Tag Archives: baby boomer

Smart Tech Helps Older People, Too

New technologies offer insurers the opportunity to build more engaged relationships with their customers. Fitness-linked insurance programs, for example, are attractive to active people who have access to technology and a desire to use it. While wearables and apps are most closely associated with promoting physical fitness, technology is increasingly being put to use in lifestyle monitoring of the elderly and others in need of care.

Technology that is simple to understand and use works best. Some older people find the latest gadgets baffling. Even after a device has been set up and explained, they often have little confidence and remain skeptical of the benefits. Health problems make some devices hard to operate, while the cost and lack of access to technology is another barrier. Despite the challenges, the percentage of people using technology in later life is rising fast.

U.K. figures show that 75% of people 65-74 years old now have access to the internet and that more than one-third own a smartphone. Among the individuals over 75, one-quarter use tablets, and 41% have a social media account. Three-quarters of smartphone-owning older Americans use the internet several times a day or more. These numbers are all pretty close to those seen in much younger age groups.

It’s no surprise the baby-boomer generation is digitally engaged, but new technologies can also provide interventions for much older adults, and many of them are eager adopters. Aging populations create opportunities for products and services. The U.K. government has committed to invest in innovation to meet the needs that result from this demographic change.

See also: Insurance 2025: Smart Contracts  

Telecare and telehealth are technological interventions to deliver services at a distance from the provider. Smart homes, assistive robots, technology-based wellness and therapeutics can all promote an independent lifestyle for older people, not only providing for their physical and cognitive fitness but also entertainment, leisure and wellbeing.

There are reasons other than cost-saving for technological solutions to help older people remain independent, including assistance with everyday tasks compensating for lost physical or cognitive function. In Japan, where 25% of the population are senior, the predicted shortfall of caregivers by 2025 is likely to be met by nursing-care robots currently being developed with government backing. Caregivers also enjoy positive outcomes by experiencing less worry. For example, tracking how a person with dementia interacts with a virtual assistant device – the questions they ask it and how often, the tone and cadence of the voice – could help spot cognitive changes, as could analysis of onscreen scrolling and mouse movement.

Phones and tablets provide isolated people information and links to social networks for friendship, help and support. Technology sends reminders about medication. Sensors monitor sleep, kitchen activity and walking speed, and raise the alarm if a person has a fall. Behavioral data from self-learning intelligent software allows caregivers to analyze patterns of behavior, spot negative trends and intervene quickly.

Before insurers embark on building more digital engagement programs, it is important to know how they can appeal to the wide range of customers. It is important to maximize the potential for understanding how older adults perceive technology, and providing help with setup and support. In the Netherlands, several insurers now reimburse users employing home sensors, and others are experimenting with reimbursements on wearables. More will surely follow because technology might prevent hospitalization or worse.

See also: Solving Insurtech’s People Challenge  

Concerns remain over potential security and privacy risks that these technologies pose. Monitoring must be structured in an ethical way that is compliant with data laws, and there must be a person-centered approach ensuring tangible benefit for the person concerned. The pressure on health services is increasing as the numbers of elderly people continue to rise, and developed technologies that address these concerns can help reduce the overall costs of prevention and monitoring.

Renaissance of the Annuity via Insurtech

The notion of paying out an annual stream of income can be traced back to the Romans. It’s a simple notion and one of the earliest forms of wealth management. Today, the simplicity of that notion has been replaced by the complexity of the annuity product. Rooted in a time way before the iPhone, the conventional annuity looks tired in the digital world. It’s an old world approach long overdue for a refresh and reinvention. To explore this further, Rick Huckstep spoke with Matt Carey, CEO and co-founder of Blueprint Income.

It’s a different world now 

The baby boomers are retiring. When they made their plans for the future, the world was analog. Individual advice was based on human judgment, the personal touch and “trusted, expert” relationships. This was how the world of wealth management worked pre-internet.

However, today, for many U.S. boomers, the prospect of actually giving up work is still some way off. This recent U.S. study by the Insured Retirement Institute reported that as many as two in five of American baby boomers have nothing saved for their retirement.

Increased longevity and the massive decline in employer pensions in the 21st century are major factors behind the prediction that as many as half of Americans will not be able to maintain their current lifestyle.

The point is that the baby boomer generation, and Gen X for that matter, have shifted from creating retirement wealth through a lifetime of work to protecting what they have for now.

Which means that the wealth management target client has changed. It’s no longer a baby boomer market, or a Gen X market for that matter.

Now it’s the millennials who are the core client (target) base for wealth management. With 40% of the global adult population under the age of 35 years old, this is a generation who has only known a digital world in adult life.

Rise of the affluent millennial

But it is more than a digital divide that separates the generations. Millennials’ attitudes and behaviors to creating their own wealth are different, too. These differences are shaped by factors such as: debt-funded education, greater levels of social conscience and engagement, a broader world view and higher levels of self-employment.

Which is a challenge for the wealth management industry as it adapts to a different customer profile. Building a wealth management proposition for the millennial generation has to reflect the different demographics compared with baby boomers and Gen X.

See also: How Insurance Fits in Financial Management

There’s tons of research out there that reports how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the generations, even back to the silent generation. In this 2015 survey of more than 9,000 millennials across 10 countries by LinkedIn and IPSOS, they found;

  • millennials expect to be financially able to travel and see the world,
  • 60% expected to be wealthy (even though they earn about 20% less than the baby boomers,
  • they do not rely solely on wages for their income (trader by day, Uber by night),
  • and are more likely to carry debt than Gen X (repaying student debt has replaced saving for retirement),
  • nine out of 10 millennials use social networks for input on financial planning,
  • as well as being more likely to take advice from family members,
  • and are heavily influenced by their peers,
  • millennials are half as likely to be married compared with baby boomers at the same age,
  • they are seven times more likely to share their personal information with brands they trust.

The financial literacy problem

There is another dynamic that is important to consider when looking at how the wealth management industry serves the millennial generation. Financial literacy, or the lack of it!

The millennial generation may be more informed than their predecessors, but not necessarily in everything. They are more likely to know who Kim Kardashian is than to understand the impact of inflation on their savings over time.

In itself, there’s nothing new in this, but the fact is that the level of financial literacy in the U.S. has been dropping for years.

According to survey results by U.S. regulator FINRA, the level of personal finance literacy has fallen every three years since 2009. They found that 76% of millennials lack basic financial knowledge. Which is hardly surprising when only 14% of U.S. students are required to take a personal finance class in school.

See also: Raising the Bar on User Experience  

The FINRA survey also reported a massive gap between the level of financial understanding and the desire to have one. The survey found that 70% of adults aged between 18 and 39 years old “know they will need to be more financially secure, they just don’t know how to get there.”

What is clear from the survey is that this lack of financial literacy is causing stress and anxiety among millennials (who, remember, now account for 40% of the adult population).

For the rest of the article, click here.

get along

Why Can’t We All Get Along?

More often than not, a large property and business interruption insurance claim turns into an “us vs. them” scenario, creating a rough process for all involved. Not unlike a football game, someone is always trying to win and is willing to do so at any cost. As a forensic accountant for more than 20 years specializing in quantifying business interruption losses and documenting property claims for policyholders, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. The problem is that the process is designed to focus on disagreements.

We’ve heard the concerns from our clients and the insurers, and we can understand both perspectives. Policyholders accuse the adjuster of being unreasonable, trying to stick it to the policyholder at every turn. Insurers accuse policyholders of trying to take advantage of the claim in an attempt to get more than they deserve. The battles can become very heated, even on a personal level. Once, during a claim meeting on a large loss, the discussion between the parties intensified until an executive from the insured side of the disagreement ordered the adjustment team to “get out of my building!”

Disagreement in the course of a property insurance claim is an anticipated part of the process, but there are ways to keep it civilized and productive. It is possible to come to a fair representation of the loss without all the aggravation. The fix is really quite simple, but it will require the insured and insurer to take responsibility for their contribution to both the problem and the solution.

Here are some ways insurers can improve the claim process:

Take time to understand the insured’s business 

Too often the adjuster wants to appear to know it all. It is better to listen first and try to understand the insured’s position. Understanding your customer is common business sense.

Adjusters should have superlative people skills

A big part of an adjuster’s role is to coordinate with experts needed for a given situation. These are management and organizational skills. In other words, the adjuster does not need to know all the technical aspects of every loss and would be better served knowing more about how to manage people and deal with customers. Whether it’s from retiring baby boomers or cost cutting, there is a lack of well-trained and experienced adjusters.

Give the adjuster more control 

Even the best adjusters are impaired by the current claim process; Adjusters seem to have limited authority to make decisions. Policyholders find it pointless to explain their issues in great detail when the real decision maker is somewhere in the background. When pressed to make a decision, policyholders just throw their hands up. It’s difficult to make any progress when the adjuster has to get every little decision approved by superiors. To the insured, it just seems like a delay tactic to put off payment and only adds to feeding mistrust.

Here are some ways policyholders can improve the claims process:

Give the process a chance 

While there are many times you will experience some of the problems mentioned above, the process can work with the right people involved. Communicate with the adjuster and his or her team. Be responsive to all requests that are reasonable and appropriate and ask for clarification and address your concerns right away.

Maintain good relations with realistic expectations

Set realistic expectations for what you want, such as advance payments and resolution of differences. Though insurers are not obligated to finance a rebuild project, they should be willing to advance money to stay ahead of the cash expenditure. By maintaining good relations with the adjuster, insurers will be more open to working with – rather than against  you.

The best defense is a good offense 

On your end, be prepared and organized so you can require the same of the insurance company. You cannot withhold information until the last minute and then demand resolution and payment. The faster you answer questions and requests, the faster the insurance company can review them. Often times, it takes them longer to review the support you provide because they review the information in a vacuum. Don’t assume they understand what to ask for or what has been presented. Promote frequent meetings and discussion to make sure misunderstandings are not made part of their reports to underwriters. Once it is on the record, it is harder to change.

Escalate when needed

If issues start to arise that cannot be resolved, rather than letting it fester, escalate it to the markets involved. It is no different than speaking to a manager at a restaurant. It’s better to deal with decision-makers when action is needed. However, this should only be used as a last resort to avoid litigation.

The insurance claim process has its flaws. I don’t think it’s intentional but rather a result of how it has evolved. The best approach to improving the process is by recognizing the challenges with an “us vs. them” mentality and finding a way to work cooperatively through the claim. Both sides need to help to fix it so that more claims get resolved as they should.

life insurance

Selling Life Insurance to Digital Consumers

When we started PolicyGenius, an independent digital insurance broker, last summer, we braced ourselves for a high-speed education on the finer points of the consumer insurance market–and boy did we get it. We previously consulted for the industry, but even that doesn’t prepare you for all the work that happens on the ground, like filing for licenses on a state-by-state basis, or spending a holiday manually preparing and sending out illustrations because of a last-minute surge in quote requests. (Or dealing with fax machines.)

But learning all the nuances, even the bewildering ones, has been an amazing experience. It’s exciting to be involved in an industry right at the start of its transformation into the next phase of doing business.

We hung out our digital shingle in July 2014, and thanks to our smart shopping and decision-making tools, as well as some extremely positive exposure from the national media, we’ve enjoyed 30% month-over-month growth in our user base.

In the process, we’ve had 12 months to learn a lot about the modern digital insurance customer. Here are six takeaways that agents and carriers can benefit from.

1. Babies are still the No. 1 trigger for buying life insurance–which means there’s still plenty of opportunity to educate consumers about other equally important life events.

It’s no surprise that having a baby motivates a person to buy life insurance. Our own data shows that among customers who take our Insurance Checkup (our online insurance advice tool), the number of those who already have life insurance jumps by 20% if the customer has a child.

In a survey we commissioned last year, we found that consumers place insurance fourth in line behind saving for retirement, paying off debt and following a budget. Life insurance should be a key part of any long-term financial strategy, but a lot of people still don’t realize that. The survey also suggests people don’t recognize the financial challenges that accompany other big life events like marrying, buying a home, starting a business or becoming a caretaker for aging parents.

Our takeaway: Buying life insurance for your baby is a given. Now we need to focus on bringing these other invisible triggers to our customers’ attention.

2. Couples do it together.

A State Farm survey a few years ago found that 74% of people rarely talk about life insurance, in part because it’s an uncomfortable subject to bring up with one’s spouse. But we’ve repeatedly seen one half of a couple begin a life insurance application with us, and then shortly thereafter we get an application for the other half. In fact, around 20% of our life insurance applications have a partner application associated with them.

Our takeaway: Once an applicant sees how easy we’ve made it to shop for a policy, she decides to take care of her partner’s policy while she’s at it. It saves time, and it prevents couples from having to talk about the subject too much or revisit it again any time in the near future.

3. Digital insurance consumers are thoughtful shoppers who appreciate honest advice.

Our average customer spends 9 1/2 minutes exploring her PolicyGenius Insurance Checkup report. According to Adobe’s Best of the Best Benchmark report from 2013, the average time spent on a site in the financial services category is just more than six minutes!

Our takeaway: If you give the customer intuitive educational tools and advice tailored to her financial needs, and you don’t ask for anything intrusive in return (like a phone number), she’ll become more engaged.

We’ve seen this later in the shopping cycle, too, when customers look into the reputations of prospective insurance companies. But more on that below.

4. Digital insurance consumers are happy to do most of the work on their own.

If you’ve been a part of the insurance industry long enough, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Insurance is not bought; it’s sold.” In other words, industry veterans believe that you have to sell (and often pressure) consumers, who wouldn’t otherwise purchase on their own.

We founded our company on the theory that this isn’t true, and now we know that there are people out there who independently come to the conclusion that they need life insurance. We’ve found that customers who come to our site want to go all the way through the application process on their own, with no agent intervention. They self-navigate through decisions about coverage and carrier selection on our site, using the jargon-free content and tools we’ve built to make the path easy. It may not be as easy and fast as buying a pair of shoes from Zappos, but we’ve worked hard to make the process reliable and trustworthy.

But not every self-serve life insurance experience is smooth, which is why it’s important to have human help when needed. One client told us in a follow-up thank you that it was “comforting to have someone on my side in evaluating different insurance carriers and working to get me approved when the first insurer turned me down.”

Our takeaway: If you make insurance easy to shop for, you don’t have to focus so much on the hard sell.

5. Digital insurance consumers are not just Millennials.

Everyone likes to talk about the Millennial consumer these days, but we’ve discovered that the digital insurance consumer isn’t defined by any one generation. It’s true that Millennials (< 35) make up about 50% of our user base; however, Baby Boomers (50+) make up 20% of our user base, and Generation X (35-50)–who spend more online than Boomers do, according to a recent BI Intelligence study–fill out the rest.

Our takeaway: To reach such a wide range of online consumers, we have to focus on values that have universal consumer appeal–honesty, speed and self-service that’s backed by amazing customer support.

6. Insurer financial strength and reputation are important.

When you’re shopping online, you’re used to seeing reviews and ratings. It’s one of the ways online consumers compare products or services that they can’t see face to face.

Customers frequently ask us for insurance company ratings and customer reviews. And they ask for help choosing a carrier when all the ones they’re considering have approximately the same rating, or if customer reviews are inconclusive. We’ve been asked, “Who is the largest insurer or has been around the longest? I don’t want anyone that will go out of business.”

They take financial strength ratings, brand strength and reviews seriously, and factor them in when deciding which policy to buy. It’s so important that we’ve added one-page “report cards” into our life insurance quoting process to help answer these questions.

Our takeaway: Insurance companies don’t have to worry about digital platforms like ours commoditizing their policies and encouraging consumers to shop only on price. While price is important, it’s not the only factor that consumers consider when buying a life insurance policy.

As an industry, we still have a lot to learn about selling insurance to the digital consumer. And as an online broker, we’re still learning valuable customer insights from fellow brokers and agents throughout the industry. It’s true that everything we’ve learned in the past year has helped us confirm many of our initial propositions, but it’s also helped us better understand how to win over today’s insurance shopper. We can’t wait to see what the next 12 months brings.

What Millennials Demand as Customers

Those of us born in prior generations are used to certain innate complexities about insurance. We are almost immune to the thick stack of documents that accompany a policy. We’re not particularly upset about having to jump in a car to visit our insurance agent’s office to ask a question or pay a bill. We somehow are even understanding about delays associated with getting a claim adjustment or an appraisal completed.

But, in June, Millennial demographics crossed the chasm. Millennials exceeded a quarter of the population, passing the number of baby boomers. The question for business is, Are we ready? Do we truly know our new consumer; do we understand what they want, what they need, and what they like?

It seems obvious that generations get older and that things change, but did we miss the Millennial switch? Are we still stuck thinking about the customer of yesterday and today, or did we start to shift to meet the demands of the customer of tomorrow?

The Millennial consumer does not have our patience and understanding. This consumer has seen great companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and others consistently deliver on their promise by providing excellent service. Millennials demand the same in insurance – the speed and quality, simplicity and transparency, fairness and flexibility.

Millennial consumers do not understand why insurance has to be so complicated that it almost requires a degree in insurance to truly grasp it or why the policy cannot be acquired, managed and paid for easily online or over mobile. This consumer doesn’t understand when 24/7 service is not available and definitely does not understand when certain insurance activities take weeks to finalize. A Millennial knows that he can acquire money from any of his friends worldwide in a matter of minutes and does not understand when payments from a worldwide enterprise take weeks. Likewise, a Millennial doesn’t understand when claim information captured immediately during the incident cannot be delivered and reviewed in real-time and why almost every claim no matter how small must go through a process that could come out of a CSI episode.

As an industry, we are already too late. The industry finds itself experiencing a true generational gap between the insurance organization and the Millennial consumer.

What the new insurance customer demands requires more than just fine tuning of existing methods, technologies and business processes. There is a need to re-invent insurance as a whole, and innovative technology and products are the key.