Millennials are not unreasonable, how we approach insurance is

By Traci Perrelli

Mar 30, 2017

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I know what you are thinking, ‘Yet another article about millennials’. ‘Millennials, millennials, millennials,’ said in my best Jan Brady voice (and if you get this reference you may likely not be a millennial by birth), but perhaps there is more to the millennial mentality than what is widely promoted. Every day, in every corner of the internet, a lot gets said about millennials. A sizeable chunk of this is negative, on the lines of how entitled they are and about how they are parents’ basement dwelling, lazy, selfie-taking, anti-social, narcissists who refuse to grow up.

But the truth is, the way millennials for the most part (and the millennial mindset) operate in the world, is significantly different from the earlier generations. In no less part, this is owing to the technological advances just over the last decade, specifically, the smartphone, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Millennials have come of age while experiencing the convenience of shopping online, getting same day or one-day free delivery, getting food delivered at their doorstep (whether the restaurant offers that service or not), being able to consume information and entertainment without limits and having a driver show up anywhere at a moment’s notice, no questions asked. All this without even having to utter a word. How then can insurance carriers still play by rules that are same old, same old. Business as usual at best will not touch them. At worst, an unbending industry could inspire a complete disruption by the brainchild of one of these – masters of access and workaround. At the very least, they will demand more, not just as millennial customers, but also as millennial agents and employees.

Millennials are special whether we like it or not

According to a study by Pew Research Center, millennials surpassed Gen Xers in the first quarter of 2015 to take over the largest share of the American workforce. Look around you – more than 1 in 3 workers today are millennial. As a population, they have surpassed the total peak size of the Baby Boomer generation coming in at around 75.9 million. As substantiated by U.S. Census Bureau this number continues to climb with immigrants increasing in numbers, not just making the demographic larger, but making our younger generations increasingly more diverse than any of our previous generations.

As customers, many millennials have already fallen behind in planning for their financial futures. According to a 2015 LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute study, 70 percent don’t know how much they ought to be saving for retirement, and only four in ten are putting aside at least 10 percent of their incomes. And these opportunities have only deepened in the following years as more and more have come of age with families, goals and needs of their own. Deloitte report titled Millennials and Wealth Management: Trends and Challenges of the New Clientele notes that millennials net worth is set to double now from 2015 with estimates ranging from US $19 to 24 trillion.

With data that shows millennials are active players in the workforce and that the benefits of financial planning and protections products increase for them every year, why are they still so elusive as customers, agents and employees to the insurance industry? Maybe the problem isn’t that they are entitled, self-centered and unmotivated. Maybe the problem is with how the insurance industry engages and behaves with them.

If you are not mobile, you are dead to me

Most millennials have an inseparable relationship with their smartphones and use them to search for product information, compare prices, read reviews, and even use them as the face-to-face meeting tool. Kitchen table meetings now take place over FaceTime. Bottom line is, if you do not have a significant mobile presence, then with this generation, you have no chance at all.

Mobile access would include the ability for your agents and customers to buy a policy on mobile to getting it serviced throughout the tenure of the policy. The ability to complete an insurance process from application to claim should not be bound by physical constraints or limited policy-centric views. Insurers need to ensure an addictive and informative experience across mobile and web. Consumers should be able to pick up from where they left on any device of their choice.

Given the right circumstance, almost 60% of America would rather skip the customer service agent entirely and solve the problem on their own. This number is the highest with millennials and lowest with Baby Boomers. Therefore, call center support too needs to pick up speed and insurers should consider adding live chat, SMS and enabling social media interaction to find favor with the younger customers.

It’s 2017 and paperwork should not exist

A life insurance application still takes an average of 30 days. The process involves lengthy medical examinations and a lot of back and forth between the agent and the customer. This is beyond reasonable not just for millennials, but also Boomers who are learning technology and have evolved in their expectations.

With the help of bio and genetics technology that exists today, an insurance advisor can take as little as a saliva swab or the customer can walk into a local care center or pharmacy for rapid blood and urine results, cutting underwriting wait times significantly.

Millennials are used to auto-fill of their information. Lengthy wait times and cumbersome form-filling interfaces have no place in this new customer’s journey. Chat bots and other digital interactions are becoming common place in most areas of life, exhibiting not just consistent and vetted levels of expertise but also certain levels of humor. Just ask Siri why a fire engine is red.

Millennials expect technology to just work. They similarly expect to have a digital process interwoven in their interactions with other people.

New-age companies have a scent of the millennial opportunity

Commercial insurance space has seen a lot of innovation in the recent times. New-age companies that rely on data science and design are making an impact. Lemonade, a low-cost renters’ insurance and Trov, on-demand insurance for valuables such as smartphones, laptops, cameras are noteworthy.

It won’t be long before innovation, or should I say disruption, knocks down the door of life insurance. Let me know if there are areas along this subject that you would like to see a deeper dive. I’d love to hear about the subjects you would like to see us explore and publish.