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Bringing Insurance from the Stone age to the Space Age

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When it comes to industries keeping up with the times, some are naturally more advanced than others.  Sectors, such as eCommerce, technology and entertainment are among the most advanced in term of features and capabilities which delight consumers.  These sectors can be considered the Jetsons of the marketplace, continually evolving and reaching for the stars.  In contrast, the Flintstone’s of the marketplace, often struggle to keep pace with the evolving landscape of technologies, capabilities and experiences. 

Far from being stuck in the Stone Age with the Flintstone’s, the life insurance industry has been carefully observing the Jetsons of the marketplace to determine how best to service the needs of its customers.  As life insurance is an important financial purchase for customers and one where the duration of the relationship is often measured in decades, the careful selection of products, features and service experience is important for long-term success. 

Today, numerous carriers are building products, capabilities and experiences which would have been considered truly Space Age just a few years ago.  Instant quotes, mobile experiences and chatbots are quickly becoming the norm.

At RGAX, we believe that the life insurance industry will continue to benefit from observing the Jetson’s as we collectively chart our course among the stars!

The Standard Stone Age Model?

Our consumers are living in a world, not too far off from Orbit City, and have gotten quite use to elegant eCommerce experiences like Amazon and many others. They can secure goods and services from a wide range of industries and providers with great speed and in easy to navigate experiences.  Once you’re accustomed to a “click and get” experience coupled with one to two-day shipping, it’s difficult to invest in a more arduous process.

Rising consumer expectations relative to speed, intuitiveness and convenience have set the bar high for other sectors such as insurance and finance.

Recognizing this paradigm, many Insurers have jumped on-board with a myriad of fresh experiences, but those efforts can be constrained by product complexity, regulation and the need to tie into older back office platforms and processes.

Despite a fresh front end veneer, the basic process has largely remained unchanged.  We're putting an application in front of consumers, oftentimes filled with questions that have not changed in decades and then take them through a process that can be upwards of 45 days to complete. 

Consumers can experience significant culture shock between the front-end experience and that of the supporting process and chagrin over miss-met expectation.  Despite the potential for delay, this process does provide real and direct value to customers in terms of fairly pricing individual coverage, detecting and deterring fraud which helps to ensure affordable product pricing.   

At times, this value isn’t being effectively communicated to consumers.  They are left trying to connect the dots between the valuable product they want and a process that they don’t fully understand.  Insurers, for their part, are sprinting to ensure that they are creating products and experiences which rise to meet consumer expectation and avoid being perceived as being straight out of Bedrock.

Business processes are rapidly evolving to include new data types to support rapid decision making and refined experiences, but there’s more work to be done!

Where’s the Disconnect?

From trying to communicate the tangible benefits of life insurance to how advertisements talk about the product, consumers are left trying to connect the dots.  When it comes down to it, the most significant barrier is that life insurance is an intangible product. Consumers are buying protection, but that protection isn’t something that they can place in their shopping cart or display on their mantle.

It’s tricky to convey this as a tangible benefit in the present, but it becomes more material when consumers are able to think of it as security and peace of mind for their family’s future. Many of us have a pile of debt following us: car loans, student loans, credit cards, mortgages—not to mention replacing the lost income.

In the event of a lost loved one, those debts have to be picked up. And if it’s an untimely death, the family would lose decades of income before the deceased’s presumed retirement date.

The trick for the industry is getting consumers to think about life insurance and to see the immediacy of its value. Digital marketing has made strides to reach consumers at the right place and time, but there’s more work to be done. The narrative surrounding life insurance needs to keep evolving, and the process has to be streamlined to provide a more forward-thinking, frictionless experience.

Moving into the Space Age

Orbit City is within reach and RGAX is currently creating and testing processes that work more seamlessly, aiming to solve industry challenges and finding solutions that push us into the future.  How are we doing this? 

Messaging:

While we can’t have a talking robot like Rosie answer all of our consumers’ questions on-demand, we can make life easier by lifting some of the confusion and explaining the benefits of life insurance in a more approachable tone. We’ve found that using testimonials and creating opportunities for peer-to-peer communication to be incredibly valuable.  When life insurance feels like a less abstract concept, consumers can connect the dots and see the value in protecting their family’s future. 

Insurtech:

RGAX is partnering with insurance technology (insurtech) entities to pressure test and validate new methods that are more manageable and accessible for consumers and insurers. Specifically, we’re exploring products that are based less on the need to obtain upfront information from applicants and more on sourcing third-party data that is readily available.

First-Party/Individual Data:

RGAX is finding that third-party data sources are helping to change the industry, but emerging sources of data will alter it even further. The increased popularity of personal wearables and health apps is creating a treasure trove of data for insurers.

This is the Jetson mentality we are aiming to keep pace with; tracking data types that didn’t exist half a decade ago. Many companies are currently exploring how to use this new data.

While it’s still in the very early stages, sleep patterns and activity level data is very much on the mind of our team members. When assessing new and different approaches to sorting and validating key data points, the ability to capture and utilize these numbers are critical to uncovering and discovering new opportunities within the industry. 

The Future is Now

As an industry, we’re all faced with challenges: speed, budget and bandwidth to name a few. Keeping our eyes and our focus on the future will ensure that the road, or Jetson-style skyway, rises to meet the changing needs of the consumer. Requirements are evolving and big data is defying the standard approach to quoting and issuing life insurance. 

It’s time to reimagine, rethink and reinvent insurance to make life better! 

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Written by: Scott Grandmont

Scott Grandmont is VP, RGAX and Chief Operations Officer of Greenhouse Life. As COO, his primary responsibilities include oversight of the strategic direction and business development activities for Greenhouse Insurance. Greenhouse assists in creating new distribution channels, novel consumer engagement journeys, innovative underwriting methods and insurtech partnerships. Scott’s 24 years in the life insurance industry encompass a broad range of underwriting roles. Prior to joining RGA in 2015, he was Executive Director of Underwriting Automation at Clinical Reference Laboratory (CRL).