John Hancock CEO Brooks Tingle Talks JH eApp and Digital Strategy

Brooks Tingle, President and CEO of John Hancock to discusses JH eApp, the insurer’s broader digital strategy in the time of COVID-19, and the capabilities of John Hancock ExpressTrack. 

(Brooks Tingle, President and CEO, John Hancock. Source: John Hancock.)

This week John Hancock (Boston) launched JH eApp, a proprietary electronic application platform aimed at accelerating the life insurance purchasing experience. JH eApp is available for applications ages 18-79 and all face amounts, and it relies on John Hancock ExpressTrack, the insurer’s accelerated underwriting solution, to deliver instantaneous results. Insurance Innovation Reporter took advantage of the launch to reach out to Brooks Tingle, President and CEO of John Hancock to discuss JH eApp, the insurer’s broader digital strategy in the time of COVID-19, and the capabilities of John Hancock ExpressTrack. 

Insurance Innovation Reporter: John Hancock’s announcement of the launch of JH eApp said that recent challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have reaffirmed the company’s commitment to providing distribution partners with the most modern and efficient tools with which to conduct their business. Could you elaborate on how JH eApp fits within John Hancock’s broader digital strategy?

Brooks Tingle, President and CEO, John Hancock: At John Hancock, our strategy around innovation has been two-fold. First, we have been focused on transforming the life insurance ownership experience. We firmly believe a life insurer can and should help its customers live longer, healthier lives and can help contribute to better health outcomes. In 2015 we launched John Hancock Vitality to offer our customers tools, resources, education, incentives and rewards to help them take small steps every day towards a healthier life. We took that type of solution one step further last year with John Hancock Aspire, the first and only life insurance designed for people living with diabetes. We are very much committed to continuing to bring these types of personalized, engaging solutions to our customers. In fact, given the events of the first half of this year and an increasing focus on overall health, we see solutions like John Hancock Vitality and Aspire in even better alignment with consumers’ interests.

Our second focus is on transforming the life insurance buying experience—that means radically simplifying the process and significantly cutting down on the time and effort it takes to purchase a policy. That’s where JH eApp fits in. Along with solutions like eApp we’re investing in other technology areas to support New Business and Underwriting, including expanding our access to digital health information—another point in the journey where we see lots of room to modernize and cut down the time from application to issue. Life insurance cannot be an outlier in our digital world. Consumers have long demanded digital solutions and recent circumstances have encouraged digital adoption among more of our distribution partners. While advances by all parties in recent months were out of pure necessity to keep business moving forward, I am hopeful that we are in a good place to keep our digital transformation going at this accelerated pace.

Ultimately we’re looking to create the complete life insurance package that I like to call “easy to buy and fun to own.” Meaning, we’re cutting down the barriers to getting a policy in terms of time and paperwork, and we’ve created a consumer-friendly platform in John Hancock Vitality that allows us to engage with our customers throughout the life of their policy, while hopefully contributing to better overall health outcomes.

IIR: This has been a difficult year for property/casualty insurers, but they’re moving ahead with their digital agenda, even including core system replacement. Has it been a better year for life insurers, perhaps because of COVID-19 causing people to reflect on their mortality? Does this make the market environment more favorable or at least as favorable for the launch of digital capabilities such as JH eApp?

BT: There have been a few different developments from COVID-19 with direct impacts on our industry that I think will last long after the pandemic subsides. To your first point, people who previously had not given much thought to financial planning or life insurance, are suddenly mindful of their own mortality. They are soon questioning whether or not they are prepared and what would happen to their family, if something were to happen to them. That has put life insurance very much top-of-mind for many. As an industry we suddenly found ourselves in a bit of a paradox, because there was a demand for our products and services, but social distancing made some of our processes impossible.

At John Hancock, we’ve been a leader in digital transformation and had made tremendous strides prior to the pandemic which made us well-positioned to handle the changes and challenges. That said, we did have to act quickly to adapt in some areas. People were not in offices to receive and sign paperwork. Medical exams, lab tests and in-person meetings were not practical. Fortunately, we have seen great adoption of all our existing and new digital solutions during COVID-19 that make us confident our future is digital, and the environment is ripe for advancements like the JH eApp. Historically, our business and processes have very much been rooted in paperwork and in-person meetings, and while no one wants to lose the human touch or relationships in the life insurance selling process, our distribution partners and consumers can both greatly benefit from more efficient (i.e., digital) ways of doing things that we see continuing (or that will help get life insurance coverage inforce sooner?).

IIR: JH eApp could only fulfill its digital promise to significantly streamline and accelerate the life insurance purchasing experience by an accelerated underwriting process, which is perhaps the greatest advance in the life insurance industry in recent years. Could you tell us about John Hancock’s ExpressTrack and how it works to power the JH eApp experience?

BT: John Hancock ExpressTrack launched in 2017. Through ExpressTrack, we are able to leverage all available data, analytics and predictive modelling with the traditional underwriting process to deliver instant competitive underwriting decisions once we have the completed application, with no in-person paramedical visits or lab work required. It’s a great example of a solution designed around consumer demand for a faster, lower-touch experience.

Since its introduction, we’ve continued to make enhancements so that it was available to even more clients. For example, eligible face amounts were initially capped at $1M but we’ve since expanded that to $3M. And we’ve been expanding the submission methods where ExpressTrack is available, including submissions via our paper application and now, JH eApp.

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at [email protected] or (503) 936-2803.

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