By Cyndee Morton, Vice President of Policy Services Administration, Safety National
The evolution of the insurance industry is full of landmark change and disruption, but little else has made a bigger impact or created more transformation in the insurance industry than technology. Over the years, the advances in technology have enabled us to increase operational efficiency, quickly expand our product portfolios, provide flexibility in the underwriting process, respond quickly to regulatory changes, and improve our communication and customer service practices.
Over 20 years ago, my introduction into insurance policy services involved an IBM Selectric typewriter to complete carbon forms, using Word Perfect for DOS to generate policy documents and pulling a litany of pre-printed forms to masterfully build an insurance policy. Jump forward 20 years and insurance policies are a product of automated systems, linked to an underwriter’s quote and interfaced to a billing system. Technology and automation provide a means for policy services to distribute insurance policies quickly, accurately and in a variety of media – print format, electronic files e-mailed to our customer or files deployed to a web-secure portal for customer access.
Today, technological trends are advancing faster than Dorothy’s trip home from Oz. Vendors offer integrated solutions that contemplate the entire policy issuance lifecycle, cloud computing offers Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, imaging software promises a paperless process, service oriented architecture breaks applications into services to return quicker results and of course the internet provides a plethora of information, communication and tools to increase productivity. It can be quite overwhelming. How can you leverage technology to implement policy services best practices?
Paper Paper Everywhere
Our industry has traditionally generated a great deal of paper. Applications and submissions, binder documents, ACCORD forms, policy documents, change endorsements, premium audit worksheets, invoices, statements, bureau criticisms… etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Advances in imaging technology have given insurance companies a multitude of options to eliminate paper files. Using technology to image paper creates efficiency, reduces expense and makes information available instantaneously. Reducing or eliminating paper also helps a corporation’s efforts to go “green” and save a few trees.
Customer Experience and Service Excellence
The customer interaction and policy servicing of yesteryear involved dial-up phone calls, playing voicemail “tag”, using faxes or sending letters. Today, technology has made it much easier to communicate with our customers by using e-mail, mobile phones, texting, video conferencing, blogging and other social media outlets. Today’s customers are “connected” in their personal, social and work lives. They expect quick responses, quick turnaround on requests and expedient product delivery. Utilizing new developments in social, mobile and cloud computing to handle customer requests enables us to quickly respond to the ever-changing demands of our customers. The experience that your policy services personnel provides to a customer will factor into their opinion on “ease of doing business” and will differentiate you from your competitors.
Do You Have a Roadmap for Efficiency?
If you could click your heels three times and be in automation utopia, what would that look like? Policy services best practices use technology to automate manual tasks and eliminate repetitious entry or processes. Business process management (BPM) has helped many insurers break down processes and remove non-valued added steps in the value chain. BPM will help you optimize your policy services processes to create maximum efficiencies resulting in productivity gains, enhancements in operational efficiencies and an overall improved customer experience. If you are embarking on a policy administration system upgrade, replacement or implementation, BPM ensures that an inefficient process does not get ported over into the new automated process. BPM not only helps improve your processes, it helps you navigate the sea of technology solutions available and the determination of a technology solution that will meet your unique policy services needs.
Adapt and Change
One constant in our industry is change – whether it is a regulatory mandate, a new product offering or driven by customer demands. Policy services must be flexible, adaptable and willing to continually change as the market and products change. The systems used in policy services must be able to respond to constant improvements in processes and products. If your systems cannot meet the demands of product innovation, and are a barrier to rapid development and delivery of products, you’ll find yourself lagging behind in the competitive race to meet customer expectations.
The success of your policy services team and best practices relies heavily on the application of the right technology. The demands for agility in operational processes, the ability to quickly integrate new products, and the demand for excellence in the customer experience, are factors to consider when choosing the technologies that best align with your policy services business strategies. Our industry is in a constant state of evolution and innovation. Applying best practices in policy services will create a new paradigm of customer experience and retention.
About Cyndee Morton
Cyndee Morton serves as Vice President of Policy Services Administration for Safety National and has over 22 years of industry experience in operational management, client servicing, and software implementation projects. She joined Safety National in 1993 in the underwriting department, and has led its primary policy service operations since 2000, which includes policy operations, premium audit and regulatory reporting functions. Cyndee holds several designations including Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Associate in Risk Management (ARM), Associate Compliance Professional (ACP), and is a Six Sigma Green Belt.
About Safety National
Safety National is a leading provider of alternative risk funding products such as excess workers’ compensation, deductible casualty, loss portfolio transfers and reinsurance. The company is rated A+ (Superior), FSC XIII by A.M. Best. Learn more at www.safetynational.com.