Principal goes all-insurtech for exams during coronavirus era

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(Bloomberg) -- Principal Financial Group Inc. has halted lab tests and physical exams for individual disability-insurance policies through at least May 31 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Brokers will instead underwrite policies using a digital portal that allows for access to medical data with client permission, Kara Hoogensen, senior vice president of specialty benefits at Principal, said in an emailed statement. The data collection process, known as Human API, was tested in a pilot program last year, but the Covid-19 crisis led to Principal rolling it out faster and more broadly, Hoogensen said.

The move “represents a fast alternative to traditional medical records, which involves doctors signing and sending copies of records,” Hoogensen said. “We want to do our part and let the health system focus on serving those directly affected by the virus while still supporting individuals getting income-replacement coverage.”

Prior to the virus outbreak, data technology had been slowly altering insurers’ operations. In the next five to 10 years, the role of the life-insurance agent is expected to shift more toward service, with a greater reliance on digital agencies and platforms for sales leads, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Jeffrey Flynn and Matthew Palazola said in November.

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