3 Challenges Commercial Insurers Can Solve by Going Digital

Ditch legacy tech and use new tools to help fix bottlenecks and become a preferred provider.
Nov 24, 2021. 7 MIN READ

How do your business customers feel about answering the same questions over and over? How do they feel waiting for a quote longer than it takes to binge-watch the latest show on Netflix?

That’s what we thought. Not so excited.

Insurance companies need to step up their digital game so brokers selling simpler policies to individuals and small businesses can count on them for an Amazon-like experience. Rapid quote-to-issue — even instant. And underwriter intervention only when needed.

Today, this is all possible with digital platforms that take advantage of new technology and automation. It’s the secret to winning preferred status. Just ask brokers: 84% say they place more business with insurers that provide automation. The reasons are clear — efficiency and speed. For new policies, insurers can cut the number of steps underwriters need to take by one-third, said Reid Holzworth, CEO, IVANS Insurance Solutions. And for simpler risks, brokers can leverage real-time quote-to-bind capabilities, at scale.

Learn how savvy insurers are overcoming the three key challenges to help their broker partners better engage end customers. Their secret? A digital solution that enables end-to-end insurance operations built on the Customer 360 platform.

Challenge 1: Overcome legacy processes and automate quote-to-bind

At many carriers, the time it takes to turn around simpler applications can be far too long. It’s not a good experience for anyone. The culprits? Well, there are many. Legacy setups. Long text-heavy applications. Offline quoting, payment, issuance, and policy management. And the list goes on.

A single platform that lets a carrier extend real-time quote-to-bind capabilities to their brokers can make it easier for producers to deliver the instant service customers are increasingly asking for. Standard applications can benefit from automated pre-fill, easing the burden on producers and their clients. That means shedding long, text-heavy documents delivered via PDF or in another unstructured format.

Data needs to arrive digitally. And the experience needs to be seamless for carriers, producers, and policyholders. Carriers can help brokers by defining submission data requirements and leveraging systems like the IVANS Distribution Platform to automate the intake of digital submissions from multiple sources and underwriting responses. Digitizing submissions provides data for immediate use by rating engines to generate an instant quote. If an application needs review by a human underwriter because it doesn’t quite fit the rules for automated approval, the underwriter can see and advance this immediately in their digital workbench. Digitization also facilitates omni-channel access to real-time quoting capabilities to whomever needs it — brokers or customers directly.


Case study: User-friendly system gets to quote-to-bind in 90 seconds

Azur Group, a U.K. managing general agency, was looking for ways to provide its brokers working with high net worth individuals lightning-fast service. Enter Smart Home, a user-friendly digital solution for personal property as well as personal cyber, home emergency, and legal services.

What makes it user-friendly? First, it asks brokers only five questions in a branded digital insurance platform, in this case running on Salesforce’s Digital Insurance Platform and using Salesforce’s insurance quoting capabilities. It allows the broker to quote-to-bind in 90 seconds without any human intervention. On the back end, data enrichment from external sources means fewer questions for the customer, while producing a wealth of useful rating variables. That framework means Azur isn’t calling brokers for more information. When something exceeds a broker’s delegated authority limit to bind the policy, the system routes the application to an underwriter for review within their underwriting workbench, where they can make a decision that is instantly relayed back to the broker.

The Smart Home product boasts a 90% renewal ratio. Brokers are clamoring to be part of it, with the number of brokers accessing the system more than tripling to 1,195 in 2020 from its launch date a year earlier.

Challenge 2: Facilitate more streamlined underwriting

Want to stand out? Be easy to work with. Automation helps, but of course underwriters need to review more complex risks. When underwriters do need to step in, they should have the tools needed to work as efficiently as possible with producers and to communicate easily.

Underwriters need all related data in a single place to rapidly process business. On the Salesforce Digital Insurance Platform, underwriters can tap into their unified desktop to surface all the key information from the submission and data enrichment sources in one place. A 360-degree view of brokers and customers gives underwriters greater confidence since they can see everything in the context of important relationships. Then underwriters can quickly manage quotes on referrals and confirm their decision.

A digital platform helps with all aspects of the business, including streamlining workflows that enable underwriters to easily prioritize tasks. It can also enable underwriting staff to manage and track submissions at every stage all the way through to close. Administration is easier, too, because underwriters can automate tasks and documents, and leverage opportunities to collaborate across the system, for example, through the Underwriter Workbench or other tools such as Slack or Salesforce Quip.


Case study: Reduce administrative time, improve average loss ratios

Ascot U.S., part of Ascot Group, was seeking a fast, high-grade user experience for its underwriters and broker partners. It wanted to get responses out in less than 10–15 minutes so they could process more business cost-effectively.

Enter Ascot Array, a portal built on the Salesforce Digital Insurance Platform that runs on Financial Services Cloud. The new offering accepts and processes excess casualty coverage submissions from wholesale brokers and includes real-time integration with a third-party data aggregator, as well as real-time integration with Ascot’s legacy systems via APIs.

The system routes submissions to an underwriting decision tree that asks detailed questions and sets parameters. Rules-based underwriting enables automated decisions.

The results? Ascot Array is hitting its goals, reducing underwriting administrative time by nearly 60%. The turnaround was lightning fast, with 80% of submissions getting responses in under five minutes. The remaining 20% of submissions went to human underwriters working on the platform workbench. With Array, the underwriters are less encumbered by manual tasks and can monitor and analyze their portfolios’ progress through data-rich dashboards. Ascot is achieving better than average loss ratios and can focus on working with brokers who are reliable and fit its business model.

“Digital automation is now table stakes,” said Reid Holzworth, CEO, IVANS Insurance Solutions. “It’s a game-changer.”

See how Salesforce is partnering with IVANS to drive productivity for carriers throughout the entire submission lifecycle.


Challenge 3: Visualize insights into your business

When information is scattered across siloed systems, or worse, stored in paper files, carriers can’t gain important insights into their own businesses. With a digital platform with integrated visual analytics, it’s easier to automatically report on pipeline conversion rates, how much business you’re winning, or how long it takes to turn around certain kinds of business. You can ask intelligent questions and get answers. For example, to what extent does pricing affect conversion rates? How are brokers and portfolios performing?

Financial Services Cloud as well as Tableau CRM let underwriters, product managers, and other risk stakeholders track key data in the context of 360-degree views of agencies and customers. For deeper analytics on the critical factors driving results, Tableau CRM provides AI-driven insights and produces graphic illustrations in intuitive formats to help carriers visualize how different lines of business are performing and why — or surface the need for new products. That helps insurers make important decisions about their products, pricing strategies, and broker distribution networks. These features are key: Insurers name risk modeling and monitoring, along with evaluation as two of the top three use cases for autonomous finance.

Intelligent automation is critical to staying competitive.

Intelligent automation is emerging as the critical tool for growth, helping carriers compete for distributors who prefer partners with technology that makes them better at their jobs. Eighty-eight percent of growth-oriented executives say the first companies to deploy intelligent automation will gain a significant competitive advantage. Salesforce’s Digital Insurance Platform offers a solution unique to the industry, making it easier for carriers to be the preferred partners for their brokers and producers.

Digitization and automation are empowering the industry to deliver what customers and partners want now as quickly as possible — and also what they might need next.



Automated Underwriting for Commercial Lines


Automate quote-to-issue and streamline underwriting to be your producers’ preferred carrier


Learn how to support your distribution partners more effectively

Watch “Commercial Lines of Underwriting Automation” on Dreamforce+ 2021 to gain further insights into the different ways carriers can serve their distribution partners faster with better, more targeted offerings.

About the Author

James Webb is head of P&C insurer solutions at Salesforce Industries. Having started his career at Guy Carpenter in reinsurance, James has led software product management and marketing at technology firms, focusing on data, analytics, and process solutions supporting non-life and life insurer core operations, customer engagement, and risk management. Previous roles include positions at CoreLogic Eqecat, SunGard Financial Systems, FIS and Vlocity before its acquisition by Salesforce in 2020. He is based in London.

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