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Ken Leibow

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Ken Leibow is founder and CEO of InsurTech Express. He brings more than 36 years of insurance industry experience with an extensive background in insurance technology for distribution and back office systems. Prior to founding InsurTech Express, Leibow worked for Genworth Financial, Mutual of Omaha, and as vice president of operations at Diversified Underwriters Services, Inc. As COO of Integrated Insurance Technologies, he built the largest life insurance data exchange hub in the industry, processing over one million policies per year and $30 billion of annuities (now owned by Oracle, Inc.). Some of the key initiatives he implemented include innovation in quoting and illustration tools, CRM’s, agency management systems, eApp platforms and ePolicy Delivery for long term care, life insurance and annuities. Leibow is a leader for industry technology standards, working with ACORD, LDTC, LIDMA, NAILBA, LIMRA, LOMA and IRI. In 2019, he was appointed to sit on the ACLI Innovation Committee. He is on the ACORD Life & Annuity Program Advisory Council and won the ACORD Leadership Award in 2022 and ACORD Community 50th Anniversary Award in 2020. He is a past winner of the NAILBA Chairman’s Award and NAILBA’s ID20 Award. In 2022, he was the winner of the LIDMA Innovation Award. Leibow can be reached by telephone at 402-740-7356. Email: ken@insurtechexpress.com.

The Evolution Of Life Insurance: Embracing Digital Point Of Sales Solutions For A Millennial Market

In the ever-evolving landscape of life insurance digital point of sales solutions are not just a trend but a revolution, particularly tailored to the preferences and needs of millennials—the central buyers in today’s market. This demographic, aged between 26-45, is driving a significant shift in how life insurance products are designed, marketed and sold. The key to capturing this market lies in blending self-service options with on-demand advisor support, accelerated underwriting processes, and leveraging cutting-edge AI technology.

The Afficiency Model
The move to digitization has been embraced by our industry for some time, with carriers vying to meet the needs of both tech savvy consumers and distribution partners anxious to move with the times. However, it has not always been a smooth ride. For many carriers the transition has been a long and winding road, oftentimes a road that cannot be navigated alone. Some successful life carriers have benefited from leaning on the expertise and nimbleness of the new breed of life insurtechs.

One such insurtech, Afficiency, has the unique advantage of an innovative tech stack combined with a team of talented individuals with a proven track record in digital life insurance deployments.

Understanding the importance of the agent-client relationship and the valued role that the agent plays, Afficiency has always focused their attention on a distributor-first model to deliver a true digital workflow for term, final expense and whole life products with offer rates close to 70 percent and increasing with continued underwriting innovation. These products, along with more advanced products in the pipeline, provide agents and consumers alike with an in-session decision; at times the end-to-end journey is complete in under 10 to 15 minutes. This represents a windfall for agents and carriers looking for high quality risk and keen to expand their business, especially among younger digital natives.

The Afficiency model is based on collaboration between all parties; technology, carriers, and distribution to deliver digital products that address parties’ desire to be in control of their costs and to utilize a scalable platform.

Most recently Afficiency has released the latest version of their eApp, which relies on proprietary API technology and an easy-to-navigate and configurable UI, to bridge agent experience, third party database checks and carrier connections. Guided by the agent, the client is walked through the application to collect and verify their personal data, capture eligibility, health, and lifestyle information before gaining consent via either email or text message. Once consent is provided, the real-time magic happens in the background as the sophisticated underwriting engine kicks into action simultaneously conducting applicant identification checks, implementing fraud controls, and returning a decision while the agent and client patiently standby for an in-session decision in a matter of minutes—and often a decision is returned in seconds.

Should the application proceed to an offer the agent continues the digital journey with their client, adjusting the term and coverage as needed as well as adding additional benefits such as children’s term riders or accidental death benefit rider. The client signature is captured, once again digitally via either email or text message. The client can have the financial protection they need within minutes and the agent has the added security of competitive, next-day commission payment.

Afficiency works with their carrier partners to continuously improve and fine tune the interpretation of the underwriting rules to maximize the outcome for carriers and distributors alike. Such fine tuning includes the recent introduction of a manual underwriting process to the once “fully automatic” workflow. While the overwhelming majority of applications are still decided digitally and within the same session, the refer to underwriter process allows for manual review of edge cases that may have otherwise been declined within 48 hours, further increasing the number of cases being approved.

Another recent enhancement to the Afficiency client journey is the introduction of an underwriting report on declined applications for the information of both the agent and their client. Historically agents have had to make do with the scant and sometimes unhelpful information provided on adverse underwriting decision notifications. By providing more detail on why their client was declined, the agent is armed with meaningful insight and can better advise their client on the most appropriate next steps for protecting their financial future.

In the end it’s about growing the number of families we can help distributors and carriers protect! To learn more about Afficiency visit https://www.afficiency.com.

The Millennial Influence
Millennials, known for their affinity for technology and convenience, have reshaped the life insurance industry. Their demand for quick, efficient, and hassle-free services has led to the emergence of digital point of sales solutions. Unlike previous generations, millennials are willing to pay higher premiums for life insurance policies that offer speed and simplicity—a testament to the adage “time is money.” The process has become as important as the product itself, with instant issue policies and accelerated underwriting processes gaining popularity.

Speed and efficiency is the new currency. In the realm of life insurance, “time is money” has never been more pertinent. The quicker the process of obtaining life insurance, the more attractive it is to potential buyers. Millennials, in particular, are willing to pay higher premiums for policies that offer speed and convenience. This trend has led to the concept that the process itself has become the product, a significant departure from traditional insurance models.

The Rise of Non-Medical Underwriting
One of the most significant advancements in catering to this need for speed and convenience is the development of non-medical underwriting, often referred to as “Non-Med.” This approach eliminates the traditional, time-consuming medical exams and fluid draws, relying instead on part II medical questionnaires, prescription data, Medical Information Bureau (MIB) checks, and Electronic Health Records (EHRs). This shift not only speeds up the underwriting process but also makes it more comfortable and less invasive for the customer.

AI: The Game Changer in Underwriting
Insurtech companies are at the forefront of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the underwriting process. By utilizing AI, these companies can quickly analyze vast amounts of data from medical questionnaires, prescription histories, and electronic health records. This technology enables insurers to accurately score and make informed decisions on policy applications at an unprecedented speed. The result is a more efficient underwriting process, leading to higher customer satisfaction and increased business placement.

The life insurance industry is undergoing a transformative phase, driven by the demands of the millennial generation. The integration of digital point of sales solutions, non-medical underwriting processes, and AI-driven technologies reflects a broader trend towards convenience, speed, and customer-centricity. As digital agencies continue to emerge and evolve, they are setting new standards in the life insurance market, making the process of buying life insurance more accessible, efficient, and appealing to a generation that values both time and technology. The future of life insurance is digital, and it is unfolding now.

Pioneering Technological Advances In Life Insurance Underwriting

Life insurance underwriting technology has undergone significant transformations in recent years, reshaping the landscape of the insurance industry. This evolution is driven by the integration of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). These innovations are not only enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of underwriting processes but also improving customer experiences and expanding the reach of life insurance products.

Traditionally, life insurance underwriting has been a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. It involved extensive data collection, including medical histories, lifestyle information, and financial backgrounds. Underwriters would manually assess these details to determine the risk profile of applicants and set premium rates. This process could take weeks, sometimes even months, leading to customer dissatisfaction and higher operational costs.

The advent of digital technology has revolutionized this process. AI and ML algorithms are now capable of rapidly analyzing vast amounts of data, including non-traditional sources such as online behavior, wearable device data, and even social media activity. This not only speeds up the underwriting process but also allows for a more nuanced understanding of risk.

Predictive analytics, a key component of modern underwriting technology, uses historical data to predict future outcomes. In life insurance, this means more accurate risk assessments. By analyzing patterns and correlations in large datasets, life carriers can identify risk factors that were previously unnoticed. This leads to more personalized insurance policies, where premiums are more closely aligned with the individual risk of the policyholder.

Automated underwriting systems (AUS) are another breakthrough. These systems use predefined rules and algorithms to evaluate applications. In many cases, they can approve policies instantly without human intervention. This automation not only speeds up the process but also reduces the potential for human error and bias.

The IoT and wearable technology are also playing a growing role in life insurance underwriting. Devices like fitness trackers provide real-time data on an individual’s health and lifestyle. This information can be used to offer more tailored insurance products, such as policies with incentives for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The integration of technology in underwriting has significantly enhanced the customer experience. The process is faster and more convenient, with many life carriers offering instant quotes and online applications. Additionally, the use of data analytics allows for more personalized policies, potentially leading to lower premiums for healthier or lower-risk individuals.

These advancements are not without challenges and ethical considerations. The use of personal data raises privacy concerns. Life carriers must navigate the fine line between leveraging data for better risk assessment and respecting individual privacy rights. Additionally, there are ethical considerations regarding data use and the potential for discrimination based on health or lifestyle data.

Swiss Re “Underwriting Ease”
The Swiss Re team has developed an underwriting visualization platform that will revolutionize the process between brokerage general agencies and carrier underwriters. I met Nanditha Nandy, SVP of Underwriting Solutions of Swiss Re, in 2023 at a LIMRA Conference. She later showed me a demo of Underwriting Ease. I was impressed because it wasn’t an underwriting workbench, yet it was a dashboard that provided all the necessary information to make it easy for an underwriter to make a decision. Dan McKinney, VP of Data Driven Underwriting at Swiss Re shared additional information about the platform. I believe this is a game changer in the industry.

Underwriting Ease enables the digital consumption and visualization of digital health data (DHD), expediting manual underwriting workflows for brokerage agencies and for carriers.

In recent years, the concept of digital health has gained significant momentum. The advent of digital health has allowed healthcare providers to deliver better patient outcomes, improve disease management, and reduce healthcare costs. The introduction of digitally generated health-related data such as medical records, biometric data, and personal health data, has opened up new opportunities across the life insurance industry ecosystem as well.

Data is one of the most valuable assets for the insurance industry. The underwriting process, which is used to assess an individual’s risk profile and determine the premiums they will pay, requires significant volumes of relevant data. Traditionally, BGAs and insurance underwriters used paper-based forms to collect information about their clients’ health history, lifestyle, and other factors. However, today, the advancements in digital technology and the ubiquity of digital health data have paved the way for a streamlined underwriting process, from initial application intake to policy issuance.

Digital health data is increasingly being used by agents and carriers to evaluate a client’s risk profile. However, the process of compiling and analyzing data and subsequently transferring that information can be time-consuming and cumbersome, requiring significant human effort. That is where the integration of digital health data into a visualizing SaaS platform comes into play.

SaaS, or software as a service, is a cloud-based model for delivering software applications over the internet. SaaS platforms can be accessed through a web browser, eliminating the need for locally installed software. The integration of digital health data into a SaaS platform can provide agents and underwriters with a clear and easy-to-understand visualization of a client’s health history and risk profile.

The benefits of integrating digital health data into a visualizing SaaS platform are many. Here are some of the advantages that can be derived for agents and carriers from this integration:

Improved efficiency: Integrating digital health data into the Underwriting Ease platform can significantly reduce the time and effort required to evaluate a client’s risk profile. Agents and underwriters can quickly and easily access relevant health-related data, reducing the need for manual data collection and analysis.

Accurate risk assessment: The use of digital health data ensures that agents and underwriters have access to a rich source of relevant data that can help them make accurate risk assessments. The use of the Underwriting Ease allows underwriters to identify patterns and correlations that might be difficult to detect otherwise, leading to more informed decisions.

Reduced costs: By eliminating the need for manual data entry, analysis, and interpretation, the integration of digital health data into Underwriting Ease can reduce the time and cost associated with finding the applicant the right carrier for their policy.

Enhanced customer experience: The use of Underwriting Ease allows agents to provide a seamless customer experience. Clients can simply provide access to their digital health records, reducing the need for invasive and time-consuming medical exams.

Increased transparency and trust: The use of Underwriting Ease in the underwriting process can increase transparency and trust between agents and carriers. Agents can see the data that underwriters are using to make decisions about their policies, leading to greater confidence in the process.

The integration of digital health data into a visualizing SaaS platform can also offer agents and carriers significant competitive advantages. By streamlining the underwriting process, agents can offer quotes and policies more quickly, improving their ability to attract and retain clients. Additionally, the use of digital health data can help agents and carriers identify potential health risks and offer personalized health and wellness programs to their clients. However, the integration poses a challenge–the development and deployment of robust data analysis and visualization tools. To derive meaningful insights from digital health data, carriers must have the right tools and expertise to analyze data effectively. Carriers that lack sophisticated data analysis capabilities may struggle to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digital health data.

To address that challenge, Underwriting Ease seamlessly connects via API or embeds into existing underwriting workflows and works with any automated underwriting engine and underwriting manual. It was designed by underwriters, for underwriters, to help the industry to take a technological step forward without radically changing the fundamentals of underwriting. A confluence of the data that matters, delivered in a focused, user-friendly visualizer that has already normalized and simplified the data. It is a single page view of all the available underwriting data disclosed by type and source. Allowing the underwriter to drill into the information needed to assess the risk. Empowering and enabling the agent and underwriters, while delivering cost savings by reducing manual UW efforts by 50 percent.* Additionally, the reduced per case review will help to address any backload of cases that manual underwriting has caused in light of the current industry wide UW shortage.

The integration of digital health data through the Ease platform has the potential to transform the underwriting process for life insurance. By streamlining the process and providing agents and carriers with valuable insights, Underwriting Ease can help life carriers improve risk assessment, reduce costs, and provide a better customer experience.

An industry leader in the underwriting innovation space, Swiss Re and its team of subject-matter experts continue to advance its underwriting capabilities. Through research and analytics, we aim to advance the capabilities of underwriting shops with speed and increased cost efficiencies. Swiss Re can help carriers and clients in developing and implementing these capabilities. Learn more about Swiss Re Underwriting Ease by visiting https://www.swissre.com/reinsurance/life-and-health/solutions/underwriting-ease.html.

Life insurance underwriting technology is at a pivotal point. The integration of AI, ML, big data, and IoT is transforming the industry, making underwriting more efficient, accurate, and customer friendly. As the technology continues to evolve, it promises to further refine risk assessment and policy customization, benefiting life carriers, policyholders, and insurance advisors.

AI Dominates Discussions At Major Industry Conferences

I typically attend 15 to 20 industry conferences annually, spanning two main sectors: Insurance and Technology. The stretch from October to early November this year was a grueling conference schedule. My journey began in Tampa, FL, at the Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association (LIDMA) fall conference and business showcase. From there, I traveled to Portland, ME, for the International DI Society (IDIS) Annual Conference, followed by the LIMRA Annual Conference in National Harbor, MD.

During this time, there were other overlapping industry events that I couldn’t attend. However, as October transitioned into November, I was committed to participating in both Insuretech Connect (ITC) in Las Vegas and the NAILBA/Finseca Conference in Florida. To manage this I had team members present at both locations and I personally attended portions of each conference, taking a redeye flight from Las Vegas to Florida to make it possible.

A striking commonality across these conferences was the focus on AI technology. Whether it was a major topic in a session, a highlighted feature of an exhibitor’s platform, or a subject touched upon by nearly every speaker and panelist, AI’s presence was unmistakably pervasive and central to the discussions at these events.

LIDMA Business Showcase
I have attended LIDMA conferences since the time I worked at Genworth going back to 2011. It’s been one of my favorite conferences because of the format, locations, and the attendees. At the LIDMA conference this year, several pivotal sessions highlighted the role of AI in the industry. These included:

  1. The Future of Marketing: Harnessing AI and Digital Strategies in Life Insurance—This session focused on integrating AI with digital marketing tactics specifically tailored for the life insurance sector.
  2. Navigating AI Regulation and Risk Management: Essential Updates and Strategies—This discussion centered on the latest developments in AI regulation, addressing how these changes impact businesses. It also covered strategies for mitigating risks related to regulation, litigation, and reputation.
  3. The Evolution of Automated Underwriting: A Look from Past to Future—This session provided an insightful journey through the history, current state, and future prospects of automated underwriting in the industry which included AI.

LIMRA Annual Conference
The LIMRA Annual Conference saw an impressive gathering of industry leaders, offering excellent opportunities for networking, and featured 22 sessions encompassing all the critical topics in the life and annuity sector. Notably, seven of these sessions at the conference were specifically centered around Artificial Intelligence. Below are four of the seven AI sessions that had some very game changing information:

The Modernization Journey—Investigating Technology Investments for a Competitive Edge:
LIMRA and EY recently partnered to explore technology investments and future priorities of life insurance companies aiming to achieve competitive advantages. Join this session to gain valuable insights into the modernization journey of life and annuity carriers. We will explore the key challenges and complexities faced by these carriers in areas such as product development, marketing, sales tools and illustrations, underwriting, and claims. Furthermore, we will explore their current and future technology investments including advanced analytics, digital customer experience, core legacy systems, blockchain, and AI—and how they can provide a competitive edge.

Step Into The Future Harnessing the Potential of AI:
Experience the excitement surrounding Generative AI and ChatGPT in reshaping the industry landscape. Explore the rapid growth and limitless potential of these ever-evolving technologies, while tackling the challenges of legacy infrastructure. Hear from a panel of experts with diverse perspectives on navigating this intersection of innovation and practicality. Don’t miss this opportunity to expand your knowledge on this extraordinary topic and stay ahead of the curve.

A Canadian Perspective—Driving Growth in a Changing World:
As our industry continues to evolve, consumer expectations and economic conditions are shaping how business leaders are making key business decisions to fuel growth. Join us for an in-depth panel discussion of industry leaders and executives to learn about how technology, innovation, regulation, and other factors are impacting and reshaping the marketplace.

A Human Industry in an AI World:
The world is on the precipice of an AI revolution, a seminal technology moment the likes of which we have never experienced. AI brings with it the limitless possibilities to fundamentally reshape our industry across the entire value chain. Are we equipped to mitigate the risks? Are we able to capitalize on the opportunities? How can machines actually help us focus on the Human Factor within our industry? Join us as we delve into the role of artificial intelligence to learn more about the associated risks and opportunities that will shape the industry’s future.

(IDIS) International DI Society Annual Conference
The one conference that did not center its topics on AI was the IDIS conference. Instead, it offered a variety of sessions with different focuses. Key highlights included: Claims Stories: This session brought together experts to share insightful narratives and experiences related to disability insurance claims. Expert Insights on DI Sales: This presentation provided valuable strategies and tips from seasoned professionals in the field of disability insurance sales. The Current Landscape of the Disability Insurance Industry: A comprehensive presentation that offered an array of compelling statistics and insights into the state of the disability insurance sector. Motivational Speaking: The conference featured an inspiring motivational speaker, adding a dynamic and uplifting element to the event. The Magic of Behavioral Finance by Theron Schaub: This session stood out as particularly engaging. It uniquely combined entertainment—with actual magic and hypnosis—and practical applications of behavioral finance in business, making it a memorable and informative experience for attendees. Yes, this event was much more insurance focused than technology.

NAILBA Annual Conference
NAILBA/Finseca is one of the year-end industry conferences everyone looks forward to including me. It was a great event again this year. At the NAILBA Annual Conference, a notable breakout session titled Generative AI: What it is and what it means for the insurance industry was presented by Roy Goodart, VP of Product Management at iPipeline. This session delved into the intricacies of generative AI and its implications for the insurance sector.

Additionally, the conference featured a prominent panel discussion on the main stage, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Life Insurance: The practical, the problematic, and the potential. This panel brought together a formidable group of industry leaders, moderated by James Wong, EVP of Partners Advantage. The panelists included Mark Holweger, president and CEO of Legal and General America; Michelle Dauphinais, VP, Head of Distribution at John Hancock Insurance Company; Harsh Singla, CTO of Integrity Marketing Group; Amanda Soho, CTO of Proformex; and Chris Orestis, president of Retirement Genius. They explored various facets of AI in life insurance, from practical applications to potential challenges and future possibilities.

The influence of AI was also evident among the technology exhibitors at the conference. Many showcased how AI is integrated into their platforms, demonstrating its growing significance in the industry. My company, InsurTech Express, was also present with a booth at NAILBA. We engaged in discussions about insurtech solutions incorporating AI for life insurance, highlighting our commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements in the sector. I felt it to be necessary to highlight how AI was a key component in some software solutions because it’s the hot topic of the moment.

Insuretech Connect (ITC)
The largest global insurtech conference of over 9,000 attendees gather every year in Las Vegas. This conference is very for heavy P&C insurance. The day before the conference there are kick-off summits that focus on life insurance: Sureify’s Life Insurance & Annuity Ecosystem Summit and Equisoft’s Life Insurance Lab. Yes, AI was discussed at these kick-off summits.

ITC had a Masterclass: A Deeper Dive into Generative AI for Insurance. Some of the key sessions were focused on AI, like: Preparing for the Data Evolution: Organizational Readiness to Maximize Analytics and AI Investments. Data and analytics offers great opportunities for insurance, but most insurers are still building out a foundation that’s needed to optimize these investments. This is challenging in light of economic pressures, talent shortages, new hype around emerging technologies such as Generative AI, and difficulty in measuring business impact. The fireside chat discussed trends and opportunities around the use of analytics and AI in the industry. These contributors were Mano Mannoochahr, chief Data and Analytics Officer at Travelers, and Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, vice president and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner.

Embedded Insurance of the Future: Turning Lessons Learned into New Innovations presented by Milliman was another AI session at ITC. What will embedded insurance look like over the next two decades? With huge technological advancements from Generative AI and LLMs to self-driving vehicles and smart cities—front-end insurance quoting and underwriting have been automated, further enabling the sale of embedded products and services across industries. The session demonstrated how we can apply lessons from the past to innovations of the future, with personalized pre-fill data, tech, and AI to seamlessly provide insurance.

Considering the hundreds of tech exhibitors at ITC, it’s no surprise that a significant number showcased AI technology integrated into their insurtech solutions. The reality is that AI is now a ubiquitous topic, discussed in contexts ranging from personal to business realms, far beyond just the insurance industry. It’s becoming increasingly clear that AI is set to revolutionize the world as we know it. Yes, this last paragraph was rewritten by ChatGPT…

The Puzzle Pieces To Efficiency

In the dynamic world of life insurance, staying ahead of the curve is paramount. Life insurance distribution processing has evolved significantly in recent years, thanks to the fusion of agency management systems, human capital, and data. This harmonious blend of technological innovation and human expertise has unlocked new avenues for efficiency and customer-centricity in the insurance industry.

Agency management systems are the linchpin of modern life insurance distribution. They provide BGAs with a centralized hub to manage their operations, streamline processes, and optimize agent interactions. These systems not only reduce administrative overhead but also empower agents with real-time information, enabling them to make informed decisions and offer better service.

The integration of agency management systems into the distribution process has revolutionized policy issuance, underwriting, and claims processing. BGAs can efficiently track policy applications, generate quotes, and manage compliance. This streamlining of operations is a win-win, as it saves time for both agents and clients, ensuring a smoother and faster customer experience.

While technology is essential, the human touch remains irreplaceable in the insurance industry. Human capital, in the form of skilled agents and underwriters, plays a pivotal role in life insurance distribution processing. Agents build trust, guide customers through complex policies, and provide personalized solutions to meet individual needs.

Investing in human capital development, training, and retention is crucial. BGAs need to adapt to the evolving landscape of insurance products and regulations continually. Equipped with agency management systems and data analytics tools, agencies become more efficient and capable of delivering a seamless experience, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Data is the lifeblood of the modern insurance industry. The fusion of data analytics and agency management systems empowers insurers with actionable insights. Advanced analytics can identify trends, assess risk, and tailor policies to meet specific customer needs. It can also predict future market conditions and customer preferences, enabling proactive adjustments to product offerings and distribution strategies.

Moreover, data-driven underwriting allows carriers to assess risk more accurately and make quicker decisions. This not only benefits the insurer by mitigating risks but also benefits the customer by potentially lowering premiums for those who pose lower risks.

The synergy between agency management systems, human capital, and data creates a dynamic ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its parts. When these puzzle pieces come together, BGAs can deliver a seamless, customer-centric experience. Agents armed with cutting-edge technology and data insights can provide tailored solutions, improving client relationships and driving business growth. These tools are provided by the BGAs to their agents through their website agent portals.

Life insurance distribution processing has been transformed through the fusion of agency management systems, human capital, and data. This synergy empowers carriers to enhance efficiency, engage customers on a deeper level, and make informed decisions. As the insurance
landscape continues to evolve, embracing this fusion is not just an option but a necessity for staying competitive and meeting the evolving needs of insurance advisors.

Supporting BGAs with Technology and Outsourcing Staff
We all wondered what the new norm was going to be post pandemic. There are organizations who went back to office, others have taken a hybrid approach, and some have gone completely remote. This newfound freedom of choice has more and more individuals looking for new opportunities in search of the company culture that best matches their needs. Staffing shortages have hit many and attracting new staff or supporting the great people you have has been a challenge. How do you continue to maintain let alone elevate the level of service that attracts new and maintains your current customers? I have been working with eNoah iSolutions for several years. What makes them different is that they are not just a business processing outsourcing service, but infusing technology to automate the distribution process for life insurance. I reached out to Stacey Paulson, director of Insurance Services at eNoah. “At eNoah, we understand the uniqueness from firm to firm and do not take a ‘this is how we do business’ approach, but rather learn what your culture is and how we can best support you. Your dedicated eNoah team member becomes an extension to your team to help support and allow them to spend time on what matters most for your organization. There is no one size fits all. That is the beauty of the brokerage world. Each organization has their own culture they developed to support their customer base.”

They are seeing new firms/agencies rise and as they grow are working on how to create internal efficiencies. Whether you are starting new or have an experienced agency, it’s hard to focus on the change that is needed and still handle the day to day. eNoah helps during these times of growth or restructure. Whether it be simplistic data entry into your AMS system to commission reconciliation on the backend and everything in the middle. They are there to support you as you grow.

IT resources are in short supply, especially those that understand the needs of the insurance industry. If you are fortunate to find a resource, it’s costly. You don’t have to wait to bring your website or tools to the next level. eNoah has over 550 IT engineers who can help with Application Development, Cloud Services, Testing and Database Support. Visit eNoah iSolutions.

Data Drives the Process
Carriers and distributors face many of the same challenges today. How to streamline and simplify the insurance buying process to create a better customer experience. If successful, this will lead to better placement rates, reduced acquisition costs, and more smiles on more faces. How can this be accomplished? To begin, understand that data drives the process. By knowing the prospective customer as early as possible in the process, we can better understand what is the best solution for that individual. It starts with their goals and then it is up to the agents, advisors, and carriers to help determine what is best suited for them. Analyzing that data and moving it forward in a seamless fashion not only helps the process move more efficiently, but ultimately leads to the right product and the right carrier being chosen for the prospective client. It also may lead to a separate conversation about additional products or services that could be of value. At Paperless Solutions Group (PSG), an MIB business, they realize that purchasers of products, those who distribute them, and those that manufacture them all need to work together. That is why PSG looks at the process from a holistic perspective and makes sure that their solutions are customized for each specific situation. If the suit doesn’t fit, you probably should not buy it. While an “out of the box” solution may be an easy decision, is it the right decision for you and your client?

All this being said, obtaining accurate data and moving it along the sales cycle will lead to a more efficient process for all organizations involved in the process. Reduction in cost and greater efficiency is what we all aim for. API’s are a must in order to do this as you may need to “bolt” solutions into an existing architecture if it will allow. To protect more families, we must play nice in the sandbox with each other to meet that ultimate goal. See the end-to-end life insurance process at Paperless Solutions Group.

Advanced Markets Life Sales: Harnessing The Power Of Technology Tools

When we utilize life insurance in more advanced market scenarios, we find that the financial planning capabilities provided by brokerage general agencies (BGAs) are somewhat limited. Software solutions commonly used by financial planners, such as MoneyGuide Pro, EasyMoney, and NaviPlan, for instance, offer only minimal support for integrating life insurance into their planning processes. This highlights a significant disparity in the tools available to life insurance agents compared to those provided by BGAs. Below are two examples of closing the gap.

Market Technology
I reached out to Ian Ryan, brokerage director at BackNine Insurance and Financial Services who explained how their digital platform solutions for agents is not just for selling simplified term insurance products. BackNine’s strategic expansion into partnerships with like-minded companies dedicated to automation and technology in the advanced life insurance markets marks a significant milestone in the industry’s evolution. Their Advance Markets department now supports premium-financed life insurance designs on automated quoting and submission platforms while ensuring that these solutions adhere to conservative constraints and meet the due diligence standards upheld by financial services firms nationwide.

In the realm of financial services, the concept of premium financing has long been a cornerstone of strategic planning, primarily adopted by individuals entrenched in the life insurance industry. With a focus on nationwide marketing and life insurance products, these professionals understand the nuances of ensuring a secure financial future. Financed life insurance plans are divided into two sub-categories: Traditional and bank leveraged arrangements, each deserving recognition for their unique attributes. Both options have their merits, catering to diverse preferences and needs, offering policyholders distinct advantages.

Traditional premium-financed plans are renowned for their intricacy, requiring ongoing management and a policy owner with financial sophistication. Therefore, BackNine restricts these services to agents whose clients possess a minimum net worth of $15 million and a suitable profile for long term planning. Beyond suitability screening and case design, they partner their agents with established lending brokers, handling substantial premium loans, to provide clients with a reliable path forward.

The premium lenders they recommend go beyond the conventional role of a bank, by harnessing a rich pool of resources, tapping into multiple capital avenues, and crafting solutions exclusively designed for the life insurance sector. This involves leveraging not just banking resources but also integrating proprietary capital markets to serve the distinctive financial demands of affluent individuals. These institutions work to facilitate financing solutions not just for newly minted life policies but also for existing ones, ensuring a broad spectrum of clients can benefit from their expertise.

In the world of premium financing, bank-leveraged planning stands out for its ability to reduce risk in premium financing arrangements. This reduction encompasses several key elements: No loan underwriting, no financial credit checks, no loan documents, no interest payments, and no personal guarantees.

While traditional premium financing typically caters to the affluent and high-net-worth, Back Nine’s program takes a more inclusive approach. They achieve this by leveraging a streamlined process, powered by the same seamless technology featured in their Quote & Apply™ software, to reach individuals earning annual incomes of $200,000 or more across all 50 U.S. states. This effort underscores BackNine’s commitment to make premium-financed life insurance accessible to a broader audience and empowering more life insurance agents to better serve their clients.

For agents that find themselves with clients in the upper echelons of income earners making $200,000 and up, those clients’ lives might seem more comfortable than for most. However, this higher income often comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to saving for a secure retirement. Depending on who you ask, 40 to 60 percent of working Americans have not saved enough for their future retirement. Most financial planners are suggesting clients put aside 10 to 20 percent of their pre-tax income to achieve a comfortable retirement. BackNine recognizes these challenges and offers tailored solutions, including leveraged life insurance planning, that have the potential to significantly enhance supplemental retirement planning for licensed life insurance agents.

One often overlooked advantage of premium-financed life insurance is its capacity to empower you as an advisor to educate your clients on using pre-tax dollars (via premium loans) to further enhance their supplemental retirement planning. These plans undergo meticulous design and rigorous stress testing, all with the anticipation that those pre-tax dollar premium loans will be repaid from the policy cash values. As a result, your clients may have the potential to access 60 to 100 times more in living and death benefits. This balanced approach emphasizes both growth and protection, ensuring that clients have a spectrum of options at their disposal. This not only provides financial security but also the flexibility to customize their supplemental retirement plan to align with their unique needs.

For agencies and agents seeking a streamlined and tech-savvy approach to life insurance marketing, BackNine Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., offers a comprehensive suite of tools and services tailored to the modern digital landscape. For more information on these solutions or to learn more about BackNine and how to get started, visit https://www.back9ins.com.

Testing IUL and VUL Policy Illustrations
IUL and VUL policy illustrations have a credibility problem—but these illustrations have been the only “tool” available for agents to demonstrate the expected future performance.

IUL policy illustrations are calculated using an AG49B specified maximum crediting rate—and it’s used as a constant for many decades in the future. However, the “market” underlying the Index will fluctuate every year—and in the real world—will produce a range of policy credits subject to the non-guaranteed cap and participation rates and the floor rates!

Similarly, VUL policy illustrations allow a specified (gross) crediting rate as high as 12 percent—and again, use that rate as a constant for the entire duration of the illustration. Here the market isn’t constrained—the S&P500™, for example, has been as high as +34 percent (1995) and as low as -38 percent (2008)!

There hasn’t been a reliable way to test illustrations subject to these kinds of volatility and non-guaranteed elements—until now. Agents and policy owners can gain important insights from a newly introduced service, called Life Insurance Sustainability Analytics (LISA), which provides a more realistic view of the long term life insurance policy’s performance.

The answer for agents: How “sensitive” is the policy performance to premium and living benefit amounts and changes to the non-guaranteed parameters, in the context of underlying volatility, is a question that can now be answered. This is a critical component of the sales process and agents can use these insights to adjust illustration designs, making the sale with more confidence and less risk to the client and to their practice.

The answer for clients: Clients form their expectations around policy illustrations, but the illustrations cannot provide a realistic view of what is likely to happen. That’s true when you calculate a premium based on the assumed crediting rate, as well as for the projected retirement cash flow of an illustration attempting to show, “How much can I take out of the policy for retirement?”

Let’s say you’ve run a death benefit-oriented IUL policy illustration using a calculated premium based on the maximum AG49B crediting rate of the chosen index—is it a problem if the volatility assessment comes up with only a 62 percent likelihood the policy will sustain to at least age 100? If that’s an issue you can use LISA to re-design the premium to meet the client’s probability objective. It is an excellent way to reinforce that you provide solutions in your client’s best interest.

If the sale involves a retirement income oriented IUL policy illustration, using the maximum non-MEC premium, and solved for the largest policy loans (income) based on the maximum AG49B crediting rate of the chosen index—is it a problem if the volatility assessment comes up with only a 55 percent likelihood the policy will sustain to at least age 100? If that’s an issue—you can recalculate the future retirement income to meet the client’s probability objective.
These are simple solutions that demonstrate to your clients that you are dedicated to their long term success. You can uncover and fix these problems and avoid disappointed clients! Test the illustration to find the likelihood of success—while modifying premium amounts and/or policy withdrawal/loans—that fits the client’s risk tolerance.

If you would like to see a demo of Life Insurance Sustainability Analytics (LISA) and also get a free trial then visit https://lifeinsuranceanalytics.com.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The New Era Of BGA Commission Accounting

For decades BGAs have adhered to a traditional approach when it comes to commission accounting. They have relied on their Agency Management Systems to manage commissions, sourcing commission data feeds from certain carriers and manually visiting carrier websites for additional commission statements. Despite potential outsourcing of some tasks, the technological method has remained largely unchanged—until now. Within this article, you will be introduced to two solution providers who have crafted technologies designed to automate many of the current manual processes involved in commission processing for insurance distributors. By the conclusion of the article, you will also gain insight into an upcoming innovation poised to disrupt and revolutionize BGA commission accounting practices.

Processing your Commissions Outside of your AMS
In the ever-evolving world of insurance, commission accounting is a cornerstone of success for agencies and financial advisors. Embracing innovation is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity for staying ahead in a competitive landscape. At the forefront of this transformation are InsurTech companies like GreenWave, that redefines commission accounting with its forward-thinking approach.

Breaking free from traditional Agency Management Systems (AMS), GreenWave liberates insurance professionals from dependencies and associated risks. Commissions are safeguarded in a separate, secure system, empowering advisors to operate with confidence knowing their
earnings are protected. Relying solely on AMS can introduce risks associated with commission tracking. Discrepancies, manual errors, and lack of real-time data can lead to financial inconsistencies and trust issues between BGAs and their partners.

Leveraging the power of automation, GreenWave unlocks a new era of data collection. Gone are the days of manual struggles. Through advanced technology, agents access real-time data from manual sources effortlessly. This data-driven approach empowers them with comprehensive insights for informed decision making, driving success for their clients and themselves.

One of the key advantages lies in its seamless outsourcing services. Commission reconciliation becomes a breeze, freeing up valuable time that can be used to focus on nurturing client relationships and growing their businesses. When choosing an outsourced partner it is always vital to understand the capabilities of people, process and technology. By partnering with companies like GreenWave who have enterprise software, dedicated commission experts and world class technology the decision becomes simple.

Complementing their innovative services is the industry’s leading book by CEO Slava Isayev—Commissions Management Secrets. A valuable resource for industry professionals seeking to optimize their commission strategies, Slava’s insights provide invaluable knowledge for navigating the dynamic landscape of commission accounting helping clients achieve their goals. However, GreenWave’s vision extends beyond the present. It pioneers the future with its embrace of blockchain technology. By leveraging this decentralized ledger system, GreenWave and others will enhance commission transparency, trust, and speed of processing in the insurance industry. Such forward-thinking ensures that their clients are prepared for the digital transformation of tomorrow. GreenWave is committed to revolutionizing commission accounting. As they lead the charge into a new era, GreenWave’s services transcend the ordinary and set them apart as pioneers in the field.

With a dedication to a future-oriented mindset and a focus on client success, GreenWave pioneers the path for commission accounting’s evolution. As the insurance industry navigates unprecedented changes GreenWave is the guiding force, propelling their clients towards a secure and prosperous future. By embracing innovation, automating data collection, and empowering advisors, GreenWave leaves an indelible mark on the commission accounting landscape. Clients, partners, and industry professionals alike are eager to explore the possibilities that GreenWave’s vision offers.

With the dynamic insurance landscape and InsurTech constantly evolving, GreenWave’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technology and industry trends ensures their clients always receive the best service possible. In embracing the new era of commission accounting, GreenWave sets a benchmark for the industry. Their vision for a more efficient, secure, and prosperous future for insurance professionals is truly transformative. With each innovative step they take, GreenWave reinforces their position as leaders, trailblazers, and partners in their clients’ success.

To get a copy of Commission Management Secrets or learn more about how you can benefit from a new approach to commission accounting, visit https://greenwavecommisions.com or purchase the book on Amazon.

New Method of Getting your Commission Data
PaperClip this year launched Mojo for Commissions. Known for their document management and document exchange technology used by life BGAs, PaperClip has made significant traction in the industry with their Mojo product. Mojo is an innovative platform that turns documents into data using machine learning and crowdsourcing.

For years, the consolidation of commission reports across product companies has been a laborious process lending itself to human error. Commission statements are unstructured reports, variable in nature, with different presentations and nomenclatures across manufacturers and products. Populating commission databases is labor intensive, requires training personnel for data entry, is subject to human errors, and lacks scalability requiring higher human capital costs. This results in delayed reporting and payout of commissions.

Example: An organization processes on average 725 commission statements per month for 45,000 transactions. Each commission statement is manually downloaded from their respective sources. Using three FTEs, the entire process takes 104 days to achieve reporting and pay out. Estimate $40K ($16/hr.) cost in labor.

PaperClip’s Mojo takes their proven “straight-through process” model to a new level of automation and accuracy for unstructured documents. With Mojo you can onboard commission statements seamlessly, eliminating the need for facilities, human resources, security, training, and more. Estimate—$8K Mojo cost for the same volume. Mojo offers an 80 percent cost saving and a 95 percent reduction in time to process (minutes not days), and near real time flow of commission data ready to report and pay out.

The Result

  • Mojo saves valuable resources by capturing data across disparate commission statements and normalizing it into a single format for ingestion.
  • Organizations avoid typing, indexing, and human errors in favor of having Mojo automatically file both data and images into the Paperclip Virtual Client Folder document management system.
  • Mojo processes commission statements near real-time giving a higher level of service to your producers.
  • Mojo’s machine learning technology digitizes, transcribes, and interprets data fields supported by human verification to achieve true accuracy.
  • Mojo offers the Zero Trust Architecture highest level of data security with SAFE, beyond encryption.

Agencies who have used Mojo for commissions have had great success in saving time and money. An example of what an agency said (summarized): “The biggest benefit for us is that this process cuts some of the time we spend manipulating the csv/pdf that is provided to us by the carrier. All statements from the carriers need to be in a similar format so we can import it into our AMS so this is a big help.” Visit PaperClip.com for more information on Mojo for Commissions.

The Future of Commission Accounting Creating a New Ecosystem
The biggest issue with commission accounting for insurance carriers, distributors and advisors today is that the ecosystem is broken specifically in the independent brokerage space. Let’s start at the beginning of the process which is to contract agencies and agents. This is mostly a paper process with no workflow or rules. Building hierarchies and assigning commission levels has no approval or validation process today. If you walk back a step further, both carriers and distributors need to build these commission schedules into their commission systems. Carriers need commission schedules to pay commissions and distributors need commission schedules for commission reconciliation to verify they got paid correctly. If the average life BGA works with 30 carriers, and an average of 10 products per carrier, working with about four hierarchy levels per carrier equates to a lot of data that needs to be input and maintained to keep these commission schedules up-to-date. If the carriers and the BGAs both need to create these schedules into their respective systems, that looks like a lot of redundancy.

The second problem is validating the commission data. A carrier sends commission statements in multiple formats either directly to the AMS vendors (in multiple formats like an ACORD 1206 transaction or CSV), to their websites or in a PDF document. It’s like the Wild West, there are no controls or validation processes. This results in mistrust between the carrier and their distributors.

The solution is building an ecosystem that uses Blockchain technology and SmartContracts: For reduced cost and speed-to-market a private Blockchain should be built on existing technology such as IBM. Executing SmartContracts, commission statements, commission detailed transactions, and payment information will be the workflow on the Blockchain. The Blockchain nodes would be modeled in groups such as carriers, distributors, and groups of advisors. SmartContracts with commission schedules for carriers to run micro services to validate commission payments, and distributors to do commission reconciliation. The SmartContracts which is programming code that has rules for hierarchies, onboarding agents, will have an approval process. These SmartContracts will be reusable templates. The process will have the ability to attach and send contract documents. A Blockchain Viewer will include features such as viewing agency/agent contracts, commission schedules, hierarchies, commission statements, commission transactions, reporting, and accounting functionality. Commission data will be validated before it is put on the Blockchain. The data is very secure with specific permissions of what data the user can access.

All vendors, carriers, distributors, and advisors will benefit and participate on the Insurance Commission Blockchain. This has been a pet peeve of mine for many years. This is why I have designed this solution at InsurTech Express calling it the “IE Commission Blockchain for Insurance.” We are seeking funding to build out this new ecosystem for commission accounting. Learn more by visiting InsurTechExpress.com.

A New Era Of Cancer Screening And Life Insurance

At the Insuretech Connect conference (ITC) in Las Vegas last year, I had the opportunity to meet with one of my clients, Munich Re. During our discussion they informed me about their partnership with GRAIL, a healthcare company whose mission is to detect cancer when it can be cured. This collaboration aims to introduce GRAIL’s groundbreaking Galleri® test, which is a multi-cancer early detection test, to the life insurance industry in the United States.

“As a leading life reinsurer, we believe we have a responsibility to society to help advance early detection and treatments that produce better outcomes for cancer patients. At Munich Re, we are incredibly proud to embark on this journey with GRAIL to bring its pioneering Galleri test to the life insurance industry.” Marc Giguere, president and CEO, Munich Re Life US.

The Galleri test, through a simple blood draw, has the capability to detect a signal shared by more than 50 cancer1 types and predict the tissue type or organ associated with the signal to help healthcare providers determine next steps. Galleri can do this by checking for more than 100,000 DNA regions and over a million specific DNA sites to screen for a signal shared by cancers that could be hiding.2 The test looks for cell-free DNA and identifies whether it comes from healthy or cancer cells. DNA from cancer cells has specific methylation patterns that identify it as a cancer signal. Methylation patterns also contain information about the tissue type or organ associated with the cancer signal to guide next steps.3

To be eligible for the test, individuals must meet certain criteria based on age or family history of cancer. Fortunately, I qualified on both counts and was also fortunate enough to get a prescription and receive a complimentary test. Last year my test results came back negative, which was a relief, but I plan to take the Galleri test annually.

Now, a year later, the progress that GRAIL and Munich Re have made is impressive. They have a number of partnerships underway, with M Financial and John Hancock being the most public. In February, John Hancock announced expanded access to customers participating in their Vitality PLUS program. The key takeaway here for me is that Munich Re, GRAIL, and its carrier partners are making headway in adopting Galleri into the life insurance industry. Meaning achieving milestones such as the cost-benefit of detecting cancer early, securing approval from state regulators and ultimately getting Galleri tests in the hands of policyholders. As an advocate of innovation, I’m thrilled to see this convergence of financial services and biotechnology resonate in our industry and with our clients.

“The initial pilot exceeded our expectations in terms of the number of tests requested, validating our hypothesis that our customers want access to this level of insight into their health. It was always our intention to expand beyond the pilot phase and we are thrilled to see this version come to life.” Brooks Tingle, president and CEO, John Hancock.

So, what drove this unique collaboration between GRAIL and Munich Re? In my view, the goal of anyone in the life insurance industry should be to help their clients live a long and healthy life. And here is the key point—the Galleri test represents an opportunity to impact the status quo of cancer and potentially the life of the insured. Today, there are five recommended cancer screening tests4 and around 70 percent of cancer deaths are caused by cancers without recommended screenings.5 Adding Galleri can help screen for more cancers, including cancers that do not have recommended screening.1,6

This gap in recommended screenings relative to cancer deaths is the key opportunity for the life insurance industry. Also consider that over 600,000 American lives are lost to cancer each year,7 which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic when 9.4 million people missed their cancer screenings in the U.S. according to American Cancer Society. That was just in 2020.

This backdrop of cancer gives way to the strategy of Munich Re and GRAIL for life insurance. In a Munich Re published article titled Changing the future of cancer mortality, they state that, “By drastically increasing the number of cancers that can be detected through screening, Galleri® has the potential to transform the future of cancer detection leading to early intervention and higher rates of survival. Partnering with GRAIL, the life insurance industry has an opportunity to improve mortality by bringing early cancer detection testing to a large population of life insurance policyholders.” Munich Re also includes the following benefits in offering Galleri: Mortality reduction for in-force populations, sales growth in competitive channels, stronger policyholder engagement and enhanced brand positioning.

This breakthrough ability to screen for more cancers has not gone unnoticed. TIME included the Galleri test in its annual list of the Best Inventions, which features 200 extraordinary innovations changing our lives. TIME’s editors wrote: “The result is a list of 200 groundbreaking inventions (and 50 special mention inventions)—including life-mapping artificial intelligence, diamonds made from excess carbon in the air, and the most powerful telescope ever—that are changing how we live, work, play, and think about what’s possible.”

Another aspect of Galleri that’s worth noting is the user experience, as obviously not everyone is getting a comped test at ITC like me. Patients can request Galleri online through an independent telemedicine provider from PWNHealth. If prescribed, a Galleri kit is shipped and then a blood draw needs to be completed through one of GRAIL’s laboratory partners or they can request a phlebotomist to come to their home. The test results then are available in about two weeks after the sample is received at the GRAIL lab. This means with Galleri you can get screened for a cancer signal shared by over 50 cancers without leaving your home. To me this is such a win from a consumer experience perspective.

How are the results delivered? There are two possible test results: No Cancer Signal Detected or Cancer Signal Detected. If Galleri detects a cancer signal, the result will include one or two Cancer Signal Origins which predict the tissue type or organ associated with the cancer signal. Results are communicated electronically or from the healthcare provider that prescribed the test.

GRAIL will be showcasing their advancements at the upcoming NAILBA Annual Conference in November, where they will also be delivering a presentation. I had the opportunity to meet with the GRAIL team, who provided me with additional information about this first-of-its-kind multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test and its integration into the life insurance industry. If you want to learn more or hear from some industry leaders about Galleri and life insurance, go check out https://www.Galleri.com/LifeInsurance.

More to come, stay tuned!

References:

  1. Klein EA, Richards D, Cohn A, et al. Clinical validation of a targeted methylation-based multi-cancer early detection test using an independent validation set.Ann Oncol. 2021;32(9):1167-77. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annonc.2021.05.806.
  2. Liu MC, Oxnard GR, Klein EA; et al. for CCGA Consortium. Sensitive and specific multi-cancer detection and localization using methylation signatures in cell-free DNA. Ann Oncol. 2020;31(6):745-759. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annonc.2020.02.011.
  3. Thierry A, El Messaoudi S, Gahan P, et al. Origins, structures, and functions of circulating DNA in oncology. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2016;35:347–76. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10555-016-9629-x.
  4. US Preventive Services Task Force. Recommendations Cancer. Accessed 7Mar2023. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/topic_search_results.
  5. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2022. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2022 https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2022.html. Data on file GA-2021-0065.
  6. Schrag D, McDonnall CH, Naduld L, et al. PATHFINDER: A Prospective Study of a Multi-Cancer Early Detection Blood Test. Presentation at European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress September 9-13, 2022; Paris, France.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/costs/index.htm.

Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

Uncovering Customer Insights And Connecting Touch-Points For Sales And Customer Success

As a regular contributor to the Broker World Tech-Tock… column, my aim is to keep you informed about the latest technologies, introduce unfamiliar platforms, and shed light on the evolving landscape of Insurtech. In this article, I want to emphasize the importance of diversification and avoiding over-reliance on a single solution. Let’s begin by examining the case of Commission Accounting and Agency Management Systems (AMS). While some solution providers offer a modular approach to back-office software for carriers or BGAs, it’s crucial to consider tailored options when selling Medicare Supplemental insurance for example. The one-size-fits-all model for AMS may not yield optimal results. Instead, opting for a platform specifically designed for a particular line of business, such as life vs. health, is likely to prove more effective.

In the realm of life insurance, the ability to measure and track the production of insurance producers is of paramount importance for both carriers and life brokerage agencies. By analyzing various metrics such as premium, territory, and product-specific performance, stakeholders can gain valuable insights that drive informed decision-making, optimize resource allocation, and ultimately enhance overall business outcomes. One key aspect to measure is the premium generated by life insurance producers. This metric provides a clear picture of the revenue generated by individual producers or teams. By tracking premium production, carriers and brokerage agencies can identify top-performing producers and reward their efforts accordingly. Simultaneously, it allows them to identify underperforming areas or producers that may require additional support or training.

Another vital measurement lies in analyzing territory-specific metrics. Understanding the geographical distribution of production helps identify regions with high growth potential and those that may need more attention. It enables carriers and agencies to allocate resources strategically, directing sales efforts towards untapped markets or specific territories that show promising results. Additionally, territory-specific metrics allow for effective performance benchmarking among producers operating within the same region, fostering healthy competition and driving growth.

In addition to premium and territory, measuring production by product and line of business provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of different offerings. Life insurance consists of various products tailored to different demographics and needs, such as term life, whole life, or universal life insurance. By examining production metrics for each product, carriers and agencies can identify the most successful offerings and adjust their sales strategies accordingly. This helps streamline marketing efforts, optimize product portfolios, and ensure that producers are equipped with the right tools and knowledge to effectively sell specific lines of business.

Moreover, tracking metrics in general, such as conversion rates, persistency, and customer satisfaction, provides a comprehensive view of producer performance and overall business health. These metrics shed light on key areas of improvement, enabling carriers and agencies to implement targeted training programs, refine sales processes, and enhance customer experiences. It also facilitates the identification of emerging trends and market shifts, allowing for proactive adjustments to stay ahead of the competition.

Measuring the production of life insurance producers by premium, territory, and product-specific metrics is crucial for carriers and life brokerage agencies. These measurements enable informed decision-making, strategic resource allocation, and optimized sales strategies. By leveraging such insights, stakeholders can maximize productivity, identify growth opportunities, and deliver exceptional customer experiences, ultimately fostering long-term success in the dynamic landscape of the life insurance industry.

Where are my customers and what do I need to know about them?
At a LIMRA conference this year, I met Xi Zhao, CFA from Spinnaker Analytics. The following week I saw a demo of their products via Zoom. There were many product solutions crossing several industries. Of course, I was interested in those products that focused on insurance. Spinnaker Analytics has been driving insurance sales growth for carriers and brokers for more than two decades. Headquartered in Boston, Spinnaker has deployed its solutions globally.

Spinnaker perfectly blends the science of data-driven insights and powerful AI algorithms with the art of brokers’ sales prowess. Its data scientists have extensive insurance experience, and Spinnaker has built up best practices and a proven toolkit of algorithms and methods honed over long-term successful deployments. But they don’t just deploy solutions, they bring clients along on the growth path through their consultative support and insights. Spinnaker has been in the Insurtech market before there was an Insurtech industry.

Spinnaker uses a proprietary rapid prototyping method to develop insights within days of receiving your data. They have a unique iterative approach which combines producer data with external data collected and curated by Spinnaker over the last 20 years. Spinnaker then applies cutting-edge and powerful algorithms to generate insights. Best of all, they do so while collaborating actively with business and IT leaders, and have successfully executed hybrid resourcing to optimally leverage both in-house and external capabilities. Spinnaker capabilities continue to grow by embracing emerging technologies. For example, Spinnaker is responsibly integrating generative AI into their client-based solutions as appropriate.

Spinnaker has a growing portfolio of insurance solutions which are easy to customize and deploy:

  • Sales Prophet™: Combine market sales and inforce data with client data to identify sales opportunities, and expand distribution footprint with intelligent producer recruiting and redesign territories.
  • Lead Prioritizer™: Predict app outcome and placement propensity by carrier.
  • Cartalyzer™: Dynamically recommend products and carriers tailored to individual clients, including cross-sell or upsell opportunities.
  • 4Qast™: Accurately forecast sales and revenue and identify areas of shortfall for remedy.

Spinnaker also has solutions addressing staffing, unit costs, underwriting, lapse prediction, and others. Spinnaker also creates customized solutions tailored to specific client priorities. A leading carrier deployed the Lead Prioritizer™ to identify attractive customer attributes to grow prospecting, marketing, and sales. Sales grew 40 percent over two years without adding to distribution or underwriting staff. A leading distributor deployed the Sales Prophet™ to increase sales in current territories while expanding in underserved markets through targeted agent recruiting. This enabled leadership to redesign territories and reassign sales goals to improve sales efficiency and effectiveness. The company grew sales by 20 percent while trimming down its fixed expenses. A life and health carrier significantly streamlined its budgeting and planning using 4Qast™, which improved sales and revenue forecasting accuracy to over 98 percent.

Spinnaker Analytics are results driven. You can see by the testimonials like, “The Sales Prophet™ is awesome—they knocked it out of the park!”—Head of Distribution, life insurer,“When I want correct answers quickly, I call Spinnaker.”—CEO, HNW brokerage, “Their algorithms are worth their weight in gold.”—CEO, life insurer, “We grew sales 30 percent without adding any headcount because Spinnaker’s solution allowed us to work smarter.”—Head of Employee Benefits insurer. With Spinnaker Analytics, brokers can harness the art and science of data analytics to unlock untapped opportunities and drive profitable growth. Visit Spinnaker at https://www.spinnakeranalytics.com or contact them at info@spinnakeranalytics.com.

Connecting Each Touchpoint on the Sales and Customer Success Journey
Built for the health insurance ecosystem of insurers, distributors, and members, Trusty.care is the end-to-end sales enablement platform that uses technology, data collection, and analysis to improve acquisition, lifetime value, member satisfaction, and payment integrity to get everyone into the right-fit plan. The modular approach seamlessly connects data, teams, and members to optimize your sales processes. Each module is powerful alone, even better together.

Trusty Select Pro is a power broker and customer sales platform from first touch to tailored plan-matching to direct enrollment. It’s an all in one platform that includes quoting and direct enrollment, bulk plan reviews, email notification, and call recording. It also has Blue Button 2.0 technology that connects members’ CMS health data automatically. There is flowing data between sales processes which reduces cost and increases efficiency.

Trusty Back Office Pro tracks and manages complicated commissions and business analytics to support sales, go-to-market strategies, and improve payment integrity. It also increases efficiency and accuracy. The platform is designed to improve broker relationships, alliances, and recruitment. It also focused on retention and damage disenrollment. Metrics are at the core of the system by measuring profitability, assessing top producers, identifying sales opportunities, and estimating future sales projections. It’s standalone or seamlessly integrates with legacy systems.

Coming next year in the Fall of 2024 they are releasing Trusty CRM Pro which manages and nurtures leads. It will run industry specific campaigns, integrate with existing enrollment and commission platforms. Visit https://www.trusty.care/.

Life InsurTech Growth From Producer Licensing Automation To Life Fulfillment Platforms

I attend multiple industry conferences every year, focusing on both life insurance and technology. These events provide opportunities for solution providers to showcase their products and services through exhibitions, speaking engagements, and sponsorships. Among the exhibitors I’ve come to know over the past two years, AgentSync stands out. They offer a cutting-edge insurance infrastructure that effectively connects carriers, distributors, and agents. I’ve consistently heard positive feedback about their solutions for streamlining the onboarding process of carriers, distributors, and producers for licensing and appointments. My aim is to introduce another solution that enhances efficiency and reduces costs within the life insurance sector.

During my recent visit to the Life and Annuity Conference in Salt Lake City, UT, organized by LIMRA, LOMA, ACLI, and the Society of Actuaries, I had the opportunity to explore various booths. At the Zinnia booth I learned about an exciting development: Zinnia had recently acquired Policygenius. Formerly known as Se2, Zinnia is a prominent company specializing in life and annuity technology and digital services. Policygenius, on the other hand, has demonstrated astute decision making by focusing on innovative InsurTech solutions for both back-office and front-office operations. As an industry influencer, I am particularly interested in understanding their new platform, Policygenius Pro. To gain insights into the platform’s features and the advantages it offers to distribution, I reached out to my contact at Policygenius for further clarification.

I want to conclude this article about the growth and evolution of technology. I know many advancements originated from COVID, but AI and the next generation who are needing life Insurance is a big driver. This is why I keep saying there is a hybrid approach.

Managing producer licensing (the right way) is time-consuming and expensive
For all but the smallest of insurance agencies and brokerages, managing state-by-state and LOB-by-LOB producer licensing is a hassle you know all too well. Tasks that were simple when you only had one or two agents working in a single state turn into complicated and time-sucking jobs as your insurance business grows.

Managing appointments, license validation, signatures, onboarding, renewals, tracking continuing education credits, off-boarding producers—and more—are some of the challenges that undoubtedly consume more of your agents’ and other staff’s time than anyone would like.

Time equals money, particularly for revenue-generating roles like producers. If it takes too long to get producers onboarded and legally ready to sell, the business suffers and the producers themselves aren’t happy. At a time when experienced insurance producers are retiring from the workforce and those still around have their choice of brokerages to work with, it’s no question that they’ll choose the organizations that provide the easiest, fastest, and most modern onboarding experience.

Then there’s the cost of human error. Not only are manual, repetitive tasks a poor use of everyone’s time, they’re also subject to mistakes. Even what seem like small typos or oversights can end up getting your agency or brokerage into regulatory hot water or an E&O claim—both of which can get costly in dollars and in reputation.

Automating compliance with modern technology saves money
Now, imagine you could wave a magic wand and simply rest assured that every producer has a valid license and the necessary carrier appointments while your administrative and operational staff have all the information they need to onboard producers and manage license renewals—without a paper chase.

Automating producer license management with the right tech solution can make this dream come true.

For insurance brokerages looking to remove the cost, time, and hassle from producer license management, AgentSync offers a new breed of compliance management solutions. Just a few of the ways it helps reduce costs for agencies and brokerages include:

  • Minimizing human touch in the producer onboarding and license management process: Producers enter their own information once and it’s populated everywhere it needs to be without repeat entry.
  • Real-time integration with NIPR, the industry’s single source of truth: On a daily basis data is pulled, synced, and pre-populated where available, to remove even more manual entry. Your team is also alerted if there’s a concern about any producer’s status.
  • Ongoing compliance checks avoid accidental non-compliance: Onboarding isn’t the only time you need to make sure producers are compliant. Automatic checkpoints, for example, at the time of a sale and before a commission is paid, can save your brokerage from unintentional compliance issues.
  • Freeing staff from the impossible task of keeping up with changing regulations: With insurance regulated on a state level, additional federal regulations, and new LOB-specific rules popping up all the time, a system with these regulations baked in eliminates any chance of missing a law that impacts your producer force’s compliance.

AgentSync provides a software-as-a-service that does all of this and more. At its core is the belief that compliance should never be an obstacle to growth. In fact, compliance should be so simple that you’re free to focus on every other aspect of your business while knowing your producers are right with their licensure, appointments, renewals, and more.

“Individual brokers are still the future of insurance, and your bottom line depends on getting them going and then getting out of their way,” said Niji Sabharwal, CEO and co-founder of AgentSync. “Making compliance an automatic background function delivers revenue, reduces risk, and makes it easier than ever to excel at your business.” Learn more about AgentSync at https://agentsync.io.

Policygenius Pro platform increases term life production
Policygenius Pro is a turnkey life insurance fulfillment platform that allows financial professionals and independent agents to offload the administrative burden of term life insurance fulfillment while staying in the loop every step of the way.

As an innovator in the life insurance space, Policygenius built an online insurance marketplace that combines cutting-edge technology with the expertise of real licensed agents to help consumers get the insurance coverage they need without the headache. Since the founding of the company, Policygenius has grown to be the largest producer of term life insurance in the country. Building on their custom-built CRM system, superior insurance products, and unique carrier integrations that have powered Policygenius’ success. Policygenius Pro launched in 2022.

To date, the platform has helped partners increase their term life production five-fold and reduced the time they spend on a term life insurance application by up to 88 percent. By leveraging Policygenius Pro, financial institutions can grow their term life offerings for their clients while offloading the cumbersome backend work that comes with term life fulfillment.

With Policygenius Pro, financial professionals can refer their clients for coverage in less than 60 seconds through an advisor portal or a co-branded landing page. The portal features two referral pathways: A simple drop ticket process and a refer with quotes option. The built-in quoting option allows advisors to review real-time quotes with their clients and explore options across product offerings, including fully underwritten and accelerated policies.

From there, a team of experienced non-commissioned agents guide the client through the application process from quotes all the way through to their in force policy. This includes scheduling any medical exams, completing the application paperwork, and collecting any medical records or requirements during underwriting. The referring advisor is kept informed throughout the process through a real-time case reporting feature and can jump in at any point in the process to check in with their client.

You can visit Policygenius Pro at https://pro.policygenius.com.

Significant growth in life insurance technology
Life insurance technology is experiencing significant growth and innovation in recent years, driven by various factors that have reshaped the industry landscape. There are many key reasons behind the rapid expansion of life insurance technology. The growth of life insurance technology can be attributed to its ability to streamline processes, improve customer engagement, leverage data analytics, offer personalized products, enhance distribution channels, and integrate with complementary ecosystems. As technology continues to evolve, the life insurance industry is poised for further transformation—delivering greater convenience, efficiency, and value to policyholders.

Technological advancements are transforming the sales process for life insurance, driven by the preferences of Millennials and Gen X. While these generations gravitate towards online interactions, they still value the guidance of insurance professionals. As a result, the industry is adapting by combining digital convenience with the expertise of agents. The hybrid approach allows customers to utilize online tools for research and policy selection while ensuring access to knowledgeable professionals or personalized advice. The goal is to create a seamless customer journey that meets the evolving needs of tech-savvy consumers, providing convenience and expertise in equal measure.

Mitigating The Risk Of Insurance Fraud

Technology creates many benefits in the life insurance sales process and in underwriting. It also opens up opportunities for fraud. I conducted an interview with Paul Marquez, vice president and Kevin Glasgow, VP of Investigative Solutions—both from Diligence International Group, LLC. Both Paul and Kevin are involved in mitigating the risk of insurance fraud, and I have asked them to help explain the types of fraud they are seeing and how to mitigate the risk. Let’s start with:

Why is it important that companies mitigate the risk of fraud? Afterall, isn’t the cost of fraud baked into the price of doing business?
Well, yes and no. Fraud costs everyone. Overall, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that fraud costs consumers over $308 billion annually. This has to be “baked” into the premiums we all pay for insurance coverage, or else insurers would go out of business. For life insurance fraud, it is difficult to put a number on the true cost for many reasons, but one is that it is difficult to detect if the deaths occur after the policy has been in force more than two years. Simply put, companies may be paying claims that they do not know are fraudulent, which makes the cost of fraud difficult to quantify.

I would also like to point out that companies that do not have strong controls will be targeted and will potentially pay a price much higher than anticipated, and certainly higher than competitors. We have heard stories of the same applicant attempting to purchase online policies with the same company over 20 times using slightly different parameters to find what will and will not kick out. We have also heard sales calls where the insurance agent is telling the caller the thresholds used by their company along with ways to get around other, non-financial, controls such as IP addresses.

From a public policy perspective, fraud shouldn’t be tolerated and, in fact, most states have requirements that insurers have fraud detection and mitigation plans to protect the public and the company against the financial impact of payments due to fraud.

Okay, so we now know that as consumers of insurance, we all pay for fraud. When you think of fraud, what types of fraud are there?
First, there are two main types of fraud: Opportunistic fraud and systemic fraud. Both are important to mitigate, but the impact on insurance companies and how they manifest are different. Opportunistic fraud, sometimes referred to as reactionary fraud, is in response to something that has happened to the proposed insured. Some examples include a recent change in health, financial issues, or legal issues. These tend to manifest as misrepresentations on an application related to these topics. Traditional tools to mitigate the risk of this include obtaining medical records and a paramedical exam. Today, we see more reliance on records from prescription drug warehouses and companies that aggregate lab results.

Systemic fraud, on the other hand, is pervasive, organized, and often more difficult to detect. Nearly all systemic fraud with life insurance involves an imposter posing as someone who is at high-risk for an early death. The applicant is not the insured although the insurance company is led to believe that the applicant is the insured. The result is the issuance of what is essentially a fraudulently obtained contract that is a wager on the insured’s early death. Perpetrators of systemic fraud are often well-versed in how life underwriting works, the tools used (along with their strengths and weaknesses), and how to get the death records to match so the death benefits will be paid. There are many organized groups and rings that study the insurance industry, test our methods, and then seize on opportunities when processes change.

I want to come back to this systemic fraud and how it is done. First though, I have to ask, has this changed since COVID, and if so, how?
The schemes themselves have not changed per se—we have seen wagering contracts and switched identities for decades. What has changed since COVID are the methods and opportunities for the schemes to succeed.

Can you elaborate?
Certainly. COVID was a catalyst to many changes in how insurance companies operate. Many of those changes were already in the development and testing phase when COVID hit, and then the changes were catapulted into the forefront when COVID hit.

Some of these changes include moving away from the traditional safeguards for mitigating these risks such as higher thresholds for medical records, paramedical exams, and agent involvement. In some cases, the requirements were eliminated entirely. This was a direct result of the difficulty in getting these requirements when business hours were reduced or closed, and social distancing was the norm.

We also began more automated solutions and accelerated processes which rely on new digital tools. These digital tools are effective in most cases, but they were not designed to defeat the type of systemic fraud we see as evidenced by the increases.

Top all of this off with the push automation for certain claims. Many companies are not requiring death certificates, and death records are easy to falsify.

This makes life insurance a perfect environment where there is little risk of getting caught, and even if one does, generally there are few legal ramifications if any.

You mentioned new, digital tools for underwriting. Do they work?
Yes, to a point. The new digital tools are great, but like all tools, they have their limitations. Prescription checks and lab checks do not have 100 percent coverage, and if someone is interested in defrauding an insurer, there are ways around detection which, for obvious reasons, would be inappropriate to share. Also, these tools are not adept at detecting the true identity of the person who is making application for the coverage. This is the biggest threat I see to the financial health of insurance companies

Can you expand upon that?
Sure. While we are seeing more health misrepresentations on applications within the claims we are investigating, we see the largest threat to be the systemic fraud from applications taken by people posing as someone else when applying for coverage. Fraudsters do this in a couple of ways. First, they can steal the identity of a person who is either ill or at a high risk of death. Once they steal the identity of this person, they pose as that person when applying for life insurance. The second way to do this is to create a synthetic identity.

Interesting. What is a synthetic identity and how can they be created?
Synthetic identities are made-up identities that do not represent a real person. They are fake, and this is hitting the financial industry particularly hard. Some prominent sources including the Federal Reserve Board and Forbes have stated that this type of fraud is the fastest growing financial fraud, and life insurance is not immune. To create a synthetic identity, the perpetrator must first choose the name, Social Security number, and date of birth that they want to create. They then apply for credit knowing the credit will initially be declined, but this creates a profile with the credit bureaus. Rinse and repeat. They continue to apply for credit, and as the application history builds, so does the profile of the synthetic identity. Eventually, they will get some level of secured loan which they pay off. This raises the credit profile. They continue borrowing and paying off the credit until they get it to the point that they perform a “break out” by taking out larger loans and then disappearing.

In the context of life insurance, they find an unidentified body and claim it as the synthetic person, or they simply falsify death records.

Detecting a synthetic identity is difficult because the perpetrators spend years cultivating them. Even the credit bureaus are having tremendous difficulty with this which is why we have heard and believe that some form of biometric identity verification will become standard for certain financial transactions in the not-too-distant future.

Of the two schemes, which is the most common?
As sexy and concerning as synthetic identities are, stealing the identities of people at high risk of an early death and then posing as that person when applying for coverage is by far the greatest concern. This scheme isn’t new. What is new is the degree in which it is occurring due to the reasons we have already discussed. As to synthetic identities, what is concerning is when the identity stolen has multiple synthetic identities, as described below.

Keep in mind that there are organized groups who perpetrate life insurance fraud and whose members will have multiple identities that are used for different purposes. A person’s medical records may have one date of birth, but the person has other dates of birth and social security numbers they use for other records such as life insurance, legal matters, etc. This allows fraudsters to circumvent current underwriting tools looking for prescriptions or lab results, as the identifiers provided on the application don’t match the identifiers on the potential records. It also becomes easy to switch identities at time of death so that the person who died becomes the person who is on the insurance policy, which has aged to the point where the claim is unlikely to be questioned. We’ve learned that in many cases, the information reported on death certificates has been self-reported to the funeral home by the insured’s “family.” In reality, the “family” are other members of these organized groups who provide the funeral home the identifiers that match the identifiers on the policy. Assuming the policy is outside the contestable period, the claim receives little scrutiny and the benefits are paid.

How can an insurance company protect itself from systemic fraud and wagering contracts?
The best way to mitigate the risk of these types of contracts is to know the actual identity of the applicant—not who they say they are, but who they actually are. Checking that the name on the application has a real credit record doesn’t stop this type of crime. Insurers have to identify the applicant despite who they claim to be. This is true whether the applicant is a sibling posing as someone who is involved in gangs or whether the applicant is posing as the patient whose identity they stole.

Knowing the applicant involves many factors including database verification techniques and knowing the actual location of the applicant—not the IP address, but the physical postal address where the applicant is. We also believe that biometrics will become the new norm in a few years. The financial industry is ahead of the insurance industry on this, but it is bound to happen. Biometric identification can take many forms including voice patterns, facial recognition, and even how a user interacts with their cell phone.

It is because of the fraud we see getting through underwriting that we developed Prodigi. Prodigi is a software suite of tools that was designed specifically to speed the life insurance application process while mitigating the risk of the type of fraud we see getting through underwriting today.