How are life insurers responding to COVID-19?
Carriers relied on agents to distribute messaging.
Much of the life insurance industry updates due to COVID-19 were sent to agents directly. Carriers initially assured recipients of their financial security and preparedness of what is to come, stating that they have long been preparing for a market downturn and that they are in the financial position to weather this storm.
But an increased focus has been placed on virtual sales tools and accelerated underwriting to keep business moving forward. National Life expanded its EZ Underwriting limits to $3 million and noted it would take all remote applications, regardless of size.
While consumers are eager for simplified underwriting, they also rely on agents to provide assistance. According to Mintel research on life insurance in Canada, nearly 80% of Canadians agree that using an agent helps them know more about their options compared to buying online.
Customer-facing messaging was sparse.
Insurers turned to organic social media to communicate optimism and support of customers and employees. All insurers directed followers to their websites for updated information, where a few quietly offered relief for those experiencing financial hardship.
MassMutual rolled out an uplifting TV spot, accompanied with a digital campaign, that offered up some optimism through a symbol of Boston.
Insurers also used social to announce giveback initiatives to support at-risk populations and food banks. Sun Life Canada and MetLife both donated $1 million to those in need during COVID-19, such as health care workers, the elderly, and food banks.
We are happy to announce that we are donating thousands of face masks, bottles of hand sanitizer and canisters of disinfecting wipes to those in need to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are thankful for the people on the front lines who continue to support our communities. pic.twitter.com/XtHyODGfak
— MetLife (@MetLife) March 25, 2020
Many insurers tightened guidelines for applicants who could have been exposed to COVID-19. But widespread rate adjustments and sales suspensions are also now in effect as insurers react to increased demand amidst market volatility. As a result, insurers must proactively provide new and existing customers with clear answers about coverage details, as agency expertise and transparency are important now more than ever.