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Execs predict modest gains this year for life market

Insurance Forums Staff

Life insurance industry executives predict modest growth (between 1-5%) in 2018, according to a recent survey by LOMA’s Resource magazine.

The prolonged low-interest-rate environment, coupled with the high costs of replacing aging technology platforms and complying with new regulations, will continue to challenge profits. Survey participants also suggested new technology will continue to impact business strategy and results.

Growth could reach the upper end of the 1-5% range, according to survey participants, if the Trump Administration further curtails the DOL Fiduciary Rule. On the other hand, participants said the run-up of the equity markets, which is expected to continue in 2018, could hurt insurance sales because it can lessen the perceived need for protection and guarantees.

Bright spots identified by participants include steady whole life insurance sales, a surge in indexed universal life (IUL) sales, and the growing popularity of hybrid long-term care (LTC)/linked benefit products.

Sixteen senior executives from life insurers and consulting firms took part in the magazine’s 2018 Forecast for the Life Insurance Industry, giving their views on sales expectations, technology, customer service, human capital and other issues.

“I think the game changer is carriers’ ability to make instant underwriting decisions at fully underwritten prices,” said Tom Scales, research director, Celent and a Forecast participant. “A number of insurers are leveraging automated underwriting systems, in-house technology and mortality scoring systems to slash their cycle time to days, if not hours. This truly could bring life insurance more mainstream in financial services.”

Other insights from the 2018 Forecast include:

  • Industry executives now are eyeing the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain, smart delivery and more.
  • In today’s world, the life industry needs to deliver an Amazon Prime-level of service and trust along with full transparency, convenience, real time decisions and solutions tailored to unique needs of customers.
  • To attract and develop the kind of employees they need to be successful, insurers must demonstrate that they are innovative, interesting and in tune with the times.
  • Term life insurance could be a bright spot as insurtech players such as Bestow, Ladder Life and Haven Life seek new ways to get to potential customers through online and social media.
  • Solid economic and labor market projections will have a positive effect on group life insurance and long-term disability (LTD) sales.
  • Sales of annuities, especially variable annuities, continue to face headwinds. The outlook for annuity sales will depend, in part, on what happens with the DOL fiduciary rule, but will likely rebound.

The 2018 Forecast for Life Insurance is featured in the January issue of Resource. Read the entire article at www.loma.org/Resource.

About LOMA: Established in 1924, with 1,200 plus member companies in over 80 countries, LOMA is committed to a business partnership with its worldwide members in the insurance and financial services industry to improve their management and operations through quality employee development, research, information sharing, and related products and services. To find out more about LOMA and the learning opportunities it offers, visit LOMA’s Web site at www.loma.org.



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