Online Applications Freeing Up Agents Time To Prospect And Sell
As if the job of selling an intangible product like life insurance were not difficult enough, the next task at hand–completing the application– can also be quite daunting.
A 20-page application is not uncommon in the life insurance business. Combine that with a requirement for multiple signatures on various pages, and all the ingredients for slowing down the process are present.
Lately, however, some carriers have taken steps using technology to simplify the entire process–making the lives of agents much easier.
Agents working with these carriers are finding that they now have more time to spend selling and prospecting–as opposed to completing tedious paperwork. The process involves coupling a simplified application with tele-underwriting. While this model may not sound new, transmitting the application via the Internet is.
Before Internet use became an efficient mode of communication, the fax machine was the primary tool agents used to transmit a simplified application to the carrier–thus starting the tele-underwriting process. Problems arose when a fax was misplaced or sat on somebodys desk too long, recalls William F. Zimmerman Jr., president of Life Pro Inc., Solana Beach, Calif.
Now, using Internet technology provided by Zurich Life, Schaumburg, Ill., “the tele-underwriting queue has that information in seconds,” says Zimmerman.
The end result for agents brokering business through Zimmermans agency is they have “literally no paperwork,” he says, and are able to spend more time on prospecting and selling–the areas where successful agents excel.
Zurich Life is seeing some positive results with this program, called Z-app, according to Michael Sladek, senior marketing director of field technology for Zurich. Last year, Sladek projected 10,000 Z-apps would be submitted in 2002. Zurich exceeded its goal by 25% and Sladek adds that 2003 looks to be even better, with a monthly average of 1,200 Z-apps for the first two months of this year.
Safeco Life and Investments, Redmond, Wash., is seeing a similar trend as its online application process gains popularity among producers. The program, titled Safeco Now, was only launched in July 2002, but currently accounts for 45% of submitted life applications, according to Jennifer Davies, vice president of individual life at Safeco.
Furthermore, Davies attributes the Safeco Now process as a contributing factor to last years fourth quarter uptick in applications submitted, with a 20% increase over fourth quarter 2001.
Through this process, agents are able to provide clients with a quote, complete the application and bind coverage with an online form.