By Bill Walasek, Head of Sales, Paperless Solutions GroupNovember 28, 2022
The Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association (LIDMA), which has become one of the leading providers of thought, information, and discussion on matters in the life insurance industry, recently held their 19th annual conference. The LIDMA Board, which includes Paperless Solutions Group’s President Jeff McCauley, put on a tremendous event with a theme appropriately titled “Back to the Future.”
Much of the discussion at the conference focused on business process improvement – a subject that tends to be centered around technology, however, can often overlook some of the basics. There is huge value in leveraging technology to streamline business processes– it’s what PSG specializes in. But what struck me from discussions is the need to really examine historic business processes and question if they should be improved or changed based on the evolving marketplace. When done well, technology partners can help to augment newly refined business practices while making them seamless for the customer.
Here are some recurring themes that I observed during the conference that resonated with me:
Creating a better customer experience, closing more sales, and retaining business requires regular interactions with client/prospects while communicating in a manner that is easy for them to understand. One of the key challenges many face is getting clients on the phone after the application/inquiry is submitted to the carrier. Many distributors are relying on use of text to communicate with applicants to schedule meetings, obtain outstanding information, or to request signatures.
Most of today’s consumers are accustomed to digital interfaces and e-signatures. They are coming to expect the same, seamless processes when buying life insurance that they experience when purchasing other types of goods or services. Automated application and electronic requirement gathering tools with integrated signatures, such as Paperless Solutions Group eApplication and eRequirement, improve the customer experience, as well as the quality of information provided, while minimizing the amount of back and forth with an applicant.
The cost, effort and ROI on lead generation continues to be an issue with direct marketers (DMs).
These are just a few of the challenges experienced by many DMs while trying to make the most of leads and swiftly turning them into placed policies. Technology, like Paperless Solutions Group eValuate, eApplication and eRequirement, can help by automating up-front quote assessments, application submissions, and requirement gathering, resulting in a smoother and faster underwriting process and shortening the time to policy placement.
As in many industries, the profitability of many organizations in the insurance industry is getting pinched, whether it be due to specific industry issues or the overall economic environment. The next few years will likely continue to see mergers and consolidations as well as product changes and business optimization. There continues to be much talk at both the carrier and distributor level focused on the best way to handle these challenging times. A few points:
With increased pressures on profitability comes the need to ensure processes are as efficient as possible. Automating manual tasks can help reduce human error, ensure that more applications are received in good order, and reduce additional work and frustration for agents, carriers and ultimately consumers.
While I am not an actuary, I know that persistency is a key element to pricing a policy. As we make life insurance easier to obtain, which is a good thing, will persistency patterns change? Were products priced to take on the risk of potential shifts in persistency that accelerated underwriting practices and simplified issue policies introduce? This was reflected by the following comments:
Process Is the New Product
The discussions at LIDMA that centered around these themes serve as a solid reminder of the need to combine investments in new technology with assessments towards overall process improvements. Technology providers can help address pain points as they exist today, AND we have an opportunity to help innovate the way life insurance is marketed, bought, and sold to provide access to as many people as possible. After all, process is the new product….
Bill Walasek is the Head of Sales for Paperless Solutions Group (PSG). Prior to joining MIB in December of 2021, he held sales and marketing roles with vendors, distributors, and a carrier all focused on the life insurance market. These experiences allowed Bill to see the industry from many different angles in addition to developing relationships that bring great value to PSG. Bill graduated the University of Georgia with a degree in Risk Management and Insurance and is involved in many industry committees.