During a presentation at the 2014 LIMRA Marketing Research Conference Joseph Coughlin, Ph.D., director of MIT's Technology AgeLab said, “Technology has always been disruptive, now consumers are disruptive, too.” Life insurance companies are experiencing this phenomenon as policyowner expectations for digital services continue to escalate.
LIMRA recently surveyed life insurance policyowners about their preferences using Internet, mobile and social media for services on their life insurance policies. Looking specifically at the use of mobile devices nearly 2 in 3 consumers who own mobile devices said they have already or plan to use mobile devices to access services for their life insurance policies.
The LIMRA survey revealed that the younger the policyowner, the greater their tendency to have obtained service via smart phones or tablets. (Among Gen X and Y policyowners, 1 in 4 have already accessed services.) Male policyowners, as well as those in high asset households and those with college degrees are also more inclined to have obtained or want mobile access to service.
Currently, only 29 percent of life insurance companies have mobile service capabilities for policy owners. An additional 44 percent said they plan to have mobile service offerings at some time in the future. In the past, once a life insurance policy was purchased and automatic payments set up, a policyowner could go years before having any need for customer service. Based on that premise, companies have expressed concern over justifying the expense to increase technology offerings for a product with potentially low usage.
Today's consumers — especially Gen X and Gen Y — expect to do anything they want online and mobile. In the survey, 41 percent of Gen X and more than half of Gen Y policyowners said they already have or plan to use mobile devices to obtain service from their insurer, compared with just 15 percent of Boomers. Companies that build mobile friendly sites now will have an advantage with current customers and be in position to attract younger customers in the future.
Some of the surveyed consumers cited concerns about security of mobile devices and about the screen size being smaller than a PC. Even if they choose not to use mobile for all services, the research reveals another example of the omnichannel demands of today's consumer. A male Baby Boomer who took part in the survey summed it up best:
"I want total access (on my life insurance company's website) to all of my insurance needs. To me, using my mobile iPad is the same as my PC, so I want it all."