About Karen Monks

Digitizing Life Insurance New Business with Technology and Tools

Digitizing Life Insurance New Business with Technology and Tools

In February Celent published its second report using data from a 2016 New Business Benchmarking Survey. The first report compared data based on the average face value of products sold by the participating insurers. The second report presented the same benchmarking data but considered technology as the main focus. It compared the overall averages for a set of key metrics with the averages for high and low technology users throughout the new business process. The findings from the report were not surprising; except for the fact that we had to acknowledge that technology in the new business is still slow to take hold.

We found that electronic application use is on the rise. Just less than one half of all applications by the participating insurers were submitted electronically. The insurers that sold moderate face value policies were more apt to use electronic applications than insurers that sell high face value policies. That makes complete sense since most insurers begin their eApplication journey with less complex products like term or whole life. Celent believes that all insurers can achieve benefits from eApplications. Less than half the insurers in the study Insurer reported having an eApplication, and those with captive insurers submitted a larger percent of their new business via eApps. Direct to consumer as a channel was reported by four of the insurers and they received 20% of their applications from e-apps targeted to consumers.

Data quality is a critical issue that strongly impacts unit costs. As a group, the insurers that participated in this study estimated that 69% of all paper applications received were not in good order (NIGO). For those that implemented eApps and have a technology heavy new business process the NIGO rate fell to 5%.

We also found that imaging systems were ubiquitous. Ninety-eight percent of paper applications were imaged. Imaging was also used for the underwriting requirements that are received in paper. Workflow systems were also very common. But as the process moved closer the underwriting evaluation the level of automation began to drop off. Seventy percent of the participating insurers could automatically order and receive underwriting requirements; however, this happened for less than a quarter of the applications. Since most third party providers of underwriting evidence can provide data in digital formats, this Celent recommends this as an area for future investment by insurers. Further down the line shows that technology is not king in the underwriting departments yet. Automated application evaluation, underwriting/case management workbenches, and electronic signatures were used by over half of the insurers in the study; however, less than 40% of all applications were managed on a workbench. Even fewer were processed by an underwriting system, and only 12% included electronic signatures. Electronic policy delivery, new in the 2016 survey, occurred for 4% of all applications.

When an insurer is fully automated in the NBUW process, benefits can be seen in cost and time metrics. For insurers that implemented technology throughout their new business process the unit cost per application dropped from US$312 to US$237, and unit cost per policy issued fell from US$440 to US$329. The average cycle time fell from 38 days to 17 days for the insurers that implemented a full suite of new business and underwriting technology into their process.

The highest-level conclusion that can be drawn from this new business benchmarking data is that even among top-tier insurers, there are significant differences in new business performance, particularly when technology is considered. Creating performance measures such as unit cost, percentage of new submissions “in good order,” and cycle time is essential. Monitoring those measures against a peer group will be an eye-opening experience for insurers that do not do it today. While direct comparisons between insurers are difficult due to product and channel differences, this study and our previous one suggest there is a strong relationship between face amount and unit cost. It also suggests that technology can have an impact on costs and cycle times when it is implemented across the process or even in just parts. Insurers are urged to analyze their own performance, starting with metrics such as unit cost per application received, unit cost per policy issued, and percentage of cases received not in good order.

The notion that life insurance underwriting is more art than science (and thus exempt from automation) is misleading at best. It is true that the subtleties in underwriting present unique challenges for technology. But underwriting is a process like many others in that it requires certain data as input, and there are rules that govern both the process flow and the decisions that result from it. Following basic principles of getting clean data and automating wherever possible will help insurers do their jobs more cheaply and more effectively.

Process improvement strategies should focus on implementing electronic applications, automating the receipt of third party underwriting evidence, and automating underwriting decisions. The order depends on the distribution strategy and change management processes in place to maximize the benefit. Few insurers have maximized the potential value of new business automation, but the findings in this report show the time savings and cost reduction potential of implementing technology across the new business process flow.

A History of Model Insurer

A History of Model Insurer
I have had the great privilege of running Celent’s Model Insurer program for four of its eleven years. I also participated in the evaluation of the winners in three other years, so it’s fair to say I am Celent’s Model Insurer historian. It is only right that I give a brief history of the program! Since the beginning, the vision for Celent’s Model Insurer research has been to try to answer an apparently simple question: “What would it look like for an insurer to do everything right with today’s technology?” As we all know, technology plays an integral role in every insurer’s strategy to grow its business and remain competitive, so learning about other companies’ initiatives helps you learn if you are doing the right thing. Our inaugural “Model Carrier” report recognized 39 insurer technology initiatives as “Model Carrier Components.” Our approach was to offer, at a high level, some best practices in the use of technology across the product and policyholder lifecycle (product definition, distribution, underwriting, policy administration, service, billing, claims, reinsurance) and in IT infrastructure and management that a “model carrier” would use. Recognized insurers participated in Celent’s first Model Carrier Summit in NYC on Wednesday, January 17, 2007. Model Carrier was renamed Model Insurer in 2010. In 2011 Celent introduced Model Insurer Asia. Insurance in the Asia-Pacific region faces its own set of business challenges, and insurance technology has evolved along a distinctive path. The inaugural Model Insurer Asia report and event used Celent’s globally recognized methodology and highlighted 18 Asian insurers for their state-of-the-art technology in the region. After 11 years of reviewing Model Insurer submissions, Celent is able to see firsthand how technology is changing the insurance industry. In total Celent has received nearly 700 submissions from insurers across the globe since that first report in 2007. Each year builds upon the trends of the previous year — the technology we saw as innovative in 2012 or 2013 is now more commonplace, and new, different opportunities are emerging for leading insurance companies every year. For example, one 2017 case discussed robotic automation, a technology unseen in insurance before 2015. As the program became more popular, Celent created a consistent, rigorous standard of evaluation. Since our Model Insurer program started, Celent has identified Model Insurers by looking at best practices in the use of technology across various areas of the industry. Model Insurer-winning initiatives are selected from the many submissions received and presented in our annual Model Insurer reports as case studies of specific initiatives and capabilities. In 2012 we changed how we categorized the projects to include Celent’s research themes, replacing the product and policyholder lifecycle components. This year we received over 60 submissions from 19 countries for Model Insurer (over 100 when you include Model Insurer Asia). Although the United States and Canada accounted for 52% of the submissions, EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America were represented well with 27%, 13%, and 8% respectively. They span the themes legacy and ecosystem transformation (40%), innovation and emerging technologies (25%), digital and omnichannel technologies (17%), operational excellence (12%), and data mastery and analytics (7%). Model Insurer winners stand as examples of successful IT project implementations across the globe. Celent believes that insurers can look to Model Insurer case studies and the knowledge Celent gains from analyzing all of the submissions as a means of understanding what is happening technologically in the market and a means of comparing themselves to a group of insurers challenging the status quo. Please join Celent in Boston on April 4 for Innovation and Insight Day, where the winners of the 2017 Model Insurer awards will be announced. I promise that the day will be worth your while! You can register here.

Thanksgiving stuffing and technological change

Thanksgiving stuffing and technological change

I like to cook, a lot. I spend a bit of time each week looking through magazines and my big binder of recipes to plan my menu of dinners for the week. It helps that my family is willing to try new and different things. They also like to offer suggestions for changes or to flat out request that certain recipes never make into the binder for future dinners. One recipe that comes out every year at this time is my grandmother’s turkey stuffing. Bam, as we called my dad’s mom, was of Canadian heritage and known for her traditional French Canadian tourtiere (meat pie). In a sense, her stuffing is a deconstructed meat pie, and my family loves it.

It’s also now a staple of Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family since I have been bringing it for the last 12 years. But it wasn’t always a welcome addition to the table. They already had a stuffing so why introduce another? And who ever heard of adding ground beef, pork sausage and potatoes to stuffing? But through a bit of cajoling, my tenacity in continuing to bring it, and introducing how good it is the next morning with a fried egg, I slowly won them over. It’s like that with any change isn’t it? You need to keep plodding forward and continually communicate the benefits even when others can’t see it or are willing to even try it.

There’s a parallel here to introducing technological change, or for that matter any change. Colleen Risk and I have been writing all year on front end technology for life insurers. We continually discussed how technology can help achieve STP and lower the cost of obtaining new business. Our research arc reviewed illustration, eApplication, and new business and underwriting systems. We wrote reports that analyzed how far life insurers have come in automating the new business and underwriting processes and found that there is ample room for further technology in many companies; automation is taking hold, albeit slowly.

A companion benchmarking report showed that since 2007 costs per application and costs per issued policies have dropped. The data shows that technology has been integral to the cost reductions even though making the changes affects how agents and underwriters do their work, for the better. Our last report in this theme will further analyze the benefits of automating the new business and underwriting process by comparing life insurers that have implemented technology into the process with those that have not. It is our hope that our research helps make the case for introducing more technology into the NBUW process and ease the change because the benefits are worth it.

Our 2017 research calendar includes a new research arc that begins with a paper published today, Separating Yourself from the Competition: North America Life Insurance Customer Service Strategy. Within the life insurance market, very few digital revolutions have happened in customer service. Implementing a digital strategy within the operating environment of a life insurer represents a complex set of challenges: organizational silos, multiple distribution channels, and legacy technology considerations make the work especially difficult. Life insurers recognize that customer service is critical to the success of their business. The criticality of customer service is underlined by the insurers’ recognition that the technology provided today is not sufficient, as well as the acknowledgement that significant spending is required to close the gap between what is available today and what should be provided. Yet, the challenge of digitally revolutionizing customer services presents opportunities. New tools exist that can increase the quality of customer interactions and deepen customer relationships. It is our hope that through a series of reports on customer service strategy, customer service operations, websites and portals, as well as mobile apps we can introduce the benefits of digitizing the back end processes related to customer service.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take 12 years to convince your organizations that new technology is beneficial. Celent wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving. If you want a copy of my grandmother’s recipe, email me and I will send it to you!

The world’s most connected human

The world’s most connected human
I recently read about Chris Dancy, Chief Digital Officer and Senior Vice President of Healthways, Inc. and “The world’s most connected human.” In my line of business and as an avid NPR listener, I really should have heard of him earlier than now. If you haven’t heard of him and you are reading this blog, you should know about him, too. Chris utilizes up to 700 sensors, devices, applications, and services to track, analyze, and optimize his very existence every minute of every day. I listened to a few of his interviews (I am a curious person!) and found that he has been doing this self-tracking for nearly six years. You can really say he was on the cutting edge of this idea of a quantified self before most people even heard of the FitBit. According to Chris, this quantification enables him to see the connections of otherwise invisible data. As a result, he has experienced dramatic upgrades to his health, productivity, and quality of life. So what does he track? In a NPR interview while wearing five sensors (FitBit, Nike Field band, BodyMedia sensor, Wahoo TICKR, and his phone) Chris talked about how he has become ‘one with the data’ because he has seen the benefits of understanding his moods, heart rate, and overall health. He admitted that it’s not for everyone, but being a data junkie he said this behavior fit right into his interests. He expanded what he measured because he was interested in the data for which companies are willing to give discounts. If a company was willing to give him a $600 discount for seeing a doctor, going to the gym, and eating better, he wanted to know what data were they considering and what benefits he would derive as a result of knowing what the data said. He also said something very key: “If you can measure it, someone will and that someone should be you.” So why has he intrigued me so much? Because he said in 2013 that he believed the idea of a quantified self would be ubiquitous in five years. And it would expand beyond the fitness worlds and health care implications to the physical workplace and other industries. He saw sensors as being omnipresent in giving people feedback while they work. Examples could be environmental sensors that let someone change the lighting in their office to reflect a mood one had while on vacation or track ambient sound so that the sensor notifies you to reflect on the tone of voice used in a conversation. The goal, of course, is to have a more productive work environment. Chris Dancy’s rationale for wanting to know more about the data companies use to give discounts intrigues me the most. Many health insurance companies give discounts for proving that you lead an active lifestyle and for years now, consumers have been able to send driving data to auto insurance firms who offer reduced rates for good driving via a dongle that is plugged into their car’s onboard diagnostics port. Recently this practice moved into the realm of life insurance. John Hancock has become the first life insurer to offer ratepayers a discount when they use Fitbit wristbands that enable exercise tracking. John Hancock policyholders who wear a Fitbit and connect it to the internet can get discounts of up to 15% on their life insurance policy as part of Hancock’s partnership with Vitality, a service provider that integrates wellness benefits with life insurance. I already consider myself a quantified being because I track my fitness daily through my FitBit, and use that data to push myself to walk more and be more active. I am not sure I believe that my work environment needs sensors to make me more productive at work, but maybe they would. I don’t share my FitBit data with anyone yet, but I would be willing in the right circumstances. My insurers are not asking for my data which to me means that many insurers are not ready to accept the data. As mentioned above, John Hancock is the first life insurer; maybe others are soon to follow.  Will it happen in the next three years?  My gut instinct says no but I hope to be proven wrong. IBM’s Watson Health Cloud suggests that the medical industry is looking more deeply into how to capture, analyze, and use the multitude of medical data that is created every year, some of which is from fitness trackers and other sensors.  Maybe Watson’s analysis and cloud availability of data will yield better methods of underwriting for insurance. Yet, going back to Chris Dancy . . . during one of the NPR broadcasts Robert Wachter, author of the Digital Doctor, said that today very little of the extraordinary amount of data Chris was capturing is truly useful to doctors or insurers. I guess if that changes, Chris will be ready.

Model Insurer 2016 accepting nominations

Model Insurer 2016 accepting nominations
In its tenth year, Celent’s Model Insurer Award program has grown from a small idea into a big deal for our analysts and the insurance technology world. Not only are insurers across the globe recognized with the premier award in the analyst community for successful implementations of technology projects, but the awards are giving out a Celent’s marquee event Innovation & Insight Day. With over 400 attending at venues like Carnegie Hall, the event has grown to be a ‘must attend’ event for many companies. Celent’s Model Insurer and Model Insurer Asia award programs run annually from September until March/April. Nominations are currently being accepted via two online forms: Model Insurer: www.celent.com/modelinsurer. All insurers across the globe are invited to submit a nomination for Model Insurer.   Model Insurer Asia: www.celent.com/modelinsurerasia. Celent Asia conducts the Asia Pacific specific program to identify the potentially unique “Model Insurer” solutions that have recently been deployed in the APAC region.   The awards are given to insurance companies which have successfully implemented a technology project in five key areas: • Digital and omnichannel technologies • Legacy and core system implementation • Data mastery and analytics • Innovation and emerging technologies • Non-core system implementation best practices/IT management best practices   For the first time this year Celent is offering a report that describes the Model Insurer program in detail. We hope that any and all questions an insurer or vendor might have regarding the program will be answered in the report. http://www.celent.com/system/files/a_guide_to_model_insurer_final.pdf   After four years of running the program, I am passing the baton to Colleen Risk. I will be actively involved in the transition year. Colleen and I both are available to answer questions about the program.   Celent, Colleen and I welcome all insurers to review your successful IT projects from the past one to two years and submit the project for an award. If you win, you will be among some great company at Celent’s Innovation & Insight Day in 2016.

Innovation & Insight Day – a recap

Innovation & Insight Day – a recap
On March 23th Celent gathered over 350 bankers, insurers, vendors, news media, and colleagues for our annual Innovation & Insight Day. It was held at Carnegie Hall. For the first time in I&I’s history, we literally were SRO (standing room only)! It was truly an international event in an world renowned venue – I think we had people from 18 countries in attendance. We never expected such a great response to our event (and we are still scratching our heads as to why!). Although we had to improvise with an overflow room that streamed video of the main stage (thanks to all who helped us accommodate this nice problem), the main purpose of the day was never lost! We celebrated and learned from the winners who helped showcase best practices in implementing insurance technology and innovation from around the world. The event also afforded tremendous networking opportunities and provided an unbiased view of the hottest issues in this space today. The Insurance Team recognized fifteen model banks across five categories: Digital; Data Mastery; Legacy and Ecosystem Transformation; Innovation and Emerging Technologies; and Operational Excellence. We produced our annual Model Insurer report which highlights all fifteen Model Insurer case studies, including our Model Insurer of the Year, LV= (from United Kingdom). Clients may download the report at Celent.com. Here is the list of Model Insurers for 2015: Data mastery and analytics Celina Mutual Insurance Company: Mastering machine learning for predictive analytics Farm Bureau: Incorporating predictive analytics in workers compensation underwriting Markerstudy: Using big data analytics to compete in the UK market Digital and omnichannel ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company: Complete digitalization initiative Security First Insurance: Developed personalized videos for homeowners policyholders Società Cattolica di Assicurazione: Creating an omnichannel experience called Click2Go Innovation and emerging technologies Achmea Australia: Managing Farm Risk on the Farm American Family: Implemented a company-wide idea contest to spur mobile innovation Citizens Property Insurance Corporation: Building a clearinghouse to redistribute property risks Legacy and ecosystem transformation MetLife: Life insurance for the middle market Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company and Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company: Combining two affiliated insurers’ rating and policy administration platforms Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance: Achieving results with a new end-to-end suite Operational excellence in non-core systems implementation Aegon Netherlands Centralizing and leveraging document management Operational excellence in IT Management Hiscox: Building a successful, continuous delivery pipeline Model Insurer of the Year: LV=  Fast Track innovation In addition to our model insurer panels we had excellent keynote speakers. Debra Jasper and Betsy Hubbard of Mindset Digital used about 300 [sic] slides in 45 minutes to prod us all to rethink how we present ourselves, not just in person, but through emails and social media. One concrete hint: think about five sentence emails (five.sentenc.es). Closing out the day was Suresh Ramamurthi, the Chairman of CBW Bank, who showed us what a sub $20mm asset bank can do by completely rethinking its technology platform. And we even had a 14 year old violin prodigy, Elli Choi, kick off the event; remember, we were in Carnegie Hall! Celent also thanks our sponsors: Saffron, Mindtree, Indra, Guidewire, Wipro Digital, Inetco, and RGI Group, who together with our media partners Bank Technology News and Insurance Networking News, helped make the day a success. We’re already starting to think about next year’s event; it’s not too early to start submitting nominations. We’ll be sending out hold the date announcements shortly.

Celent Innovation & Insight Day Preview

Celent Innovation & Insight Day Preview
Celent’s Innovation and Insight Day is about a month away, and everyone at Celent couldn’t be more excited. We have great external speakers bookending the day, and we’ll be exploring exciting technology implementations with 15 Model Insurers in five categories (plus Celent’s Model Insurer of the Year):
  • Digital and Omnichannel
  • Legacy and Ecosystem Transformation
  • Data Mastery and Analytics
  • Innovation and Emerging Technologies
  • Operational Excellence in Non-Core Systems and IT Management
Our first speakers, Betsy Hubbard and Debra Jasper, are from Mindset Digital, an online social media training firm. As financial firms grapple with their approaches to social media, Betsy and Debra’s perspective, delivered in a completely different style than what most banks are used to, will provide ample food for thought and some concrete next steps. Celent analysts will be presenting research throughout the day as winners are announced and cases are discussed.  Jamie MacGregor will also offer his perspectives on the state of innovation within the industry as well as where he sees the industry moving over the next few years. Ending the insurance day will be Rod Willmott, Innovation Director at LV=, one of UK’s largest insurers and the third largest motor insurer.  Listen as Rod discusses how LV= established a “Fast Track Innovation” process to facilitate rapid responses to business needs and to accelerate strategic business objectives that were previously considered too challenging or costly to consider. Registrations are running well ahead of last year, and our Carnegie Hall venue may well get to Standing Room Only (although you won’t be able to buy tickets at TKTS on Monday morning). We hope to see you there on March 23rd; to learn more and to register, please visit our I&I day site. model insurer logo

Celent Announces Model Insurers for 2014

Celent Announces Model Insurers for 2014
If you were not able to join us in New York yesterday for our annual Celent Innovation & Insight Day, I am sorry to say you missed a great event!    Not only did we have over 250 attendees hearing about this year’s Model Insurers and Model Banks, but you missed some great speakers, content, and in depth discussions with the insurers whose case studies were finalists or winners of the awards.   If you were there, I hope you will agree it was a fantastic day! First, let me congratulate our Model Insurer of the Year: MetLife.  Gary Hoberman of MetLife was one of our speakers and gave the attendees a look into The Wall, one of the innovative technologies MetLife is using to improve customer service around the globe. He also discussed MetLife’s development of Synapse, a tool designed to match skill sets with open positions, while creating a database of rich, qualified talent. Gary was one of three great speakers at the event.  Richard King, CEO and President of Ingenie, also spoke.  Ingenie is a UK based auto-insurance broker with a target market of young drivers.   King discussed Ingenie’s telematics technology and the company has grown to be a leading insurance in the UK for the 17-25 year old cohort.  Through the use of black-box technology Ingenie tracks key driving behaviors and offers customers discounts every three months if behavior is positive as well as education to make policyholders better drivers.   The most impressive part for a parent of a teenage driver was Ingenie’s successful efforts in attracting a young, digitally-savvy audience who demand a personalized, one-to-one experience.  King announced that Ingenie is entering the Canadian market this year and plans to come to the US in 2015. Our third speaker was Mick Simonelli, an Innovation Consultant and former Chief Innovation Officer at USAA.  Simonelli expanded upon the theme of innovation and how companies can build processes and competencies that allow them to launch, build and sustain an innovation culture. Along with these great speakers the highlight for many attending were the announcements of the Model Insurers in the theme categories of digital, analytics, legacy transformation, IT management and implementation best practices.   New this year, Celent had individual break out sessions for each theme and the finalists in each award category discussed their projects during a panel discussion.   Congratulations to Allied Insurance, Bankers Insurance, ICW Group, Allstate, and CNA for winning Model Insurer awards this year.  A high five also goes to John Hancock, Unigarant, Aegon UK, Saxon Insurance, Foresters, RSA UK, Inter Hannover, MetLife, Millers Mutual, and 1st Central Insurance for their highly commended initiatives and being named finalists for their categories.  These fifteen insurers and MetLife’s the Wall were selected from 74 submissions for our award program this year. We hope everyone who attended enjoyed the day as much as we did!  If you couldn’t attend, we’ll be doing it again next year so plan to join us then!  And if you have a successful technology project you would like considered for a Model Insurer award submit it for our 2015 Model Insurer Award program!  The submission form will be available on Celent’s website in July.

Countdown to Celent's Model Insurer Awards: Announcing the Finalists

Countdown to Celent's Model Insurer Awards: Announcing the Finalists
In our eighth year of the Celent Model Insurer awards we decided to change the program a bit once we received all our submissions. With a near record 74 submissions, it became evident that we could categorize the submissions into the research themes that we at Celent have been hearing are important to our clients and insurers all over the globe. In a webinar yesterday, Jamie Macgregor and I described the changes to our program. The biggest change is the move from the components of the insurance lifecycle processes like claims, billing, and underwriting to five major themes: digital and omni-channel, innovation and emerging technologies, legacy and ecosystem transformation, data mastery and analytics, and implementation best practices. Our review methodology did not change. We continue to look for best practices in the development and implementation of technology. We consider things like the use of industry data standards, the optimization of infrastructure, the impact on channels, and the use of metrics, to name a few best practices. We also heavily consider measurable business results like increase in market share, productivity improvements, or operational or IT savings. We review each and every submission against a detailed rubric. After our review of the 74 nominations, Celent identified 14 finalists for four of the five categories named above for our 2014 Model Insurer award program. The finalists named yesterday recognize insurers that demonstrate effective use of technology and industry best practices in each theme category. The awards for the top Model Insurer in each category will be announced at our 2014 Innovation & Insight Day in April. During I&I day, we will also name an IT Management Model Insurer and Celent’s overall Model Insurer of the Year. The finalists in four of the five categories include: Digital Allied Insurance John Hancock Unigarant Analytics Bankers Insurance Group Inter Hannover RSA Insurance Group plc Legacy Transformation Aegon UK Foresters ICW Group Saxon Insurance Implementation Best Practices 1st Central CNA Millers Mutual Group MetLife Congratulations to all the finalists! Come to NYC on April 3, 2014 to hear about each of their projects and to learn who bubbled to the top as Celent’s Model Insurer of Year. Event information can be found here: https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1285653

Social Media at ACORD LOMA was Really a Social Discussion

Social Media at ACORD LOMA was Really a Social Discussion
For the first time at ACORD LOMA one of the sessions was a discussion, a workshop on a topic that required the audience to participate.  The session, “Social Media in Business: Friend, Foe, or Who Cares” was moderated by Mike Fitzgerald of Celent and in the end was well attended and well received. When I first walked into the room, I noticed the room set up was different than most sessions.   So did the others who followed.  Instead of rows of chairs and tables, the tables were a U.  There were only 30 chairs so the audience was limited to ensure the discussion flowed.  Most people came in, sat down and made him or herself comfortable, but it was evident that a few did not expect the layout.   A few people stepped into the room, looked for a seat, and opted to leave when they saw the layout and format of the session.  This was different than other sessions. And yes, it was different.  The session began with introductions of each attendee. Slides were limited.  Questions were asked of the moderator at first, but it quickly turned to the attendees asking the other attendees how things were being done where they worked.  It was exactly how a Social Media discussion should be! Mike presented a few slides on the different levels of social media involvement.  Most insurers are still at the infantile stages of social media, meaning that the insurer is in the marketing or media stage of social media.  They are promoting brand, using mascots, and getting their presence known in the space.  However, a few in insurers in the room had moved into the next two stages in Social Media use, meaning they were further along in their use Social Media.  Some insurers had developed networks both internally and externally using social media.  This is often done through agents or agencies with customers or even within the enterprise itself.   Others had gone as far as setting up methods for listening to Social Media chatter to understand and react to customer postings and feedback.  The level of use of social tools for both internal and external engagement was a surprise. Use of social for customer service was also covered.  Results from the Celent report Realizing the ROI of Social Media in Insurance: Listen to the Mirror were reviewed. This research scanned over 350,000 posts that consumers left about their insurance companies – what topics were posted, what sentiments were expressed, etc.  Real-life examples were offered by two of the participants in the room who exchanged their personal experiences using Twitter to engage with insurers about complaints.  In both each case, the negative Tweet was answered, however, it was noted that neither person posted a subsequent positive, follow up Tweet! Overall, the consensus of the group was that is medium is an effective and rapid way to get attention. The final topic dealt with using social data for core insurance processes such as claims and underwriting.  Multiple participants reported that their Claims areas were accessing social sites as part of their investigations process.  The group agreed that there is potential for use (and misuse) of social information in Underwriting, but that this area is still very much emerging. Based on this experience at LOMA/ACORD, I encourage you to look for the discussion group sessions at next year’s event.  It was a valuable source of information and enjoyable, too.