Here are some scary letters for insurance companies: WWAD. They stand for What Would Amazon Do?
Specifically, what would Amazon do to break into the insurance business? This was one of the questions posed by Glenn Wintrich, chief information officer of Dell Services, during a session at the LIMRA Life Insurance Conference on Monday in Las Vegas.
The Amazon question fit ideally because the session focused on disruptive innovation. Wintrich pointed out that potential disruption doesn't come only from technology, such as Amazon's massive online operation and rapid fulfillment. But it comes from demographic changes and expectations.
Consumers, particularly younger ones, want all their purchasing to be what they have grown accustomed to - online.
"If your website isn't as easy to use as their iPhone," Wintrich said, "They will click away."
Amazon already has insurance licenses in about 35 states, Wintrich said, so it is well within the mammoth retailer's ability to offer life insurance on its site.
Although the face value of these policies and contracts would be on the lower end of the market, the key question is whether consumers would be content with the lengthy, invasive underwriting process for higher-value policies.
Another point that Wintrich made put even more urgency in that question: Technology disrupts exponentially. What seems like a dot on the horizon can be an imminent danger in very short order. "Almost nothing is linear anymore," he said.
Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents’ association. Steve can be reached at email@example.com.
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