A recent Accenture study found that 67% of insurance customers are open to the idea of buying insurance from companies other than insurers—23% would consider buying insurance from on line services such as Google and Amazon. Why would they change how they buy?
Our industry has come a long way during the past five years, but the pace at which technology is being deployed and adopted in insurance lags behind that of other industries. Generation Y, the largest cohort since the Baby Boomers, is extremely sophisticated, technology-wise, and immune to traditional marketing and sales pitches. What worked with earlier generations of customers won’t work with them. Generation Z is even more media-, computer-, and Internet-savvy. Are any of these potential customers going to embrace paper-based processing and signing applications across the kitchen table?
We are dealing with a new buyer, unlike any we have seen before, and differentiation and “survivability” in the future will be linked directly to the use of innovative technologies that simplify, streamline, and improve the user and buyer experience. Technology needs to reach out and connect.
The Imperative of Paperlessness
The life distribution segment of our industry in North America (and the world for that matter) must go paperless or run the risk of losing market share to emerging business models outside our traditional ones. Integrated platforms that offer CRM, Health Class Estimation, quotes, illustrations, e-App with e-signature, e-policy delivery with cross-sell capabilities, and policy holder services with a self-service component will dramatically improve agent productivity and better service the needs of customers. Platform integrations with leading automated underwriting solutions and feeds to policy administration platforms will deliver new efficiencies and ultimately reduce processing costs.
The platform of the future will deliver everything needed to market, sell and process life products (as well as annuities) and be accessible via a single sign-on. It will minimize the keying of data, leverage reuse throughout the entire buying experience, and feed both legacy and emerging back-office systems, ensuring data integrity. We are well on our way as an industry, but even the best of innovative solutions will fall short of goal in the absence of industry commitment to leverage the benefits of technology.
The industry needs ever-growing mobile features, disconnected e-App solutions, short life application “tickets” for non-traditional salespeople, direct-to-consumer programs, and deep insurance layer integration with CRMs including Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce.com to chip away at the big challenges. These all provide speed to marketing advantages and improve the user and buyer experience like never before – all aimed squarely at the new generation of buyers and sellers.
We are trending in the right direction. Based on our industry data, e-App transactions and e-policy deliveries are at an all-time high, and I expect to see substantial gains this year as the industry makes investments to do away with paper policies and leverage the ease and speed of e-signature.