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Life Insurer CEO: Vision Matters

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The 15th annual Life Insurance Awareness Month 2017 Life Insurance Awareness Month campaign today.

Peter Tedone, president of Vantis Life Insurance Company, said in a recent interview that one of the most important, most time-consuming tasks for a life insurance company leader today is coming up with a vision that includes millennial outreach. Somehow, Tedone said, life insurers have to make young adults aware of the need for life insurance — and of the reality that families may need more life insurance than a typical employer-sponsored plan provides.

Tedone recalled a time when he learned that his own son and daughter-in-law were expecting a baby. “I was thinking, ‘I hope he has life insurance,’” Tedone said. Tedone talked to his son and found out that his son did have life insurance: group life coverage with a death benefit equal to just 200% of his salary. “I said, ‘Wow, that’s not going to do it.’”

(Related: Life Agents Face Internal Awareness Threat: Marvin Feldman)

Most life insurance advisors say families need a death benefit equal to at least 700% of a working parent’s annual earnings.

Tedone’s son bought more coverage.

Tedone said the life insurance industry has to find a way to persuade more baby boomer generation parents to have similar conversations with their own children, to put the idea of protecting their families against the risk of death on their radar.

Vision Check

Tedone has been president of Vantis Life, a company with roots in the savings bank insurance market, since 1987. Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company acquired the company in December 2016.

He said he sees developing a vision as a process for taking a broad view of the company, and of the world. While developing a vision, a company decides what markets it wants to reach, and how it intends to reach those markets.

Man with a vision (Image: Thinkstock)

(Image: Thinkstock)

“How do we want Vantis Life to be viewed in five to 10 years?” Tedone asked.

Vantis Life, for example, intends to continue to reach out to middle-market customers through financial institutions, and also to reach out to consumers through direct marketing efforts.

In the past, he said, developing and implementing a vision might take three to five years, because data was scarce and getting the right systems in place to support a change in vision went slowly.

Today, he said, data streams from organizations such as LIMRA, cloud-based computing systems, external consultants and other resources have helped reduce the time needed to put a change in vision in action to about 18 months.

Here are some of the ideas shaping how Tedone sees the life insurance market:

1. Millennials are a lot more like otherwise-similar people in other generations than they are different.

In some ways, consumers who are millennials might be different from people of the same age in earlier generations, but, for the most part, millennials’ their family responsibilities, their income level and other factors probably have a bigger effect on their thinking than the mere fact that they’re millennials, Tedone said.

2. Millennials have computers, and cell phones. 

Thirty years ago, Tedone said, a consumer might have applied for life insurance by sitting down with a life insurance agent at a kitchen table, then waiting eight to 10 weeks for underwriting results. “That’s not a process today’s millennials thinks is reasonable,” he said. “We have to provide them with better ways of accessing life insurance.”

3. Millennials value simplicity.

Millennials who are buying products online, rather than through an appointment with a life insurance agent, may need more streamlined products, Tedone said.

—Read Micro Group Life Sales Might Be Sizzling on ThinkAdvisor.

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