with World Mental Health Day observed on Oct 10 each year with the main objective to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world, mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.

Beyond Blue have launched a campaign to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s 2.26 million small business owners through a free Beyond Blue guide available online. The Supporting small business owners to improve their mental health and wellbeing at work guide provides business advisers such as accountants, industry associations, bookkeepers, tax agents and representative bodies, or family and friends, with practical tips about how to provide support without needing to be trained counsellors or clinicians.

Advisers, family and friends can support the mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s 2.26 million small business owners through this free Beyond Blue guide available online.

The Supporting small business owners to improve their mental health and wellbeing at work guide includes information such as:

  • How to provide immediate support to a small business owner who is distressed;
  • Recognising the signs of poor mental health;
  • Planning and having a conversation with someone you’re concerned about;
  • What to do if the person doesn’t want to talk about their mental health; and,
  • How small business owners can improve their situation.

Did you know that Ninety-seven (97) per cent of businesses in Australia are small businesses employing up to 19 people. Small business owners can face a number of challenges in starting and running a business, which can impact their mental health.

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said the guide was designed for advisers, industry associations, families and friends because they were often the first to notice when small business owners experience mental health challenges.

“Almost one third of small business owners report having high levels of psychological distress, mainly due to long working hours, social isolation, customer demands, cash flow issues and conflicting demands between home and work,” Ms Harman said.

“These factors can sometimes increase the risk of developing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. Small business owners have told Beyond Blue they want mental health resources to be available through their business networks so they can access the information through established and trusted contacts.

“The guide allows advisers and others, who often see first-hand how stress can affect small business owners, to play an important support role that goes beyond advice on accounts and assets. It can also help the loved ones of small business owners to provide support when work is getting on top of them.”

The guide’s ease of navigation makes it a very powerful tool that not only supports mental health, but it will also help their client’s business. The guide also provides links to resources such as personal and workplace wellbeing plans, actions that small business owners can take themselves, and tips on how small business advisers can look after their own mental health. It is available for download at The guide complements Everymind’s Ahead for Business website and app for small business owners.

Mental health professionals are available at the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via for online chat (3PM – 12AM AEST or email responses within 24 hours).

Talk to small business owners about their mental health.  Download the Beyond Blue support guide at

ALUCA is also very proud to be co-hosting with Turks Legal a special mental health in life insurance panel session on October 31st. you can read more about this in this edition of ReB.

CMO Breakfast 

ALUCA CMO BREAKFAST / medical journal club and peer review

In August this year ALUCA kindly convened a ‘CMO breakfast’, bringing together medical staff working in the life insurance industry. The events are intended to occur every two months and will rotate around insurer and reinsurer offices.

The goal of the meeting is to promote evidence-based insurance medicine through discussion of evidence (a journal club), and to promote peer review and support through discussion of cases. There is a huge need to provide a forum to discuss relevant new evidence and provide peer support.

20 CMO’s or medically trained staff working in life insurance attended the first event held at Munich Re. The first meeting had a cardiac theme with discussion around the updated fourth universal definition of myocardial infarction, introduced in 2018. There was also discussion of the diagnostic challenges faced associated with type II myocardial infarctions (supply demand infarctions). There was also discussion of recent evidence indicating there should be caution interpreting the 99th percentile upper reference limit for cardiac troponins. All highly relevant to life insurance.

The breakfast case discussion revolved around a TPD claim (de-identified), a health professional suffering from fibromyalgia, a challenging condition. The group discussed the challenges associated with assessing claims like these, and inconsistencies in what is apparently reported to claims assessors and what appears to be reported to AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) in terms of impairment preventing practice.

The next meeting is scheduled for the 7th of November, it will be held at the offices of SCOR in Sydney. We have a guest speaker, Associate Professor Les Barnsley, a rheumatologist (kindly provided by ALUCA platinum sponsor MLCOA). The theme will be rheumatoid arthritis, the course of the condition, newer treatments and how effective they are.

Dr Matt Paul is an Occupational and Environmental Physician with 20 years’ clinical experience and is the Chief Medical Officer at Munich Re (Australia)

Sub Group Updates – Spring 2019


Spring is finally here!  The weather is getting warmer and it’s now the perfect time to get out and about. With that in mind, ALUCA Vic members left the office behind for the day and joined us for our flagship event – miniLUCA on Thursday 17th October at RACV City Club!  We assembled some amazing speakers from both inside and outside the industry to present on our theme “Rebuilding Trust” that was presented from a number of different lenses.

Our keynote speakers for the day were:

Nick Kirwan – in his role as Senior Policy Manager, Life Insurance, among other things Nick leads the policy work on the FSC Life Code of Practice and other matters relating to life insurance.

Katherine Gobbi – a passionate Leader who has extensive experience in personal injury claims management.   Her passion for the Customer is matched only by her passion for her People and evidenced in the culture she has built within EMLife – based firmly on the foundations of Integrity, Customer Centricity, Innovation, Empowerment and Alignment to a higher purpose.

Andrew Weinmann – an ombudsman specialising in life insurance disputes at AFCA. He provided insight into the topic of “fairness” and it’s application in the current environment.

Dr Pramodh Nathaniel – Managing Director of a leading online health education company, Ascending, Dr Nathaniel presented a case study approach discussing trust in the industry from a medical perspective.

Dr Melissa Weinberg – is a Psychologist, academic and research Consultant and discussed the science of happiness from the theoretical perspective of subjective wellbeing homeostasis. She revealed the latest insights into wellbeing and resilience, and translated the research into applied practical tips for maintaining and recovering wellbeing.

Jason McCartney – became a national hero in the wake of the Bali Bombings in 2002 and epitomises the Australian fighting spirit. His story is one of how he overcame adversity through amazing support from family, friends and teammates and triumphantly returned to AFL football.

More on miniLUCA in the next RiskeBusiness edition.

Suzanne Whyte


ALUCA WA recently hosted our Triple Treat in August which turned into our largest attendance of the year. A big thank you to all of you that came out to support our event and my special thanks go to Karen Panting, one of ALUCA WA’s founding members for assisting the committee and ensuring that all the presentations and technology worked on the day. It really would not have turned out to be such a successful event without your help.


Alissa Bernardi, Branch Manager at IPAR (WA) began proceedings when she very kindly shared her experiences as a Rehab Provider and provided a demonstration of how technology including biopsychosocial modelling is now being applied to assist claimants return to work.

Dr Bill Monday, Chief Medical Officer at Pacific Life Re began by inviting us all to hug a Geneticist. We can now all safely describe the difference between genetics and genomics along with the role our lifestyle has on our genetics. Dr Monday concluded with a timely update on the recently introduced Genetics Moratorium in the Australian life insurance industry.


The Triple Treat concluded with Kelvin Brown sharing his truly inspiring and incredible story demonstrating that through leadership, teamwork and risk assessment (very close to our heart) all came together in the rescue mission of 33 Chilean miners in 2010.

We are currently making the final touches to our End of Year Event for Thursday 28th November. Please keep an eye out for the invites that will follow shortly. We look forward to seeing as many of you there as we celebrate another successful year of ALUCA WA.

If you have enjoyed our programme of events this year and would like to join our local committee please contact me through ALUCA or speak with me or one of the committee members at our next function. As we approach the end of the year your local committee will be planning our programme of events for 2020, we would love to hear from you about what you would like to see from us in the year ahead.


See you in December

Stephen Chapman
Chair – WA ALUCA


Spring edition of RiskeBusiness as we farewell Winter and the temperatures are rising again.

The ALUCA CMG held our second events for the year across Sydney and Melbourne in August and September 2019 all events sold out a week prior to the events.

Our presenter for this Session was Jo Hetherington, Head of Financial Health at TAL. Jo is no stranger to the CMG ALUCA team having presented in 2017 we asked her back to again present on all things Financial. This was an interactive session focused on ‘Making sense of self-employed Financials’ with the attendees working through case studies as well as being shown how to interpret financial information and link it back to Insurance product definitions. Those in attendance can now tell the difference between cash v accrual basis accounting and how to interpret a BAS statement!


The committee teamed up with ALUCA QLD on the 12th September to co-host the Triple Treat event in Brisbane which was a tremendous success!  Together with ALUCA NSW we are also putting the final touches on the NSW PD Day to be held in October 2019.

We are also happy to announce we have two new members to our Melbourne based committee with both Anne La from AMP and Paula Ramsey from MLC joining the team in August 2019

We look forward to seeing you at our future events in 2019


Myles Kennedy

The ALUCA Rehabilitation Subgroup Annual Professional Development Day was held in Sydney and Melbourne on 6th September 2019. There was strong attendance across both events and feedback received has been overwhelmingly positive. We extend our thanks to all those who attended and supported these events. Our 2019 theme was focussed on cancer medicine, cancer rehabilitation and best holistic practices to support recovery for customers.


The Sydney event was held at AMP Circular Quay Office, hosted by Kim Phan ALUCA Rehab Chair (GenRe).

Keynote speakers included Dr Judith Lacey who spoke about the recent advancements in cancer treatment, Michael Marthick, Exercise Physiologist who spoke about utilising a multidisciplinary approach in cancer rehabilitation and what the life insurance industry can learn and implement from the USA and UK frameworks in cancer care. Prof Paul Glare who spoke about pain management in cancer survivors and the need to use a bio-psychosocial approach when discussing return to work. Dr Margaret Black, Employability Assessment & TPD expert who provided her own customer experience being on income protection and TPD claim whilst recovering from cancer and her personal insights on what the life insurance community can do to enhance the customer experience with cancer survivors on claim.

The Melbourne event was held at AMP office, co-hosted by Rachael Wiseman (AIA) and Tom Notley (Super Friend).


Keynote speakers included Dr Mitchell Chipman who spoke about medical oncology, palliative care and his clinical research into cancer recovery/rehabilitation. 

Kelly Spence: Accredited Exercise Physiologist who spoke about her extensive experience working on the EX-MED Cancer Program as well investigating the use of exercise as medicine for the management of cancer. 

Adam RamanauskasA premiership AFL player with Essendon at the age of 19 who retired at the end of 2008 after three successful comebacks from cancer treatment. Adam shared his experiences from his cancer journey and how he used exercise to assist with his rehabilitation. 

Planning for 2020 is currently underway. There will be a number of opportunities to join the committee and our associated working groups next year. We will be calling for expressions of interests in Nov/Dec and more details will be available then.


Amlan Sharma
Communications Lead – ALUCA REHAB


Greetings from ALUCA NSW committee. Our 2nd event was held on 15th August 2019 at Rydges World Square attended by 150+ attendees.

Our keynote speaker, Matt Battersby is vice president and chief behavioural scientist at RGA. Based in London, he is responsible for the effective development and deployment of behavioural science-informed models to RGA and to its clients for use in underwriting, claims, risk management and customer engagement.


subgroup11The topic was “The science of decision making”; how behavioural science can bridge the communication gap with your customers and improve outcomes for underwriting and claims.  Matt provided a very informative and interactive session discussing how we can utilise behavioural science to tackle our biggest challenges in Sales, underwriting and ongoing servicing. His sense of humour and a great presentation kept the audience wanting more. The presentation is available on ALUCA website.

With the CMG committee we hosted the Professional Development Day on 16th October. More on this in the next RiskeBusiness edition.

Please note the NSW End Of Year event is being held on 10th December at L’aqua, Darling harbour. The invites will be out shortly so please ensure you save the date in your calendar.

Thanks for your ongoing support. See you at the next 2 events

Ami Barua
Marketing/Comms – ALUCA NSW


The SA ALUCA had it’s main event on the 6th September (with a small group compared to other states) with Dr Paul Pers discussing how to communicate with influence for better outcomes for those blamers, shamers and complainers in both business and personal situations that we come across in our day to day lives.

Dr Quentin Malone discussed the need, and more often than not, the no need for back surgery and that how intensive weight training can turn an unstable back to full functionality.

Nick Linke then closed off the afternoon with some very interesting court cases scenarios surrounding discloses and the lack thereof and the interpretation that is made by the courts.

Ashley Hicks
Chair – ALUCA SA


Greetings from the sunshine state, where summer appears to have already arrived.

Our most recent breakfast seminar was another rousing success, and on behalf of the QLD ALUCA committee, I would like to acknowledge our local fraternity and platinum sponsors for their ongoing support.

Our guest speaker was Zurich CMO, Dr Zeshan Shaikh, who provided insight into both prescription and recreational drug use and its impact from an underwriting and claims perspective, as well as the societal ramifications. This was very well received and generated some interactive discussion within the group.

September 12th saw our annual Triple Treat event where ALUCA and CMG joined forces for the first time in QLD. Neurologist Dr Mark Paine, examined Concussion Syndrome, and its likely impact on insurance in the future.

Glenn Baird (Head of Mental Health at TAL), discussed the elements of ‘Bereavement’ and navigating conversations with grieving customers.

Our keynote speaker is known as ‘Sans Tattoo’ and what you might call a ‘rough diamond’. He’s experienced both locally and internationally as an entertainer and Verbal Judo Expert.  The audience loved him and won’t be forgetting this presenter in a hurry!!

Jody O’Sullivan
Secretary – ALUCA QLD

Editor’s Note – Spring 2019

Welcome to the Spring Edition

Can you believe that we are approaching the end of another year? 2019 has been a white-knuckle ride and it’s not over yet however in this time of industry uncertainty, it is heartening to know that outstanding ALUCA events designed to up-skill and challenge us remain a constant.

I had the pleasure of attending the annual Triple Treat event in Brisbane hosted by ALUCA and CMG. A packed audience were educated and entertained in the hidden concussion syndrome dangers [and the future implications this may have on our industry] – how to better navigate bereavement and grief conversations – and the final speaker shared his experiences in leadership, resilience and the most strategic methods of ejecting drunk patrons from a bar during his career as a nightclub bouncer. It was a very enjoyable afternoon!

I would also like to acknowledge reinsurers [and ALUCA sponsors] RGA and Gen Re for their significant contribution to the ALUCA claims & underwriting development calendar. RGA hosted A Senior Underwriter’s Forum [see photo] and CMO Roadshow events while Gen Re hosted COMET Financial Training events pitched at three levels of experience. These were held across multiple states with overflowing demand and nothing but excellent feedback. This clearly demonstrates the growing awareness to future-proof ourselves in a rapidly changing life insurance landscape.

October was Mental Health Month and to mark this critically important awareness campaign, ReB has included two mental health articles in this edition. As many of you know, there are some horrific, downward trending statistics associated with this insidious illness….

  • Globally, one person dies every 40 seconds from suicide, and 90% of those suicides are associated with mental health disorders
  • Suicide rates are highest in high-income countries like Australia and the second leading cause of death among young people
  • In 2018 the number of Australians who died by suicide (3,046) was heading towards triple our road toll (1,135). Males continue to be overrepresented with 45 men taking their lives every week
  • There are close to one million Australians who suffer from untreated mental illness costing our economy 500 million per day
  • Research by Teladoc Health has found that 37 percent of Australian workers aged 18-25 years have been diagnosed with a mental health problem with only 15 percent confiding in their employer and/or seeking help in the workplace

The upside of this awareness is that practical initiatives and programs are on the drawing boards of insurers and reinsurers to better understand mental health and improve our interactions with affected clients.

On a much lighter note, ReB congratulates Cy Lindeberg from BT who has won the 2019 ALUCA TurksLegal Scholarship! We have published her winning paper: The role of rehab advisors in improving customer outcome

Enough from me – I hope you really enjoy this Spring Edition of ReB.


Michael Reid
ReB Editor 

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