Sitting with a client and showing sales videos, clicking on an application app to enter personal information, taking the e-signature and the first premium, then with the tap of a finger, sending the applicant’s information to underwriting might seem like many years from now. However, providers in several overseas markets have recently made it a reality.
Tablet devices are fast emerging as powerful presentation and product sales facilitators for life insurance agents in markets around the globe.
Tablets customised for life agents have already popped up in Japan, Singapore and Turkey, providing seamless integration of the sales process, from presentation to application to quote to underwriting to delivery.
In Japan, two life insurers – Sony Life Insurance Co and Taiyo Life Insurance Company – have issued their sales forces with tablets that integrate the sales process.
Taiyo Life’s tablet, now being used by the company’s 9,000 sales representatives, allows them to take applications, send the information to the home office, and produce the electronic declaration form.
Sales people can facilitate the applicant’s medical interviews using the tablet’s video function. The only function not automatic for the Taiyo tablet is underwriting, but information is sent to the office automatically.
Last October, Sony Life distributed 5,000 tablets customised for its insurance agents as a piece of Sony Life’s ‘Co-Creation Project,’ a programme launched in 2012 that seeks to provide high-quality consultation services to each of its life insurance clients. The tablets, provide an end-to-end sales process that focuses on insurance as a piece of a customer’s overall life-planning needs.
Customers provide information about health conditions to the adviser, who enters the data into the tablet’s software. The platform permits e-signatures and payment, and includes Customer Satisfaction Management (CSM) software.
This synchronizes with an agent’s smartphone and tablet, and is designed to enable agents to update each customer’s life plan and financial condition.
AIA Singapore’s tablet-based sales system, designed for iPads, is a fully mobile end-to-end life insurance sales quotation system. Now in use by 3,500 AIA financial services consultants in Singapore, its point-of-sale technology allows multiple quotations to be generated based on customers’ specific financial and protection needs.
The system, called iPoS, automates the sales process by implementing electronic application forms and e-signature acceptance capability. iPoS integrates with the company’s iPad-tailored sales quotation system as well, enabling a full end-to-end electronic sales platform.
Singapore is one of the top tablet users in the world, with penetration at 42%, making the tablet platform potentially more attractive to customers. At least two more insurers in Singapore are reportedly developing iPad capabilities, while others in emerging markets are focusing on the Android platform.
AEGON Turkey has also joined the tablet fray. As part of its local ‘Advisor of the Future’ programme, the company in February 2013 rolled out software enabling end-to-end life insurance and pension plan sales using tablet devices containing a customised platform developed by the Dutch financial software company Figlo.
The Figlo platform enables AEGON Turkey agents to organise appointments, manage references, conduct marketing and develop financial analyses, all without pen and paper. The sale, including the application, the e-signature and even the initial payment, are all processed via the tablet.
Once the sale is concluded, the application information is integrated into the company’s main system, underwriting is done, and upon approval, policies are issued automatically.
The tablet was initially made available to 500 members of its direct sales team. AEGON Turkey plans are to roll it out to other sales channels as well. The company is already seeing strong results: by early March, 80% of its direct sales were being facilitated solely by the tablet. The company is anticipating an approximate 20% drop in operational costs.
It might seem surprising that it has taken until recently for tablets to integrate into the sales process. But tablets are a somewhat recent technological development. The first iPad was introduced in January 2010, but they are gaining ground quickly.
In the UK, 2012 tablet penetration, according to a 2013 study by ZenithOptimedia, is already at 23.1%, and is expected to rise to 34% by 2015.
Will tablets cause producers to lose control of the sales and underwriting process? Although some companies and agents might fear that, it’s more likely that tablets will enhance producer control of the sales process, while cutting costs and improving turnaround times for carriers.
Electronic enrolments are far cheaper than paper applications, both in processing and paper costs.
Advisers can process electronic enrolments far faster and with fewer errors, which is good news from the adviser’s point of view. And given how rapidly tablet device sales are increasing worldwide, consumers, even in the near future, are likely to expect their financial advisers to be tablet-equipped for life insurance sales.