Manual processes hurt insurance agency efficiency and productivity
—Ken Leibow, CEO, InsurTech Express
Many distributors, even today, still use ad hoc methods and manual, spreadsheet-based workflows to complete some of their most important operations such as commission calculation, policy submission tracking and sales follow-ups. These tasks that are critical to the proper functioning of the agency and that are repeated with high frequency are taking too long, wasting resources and slowing the pace of business. The length of time taken to approve new policy submissions is particularly problematic because of the lack of digitalization, integration and consistency within the channel.
The prevalence of manual processes keeps staff from working on higher value, customer-focused activities. It makes client service more difficult. And it makes advisor commissions harder to calculate and administer.
Not only do manual workflows have a significant cost in time and resources, but they open the door to human error in the processing of all that data. NIGO rates climb. Both advisors and clients become dissatisfied.
It all adds up to pain and frustration for distributors, carriers, advisors and end-clients alike.
Challenge #1: Manual processes degrade visibility into the policy approval process
The processing of new business applications as they move from advisor to distributor to carrier (and sometimes back out for paramed and other approvals) still relies on too many manual steps for most carriers. This delays the ultimate time to issuance, causes frustration with clients, which gets passed through the rest of the channel. Advisors struggle with being left in the dark about where an application is in the process and why it has been held up. Paramed follow-ups are not automated, with task assignment and follow-up being manual. This all adds up to a workflow filled with inefficiencies that takes too long and creates too much frustration.
The distributors who are able to solve for manual process inefficiencies will be the ones who the best advisors gravitate towards.
Challenge #2: Lack of centralized data causes inefficiencies
When manual processes have to be used to move data where it needs to go or store data that is needed to manage the business, inefficiencies multiply. Unfortunately, many distributors still don’t have automated access to carrier data that is vital to their business. They find it difficult to track and manage policy submission status.
For their advisors, the lack of centralized client data from multiple carriers means it is difficult and time-consuming to get a full 360-degree picture of a client’s insurance products. Advisors must log in to each carrier’s portal and flip back and forth to find the information they need. It wastes time they could be spending solving client challenges.
A continuing sore spot for those advisors is commissions. Quick and accurate payment is not as universal as they would like. When distributors and carriers don’t share commission feeds, and distributors lack robust commission management systems, significant obstacles can arise.
It can be hard to administer complicated commission splits between parties involved in a sale. It can be hard to reconcile expected commissions with actuals. And when it comes to getting paid, advisors are like everyone else—easily frustrated by errors and delays.
To win advisor trust and build stronger relationships, distributors need to take back control of their commissions by implementing robust systems that automatically calculate and pay advisors—accurately and on time.
A new approach to centralizing data and accelerating policy approvals is needed
To compete in the evolving independent channel, distributors need to find solutions that will speed the digitalization of their businesses. They need solutions that automate all core processes, enhance productivity among agents and staff, reduce errors, create efficiencies and reduce costs. The best solutions are management workhorses that give distributors complete visibility into data and activity throughout the value chain.