NEW YORK -- Bob Kerzner issued one final warning to insurers today to either change or fall behind.
The popular, outgoing CEO of LIMRA/LOMA delivered his regular state of the industry talk to kick off the trade association's annual meeting. Kerzner was more emphatic than normal in urging industry execs to embrace technology and change.
"You shouldn't fear change, you should embrace it," he said in his summation. "Change allows for new opportunities and growth. Right now, this minute today, change is the slowest it will be in the next five years. So buckle up."
Kerzner, who led LIMRA for 14 years, will be succeeded by David Levenson, who comes from Edward Jones. The two worked together many years ago at The Hartford.
In his final address, Kerzner referenced his early days, and even shared a photo from the 1970s. Back then, "it was smile and dial," he recalled.
Plenty has changed since then, from how consumers can be contacted to how quickly a customer can be approved to how products are put together.
But some things haven't changed, Kerzner noted. Customers still look to buy life insurance around life events such as getting married and having children.
"But despite all of this increased sophistication, we aren't increasing the number of people who buy," Kerzner said. "In fact, it's declining."
The key is to increase distribution, he said. And if the industry doesn't figure out how to deliver life insurance products better, a behemoth like Amazon will.
Disruption is everywhere, and technology might offer the solutions needed to maintain a healthy business model.
"We do need to think differently about product development to attract young consumers," Kerzner said. "We need innovative thinking. The need is still there. In fact, our studies show that more people than ever would be in financial trouble if the primary wage earner dies."
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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