I’m really not sure if it is indeed a trillion dollar opportunity, at least I have your attention now!
With so much talk these days about innovating to adapt to the needs and expectations of millennials, the insurance industry may be underinvesting in innovative solutions for seniors.
Sure, products targeted to wealthy seniors are common around the world, with most offering a large tax-efficient savings component. In some markets such as Japan, insurers have even tried to minimize medical insurance premiums by developing whole life products without a cash value.
However, I wonder if we are ignoring a much larger opportunity to serve the needs of the vast majority of seniors who are not considered wealthy – the rapidly increasing number of individuals working their way up population pyramids and increasing the dependency ratios of mature economies around the world. In fact, I’m not aware of any government not worried about how to efficiently keep seniors healthy and happy in the years to come.
Thankfully, innovators are bringing new technology solutions that address many of seniors’ primary concerns associated with aging:
How can I continue to live independently?
Record-breaking investments continue to pour into digital health companies, food delivery services, and IOT (internet of things) startups focused on keeping seniors independent.
Consider K4Connect, a technology company (and RGAX partner) focused on empowering older adults and people living with disabilities. K4Community, the company’s first product, is a tablet-based amenity that enables residents of retirement communities to automate their homes, report health updates to care providers, and keep in touch with their family and friends.
How can I ease the burden on my loved ones after I pass?
Today’s digital world creates new complexities for survivors when their loved ones pass away. In addition to the traditional aspects of an estate plan such as wills, medical directives and beneficiary designations, a modern plan must also help survivors navigate a maze of online accounts including banking, credit cards, retail, streaming video, social media, and household utilities. Just ask yourself – do you know your mom’s iPhone unlock code? Consider Everplans™, another RGAX partner, which has built an online guidance platform and secure digital vault to help seniors organize, store, and share all of the important information about their life and legacy so their family will have it when they need it most.
The Paths Ahead
So what paths will the insurance industry pursue moving forward? One possibility is developing products that dramatically reduce the cost of care for seniors and thus reduce premiums. Rather than paying a large amount once a senior qualifies for long-term care (LTC), perhaps we embed in our products technology that reduces the need for LTC. One example: an online “coach” that helps seniors choose the most efficient services for their situation.
We could also consider products that align incentives across generations. The more a senior spends on LTC, the less he or she will have to leave behind for loved ones. Meanwhile, the stronger the senior’s support system, the more likely he or she is to defer the need for LTC. Can we devise products that encourage relatives to visit seniors, provide some care, or regularly interact with them online? Could we give the senior the ability to easily allocate a death benefit to those that provide that support when they are alive?
Disruptive innovation in LTC has proven difficult in many markets. One reason may be a lack of meaningful discussions between the industry and government. This is unfortunate given that demographics are slow-moving and predictable – we all know where we are heading. Further discussion about the needs of the elderly could lead to senior-focused sandboxes or, better yet, tax incentives to provide private insurance.
A product that efficiently embeds the ability to help my 75-year-old self use latest-generation technology and incents my grandkids to come see me? Sign me up!