Discover New Innovations In The Life Insurance Underwriting Process
By Ken Leibow
Originally published in Broker World Magazine
It seems in 2021 that every couple of months I learn about a software solution, new process, or new service that innovates, enhances, and accelerates life insurance underwriting. There are now platforms for engaging the life agent, and outsourcing the BGA underwriting tasks that helps accelerate the informal process. Solution providers have created for carriers new innovative outsource underwriting services that result in reduced costs and more efficiencies. And yes I continue to share new information on APIs, specifically impacting the whole underwriting experience from digital point-of-sale to a carrier’s back office.
Automating and Accelerating the Informal Process for Impaired Risk Cases
You don’t often see a fully automated platform for agents for tracking underwriting quotes. BackNine Insurance, a leading BGA, has a software solution called Back Office Support System (BOSS), which helps independent agents and larger agencies alike in cultivating new opportunities while keeping everyone informed 24/7 on current quotes, requests, and case updates. The BOSS platform supports anyone selling life insurance by providing structure to write the type of business that best suits the needs of respective clients—from start to finish. BOSS essentially provides instant access to managing the lifecycle of all agents’ policies. Policy status, values, and beneficiaries for multiple carriers are housed in one location, allowing agents to efficiently service their clients. Agents are also able to optimize all elements of their business as the platform also allows them to view appointments, cases, commissions, quotes, and reporting, and it creates a digital hierarchy for commissions within an agency. And, it integrates seamlessly with the Quote & Apply e-application and quoting system.
Ian Ryan, brokerage director at BackNine Insurance, explained, “Impaired risk quotes (also known as quick quotes) are able to be tracked within the BOSS platform. If an application is submitted and the case isn’t approved, the reasons for the decline are sent, or other quotes are provided that the client was approved for with other carriers. This response time is quite efficient, typically within 24-48 hours. At that point we run quotes for the agent, then input all this information into our BOSS system. The client’s name and information won’t be sent to the carrier—they just require the client’s gender, age, and basic information—and it’s all anonymous. They won’t review documents or attachments at this point; we provide a brief synopsis of the client’s situation and any medical issues. It’s important to note that these are tentative offers based strictly upon the information provided. Once the response is received, we’ll include the impaired risk quote before sending a formal application.”
“These impaired risk quotes are typically used when an agent has a client with various health issues—so why waste their time on a formal application if the carrier isn’t going to be in a rate class they can afford. That being said, if the client has one or more health issues that are identified in the MIB or with prescriptions, the quote can change. It’s not a guaranteed offer; it’s tentative based upon the information we give for review. All of these responses and information are saved, and agents can go back into BOSS wherein they can view the carriers that have and haven’t responded. There’s also an easily accessible impaired risk quote section within BOSS where agents can find their client’s name, see exactly what information was sent to carriers, and what responses have been received.”
Outsource Underwriting Services for Distributors and Carriers
Employee Pooling (EP) is renowned for helping customers transform software platforms into software systems, finding the perfect integration of software and expert human capital to deliver solutions that increase efficiencies. For 10 years, EP has partnered with hundreds of distributors, financial institutions, and software companies to make the shift to working smarter by removing obstacles getting in the way of increasing profits and enhancing the customer experience. EP provides straight through processing solutions from sales support and agent appointments to case management and underwriting through commissions and policy services, and countless other tasks that are guaranteed to increase connectivity with your customers and increase profits.
You can finally stop putting your clients through a blind and seemingly endless, expensive, relationship-killing journey that is the traditional informal process. EP Accelerated Informal (AI) will take a case from darkness to light with just $50, an authorization and 24 hours. EP’s in-house underwriters use a rich medical data retrieval platform that delivers a comprehensive applicant profile using prescription drug and clinical lab history, and prescribing physician and actuarial data. In just one day, you have a professional risk summary that points you in the right direction for shopping a case.
Management Research Services, Inc. (MRS) has introduced its newest capability: Outsource Underwriting Services for insurance carriers. With over 30 years of life and health insurance experience, MRS is adding to its robust insurance automation capabilities by building on its proprietary technology platforms. The benefits gained through MRS’ turn-key underwriting services will provide agencies quicker processing as well as time and money savings. MRS and its insurance automation technologies keep carriers at the vanguard of an auto-code movement, allowing them to take advantage of an evolving insurance industry going through a significant digital transformation. MRS’ Outsource Underwriting Services will provide a variety of opportunities, including platform underwriting referrals, fulfillment of the chief underwriting role, audits, APS review/summary by the underwriter, MIB maintenance, MRS AutoCode model inclusion and contestable claim review.
MRS assists with insurance cases referred to underwriting for a decision in which the automated platforms could not make a determination or when additional information is required with intervention by an underwriter. MRS can provide a complete underwriting review and interpretation of attending physician records in conjunction with client acceptance guidelines as well as do periodic audits to remain compliant. For carriers that require underwriters to assist with short-term overflow, handle unanticipated fluctuations in business volumes, or are looking for a strategic outsourcing underwriting partner to support on a long-term basis.
Standardizing Part 2 Medical Questions for Speed-to-Market
The fulfillment process behind the scenes takes quite a bit of money, time and effort to implement from Part 1 questions and forms in a drop ticket, to Part 2 reflexive questions for a call center or digital Paramed. ApplicInt has just launched their “FAST Complete Suite.” It’s a low code, user customizable at a low cost which only takes two to three weeks to implement. The secret sauce is in the best of breed reflexive questions for impairments or positive responses. “FAST U*Complete” is the consumer facing quoting and eApp; “FAST CallComplete” is the reflexive scripted interviews for call centers; and “FAST ExamComplete” is reflexive interview for examiners to accurately collect carrier compliant questions. Top level Part 1 questions are easily customizable and mapped to state-filed forms; and data flows seamlessly from the consumer, call center, paramedical provider to the carrier.
APIs Supporting Underwriting for Carrier Policy Admin Systems
Everyone is building new technology based on APIs. I reached out to EIS whose platform is considered cutting edge. EIS is a global insurance software company and industry leader for carrier policy administration. Their EIS SuiteTM is an open, flexible platform of core systems and digital solutions that liberate carriers to accelerate and scale innovation, launch products faster, deliver new revenue channels, and create powerful customer experiences. Digital point of sales solutions, call centers for life insurance fulfillment, and other third party trading partners can create a personalized underwriting experience at the individual consumer level as well as at the product level through APIs from a carrier policy admin system and underwriting workbench. A flexible-configurable platform that uses cloud-based technology is able to trigger the API calls that are necessary through a solid rules engine and the right reflexive questioning. This is ideal for the industry for multiple reasons. 1) It allows carriers to reduce underwriting costs per applicant by only calling out to the additional data that is needed based on individual rules; 2) It speeds up the underwriting process, regardless of being fully underwritten or straight-through processing (STP); and, 3) It provides customers with a personalized experience based on who they are, the products they are applying for, and their own health rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach.
EIS’ Cloud-native, microservices, API-based platform gives carriers the ability to be underwriting agnostic. To personalize underwriting at the individual and product levels. Through its extensive API library it enables quick and easy integrations with not only established third-party sources that support underwriting such as Aura, Magnum, MIB, Milliman, ExamOne, etc., but also those third party sources. In addition, the Underwriting Workbench provides all of the collected information in one, easy-to-use system rather than having to go out to multiple systems (such as internal legacy solutions or external web-based applications) to pull in information for human-based underwriting. It keeps all of the external third-party data within the policy admin solution so that data is never lost and can be used down the line for claims.
The EIS Suite sends real-time notifications and updates to the distributor and agent keeping them informed through the underwriting process. At any time, an agent/broker can monitor the status of their clients, see where they are in the process, and get notifications from the underwriter (or third-party call center) if additional information is needed. It can trigger the agent into action to reach out to the applicant to ask for more info or to give them a nudge if they are taking too long to get their APS documentation or paramedical exam. With the EIS Suite persona-based applications, agents are kept in the loop at every stage in the policy lifecycle, from underwriting and service to claims.
Is it advances in technology, COVID, or just coincidence that we have recently seen a flood of innovations in the life insurance underwriting process? Whichever way, from Electronic Health Records (EHR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), to Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Predictive Analytics, underwriting automation continues to flourish. Don’t be surprised that I make more discoveries and share them in a future Tech-Tock article.