BALTIMORE -- Paul Fedchak recalled a recent conversation with a life insurance professional who said their carrier had the email addresses for just 20 percent of their in-force block of customers.
Fedchak was stunned by the revelation, he said during an afternoon session today at the 2019 Life Insurance Conference.
"Every business you engage with these days the first thing they ask for is an email address," he said. "So we have a long ways to go."
Fedchak was joined by Lauren Cross, assistant vice president at John Hancock Financial Services for a session they called a "potpourri" of insurance trends.
One trend the industry is falling short on is customer engagement. Hence, Fedchak's email example. Insurers have a vested interest in keeping clients healthy, happy and alive for as long as possible, Cross added. It makes sense to take better advantage of engagement opportunities, she added.
That might mean providing incentives for healthy behaviors, or leveraging technology to boost engagement. Cross suggested insurers can make owning life insurance "fun."
"We want to be more than the people who send you a bill once a year," she said.
Technology is an obvious trend and the subject of several sessions. Accelerated underwriting is moving ahead at a relatively quick pace, Cross said. Quick for the life insurance industry, that is.
More importantly, it is something the industry really needs to do, Cross said. After all, 48 percent of U.S. households are uninsured or under insured by $200,000 or more total, LIMRA CEO David Levenson said.
"You can organize the purchase of a house in about a week. Yet the life insurance policy is still something ... that you're going to spend a month or two filling out forms," Cross said.
"Frankly, we have not changed that process very much since the late 80s, early 90s."
Many companies have been "dabbling" in accelerated underwriting for the past two or three years, she said. While the commitment is tentative to some degree, at least one insurer is willing to use accelerated underwriting on policies up to $5 million, Cross said. Most of the quick approval underwriting is limited to policies up to $1 million.
But the accelerated underwriting trend is not quite to the make-or-break stage, however, she said.
"Is this something that you have to have to be competitive, to be one of the life insurance companies that is here for the long haul? I would say not yet," Cross said. "It's definitely something worth thinking about and spending some time on. You don't want to be left behind."
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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