Handling electronic life insurance apps differently than their paper counterparts extends the value of e-App initiatives from just agents to an entire organization. As the volume of e-Apps increase from a few per week to thousands a month, a set of challenges has emerged. Carriers that haven’t built “digital traffic cops” to digest and route the forms find themselves facing virtual piles of apps stacked up in their home office. Meanwhile, those companies that have deployed systems to move e-Apps along – even simple ones – are seeing dramatic benefits.
Some of the key ways that successful carriers are leveraging e-signed and e-submitted apps include:
- Automated agent notification – Upon the electronic receipt of an e-App via standard ACORD 103 XML files, several carriers generate a policy number and send the submitting agent an email with this information. Within a few minutes of signing the application, agents now know that the carrier has received it and they have a policy number to reference. Agents love this feature – and will be more likely to use an electronic application moving forward.“Jump-starting our underwriting process by automating system feeds with data from the ACORD 103 has been tremendous,” adds Nicole Khouri, a Process Management Consultant at Nationwide. “Agents are given a policy number within minutes of submission, the app is immediately available to the underwriter, and no time is lost due to missing critical data.
- Automated image uploads – When an e-App is submitted to a carrier in an ACORD 103 XML file, it’s fairly simple to create image system Index files and load all of the forms right into an imaging system. No scanning, no manual file manipulation, no missing work items – just a single object routed automatically to the right person in the workflow chain.
- Pre-filling downstream systems – Whether it’s as simple as names, addresses, and basic plan info or as in-depth as an entire application data set, reducing key strokes for home office staff maximizes efficiency. The key is not to try and do a “big bang” on launch day; for starters, just focus on high-value information or data that’s commonly mistyped during manual entry. Expanding the data utilized is always easier than trying to get it all on Day One.“Leveraging the 103 data transmission for our eApps has allowed us to reduce the cycle time from Application Received to Initial Underwriter Review,” says Bob Harding, Business Systems Advisor at Mutual of Omaha. “Ultimately, this allows us to more effectively help our Distribution Partners provide important insurance coverage to consumers in a timely fashion.”
- Jet delivery – A few carriers that do read all key data in the application’s ACORD 103 file make jet issue decisions within a few minutes of receipt. Several carriers are building campaigns to target a certain age/face amount range demographic to couple jet issue with automated delivery of the policy in a single business day via an electronic policy delivery platform. While not necessarily being high-volume, these niche “insurance in a day” programs can be highly profitable and lead to better placement ratios.
As electronic applications move from the fringes of the industry to the mainstream, it is critical for carriers to take advantage of – and not be buried by – digital data.