Protection Products

The Life Insurance Industry | Alive, Dynamic and Essential


Protection

Over the last several weeks I’ve read several morose articles about the life insurance industry. Reports of companies “halting sales” and reporting “dim profits” make for sensational headlines but also paint a limited picture of an industry that is on the cusp of revitalization and is essential to the financial well-being of families, businesses and charities.

Make no mistake about it, record low interest rates, the specter of significant bond defaults and ratings downgrades, and potentially increased mortality do present challenges for the insurance industry.

But what’s missing in this message is the industry’s positive response, healthy balance sheets, and the core demand for its products.

The Insurance Industry Has Responded to This Crisis by Innovating

While some companies have declined to make offers on older age or risk impaired insureds, virtually every company has found ways to approve more applicants with fewer underwriting requirements. Referred to as “accelerated underwriting,” insurance companies have programs that allow them to make competitive offers without a medical exam and these programs have been dramatically expanded over the last 10 weeks. Furthermore, insurance companies are pushing the envelope by coming to market with instant decision platforms where customers can get underwriting decisions within minutes of applying rather than waiting for an underwriting process that can take weeks or even months.

This crisis has become a catalyst to push this industry to a more digital and consumer-friendly acquisition process. To be clear, this change is sorely needed and long overdue. If you had asked a life insurance veteran six months ago what it might take to get the industry into the 21st century, I can envision a tongue-in-cheek response of, “a global pandemic.” But here we are, and necessity is the mother of invention. As a distributor of life insurance products, we’ve already made dramatic shifts in how we approach our business and the digital solutions we’re using. It’s time to change, and we’re not missing it.

Financial Strength and Stability is Naturally a Concern in Times Like These

Insurance companies, who all have substantial exposure to “investment grade” corporate bonds, will be financially impacted by downgrades and defaults in this sector. However, one of the silver linings of the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009 was that it stress-tested nearly every insurance company. Companies came out of that crisis stronger and better capitalized. Regulators and ratings agencies were forced to be more rigid and, as a result, risk-based capital ratios (a common measure of the capital strength of an insurance company) have gone from an industry average of 328% in 2008 to 424% at the end of 20181. With the minimum threshold for regulatory action set at 100%, the insurance industry is well-positioned for this crisis.

 

The Core Demand for Life Insurance Remains Unchanged 

Unfortunately, this has been a business historically focused on growth in “premiums,” or the annual dollar amount collected by the insurance companies. The true significance of the life insurance business should be measured on lives insured and claims paid, not premiums collected. I don’t need data to prove that a tragic passing can have significant economic consequences to a family. No statistic demonstrates the impact to a small business of losing a key employee or shareholder. Nearly everyone insures their homes, automobiles and valuable assets based on a small probability of a substantial economic loss. So, too, should individuals insure their lives and their ability to earn income from a tragic death, disability or long-term care event.

The industry needs better processes, more consumer-focused products and an energized distribution system that is focused on education. From 2011 to 2019, life insurance ownership declined from 63% to 57%, despite 66% identifying a personal need for coverage2. The percentages of ownership compared to those identifying a need are even more disparate for long-term care, disability income and annuities (see chart below). The key to fixing this imbalance is consumer education and making our products more accessible. Insurance companies and distributors who adapt to this new paradigm will thrive.

To risk using a cliché, this crisis is the inflection point for a “new normal” in the insurance business. Over the next five years, the industry will completely digitize their processes, reduce time to approval from weeks to days, and get more people covered than ever. The process has started and will continue, and that is why I’m bullish on our future.

 

 

1. Source: ACLI 2019 Life Insurers Fact Book

2. Source: 2019 Life Insurance Barometer Study, LIMRA and Life Happens

The Most Straightforward Platform for Term Life Insurance


Protection

The way you write insurance is everchanging. Calculators replaced ledgers. Smartphones replaced calculators. It’s as common to check in with your clients by text as it is a phone call. And as postal mail has been replaced by email, paper applications have been replaced with digital solutions. Technological innovations have added value for your clients.

Nobody likes filling out 50-page term insurance applications. And now you don’t have to. At the same time, you can increase the value you bring to your clients by leveraging accelerated underwriting programs not available through paper apps.

Term insurance is finally straightforward. Yes, we know it’s a bold claim. Over the past several years, the insurance industry has been trying to go digital. Each carrier has a different platform. A different process and different rules. Trying to figure them out has been daunting, to say the least.

Introducing Ash Term Express

We get it if you’re skeptical. What makes Ash Term Express different? And is it really worth trying to learn yet another digital platform? Yes, absolutely. We've taken the guesswork out of quoting, to bring you the best term options for your clients. So, let’s take a minute to discuss how it works and why it's different.

40056 icons 2.png

Avoids surprises with built-in health questions

more accurate quoting means less time for clients to change their minds and decline coverage

40056 icons 3.png

Identifies the best carrier

Take the guesswork out of the process by filtering which carrier’s accelerated underwriting (AU) program is best for your client

40056 icons 4.png

Saves time

on average AU shaves process time by three weeks while taking the guesswork out of the process

40056 icons 1.png

Works on any device

quote and take an application from anywhere


Focus on Accelerated Underwriting (AU)

This is the big one. By putting an emphasis on accelerated underwriting, we reduce time and frustration. Evidence shows that approval and placement rates are higher with accelerated underwriting. On average, AU cuts the process time by three weeks.

Let's look at an actual advisor. We'll call him "Paper Pete." Over two years, Paper Pete submitted 33 paper applications. Of those:

  • Nine would have qualified for accelerated underwriting if they had been submitted digitally
  • Four would have been approved three weeks quicker

While four clients represent only 10% of this advisor’s business, for those four clients, the difference would have been huge. Their goals of protecting their families would have been completed faster and easier, giving you more time for other clients.

  Accelerated UW Traditional UW Savings
Cycle Time to Issue 34 days 56 days 22 days
Cycle Time to In-force 51 days 73 days 21 days

*Based on 36,000 term insurance apps submitted to Ash Brokerage in 2019, with 23% applying for AU


It’s faster and more convenient for you and your client because underwriting is completed based on data, instead of on labs and medical records. And it means less time for clients to change their minds and decline coverage.

Save time with one system for ALL term carriers

Ash Term Express encompasses two pieces: the Ash Quoter and the Ash Express Application. The platform understands and quickly lets you see which accelerated underwriting program is best for your client, if applicable. It also offers insight as to which carrier is most likely to accept the client’s health conditions — meaning more accurate quoting and fewer surprises during underwriting. You don’t have to guess which carrier will be best or duplicate work switching carriers.

  e-App Paper App Savings
Cycle Time to Approval 38 days 44 days 6 days
Cycle Time to In-force 66 days 73 days 7 days

*Based on 36,000 term insurance apps submitted to Ash Brokerage in 2019, with 23% applying for AU

And, once you’re ready to complete the application, it tailors necessary information based on client responses and carrier selection, so no time is wasted answering unnecessary questions. Information entered into the Quoter flows straight into the Express Application.

Works on ANY device

Switch back and forth between computer, phone and tablet. The platform is responsive and convenient.

 

See It In Action

Term insurance is a simple product. Getting a policy issued for your clients should be simple too. Using industry advances, combined with our own experience, Ash Term Express is the platform for today.

If you’ve put off going digital because of the hassle of navigating clumsy systems, the wait is over. Ash Term Express is 100% digital, simple and fast. Which means it’s perfect for our new virtual world. But to really understand the difference, you need to experience it for yourself. So, give it a try.

Check out this webinar replay where Todd Ruplinger, Chief Distribution & Innovation Officer, walks through how the new tools can help you make life (insurance) easier!

 

Ash Term Express Ash Quoter Ash Express Application Todd Ruplinger