COVER reported recently that an insurer system glitch caused the wrong policy documents to be sent to an adviser. Insurer system and computer errors are nothing new, but is it a problem that needs more attention?
Pat Bunton, director, London & Country
The protection industry is one that can make pretty significant changes for the better with its systems and processes. Generally, the quality of the documentation you receive is good and computer glitches or errors are few and far between. However, some of the processes we have to follow for protection policies and underwriting really have not changed for many years.
The systems to acquire medical information are a major stumbling block in many cases. The protection industry has engaged with the digital world, and insurers are for the most part always refining technology systems, but the whole area is trapped in its past.
Mortgages, in comparison, is completely rid of the huge paper trails it used to have and protection needs to do the same.
Tele-underwriting and phone apps do engage digitally, but insurers need to move further with what technology can offer. They need to take more control on getting information instead of relying on the default position of always referring to a GP for reports.
There needs to be additional intelligent questioning to unearth the situation and to drill down more. It would streamline the GP chasing.
However, in the main, the quality of technology in getting the paperwork right is good. The odd insurer can fall short sometimes, like at the end of 2012 when G-day created bulges in pipeline.
But there is a lot of space for insurers to improve the back story when it comes to systems and processes.
Neil McCarthy, sales and marketing director, directlife
As more businesses become automated for protection, the frequency of policies being issued directly to customers, without being sent to advisers, will increase, like the general insurance models currently in existence.
Advisers checking the policy document before forwarding to clients, has traditionally been part of the service they provide. Better IT systems, and more standardised policy wording, has resulted in the policy document and schedule being produced on the basis of the application, quote and terms offered.
I have not had any evidence that customers of ours, on both the direct and intermediated sides of the business, have seen any consistent errors over the past few years from any provider.
This is confirmed by our customer services manager, Ryan Mustchin, who says any isolated issues are resolved quickly.
Most provider systems are now automated and linked to the application and underwriting results they receive in their straight-through processing (STP) systems.
This means that correct acceptance terms issued to a customer should, in the vast majority of cases, result in the correct policy document being issued.
I do wonder if an error could occur as a result of the wrong print batches being sent to policy despatch centres; which are now frequently found away from processing teams. However, I would like to think that this recent case, or any other cases, are isolated incidents.
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