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Figuring It Out

MetLife changes the way it sells life insurance with new life insurance benefit calculator.

When its research revealed in 2004 that the average American is underinsured, New York-based MetLife ($481.2 billion in total assets) viewed the findings as an opportunity to boost life insurance sales. "Research showed that people don't understand how much life insurance they should own or how to figure it out," says Damon Bates, assistant vice president of life product marketing for the carrier. "We wanted to develop a tool to make it easier for clients to understand how much life insurance they need to protect their families in the long term."

According to Bates, given the way traditional lump-sum life insurance was sold, consumers typically purchased only two and a half times their salaries in life insurance. Consequently, survivors often outlived the income left by the insured. To make the process of buying life insurance easier for consumers and help address the shortfall, MetLife developed an online Guaranteed Survivor Income Benefit (GSIB) calculator and life insurance rider for its individual universal life product.

The Web-based calculator, which considers the beneficiary's age and gender, breaks down the amount of life insurance an individual will need to provide for his or her family on a monthly basis instead of in the traditional lump sum. The calculator reinforces the universal life product's GSIB rider, which ensures the life insurance benefits will be distributed monthly. "We ... decided to develop GSIB to enable us to really change the way life insurance is sold and use the rider to facilitate the purchase," Bates says.

MetLife leveraged NaviSys' (Edison, N.J.) Front Office Illustration module to customize the carrier's own illustration system, MetWins, and representatives use the resulting methodology to help explain the rider to customers. MetLife's illustration team and Web developers then used the same methodology in designing the online calculator.

MetLife introduced the GSIB product at the beginning of 2005, and the calculator was released on in February. Within the first month, the site received 4,000 clicks. So far, agents like the product because it is easy to understand and, therefore, easier to sell, asserts Bates. "Our average face amounts for term life insurance have increased," he affirms. "We expect GSIB to help drive similar results on our permanent products. So far, this has been the second most frequently utilized rider on our permanent UL contract."

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