How to Optimize and Improve Insurance Workflows

The nature of business is changing. Competition and SaaS offerings are having a dramatic impact on insurance workflow in companies, as are the increasing agent demands.

An insurance company’s implementation of a well-designed digitization program can deliver up to 65 percent in cost reduction and a 90 percent reduction in turnaround time on key insurance processes.Harvard Business Review

Carriers need to reconsider their concept of insurance workflow and process management if they hope to fight slower growth projections and thrive.

Automation and intuitive process management tools will maximize your time, and therefore productivity. This is an actionable way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and provide a better service to agents.

You must implement an intelligent, adaptable strategy to make informed decisions about bottlenecks, improve efficiencies, and book more business. Remember that your goal is to create a cost-effective and agent-centric mode.

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Traditional Workflow vs Intelligent Process Management

Traditional workflow processes aim to streamline tasks that can be tedious. A simple example of this is how insurance companies have transitioned from a paper-based business to working with electronic data.

Intelligent process management is a system of analyzing the processes currently in place and developing solutions to optimize further. Taking this approach allows insurance companies to spot opportunities for improvement in their processes, making it easier to pivot and improves their process management.

How Process Management Improves Insurance Workflows

Just because there are established workflows, and even automated systems for data management and communication within your office, does not mean you have an optimized process management strategy in place.

Many agencies share common opportunities for improvement where their workflow and processes are concerned.

Poorly Coordinated Systems

Insurance companies have digitized their content, but their systems are not working together. Many companies have made no efforts to integrate this information at either a content repository level or a business process level. Systems are segmented, creating a roadblock to a coordinated program of information governance.

Time spent integrating information is not time wasted.

Old Systems and Outdated Enterprise Content Management

If your office has outdated systems in place, you are behind the curve. Your staff and your clients must be able to access information in a way that appears cutting edge or, at the very least, modern. This means mobile access must be available. Apps are also changing the insurance game, but these apps must be optimized for user enjoyment and functionality or you are reinforcing the idea that you are not up to date.

Claims can be submitted by clients through the web or an app. These same models can be applied to obtaining information in real-time. Agents and partners want fast results, and a carrier needs the right kind of system – and process management – in place to quickly handle queries.

Treating Record Management As An Afterthought Is a Critical Mistake

Record management optimization is not a tack-on to the rest of your business strategy. Efficient management of forms, files, and data is the cornerstone of your business. Your staff will become more productive and experience less burnout if they are able to access and process this information more efficiently.

Strategically planned process management reinforces that efficiency and ensures that forms are always processed and managed, moving from point to point without delay or record loss.

How Intelligent Insurance Workflow Impacts Revenue

Intelligent process management also improves performance and communication between agents, carriers, and underwriters. Clients want fast information. That means that agents demand faster responses from carriers, including underwriting.

When your office processes and communication methods are efficient, everyone in the workflow including the client is pleased. You can develop a strong word-of-mouth reputation this way as well. From a customer standpoint, delivering information fast improves loyalty and can delight those you do business with.

This often results in increased referrals from current relationships as well as the acquisition of new agents.

Agents value carriers with quick turnaround over competitive product offer and commission rates. This was proven by a study conducted in 2013 by ZS Associates in partnership with Insurance Networking News. On average, agents in the study worked with 12 carriers with an 8% share per carrier, the carriers seen as ‘the best’ earned more than four times that share, at 30% and above.

During the study, one agent stated: “the carrier provided high levels of automation—removing the guesswork in my day-to-day activities.”

It is also useful to consult the Cognizant whitepaper detailing the best practices for commercial lines underwriting. This document provides an extremely detailed view of the subject of process management, including how it improves turnaround time.

Benefits of Process Management in Insurance

Technology has lead to an unprecedented change in the field of underwriting. Better process management allows underwriters to involve themselves directly in account management and customer advocacy.

Process management from the underwriter’s perspective also grants incredible access to collaboration. Opening the lines of communication between underwriters and producers decreases lag time and delivers faster answers.  In turn, agents receive pricing information much sooner.

Brokers and agents are able to identify who they are working with on the underwriter side. This establishes strong networking ties and allows everyone to be viewed as a competent professional. This subtle relationship building holds the potential for repeat business or gaining the coveted role as a ‘go-to insurer.’

Insurance businesses employing an intelligent process management system can leverage workstations to incorporate data from third-party sources with internal information. This allows for the prequalification of property risks.

Process management can greatly reduce expenses

Carriers often try to maximize cost savings with large-scale process re-engineering but these often fail to achieve potential due to overwhelmed staff, too many changes at once, etc.  Mandated radical changes at carrier level are common but large-scale changes aren’t prioritized and can often negatively impact workflow, costing you more time than they save.

According to Harvard Business Review, optimization and digitization programs for insurance workflow in the insurance industry can result in cost reduction of as much as 65 percent. Turnaround time can be reduced up to 90 percent.

The key to excelling at process management is to ensure that all data gathering and storage systems are integrated and communicating with each other as individual parts of an overall, cohesive strategy.

Large Scale vs Segmented Process Management

Large-scale changes across all of your systems are risky and you can bite off more than you can chew. It is time-consuming to put into place, requires a great deal of consultation with industry automation professionals, and can, at worst, fail. If any part of the rollout fails, you could face significant downtime. This also risks the current client and carrier relationships you have developed.

Intelligent business analytics make it easy to prioritize improvements and roll them out in phases. This is not only cost-effective, it also isolates agencies from problems from a system-wide rollout that costs even more in downtime and lost business. It will identify what isn’t working so that your current insurance workflow can be refined and improved.

Faster Adoption and Deployment

Insurance is a file-centric industry. However, the vast majority of bpm solutions in the market are document-centric, forcing carriers to change embedded business processes and even how they’ve structured their entire organization.

Insurance uses its own unique model as well. Implementing process management lets businesses design workflow around the way they do business rather than re-engineering the entire model. This makes adoption easier and offers a much greater ROI.

Customize Insurance Workflows Based on Data

Rather than pushing tasks based on a static process, a better approach is to define the process management based on policies as well as data.  While traditional workflows can provide some efficiency, using modifiers and data allows you to route processes more accurately and then streamline the process and continue to customize it to regularly improve the workflow.

This doesn’t require a full-scale replacement of existing workflows. Instead, process management is an incremental approach that makes adoption much easier. Your organization can continue to improve the process based on performance metrics without rewriting the entire engine.

Better Insurance Workflow Leads to Growth

Have you ever had a job that had little to no training when you began? This is not a comfortable situation for employees. Likewise, working harder to process materials when other carriers utilize automated insurance workflow can lead to employee burnout.

Intelligent process management solves both of these in-office challenges. It provides an easy roadmap to the information that is needed and onboarding can be simplified and streamlined.

Any way you look at it, improving your insurance workflow is a move in the right direction. It will improve the relationship between agents and carriers because of increased individual contact, quick deployment of information or forms, and the ease at which data can be exchanged.

As you refine your processes you will reduce your operational expenses and improve business relationships, all of which contribute to increased growth and a competitive edge in the industry.

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About the author - Amit Kothari

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