Consumer Direct Life eApp While Maintaining The Agent Ecosystem
Originally Published in Broker World Magazine
We are hearing new terms like eBGAs and eRetailers for the sale of insurance products. Putting the research, education, quoting, and electronic insurance application submission process in the hands of the consumer while maintaining the agent ecosystem is the new model for marketing and selling insurance. This insurance sales model is growing in popularity. The type of insurance products on the direct-to-consumer platforms include: Simplified term insurance, final expense, guaranteed income, HMA, disability insurance, critical illness, and, yes, even cross-selling to property and casualty. More product types continue to be simplified for this sales model like guaranteed universal life, long term care insurance, and Medicare supplemental insurance. Why is this model growing significantly in 2021? There are three reasons: Social media, Millennials, and COVID-19.
In the U.S.A, the average time spent on social media is two hours and 25 minutes daily. The most effective medium for marketing today is through social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and others. Americans also spend about 5.3 hours daily on their mobile devices. This is an indicator that the platforms you use for quoting insurance and marketing should either be a native mobile app, hybrid mobile app, or mobile browser optimized Web App. Millennials, ages 25-40 born between 1981 and 1996, grew up with access to technology, online retail, and the sharing economy; therefore, they exhibit a discernable preference for experiences over product when spending time and money. Eighty percent of Millennials read reviews and do their own research before making a purchasing decision. They will ask for help when needed after they already have attempted the research. The target market of Millennials make up 72.1 million Americans. Yes, Millennials spend about 5.7 hours daily on their smartphones.
Since COVID-19 hit in 2020, the traditional method of selling insurance has relegated consumers to stay home and life agents to sell remotely. This has resulted in the acceleration of virtual tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for automated underwriting, and building out an easy consumer experience while still having an insurance advisor available for assistance when needed. Insurance advisors are given the software solutions and websites for marketing direct to consumers by a wholesaler like a BGA, IMO or GA at little or no cost. These direct-to-consumer tools are used to educate, quote, and have the consumer submit an insurance application direct while the agent and his/her upline receive commissions from the carrier. The consumer has easy access to an insurance advisor or call center for assistance during every step of the process from pre-sales to completing the insurance application. If a life insurance distributor did not develop these consumer tools in-house, then they are using a solution provider. The distributor or carrier purchases a license to use the consumer-direct software solutions, which can be used as a recruiting tool for agents. The huge advantage is that this enables multi-channel penetration like property and casualty shops, banks, health agents, and life insurance direct marketers. The formula for success is all about the consumer experience!
Consumer Engaging Solutions
Covr Financial Technologies’ digital, white-labeled platforms integrate seamlessly with financial brands to provide life, long term care, disability, and supplemental health solutions from top carriers to their clients in a simple, turnkey way. AI-driven tools, a digital advice model and omni-channel sales support seamlessly blend high-tech and high-touch. Covr is dedicated to transforming the insurance purchase process from something that was previously slow and paper-based to an experience that is fast, simple and digital. Covr currently serves over 25,000 financial advisors and over 20 million customers across over 30 financial institutions.
Among its new product launches are Covr’s multi-carrier term life insurance platform, which includes a growing number of instant-purchase journeys, and the proprietary LoanMatch Protector product. With Covr’s multi-carrier term insurance platform customers can apply for life insurance online in minutes, with real-time quotes available from the leading insurance carriers. Leading the way in the journey are product offerings from Bestow, Haven Life, Banner Life and Americo, which all offer fully digital, instant-decision capability and Covr’s technology to help clients find the product that fits best for them.
LoanMatch Protector mirrors the remainder of an existing mortgage, small business loan or other debt. The coverage adjusts to the client’s precise need, saving consumers up to 30 percent and offering the market-leading ability to complete the entire process in 15 minutes. Covr’s industry-leading digital life insurance platform integrates seamlessly into a financial institution’s existing website or other distribution model. This allows these financial institutions to offer a broad range of life insurance products from the leading insurance carriers to their customers. Today’s consumers expect choice, simplicity and speed when purchasing life insurance, and Covr’s technology is tailored to those demands.
Sureify’s Lifetime Platform is made up of three solutions: LifetimeAcquire, LifetimeService, and LifetimeEngage. LifetimeAcquire powers omnichannel sales capabilities that drive increased placement rates via quoting, e-application and automated underwriting. LifetimeService enables insurers to deploy a comprehensive digital self-service solution for their inforce business. And lastly, LifetimeEngage creates insights to foster a lifelong digital relationship with policyholders through multiple forms of engagement and analytics, leading to greater value for each policyholder. Sureify’s LifetimeEngage can help BGAs connect with policyholders in a meaningful, personalized, cost-effective way and engage with every customer in a way that helps ensure protection and maximize lifetime value. Rather than only having access to standard policy transaction data, Sureify’s LifetimeEngage platform delivers real time, actionable insights based on life events, interests, and personalized needs creating an organic source of cross-selling and upselling opportunities that strengthen the customer and agent relationship.
Other Consumer eApp Models
Consumers watch over 500 million hours of video daily. Imagine engaging with your clients with a Virtual Video Quoter. Well Employee Pooling (EP) has created Consumer Direct Insurance Tools (CDIT). An agent or carrier can create personalized videos about their products and educate the consumer on the importance of life insurance. CDIT is white labeled with options for you to select color and design. The videos can walk the consumer through an instant quote and an eApp. This is a great recruiting tool for BGAs. It can be co-branded for property and casualty shops, banks, and health agents. Of course, it is used by advisors for lead generation.
ApplicInt has an eApp solution called U*Complete. The power of this platform is the flexibility of the workflow model. An agent can run a quote, start a life insurance application, and then hand it off to a client to complete. U*Complete can also be integrated into a carrier’s website in a consumer direct model. ApplicInt is well known for fulfillment process software solutions like CallComplete, used at a carrier or paramed provider’s call center. They also have a digital paramed used by top providers like APPS. U*Complete is seamlessly plugged into the end-to-end life insurance electronic application process.
The Power of APIs
Solution providers are investing their research and development money into Application Programming Interface (API), which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Equisoft/apply is an easy to use, sales flow oriented eApp wizard for electronic insurance applications resulting in fast and seamless policy approvals used by insurance advisors. Equisoft is the king of APIs, first building their eApp to easily integrate with a carrier’s back-office policy admin system using an API. They also have an agent and client portal platform that has an API that makes it seamless to plug in third-party applications and data. The eApp engine of products rules, mapping data to the life insurance application forms and sending data and forms to the carrier can be accessed by a user interface (UI) whereby a carrier or distributor can build a consumer facing experience for eApp.
No Code eApp is a self-service model. Management Research Services (mrs) for example has created an administration tool that makes it quick and easy to set up mapping the eApp questions to the life application forms and configure all the product rules without having the vendor to program it for you. The mrs API makes it extremely easy for you to build the UI frontend on your website. This is a low cost and speed-to-market life eApp solution.
The industry has recognized the importance of APIs. The Life Distribution Technology Committee (LDTC) kicked off a project in 2021 to standardize APIs for life insurance.
Tying it all together with Mobile and Social Media
I provided some powerful statistics about how many Americans and how much time is spent daily using their mobile devices and specifically for the purpose of social media. The vendors of these consumer tools for insurance understand that their design needs to work on all devices and have optimization for the best experience possible on a smartphone or tablet like an iPad. The power of the API for eApp is that the user interface can be developed on a mobile app and a web app. An agent, for example, creates a marketing campaign targeting a specific demographic on Facebook, and then there is a link to the consumer insurance tool. The consumer runs a quote and applies for insurance in one seamless experience. The agent and his/her upline get paid their commissions.