The tragic deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash in late January impacted the U.S. life insurance industry, reports Yahoo! Money editor Janna Herron:

“The volume of life insurance application requests and submissions spiked in the days after the 41-year-old’s death on Jan. 26, 2020, according to True Blue Life Insurance, an online aggregator and comparison site for life insurance.

Application requests jumped by 50% on the Tuesday after Bryant’s death, 52% on Wednesday, and 55% on Thursday, while the volume of submitted applications increased by 58% on Sunday, Jan. 26 — the same day as the crash — and 61% on Monday. The spike subsided to normal levels within a week.”

Overcoming people’s discomfort with contemplating their own mortality has always been a big hurdle when trying to sign up new life insurance customers. It often takes a tragedy, whether that is the death of a loved one or the passing of a celebrity, to get people to take that first step.

“One of the main triggers when people buy life insurance is someone they know passes away,” said Brian Greenberg, founder and CEO True Blue Life Insurance, in the Yahoo! article. “In a lot of the phone calls to our agents, Kobe came up.”

Unexpected events can provide a brief window to insurers, but are they ready to immediately assist? As noted in the quote above, application levels returned to normal a mere week after Bryant’s passing. People quickly return to a state of apathy and forget about the urgency of protecting their family in the face of unexpected tragedy.

Insurers who seek to help motivated potential customers obtain peace of mind through life insurance coverage must offer a digital onboarding experience. Today’s consumers expect the kind of digital experience they receive from Netflix or Amazon – fast, personalized and intuitive. This should include digital onboarding for life insurance and the ability to seamlessly extend the sales experience across different devices and channels.

Sales agents must be equipped with an automatic, 360-degree view of existing customers during up-sell opportunities, along with the ability to offer them new and innovative packages and bundles. Prospective customers will expect agents to quickly understand who they are and what they can be offered.

It’s not just life insurance that’s become a focus following the helicopter crash, according to PropertyCasualty360.

“Several insurance coverages might be triggered by this tragic incident,’ says a top commercial property & casualty insurer. ‘First and foremost, there was bodily injury to the passengers and pilot. The manufacturer of the aircraft, as well as the owner and potentially the operator (if not the same as the owner), could be found liable for the deaths of the people on board, depending on the NTSB’s [National Transportation Safety Board] findings as to what caused the crash.”

It’s safe to say that many helicopter passengers and pilots, as well as travel agents, manufacturers and aviation businesses, are now thinking about their insurance coverage in the event of a crash.

A next-generation policy administration and digital suite can empower both P&C and life insurers with fast time to market for innovative new products and bundles following high-profile events that spark insurance conversations. The right technology will also facilitate fast onboarding and a fully digital customer experience.

As my biography below notes, I am a Celtics fan. I rooted against Kobe, especially when the Lakers played against the green, but I always admired his intelligence, great skill and work ethic.

Insurers can emulate Kobe’s example by continuing to work hard and smart at protecting their customers and customers’ families. My thoughts and prayers are with Kobe’s family, friends and fans during this difficult time, along with all victims of the terrible crash.

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