Covid-19 will forever change the way we buy life insurance, says Brooks Tingle

Covid-19 will forever change the way we buy life insurance, says Brooks Tingle
Image: Courtesy Brooks Tingle
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It took a global pandemic and stay-at-home orders for 1.5 billion people worldwide, but something is finally occurring to us: The future we thought we expected may not be the one we get.

We know that things will change; how they’ll change is a mystery. To envision a future altered by coronavirus, Quartz asked dozens of experts for their best predictions on how the world will be different in five years.

Below is an answer from Brooks Tingle, the president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance.

As a result of the pandemic, I think life insurance will become dramatically easier to buy. It seems counterintuitive—you would think that, in a pandemic, life insurance would be harder to buy, that we’d be more cautious and conservative. I joke all the time that, in our modern digital economy, I think life insurance is the most difficult product to buy. Of course, purchasing a home is difficult and lengthy, but your realtor doesn’t ask for samples of blood or urine before closing on a property.

If you want life insurance, you complete a lengthy application, you need to be visited by someone or see a doctor who will take your vitals, your height, your weight, and draw blood. Then, a lengthy period—often of several weeks—ensues until someone says, ‘Here is your price, we’re ready to give you coverage.’

In the middle of the stay-at-home orders, no one wanted a paramedical examiner coming to their home or to take a trip to the doctor’s office for something nonessential; most people don’t want to deal with that hassle under the best of circumstances.

As an industry, we’re starting to see that those traditional inputs to effectively underwrite someone’s policy and give them coverage aren’t always necessary. We said, ‘You know what, maybe we haven’t always needed someone to give us blood and to see a doctor, to give them life insurance.’ Now, we’re using electronic health records and other data points instead, and we’ve created a more digitally enabled process to apply online.

In five years, I predict it will be the exception rather than the norm to have an invasive process associated with getting life insurance.

To read more New Normal answers, click here.