Experts at Conning Research & Consulting say life insurershave been missing a golden opportunity in the middle market overthe last five years. The protection gap for this segment is nowestimated at $10.2 trillion.

"The financial crisis and recession had far-reaching effects onincome, asset values, and debt levels, all of which combined todrive the increased size of this missed opportunity," says TerenceMartin, director at Conning Research & Consulting. "Inaddition, the rising cost of health care, especially in the middlemarket, may be an emerging, largely unrecognized need for lifeinsurance planning. The question now is whether insurers canharness available new technologies to actually meet this burgeoningneed."

"There are significant challenges to life insurers seeking topenetrate the middle market," says Stephan Christiansen, directorof research at Conning. "Those challenges relating todistribution—cost, access, and others—may finally be eased by theincreased use of the internet channel and social media marketingsupport. For insures struggling with the cost of underwriting, theimplementation of predictive modeling and a more automatedunderwriting process holds promise. As insurers seek growth in therecovering economy, they will be analyzing the technologycommitment needed to succeed in middle market and weighing thatagainst the significant opportunity."

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