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Currently showing: Funding longer lives > Health/medicine

15 Apr 15 13:31

The 2015 Insurance Barometer Study from LIMRA and Life Happens offers actionable data to help us make a more compelling case for life insurance in the retirement savings and investment mix. Many of the typical themes are addressed—but deep in the heart of the survey lies a hidden gem that could be a game changer.It suggests we can make hay in the untapped middle market by appealing to Millennials’ need for speed.

But before we rush to the solution, let’s consider what worries and motivates this generation. Like their parents, Millennials are concerned about managing debt and living paycheck to paycheck. What’s more, 8 in 10 say watching what their parents went through during the Great Recession taught them the importance of saving today—not tomorrow or next year. But with so many options to choose from—from a brokerage account to an IRA to a 401k—it’s no wonder life insurance gets pushed to the bottom of the list.

Only about a third of this generation owns an individual policy and 39 percent said they would buy life insurance within the next 12 months. Their reluctance is contributing to the $21 trillion protection gap in the US—the amount necessary to ensure every family could maintain its standard of living after the death of the primary breadwinner.

Obviously there’s profit to be made in the largely untapped middle market, and reaching this subset between ages 22 and 33 is a unique opportunity. Faced with the challenge of influencing the behaviors of this generation, life insurers are working to make their value proposition more relevant and their products more accessible.

And that brings us to speed. The Insurance Barometer Study says while “the majority of consumers are fine with waiting a few weeks to receive life insurance coverage … most consider a longer wait to be unacceptable.”

What contributes to the wait? The time it takes to schedule and undergo a physical, send specimens to a lab, analyze and collect the results and report the data to the underwriters. One of the keys to making life insurance more attractive is to simplify the underwriting process and the game-changer is right in front of our noses …or on our wrist.

Wearable technology

Society’s innovators are going to unprecedented lengths to help us better understand our own bodies, and life insurers have been slow to realize this is offering them a huge assist.Millennials are embracing wearable technology; three in 10 say they plan to purchase a wearable device.

We need to take advantage of this trend and reward them for their purchase. Consider the data that can be extracted from some of the products already on the market or on the drawing board:

- The Fitbit wearable device tracks a person’s activity and monitors vital signs Bitbite records, analyzes and reports eating habits; it even coaches the wearer on ways to improve nutrition.
- The LifeBeam hat tracks biometric data during training sessions or competition.
- The Muse headband observes brain activity during exercise and serves up metrics on everything from stress and attention to focus and mood. Results are saved to a private database so they can be tracked over time.

Everyday habits also yield useful data for life insurers, and Millennials are yielding up a treasure trove of actionable data. What do they “like” on Facebook or share on Instagram and Snapchat? What does their social media activity say about their lifestyle? Do they order more pizza or sushi? Do they prefer to hit the gym or skydive on the weekend? Even a person’s loyalty club memberships tell a vivid story about their health. Are they a lifetime member in the Cupcake of the Month Club or a regular at the yoga studio?

Even considering the privacy issues, I believe this generation with its propensity to share information would more willingly submit to a data dump than a physical exam. Predictive analytics can take the “sting” out of a life insurance exam and just might be the incentive for people who faint at the sight of a needle.

While this may sound like futuristic fluff, it’s not a stretch to imagine that as technology develops,the information gathered from wearable devices and social networking will produce robust information that significantly enhances the underwriting process.

After all, our cousins in the Auto department are developing usage-based products, monitoring how one drives and pricing coverage accordingly. It’s time we tapped into the data as well.

Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine


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