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5 Distribution Arguments for Digital Underwriting Platforms

Alexander Stolte, Business Analyst, , MGM Technology PartnersAlexander Stolte, Business Analyst, ,MGM Technology Partners
Digitalization is changing the way market partners are conducting their commercial insurance transactions. State-of-the-art digital underwriting platforms can help reorient the process toward customer-centric and efficient models.

1. Digital underwriting platforms foster cohesion between insurers and brokers

Commercial insurers value standardized digital products, whereas customer-facing brokers worry more about customization and product exclusivity. Brokers and insurers are both working to make their sides more efficient—digital products for insurers take brokers’ business models into account, and brokers proactively seek out efficiency both on their and from their insurer partners. And this is how market partners win together: making their digital business models sync using the handshake of collaboration.

For all market participants in the insurance SME sector, the goal is to enable the business to run entirely automatically: from the invitation to tender to the definition of cover and claims settlements. Yet despite its great potential, SME business have yet to achieve this level of automation. The cause is clear: in spite of the availability of standardized products, lengthy internal processing times and time-sucking manual labor make the move too expensive for these companies.

A digital underwriting platform links all market partners who want to conduct their business digitally together.

The right system increases efficiency and customer orientation at all levels, and it can accelerate the entire underwriting and referral process. And automation processes for offers, extended contract clauses, and renewals, become easy to create and sustain.

2. Digital underwriting platforms reduce time to market while providing high-quality, custom products

What does it mean to create and manage digital product portfolios?

For insurers, brokers and other distribution partners, it means that they need to convert data and rules for risk assessment into a structured, digital form that software can read and interpret.

A single, technical product framework is the result of this process. Users take core building blocks (for example, underwriting, coverage, and claims models) and combine it into a single digital product. Digital product variants must be set up for each digital partnership, as it must cover the nuanced requirements for both the broker and insurer.

Would underwriters be able to do this modeling themselves?

Yes, if the platform offers to make data modelling possible even for technical experts without programming knowledge (low-code development is particularly helpful for this process). Underwriters are enabled to develop, test, and launch products themselves in the shortest possible time. The time to market is thus considerably reduced.

3. Harmonization for products and distribution channels

Everyone involved—from business customers, to brokers, to MGAs, pools, financial institutions, aggregator platforms, affinity, and “white labelling” partners—must master a multitude of distribution and media channels in order to fully exploit the economic opportunities.

Brokers and agents in particular, as distribution partners for insurers, strive for tailored risk coverage at the best price. The ability to offer their customers quick, customizable, and cutting-edge solutions from renowned insurance companies guarantees commission income.

A platform that offers the ability to fill out a digital application form that connects to a digital point of sale or existing application form uploads allows the end-user to compare policies in minutes. Market partners of insurers benefit from the quick turnaround for offers and policies and can directly provide their customers with a quote and policy suggestion in minutes when such a process is instituted correctly.
Further benefits include:

• Storing the individual underwriting models and ratings agreed with the partners, adapting them in real time, and automatically incorporating them into enquiries and offers. At the same time, compliance with applicable laws and regional regulations is automatically supported. And: documents are pre-filled and automatically generated.

• Automating and standardizing the sales and underwriting processes to run efficiently and fully align with existing underwriting and referral rules.

• Providing underwriters with real-time access to all data and for easy collaboration. This also includes referral notifications with due dates and the “four-eyes principle”—a system that uses at least two underwriters to control the workflow. Underwriting worksheets and rating models are integrated, and all automatically generated documents, mandatory contract amendments, and invoices are pre-filled with existing information.

• End-to-end process integration enables smooth cooperation and risk coverage between industrial customers, brokers, and insurers.

Personalized point-of-sale per sales partner

Personalized digital point-of-sale enables distribution partners to find an innovative and compliance-compliant risk solution for their customers in just a few minutes. Simplified tendering and increased market transparency can lead to an increase in gross written premiums. This outcome creates growth and profitability even in new markets.

• Automated quotations are generated in just a few minutes. This means real time underwriting.

• All participants can enjoy a user-friendly, responsive user interface that provides clear orientation and easy operation.

• Distribution partners have access to and control over their overviews of all his tenders and offers, all documents are available in digital form and can be downloaded individually.

• A faster, automated underwriting and referral process also facilitates an overview of policies and renewals.

4. Complete Data Ownership
Whoever has the data controls the digital business.

The battle for customer data in the SME business between insurers and brokers is in full swing. Retaining rights over one’s own data on a community platform is a great asset for every market partner.

The platform operator must guarantee this security and his own neutrality one hundred percent. If insurers or brokers are platform operators themselves, the question of neutrality must be answered convincingly. This situation is about trust and politics—brokers do not want to share too much customer information because they often fear that the insurer will sell directly to the customer. Rules of engagement and years of trust underpin these interactions.

5) Open interfaces

A modern underwriting platform shouldn’t be a standalone system. It must be fully integrated into the insurance or broker company’s existing infrastructure and adapted to the existing back-office processes.

For this purpose, the modernized digital underwriting platform offers optional interfaces to existing legacy systems of the connected platform partners including integration via ACORD or web service interfaces.

The general integration capability to all kinds of external data are in demand on the market, be it data from sensors, data from other service providers (such as collection companies or fraud detection), and especially integration to rating engines and existing special solutions for risk analysis.

Increasingly, “conversational interfaces” (voice, chat, messaging) are also required – and not least for the integration of voice assistants.

Conclusion

There are also platforms that fail. The reasons most frequently cited on request: lack of acceptance in the market, overly complex operation, and lack of neutrality of the platform operator.

Both insurers and brokers need a jointly developed open platform with many market participants as possible, in which each platform participant operates autonomously and maintains its data sovereignty.

For collaboration and distribution, a decentralized point-to-point connection can be established with each partner. Using digital products and individually agreed terms and conditions, a network of bilateral relationships is created, which enable up-to-date risk coverage and growth.
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