HPF looks after customers when in need

27 October 2022
Hunter Premium Funding is there for our customers when they need it most. During periods of financial hardship, customers can talk to us about ways we may be able to assist them to get back on their feet.

Hunter Premium Funding may not be the only premium funder to offer support to customers who find themselves in financial hardship, but we have made it a particular focus to enhance the customer funding journey to ensure we identify and assist customers doing it tough.

In a sector where premium funders largely use the same brokers, service the same client base and have the same system capabilities, we make it a point of principle to provide an empathetic and supportive service to customers experiencing financial hardship. Our organisation provides our customers and broker partners direct access to a team of credit and service specialists who can tailor a financial solution. And it’s this team that provides our customers with the emotional support they need during trying times.

“Listening to our customers with compassion and giving them an opportunity to land on their feet again is of central importance to us,” says Beau Goodyear, Chief Financial Officer at Hunter Premium Funding. “And it makes a longstanding difference to the way our customers perceive us as an organisation.”

Financial hardship is driven by unexpected events that can affect a customer’s ability to meet repayments on their loan or debt. It can be caused by several factors, such as an extreme weather event that disrupts normal business operations, or undergoing a major change in personal circumstances, such as experiencing an illness or injury. A related category is customers considered to be in a ‘vulnerable’ financial position because of domestic violence or who are experiencing other personal issues.

What all customers who experience financial hardship and vulnerability have in common is a desperate need for a compassionate response to their circumstances. Plus, they need to know that a pathway can be provided that allows them to come through unscathed.

Recognising the need to help these customers led us to instigate a profound cultural change about three years ago.

“We understood that the last thing you could ever want to do is pull underlying insurance from a customer and expose them, their assets or their operation,” Goodyear says. “Now, when there have been the likes of a natural disaster, we get on the front foot and take a business approach to how we can best support our customers.”

Goodyear explains that an assessment is made as to whether a customer needs extra support. In most cases that will involve reassessing the customer’s loan structure. It can also mean providing them with access to a complimentary counselling service.

Up to three confidential counselling sessions, run by Assure Programs, are available to all Allianz customers (Hunter Premium Funding is part of the Allianz Australia Group) who have been affected by a natural catastrophic event, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

It can be a natural human response to baulk at asking for assistance when times are hard. However, Hunter Premium Funding has found ways to elicit how our customers are coping when unforeseen challenges arise.

“Our team have learned how to have proactive conversations and pick up on nonverbal cues that reveal that customers are having a difficult time,” Goodyear says. “It’s a tough thing to train for but it’s fundamentally about asking the right questions and listening to the customer’s responses outside of the words you’re hearing back.”

At a fundamental level, Hunter Premium Funding considers how our customers are impacted outside of the financial relationship they have with us. And our financial hardship provisions are hardwired into how we operate.

“We’ve got system capabilities that allow us to report on which customers are exposed to financial hardship and what they have been exposed to,” Goodyear says. “Plus, we hold ourselves to account by detailing our financial hardship approach on our website.

“Having a well-documented, well-understood way of handling customers experiencing financial hardship goes a long way to ensuring we deliver what the customer needs from their premium funder.”

If ever you experience financial hardship and are having trouble making your loan payments, be sure to contact our Customer Service Team on 1300 HUNTER (1300 486 837) and ask to speak with a credit specialist or contact us via email.

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