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Life Insurance 2020: Rapidly-changing Industry Has Four Ways To Survive, According To PwC Report

Distribution disruption and the customer revolution: Responsibility for retirement planning and ancillary benefits has the risk of being pushed from governments and employers to individual consumers. Since customers have become accustomed to the convenience of digital education, research and transactions when they want, where they want and through any channel they want, distribution of products is changing rapidly.

"The role of advisers is evolving because their advice is only one source that customers use for planning," said Yoder. "Since customers now have control, they demand more information and convenience from many channels when choosing life and pension products. In addition, customers are demanding advice about a range of financial products, as opposed to a narrow set of insurance products."

With the uncertainty surrounding the economy, customers expect honest advice for their life insurance planning. Today, consumers aren't sure if they need life insurance anymore, and since the product is complex, they need dedicated advisors who can tell them exactly how to spend their money at every stage of their lives.

Information advantage through "big data": Leading insurers are turning to advanced analytics and external sources of data from purchases, social media and other digital means to understand customers better. The challenge for insurers is using that data when developing new ways for tailoring products for customers.

"We will see financial service providers use 'big data' analytics to design products that adapt to the changing needs of the household as they move through different life stages" said Dr. Anand Rao, principal overseeing innovation in analytics within PwC's US insurance advisory practice. "Advice will be tailored based on age, making it simpler for consumers and advisors, while automation and analytics hide the complexity of insurance products."

Big and fast—evolving business models: Advancements in technology are allowing new players to enter the market with new business models that have a lower cost structure.

"To compete against these companies, traditional insurers need to reinvent their operating models to reduce cost structure, simplify their offerings and organize around customer interactions," said Yoder. "Companies will also need to streamline their procedures and reorganize their talent to focus on high-growth markets and customized solutions."

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