As social distancing continues and people become more accustomed to working from home, we’re seeing an acceleration of digital workforces and the systems that support them. This is particularly apparent in the U.S. life and annuity industry where the COVID-19 pandemic has forced brick-and-mortar insurance agencies to temporarily shutter and conduct business 100 percent digitally.

Insurers’ efforts to modernize policy administration systems over the past five years have put many life and annuity carriers in a strong position to quickly respond to customers remotely. From electronic applications and straight-through processing (STP) to no-touch automated underwriting and video on-boarding, insurers today are better prepared than just a few years ago to quickly adapt to the work-from-home culture.

Many of these changes have shifted the way we think about work and life. There’s even more that we can do as an industry to support new provocative ways of thinking about life insurance and technological advances that enable insurers to cultivate strong values-based customer relationships for life. Before the COVID-19 crisis, we were exploring the intersection of life insurance and health and wellness to bring a more human-centered approach focused on life. In the COVID-19 era, the connection between life, health and wellness has never been more apparent.

What’s next for life insurers 

As we begin to emerge from the initial crisis, ever mindful that another surge of the COVID-19 outbreak is possible, we look to our people, our systems and our customers. How can we as an industry be a force for good? How can we help consumers protect themselves physically, emotionally and financially from future pandemics?

We must shift from a transactional way of thinking to one that is human centered. This means we must flex with life’s dynamics whether they be the sudden impact of an emerging pandemic or the subtle joy of spending time with our families and all the moments in between. At Accenture, we call this a “Living Business Model,” one that is nimble—especially in the face of unforeseen events like a global pandemic—and focused on the customer experience.

Dynamic solutions driven by innovative people and technology are emerging that can help address life’s often sudden changes. Platforms will play a key role in connecting insurers to the products and services that consumers need to help them remain physically and financially healthy, particularly in times of stress.

Every business is becoming a health business

The COVID-19 pandemic has us all preoccupied with health, and every business is becoming a health business. With individual and government health spending expected to rise, health-related features are becoming must-haves as people now view product purchases through the lens of health; and life insurers have a role to play in the health economy.

The life insurance industry is more prepared with health data than many other industries. While health data has always been a staple in the insurance industry, the COVID-19 crisis brings a renewed emphasis on health data, but also on wellness data and how it can help consumers protect their health. Our industry can respond, whether we need to reconfigure existing products and services, or tap into new health and wellness ecosystems. The human implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are reshaping the way we think about insurance protection and providing new insights into the consumer behaviors that will influence a new generation of products and services.

We are in business “for life.” This COVID-19 era is a poignant reminder of how precious life is, and how each and every one of us has contributed to protecting vulnerable populations from the COVID-19 outbreak and preventing our health care workers and hospital systems from becoming overrun with patients beyond their capacity. We are grateful to the world’s health care workers for their courage and commitment to people’s lives.

Additional reading:

COVID-19: Managing the human and business impact of coronavirus 

COVID-19: 5 new human truths that experiences need to address  

COVID-19: 5 priorities to help reopen and reinvent your business

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