Instantaneous information is no longer a luxury, but something we have come to expect. In the insurance industry, agents and consumers are demanding rapid -- even immediate -- quotes. Speed, however, is not enough. Accuracy is essential, too.
An insurer makes its first impression during the quote process, and, as many have learned, a rapid quote that is not accurate soon loses its value for all parties involved. How can insurers bridge the divide, capitalizing on the service and operational advantages of rapid quotes while ensuring that they can "get it right" the first time?
Three core strategies can help insurers make strides toward realizing this vision:
Leveraging existing customer information when quoting across lines of business can save time and avoid customer frustration. This may seem self-evident, but few insurers have this capability today. Stove-piped, line-of-business-centric information stores prevent the easy sharing of customer data.
An enterprise-wide customer relationship management (CRM) system built on a single repository for all customer information is an essential component of the rapid quote process. The goal should be a single record of the customer in a single location. It is also vital that the CRM solution support the application and quote process across all channels -- phone, agent office, Internet and more.
Insurers with this type of unified approach to CRM have a distinct advantage in the rapid quote race. When a customer wants to take out a new policy, the agent already has a wealth of information at his or her fingertips to speed up the application and even the underwriting process.
Insurers also can quickly assess upsell opportunities by understanding the customer's individual and household makeup. This visibility maximizes an insurer's reach within any given customer. For example, if a current customer has an auto policy, but they recently bought a new home, this information captured in a CRM system can trigger a quote for an additional policy for this household.
Integrating and Automating the Process
The CRM system forms the foundation for customer data, but it is only part of the solution behind an effective agent or quoting portal. Insurers require the flexibility to capture existing customer data that may reside in the CRM system and automatically leverage it to drive the application process, enabling the agent to pre-populate much of the application as well as quickly modify which questions are ultimately required of a customer.
To eliminate redundant, time-consuming data entry for applicants, producers, customer service representatives and underwriters, insurers increasingly leverage automatic data capture solutions. These solutions apply rules that streamline workflow with rating and underwriting systems, eliminate redundant entry and provide immediate feedback to the applicant or producer, even at the earliest stages of data capture. They can also interject underwriting rules into the application process, helping insurers to automate the first step in the rate-quote-bind workflow. Intelligent, reflexive questioning capabilities ask only the appropriate questions per applicant, while knockout questions automatically disqualify some applicants. This type of automation enables producers to ease applicant frustration, deliver more accurate quotes and focus more time on better risks and other new business.
Additionally, it is important for insurers to be able to access external data sources for third-party call-outs (such as motor vehicle reports) that can help assess risk up front, so they know what types of questions will need to be completed, or if an applicant might be uninsurable due to previous history and/or claims issues.
Improving Quote Accuracy with a Standalone Rating Engine
Today, many companies are running multiple policy administration systems, web quoting systems and comparative quoting systems. This often translates to multiple rating systems that spawn data redundancy, quoting inaccuracies and duplication of resource efforts.
A standalone rating engine that sits outside of an insurer's back office systems eliminates these issues and clears the way for more accurate and rapid quoting. In addition, it relieves the maintenance and resource burden associated with managing multiple rating engines. Using this approach, insurers no longer need to update rates in multiple locations, saving time and avoiding costly errors, inaccurate quotes and applicant frustration. Furthermore, with the ability to handle any and all lines of business, insurers will no longer need a separate system for excess and surplus (E&S) lines, non-standard lines or personal versus commercial lines -- further reducing IT costs and requirements.
A stand-alone rating engine should integrate easily with any and all policy administration systems, along with front-end agent web portals, aggregators and other third-party systems to enable insurers to provide timely, accurate quotes every time -- no matter what the channel.
Seamless pairing of CRM data, automated data capture and a standalone rating engine creates the foundation for rapid and accurate quotes, which, in turn, sets the tone for a positive customer relationship from day one. Insurers that plan and invest wisely are positioned to win in an era of on-demand information.
About the author: Lindsay Fassett is director of product and industry strategy, Oracle Insurance.