It’s finally here—online tools for life insurance agents and clients to do basic tasks like change beneficiaries, look up paid-to-date information, see account values, and address changes without having to fill out a form or call a customer service phone number. It’s no longer a one-off but being implemented by most life insurance carriers today. You are also now seeing Artificial Intelligence (AI) chat tools for clients to get the information on their policies or to answer basic insurance questions on demand. Readily available for agents is new technology leveraging Big Data Analytics to analyze a policy resulting in new sales opportunities with products that better fit your client’s needs.
As an agent, you should do a review with your client on their life insurance policies at least once a year. Policy review should also occur when there is a life changing event or a family’s situation has changed, which could result in the need to increase or decrease coverage. Interest crediting rates on certain policies are much lower today than when the policy was first purchased. This can affect the future performance of your client’s policy, which could result in having to pay additional premium dollars to meet your client’s needs. Because people are living longer or if your client’s health has improved, then they may need to make an adjustment on their policy. On permanent insurance like universal life policies, loans and withdrawals and other changes to the policy, like premiums not paid as planned, may have impacted the current performance. Of course, if premiums have increased then you should do a policy review with your client. If the client is an owner or co-owner of a business and that business has grown or changed, then that is a compelling reason to do a policy review. Occasionally a life insurance company’s ratings or financials have changed, which may no longer meet your client’s risk tolerance.
The objective of the policy review is to do a thorough analysis of current insurance holdings vs. current needs. There are also industry and product changes to consider as well. I would recommend to carefully look at older life policies because of the way life insurance is designed today—the current changes in pricing, and how it’s medically underwritten, may have a significant difference in 2019 compared to five, 10 or more years ago. Also, you need to be up to date on the current tax, business and estate law changes. Higher life expectancies (mortality tables), lower interest rates and dividend crediting rates affect performance. There are new products on the market today to consider like indexed universal life products. Look at your client’s goals: If their goals are the same, is there a better insurance product for them today? If their goals have changed, then what’s available today to best meet those financial needs? For living benefit needs there are linked benefit products to consider. Should your client consider a way to financially maximize a policy he no longer needs by looking at a life settlement option?
Why Request an Inforce Illustration?
Over time the cash value and credited interest on permanent life products will be different with the inforce illustration than the original illustration. The inforce illustration will take into account the interest rate that has been credited to the policy and illustrate out future values based on the new current illustrated rates. For example, if someone has purchased an indexed universal life (IUL) policy and the cap rate has decreased, the new inforce illustration will reflect a lower interest rate than what was on the original. The original illustration might have used an 8.4 percent assumed rate of return, but now with a lower cap it might reflect a 7.12 percent as the new assumed rate for the future. It is important to remember that illustrations are just projections and the inforce illustration will show how the policy has actually performed and ballpark how it will most likely perform in the future.
Client Account Portal
Most life insurance companies have created self-service client account portals. Carriers like Prudential, John Hancock, Protective Life, and many others offer a client account portal with self-service functionality. Once the policy owner logs into the carrier’s website, they typically see their life insurance policy information overview: Product, policy number, insured name, death benefit amount, account values, policy owner, policy date, policy status, primary and contingent beneficiaries, and policy owner contact information. You can get a more detailed breakdown of the coverages such as riders for example. One of the key pieces of information is related to the premium starting with the paid-to date, current premium mode including premium payment history, receipt of last payment and the next scheduled premium due.
The typical self-service option begins with the ability to make a premium payment or setting up recurring payments doing an automatic draft “ACH” from the policy owner’s checking account. This includes managing payments like editing scheduled payments. Policy owners can update their mailing address online and change beneficiaries (primary and contingents). Services that require a signature, like for a change of owner for example, may require a form to be filled out and sent in, or many carriers are implementing secure eSignature to make it completely self-service online. All service requests or changes to a policy have status tracking online and automatic update notifications via email. If a form needs to be completed, then you can access forms from a form’s library. Copies of statements like annual reports on UL policies, tax forms, and notices that were previously mailed or emailed are also available on the client account portal to access. During my research I only found a few carriers that have a PDF of the life insurance policy accessible online.
If the life product was an indexed UL or variable UL, then some carrier self-service portals allow you to do reallocations, loans and withdrawals, index strategy selections and fund transfers online. Carriers are very good at providing FAQ’s, Online Help, Q&A Chat using AI, Customer Service contact information, and basic insurance educational media. If you have more than one policy or even a different line of business like an annuity contract, then they are accessible with a single sign-on to the carrier’s client portal for self-service management.
New Sales Opportunities—Vendor Inforce Management Platforms
It is expensive and time consuming to monitor inforce policies. Many sales opportunities are left on the table because they were missed. Agents are reactive hoping that their clients will contact them. A recent study* shows that:
- 41 percent of policies will lapse before the desired coverage duration.
- 13 percent of term policies have a conversion deadline in the next 12 months.
- Nine percent of policies are set to lapse or for the term to run out within the next five years.
- One percent of policies are set to lapse or for the term to run out within the next 12 months.
- 20 percent of policies have the potential to be sold through a life settlement.
Proformex is a platform built for the life insurance industry that revolutionizes inforce policy management for independent agents, advisors and trustees. Their life insurance policy management software provides powerful portfolio analytics, individual contract monitoring and easy-to-use policy review reporting tools, putting oversight and control within easy reach. Proformex helps you monitor, analyze and manage the performance of policies in a single, distribution-agnostic platform.
Proformex’s key features are:
- Automated illustration ordering.
- Client-ready policy reviews.
- Monitor policies and uncover issues.
- Complete portfolio visibility.
- Schedule premium reminders.
- Drill-down analytics.
Visit Profordex at www.proformex.com.
Another vendor is Insured Connect, which is a cloud-based platform that connects carriers, distributors, advisors and policy owners into a single ecosystem. Insured Connect’s platform is called “NIC” and it is comprised of four main applications for the four customers in the insurance distribution chain: Insurance carriers (“NICcarrier”), distributors (“NICdistributor”), advisors (“NICadvisor”) and policy owners (“NICpolicyowner”). The four applications create an ecosystem for the management and servicing of inforce policies. Insured Connect works behind the scenes as a “secure data transfer” partner, or “service bureau” to the industry, making it easier for insurance companies to push their data to one source while providing distributors and advisors with a single solution to access all their inforce business. NIC operates on a modern cloud-based and open architecture that enables carriers and distributors to integrate their apps, tools and business services, making it much easier for everyone to do business. Visit Insured Connect at www.ins-connect.com.
Life insurance policy management automation is not only providing value to clients and life agents, but also helps carriers reduce their policy service costs, eliminating paper and reducing phone calls while creating secure, quick and easy access to self-service tools. Resource platforms using Big Data can help clients analyze their current life insurance policy and recommend changes that better fit their needs and current goals often resulting in new sales opportunities for life agents. New emerging technologies, tools, and trends for Life Inforce Policy Management can be found at InsurTechExpress.com.