By Ken Leibow
Published in Broker World Magazine January 1, 2021
We all had to adapt to change beginning nine months ago with the pandemic. A distributor’s Agency Management System (AMS) must improve its quality of service for agents/advisors, field underwriting (exams) needs to be safe, and turning Inforce data to action is critical for advisors to manage their client’s policies. Here is an inside look on how life insurance solution providers adapted and innovated to these new challenges in 2020.
Agency Management Systems Essential for Distributors during COVID
Life insurance distributors in the USA and Canada faced the same challenges during COVID in 2020. I reached out to Equisoft whose Agency Management System (AMS) is the most widely used in Canada for life insurance distributors, and it is also available in the USA. I also met with OneHQ whose modern, easy-to-use CRM/AMS gained momentum in 2020.
David Nicolai, vice president, Insurance Solutions at Equisoft explains how back office automation is essential for servicing their advisors, “How do distributors stay relevant in times of accelerated change? That’s a critical question we’ve heard distributors ask so often over the past nine months. The answer, for some, is that it has been difficult—to pivot quickly and execute on a new value proposition that will enhance their ability to attract and retain the best advisors—if they are still running their business with manual, largely paper-based processes. There’s too much drag in the system. Innovation, no matter how creative their thinking is, will be hard to implement. On the other hand, we have clients who went from 100 percent paper-based to almost entirely automated and digital when they implemented the Equisoft/centralize agency management system. That made all the difference. When COVID hit and distributor staff, advisors and clients could no longer meet in person, their transition to the new reality was almost seamless. App processing, advisor communication, inforce services—all continued at pace because they didn’t rely on paper and mail. Clients received the support they needed in difficult times. Advisors appreciated the service and value their distributors were able to provide in helping them continue to meet their clients’ needs.”
Meeting with Brett Barker, Senior Account Executive at OneHQ, he provided not only information about their AMS, but client experiences during 2020. Tailored specifically for insurance distribution, OneHQ is an extremely powerful yet easy-to-use system. It’s highly configurable, replacing disjointed systems by bringing the CRM, AMS, and Compensation together plus integrating all other systems into one place. Brett explained, “Our user-friendly interface and personalized modules help give each department a dialed-in system to maximize results. As an example, a OneHQ customer recently made the move from their legacy system to OneHQ because their back office and sales teams had very little communication between systems. Wanting more data visibility for sales and back office efficiencies, the team moved to OneHQ and for the first time in years they had access to all of the information they needed within seconds. In the end, sales activity increased 20 percent and OneHQ’s innovative platform is providing better service to agents by freeing up the back office teams from running reports and answering questions.”
With the changes brought about by COVID-19 and more focus on how technology can impact sales internally and for their agents, OneHQ has witnessed a tidal wave of new clients. Their modern technology that focuses on increasing sales without sacrificing service is giving their clients an edge during these rapidly changing times. Brett continued, stating that OneHQ is increasingly seeing more of their clients beginning to offer their agents a full technology strategy starting with the CRM that integrates with their back-office system. In addition, this also makes the IMO much “stickier” with their agents. To sum it all up, Kyle J. Ginavan, CEO, OneHQ, said, “There have always been many good technology options available to insurance agents, but never a full technology strategy. While the securities industry has well-thought-out technology strategies for financial advisors, insurance distribution has typically lagged in this area. However, with COVID, we’re certainly starting to see that change.”
Exam Safety: Simplifying through Innovation
Underwriting is key to the life insurance new business process. For term insurance, a drop ticket with an exam still dominates the higher percentage of cases in 2020. Paramed exam companies are the front lines for underwriting. I reached out to Ryan Janeway, founder and CEO of MediPro Direct. Ryan explained that at this stage of the pandemic, protecting field medical teams and applicants requires access, innovation, and adaptation. Said Janeway, “Very few companies are positioned as effectively as MediPro Direct to actually improve customer experience during this crisis. MediPro Direct founded Vanguard Genetics LLC in 2015 to gain access to clinical and genetic testing services that can aid underwriters in policy-making decisions now and into the future. Under the current circumstances, our clinical lab association has provided immediate access to necessary PPE, as well as rapid COVID antigen testing to ensure the safety of our customers and team.”
As innovators, the teams at MediPro Direct and Vanguard Genetics helped bring rapid antigen testing to market and are now validating saliva test collection methods to simplify the collection process for these tests. Additionally, their teams have reduced manufacturing costs by up to 70 percent in order to dramatically improve public access to testing—which, combined with the distribution of vaccines, are key to getting customer business and lives back on track. Under proper credentialing, these tests can be used in the office and in the field to help ensure safety during insurance exams, clinical trials, and other medical interactions. MediPro Direct has adapted to the current environment by creating unique tools and processes such as its Tier1 Network™, to increase examiner coverage for carriers, its Quality First™ system to dramatically improve access to real-time quality data for carriers, and its RemoteID™ system for scaling and improving tele-interview processes without the need for fixed call centers.
Inforce Policy Data Turns to Action
As the digitization of the life insurance industry persists, the concept of shared visibility of data is becoming more relevant. Shared visibility of information across distribution partners helps to keep carriers, BGAs, and advisors all aligned on what’s working as it should and what areas have room for improvement. When it comes to inforce policy management specifically, that shared visibility is especially important. But timely exchange of information is not enough to satisfy a proactive, compliant, and efficient inforce management strategy.
Visibility of inforce data alone is table-stakes. As you continue to seek ways to not only differentiate but also provide more value to your distribution partners, you need a way to make that data and information you share with each other actionable. That’s where a platform like Proformex comes in as the right partner for you and your community. Proformex connects visibility to efficiency, simplicity, and opportunity. By aggregating data and giving everyone access to it—their platform takes that data and provides you with powerful analytics and insights that you and your distribution partners can use to make data-driven decisions that produce real-world outcomes. And there’s no manual burden involved; by automatically surfacing both risks and opportunities to you and your distribution partners, you’ll now have the ability to proactively manage potential problems and seize revenue-generating opportunities. It’s a win for everyone, from carrier to client.
Simplifying the life insurance new business experience impacts agents, distributors, carriers and consumers. Mining and analyzing life inforce data and turning it into action creates new sales opportunities for advisors to engage with their clients. COVID obviously accelerated innovation in life insurance technology in 2020. For those solution providers that have adapted and taken on the challenges head on with new innovations, they will have staying power in our industry moving forward in 2021.