Erin Ardleigh is helping her insurance clients replace the brick-and-mortar infrastructure that was with something virtual.
Today, she’s providing about 100% of her services through the web, or through the telephone.
“We find that clients are perfectly happy with that,” Ardleigh said in a recent interview.
Ardleigh is the president of Dynama Insurance, a life and health agency with offices near the corner of 57th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City.
New York City and COVID-19
New York City and New Yorkers have used rigorous social distancing measures to get the city’s COVID-19 outbreak well under control. On Saturday, only 229 people, or about 1% of the 21,272 people tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, actually had the virus, according to the New York State Department of Health.
But, in April, because of COVID-19, New York City recorded more than 20,000 deaths, or about five times as many deaths as it usually records in a month.
New Yorkers continue to take the pandemic seriously. Most wear masks when they’re out in public. They’re careful to stay six feet away from other people. And about 75% of the residents of many of the city’s residential buildings have left for summer homes, parents’ homes, AirBnB units, or other places outside of New York City.
Ardleigh is helping some of those New Yorkers buy and manage life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, health insurance, and related products and services.
Ardleigh has a bachelor’s degree in communication and culture from the City University of New York.
She started out as marketing specialist, and she entered the insurance brokerage business through marketing. She has been out on her own since 2013, and the started Dynama in 2014.
Ardleigh is also a member of the board of the Estate Planning Council of New York City.
Her typical client is someone who, when buying life insurance, needs more than $1 million in coverage.
Ardleigh said that she can still finds the kinds of products her clients need.
But prices and details have changed.
Many carriers offer some kind of virtual purchasing process. But only a few let consumers apply for large amounts of coverage through virtual processes.
“People may not be familiar with all of the choices,” Ardleigh said.
Ardleigh said one of her roles now is to know exactly which carriers will let people apply for more than $1 million in coverage through virtual processes.
Ardleigh said she also has to keep tabs on changes, and stability, in underwriting rules.
No carriers have penalized New Yorkers for being from New York, for example, but some want to wait until applicants have completed planned travel to other countries before processing applications, Ardleigh said.
Ardleigh thinks the COVID-19 application process shifts have contributed to soft life sales to people ages 60 and older.
“I think that younger people maybe had a wake-up call,” Ardleigh said. “They made buying life insurance a priority.”
And life insurers’ efforts to reduce use of in-person exams helped increase sales to younger applicants, Ardleigh said.
“No one wants to have an in-person exam,” she said.
But most life insurers restrict older consumers’ ability to use the virtual sales systems, especially for purchases of large amounts of coverage, Ardleigh said.
Going forward, Ardleigh said, one thing she wants to do, and encourage clients to do, is to watch for reductions in mutual life insurers’ dividend payments to holders of participating policies, in response to low returns on life insurers’ bond portfolios.
She also wants to help clients think harder about long-term care planning.
“That’s something for people to keep in mind,” Ardleigh said. “It’s more important than ever to have a long-term care plan.”
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