Corporate Insight attended the LIMRA Life Insurance Conference last week, the theme of which was Looking Long Term. Exhibitors were certainly looking to the future of life insurance, which we expect to encapsulate a more holistic underwriting process and increased customer engagement. Most notably, we heard Pacific Life’s insights into trends affecting life insurance ownership; Northwestern Mutual’s approach to engaging millennials; and longevity expert Dr. S. Jay Olshansky’s research into how facial analytics can change the underwriting process.
James T. Morris, CEO of Pacific Life, offered a keynote address focused on trends affecting life insurance and the firm’s approach going forward. Morris stressed the need for life insurance firms to understand the difference between sustaining—and disrupting—innovation. He also referenced the disruptive force of Uber, positing whether the life insurance industry would face such a game-changer. With life insurance ownership at an all-time low, Pacific Life recognizes the tremendous opportunity for sales, particularly to the emerging affluent and Gen X-ers aged 35-45. Morris listed the major trends as affordability, decreasing concern, cultural shifts, product complexity and less contact—the latter of which Pacific Life is addressing with changes to marketing and distribution, and by simplifying products and processes.
In a session devoted to millennials, LIMRA Research Director Mary Art and Northwestern Mutual Director of Young Personal Market Emily Holbrook addressed research on the needs of the millennial population and factors affecting their life insurance ownership. Northwestern Mutual’s approach was of particular interest to Corporate Insight, as the firm stands out among Life Insurance Monitor coverage firms for their engagement of millennials with online educational resources. Art pointed out that millennials do a great deal of research from multiple sources, including 82% looking to financial professionals, 73% researching on the internet and 45% asking friends and coworkers. LIMRA research found that millennials are equally likely to cite financial professionals and the internet are their most valuable source of research. Holbrook stressed that millennials are the most diverse generation ever, diverse not only in population but also in thought. As student loan debt is a significant financial issue for millennials, Northwestern Mutual makes a concerted effort to address this online with educational resources like the dedicated Paying Down Debt Resource Center.
The process of procuring and underwriting a permanent life insurance product has yet to undergo significant innovation. Technological opportunity abounds in the underwriting process. During his talk on longevity, Dr. Olshansky of Northwestern Mutual demonstrated the CHRONOS solution, which could enable prospects to purchase life insurance in minutes and determines their mortality with a selfie and personal details such as BMI and education level. Olshansky argued that mortality can be assessed with a myriad of factors, including facial analytics, and that the traditional method of relying on blood chemistry during a medical exam can lead to inaccuracies. The CHRONOs demonstration, which allowed conference goers to fill out a sample application on their phone during the session, even notes for applicants the likelihood of their living to 65 and 85. This disruptive technology, which would allow for a seamless application process and one that satisfies tech-savvy consumers’ desire for an intuitive online solution, is one we hope to see insurers adopt.
CHRONOS Demonstration Longevity Estimate