By Roy Goodart
Chief Products and Innovation Officer
Paperless Solutions Group, Inc.
Hey there fellow InsurTech Express readers, I wanted to share an article I wrote back in 2015. Yep, just about five years ago give or take a couple of months. It also marks my tenth year of building eDelivery solutions for this market – crazy to think I have designed and built three multi-carrier solutions over this time. No wonder my head hurts so much.
You know what’s both funny and sad? Reading through this article it struck me that very little has changed; yet the voices of distribution keep getting louder, and multi-carrier solutions keep getting stronger with more functionality/benefits than any one carrier can provide.
So, carriers – why keep building these solutions on your own? I speak with many of you every week where the story of not having enough resources and too many projects stand in the way letting you update or even simply keep your own ePolicy delivery offering current. Isn’t time – yes, after a decade of stumbling through ePolicy delivery to think differently?
Carriers and Distributors, I’m curious to your thoughts…
Original article below posted March 26, 2015 ————————————
We are coming up on almost eight years of delivering life insurance policies electronically, yet there still seems to be a misalignment between what distributors want and what carriers are delivering (no pun intended). This was never more apparent than at one of the industry’s largest events a couple of weeks back.
Over the years, several carriers have created electronic policy delivery systems in hopes of dramatically reducing costs, shortening cycle times and increasing placement ratios. Although cost savings are being realized, cycle times are down by about 19 days and placement lift is averaging 5-6%, overall adoption is still low for the independent channel. Most carriers have been left scratching their heads asking the question, why?
So, to help try and solve this mystery I did a little homework and met with a number of brokerage agencies. What I found were the five biggest factors as to why distributors and their agents aren’t using your eDelivery system.
Here’s what they said.
You’re One of Many and They are Lost in The Crowd. The single biggest contributing reason, by far, is the fact that carriers who sell most of their policies through independents and Broker Dealers are “not supporting” a multi-carrier solution. Don’t believe me? The most recent survey conducted by the Life Brokerage Technology Committee (LBTC) surfaces this issue (See quotes at the end of this article.) Your distributors don’t have the resources to train their own staff on fifteen different systems and fifteen different ways of processing, let alone train two thousand plus agents. Your distributors are desperate for multi-carrier solutions. It’s the only way carriers will ever start to break ground in gaining eDelivery adoption within this channel.
Your Workflow Stinks. Most single carrier eDelivery solutions rarely meet the workflow needs of the independent channel. All your distributors hear is “it’s my way or the highway” when it comes to varying workflow scenarios. This group tends to have many special deals and arrangements such as sub-GA’s, centralized processing centers and selling agreements with broker dealers. A rigid workflow makes it almost impossible for this group to support their unique relationships. What does that mean for you as a carrier? If you can’t meet all of their needs they won’t play in your sandbox for half of their business.
Lack of Integration. Both agencies and agents want platforms that integrate with the other systems they use day in and day out. Lack of integration with Agency Management Systems, CRM and other third party platforms means that these users have to remember multiple user ids for access, double key information and rely on other sources for updates. Integration with third party platforms isn’t only important for overall adoption, it’s absolutely critical.
Inability to Promote and Market eDelivery. Each one-off carrier solution has some great functionality but none look the same or even come close to working the same. This makes it hard for a distributor to accurately promote the benefits of eDelivery because agents are finicky and get upset if “things are not as advertised.” Add this to the fact that agencies are busy trying to help sell and close your insurance transactions and they don’t have the time to come up with promotional content and marketing for eDelivery from scratch.
Lack of New Functionality and Innovation. There are some really good homegrown carrier eDelivery systems on the market. You may be one of these carriers. If you are, can you remember the last really great new piece of functionality that was added since it had first been implemented. I would wager to guess you could count them on one hand. Resources are tight all over, and in some instances projects for carriers can be two or three years out. This typically means that once a project like building an eDelivery platform is completed and up and running, little to no new functionality is introduced. This drives users away fast, especially if it missed the mark the first time around.
Beyond the five reasons why distribution hates carrier eDelivery systems, one other important consideration for the carrier is the cost for creating an eDelivery platform. The development costs and ongoing maintenance of a home-grown e-delivery system can be as much as 20 times more than the cost of just licensing a multi-carrier SaaS based offering.
These are just a few reasons why one-off carrier solutions are seeing low adoption for eDelivery by independent distributors and their agents. It’s not because the agency doesn’t want to support it, or their agents are too old or don’t like technology, it’s because the industry has made it hard for them to do their part of embracing the concept and moving away from paper. The benefits to be had for carriers who fully support eDelivery is real. Just think about what shaving 19 plus days off your cycle time and increasing your placement lift by 5-6% for this channel would mean to your business. It’s not small, is it?
What your distributors are saying – not your vendors – It’s time to listen up!
The LTBC survey was conducted in the last quarter of 2014 and its findings published in November 2014 to its members. The following are sample quotes provided by independent distributors about ePolicy Delivery, their experiences and their desires.
Are you Listening? Here are some actual responses from distributors…
“we would like all carriers on the same platform so it’s a consistent user experience for our agents and their clients. Right now, only Lincoln and The Standard are on a multi-carrier platform.”
“…The lack of universal e-delivery process for each carrier can be confusing for our staff and agents.”
“Not enough carriers offer e-policy delivery… we want a multi-carrier solution”
“The various platforms drive away the agents, it would be good to have consistency and offer one platform for all the carriers.“
“…Agents are not happy learning all the carrier ways”
“…See more and more carriers offering (eDelivery) on their websites which is also confusing to the agent.”
“Again we have many different processes on e-delivery….agents and GA’s do not want to learn 30 different ways to process the policy”
“Too many processes and not enough carriers on multi-carrier platforms that meet requirements of BGAs.”
“Need a uniform delivery process for each carrier.”
“One platform that many carriers would approve…. eDelivery would be great if there were more carriers onboard supporting a single system.”
“Multi-carrier platform that is customizable to our workflow”