Hallett Financial Group, a distributor for 16 A-rated life insurers, is working to change the customer experience with online tools for agents and consumers. Jeremy Hallett, CEO of the company, talks to INN about how P&C agents can use online services to diversify their product mix while lightening their administrative load.

INN: Why do you want P&C agents to get involved with life?

Hallett: We work with a lot of P&C firms, but the problem is none of the agents wants to take on the life insurance portion. [Insurers] use very well-trained agents, but three years in, they decide maybe they're not the best prospector in the world. We tell them to go to our website, and they can start the application online. We'll save a bunch of time. It shows the agent’s contact info, logo and picture. It asks for four pieces of information: ZIP code, gender, smoking status and date of birth. And then we've got sliders. It starts at $500,000 at 20-year term; they move the button down to $300,000 and the price changes. They move it to $750,000 and it changes. Now they take the 20-year term and move it to 10-year term. What took me a year or two years in the business to understand, a lay person understands in a few minutes. 

Then we go through a refinement process. We ask four more questions and thenour site gets them a pre-filled application, with missing social security numbers. Then we move it back to the insurer to collect all the other information. Then the policy is delivered. 

INN:  How much does this shorten the sales cycle?

Hallett: It cuts down the up-front time from six or eight hours down to 45 minutes on a sale where the average premium is a $1,000; and they make $700 or $800 on it.The other piece, the e-delivery, is really saving time. For our average e-delivery process, 90 percent of them are done in four days. Without, typically that’s 17 calendar days. 

INN:  So that front end can sit on the insurance agent's website?

Hallett: It's on their website. The other thing that the agent could do is make an icon directly to his website on his iPhone or his Android. He could tell you what the pricing is right now. The adviser could be sitting with his client at his client's home having a conversation about life insurance, pull it up on his phone, and his client is going to say, "That's cool!" And the agent can say, "You can use it, too. I'll send you a link."

We've got people right now who are putting it in the signature of their email. [Consumers] can run a term quote anonymously at Quotacy.com. It doesn't take contact information. It’s disarming; now the consumer is weighing that agent against somebody who's maybe pushy, or maybe somebody who is fantastic.

INN:  Tell me about the technology behind the website. Is this all proprietary? Is this packaged? Is this software as a service?

Hallett: It is all proprietary. There are only a few companies left that actually give quoting information. Everyone uses WinFlex Web for running their quotes, but we’re control freaks at Hallett. We started our own term life quote engine 16 years ago, and we just never wanted to let go of it. Along the way, we said there are four questions that get you right two out of three times: family history, blood pressure, smoking -- if you smoke an e-cigarette, you are non-smoker with some carriers but smoker with most -- and then height and weight. And then we have our own proprietary agency management system.

INN:  Do you notice that this sort of purchase process appeals to any particular sort of consumer? I would think that this skews young, affluent and urban.

Hallett: That is what everybody believes; that's not the truth. It's actually a mindset experience. You know this person: He's 62 years old, and he runs around, and he lives on his phone. He's probably affluent but I don't think the age has anything to do with it. If he can go on phone and fill out the application -- it takes 8 to 10 minutes to start the process up -- and he and the agent can have a conversation by voicemail, email or maybe one quick call, the policy can get done in four to six weeks, maybe eight if there are some problems. But they never have to meet. That appeals to that 62-year-old, and it appeals to the 45-year-old.

INN:  What about younger consumers?

Well, 24-year-olds don't buy life insurance. We've been working on how to move them, but they're invincible. But a 62-year old or 45-year old really needs it for their practice and their business. So this looks like it skews young, and I thought that when we began

INN:  So how does your company make money?

Hallett: We make money on the wholesaling piece. We're a wholesaler. We're saying, ”If we give this to you, you have to process the business through us: Not Krump or not your buddy down the street you've been giving business to.” We do the site for free; it takes us 20 to 30 minutes for us to set up an individual site. You've got to give me your picture. You've got to give us your logo. You have to give us what language you want on the contact us page. We're in first generation of this, but the user experience is good.

INN:  You're doing the underwriting yourself?

Hallett: No, the insurer makes the final underwriting decision, but we're really good at guessing what the carriers are going to do. What we do then is, we order medical records. We order up the exam. I have got a team of people who are unbelievable at scrubbing an application; they know exactly how the application is put together. They know all the paperwork. We also negotiate with the carriers. We communicate with the agent every four days to let the adviser know what's happening in their case. I have a whole team of underwriters.

INN: So why is this important? How is it helping consumers, agents and insurers?

Hallett: Life insurance is at an all time low for number of people purchasing it today. Life insurance is one of the most important and inexpensive products or solutions that we can do to protect our family or our business from financial tragedy in the wake of a real tragedy.

P&C agents need to be talking about life insurance more.  We need to marry more technology to lessen the amount of time and create more efficiencies, in order to really bring this to the market. And I'm not talking complicated, expensive sales here. I'm talking $750,000 on a husband and a wife to make sure that if one of them gets cancer or gets hit by a car while they're in those prime earning years that we can we at least stop the financial tragedy from befalling on that family. As an industry need to step up to the plate. I think we can do that with technology. I know we can do that with technology; we're doing it.

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