After losing her father to COVID-related complications last year, U.K.-based Navy spouse Suzanne Bannister says the pandemic has put things in perspective for her family.
“The loss of my dad was one of many whammies over the past year,” she said.
While home from their OCONUS duty-station for the funeral, the family decided to increase their life insurance coverage.
Bannister says that she knew she needed to make a change but the sudden loss and associated financial challenges served as an impetus to modify her policy, increase her husband’s coverage, and take out policies for her children.
“I have more responsibility now than I had previously, and my husband and I wanted a policy that reflected that,” Bannister said, echoing a trend that insurance companies are noticing.
Change in perspective
Connie Markovich, president and CEO of Uniformed Services Benefit Association (USBA), says that companies like USBA have seen an increase in inquiries for a variety of products over the past year. While the pandemic may not be the direct result of this increase, the value of adequate coverage has come to the top of mind for many.
Markovich says a great deal of these changes are positive for customers and the industry as a whole.
“We’ve had to redefine how we satisfy our customers, what their needs are, and how we meet them,” Markovich said. “We’ve had to become more nimble, even more responsive. It’s a competency that we have brought to our customers during this challenging time.”
New and varying interest
USBA has noticed an increase in inquiries from younger beneficiaries in their 20s and 30s.
“This generation is not as afraid to look for information as other generations might have been in their 20s,” Markovich said.
“People want a longer-term product at a lower price,” Markovich said. “We have seen a shift to a lower age demographic. When the age drops, they’re eligible for our long-term products. Our 20 Year Group Level Term has grown in popularity for this reason.”
Markovich also noted that the company is seeing an increase in their TWO for ONE® Group Level Term joint level term, a policy that pays on the first to die. “We never know who will pass away first and with TWO for ONE®, it pays two benefits if both die in the same accident. That can provide additional peace of mind to a family,” she said.
“It takes out the element of the unknown. It doesn’t matter which one of us goes first. We’re going to have protection.”
Jennifer Gray, a Navy spouse based in Arlington, Virginia, recently modified her family’s insurance coverage late last year. While the pandemic wasn’t her primary reason, financial security after her husband’s upcoming retirement was a key focus.
“From a financial standpoint, we wanted extra coverage in case something happens,” Gray said. “With retirement looming and the future loss of the Navy benefit, combined with so much uncertainty, we wanted to make sure we were thoroughly covered.”
Meeting the need through technology and streamlined business practices
Throughout the past year, COVID-related restrictions have dramatically impacted the way insurance policies are written. For example, how do you underwrite someone if you cannot do a health screening on them? How do customers get information if in-person meetings are no longer viable?
For Markovich, these challenges have provided new opportunities for companies like USBA.
The company has invested heavily in its digital infrastructure to ensure that clients can access the information they need online and via mobile. According to Markovich, people are online, and they want to access quotes without providing their personal data in the process.
Markovich says that USBA has met that challenge by allowing real-time insurance calculators and a variety of other tools to provide customers with accurate quotes.
With face-to-face meetings limited between clients, companies, and partners, new solutions have presented themselves here too. “Companies are finding ways to communicate with their customers, partners, and vendors have made a difference,” Markovich said.
Coordination with doctor’s offices, the electronic transfer of medical records, and strategic partnerships have made getting insurance easier for the client. “That communication has been important. With COVID, it stopped, and now it’s opening up again,” she said.
Bannister and her family took advantage of the accessibility and ease of technology with their recent policy change. “We were able to transfer digital records to our insurance company and that made the process so much easier,” she said.
“Finding ways to adapt and deliver became paramount this past year,” said Markoivh as many people have a new-found awareness about life.