Solving Unique Pain Points For Life Insurance New Business And Underwriting

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By Ken Leibow

Published: August Broker World Magazine

 

There are a lot of changes happening in the life insurance industry because of COVID-19—market environment, types of insurance products, processes, and technology. As these changes are evolving, there are unique challenges impacting new business and underwriting. I want to show you some innovative solutions solving these pain points.

 

Life Carriers Need Predictive Underwriting in the COVID-19 World
In a perfect world insurance companies are changing their strategy in a void, a company changes pricing while the industry is static and the company can evaluate the impact on the policyholders and the profitability of the company over time. Due to new regulations, principle-based reserving (PBR) and a new standard mortality table, the 2017 Commissioners Standard Ordinary (CSO) Table, and now due to COVID-19, companies are changing pricing while the rest of the industry is also changing pricing. To be able to trace the impact of a change, to simulate strategies and make decisions quickly, companies must have reliable data and predictive technology (such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) to evaluate the impact in real time.

 

Companies are building complex products, and sophisticated underwriting protocols and benefit programs, to attract specific distributors, producers and customers or specific market segments or specific risks. Being able to simulate what-if scenarios and build strategies based on data allows companies to be more scientific and therefore generate better results. COVID-19 disrupted the way insurance companies onboard a policy, there is a move to eApp, underwriting is done remotely, the ability to take liquids has decreased. Companies that can predict the probability a policy will be placed and what would be the biggest driver to improve placement probability can help companies optimize their operation, reduce waste, and improve consumer satisfaction with the process.

 

iPipeline,® a leading provider of cloud-based software solutions for the life insurance and financial services industry, has integrated its InsureSight Case Analytics Platform with Atidot’s Predictive Analytics Models to analyze the impact of product and pricing changes based on prior sales performance and industry data. The ability to predict future performance based on product selection, producer group, producer, location, demographic and other critical factors, will enable life carriers to adjust product, pricing, or distribution strategy dynamically to optimize market penetration.

 

Transform Paper Apps into Digitized In-Good-Order Applications
In an ideal world we all want our agents to use eApp for submitting life insurance applications instead of paper so that they are submitted in-good-order, processed quicker, and automated as much as possible without having to manually handle the case. There are times when agents will paper-out of an eApp for various reasons or send paper apps to a BGA sending it down that NIGO, slow, expensive path. But now there is a solution to get the app back on track on the data highway. PaperClip, Inc., has a platform called Mojo. This is an innovative cloud-based service that digitizes the life insurance paper application from handwritten or typed text with 99.9 percent accuracy transforming it to data and data transactions.

 

Let’s say, for example, an agent sends a handwritten paper application to the BGA. The BGA then scans the paper application into Mojo, securely transforming the application into data. The BGA can use Mojo for several purposes. Mojo can send data to the agency management system (AMS) to auto-create the case. At the same time, Mojo can file the documents into the BGA’s document management system like PaperClip’s VCF System. And the application data transformed by Mojo can be sent to an eApp platform automatically to get it back on track and in good order. iPipeline has partnered with PaperClip whereby Mojo is seamlessly integrated into iGO eApp. iPipeline calls the integrated solution iGO Link. If the agent had papered-out of iGO, they still would have the opportunity from the BGA’s website to access iGO Link and get it back on track into the eApp process.

 

BGA’s can Reign in the Costs and Turn Around Times for Informals
Informal underwriting has not kept pace with the advances in formal underwriting. For decades there have been two forms of informal underwriting practiced by agents and agencies. One way, all the collection of health information is collected by the agency before formally presenting a prospect to carriers. When an agency does not have the resources of a support team nor a strong, cooperative relationship with the prospect, an agency will use a victim carrier’s formal underwriting to prequalify a prospect. With this second way, an agent’s investment may only be to find the carrier with the lowest Super Preferred rate, get a ticket app and let the carrier, the agency and the prospect do all the work until the carrier can come back with an offer. Often this offer is not Super Preferred and underwriting and selling starts from here.

 

Both processes are expensive and disruptive. Employee Pooling (EP) has a better solution. They can eliminate weeks of physical and emotional toll on all parties. EP’s accelerated informal platform uses data technology and human capital to give distributors on-demand access to the tools traditionally reserved for insurance companies. Tom Gray, CEO of Employee Pooling, said, “I have been on the distribution side of this industry for 30 years. This is how it has been. I have been determined to obtain solid underwriting data to use to get a meaningful tentative offer that can be counted on and reign in the costs and turn-around time. Our platform can find rich medical data, have it assessed by technology and our medical team and deliver an underwritable package, often within 24 hours. This way, the EP way, gives the agency the tools to put a summarized case up for bid and find the right carrier able to offer a premium that can be placed. The rest is a formality.”

 

eApp and Auto-Underwriting using an Omni-channel Sales Model
Life Insurance is still sold and not bought, however instant issue or simplified issue products can be quoted and applications electronically submitted through a consumer facing solution. This is not a carrier direct-to-consumer model because we are maintaining the agent ecosystem for the purpose of having the agent available for questions and for upselling and cross selling. There is a trend with several vendors today providing these eApp/Sales tools for agents and agencies. Management Research Services (MRS) has a unique platform that is No-Code, fully configurable electronic application platform. It can streamline requirement gathering during the application process, gathering data in the background (in real time) to reduce time with the applicant and provide an instant underwriting decision. Utilize the omni-channel approach to customize your sale, whether in an e-app, tele-app, or both. MRS’ seamless case management provides transparency for your agency and agents so they know where every applicant stands in the process.
COVID-19 and the unstable economy, with service providers who may or may not be in business tomorrow, it is time for BGAs and IMOs to take more control of their business by adding a call center to their agencies. Some of the benefits include increased customer satisfaction, higher conversion rate in completing submitted applications, and higher placement ratio. You also get an automated drop ticket experience that you control. A BGA who changes their model by adding a call center will get more efficiency and reduced costs in agent recruitment, freeing up specialists to focus on handling calls that utilize their expertise. There is consistent service when adding a call center which results in overall improved call quality.

 

BGAs and IMOs Can Take More Control of their Business by Adding a Call Center

A BGA will need a software solution that can seamlessly automate the drop ticket fulfillment process for the call center. ApplicInt’s CallComplete software is an end-to-end digital platform for a call center, already plugged into the carrier’s fulfillment process for completing the app with a client interview for term life drop tickets. CallComplete allows you to take control of the drop ticket process and better service your agents, automatically receiving the drop ticket from the eApp platform and then the carrier’s script, process, and voice signature are all integrated into CallComplete for either scheduling the exam or automatically ordering RX, MIB and MVR for an accelerating underwriting process.

 

Features of a Call Center for a BGA and IMO:

  • Real time assistance for the agent to help complete the drop ticket;
  • Warm transfer agent to client;
  • Call center can initiate the interview without a drop ticket;
  • Agent recruitment (prospecting);
  • Promoting new products and services, then handing over or scheduling to a specialist;
  • Front line to support agents for high level questions; and,
  • Agent pre-script before the carrier compliant interview and post-script cross-selling and agent referrals.

 

Yes, the digital sales model, whether agent-facing or consumer-facing, is being pushed in a direction requiring flexible, easy to use new business eApp tools with products and underwriting that can automatically make an underwriting decision when possible. This is driven by new market conditions like COVID-19 and Millennials. Whenever there is a break in the process there needs to be a doorway to get it back on track. These solutions enable life carriers, BGAs and agents to reduce their operational costs and become more efficient focusing on growing sales.

Filling The Gap With Human Capital Getting The Most Out Of Your System

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By Ken Leibow

Published in Broker World Magazine June 2020

 

Life insurance and annuity carriers figured out a long time ago that speed to market and reducing operational costs with a combination of outsourcing and technology for new business and claims, for example using third party administrators like SE2, EXL and Infosys-McCamish, was significant in allowing for more product launches and focusing on growing sales. A hybrid of this model offered by firms like Employee Pooling and eNoah has been hugely successful in the BGA space. I had the privilege to learn more about the value proposition these firms bring to the table for a life brokerage general agency (BGA) by talking with Tom Gray, founder and Michelle Anderson, head of marketing, L&C Division, at Employee Pooling, as well as Manoj Sherman, SVP, and Stacey Paulsen, director of insurance services, at eNoah.

 

A BGA Increases Focus on Sales with a Seamless Extension of their Team Using Employee Pooling
While daily operations for most agencies follow the same basic blueprint in processing, managing, and capturing new business opportunities, there is no one-size-fits-all in meeting a company’s needs to get the job done. The reasons to right-source your agency by seeking support from an offshore firm are diverse, but the expectations are the same–to extend operating hours through the U.S. nighttime and get the job done accurately and on-time without breaking the bank.

 

Companies like Employee Pooling can certainly position an agency to bring scale and bring stability to daily operations while increasing revenue, especially during these trying times when work volume can erratically ebb and flow. Agencies are also taking advantage of outsourcing options when faced with time restraints, or they simply lack the bandwidth to handle everything piling up on their plates. Why wouldn’t you turn to a BPO who’s seen and done it all, knows the intricacies of every major technology platform like Agency Integrator, SmartOffice, OneHQ, and SureLC, who knows all the rules and nuances of dozens of carriers, and has mapped out processes for every departmental task with care and detail? This level of skill and swiftness almost can’t be matched by any new office member. The bonus is these BPOs cost about the price of an intern.

 

According to Tom Gray, founder and president of Employee Pooling, LLC (EP), in addition to removing obstacles getting in the way of sales, the most important element for establishing a successful relationship with his customers is trust. “We treat every task that we do as if it were our own, whether it’s seeing an agent appointment through or handling comprehensive case management and commission build outs, we take ownership of the task at hand.” The EP team is literally woven into the fabric of a customer’s operations, and because they already know every component of the software technology that’s used in our industry, along with processes and best practices for every agency department from agent appointments, new business and commissions to inforce policy management, onboarding is swift and seamless. Gray adds that the customer relationship reaches a mutually meaningful level when EP earns their trust by assuming full responsibility for the tasks at hand.

 

In addition to onboarding customers who are looking to maximize their software performance or get more out of their current workforce, EP has taken on countless cases of “What now?” situations from customers who are faced with an unexpected circumstance that could significantly impact the overall flow of operations and their livelihood.

 

“These immediate employee departures can impact a company overnight,” says Gray, “And even the most dialed-in companies are not equipped to handle the workflow, do not know the ins and outs of software platforms like Agency Integrator, SmartOffice, OneHQ, or SureLC—or worse, they do not know the details of what’s involved in the process of that particular position that is suddenly vacant.” A recent example of the latter occurred when an EP customer suddenly and tragically lost their one and only case manager. They were at a complete loss and needed a case manager to step in overnight. EP was able to escalate from providing basic support to assuming all new business responsibilities in an instant.

 

Imagine having to step in and fill that role overnight…but EP rises and shines day in day out because of their expertise in every major technology platform, best in class processes, 24-hour service, and their customers’ trust.

 

BGAs Faced with Operational Challenges like COVID-19 are Using eNoah
The learning curve to onboard new talent is long, and finding experienced talent is not easy. It’s an extremely competitive space and with each BGA’s unique culture, finding the right person can be challenging not to mention costly. To add to the learning curve, the diversification of products coupled with state and federal regulations and the carrier’s own interpretation of compliance and the requirements that go along with them, have created a spiderweb of different processes. All which the BGA space has to consume and assist their advisors with. This role often falls on case management to be the “expert” for not only their advisors, but internally within their organization. They are also often involved in pre-sale activities to ensure paperwork and compliance is handled properly before the application hits their desk. eNoah has been successful in helping their BGA customers take on certain tasks so they can prioritize what is most important for their internal team members to focus on.

 

eNoah’s contingency plan ensures there is always an additional resource who knows your business and it’s needs. “We have resources ready with little to no onboarding to support our BGA customers. This also served us well with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Because of our proactive service model, we were able to support our customers during a transition to work-from-home without a drop in quality or time service,” says Stacey Paulsen, director of insurance services at eNoah.

 

In this “want it now” environment, providing consistent and timely customer service is table stakes. The ultimate challenge is how one maintains time service commitments with excellent quality, all while still being fiscally responsible. eNoah helps juggle these three pain points for their BGA partners by utilizing industry experts who are knowledgeable in all areas of the life of an application while bringing cost savings. eNoah uses a blended approach with a Stateside account manager who has over 20 years of experience in the BGA space. They understand and appreciate the unique differences each BGA brings to the table and work with them to create their own customized onboarding process to make it as seamless as possible.

 

“We want to be an extension of your office, supporting your culture and contributing to your goals and mission statement,’” Paulson stated. “It simply cannot be a one-size-fits- all approach. I love developing strategic partnerships with our BGA customers and truly understanding where they are today and where they want to go. We can help whether that is with a specific need, such as application scrub and entry into your AMS, to full end to end case management and beyond. We customize and support to your unique needs with a delivery team who has over 25 years of experience in the insurance services industry.”

 

Unique Projects for IMOs/FMOs/BGAs
I have been directly or indirectly working on some unique projects to help solve pain-points for IMOs, FMOs and BGAs. As a co-chair of the ACORD Life Inforce Product Working Group, I am helping build out standards for messaging life inforce policies like pre-lapse notifications, policy owner service change requests, term conversions, and inforce illustrations just to name a few. One of the popular inforce policy management platforms is offered by Proformex. As great as the system is in managing an agent’s book of business and discovering new sales opportunities, the critical fuel to function is “data” that gets inputted into the system manually and/or through a data feed. I learned that ePooling plays a key role working with BGAs to manage that data and get it into the inforce policy management system. Another unique project is around commission accounting. The commission accounting systems out in the market today are focused on the BGA commission workflow. These vendors have not directly addressed the needs of commission management for an IMO or FMO. eNoah, with a combination of technology developed internally coupled with using personnel to set up contracts, commission schedules and hierarchies, has been able to remove the commission pain-points and automate what was a very manual process for IMOs and FMOs.

 

With the need for a scalable professional workforce, a BGA’s back-office is servicing agents for licensing/contracting, new business, commission accounting, inforce policy management, and sales illustrations, while also providing product and underwriting expertise. Typically, BGAs are using just a couple of solution platforms, specifically an agency management system, to manage their business. Partnering with a firm like Employee Pooling or eNoah to reduce operational costs and improve efficiencies with the integration of experienced people and faster processes while leveraging the BGAs existing technology is available today.

 

 

ApplicInt’s End-To-End Digital Solution Accelerates The Drop Ticket Process

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ApplicInt is an innovative technology leader with the only end-to-end digital solution that includes multi-carrier quoting, eApp, integrated call center platform and digital paramed. The CallComplete solution snaps easily into any carrier’s call center. It has scripted reflexive interview questions for Part One and Part Two. Also, CallComplete can be used remotely as a fulfillment process for ExpressComplete term ticket or any third party ticket platform. Forms, including unique special authorizations required for plus-25 percent of APS records, are signed with voice or eSignature. It also uses data from Rx, MIB, MVR, and accelerates additional requirement ordering like an APS. ApplicInt has added four new modules that result in more accuracy and faster cycle time:

 

·        eLab Slip: Electronically collects Lab Slip Information.

·        ONE Touch: Cuts time to obtain a special authorization up to 90 percent for medical records.

·        Warm Transfer Complete: Client and data seamlessly transferred to call center by examiner.

·        Identity Complete: Securely verifies signers identity.

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What Is Life Insurance Straight Through Processing?

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By Ken Leibow – September 1, 2019

Broker World Magazine 

 

I get asked all the time: “What is life insurance straight through processing (STP)?” The answer varies because there are different perspectives based on whether you are a carrier, vendor, BGA, agent or consumer. Life insurance STP has evolved quickly because of the advancement of insurtech, with each piece contributing to the next phase (Term Ticket Model, Accelerated Underwriting—Predictive Automated Underwriting, Digital Sales Platform). So, let’s explore the different types of STP, the benefits today and the trends for the future.

 

Term Ticket Model
In the Distribution world, Straight Through Processing was defined as a Drop-Ticket or Term-Ticket during its peak years from 2011-2016—running a term insurance quote, then clicking a button to do an abbreviated eApp, and then ePolicy delivery. A term ticket is not a full eApp. The term ticket platform may be a proprietary platform like Legal & General AppAssist or a multi-carrier platform like iPipeline iGO. Basically, it involves filling out questions for most of a Part 1 and replacement information, then asking the best time to call your client. The data and pre-filled forms are sent to a call center at the carrier or a third-party service provider like ExamOne for example. The client gets a call that typically lasts 30 minutes or less. The person conducting the tele-interview asks questions to complete the Part 1 and the medical questions for the Part II of the life insurance application. The interviewer follows a reflective script. Signatures are captured for the medical authorization in some cases, and for all the relevant forms, via Voice Signature. The interviewer also schedules the Paramed exam.

 

Once the underwriter receives the lab slip from the exam, with the results from blood drawn from the client, and reviews all the necessary information captured in the interview, then they approve the case—unless the underwriter determines additional information is needed like a copy of medical records from a doctor or hospital (APS). If the case is approved as applied for, and the client has provided his or her email address and opted in for eDelivery, then a notification either goes out to the BGA, agent or client via email depending on the eDelivery workflow setup. The eDelivery process for the client is a ceremony of consenting to eDelivery, even though they already opted in, reviewing the policy, paying the balance of premium due either by credit card or EFT, and then eSigning the delivery requirements like an amendment or delivery receipt. The client then saves or prints their policy. The agent is notified, the case is placed in force, and commissions are paid. This is one example of Term Ticket STP, however each carrier has slight variations of the process described above, and different distribution channels, like direct marketers, have a modified version of a Term Ticket STP. Essentially, it’s the same model.

 

Benefits to the BGA and Agent:

  • Cases submitted in good order;
  • Handing off fulfillment to focus on sales;
  • Faster cycle time;
  • Higher placement ratio;
  • No chasing down delivery requirements—especially premiums;
  • Commissions paid faster;
  • Reduce travel costs in delivering a policy; and,
  • Seamless experience.

 

Benefits to the Carrier:

  • Cases submitted in good order;
  • Control over the fulfillment process;
  • Higher conversion rate from interview to exam;
  • Faster cycle time;
  • Higher placement ratio;
  • Ease of doing business; and,
  • Reduced costs of mailing and printing policies.

 

This article was originally published by Broker World Magazine, September 1, 2019. To read the complete article, then please click the Button below: