When you think of the life insurance industry, technological innovation probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a business with hundreds of years of history behind it, and while that brings great prestige, it also means inertia can be a problem.
Not so much these days, however, at least according to a new study by LIMRA showing that life insurers are now embracing the digital age. The report states that companies across North America are showing significant growth in mobile initiatives over the past five years.
In the survey conducted at the end of 2016, 44 companies in the US and eight companies in Canada responded, showing that their mobile initiatives had at least doubled since 2011.
Mary Art is the senior research director with LIMRA, and consumers and financial professionals are a particular focus of her work. The findings of the report were of no surprise to her; rather, it is a sign that insurance companies are responding to the changing needs of its three main stakeholders – consumers, financial professionals and policy-owners.
“Earlier this year we conducted research with financial professionals – they love mobile devices,” she says. “Our research showed that 85% owned smartphones and 52% owned tablets. Many are on the road meeting clients, so being able to access information anywhere has made them much more efficient.”
The insurance industry isn’t exactly blazing a trail when it comes to digital products, but there are solid reasons for that according to Art.
“Insurance is a conservative segment of the business world,” she says. “I also think they have a fair amount of justification for being slow. Life insurance in particular will not necessarily see a lot of ROI with regards to using mobile.”
That said, staying still is always going backwards in business, so regardless of the financial burden, insurance companies need to move with the times too. To their credit, that appears to be the case, explains the LIMRA researcher.
“In 2011 when we did this study only a handful of companies had made the move to include mobile access options,” says Fay. “Now almost all companies have something already in place or planned. One in four have mobile access options for consumers, policy holders and financial professionals. So they are making moves on this.”
You can’t stop progress after all, so the firms that can manage this transitionary period best are the ones that will still be around 50 years from now. It’s an expensive proposition, although there are efficiencies now coming into play when it comes to rolling out mobile products.
“As more people own mobile devices they realize there will be greater demand,” says Fay. “Also with responsive web design you can design once for all platforms. You can now open a web page on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device.”
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