It’s a new year, which means it’s a perfect time for fraternal life insurance carriers to take a hard look at where they can reduce expenses, increase operational efficiency and provide even better member service.
With that in mind, here are five resolutions that every fraternal – large or small, national or regional – needs to consider making in 2015.
1. Reach Millennials
This first resolution is no broad revelation; “Growing Younger” was, after all, the theme of last year’s AFA Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. That, however, only speaks to the importance of reaching a younger membership in a meaningful and sustainable way. There were 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 2000 – a massive (and largely untapped) marketplace.
Getting millennials interested, though, can be challenging. Too many see fraternal as staid or “something their parents did.” Additionally, their purchasing habits are significantly different from other generations; in many ways, they are technology buyers, rather than relationship buyers. Sitting down at the kitchen table with a 40-page printed illustration is far less likely to be effective with a millennial – if your agent can even get the appointment.
How, then, can fraternals reach this critical demographic? Unfortunately, there’s no single, clear-cut answer. Rather, it takes an organization-wide paradigm shift combining clever marketing, tech-savvy agents and a focus on system modernization. Put it this way: In most cases, what you’ve been doing has targeted Gen X, the Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation – and that’s not going to resonate with most 20- or 30-somethings.
2. Protect Yourself (and Your Data)
How is your organization storing critical policy data? How is it being backed up? On an internal server? On a mainframe? Not sure? In 2015, it’s time to take a hard look at your data security plan, and address extant (and potential) issues.
Here’s the cold, hard fact about policy data integrity: Unless you have a massive IT department and hardware that rivals Tier 1 data centers, do-it-yourself isn’t good enough. Few fraternals have the resources necessary to keep information safe from both loss and breach when it’s stored internally.
The old way to solve this issue was to invest heavily in both human resources and technology, spending millions on internal systems and processes that became obsolete in only a few years. Sound attractive? Probably not. Fortunately, there’s a better way: Outsourcing policy administration and other core (and non-core) systems to a proven third-party provider like Andesa Services. By using our hardware and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions rather than attempting to build your own, you gain access to highly secure, redundant infrastructure (and exponentially increase the size of the team watching it) with a minimum of risk and a cashflow-friendly payment model.
3. Increase Operational Agility
Operational agility involves things as large as bringing a new, millennial-friendly product to market and as small as an employee being able to access core systems on the road. A poor showing on either end can essentially cripple a carrier’s growth plans. Slow speed-to-market? Someone’s going to get there faster. Poor system access? Staff productivity is minimized.
Much like data security, improving agility on your own is difficult – and expensive. Bringing products to market on homegrown systems typically means bringing on new staff. Creating at-home or on-the-road access to internal solutions requires heavy-duty coding, system expansion and management of multiple vendors.
In order to meet this resolution, consider shifting policy admin and other systems to the cloud (utilizing the services of a trusted provider, of course). By turning to SaaS solutions for policy admin, illustrations and other key tasks, standing up new products is (relatively) easy – the environment is inherently more scalable than internal systems – and 24/7/365 access for authorized users is a given.
4. Improve Illustration Quality
The big carriers have invested millions of dollars in slick solutions designed to provide quick illustrations before the sale, as well as highly accurate in-force valuations. How can fraternals – often without the benefit of big development and IT budgets – keep up? Again, the answer hinges on third-party assistance … and the cloud.
The Andesa Illustration system, for example, is a SaaS solution designed to provide both pre-sale and in-force values for a wide variety of products, including term life, whole live, universal life and variable. And because it’s fully integrated with the Andesa Policy Administration system, all relevant data is drawn from a common engine – resulting in unprecedented accuracy across truly comprehensive reports, generated quickly and available however and whenever the agent (or end customer) wants them.
5. Give Them Access
The final 2015 resolution for fraternals revolves around that same concept of data accessibility. Especially for millennials (but increasingly for Gen X and Baby Boomers), it’s critical to offer self-service access to policy values, as well as the ability to perform simple policy maintenance and configuration at home, without contacting an agent. Such self-service is simply the norm today; members are used to being able to handle credit card balances, mortgage payments and investment options online. Why should their life insurance policy be any different?
With Andesa Services’ Self-Service Portal, it doesn’t have to be – and it doesn’t have to cost you nearly as much as it would to provide that access on your own. With the Self-Service Portal, members can see relevant data and make changes through an intuitive, customizable interface, accessible via modern web browsers. And because it’s fully integrated with policy admin and illustration solutions, data is accurate, up-to-date and actionable. It is, perhaps, the easiest way to level the playing field with larger competitors (and give today’s members the tools they expect).