Life And Annuity Inforce Policy Service Innovations
Written by Ken Leibow
Originally published in Broker World Magazine
There have been many recent technology advancements in life insurance and annuity policy owner service processing. Back in the day the agent or the policy owner had to call a life carrier’s toll-free phone number to speak to a customer service representative who would then mail forms to the policy owner to complete and mail back. A simple beneficiary change could take weeks. Later, using fax machines and email, the process accelerated but was still not efficient. In recent years the next iteration was carriers building client account portals on their website. The portal would provide some policy information and the ability to download a PDF form and upload it to send it to the carrier. These client portals later had more self-service capabilities. This leads us to today, with taking life and annuity inforce policies and leveraging data for advisor servicing, analysis, mobile consumer self-service, and carrier policy admin automation.
Agent Inforce Policy Management Platform Through Data Analytics
As a distributor, your success depends largely on your advisors’ success. At times that codependency can be a source of tension, especially if you’re not both equipped with processes and tools that help you optimize your efforts and output. For example, you may want your advisors to do routine policy reviews on their entire inforce book because you know that practice often leads to meaningful conversations with clients that lead to new sales opportunities. But for advisors with large books of business that’s an unmanageable task. If left to their own manual devices, those reviews simply won’t get done and your advisors will be unknowingly leaving all those sales opportunities untapped. Even if you provide them with a platform that consolidates all their inforce data, it’s still not enough.
A solution to this problem would be an Inforce Policy Management Platform like the one offered by Proformex, which provides actionable, intelligent data that is prioritized for you and your advisors. Proformex surfaces opportunities and risks so you know with just a few clicks which policies need you and your advisors’ attention most. That’s inforce management made smarter, not harder, thanks to powerful data analytics and technology. Proformex’s automated policy monitoring is crucial to meeting the policyowner expectations throughout the life of their contract.
Another inforce policy management platform for distributors and agents is NIC developed by Insured Connect. NIC is a multi-carrier inforce data and technology platform that empowers life insurance distributors and agents with access to their inforce life and annuity data. NIC partners directly with carriers to receive daily data feeds and automatically generate sales and service opportunities from the inforce data, helping distributors and agents to monetize their book. Through APIs the inforce data can be integrated with agency management systems, CRMs, and other marketing systems for the purpose of creating sales and marketing campaigns. This also eliminates the need of having to go to carrier websites to see inforce policy information.
Consumer Mobile Inforce Self-Service
San Jose-based insurtech leader Sureify recently held a webinar to address the relatively slow progression of life insurers toward self-service initiatives. Connecting to older or multiple systems can be difficult, and the industry as a whole has been reluctant to upgrade core systems that can integrate with the new digitized mobile environment. The company’s LifetimeSERVICE module solves a major dilemma for insurers–it provides a digital solution that meets the growing demand for self-serve capability, but it integrates directly with policy administration systems for a comprehensive digital transformation eliminating the need to start from scratch with implementation.
Sureify CEO Dustin Yoder says that the industry understands the value of offering more robust customer self-service, but some still have not made the move to put the end user’s experience at the center of development for self-service initiatives. “Many insurers we talk to start with what can—or can’t—be done based on the limitations of their core systems,” he said. “In truth, those core systems must be modernized through digital means to alleviate pain points. Anything that begins with what the policyholder wants is worth the effort and will deliver results.”
Carrier Policy Admin System Automation for Servicing Annuities
MDI, Management Data, Inc., has worked with long-time customer National Catholic Society of Foresters (NCSF) to implement a new online quoting for single premium annuities and for supplementary contract payouts. Previously, if a policy owner wanted to know how much monthly income would be available from withdrawal, surrender, or claims proceeds, NCSF would have to refer this request to the actuarial department to get the calculations done. Then a policy service rep would communicate the information to the customer.
Now the policy service rep can go to their FIMMAS policy administration quote screen for annuity/supplementary contract payouts. They enter some basic info, select a specific payout option, and then get an immediate quote of the calculated monthly income. This calculation for supplementary contracts uses the greater of a) the result based on current annuity mortality and interest, and, b) the result based on the mortality and interest guaranteed in the original product.
Lisa Bickus, NCSF CEO, says, “We needed help rolling out new products in a more cost effective, timely and efficient manner. The MDI system is simple to use and a valued and trusted partner that wants to ensure our success.” FIMMAS quoting saves NCSF much time in the workflow and allows policy service to provide quick info to the policy owner or agent. Also, the quotes can be saved and several variations of the quotes can be run. The same calculations used in quoting are also used in FIMMAS new business when processing a new annuity or supplementary contract case.
Advanced Data Analytics Driving the Life New Business and Inforce Servicing Process
Automated risk decision making and data analytics has been woven into the fabric of life insurance new business and inforce policy service processes from digital point of sale to carrier back-office systems. In the center of it all is LexisNexis. So, I reached out to Jena L. Kennedy, senior director, Life Vertical Market, at LexisNexis Risk Solutions:
“Even as a global pandemic has served to be one of the most powerful drivers of digital transformation the life insurance industry has seen, we believe there are important lessons to be learned. Most companies would be wise to understand that it’s not enough to just ‘go digital.’ In fact, if your approach is simply to automate an existing paper or manual process, you’ve missed the point. And that point is to intelligently leverage data and analytics to improve your workflow processes—not simply automate them.
Then, beware of tunnel vision: Understand that automation need not focus exclusively on underwriting. Think about the other points of contact that you have with consumers. Whether collecting data for an application, enabling self-service, or facilitating a claim, all of these ‘moments of truth’ are ripe for transformation and improvement, courtesy of data and advanced analytics. Do you provide a seamless consumer experience, pre-filling consumer data and verifying identity credentials? Introducing the right data and analytics can help substantially reduce the number of data collection points and can provide insight to help producers ensure they are submitting accurate data.
In fact, we are focused on providing producers with more insight at the point of sale/application to enable higher placement ratios, help determine the most appropriate payment plans for improved retention and customer satisfaction, and even identify proposed insureds who are most likely to pass automated underwriting. Using data and analytics at the point of service can also enable faster, more flexible, self-service options that help consumers feel in control but at the same time demonstrate that you will safeguard their data and their privacy.
We believe that the organizations who take the time today to properly optimize the use of data and analytics in their workflows will reap the benefits. According to McKinsey, ‘Companies that successfully deliver a remarkable digital experience while also keeping customers’ data safe can see a potential 20 to 35 percent boost in customer-satisfaction scores.’”1
The Future of Innovation for Life and Annuities
Where are we heading next for life and annuity innovation? Artificial intelligence (AI) has spawned a new field called “augmented analytics” which takes business intelligence to the next level of crunching vast amounts of data that can be applied to improve efficiencies in the life and annuity new business and inforce processes. AI will be used to build better customer experiences and use machine learning to automate tasks. Since the 72 million Millennials in the USA spend on average 3.7 hours per day on their mobile devices, it makes sense for carriers to invest in engaging with their policy owners in the mobile environment. IOT devices (wearables) for health and wellness will continue to grow for both customer engagement/retention as well as impacting the premium amount clients pay. Behavior economics will also play a role in the future of life insurance and annuities. Vendors are already creating algorithms to monitor books of insurance business online browsing habits. A customer, for example, who is looking online for a mortgage becomes a flagged event that they may need some more life insurance. These are models that Facebook and Amazon use for advertising products that have a specific interest to the consumer or related to the product they are purchasing. Stay tuned…