Here are three ways digital underwriting trends can impact the service agents provide their clients.
Consider this scenario: A restaurant needs insurance coverage, and the owner spends an hour talking with an agent, answering questions about their business. A few days later, the agent calls the restaurateur back with additional questions about catering, delivery, alcohol sales and kitchen equipment. The owner explains the operations in greater detail. Because of the continuous back and forth, it takes days to finalize a quote and get the policy for the business bound and in force.
This type of interaction is all too common in the insurance industry. But as more insurers focus on using intelligent technology to improve the small commercial underwriting process, it is slowly starting to change. For agents, this means they can provide a better customer experience.
Here are three ways digital underwriting trends can impact the service agents provide their clients:
1) More accuracy and transparency in sourcing data. As insurers turn to data solutions to prefill questions and automate the underwriting process, they are choosing platforms that disclose not only accurate answers about exposures but the exact sources of information for risk assessment. These state-of-the-art products enable agents to ensure clients receive appropriate coverages and get informed answers about pricing.
Most prospects do not want to answer dozens of questions about their businesses, nor do they want to fill out forms to get a quote. Think about the restaurant scenario. With access to transparent data sources, risk evaluation workflows can transpire much faster. Overall, when the insured and agent require less communication on the characteristics of the business, the time needed to determine if the risk is within an insurer's appetite is reduced and a precise quote can be generated in minutes.
2) Analytics empower proficient account acquisition and management. Analytics can change the game for agents, especially in small or mid-size business insurance. The application of analytics helps insurers and agents reliably identify and present essential additional coverage requirements to prospects during the quote process. In the restaurant scenario, the agent may alert the restaurateur to consider commercial auto coverage because the establishment offers delivery services.
By identifying those opportunities, agents and insurers can be smart and proactive about the information they need to collect from and communicate to business owners—boosting business classification, premium pricing, and rating and quoting processes.
3) Automated underwriting still requires a human touch. Agents and insurers continue to embrace technology to replace manual work, especially to answer basic questions about a business and its exposures. However, agents are still responsible for vetting the information provided to the carrier, and technology with human oversight can ensure a smoother relationship with clients.
Routine risks may be processed without delay. But when necessary, agents can also collaborate with underwriters, often via digital channels and tools, about more complex issues. With the time saved from eliminating or decreasing manual tasks, agents can focus on expanding their roles as trusted advisers.
For agents to gain the benefits of emerging trends, it is important to identify and engage with insurers focused on advanced technology and data enablement, which results in greater accuracy and transparency in the underwriting process.
Chris Schrenk is chief underwriting officer at NeuralMetrics, which enables actionable risk assessment intelligence for property-casualty insurers, brokers and agents.