Bottlenecks in underwriting new policies

Agent delays are due to incomplete orders, the need to produce multiple scenarios, or seasoned agents’ reluctance to use technology. Digital delays are associated with electronic signatures, telephone inquiries, and a lack of real-time feedback. Finally, process delays, although inevitable, could be reduced if the processing processes were more transparent.

The study shows that communication and business analysis are often one-sided. For example, insurance companies analyze multiple indicators, but they are indicators related to the performance of their business: the number of cases completed, total filings, etc. Although there is an analysis of agent experience, it is often conducted informally and falls under different departments (sales, distribution, marketing, IT) that do not integrate their observations into a unified unit. Thus, the study notes, “Insurance companies are rarely aware of bad customer experiences.”

Certainly, insurance companies are active in improving the application process, especially by using information technology, which they prefer above all else as a tool that can make things better. For example, they have created access portals where officials can fill out application forms electronically, an entry point that has been reinforced by the pandemic. It remains that insurers are surprised that agents are not using these platforms more.

On the other hand, the study highlights other electronic processes not in place that can help reduce transmission errors and speed up their processing, particularly mechanisms for pre-filling forms and real-time chat sessions. Agents are therefore obliged to resort to oral communications by telephone, but it takes place after the application has been submitted, when they should instead accompany the preparation of the application.

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However, even in these digital ways, communications remain one-way. The study notes that “insurers want to send data to the agency’s management system, but are reluctant to accept the flow of data entering their central systems.” Sure, insurers have justified the reservations, fearing for the security of their IT systems, but “this need for data governance contrasts with the growing pressure for consolidation, which comes primarily from major public agents of brokerage and management.”

Another hot spot from the study, according to the surveyed IT managers’ perception, 65% of agents are somewhat satisfied with compensation technologies, and 22% are not completely satisfied. The latter requires faster and more flexible pay.

The study deals with the American experience. To find out the situation in Canada, we contacted four Canadian insurance companies: Canada Life, Desjardins Insurance, Manulife and Sun Life. They all refused to give us the slightest comment.

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