One in two Americans owned a
smartphone by the end of 2011,
according to Neilson's estimates.
What does that mean for insurers?
How are they changing to accommodate
mobile devices into their business model?
LIMRA examined the mobile initiatives
of life insurance companies to find out.
Life insurers have three basic audiences
to reach: the general public, policyholders
and producers. The majority of insurers
already has, or is planning to have, mobile
initiatives for at least one of these groups.
Among companies that offer mobile
access or plan to offer mobile access in
the future, the most common options
are mobile applications (apps) and websites
that have been modified to be mobile
friendly. Companies are most interested
in offering separate mobile websites in the
future, which are more affordable to the
company than apps are.
A significant driver for companies
to invest in mobile initiatives is to provide
better service and access to producers.
Already, almost a third of companies
have some sort of mobile initiative
in place and another 30 percent plan to
launch a mobile program specifically for
their producers within the year. According
to nearly nine in 10 of those companies
those marketing to younger generations-
are demanding mobile support from carriers.
Also, the number of producers
using mobile devices in their practices
has nearly doubled from 2008 to 2010,
according to previous LIMRA research.
Three-quarters of companies said
investing in mobile initiatives was important
to keep pace with their competitors
and nearly as many expect these investments
will increase sales.
An IBM study found that 10 percent
of shopping on Cyber Monday was done
through mobile devices. With life insurance
ownership at an all-time low, insurers
are seeking a way to better engage consumers.
And providing access to information
via mobile devices may be a way to
reach these uninsured or underinsured
Another area of opportunity lies within
the retirement market. With more than
$400 billion per year rolling out of
employer-sponsored retirement plans
and into IRAs, plan providers are looking
for ways to keep these assets under management.
Retirees and pre-retirees who
are proactively contacted by their retirement
plan provider around the time they
leave their employer are twice as likely
to keep their retirement plan assets with
the plan provider, according to another
LIMRA study. Will mobile devices facilitate
this contact? It appears that the plan
providers think it might. LIMRA found
that about one in three retirement plan
providers currently offer mobile access
to their sites.
But making these changes does not come
without challenges. Seven out of 10 companies
report having trouble allocating adequate
human resources to properly launch
and manage the new mobile initiatives.
In addition, companies said they
struggle to manage the different mobile
devices, platforms and operating systems.
Half of the companies said defining the
return on investment for mobile investments
and ensuring data security have
been issues of concern.
LIMRA has five recommendations for
developing a mobile strategy:
- Monitor mobile interest. Mobile
adoption is changing quickly. While
mobile may have been unimportant
to your stakeholders when you established
IT objectives last year, it is
probably more important now.
- Ask your stakeholders … and listen. Reach out with surveys, focus
groups and interviews to learn what
mobile services and features your various
stakeholders really want.
- Offer a consistent message. Regardless
of the channel used to access your
company-full site, mobile site or
mobile app-offer a consistent message
about your brand.
- Observe other financial firms. Banks, asset management companies
and health care providers often
offer mobile options now. Once their
stakeholders get used to these mobile
services, they may expect it from life
insurance carriers, too.
- Apply mobile best practices. Understand
the devices, the environment
and the users. Mobile users trade
convenience (and loading time) for
the depth of information found on
Overcoming these challenges and finding
a way to develop an effective mobile
strategy is a top priority of insurers. We
expect there to be a learning curve for
adopting mobile technology, but it is
undoubtedly an important platform for
the future of the insurance industry.