But, this is still no silver bullet. Insurers cannot just wake up one morning and start selling insurance in global markets the next day. Careful planning and strategizing are necessary, and be aware that significant cultural, infrastructure, technology, product and operational changes may need to be made within most insurance organizations before going global is even remotely possible.
Providing a superior customer experience is paramount for insurers, whether the customers are based domestically or internationally. Insurers must plan and implement the technologies necessary to localize product and service offerings to global markets with a customer-centric approach and delivery model. Customers have a right to expect the same service standards associated with a reputable insurer, regardless of language or currency. To meet those expectations, carriers must localize product portfolios. Policy administration and billing are the two most critical systems to have on board during this process to meet that objective.
Even if “going global” is not on the roadmap today, insurers must validate that any existing billing system is capable of two important processes before planning any kind of globalization initiative.
1. Internationalization is the process of making a single-code base locale-independent, where the application can be easily customized to other locales without source-code changes.
2. Localization is the translation and application of locale-specific terms and style so that a product is specific to the location — meaning that it looks and reads like a product native to the market in which it is being sold.
Expanding into new global markets requires a billing system that provides business agility in order to manage highly-competitive markets. The right billing functionality can enable wining in the markets a carriers wants to serve, whether regional, national or international.
Leveraging a modern billing solution to help expand into new markets means fully utilizing the system’s open architecture for maximum control over the system, and enables a quick response to the changing needs of a global marketplace and, more specifically, the emerging demands of its customers.
[For more on emerging markets, see Microinsurance: Monitoring a Maturing Market .]
Theoretically, here is a scenario of how the configuration should work for multi-currency billing. An insurer is doing its accounting in the “base currency” (e.g., U.S. Dollar), the underwriter chooses their specific “settlement currency” (e.g., British Pound), and the customer chooses to transact in their “original currency” (e.g., Australian Dollar). A configurable billing system with multi-currency capabilities allows for this set-up within the user interface (UI) to allow for each of these currency scenarios to be supported.
When evaluating a billing solution for multi-currency support, it is important to make certain the ability to define local (base) currency and asset-level currency is included, in order to operate in a multi-currency environment. Being able to use table-based exchange rates to convert to and from the local currency is also important.
In an increasingly small world, entering new-to-you global markets and completing transactions in multiple currencies will only become more important. A modern billing solution should offer configuration capabilities that enable your company to meet these requirements and thereby help your business globalize on pace with the rest of the insurance industry.
Opening the Door to New Market Opportunities
Even if your company is only focused on selling insurance locally, regionally or nationally right now, it is important to understand all of the options available to grow your business in the future. To successfully transition to a more global focus:
• Identify the key technology capabilities necessary for offering products and services abroad;
• Evaluate billing requirements in multiple currencies to support international customers; and
• Review your product portfolio to determine the localization efforts necessary to deliver globally.
Capitalizing on new growth opportunities in the global arena requires the right technology, a customer-centric approach and localization of products and services to ensure success.