COVID-19 “accelerated the inevitable shift” toward using digital tools in the life insurance industry, said Susan Neely, CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers. Neely spoke during the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors’ Advocacy In Action Day on Wednesday.
The pandemic is forcing everyone to take stock of what needs to change and what needs to stay the same, Neely said. As for the life insurance industry, the biggest change coming from COVID-19 will be a more sophisticated use of technology.
“The world was headed toward pervasive e-signatures, e-notaries, online exams and CE,” she said. ACLI is advocating to make these temporary technological advances permanent, describing the current period as “a modernization phase of our regulatory environment.”
These advances “will bring more products to more people,” Neely said.
Despite the technological shift in an industry that was known for being slow to change, Neely said some things about the life insurance industry won’t change in the COVID-19 world.
“We will still be a people business,” she said. “And the battles will continue – we need to tell our story to policymakers to keep negative and onerous things from being laid on our industry.”
Families and individuals need the life insurance industry and its agents more than ever as they deal with economic uncertainty, Neely said. She pointed to a number of ways in which the industry is “meeting the moment” by doing things such as extending grace periods on paying premiums for those affected by the COVID-19 downturn, as well as supporting the CARES Act.
She urged NAIFA members to “create our own echo chamber of stories and make sure policymakers know what our value proposition is and continues to be.”