The Search To Keep Insurance Awareness As COVID-19 Passes
TAMPA--John Carroll has come back to his first love, life insurance, to help guide the industry up to par with the consumer experience he saw in asset management.
Carroll joined LIMRA in September 2020 as head of member relations and sales, and has since been promoted to senior vice president of life insurance and annuities. He spent the past 13 years in the asset management space, primarily with Allianz. Before then, he was with the insurance segment of Merrill Lynch in sales-related executive roles for about 20 years. Carroll is scheduled to open Day 2 of the 2022 Life Insurance Conference, sponsored by LIMRA, LOMA, Society of Actuaries and the American Council of Life Insurers.
“I always loved insurance. I missed it,” Carroll said. “The insurance industry does a wonderful thing. It's a noble thing. And I think we need to work together to try to make it better.”
One of those ways is to work with an advisory committee of 20 industry executives to identify and surmount barriers to modernizing the industry. Some of the solutions might come from his former life, where he saw rapid growth over the past two decades.
“I do think it gets back to, you've got to make it easier. It's got to be more transparent. It's got to be so simple to transact,” Carroll said. “Look at the asset management space. It went from 15 years ago when mutual funds were king, and nobody ever thought that would change. And then along came the ETF.”
Exchange-traded funds grew from niche to the elephant of the asset management industry because of their simplicity, transparency and low costs, Carroll said.
'True And Sincere Interest'
Asset managers who wanted to remain active rather than just placing assets into passive investments had to bring extra value, Carroll said. Now investors can find an array of different kinds of asset managers, especially for those with fewer dollars to invest. Now someone with $50,000 in investable assets can find help, which Carroll cited as a model.
“How do we start to move in that direction? I think there's a true and sincere interest in getting to these uninsured, underrepresented populations as a great business opportunity,” Carroll said. “It's also an opportunity to bring something of real value, social value to people who don't have it.”
Another key issue is messaging, because too many people, particularly younger ones, do not believe they can afford insurance, Carrol said. In the latest LIMRA/Life Happens Insurance Barometer survey, the perceived inability to afford insurance was the No. 1 hurdle cited by respondents.
The industry has to help consumers understand that insurance is not only affordable but that paying for coverage is not sinking money into something that does not benefit them directly.
“Those who understand life insurance understand it's not about you – it's about your families,” Carroll said. “I do think COVID has ramped that up and people understand that they need to make sure they’re taking care of the people that they love. And this is a great way and an inexpensive way to do that.”
Another new factor that Carroll encountered in coming back to insurance is the burden of debt many families are bearing.
“One of the interesting things that we see in our research is a concern about debt. ‘If something were to happen to me, who gets stuck with this?” Carroll said. “So what are the things I need to be concerned about and who are the people I need to protect? And that's where that conversation can start to become real and serious for people.”
Steven A. Morelli is a contributing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines. He was also vice president of communications for an insurance agents’ association. Steve can be reached at [email protected].
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