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Heard In The Hallways

Question: There will be a lot of talk at this conference about disrupting, recalibrating and innovating in life insurance. What is an area in the business that you consider to be long overdue for a makeover, and why?

“Technology and the implementation and marketing of products. The business is still using marketing channels that have been in use for decades. It needs to catch up with the other industries, for instance by selling on the Internet in as an additional channel. Insurance is sold, not bought, but technology reduces cost so it’s on its way. That’s the main thing. In addition, the technology systems the business uses are being upgraded too; that makes this a good time for making the other changes.”

–Paul Dennee, life insurance actuary, Trustmark

“The streamlining of processes at the carriers. At our company, for instance, our CEO made sure that this has become a priority. We are creating capacity to remain competitive and eliminate waste, so we can provide better service for our customers. This is being done through a series of 50 ‘rapid improvement events.’ These are week-long projects, each created by a team of nine, including people who actually do the work that will be affected. It’s not a committee approach. We call it experimenting, because we approach the process improvements as an experiment. We’re not glued to it. So IF an event doesn’t work, we do something else. We’re been at this for over a year now. We did at least 20 events last year, and we will do about 50 events in 2014. We have the potential to save millions of dollars from streamlining processes. We’re also using the approach in the area of improving retention of our career agents who have been with us under five years.”

–Dories Farmer-Reneau, assistant director-front-end operations, Northwestern Mutual

“Speed-to-market. Legacy technology can’t cope with the product demands of today. Therefore, it costs too much and takes too long to launch competitively on the market these days. Carriers that succeed will leverage a third party to manufacture products—and stick to their core, which is designing produc ts and selling business.”

–Augie G. Meier, manager-business development, se2



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