Tag Archives: de Waal

Underwriters Need Some Power Tools

I predict that in the brief time you spend reading this article you will get several social media and email notifications. You will receive at least one text message and possibly one or more voicemails. At some point later today, you will log in to at least one news website, content aggregator or feed reader and skim the headlines.

In other words, I predict that you are already suffering from information overload and that this condition will only intensify as the day goes on.

I don’t have to tell you that you aren’t alone here. We all deal with information overload on a daily basis. Colleges study this condition, and news outlets seem to be in love with the topic — even though their articles about the topic feed into the disease itself!

The problem with information overload isn’t necessarily that too much information is a bad thing; it’s that our brains are not capable of consuming, digesting and properly processing all the information thrown at us in a single day. It’s like those lines from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. We have access to information everywhere, yet it’s so overwhelming that we don’t have the mental capacity to really absorb and understand it.

See also: 4 Technology Trends to Watch for

In underwriting, information is vital. The more information we have to process, the more accurate our quotes are and the better our risk assessment is. But with large quantities of applications, increasingly stringent underwriting standards and the sheer volume of information we now have access to — including big data — it’s difficult for human underwriters to keep up, analyze data and sift through the irrelevant to find the relevant.  It’s like trying to drink water from a firehose.

This is where automation comes in, both for group insurance or individual underwriting. By automating part of the underwriting process, you give human underwriters a leg up that helps them do their job more efficiently.

While simplified-issue products can be fully underwritten by an automated system, more complex cases can benefit from the integration of automation and human review. Automated underwriting can be configured to notify human underwriters when certain red flags are found. It can score applications based on rules — regarding medical history or concerning drug combinations or third-party information that wasn’t mentioned on the application. It can then route the application to a specified team of underwriters based on the initial risk assessment or send to “jet issue” if deemed “clean.”

See also: Here Comes Robotic Process Automation

An automated underwriting system gives the insurance industry time, better margins and the ability to maintain consistent standards even as demand rises. These systems not only process and analyze data more efficiently — they can quickly disregard irrelevant data without suffering the mental fatigue and strain of information overload, freeing underwriters for more complex cases and allowing more business to be written in less time.

It’s time to give all underwriters the automation they need to do their jobs.

4 Technology Trends to Watch for

We enjoy many technological devices that used to be pure science fiction — mobile phones, video chat, Bluetooth speakers, touchscreen tablets,  driverless cars and so on. So what’s next?

Here are four of the coming insurance technology trends:

  • More online tools to attract millennials. Millennials are the new Holy Grail group of customers for insurers and agencies. Many of these young people are just now venturing into adulthood, and over the next few decades they’ll be on the receiving end of the biggest transfer of wealth that we’ve seen. This newly intensified focus on millennials will likely mean greater efforts to improve online customer services and mobile-responsive sites. Some of the online tools we’ll see in the coming years—probably sooner than later—include millennial-focused financial planning and educational resources, specialized social media tools and online customer service and policy change options.
  • The development of subscription insurance coverage. Insurers will begin offering suspension of coverage options for certain lines to accommodate people who have increasing or decreasing risk. Insurers will need to be prepared by having a flexible front- and back-end system that can keep up with these changes and minimize or automate underwriting efforts as coverage is turned on and off.
  • The increased adoption of digital solutions for claims processing. To increase efficiency and accuracy while also lowering costs, claims departments will become more open to embracing digital solutions for both accumulating and analyzing data. Digital solutions help claims in many of the same ways that they help underwriting. They can flag suspicious situations, process more information, help insurers better analyze their underwriting and approval process and pay policyholders faster, thus attracting even more business.
  • Insurers will create more apps and tools. Tools allow insurers to collect data on driving habits and health and fitness metrics, thus helping to attract and retain clients, improve policy rating and reduce risks. The app revolution is just beginning. There are still legitimate concerns on privacy and tampering. Some of the recent announcements are marketing with first-mover publicity. Once that is sorted out we will see many more insurance companies offering web apps.

There’s no question that adopting new technology is what’s going to drive our industry and insurers forward. Now is the time to make sure your infrastructure is ready to adopt what’s coming.

How to Choose the Right CRM Package

Perhaps the most important thing an insurer can do to keep clients and brokers happy is to implement the right kind of customer relationship management system and process. CRM lets the insurer anticipate needs and communicate effectively. The most obvious benefits of a good CRM system are:

  • Accessible client information, with the ability to view it in multiple dimensions
  • An automated tool for reminders
  • The ability to document prospect and broker files

But those are just the baseline benefits. With a more comprehensive system, you get usability that exceeds these minimal expectations. It can bring an insurer to a whole new technological landscape that improves retention levels and increases efficiency.

Choosing the Right CRM

Before selecting CRM software, determine who’s considered a customer, because that will dictate the features the CRM software must have. Prospects and policyholders are certainly customers, but many insurers miss out when they neglect to recognize that brokers are customers, too. The CRM software chosen needs to serve them, as well.

For maximum efficiency, choose a CRM that has certain integration functions. It should connect with other sales technology systems that you and your brokers use often, because service is the key differentiator.

To take sales and service to the next level, the CRM system should allow for data to be entered once and then pushed out to other systems, including quoting and underwriting. Distribution channel and prospect information can then be populated into a sales and underwriting system. Not only is this a more streamlined way to conduct business, it also helps the process feel more personal and customized for each user. Every sales representative can have all her information immediately. It also provides for more effective self-service on the web.

One-time entry also makes selling much easier for brokers and sales offices of the insurance company, which will always have access to updated information. This, in turn, makes your products more accessible and appealing. An advanced CRM system will also make reporting and reviewing analytics easier, allowing insurers to identify issues more easily and respond to them more quickly.

Activity tracking is also an important feature. Having an accurate record of changes and updates is important in both relationship management and regulatory compliance. Regulators increasingly demand insurers be able to document compliance.

Finally, you want to make sure your CRM software has configuration options that will maximize its utility for your company and brokers. Every company is unique, and CRM software that forces you into its box isn’t useful. You should be able to tailor a CRM system to make it work more efficiently for you, not have to work around it.

CRM software isn’t just about tracking and storing information—it’s about creating a collaborative environment among product managers, brokers, carriers and clients. Let the data flow—in a well-organized, transparent way that treats every person as a distinct individual with her own needs and expectations.

Simplifying Enrollment for Optional Products

Financial education is crucial when it comes to helping employees understand the roles that optional products such as disability, critical illness and accident insurance play in protecting their financial futures, but education isn’t enough.

Making it easy for employees to sign up is equally crucial, to increase enrollment. Insurers can increase the opt-in for optional products by streamlining the enrollment process with modern technology.

Let’s take a look at four ways use of technology can increase enrollment through greater efficiency and awareness.

  1. Provide quotes through the enrollment system. The fewer barriers to entry that employees have, the more likely they are to sign up for optional products. By having quote data sent through the enrollment system, you remove the necessity of employees having to enter data multiple times. They can get quotes and sign up for benefits through the same system. Providing instant quotes and more options for plan comparisons reassures employees they’re getting a good deal.
  1. Have a portal site for opt-in. With a specially designed user-friendly worksite portal, you can automate quoting, proposal generation and enrollment. When employers make enrollment mandatory and employees are required to log in to the portal site, employees are more likely to review the options available to them and sign up even if they initially intended to simply opt out. You can up-sell and cross-sell worksite marketing and optional individual products on the employee enrollment portal site. Employees can select what products they require and the payment method.
  1. Allow for digital signatures. Providing authenticated signatures on multiple paper documents can be frustrating for employees and employers. Digital signatures are the perfect tool for collecting authenticated signatures on multiple documents while saving time and reducing waste. The technology is pretty standard and straightforward once you’ve made the commitment to digital signatures.
  1. Ensure electronic data delivery for medical underwriting. In some cases, medical information is required for underwriting worksite products. This can be difficult and time-consuming to collect and dispense unless you allow electronic data delivery. Electronic data delivery also shortens the interval between underwriting and quote delivery, ensuring a better customer experience. Achieving electronic delivery requires integrating various systems and making sure they have seamless connections. It takes work, but isn’t a massive project.

Insurers that have invested heavily in legacy systems often resist change, but these systems cause problems that are costly and time-consuming to fix-and can cost insurers clients. (According to Claims Journal, 59% of senior executives surveyed in 2015 admitted that they had to spend “considerable amounts of time” dealing with IT issues in legacy systems.) If your legacy system won’t let you streamline enrollment, it’s time for a change.

No matter how you choose to increase awareness and participation in worksite optional products, make sure that you have the technological infrastructure in place to make enrollment fast, efficient and accurate. It makes a big difference.