I recently spoke with three top producers about how technology is changing, for better or worse, the way they do business. Here, they talk about whether they’re using e-policies and tablets and what those products mean for life insurance sales today … and down the road.
For the rest of this roundtable, see:
Part two: To tweet, or not to tweet?
Part three: Technology for beginners
Q. One of the areas of the insurance business that seems to be getting a lot of technological attention these days is underwriting. In particular, a number of carriers have been focusing on e-signature and e-policy delivery capabilities, with an aim to dramatically shorten the underwriting timeframe. The challenge, many carriers and wholesalers say, is getting their producers to actually use these kinds of available technologies. Are you using them in your own practice? Why or why not? And speaking more broadly, what advice would you give to both carriers and fellow producers to help integrate these kinds of advancements more quickly?
Michael Morrow, CFP, MDRT member, international speaker and author of the best-selling “Leading Marketing Strategies” and “The Picture Sells the Story”: We are using e-signature — and e-application — in our office. We are confident that as time goes by more and more carriers will be offering this technology, and we expect it to be the norm in the very near future.
E-signature will never replace face-to-face meetings with clients, but there are many situations in which we find tremendous value in using e-signature. We find the process to be very convenient, and our clients embrace it.
We have found this technology to be very user-friendly and easy to integrate. Keep in mind that companies have really improved upon these technologies from the initial launch, years back. We would encourage advisors who may have had a challenging experience the first time around to give these technologies another chance.
We are not using e-policy delivery. It may work as a supplement in the future, but we will always request a printed hard copy policy. We believe in a proper policy delivery and want our clients to be able to pick up their policies in 25 years.
John F. Nichols, MSM, CLU, president of Chicago-based Disability Resource Group Inc.: We are using e-policy, e-signature, and a tele-application process in our practice. These enhance the client experience and confidentiality, keep the client and us on track, reduce errors, and speed up the fulfillment of the purchase.
My advice to producers is to create a process that integrates the available technology and methodologies, train your staff and communicate with clients early and regularly. Make the process part of your business model and have it become part of your culture. My advice to carriers is to continue to research and implement appropriate technologies to enhance the advisor and client experience.
Ryan J. Pinney, CSFP, vice president of brokerage sales for Pinney Insurance Center in Roseville, Calif.: I think that e-processing of life insurance business is not only the future, but it’s how the most effective producers are doing business today. I say this from my somewhat unique position of personal producer and direct marketer — a company that sells insurance over the Internet, as well as a brokerage agency.
We have seen the use of e-processing grow over the past five to six years and have really seen it pick up in the past 18 to 24 months. Today, my company and the producers we work with write business almost exclusively via an e-application process. There are some very obvious reasons for this, including reduced paperwork and increased convenience, but there are some less obvious ones as well, like improved cycle times, increased placement ratio and increased customer satisfaction.
For example, the industry average for issue to delivery is 25 days. We average less than 12 days because of the ability to do e-delivery. This time savings results in happier clients, higher placement ratios, decreased costs associated with the reduced number of times we have to follow up and faster commission payments.
I think a lot of producers are afraid to lose control of the sales and underwriting process. My advice to them and the industry as a whole would be two-fold. First, remember that nearly all of the companies and firms offering e-processing solutions are just as tied to their success as you are. That isn’t to say that things don’t occasionally go wrong, but if you are working with an organization with integrity — one willing to fix the problem and make it right — then it can almost always be solved without losing the case or client. Second, make sure you are using an e-processing solution that provides you with multiple carrier options, built-in marketing to consumers and some sort of health screening tool to aid you in the proper quoting of products and pricing.
Q. As tablets have become such a common part of both our business and personal lives today, it seems logical that producers might begin to integrate them into their business activities. Do you see that happening? If so, are you using tablets in your own sales efforts, and how are you doing it? If not, do you think a time will come when the use of tablets as a sales tool is more prevalent, and what needs to happen for that to catch on?
Nichols: We are using tablets for taking notes, giving presentations and gaining client portal access for on-demand servicing. It is a matter of advisor style and mode of operation with clients and client meetings.
Pinney: I love tablets and the additional capabilities they give me, and I think more and more producers are finding the same thing. The tablet allows me to ditch the laptop and still bring multiple presentations and sales concepts to every meeting. I can also use my e-processing platform of choice, including health screening, quoting and the e-ticket process it incorporates. Best of all, I can use videos like those offered through the LIFE Foundation — at www.lifehappens.org — to convey concepts, ideas and emotion that would otherwise be difficult to do.
Morrow: Tablets are a part of our business operations. We rely on them in the same way as our computers and laptops. Their portability and application helps us make impactful client presentations. Many companies now provide online client-meeting resources to further explain concepts to clients, and we expect that all companies will provide interactive online sales tools that will assist advisors in the sales process going forward.
For more on technology, see: