Special Bonus Guest Blog – Alliance Workshop Speaker Spotlight
August 13, 2015Today, we are taking another opportunity to give you a brief preview of one of the exciting and important workshops that will be presented at the upcoming 2015 Alliance Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. This session will cover a topic that we all need to know more about in order to remain relevant in the insurance industry: Are Online Sales in Your Future? (Hint: They’d Better Be). Our speakers for this session will be Doug Baker, President & CEO for Teacher’s Life, and Kevin Pledge, CEO of Acceptiv. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Doug and Kevin and ask a few questions about some of the material that their session will cover. Here’s what I learned… AL) Can you describe what digital disruption looks like in the life insurance industry? DB & KP) This disruption is really being driven by what consumers are demanding and how they want their insurance delivered. Property and casualty and health insurers have been selling policies in the online space for the past several years and it’s time for life insurers to catch up. Our companies need to remove the misconception that life insurance has to be sold by an agent. AL) What are some of the barriers to innovation? DB & KP) As with most organizational change, sometimes the biggest barriers are the organizations themselves. The change required for the move to online sales really begins at the top of any organization. Leaders, managers, etc. must be open to new ideas. To answer the question of why we do things the way we do with ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is not acceptable. In order to be successful in the marketplace of the near future we need to create environments that have the freedom to be creative within certain boundaries to be productive. We also must embrace ‘screwing up’ (making mistakes are not the end of the world – we all make them.) To be sure, there are insurance-related challenges to moving online, channel conflict in your distribution system, product complexity and understanding the bigger picture all present obstacles that must be addressed. At the end of the day you have to embrace the changes. Take, for example, Blockbuster. They knew digital disruption was coming to their business, but they didn’t want to change until it was too late and Netflix essentially put them out of business. AL) Who is likely to purchase online – is it just Millennials? DB & KP) Everyone. Millennials are the largest consumer of digital data but all ages shop online - this has been shown by Amazon and other online retailers. AL) What do you think are common misconceptions made by insurance companies regarding life insurance consumers? DB & KP) There are many. The most common misconception made by life insurance companies is the assumption that consumers want or need to buy from an agent. Some consumers just need to understand for themselves what they are getting in a certain product and are ready buy it themselves. No, this is not everyone, but clearly it is a large number or there would not be a $20T coverage gap in the U.S. AL) What do you see as the biggest opportunity for fraternal benefit societies? DB & KP) Digital delivery levels the playing field. Small societies can compete with much larger organizations in a digital world. They will have the ability to reach their audience more effectively and efficiently. AL) What are the key factors in developing an online presence? DB & KP) One of the key factors is finding the right partners. New technologies and new approaches require new expertise - whether it is the software, marketing or increasingly cybersecurity. The digital space is a rapidly evolving area that requires expertise. For many insurers, finding a good reinsurer to share the risk is important for financial support. Simply putting a paper application online is not going to cut it. I want to thank Doug and Kevin for taking the time to give us a glimpse of what we can expect to learn in their session at this Annual Meeting, to be held September 10-12, 2015, in Indianapolis. You still have time to register for the event which will include this and six other great, timely workshops, great speakers and hundreds of your fraternal colleagues from across the country. Click here for all the details.