LAS VEGAS, Nev., Apr. 13, 2011 — Yesterday, Robert A. Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global, moderated a panel of three senior life insurance executives who shared their views on distribution, regulation, risk management and product innovation, and their impact on the future of the life insurance industry with the 550 attendees of the 2011 Life Insurance Conference.
“Middle market will be the growth engine for the future,” said Thomas M. Marra, president and CEO, Symetra Financial Corp. “Companies will need to return to the basics of life insurance to reach this market. With estate taxes (exemptions) at $5 million and $10 million for one person or a couple, opportunity in the affluent market will be diminished. The days of hunting elephants are probably over.”
J. Eric Smith, president, USAA Life Insurance Company, added “Leveraging technology will be the differentiator to capture more market share — especially with younger consumers. Building a strong dot.com space and using social networking sites will fuel future growth.”
The panel also tackled the distribution challenges that continue to face the industry. All of the panelist agree that resolving this issue will influence the immediate and long-term growth of the industry.
“It’s clear, we need more producers to reach the middle market,” noted Gary “Doc” Huffman, president and CEO, Ohio National. “We, at Ohio National, have expanded distribution consistently since 2005 and as a result have captured more market share. But it is very difficult in the first 3-5 years for a new agent. Our industry needs to find a better way to attract and retain the younger generations as they enter the business.”
The panelists agreed that the current low interest rate environment — if sustained — will have a deleterious impact on products with guarantees. Pricing products appropriately will be the challenge. Smith, however feels that “companies will get creative” to provide their customers with a fiscally sound product that provides the guarantees consumers are seeking.
Each underscored the significant contributions the industry provides to the U.S. economy through jobs, investment and philanthropy; and discussed the unique aspects of the risk products, which offer consumers the guarantees and protection that no other industry can provide.
Despite the many challenges the industry faces, the panel was optimistic about its future.
The annual Life Insurance Conference, hosted by LIMRA, LOMA, ACLI, and the Society of Actuaries (SOA), attracts more than 500 life insurance industry professionals from companies across the globe to gain insights on the latest industry developments and equip themselves with solutions to address the complex challenges they face every day.
LIMRA is a worldwide research, consulting and professional development organization that helps more than 850 insurance and financial services companies in 73 countries increase their marketing and distribution effectiveness. Visit LIMRA at www.limra.com.