There is much to automate in the new business process but where should automation dollars be spent to provide the best returns? The new Celent report, Making Life Insurance Underwriting Investments That Pay Off, provides a framework for answering this question. Celent’s analysis divides the new business and underwriting process into 22 logical components of work. Each component is subdivided into potential levels of automation ranging from minimal automation to highly automated. Through an online survey insurers graded themselves in each of the processes according to their level of automation. The results were not surprising; however they highlighted how far behind the life insurance industry lags in this area.
Automated new business and underwriting processes carry the promise of improved results, but can come at a significant cost, including the hard costs of purchasing technology as well as the softer costs of implementing it and changing processes. Celent’s analysis showed that automation does indeed improve key measures related to productivity, accuracy and time which can help offset the costs.
One of the keys to reaping the rewards of the investment is to define the strategic goals prior to the automation. Some life insurers have a strategy to be a low cost provider and may achieve low cost through significant investment in rules automation. Others want to provide a high level of service and may focus on the customer experience by automating the customer-facing processes.
Key questions to ask when deciding where to automate:
- What is the strategic focus?
- What tasks are being done, and by whom? Does that actor have to do them?
- Where can automation create capacity to grow the book of business?
- Where can automation create a better decision?
- Where can automation create a better customer experience?
- Which level of automation will result in the best key metric results?
Are your investments paying off? Insurers can use Celent’s latest report to compare their level of automation to the underwriting capabilities framework and their peers to ascertain if they are making the most of their underwriting automation investments.