Nine in 10 life insurers surveyed recently are meeting producer demands with mobile technology initiatives, according to a new report issued by LIMRA, a worldwide research, consulting and professional development organization.

The report, “Mobile on the Move: Reaching Insurance Stakeholders Wherever They Are,” is the result of an examination of the mobile initiatives of 53 life insurance companies in the United States and Canada, and what they are doing to integrate mobile devices into their business model.

"Like we saw with social media, life insurers recognize that using mobile technology is not negotiable if the company wants to be competitive now and in the future," said Mary Art, LIMRA research director, technology in marketing and distribution research. "In fact, three of four companies surveyed said they were using mobile technology to keep pace with their competitors and nearly as many anticipate these investments will increase sales."

A quarter of those surveyed listed producer demands as the top reason for adopting mobile technology into their business strategy. Already, almost a third of companies have some sort of mobile initiative in place and another 30 percent plan to launch a mobile program specifically for their producers within the year, says the report.

Not surprising, most companies are evaluating the integration of this technology into their sales and prospecting processes. According to companies surveyed, producers -- especially those marketing to younger generations -- are demanding mobile support from carriers. Earlier LIMRA findings support this: the number of producers using mobile devices in their practices nearly doubled from 2008 to 2010.

Producers are not the only audience life insurers hope to reach with their mobile initiatives. With close to half of the U.S. population expected to connect to the mobile Web by 2015, it is critical that life insurers consider how they will integrate mobile technology to reach consumers as well, advises the life insurance organization. LIMRA's study revealed that two-thirds of life insurers said they want to use mobile technology to improve their service to policyholders and keep pace with consumer demand.

Although many companies are still in the development phase with mobile technology, launching their first mobile initiatives or pilot programs in 2011, mobile applications and modified, mobile-friendly sites are currently the most common developments among life insurance companies.

Reasoning that tablets are rising in popularity, LIMRA predicts that the single most common focus by life insurers will be on developing separate mobile websites, which will provide a better viewing experience that is more cost effective than mobile apps offer. In addition, consumers are less likely to download an app for insurance since they will not use it often enough.

All the development in mobile technology does not come without challenges, reports LIMRA. Seven out of 10 companies report having inadequate human resources to properly launch and manage the new mobile initiatives. In addition, there are challenges managing different mobile devices, platforms and operating systems. Half of the companies said defining the return on investment for mobile investments and ensuring data security have also been cause for concern.

"Overcoming these challenges and finding a way to develop an effective mobile strategy is a top priority of insurers," commented Art. "We expect there to be a learning curve with adopting mobile technology but it is undoubtedly an important platform for the future of the insurance industry."

Pat Speer writes for Insurance Networking News.