Underwriting: Stuck on the puzzle?

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Underwriting: Stuck on the puzzle?

Paul Yates discusses how technology providers such as IPipeline are looking to manage customer expectations better through the underwriting process.

"It's not our job to appeal to the lowest common denominator, Doug - it's our job to raise it." -President Jed Bartlet, The West Wing

Why can't we better manage customers' expectations during the life insurance protection sales process?

Technology is improving at a rapid pace and customers want to make instant buying decisions, based on realistic costs.

So why aren't we able to help customers understand the likely cost of protection and whether they are going to be rated or referred to full underwriting?

You may well think this is down to the process or the providers. Is it?

We may need to look closer to home instead. Have we raised the bar ourselves and asked providers to support us in delivering a new world service for our new world clients with their new world expectations?

Have we asked them to help us get an early indication of rating when quoting a price?

Have we also asked them to help us reduce the amount of time we take researching, submitting and putting policies on risk policies?

To state the bleedin' obvious, if you are advising on protection to a customer with health or lifestyle issues, they may not be one of the 78% of cases that qualify for standard rates.

If you have not provided them with an upfront expectation of higher premiums, you will have, in all likelihood, anchored them into an unrealistic premium. In some cases this may result in the client not completing the sale or reduce persistency.

You can pick up the phone and call the provider's underwriting helpline and speak with an underwriter directly - there is a strong possibility here that the underwriter will provide a quote that is closer to the final underwriting outcome. 

But do you do this with all firms, can you get through in a timely manner and have you collected all of the relevant questions up front?

So how do we move to a new world solution? Technology is available now to help improve the protection sales process, providing a fast upfront indication of underwriting.

We do not want to burden advisers and customers with masses of upfront data collection.

We believe that you should be able to input the minimum data into systems such as XRAE to help improve the process and drive better outcomes for your client - without compromising the sales process.

We are really pleased to see evidence of advisers selecting different products from alternative providers as a result of getting an early indication of rating.

The result - happy clients getting the best value and receiving the best service.

One thing is crystal clear. In a world of continually increasing customer expectations - having instant access to information and being able to make immediate decisions, is essential to up our game.

We have to ensure we are using the latest supply chain solutions and where required demand better support from our suppliers. It is up to us to solve this puzzle.

Paul Yates is product strategy director of iPipeline UK

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