To answer these questions, we must rethink the blueprint for life insurance sales. To be successful, we need to look at the consumer and agent, evaluate their expectations and needs and use technology to solve their needs by removing the barriers to purchasing insurance.
First, let’s look at the consumer and agent. Today, we can track a pizza to our door or buy stocks on our phones. The consumer expects this from all interactions. Life insurance sales are no different. Consumers have a “right now” expectation for researching, selecting, and applying for insurance. If we miss the opportunity to immediately solve the consumer’s needs, we miss our opportunity to get them insured. This is true for both agent-driven workflows and consumer-driven workflows. Everything must be connected, streamlined, and included in one simple package with automated decisions upfront early in the process to provide the instant gratification they seek.
Next, let’s address technology. We are at a crossroads with technology and consumer demands. The technology solutions have been around for a while, but historically they have been disjointed point solutions, and connecting them had multiple hurdles. Additionally, life insurance sales are steeped in tradition and buried in required steps to complete the necessary paperwork and compliance. The result has further created disjointed processes with cobbled-together technology that does not appeal to today’s consumers.
Finally, let’s look at the massive underinsured and uninsured gap. There is a higher demand right now for life insurance than in years past. The industry reported an 11 percent jump in the first quarter of 2021, compared with the first quarter in 2020. That jump is spurred some by COVID-19, the growing middle-aged population, Millennials who need insurance to protect their new families financially, and the growing global middle class with expanding incomes. LIMRA insurance statistics also reported that Millennials are 48 percent likely to purchase coverage in the next 12 months. Of all age groups, there is a 31% increase in intent to purchase life insurance due to COVID-19. With the increase in sales and the expected continued upward sales trend in the Millennial market and others spurred by COVID-19, we need to deliver a technical sales experience that appeals to both consumers and agents. They need a simple, cohesive, and straightforward solution.
The redesigned blueprint for life insurance sales has done just that. All the dots are connected to solve these issues and quickly provide “right now” consumers with the answers and the insurance shopping and buying process they desire. Everything must be connected, streamlined, and include automated decisions upfront and early in the sales process to effectively sell life insurance to the high-demanding consumers and agents. Let’s break this down into the different steps in a comprehensive sales process.
Agents and consumers need to be able to run an analysis for life insurance needs, instantly view product options to fill the gap, and then quickly run quotes to compare the options. Additionally, the details to arrive at the correct product need to be collected and assessed upfront to avoid quoting products that do not fit the client’s health and risk. Connecting these processes is very important for the agents and consumers to shop for and find the perfect solution. FireLight® Pre-Sale and FireLight Quote activities are doing this today in a fully connected and streamlined workflow.
But wait, there are still steps that need to take place to complete the sale and be compliant. Now that we have the quote, we will need the compliant illustrations for permanent products and the ability to compare accumulations and product features for the top options against one another. Consumers need comparison and choice to feel confident in their decision. Historically, these processes and sales data have been disconnected, breaking up the sales experience flow. Agents must go to the carrier’s site to run the illustration, or a case designer runs the illustration for them and emails it to the agent.
Additionally, there is no easy way to compare the options, especially from different carriers. The redesigned life blueprint for sales processing requires these illustrations to be easy and fast to run in a simple modern UI. Agents need to quickly and efficiently meet the compliant requirements, which include evaluating products for the best fit and presenting the product benefits to the consumer in a way the consumer understands.
Completing the application and collecting signatures is the next step in the sales journey. The application process must be fully connected to the previous sales activities, not a separate process requiring data re-entry, manual uploads of illustrations and needs determinations, or mismatched data. FireLight unifies all these sales steps into one connected workflow so that agents and consumers can complete required pre-sale activities, run quotes or illustrations, select products, and move immediately into the e-App, connecting all the sales data throughout the processes. Having everything connected ensures all steps are completed, the data in the illustration matches the application, and all documents are e-signed together. Everything is done in one simple system with no hassles.
There are opportunities inside the application process for carriers to further eliminate time hassles associated with underwriting. FireLight has integrations with solutions that expedite the underwriting process, including LexisNexis Risk Classifier, Milliman Irix, Paramed scheduling, and underwriting platforms like RGA Aura, Swiss Re Magnum, and more. Carriers are adding these off-the-shelf integrations into their workflows to eliminate wasted time that exists in old traditional underwriting workflows and deliver instant decisions upfront within the sale.
Gone are the days of submitting the application only to discover that the consumer is not approved, and additional steps or adjustments are required to complete the sale. Those are the time hassles and time vacuums that carriers are removing from the purchase process for life insurance. Decisions are made immediately, and the user has a comprehensive shopping and buying experience, satisfying the “right now” consumer.
As an industry, we need to solve the insurance gap. One way to do that is to meet today's consumers and agents with a modernized blueprint and new tools for delivering instant gratification.
By Katherine Dease
Chief Product Officer, Insurance Technologies
View article in NAILBA Perspectives Magazine here.