By Ken Leibow
Originally Published in Broker World Magazine April 1, 2021
COVID-19 has forced independent distribution into e-Engagement for life insurance and health related insurance products. Some technology vendors in the life insurance space have enhanced, configured, and marketed their solution platforms to support health products like Medicare supplemental insurance, long term care insurance, critical illness, and disability income insurance.
Medicare is now the fastest-growing segment of the health insurance market, with 10,000 baby boomers aging into the program every day. Medicare enrollment is expected to soar between 2021 and 2029, reaching 77 million enrollees by the end of the decade. That’s an increase of 1.5 million new enrollees each year. With that said, many have to make the decision of what plan they choose: Traditional Medicare and a supplemental insurance policy, often referred to as Medigap, which sees about 60 percent of the market share, or a Medicare Advantage Plan at about 40 percent. Regardless, open enrollment season is a busy one!
Digitizing Paper MedSup Insurance Applications
PaperClip Mojo is a collection of the best of technologies paired with human validation to achieve 99.9 percent accuracy at unimaginable speed. A perfect solution for the onboarding of Medicare supplement (MedSup) new business, Mojo4Medicare, the tailored version, makes the open enrollment period the same as any other day. Mojo4Medicare is designed to process unlimited Medicare application packets for a consistent turnaround time. By collapsing the cycle time, you avoid backlogs and deliver faster commission payout. Mojo4Medicare is an e-app alternative.
“There is no longer a need to increase resources, both infrastructure and labor, only to decrease those after the enrollment period,” states Suzy Tuck, vice president of sales. “With Mojo4Medicare you will enjoy the ability to maintain the processing of new business as received, increase your focus on case management without additional resources and have no adoption challenge. Staff will love it and realize that the enrollment period is like any other day!”
No-Code eApp for MedSup Insurance
Management Research Services (MRS) is an industry leader in developing customized digital and automation solutions for clients and partners. Recently, MRS led efforts to develop and help a New York brokerage firm struggling to collect In Good Order (IGO) applications from Medicare supplemental insurance (MedSup) clients in a timely manner. The main driver of these issues was that the current processes relied on legacy workflows and technologies that were unable to electronically ingest and automate the large number of handwritten applications they received. This resulted in the reliance of manual entry which consumed a large amount of time, energy, and resources. As issues and delays began to pile up, it became obvious that a new process would have to be developed to fit the needs of their operating systems and clients. MRS was identified as a potential solution to this problem and, upon understanding the challenges, MRS leveraged its no-code platform to quickly create a customized e-App to better automate the workflow. The MRS e-App was able to dramatically improve the workflows in the following areas:
- Collection of the applications 100 percent In Good Order (IGO).
- Substantial increases in policy processing and acceptance.
- A better way to follow-up on missing applicant data by sending a personal URL directly to the applicant so they could easily provide the missing data needed.
The immediate results seen were improvement of time to issuance, an increase in the number of applications completed IGO, and the streamlining of back office operational efficiencies that saved time, energy, and resources. Additional opportunities around customized reporting dashboards and better real-time data analysis were identified as ways to better serve agents in the field.
One of MRS’s core business principles is that once it onboards a new client into production, the work has just begun. MRS is constantly developing new features and capabilities and since customers are always on the most updated version of the platform, these innovations are immediately available to clients. For instance, MRS has identified new integration partners that will enable compliant video communication capabilities that better enable the remote sales processes critical in times like the COVID-19 crisis. MRS will continue to innovate and lead the charge in the future of no-code platforms that advance insurance automation and support stronger sales and operational efficiencies.
Life AMS Supports Health Products
Agency management systems (AMS) for life insurance have been retrofitted to support health products. I spoke with Equisoft, who has the number one agency management system in Canada, “Centralize,” which is now available in the USA. In Canada health products like critical illness and disability income insurance have been processed by MGAs on Centralize. In order to get a perspective of the problems solved for life distributors processing new business and commissions for multi-lines of business, Equisoft answered a series of questions about their AMS.
What key challenges do distributors face today? Distributors and National Accounts are data driven businesses, but they operate in an environment that has not fully digitally transformed. They take in massive amounts of data that must be processed, analyzed and acted upon, but in many cases the workflows still involve a great many manual steps. Paper apps are still being mailed to their offices. They have to be manually entered, then sent on for processing and approval. Tasks arising from the new business intake process (like follow-ups on paramedical issues) are not automated. In many cases commission payments, claims resolution and customer service are still not as fast, seamless and user-friendly as they could be. Related to those data issues, all distributors and national accounts are seeking to attract and retain more advisors. With the advent of new distribution models, such as robo-advisors, the distributors role in policy fulfillment is lessening, decreasing the advisors’ need for that part of the traditional distributor value proposition. Instead, distributors must find new ways to add value to advisor businesses as part of an emerging new value proposition that serves the digitally transformed insurance landscape. In the new world, advisors place more value on partnerships with those organizations that can help them grow their business.
How are Application Processes Automated? Distributors and national accounts need to be able to process new business from advisors on a daily basis. Our advanced case management workflow speeds up the underwriting process for distributors. Equisoft/Centralize allows them to enter policy applications either manually or through a feed from the carriers. They can send those policies through to the carrier and get them approved and in- force—giving distributors the ability to push the process from beginning to end. In a nutshell, distributors who use Equisoft/Centralize find there is less manual intervention needed from the distributors to see the policy through to in-force status. Our automations and case management workflow are unparalleled, ensuring our distributors’ clients can confidently and accurately process cases all the while providing excellent service to their clients—the advisors.
How is the platform improving back-office efficiencies? The ease-of-use of Equisoft/Centralize is a huge benefit for distributors. Many distributors, even today, are still getting paper applications—advisors are actually mailing them in. Then the distributor has to manually enter them. Equisoft/Centralize greatly automates this process, which creates efficiencies for distributors and makes for a better advisor experience. How does Equisoft contribute to the digital transformation of the independent insurance channel? Equisoft/Centralize is a very modern, rules-based solution. It is also central to the emerging digital value proposition for distributors—enabling distributors to better partner with advisors in the success of their practice. It identifies opportunities for advisors, removes obstacles in the processing of new business, and makes sure they get paid faster. In total, it helps all industry stakeholders achieve the end goal—making their clients’ financial goals a reality.
How COVID-19 Forced the BGA World into e-Engagement
We are now one year past the start of COVID-19 lockdown. Our world was turned upside down as we all faced a global pandemic. Many struggled to find the right process flow and adapt to new ways of doing business. Even carriers were pushed into a “forced pilot” of e-Engagement to insure they could get underwriting information, signature requirements and policies to the customer. The changes were swift and mandatory to support the ultimate customer, the applicant/insured and their beneficiaries. With this, agencies looked to process experts whether internal in their organization or others to help with the transition. Per Stacey Paulson, director of insurance services at eNoah iSolutions, “The beauty of the BGA space is each agency has their unique culture as to what works best for them and their customer base. This serves the greater good in meeting the needs of different customers in protecting their families. The struggle was real when some were forced into an electronic application process and not having the internal resources—all while moving to a work from home environment. I’m glad we were there to help our customers through this difficult time.”
While it’s hard to think of much positive to come out of COVID-19, the forced adoption of e-Engagement opened mindsets of how to do business moving forward. It took away some of the fear and challenged us to think of different ways to engage with our peers and current and future customers.