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The Way forward for Underwriting, Half 1: Omnichannel Distribution


It has become an insurance tradition: every year, people declare that artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics will replace all underwriting in 10 years. Maybe one day it will be true. What is true today – and for some time to come – is that the best results for underwriting are not being achieved by replacing underwriters, but rather by rethinking and retooling the connections between underwriters, data, and the rest of the business.

In this series today, we’re going to take a look at the forefront of underwriting and discuss how proven technology solutions can transform the process to make it more efficient, consistent, and accurate at risk assessment – not in 10 years, but now. You’ll be surprised how a few humble changes can improve underwriting for everyone – from clients to distributors to underwriters. Let’s examine five key parts of the journey to underwriting and how data, design, and technology can create a brighter future for underwriting. Ultimately, this can lead to profitable growth and cost savings.

The five main parts are:

  • Omnichannel distribution: Build a distribution network that will find the right customers and put them on the right channel for you and for them.
  • Smart recording: Combine robotics, data and redesign to change the way we receive and prepare submissions.
  • Activated underwriting: Focuses on how the human-machine interface can control data-driven decisions more intelligently and efficiently.
  • Collaborative suggestions: Tries to shift bidding from disjointed emails to shared experiences of sharing, learning, and customizing successful solutions.
  • Intuitive onboarding: After completing the purchase, give customers a “wow” experience instead of worrying that they just made the wrong decision.

Part 1: Omnichannel Distribution

Today we have to do business the way our customers and partners want. For most of our agents ‘and brokers’ deals, this is still an email. However, email alone is not enough. We have to be ready to direct the business directly to customers via portals, eBrokers, OEMs, partners and via calls, apps and chats. And we have to be ready to start new business from anywhere. In P&C insurance for commercial and group-related employee benefits, we see a continuous consolidation of the agent and broker channels. As these channels grow in power and influence, they put pressure on airlines in terms of cost, price and access to new business. Ultimately, these forces make insurance a commodity.

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Carriers respond to commoditization

Carriers are pushing against commercialization in two ways. First, some airlines try to distinguish themselves by making them easier for their distributors to work with. This is not a new trend – carriers have been using broker portals for years. With direct connections to broker solutions via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) as well as the creation of apps, AI chat and other innovative models for specific service requests, however, it is reaching new limits.

Other airlines are looking for alternative models to find new customers that go beyond traditional agents and brokers:

All of this means that the first step in transforming the underwriting experience is to find better and new ways to connect with our channel partners and customers. This is not just about new channels such as apps, chat and portals. Real executives here will think about the key needs of their partners and customers, and then shape sales experiences to suit their needs. It’s time for underwriting to learn design.

To do this well, we recommend five key steps:

  1. Define your target customers (agents or end customers) and conduct detailed research to understand their specific insurance, purchasing and service needs.
  2. Define a clear approach to how customers will be informed about your offering and the relevant changes you’ve recently made.
  3. Design and expand the experiences that match these needs and ideally test the concepts and designs with a few clients.
  4. Create the technology, partners, and systems to use to create your design. Establish the budget and plan required for implementation and determine the target ROI.
  5. Quickly develop and run a pilot where you can learn and customize your design before expanding.

If you are interested in learning more about this process, I would love to hear from you.

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