Published in CHART Exchange | October 2021 issue
Author: Mike Fieseler
InsurTech tools have driven a lot of the efficiencies and time/cost savings being realized lately in insurance. They enable much of the workflow streamlining and operational improvements happening in the industry. Most insurers have come around to seeing the advantages of technologically transforming their business.
However, I get the feeling that many of us are still not aware of the impressive depth and breadth of meaningful change that methods like robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning can attain. In fact, it can touch and improve every stage of the policy lifecycle and reach each area of your business.
Many (Digital) Hands Make Light Work
Making technology work for you is more important than ever these days. Like other employers, insurers on both sides of the pond are struggling with a shrinking labor force.
Early retirements, increased movement between companies/positions to perceived greener (more remote-friendly, presumably) pastures and even people just leaving work entirely – all have become commonplace in the movement variously called The Great Resignation or The Great Reprioritization.
Workflow automation is not intended to put people out of jobs. The ideal situation is that it makes manual processes easier, and then the team members who were saddled with laborious tasks can be reassigned to more meaningful endeavors. But it works just as well if folks are leaving or you are facing a candidate shortage that leaves spots unfilled.
Slash Data Entry & Drive Efficiency
Start at the very beginning: a prospect or policyholder goes to your website (as is increasingly likely, rather than picking up the phone) for information, a quote or ID card. Do you have:
- A chatbot in place to facilitate?
- Self-serve options for today’s DIY, want-it-right-away consumer?
- Email routing to simplify and speed responses?
If not, that’s the start of a pain point for an existing customer or a turning-away point for a potential one.
Next, let’s say you receive a quote request. The old-school way to proceed was a spreadsheet nightmare. Some insurers are still worksheet-heavy when they don’t have to be.
They struggle with ungainly, difficult to manipulate files that contain many hundreds of data points. Data extraction/capture and reentry from emails, attachments, files and other systems makes for a messy, time-wasting and redundant exercise.
Consider it a ‘must-do’ to switch this up from the manual way of doing things. You can auto-pull relevant data from nearly any file, run it through an optical character recognition (OCR) tool for automatic identification and quality control, and send it directly through to your agency management system.
There are even ways to auto-check for instances when the sender marked both options of a binary question for which the answers are mutually exclusive (yes/no), and similar contradictory situations. The system will send an alert to a team member to review and reconcile any such ambiguous result.
Simpler & Speedier Data Functions
Automation lets you get more data from only a few data points. Don’t ask your prospect to fill out reams of information that you can find yourself. It’s as off-putting and frustrating as it is unnecessary.
Just have them input a few of the most basic points. From there, the rest can be searched for automatically through databases, archives and other sources.
These methods will clear up so many human errors, accuracy rates go through the roof. It will also speed up the process enormously and make life much easier for your prospects.
Plus, it easily makes all data consistent and correctly formatted. Avoid lots of headaches downstream by ensuring quality data upfront!
From 1 File/Day to Under 2 Hours
One of my clients is currently transforming their business through such an automated process. The results are remarkable. Doing it the old way, they were laboring through about 28 applications a month, or approximately one per day.
It’s no wonder, when the files they had to deal with held 500 data points or more. They knew they had to correct this situation.
Now, they can zip through the workflow in less than a couple of hours – and that process can be repeated, all day every day, for true 24/7 operating capabilities. They are amazed at their new quote-to-bind rate of speed. It goes to show, computing power delivers scalability that human hands and minds just can’t match.
Not to mention, all the data from the application stage onward automatically flows into their AMS, tied to the policyholder’s account. The system provides universal searching tools and auto-fills. That means starting a claim can be done using minimal information. Great for the producer or agency, great for the insured!
Likewise, endorsements can be done super-fast for any policyholder who is already in the system. Can you see how each automation-accelerated step along the way quickens things all down the line?
Multi-Carrier Package Quotes in Minutes
Let’s look at another of my clients. They’re an auto monoline insurer. This company wanted to expand their business by offering package policies.
Their old approach should sound familiar. They would manually capture and send entered information out to multiple carriers and wait for a response to use in a quote.
The process would take around five hours – in other words over half a business day, just for one iteration. Using automation, the same result happens in less than 15 minutes!
That’s hours and hours rescued for team members who previously toiled in the spreadsheet pits. (In some companies even underwriters get sucked into the Excel abyss on occasion, which is a horrible waste of their talents!)
Instead, all that time can go into a new focus on…
- Developing programs,
- Attending to customers,
- Building sales,
- And so forth.
Make Your Blurry Data Window Sparkle
Speaking of which, automation’s profound effect on your data gathering and storage efforts will prove fruitful when it comes to analysis.
Making your data more visible, transparent, shareable and available will help immensely in:
- Examining trends
- Creating and achieving goals
- Identifying potential markets
- Targeting new prospects
- Improving risk rating
Growing your business becomes much more possible and sustainable once you gain control over your data!
The lesson is: Use automation to drive data capture, entry and analysis. Everything from first contact to application through underwriting and renewal can be enhanced by automation.
Be Loved for Making It ‘Easy Peasy’
When it comes to securing insurance, people can be lazy! They want it spelled out for them and presented on a platter. Ease things for them.
You’re likely to seal the sale when you come back with a quote in minutes instead of days, eliminating all that extra time that allows your prospects to shop around or forget about you. They will love you for it. They might never say it, but yes, love!
So much so that when your policyholders are happy with your simplified workflows and processes …satisfied with your speed and responsiveness …grateful for how easy you make it for them to deal with you, they will give you not only loyalty and renewals, but something else that’s very old-school yet always valued and appreciated:
Referrals to their friends and neighbors. That’s one old-fashioned way of doing things we can all get behind!