In the June, 2016 edition of The National Underwriter Life & Health, there is an article titled GOING DIGITAL that should be a warning to all of us to GET ON IT.
FACT: AMAZON has applied to 37 states for auto and life authority to sell insurance. WOW
Think of the implications. For example, a newly pregnant couple goes online to shop for cribs—and shortly after receives information about term insurance to protect their growing family. Or the newly engaged couple shopping for wedding invitations that is immediately contacted. Or even the soon-to-retire couple that has bought a retirement house and is shopping for household goods that are being shipped to a new address! Amazon plans to use “software and systems that can gather and interpret both ‘data you own’ (behavioral information collected from past transactions) and ‘data you don’t own’ (direct information collected from real-time, direct engagement with the customer)” to drive auto and life sales.
We are back to the years-old conversation in our industry on whether people “buy” insurance or if they are “sold” insurance. Amazon is banking on people buying online. The fact that stores and shopping malls are closing in favor of online marketing seems to point to a population (no, not just the kids) that has been encouraged and schooled on how to become digital consumers.
For years, the life industry has worked to encourage producers to reach out to clients during “trigger lifetime events”. Will we lose the opportunity to talk with clients first since it appears Amazon and others like them will have already hopped on this sales opportunity?
What is the message? Know your clients. Schedule conversations and meetings to do effective planning. Use technology such as our term drop ticket Lightning App to quickly provide solutions in a fast issue way.
Perhaps through better personal communications and in depth insurance and financial planning, the potential buyer will get the digital message to buy insurance and, rather than trusting the Amazon solution, will contact you for alternatives and advice. Now more than ever, we as insurance professionals and financial planners need to emphasize to our current and future clients that buying insurance is not like buying a TV, it must be planned, discussed, and intelligently purchased. In these times of increased digital information, perhaps it is time to ramp up your face-to-face meetings? Just a thought.
Pat Joline, CLU, ChFC