Consumers are seeking information online: Internet shoppers may discover a whole new buying experience as life insurance carriers roll out new technologies to defray the cost of distribution and improve the insurance buying experience for those who want a quick buying process. Statistics show since early 2004 fewer consumers are looking to the phone directories, advertisements and the local agent office to make purchases of auto insurance and health insurance. Since marketers began offering quoting aggregators online back in the 1990s there has been a trend in consumer comfort levels with these online research and shopping methods. Many carriers in the life insurance segment jumped on the bandwagon and began offering simplified underwriting polices through methods of real time quoting engines, online applications and e-signatures. Many of these carriers have already begun advertising their consumer websites and toll- free numbers in publications and television.
Is life insurance too complicated for online purchasing? With more people going to the internet search engines for information and the current technologies present that reduce underwriting times, speeding up the whole buying process, is there any wonder whether life companies would design simple issue policies for consumers who want to obtain instant quotes, apply, purchase, pay for and receive instant protection? This gives buyers the ability to reduce the application and approval process from months to days or minutes and also improves the overall buying experience. Certainly not everyone is buying life insurance online but it is not uncommon for the search for information to begin their reviewing products, carriers and rates. So the question is: does the technology create challenges for consumers in deciding which carrier to choose to insure their families are approved and protected? Is there a way to utilize the speed of technology and still benefit from agents knowledge of companies and products and still have the personal service that an agent can provide?
Technology and virtual agent integration: For the consumer this is a real time saver with personal service. When a consumer searches for simple term insurance online or responds to direct mail piece, they are usually directed to several ways to contact the agent. The consumer can then respond via 1-800 numbers or actually go to the agency website to research the company and the rates. Most agencies act as an independent broker representing many carriers which gives the consumer the best advantage in obtaining the most competitive price from a highly rated carrier. The process can be initiated by answering some simple health questions and submitting an application request for a product that meets their needs and budget. An agent receives the request via email delivery just like an online mortgage application. The agent can then contact the client to verify the information by phone, complete the application for the consumer online and submit it directly to the carrier with little more than a phone consultation. Depending upon the carrier, the newly protected client will receive the application via email for an e-signature (for the non medical coverage), through direct mail or through the in home medical appointment if the case is larger or requires more underwriting information such as blood and urine samples. This streamlined process makes protecting your family from a tragedy simple and efficient and you can still utilize an agents experience in obtaining the most coverage for your budget.
For those consumers who prefer to totally go it alone without an agents guidance, they can actually purchase directly from the agents website with a few select carriers who currently offer quote-to-policy issue within minutes for healthy individuals. Keep in mind these application types are usually only for the healthiest individuals, which would be standard or better since the underwriting is usually accept or reject.
While many insurance companies are marketing directly to consumers remember the independent broker can typically offer you a multitude of options from a variety of the top carriers insuring that you obtain the most affordable coverage to protect your family’s needs if you were unable to do so.