In today’s competitive environment, carriers continue to leverage technology to attract and retain distribution partners and to distinguish themselves and their products from peers to gain competitive advantage. As technology continues to be part of agents’ daily lives, it is critical for carriers to periodically evaluate their software and technology offerings to guarantee they are providing the latest technological capabilities while obtaining a return on their investment. Failure to keep up with the latest systems can be troublesome on several fronts.
When evaluating an existing sales illustration solution there are three key areas that drive an effective evaluation, which include streamlining workflows and system consolidation, business continuity, and replacement of costly outdated technology. These key drivers are essential for carriers to avoid the pitfalls of disparate systems, inadequate technology, and losing vendor support for outdated sales platforms. Consistent reassessment is essential for the latest technology to be leveraged successfully.
Over a period of years, carriers may find that their software platforms for new business, administration, and underwriting have multiplied. Innovations in product design can necessitate customized software or even new systems if the existing platforms are not adaptable. Sometimes a special distribution relationship creates the need for additional new business and supporting systems. Technology advancements may also result in additional software or hardware purchases for special applications. The need to streamline workflows and consolidate systems on a single set of platforms is a driving force for evaluation of illustration systems.
Illustration, new business, and other workflow support systems that are integrated and support multiple lines of business generate efficiencies and can reduce errors and cost. Consistent systems, mobility support, and intuitive user interfaces can influence and increase producer education, enhancing the ease of doing business with the carrier. Competitive product offerings combined with the ease of doing business equals increased sales potential and efficiency.
Business continuity considerations
Business continuity is another compelling reason to evaluate illustration technology. Older or legacy carrier systems created and/or maintained in-house may be poorly documented, or system intelligence may be fully held by only a few key staff. The retirement or departure of these key team members can impair maintenance efforts and new development on existing legacy systems. A well-documented illustration system that uses technology improvements efficiently can help standardize processes and facilitate growth. Leveraging internal and external system expertise and actuarial product knowledge along with cutting-edge technology is essential for the future success of a carrier’s illustration and home-office systems.
Innovations in technology have changed the way products are sold and processed. Over time, as new devices, development tools, browsers, and other improved methodologies are introduced, carriers should consider the replacement of old technology. Coupled with the replacement evaluation is a consideration of whether and how to support aging and/or obsolete operating systems. The cost of replacement is balanced against the possible gains in sales and distributor loyalty when advanced and easy-to-use tools are introduced. Updated technology and devices can shorten the sales cycle and enhance performance of distribution partners.
Another major source of concern is that older technology platforms, for example Windows XP, may age out of vendor support or become cost prohibitive to manage. Unsupported browsers and platforms are vulnerable to security breaches due to the lack of support and security updates, putting carriers at risk.
These three key drivers for an evaluation of illustration systems are just a few from a long list of items to consider in looking at illustration system improvements. The competition among insurance carriers starts with product offerings and customer service, but extends to the attraction and retention of distribution partners. The carrier that provides intuitive tools to its sales force has a leg up on its peers in the same market space. Sales tools that integrate with key home-office systems, such as e-application, policy issue, underwriting, and administration, can reduce carrier technology costs and streamline business processes. Leveraging new technology and providing it to the sales force are critical to remain competitive in today’s market.
Jane Upton-Ceconi brings 30 years of life industry experience in a variety of roles to Insurance Technologies. As VP, ForeSight Product Management and Sales, her responsibilities include communication with industry leaders, clients and new relationships about capabilities and ... View Full Bio