Decades ago, as a Captain in the Air Force, I was given a diaper at my going away luncheon by a First Lieutenant who worked with me. She said it was to remind me to embrace change in my future undertakings. Even then, she recognized that change was difficult for me (as it is for most everyone else).
Remember when the airlines issued only paper tickets? When they started to move to electronic tickets – before cell phone apps were readily available, I wasn’t thrilled. Since I traveled almost every week back then, I asked my corporate travel agency to always issue me paper tickets. And they did. That worked fine until I forgot a paper ticket at my office and never realized it until I was running for a connecting flight. I got on the flight but vowed never to use a paper airline ticket again.
In our industry, whenever I have taken a life insurance or annuity application in the past, I always used paper. In fact, I’d take a couple of blank applications to the client meeting just in case I made a mistake. And I knew that my brokerage general agency (Zenith) would ‘scrub’ the application before sending it to the carrier so I was never too concerned about being 100% in good order (IGO).
A few years back, insurance carriers started to move to electronic applications and online accelerated or streamlined underwriting programs; but since they still accept paper, I stuck with paper. The idea of saving a few days in the underwriting process didn’t seem worth losing control by using these new processes.
That all changed in the past few weeks and now I’m sold on these streamlined processes.
I received a call from a prospective new client a few weeks ago whose 10-year term was expiring. He had just moved close to where I lived, and a friend referred him to me to help find him a new competitive term policy.
He told me he was in excellent health taking no meds, etc. I quoted a very competitive 10 and 20-year term product. The hitch? It was a product that required a complete online experience, including: submission utilizing eApplication, eSignatures and eDelivery. But the upside for him would be no medical technician visiting him to draw blood or collect urine. This process only requires a personal history interview (PHI), and motor vehicle and prescription drug database checks. He was pretty excited about this new streamlined process as it was a far cry from what he went through 10 years earlier. I still wasn’t completely comfortable, but my client was willing to try it, so I took the opportunity to familiarize myself with this new world.
My client decided on the face amount and policy duration, and we set up a time for me to take the online application. I could not believe how easy the process was. I just ran the quote on the Zenith Producer Portal and clicked “Apply” next to the term rate. For the first time ever, I didn’t have to ask for any intrusive medical-related questions. I didn’t have to ask his income. When I finished the input in about 20 minutes, I received a message that the application was in good order and ready to send to the client. He agreed to wait on the phone and almost immediately after hitting the ‘send’ button, he received the application. Within a few minutes he electronically signed the application and sent it back to me for my eSignature. Then it was sent to the insurance company electronically.
Now the big worry on my part: Will my client be happy with the process?
I told him that the insurance company will call in the next 48 hours and how important it was to take the call and make an appointment for the PHI. Otherwise the process could get slowed down. As part of the eApplication process, the insurance company also sent him a worksheet so he could capture the information they will ask beforehand such as current doctors, medications, etc.
My client emailed me the day he finished the PHI. I told him that it may be a bit of time before we get the results as I fully expected at least a week before I heard anything.
The next day, my case manager called to let me know that the insurance company issued a policy for him at the best nonsmoker rate class – as applied for. I was impressed! But not as impressed as my client! He couldn’t thank me enough for the quick, painless process.
A few days later, I received the policy electronically to review and then forwarded it to him. Within a few minutes, he paid the first premium by credit card and it was inforce.
I’m now a convert to the streamlined underwriting process. Sure, it won’t work for every policy you sell, but it will make your life easier for many of the cases you do sell.
It won’t be long before these programs expand to larger face amounts and ages, ultimately becoming the only way to submit new business. Please reach out to me or your Zenith Marketing brokerage representative to help you stay ahead of curve by walking through the use of an electronic streamlined underwriting process on your next case. You’ll be glad you did.
Michael S. Pinkans, CFA, is Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer for Zenith Marketing Group with headquarters in Freehold, N.J.
Investment adviser representative and registered representative of, and securities and investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC). Zenith Marketing Group, LLC is not a subsidiary of nor controlled by Voya Financial Advisors, Inc.