Streamlining underwriting: how digital data intake can improve agent and broker experience
The insurance industry has undergone massive changes in recent years. In the past, it utilized a single-channel, agent-based model for all products and services. However, that has changed as a wide variety of self-service and direct channels for purchasing insurance have become available.
That doesn’t mean that agents and brokers no longer have a role to play. Research shows that while customers want self-service options, they also want to continue to work with agents. For example, one survey found that although 84 percent of German respondents use online, self-serve options during the customer journey, 55 percent cannot imagine actually buying an insurance product online. They are looking for access to both types of channels and prefer to switch between them during their interactions with their insurance providers.
[.emph] of consumers cannot imagine buying an insurance policy online[.emph]
Therefore, despite the changes in the industry, agents and brokers continue to play a significant role, especially in the P&C commercial lines underwriting process. They are responsible for gathering and submitting information about potential policyholders, and their expertise and relationships with clients can be invaluable in accurately assessing risk and determining appropriate coverage.
Given the importance of their role, it is critical that agents and brokers have the tools to work in the most effective way possible. However, when they depend on manual data intake in underwriting, the process is far from ideal.
First of all, manual data intake is time-consuming and like any manual process, prone to errors. Customers are dependent on agents to enter their data. If they don’t have all the information and documentation at the beginning, or if there are errors in the intake process, it leads to a lot of back-and-forth between the customer and the agent. The lengthy process takes up valuable agent time and can cause significant frustration for customers.
Furthermore, manual data intake makes it difficult for agents, brokers, and underwriters to communicate and collaborate efficiently. This often leads to lost opportunities and inaccurate risk assessments.
Is there a better way for insurance carriers to leverage the new, multi-channel insurance ecosystem to create the best underwriting experience for both the customer and the agent? How can insurance carriers best enhance direct business models with in-person advice to customers in the complex underwriting process?
Implement digital data intake solutions
Digital data intake can solve many of the challenges that agents face in the underwriting process and enable seamless collaboration between underwriters and agents, even in a multi-channel ecosystem. Below are some of the advantages that digital data intake offers agents and brokers.
Agents and brokers earn commissions from sales, so the more time they have to dedicate to sales, the better their experience will be and the more value they provide to the insurance carrier.
However, when they’re forced to rely on manual data intake, they end up spending much of their time in a tedious back and forth between customers and underwriters as they try to gather all the necessary data and documentation. They may even need to travel to collect customer documents and physically deliver them to underwriters. This saps valuable time that they could have allocated to sales.
Digital data intake allows underwriters and agents to communicate and share information more efficiently, saving agents and brokers time that they can direct to profit-driving sales. Rather than relying on paper-based communication, they can access and transmit information electronically from any device, wherever they are. This can help to reduce delays and accelerate the underwriting process, guaranteeing a better experience for agents and customers alike.
Information isn’t static—things change and new information is generated frequently. It can be hard for agents and brokers to stay on top of it all if they are relying on manual processes. Furthermore, when data is collected manually, there is no way to identify errors in real time. Errors are usually only caught at a later stage during a review, at which point they are returned to the agent who has to track down the customer to make the corrections. This leads to delays, wasted time for agents, and frustrating delays for the customer.
Digital data intake solves the problem and makes it easy for underwriters and agents to collect and share accurate and up-to-date information with underwriters. For example, with digital data intake, data is verified in real time. If a customer tries to enter an incorrect answer, they simply will not be able to do so. Instead, the system will draw their attention to the error and guide them to the correct way to enter the data with easy-to-understand, user friendly instructions. This saves agents time, prevents customer frustration, and can help to improve the accuracy of risk assessments and the overall quality of the underwriting process both for agents and customers.
Improved communication and collaboration
Underwriting can be a complex process, with a lot of back and forth between customers, agents and brokers, and underwriters. Different types of information and documentation need to be shared, including official records, images, videos, and financial data. In some cases, all of the documentation isn’t available when the underwriting process begins. In other cases, it isn’t even initially clear what documentation will be needed in the process. Agents are forced to track what is needed with the underwriter, and then spend time tracking down the customer to collect the information.
Digital data intake makes it easier for underwriters and agents to communicate and collaborate more effectively. They can easily access and share information in real time from any device, allowing them to work together more closely and get the job done. Likewise, it’s simple for agents to send reminders to customers and customers can upload and share their information easily from any device.
The underwriting process utilizes a wide range of sensitive information, including personal details, financial information, medical history, and more. When agents and underwriters share this type of information on vulnerable channels like email and texts, they expose customers to the risk of having their data stolen by bad actors. Physical forms can also be stolen if not properly stored. Therefore, insurance agents and carriers may need to implement additional security measures, such as encryption, secure transmission protocols, and authentication processes. These additional steps to the data transmission process often place an additional burden on agents and slow down the underwriting process.
Digital data intake improves the security of communication between underwriters and agents, as it allows them to share and store sensitive information on secure channels. They can collaborate freely from any device, without worrying about exposing sensitive information to scammers or bad actors.
Insurance carriers need agents in the underwriting process and it's up to them to give agents and brokers the best experience possible so that they can drive the most business value. Implementing digital data intake can significantly improve the communication and collaboration between underwriters and agents, leading to a more efficient, accurate, and secure underwriting process that reduces errors and improves the accuracy of risk assessments.
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