Pinnacle Life

A new group life insurance product for SMEs, bundled with an employee benefits platform in just 4 months.

Pinnacle Life has made their mark as a retail insurer, their point of difference being their online direct sales capability. However, they had no internal systems capable of running and administering a group insurance product, so when they spotted a gap in the market for a group life and trauma product aimed at smaller businesses, they partnered with Sentro.


The challenge

Typically, the margins around group insurance are low, and it's a very competitive space. "With low margins, you make it up with volume," says Gillian Vaughan, Chief Executive, Pinnacle Life.


"The other side of that is that everyone knows what group insurance should cost and they know it should be cheap. So if you've only got a small number of employees, the insurers can't afford to offer it because the margins, the volume is not there to support the low margins. So they know it should be cheap, but they can't have it."


Although not a group insurer at this point, Pinnacle had nevertheless identified a need for a group product that could:

  • Provide group insurance for a company's staff
  • Work for smaller businesses with less staff


"It's the supermarket versus the corner dairy. When you've only got a small staff, the margins don't support the operating costs of the product at that level." Gillian explains.



The solution

Although Pinnacle were doing their own BA work, development was an area they decided to outsource, which is when they partnered with us here at Sentro. The objective was to launch a brand new SME group life and trauma insurance product, for companies with as few as 5 employees – a market first in New Zealand.


"We worked together, we went down through the customer experience," Gillian recalls. "We looked at who's responsible for each part of the customer journey, and then separated it out with really clear diagrams about where the handover points were."


The project was a collaboration not just with Pinnacle, but with a network of brokers and advisers to configure a policy administration platform, one that could integrate directly into an employee benefits platform that brokers could sell to their customers and employees.

"Sentro has been part of the process of the product design and everything the whole way through," says Gillian.


Monthly billing is a key feature of Pinnacle's newest group insurance product, Cornerstone Employee Cover, and this differentiates it from other group schemes. Schemes are usually billed annually, but SMEs find managing cashflow for large annual lumps of spend quite difficult. Monthly billing allows employers to manage their group insurance spend in much the same way as they do their utilities and other subscriptions. 


"The monthly billing feature makes a big difference," says Gillian. "For small companies, cash flow is king, so this enables them to have the group scheme without having to come up with all the costs at once."


Along with the new Cornerstone platform, Sentro technology also powers the branded Belong digital employee benefits product which delivers employee benefits to thousands of New Zealand employees. Sentro provides the product quotation interface for the brokers, as well as ongoing operational support to both Pinnacle Life and their broker network.


The results

Sentro enables Pinnacle Life to revise Member lists and bill for group schemes monthly, without incurring too much administrative overhead to make the new product profitable.


"Sentro are really innovative in the way they think," says Gillian. "That's something I really value, as well as how easy they are to work with. The way they build relationships is really important—it's not a customer / vendor thing, it's a working partnership very much focused on achieving something together."


Book a demo to see how Sentro can help you build your group insurance business.