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Perspectives

Balancing High-Tech with High Touch

2015-08-18


Here's how commercial underwriters can usher new‑business submissions into the digital age and still maintain a high‑touch approach to underwriting.

New‑business submissions are at the heart of commercial underwriting; however, most underwriters still spend a large amount of intake time on mundane tasks. Instead of focusing on relationship building and risk consulting, they end up chasing down and validating information in myriad forms. For prospective clients accustomed to the digital dazzle of Amazon and Apple, working with underwriters who spend much of their time sifting through paperwork feels distinctly out of step.

By streamlining the submissions process, insurers can enter the modern digital age while still maintaining a high‑touch approach to underwriting. By using intelligent tools to extract information, underwriters can focus on business‑building rather than data management and case preparation. They can reinforce longstanding relationships with agents and brokers — and quote more business in less time.

Preparing new‑business submissions absorbs 15% of underwriters' time, according to what we've seen in our work with commercial insurers. A key culprit is the need for underwriters to collect information from multiple sources: application forms, financial histories and ratings, loss control surveys and loss runs, to name just a few.

Additionally, underwriters struggle with data in various types and formats. According to a report by Strategy Meets Action, more than 70% of submissions from agents and agent portals arrive as e‑mail. Typical attachments include ACORD new‑business applications, schedules of properties in Excel spreadsheets and loss runs in PDF format.

Automating new‑business submission tames the chaos. Not only does it free up underwriters' time for revenue‑generating activities, but it also shifts a major component of risk evaluation to the intake process itself.

Digitizing Submissions Intake

When submissions are digitized, intelligent tools extract data from submission forms, regardless of data format or document type. After converting the information to standards such as XML, the tools transmit the data to carriers' systems. Automating new-business intake can boost the manual prequalification process and relationship‑building that's essential to commercial underwriting in the following ways:

Faster turnaround of quotes.

Because underwriters spend less time extracting data, they can review new‑business applications more quickly. The relationship benefit is twofold: Prospective clients are more satisfied and so are agents and brokers. There's also an important financial benefit: Underwriters can allocate more time to quoting business.

More effective appetite determination.

Agents are often unsure of carriers' appetites for risk. With automated submissions, agents can forego logging into carriers' websites and complex uploads and instead e‑mail scanned forms with North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. Carriers can quickly respond.

Improved metrics = stronger relationships.

By identifying metrics and observing patterns in agents' submissions, insurers can prioritize collaboration and training. They can cultivate top producers and offer additional training support to those who need it.

Fewer errors.

Mistakes make everyone unhappy. Automated business rules identify common errors and ensure the validity of content, so insurers avoid processing forms with incorrect information.

Get to the heart of matters with analytics.

Analytics enable underwriters to work smarter rather than harder. Basic analytical models can generate risk scores, identify quick declines and ensure compatibility with insurers' portfolio appetites.

OptimaWrite-Intake For Insurance Carriers - YouTube

When automating new‑business submissions, insurers need to select technology that's flexible enough to handle multiple file formats and content, as well as advancements in optical character recognition and data exchange standards.

Another criterion is workforce training. Automation shifts insurer emphasis to validating forms and preparing underwriting cases. As a result, submission staffs need to be empowered to obtain the necessary territory clearances, preorder reports and initiate risk profiling.

By automating new‑business submissions, underwriters can sidestep operational inefficiencies that add little value and instead focus on better customer service and risk selection.

To learn more about our point of view, read our white papersee our solution collateral or visit our website.

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Balancing High-Tech with High Touch