Washington — By 2020, most life insurance and financial service professionals will belong to multigenerational professional insurance services firms. Wearable devices like smart watches will enable carriers to provide continuous underwriting and adjust premiums accordingly. Advisors and client prospects will also more easily locate each other through social media networks.
The source of this rosy picture: Campell Gerrish, a principal of Winged Keel Group and a past president of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting. The lead speaker for the opening general session of the AALU’s 2015 annual meeting being held in Washington D.C. through Tuesday, Gerrish enumerated more than a dozen wish list items — some arguably more realistic than others — that he believes will need to be realized if the industry is to grow and thrive.
The alternative, he warned, is loss of market share to new players (technology giants like Apple, Amazon and Google among them) that bring much-needed innovation to a market whose traditional companies have largely operated under the same business model for decades.
Such innovation — the theme of this year’s conference — has historically been the domain of new market entrants who aren’t invested in conventional processes and technologies and who don’t have as much to lose by introducing new methods.
“With no legacy systems to worry about, [and empowered by] the ability to enjoy lower overhead and take advantage of the democratization of information and technology, the newcomers can move quickly with a minimum of expense,” said Gerrish. “Thus new entrants are well equipped to attack almost any market — including yours.
One reason: New players today often can sidestep substantial capital investments to complete in the marketplace. As Gerrish noted, Uber, the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And AirBNB, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.
“There’s something happening here and we need to pay attention to what it all means for us and our industry,” said Gerrish. “We have to look to collaboration, both within and without the industry, with market strategists, technologists and medical scientists, gerontologists and many other disciplines that are now directly involved in the life insurance industry. We can’t just keep doing what we’ve done in the past.”