Underwriters, arguably, have one of the toughest jobs in the Insurance industry. On one hand, they must perform the most intensive inside-out analysis of a submitted application and underwrite the risk while on the other hand, they are expected to take an outside-in view to improve the customer experience.
Some of the common challenges faced by underwriters are:
- Manually ingesting data from applications submitted in different formats: Formats include ACORD PDF and proprietary XLS. This sometimes includes data entry into the underwriting system (UWS) in addition to data verification.
- Having multiple channels for receiving applications: There are agencies that prefer to submit applications in hardcopy paper form while others use faxes or emails as their preferred channel of submission. Often, all the submitted applications are not brought into a common queue resulting in mis-prioritized application processing i.e. higher value applications are processed after lower value ones.
- Inability to pre-score applications: This is essential to figure out which applications are ready for underwriting in terms of complete documentation, or which are low risk, high value applications to be taken up before others. This is important, because sometimes, an underwriter may spend hours before figuring out that the application is not complete, while there might be a complete high-value application, waiting for their attention.
- Requirements management: This is a major area of distraction, as underwriters end up finding missing or incomplete requirements during the entire underwriting process. This results in a situation where they have put in significant amount of effort, but the application cannot proceed due to missing or incomplete information. Further, the agent/ broker may take their own time to provide the missing or incomplete information.
- Business as usual (BAU) activities: Last but not the least, there are too many BAU activities at hand, for underwriters to find time to improve customer experience by improving the underwriting processes or systems.
The last point is critical and is a key contributor to the catch-22 situation. Fortunately, newer technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and analytics can be applied in a way to deliver quick results without consuming the efforts that traditional information technology (IT) projects take – I am sure you’d remember how the last UAT overran its planned schedule!
One key feature of RPA projects is that they are of relatively short duration – typically a few weeks as against months – and do not cause disruption to the existing business process. Putting that in the context of the underwriting business, you don’t have to change the application forms or the submission process o