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How Tech Is Changing the Life Insurance Industry

Mark Tattersall, Principal, BackNine InsuranceMark Tattersall, Principal,BackNine Insurance
I often like to say that I embrace change. That being said, the monumental shifts that technology has brought to the life insurance space have been so vast that even I have been stopped in my tracks.

Luckily, my team at BackNine and Quote & Apply – particularly my sons, Reid and Brett (my VPs of Technology and Sales, respectively) – have helped me to fully grasp the changes that are upon us so that we can continue to adapt, innovate, and better serve our industry.

Because life insurance will always be important, and will forever stand as a lifeline in helping people get through the most difficult time of their lives; the onus is on us to acknowledge that our industry hasn’t always done a great job of keeping up with technology, and to quickly adopt the various advancements available to us so that we remain vital.

There are a few ways in which I feel that carriers, agents, and wholesale insurance sales companies, like ourselves, can stay nimble and thrive by understanding how technology is reshaping how the sector operates and what we can do to adapt.


1. Investing in talent and new tech-enabled infrastructure


This was the first and, arguably, most important decision I made when deciding to start Quote & Apply, our instant e-application and quoting software. Because in order to create the most advanced product out there, I needed to have the most skilled, forward-thinking team on board to actually make it happen. A significant portion of our budget is allocated toward our engineering team, and I consider this money to be extremely well-spent.

This group is the backbone of my company, and has allowed me to focus on the big picture elements of the business. They’re creative, adept, and fill in my knowledge gaps. And, they’ve put processes and systems in place that have enabled us to become a more technologically advanced company, as a whole – and our infrastructure runs smoothly because of them.


2. Understanding AI’s role in life insurance


AI might be a term that’s intimidating to some of us industry veterans, but really taking time to cultivate an understanding of this technology is essential.

Regardless of whether you’re on the agent, carrier, or wholesaler side, AI is going to affect some portion of your business. Whether at the quoting or claims stage, our entire industry is touched by it.
For example, I had to understand how and why applying AI models to our software was going to make it work; it’s because of the advanced algorithms our engineers developed that we can provide this service at all. Through this AI-enabled process, our platform enables agents to receive a quote based upon a series of five simple questions, and match them to a handful of policy options that suit them best.

More broadly, we’re seeing a massive increase in things like connected devices that consumers use such as fitness trackers, home assistants, and smartphones – all of which creates ample opportunity for new data, which, in turn, empowers carriers with more information to offer more tailored policies, competitive pricing, and a generally more holistic view of their customer so they can provide better products (and entice more people to purchase life insurance).
  • life insurance will always be important, and will forever stand as a lifeline in helping people get through the most difficult time of their lives; the onus is on us to acknowledge that our industry hasn’t always done a great job of keeping up with technology, and to quickly adopt the various advancements available to us so that we remain vital.



3. Expanding your offering


While carriers can better tailor policies to their customers through AI, agents, too, can expand their product offering – and we’re not just talking life insurance agents. P&C, auto, home, and health agents can sell more policies and retain more clients by expanding upon their offering to include life insurance. And with the technology available today, agents can do this extremely easily and virtually instantaneously.

Particularly during times of change and volatility such as the present with Covid-19, people are genuinely more interested in protecting themselves and their loved ones. Agents can step in and make it easy for people to gain this sense of security by bundling a life policy with their existing products. Literally everyone wins in this scenario – the agent, the customer, and the carriers.


4. Adopt an ever-evolving mindset


McKinsey put together a fantastic report predicting where the insurance industry will be by 2030 – if they’re right (which I believe they are), we will have to continue to adapt as the years go on.

In the report, they explain how core industry systems such as distribution, underwriting, and claims will be completely changed within the next decade. Cycle times for purchasing a policy will be reduced to mere minutes or seconds, as will underwriting, and the roles of agents will shift dramatically as a result; claims will be largely automated; and overall, the industry will be run by AI and machine learning technologies.

While there is a tremendous amount of change to account for, the best advice I could give is to “start somewhere.” Put together a 5, 10, and 20-year plan for your business and determine what technologies you’ll need to support and facilitate that growth, and the types of skilled professionals you’ll need to make it happen.
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