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Direct marketing still involves agents.

Byline: Brian Anderson

Roughly one in four life insurance policies sold today are sold without face-to-face interaction with an agent.

That fact, from a LIMRA/LIDMA (Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association) study, drew attention during a Thursday afternoon breakout session at NAILBA 31 titled, "Perceptions and Misperceptions About the Direct Marketing Business." Speakers Pat Wedeking, longtime President of LIDMA, and AccuQuote's Byron Udell mentioned that they see buying habits changing and trending this way, but reminded the audience that agents are still involved in these sales -- just not face-to-face.

Udell said people are "more comfortable than ever" buying things over the phone, and that everyone who buys life insurance through AccuQuote does so by talking to an agent on the phone. "Nobody can buy without talking to us," Udell said, noting that his agents are trained to ask questions to ensure customers buy appropriate products. He added he doesn't see a time in the future when the agent is eliminated from the picture because customers need input from agents about their specific situations. "You can't buy life insurance from a vending machine," he said, making the point that a 100-percent online sale doesn't benefit the customer.

A couple of other interesting notes Udell made during Thursday's breakout sessions:

* The average AccuQuote customer is 48 years old, and Udell said very little is sold to anyone under 30 years old.

* What keeps him up at night? The increasing cost of leads.

* As a life insurance agent, when he visited a prospect's house, he might spend three hours there due to his nature. He realized he could accomplish the same result much faster over the phone.

For more coverage from NAILBA 31, see: Are agents holding back the underwriting process? 7 key takeaways from NAILBA 31's state of the industry Why are we selling Brussels sprouts and calling it candy?

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Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:National Underwriter Life & Health Breaking News
Date:Nov 16, 2012
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