October 15, 2001
As insurance products, annuities are much more highly regulated, with different requirements for each state. For instance, some policies or riders are not available in every state. Such limitations can make a broker unwilling to want to try to use annuities or cause errors when filling out policies in the first place. Such delays and inconveniences present further impediments to sales.
To remedy this barrier, many in the industry hope to spark widespread adoption of automated, Internet-based policy processing. By upgrading technology, firms such as AnnuityNet have enabled straight-through processing for applications, eliminating the possibility of error, streamlining applications, and eliminating the problem of lost paperwork.
Not only would such changes speed the application process, reducing the intimidation level that many brokers feel, but they would also reduce overall costs for processing policies. This and other efficiencies could drive down the cost to consumers, reducing another barrier that stops some customers at the door.
Nevertheless, such change comes slowly to an industry wary of technology. Adoption of technology in insurance has been slow, and the field of vendors still lacks clearly dominant players.