The insurance industry is notorious for being slow to innovate, and its end to end value chain is painstakingly complex and sluggish. This article tells the story of how an extremely inefficient insurance industry value chain can transform into a highly efficient end to end process – all through the power of digital.
With near 20 years of experience working with banking and insurance, I can testify to the hardships, struggles and frustrations associated with the more than tedious insurance value chain. Largely reliant on pen and paper, various disconnected tools and outdated communication processes, the industry value chain is ripe for updating.
And, indeed, many have tried to improve the value chain – spanning from the customer via a broker to an insurance company (and in some cases a reinsurance company). Most, however, have failed. Consequently, many have shifted their focus to internal work processes – which is a good thing – but to fully optimise the insurance value chain, one needs to think end to end. And thinking end to end not only include your in-house work processes. It encompasses the entire communication flow to and from customers as well as stakeholders further down the value chain.
It’s indeed possible to digitise the entire insurance industry value chain. And the time to do it is now. To give you some idea on why it should be done and how it can be done, let me present you with two different scenarios: The traditional, standard way of doing things, and the efficient – digital – way of doing things.
FROM EXTREME INEFFICIENCY…
Imagine a large company. Let’s say it has 50 000 employees, 5000 cars and 1000 properties under its domain. In a traditional insurance ecosystem, this company manages their insurance objects in a complex of various paper documents and Excel-spreadsheets scattered across the entire organization – needless to say, a complete nightmare to control.
Then, the company forwards the myriad of documents to its broker either by email or – worst case scenario – by snail mail. This kick-starts the first cycle between the customer and the broker. During this prospecting phase, the sales team works with the company in a CRM-system before signing an eventual deal.
Afterwards, in the negotiating phase, the broker usually switches over to Word, Excel-spreadsheets and email to communicate and negotiate a deal with various insurance companies, who, of course, also works with Word, Excel and email. Each of these insurance companies then need to punch in aggregated or detailed information regarding 56 000 insurable objects. Due to the sheer number of insurable objects and subpar processes and insufficient data re-usage, insurance companies will have to keep their registration on a headline level, aggregating away critical data and proper risk assessment.
Finally, after this painstakingly time-consuming process of manual data entry, the broker returns to the company with the proposed deals. If the company disagrees, the cycle begins yet again before the deal eventually closes.
…TO EXTREME EFFICIENCY
Now, let’s rewind. Imagine the same company, with its 50 000 employees, 5000 cars and 1000 properties. Only this time the entire value chain has been optimised and digitised for maximum efficiency.
The company logs on to the broker’s digital self-service portal to upload spreadsheets with information regarding their employees and properties and download information from integrated motor vehicle registers. This provides the company with the opportunity to visualise and maintain their own data on a user-friendly interface instead of wading through countless documents. The broker, on the other hand, finds all the necessary information already registered in the insurance system and is released from his or her duties of manually entering data into various documents and systems.
Then, instead of relying on Word, Excel and email, the communication between the broker and the insurance company is automated. The broker publishes the insurance portfolio on a web-based service which allows insurance companies to bid on the portfolio directly on the website. As thanks to the insurance companies who use the web-based service instead of replying through email with an Excel spreadsheet attached, the broker’s web-based service offers a downloadable file with the deal which lets the insurance company import into their insurance system – also letting them off the hook of manually entering the data.
This way, the same data which the 56 000-object company registered in the prospecting phase is reused throughout the entire value chain – without the need for additional manual re-entries of the same information.
The latter example is not wishful thinking. The technology needed to improve the value chain is available. And, yes, I’m well aware of the many attempts to improve the insurance industry value chain and I’m no stranger to the many stranded projects. I believe, however, that the time has come for a second try. The benefits should be apparent for anyone involved. Not only does it push the value chain to its edges of efficiency, but it also improves the entire customer journey.