Matt Berman is responsible for helping people get covered against the risk of premature death, at a time when COVID-19 appears to be increasing the risk of premature death.
Berman is the chief distribution officer of the Independent Order of Foresters. The Toronto-based company, which now does business under the Foresters Financial brand name, has been tightening its focus on selling life insurance.
Berman himself has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in business from New York University. He got his start in insurance as an underwriting director at American International Group Inc. For 10 years, before he joined Foresters, he held many different roles at AXA US, in areas such as competitive intelligence, life sales, and life product development.
Here are five things he’s seeing in the life insurance market now, based on written responses he provided through an e-mail interview.
1. Agents adapted quickly to the COVID-19-related shelter-in-place rules.
Berman says independent agents have shown a great deal of flexibility, and willingness to adopt new technology.
“Their resourcefulness and perseverance in pursuing credible leads, despite the challenging environment, has been admirable,” Berman said.
2. The impact of the shelter-in-place rules seems to be easing.
When the shelter-in-place rules took effect, in March, the drop in paper sales was sudden and steep, Berman said.
“However, as states and the broader economy have started to reopen, we’ve simultaneously seen a significant rebound in these sales,” Berman said.
3. What consumers want has changed, and what life insurers want to write has changed.
For life insurers, Berman said, the idea that interest rates might stay very low for a long time has put pressure on life insurance product prices, and especially on prices for products that support guarantees that will last for a long time.