Insurers need to use technology to reach more ordinary consumers.

Speakers delivered that message recently in New Orleans, at a marketing conference organized by ReMark Americas, Atlanta, and the Covenant Group, Toronto.

The effects of Hurricane Katrina on residents of New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast communities in August 2005 demonstrated the importance of life insurance and other insurance products to middle-income consumers.

Executives at the New Orleans marketing conference presented results of a recent North American survey conducted by NewLink Group, Toronto, showing that producers believe almost 40% of their “C-level” clients would buy more if the agents had more time to meet with the clients.

About 84% of the advisors would be interested in a marketing program that could generate additional revenue from C and D list clients, speakers told attendees.

Insurers can improve service to the middle market – which accounts for 80% of the typical producer’s customer base — by integrating marketing channels better and using tools such as voice-embedded technology, Brad Smith, president of ReMark Americas, said in an interview after the conference.

Improving channel integration can keep middle-market consumers from falling between the cracks, and voice-embedded technology can speed up processing of term life applications without increasing the producer’s workload, Smith says.

Voice-embedded technology, which has been used in about 1,000 applications, involves incorporating a recording of the applicant’s voice in an electronic application.

The recording serves as a voice-activated signature, and the inclusion of the voice-activated signature gives the carrier the ability to draw on underwriting information databases at MIB Group Inc., Westwood, Mass., Smith says.

Up till now, insurers have had to mail printed applications to applicants, and applicants have had to sign the printed applications and mail the applications back to the carriers. Many applicants have failed to return the completed applications, Smith says.

Voice-embedded technology should increase the percentage of applications completed by streamlining the application process, Smith says.