I gave a talk recently at the American Insurance Education Institute conference in New Orleans. The national forum, entitled Issues and Trends in Medicare Supplement Insurance, was for professionals who market, sell, price, administer and support Med Supp insurance.

The purpose of the talk was to discuss the use of the Web to increase sales and marketing results within the Medicare Supplement insurance market.

The first thing we looked at were the Stats. How many seniors are online and would they use a Web site to buy things – and by extension, potentially enroll in Med Supp.

Much helpful research on Web utilization can be found through the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Netting it out, a significant percentage of seniors and their care givers are using the Web to get information and buy senior-related products. As proof of that, we looked at a site for Medicare Part D that uses online enrollment, Community Care Rx. As was shown in another session in the conference, this company ranked 4th in terms of Part D enrollment — with 10 percent online, and who knows how many were handled through the call center on a referral from the Web site.

We also looked at a prototype Med Supp quoting and enrollment site using e-signature and talked about the pro’s and con’s of online quoting and enrollments.

  • Pro’s — quoting accuracy, application completeness, legibility, competitive advantage, more nimble product maintenance, and lower policy administration costs.
  • Con’s — The prototype needs a ‘Plan Selector’ tool to help customers decide which plan best suits their lifestyle. Also, there is the concept of Med Supp brokers lacking the necessary Web savvy to effectively use an online quoting and enrollment system.

We also looked at sample online agent enrollment and online agent portals, both of which we are currently developing for clients at the conference. The main point is that by enrolling agents online, they will get a first-hand look at using e-signature themselves in their appointment process with the company. They will then have an even greater sense of comfort and will see the value-added efficiency of the paperless environment. Using a portal for ongoing servicing of the agent (app-status, commissions, incentive tracking, brochure downloads, leads, etc.) keeps the agent online and coming back for more day-in and day-out.

The feedback from the audience was extremely positive – for a change. The Med Supp community has traditionally been somewhat resistant to doing business online. Good news for everyone – this seems to be changing.

Lastly, back to the market statistics, PEW shows that 70 to 80 percent of baby boomers use the Internet. Thus, the next generation of Med Supp buyers are using the Web on a regular basis. Perhaps the Med Supp insurance community is coming to understand that if they want to serve the baby boomers, they have got to have a Web component – and they need to start working on that now.

The conference was extremely well attended and given high marks, even in spite of the fact that we were the first major conference to be held in New Orleans since ‘The Storm’. Kudos to Jesse Slome and the conference leadership team.