3Qs with Rowena Roy, Senior Director of Sales at Breathe Life

Q: Have life insurance carriers become more receptive to partnering with InsurTechs, especially since the onset of the pandemic?

A: Absolutely, I think the biggest change since our earliest conversations with carriers in 2018 is in the sense of urgency to modernize that has grown exponentially over the past year. Two to three years ago, carriers had accepted the need for digital transformation and had begun testing the waters, but very few had actually embraced change. 

Advisors, still the primary distribution channel for life insurance, were successfully selling directly to consumers in face-to-face conversations. While not perfect, these arrangements were ‘good enough.’ When the pandemic forced advisors to sell virtually, the cracks in this arrangement began to show. They then grew and ultimately forced insurance carriers to take action. 

At the same time, the pandemic brought new interest in life insurance. People scrambled to get their financial houses in order in the face of this existential crisis. As a result, younger consumers, the famous millennial generation, now want to buy life insurance. They expect to be able to make these types of purchases online – even if they are working with an advisor. 

For the first time, insurance carriers began to realize that the idea of selling through a single sales channel – the advisor – was outdated. In reality, life insurance sales today are a mix of live conversations and online experiences. These need to be seamless and personalized for both the consumer and the advisor. For the first time, carriers are asking us to help them understand the modern purchasing journey. They are looking for effective, technology-driven hybrid distribution strategies.

Q: Beyond distribution, are there other systemic changes that you are seeing in the life insurance industry?

A: Definitely, life insurance modernization isn’t limited to new business fulfillment. It’s an important piece of a bigger puzzle that insurance carriers are trying to solve. Most of the carriers we talk to are adopting a holistic approach to modernization that has implications across the business. In many respects, the insurance industry is going through a similar transformation as retail did with the rise of eCommerce. 

For example, we’re seeing insurance companies re-evaluate branding and brand-building strategies. They’re doing this to meet the needs of modern consumers. Likewise, product portfolios that haven’t changed in decades are getting a closer look to ensure alignment with modern consumer requirements. Instead of designing products to be purchased, it’s now about designing experiences first and foremost. This includes having the right products at the right time.

Insurance isn’t the first industry to undergo this type of transformation. However, it’s still very exciting to be part of the journey.

Q: You’ve been in the technology industry for twenty years or so, what are some of the secrets to your success?

A: Having a strong background in technology and digital transformation has been very helpful as I advise clients in the insurance industry, but at the end of the day it’s quite simple. I want my clients to be successful and feel honored to be part of these important conversations with insurance industry leaders. I really listen to what they are saying – what they are concerned about – and I think about how I can help mitigate risk for them by providing the right information or a creative solution. I’m also fortunate to be part of a great team, with a strong vision and high-quality product. 

Catch-up on past 3Q’s with this interview with Breathe Life Board Member, Maria Hancock.