Deloitte is out with its list of 2013 insurance industry priorities, 10 each for P&C and life insurers. There are a few shared between the lines of business — increased regulatory and M&A activity among them, as well as financial issues around asset allocation — but most interesting is how the priorities lists indicate the sectors' relative adoption of direct sales.
P&C insurers selling their products directly to personal lines policyholders is nothing new. As such, Deloitte expects the focus in 2013 to be on enabling commercial lines customers to buy insurance directly. Some have already experimented in this area. According to the report:
More carriers may be challenged to effectively manage multiple platforms and resolve channel conflict while maintaining the customer experience. This trend is likely to grow beyond personal lines, as more commercial insurers consider direct-to-consumer sales initiatives targeting small-business consumers.
Meanwhile, on the life side, while some carriers have made inroads into online sales, widespread adoption has been tepid.. Deloitte expects that to change in 2013:
…[Millions] in the middle market either need life insurance (or additional coverage if they already have a basic term policy), yet agents and brokers often find it difficult to economically reach and service such consumers given the lower commissions generated in this segment. … Carriers looking to overcome challenges reaching the middle market might consider developing or bolstering direct-to-consumer options to supplement their agency distribution system.
Of course, that doesn't mean just online sales: Consider MetLife's Walmart initiative, where consumers can literally buy a life policy "off the shelf" in the big-box store. Either way, it is clear that to fill a gap in its market, the life insurance industry will need to innovate.