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Ken Leibow

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Ken Leibow is founder and CEO of InsurTech Express. He brings more than 36 years of insurance industry experience with an extensive background in insurance technology for distribution and back office systems. Prior to founding InsurTech Express, Leibow worked for Genworth Financial, Mutual of Omaha, and as vice president of operations at Diversified Underwriters Services, Inc. As COO of Integrated Insurance Technologies, he built the largest life insurance data exchange hub in the industry, processing over one million policies per year and $30 billion of annuities (now owned by Oracle, Inc.). Some of the key initiatives he implemented include innovation in quoting and illustration tools, CRM’s, agency management systems, eApp platforms and ePolicy Delivery for long term care, life insurance and annuities. Leibow is a leader for industry technology standards, working with ACORD, LDTC, LIDMA, NAILBA, LIMRA, LOMA and IRI. In 2019, he was appointed to sit on the ACLI Innovation Committee. He is on the ACORD Life & Annuity Program Advisory Council and won the ACORD Leadership Award in 2022 and ACORD Community 50th Anniversary Award in 2020. He is a past winner of the NAILBA Chairman’s Award and NAILBA’s ID20 Award. In 2022, he was the winner of the LIDMA Innovation Award. Leibow can be reached by telephone at 402-740-7356. Email: ken@insurtechexpress.com.

Insurance Marketing Automation For Distributors/Advisors And API Magic For Carrier Illustrations

In my last Tech-Tock article, I wrote about learning about the latest innovation in insurtech by attending onsite industry conferences. I am very excited to continue to inform you of the latest technology that can help your business grow and stay on the cutting edge. Sorry for the cliché. I continue to discover more new tech innovations and solution providers. This article is focused on two topics. The first is automation in insurance marketing. Whether you are a BGA using the platform or offering it as an agent recruiting tool, you will learn about the power of automated marketing for direct to consumer insurance sales. As I try not to be too technical when writing this column, you have seen since last year that I occasionally write about APIs to educate you on the next generation of sharing information and creating a seamless user experience. I have discovered another powerful API solution that is simply magical for carriers who are developing illustrations for new insurance products.

Conquer Your Marketing With One Solution
For insurance marketers jockeying for position in an ultra-competitive market space, the name of the game is leveraging formative tech tools to enhance customer outreach, increase conversion and retention rates, and boost ROI. Fortunately, as communication methods evolve, Phonexa’s all-in-one marketing automation solution for calls, leads, clicks, email, SMS, accounting, and more has shaped how insurance direct marketers and carriers connect with consumers and make more financially sound marketing decisions. Automating marketing initiatives allow insurance agencies to rely more on organic marketing and new technology to complement their back-end leadgen processes. Recent case studies have found that Phonexa helps insurance providers, agents, and agencies reach their full business potential through an all-encompassing automation platform.

Key highlights include:

  • Significant reduction in marketing spend
  • Less manual work stemming from more automated tasks
  • More time to convert leads to sales
  • Increased revenue due to heightened conversion rates
  • Lowered fraud resulting from an advanced vetting process

There are multiple solutions that are critical to the success of automating marketing. Starting with data analytics, which needs to have fast-loading real-time data insights that uncover key information about your insurance lead generation and ROI. You then need an application to handle your calls. Insurance lead applications for inbound calls help you create better customer interaction. Reporting is key to measuring results, especially comparison reports. These reports help identify the most relevant data specific and KPIs specific to your campaigns. You need an application that can filter by geographic area, such as by state, to measure campaign performance and outcomes by a specific region. In order to get adoption, speed-to-contact technology is essential. These LeadGen and communication tools are needed to initiate an efficient customer outreach. Now personalized outreach utilizes outbound calls, emails, and SMS tools for personalized drip campaigns and contact with insurance client segments. Traffic flow optimization allows you to segment your incoming insurance leads to vet out low-intent clients and re-engage lapsed prospects. Phonexa, https://phonexa.com, offers all of these tools as an All-One-Element that integrates all of your lead generation and management in one place in a comprehensive tech stack that covers all areas and demands of the business.

Do Not Be Afraid of APIs
In New York at the Insurtech Insights Conference back in May, I met with the team from Coherent Global, https://coherent.global/. I was amazed at their technology. Even though I am not an actuary, I know tech—this is a game-changer. Nick Leimer, senior technical director at Coherent Global, helped explain in layman’s terms how it all works for their application Coherent Spark.

APIs, (application programming interface) are just a way to connect to different parts of a business process, set of calculations, or both together, while adding speed and flexibility. Think Legos for business processes. Build whatever you want or need from all the parts you have in a box or change out one set of blocks for another. If the process changes, just reconnect the blocks and/or add new ones. Complete flexibility.

What if you had a Lego that would calculate the price for an insurance coverage. Then that Lego could be used by the pricing department to generate the same results with the same inputs and outputs to calculate over and over again and only need to make changes in one location to adjust the calculations in that department. Now think bigger. That block can now be used by the illustration application, and it will always match the results expected from the pricing team. Even bigger still, the same block could feed the valuation system, the project system, and even then the cash flow testing system. The same results from the same block across all business units in different systems. One source of truth managed from one location.

The use of APIs to address this issue is applicable to a wide range of business and process calculations. The same base calculation is used in many different systems with the expectation that the results are consistent in all systems. Anyone who has been part of a large transformation or upgrade project has found a calculation or process that should be the same for all parts of the company. But because a system is only rarely used, or will not be used until a later date in the transformation workflow, it is pushed to the bottom of the backlog where it is likely deemed out of scope or forgotten. Now instead of a single source truth for this calculation from an API, the calculations in different systems will be updated at different times by different resources which typically cause the calculations to deliver inconsistent results requiring re-work and timeline extensions.

The solution Coherent Spark has several use cases for life, health and annuity products. It can be used for ”back office” actuarial calculations in which a client uses Spark for common regulatory market value and reserving calculations. It can also be used for new product development and illustrations such as to a complete illustration for a new IUL product and recover botched delivery for new distribution partners. For supplemental health benefits, Spark can be used to create an API from plan design and rate excel model. The last use case is that Spark can be used for life policy administration conversion which significantly reduces costs and risks.

Here are two quotes about the APIs that sum it all up: “They no longer have to build a core application that tries to do everything. Instead, they can contract out certain responsibilities by using already created pieces that do the job better. So APIs are the Lego bricks of software development: Standardized tools for software to communicate with other software, leading to faster building and deployment and faster load times,” says Corey Walther, Allianz Life. And: “Coherent Spark enables an API-based cloud ecosystem making it easier for internal and external processes to talk to one another so data can be quickly handed off from one process to the next, making automation easier and the development and deployment of new workflows quicker,” says Todd Buchanan, US CEO of Coherent.

Hit The Road To Get The Latest In Life Insurtech And Underwriting Innovations

Industry conferences are back! I just returned from a two week business trip. First I flew to Tampa to attend the LIMRA Life Insurance Conference at the end of April. I was then invited by the National Brokerage Agencies (NBA) to speak at their Spring Conference in Dallas. From there, I flew to Denver to attend the Association of Home Office Underwriters (AHOU) Annual Conference. Each one of these conferences had great attendance, top speakers, educational sessions, and exhibitors with new innovative products and services. I learned a lot, and it was a fantastic networking opportunity. There are so many conferences happening throughout this year 2022 hosted by industry associations, IMOs, and technology groups; it’s almost impossible to attend them all. This is a nice problem to have as to which ones to pick to attend, sponsor, and/or where to exhibit. Many companies have the resources to split their teams to cover multiple conferences, especially those that may be happening around the same time. The best part is the positive energy you feel when people appreciate the in-person interaction that was lacking during the hiatus period in the last two years because of COVID. I did attend a couple of conferences late last year but they had lighter attendance, and some were hybrids with remote participation. Just not the same.

Challenges fuel opportunities for Life Insurtech
Exhibiting at both the LIMRA Life Insurance Conference and at the AHOU Conference, I met with the Sapiens team. Sapiens is an industry leader in carrier new business and underwriting systems for both life and property and casualty business. I spoke with Jennifer Smith, vice president of Life and Annuity Products in North America, about the opportunities they are seeing in the market today: “Between the complexities of life products, shifting business models, and ever-changing consumer expectations, the demand for impactful and innovative solutions to support the distribution market continues to grow. New opportunities to increase customer retention and build your multigenerational book of business have become game changing imperatives in this new dimension of insurance. And, of course, technology continues to play a pivotal role in helping to strategically transform the channels in which we communicate, operate and market. The market is flooded with insights on how the challenges of the past two years have caused companies to squeeze in several years’ worth of innovation and ideas into narrow frames. Yet the continual challenge of creating an all-encompassing platform, which can seamlessly support the entire cast of the insurance ecosystem—carriers, brokers, technology partners, and the customer—remains a challenge.”

For many organizations, the benefits of selling directly to consumers—higher margins, faster turnarounds, access to customer data—should be an ace in the hole. The ability to offer your clients an omnichannel “online experience with the similar capabilities and experience of being face to face,” is crucial these days. “During our recent Sapiens Customer Council,” Smith continued, “where a few dozen of our North American customers gathered, one of our life carriers noted that they have an 80 percent close rate when a consumer comes to their website directly and an agent was recommended to them. It was also noted that one of the reasons this carrier is better able to meet customers needs, is that they partnered with a progressive solution provider, Sapiens, who helped them reshape and redefine the ‘sold, not bought,’ and integrate the right tools and technology to support both customer demand and business needs.

“One of the beneficial components, in this new frontier, has become the Sapiens Illustration solution, which is enabling the agent to easily run simple and complex ‘what if’ scenarios to show and explain to the consumer how the insurance product will behave, how value accumulates, and what their premiums are doing to protect them. Instead of competing with the ‘Amazon Effect,’ our customer determined that if they could deliver real-time data insights for the broker and client, reduce time in to fill-out the application, underwriting, and errors, that they could focus more on what matters most—ensuring that customers are given exemplary agent or advisory experiences. Evidence is pointing to the fact that today’s up and coming agents have very different expectations of their experience and engagement with the tools required to explain and illustrate life insurance as the initiation of a good customer experience with an insurance carrier. They want intuitive capabilities that walk a customer through the life of an insurance policy and then they want that detail entered to continue through the process of applying for the illustrated product and hopefully enable point of sale decisioning or indication of the rating.

“We continue to work with consumers, carriers and partners across the life industry, demonstrating digital and differentiating ideas to better help close the life insurance protection gap. Leveraging decades of experience along with innovative ways to drive adoption of life products—either through new direct to consumer channels, or through current (or new) agent networks—we are fueling new methods and opportunities to educate markets on the importance of protecting their families and future.

“While so many things continue to shift and change, those of us who have been in the industry know that there has been one constant on the life side, and that is insurance is a product that’s pretty fraught with emotions. Going forward, the ability to empower agents to continue to educate, empathize and market products that have purpose, value, and deliver a sense of protection and security, will continue to create opportunities for those who are first to adapt to the new reality. Our Sapiens solutions for New Business and Underwriting are already helping life and annuity carriers navigate and evolve in this new era, and yesterday’s challenges only fuel our ability to deliver on the opportunities for tomorrow and beyond.”

Turning on the Power of EHR Data
AHOU is definitely a mass gathering of life insurance underwriters, data scientists, and anyone related to the underwriting process. Exhibiting at the conference was Diameter Health; specifically I met with Dr. Paulo Pinho, vice president and medical director. He explained that medical underwriting has traditionally been a manual process requiring skilled resources to sift through attending physician statements (APSs). Comprised of hundreds of pages delivered as PDF files, today’s APSs—while based on data that is captured in electronic health records (EHRs)—are essentially paper analogs that require underwriters and medical directors to use the same time and resource-intensive processes to find data critical to risk assessment. Some carriers, re-insurers and insurtech vendors have recognized that the ubiquity of EHRs and subsequent availability of clinical data in near real-time could be disruptive for underwriting—delivering data elements that are most relevant to risk assessment directly into underwriting workflows. Theoretically, this should enhance automation, improve speed to issue and improve client experience. However, their exploration of EHR data has uncovered the fact that raw clinical data poses challenges due to poor data quality, inconsistency, and lack of interoperability, particularly in the most complex patients who may see multiple providers in multiple care settings.

“Diameter Health’s Fusion technology is purpose-built for turning raw clinical data into a high value data asset. It ingests multi-source, multi-format data and generates a semantically normalized longitudinal record that makes key data points accessible to underwriters. Diameter Health’s comprehensive and scalable technology has tackled the high volume, multi-source aggregation required by the nation’s Health Information Exchanges, health insurance payers, state and federal governments, and more recently a portfolio of life insurance ecosystem players. Our life insurance clients realize that claims data has its gaps, medications don’t tell the full story, and individual labs represent one point in time and not the line that connects discrete points. They realize that clean clinical data is the thread that mitigates gaps, weaves the full story, and forms the line that transforms the episodic into the continuous—these transformations are critical to an evidence based, client centric and seamless underwriting experience.

“Beyond an APS replacement solution, clean EHR data is the foundation for accelerated underwriting, claims and disability cover. Timely, rich population data can drive pricing, client engagement, fraud detection, new product design and even dynamic underwriting premised on a wellness model. Diameter Health is the enterprise data quality solution necessary to disrupt life insurance through automation and simplification.”

Life insurance technology innovations from back office policy admin systems to distribution digital point of sales solutions and enhancement in automating underwriting are advancing significantly. The best way to get your arms around all the great changes happening in the industry is to get out on the road and visit customers, carriers, vendors and industry events.

Agent Digital Sales Platforms For Life And MedSupp, And BGAs Reducing Operational Costs

Digital sales platforms and operational outsourcing has been trending in the life insurance space for the last two years. I have touched on these topics in previous articles, however today I want to dive deeper. I also have been slowly introducing in the Broker World Tech-Tock column technology related to selling Medicare products because these have become the hot cross-sell products for life agents.

BGAs Reducing Operation Costs While Focusing on Sales and Marketing
Firms seeking scalability and growth are turning to an operations model that right-sources business processes to offshore firms with industry-wide experience and expertise. This shift catapults the trajectory of company growth by optimizing efficiencies and freeing essential staff to focus on sales and customer experience while reallocating expenses towards sales and recruiting efforts. Right-sourcing reduces operational costs and creates stability and continuity during seasonal ebbs and flows of business, providing a solid foundation for growth.

Employee Pooling (EP), a third-party financial services processing firm headquartered in Nashville with services delivered out of New Delhi, has numerous success stories with large and small firms that often start in the baby pool. It begins by establishing a trusted working relationship and steadily adding more services over time. The scenarios for seeking external support vary greatly: A firm has suddenly lost a key staff member, a BGA wants to focus on sales and doesn’t have the time or resources to manage essential administrative positions, there is too much unpredictability in hiring, training, and retaining skilled personnel within budget and scaling to meet service standards depending on work volume, or simply desiring to keep salaries and expenses to a minimum. No matter the “why” the results are impressive.

A BGA with three agency principals out of Seattle decided to completely reimagine the way they do business: They changed from a brokerage agency to a marketing organization focusing on sales and increasing profits while adding more resources to their general agency—they committed to eliminating everything that got in the way of sales and customer experience. Over a two-year period, starting with six full-time employees to manage agent appointments, new business application processing, case management, commissions, and policy management, this firm transitioned five of their employees out of the company, reducing annual payroll by $312,000 ($62,400 per employee). They moved all administrative tasks to EP, who appointed an equal number of experienced department specialists and their team leaders to deliver and manage the agency’s business. The payoff was dramatic. The firm added $265,200 to their bottom line. EP allows a variable pricing model and only charges for services delivered. With a huge, low-cost, young, educated labor market in New Delhi, EP can afford to add scale and stability and back up staff to meet strict service standards in an industry with wide swings in the flow of business. The total annual cost for this BGA’s services totaled $46,800—25 percent less than the cost of one in-house employee.

An eBGA is Changing the Game for Life Insurance (Sales + Technology)
My definition of an eBGA is a life distributor that uses technology for recruiting agents. This technology attracts agents because it is designed specifically for agents to use for client prospecting. It could be a mobile app, web app, and/or micro-site that can be marketed for example in social media giving the consumer the ability to do their own education for life insurance, perform a needs analysis, run a quote, and apply for insurance while the agent is available at any time during the process for assistance.

An eBGA that is re-framing the entire life insurance sales ecosystem is BackNine Insurance and Financial Services. You can also classify BackNine as an insurtech company with two proprietary platforms designed to streamline the way in which life insurance agents, agencies, and consumers engage with their product and clients. Whether you own an agency or are an individual producer, their platforms can help agents turn their business into a fully digital solution to increase sales and improve client retention.

BackNine’s Quote & Apply platform is the first multi-carrier, consumer-facing e-application platform for life insurance. Agents can white label the software and use it on their own website or platforms, optimize their client onboarding processes, and ultimately monitor and scale their business 24/7. Users can also access quotes, compare rates, and file e-applications virtually and digitally. With Quote & Apply, anyone can apply for life insurance in under five minutes with their computer, tablet or smartphone, and be quoted with several policy options by answering only six questions (age, gender, height/weight, smoking history, and rating the person’s health on a scale of one to five). The agent can also send direct links to customers and they can shop multiple carriers and apply on their own time with ease.

Instead of the typical BGA website with multiple disparate tools, BackNine has created an agent platform called BOSS, which is a life insurance CRM empowering agents to monitor and manage their life insurance business across the board. The platform keeps agents updated on cases, and access to their commission statements. The dashboard is configurable for each agent’s preferences. BOSS allows agents to stay up-to-date on all of client activity and manage their data in real time. BOSS can also be utilized as an agency management system for outreach to new and existing clients and helps agents grow their life insurance book. The internal sales desk offers agents assistance in finding the appropriate products and carrier options for clients’ specific needs. Agents can also avoid client data dual-entry by integrating an existing AMS or CRM for all future life insurance transactions. These platforms are for both new agents and seasoned advisors who want to digitize their agency. The end result is maximized efficiency and more life insurance sales. You can learn more about BackNine by visiting http://www.back9ins.com.

Medicare Sales: An Upgraded Solution
These days, most Medicare consumers expect online access to carrier plan information, quoting, and even enrollment. For this to happen, insurers and agents must present digital access that better uses data, forms, and communication—or risk losing customers. Consumers aren’t the only ones asking for updates either. The old way of requiring agents to navigate legacy systems requiring paper applications, physical signatures, and clunky data transfers slows sales down and has agents looking elsewhere.

Many Medicare agents rate back-office and customer-facing digital tools as the top supports carriers should provide. Comparing the two, you can see why.

Traditional System

  • Poor integration with agents and consumer data complicates workflows
  • Relies on a semi-digital toolset, with extensive human intervention
  • Outdated and slow processes frustrate
  • Agent licensing compliance headaches

Digital Solutions

  • Seamless digital connections with agents and consumers
  • Easy access to data from multiple sources
  • Efficient distribution and support for products
  • Agent licensing compliance integration

The Benefits of Reshaping Operations
Research shows that carriers and agents who use digital technology are able to automate 50 to 60 percent of administrative operations and have expense ratios that are close to 40 percent less. Time saved reduces time to market, lowers prices, and improves profitability. Early adopters of better online tools are positioned for growth by meeting the digital demands of today and planning for tomorrow.

Knowing When It’s Time for an Upgrade
When any system starts to experience productivity issues, it may be a sign it’s time for an upgrade.

Other signs to look for include:

  • Loss of sales year over year
  • Increasing security concerns from customers and employees
  • New products or services don’t easily fit into current systems
  • Operations experience slow responses or even downtime
  • Legacy systems not technically compatible with outside data sources

Updating current technology could mean the difference between keeping up or falling behind.

Trusty.care provided the information on Medicare platforms. They are a New York based InsurTech company working to improve efficiencies in distributing senior, individual, and ancillary products. By connecting the point of sale to the consumer’s needs, Trusty.care can radically improve consumers’ financial stability related to healthcare costs and decrease rapid disenrollment. Today they have over 50,000 agents and top FMOs using their platform.

Deeper Dive Into The Latest Technologies Impacting Life Insurance Digital Sales

I attend many webinars and now finally travel to industry conferences. Speakers love to use analogies when attempting to make comparisons to hammer home a point. Sometimes it connects and sometimes it is just too way out there for the audience to understand. Either way, in 2022 we have turned the corner in life insurtech from AI in underwriting and expansive use of electronic health records, to innovating the sales digital experience and renovating the life insurance value chain. Since we have turned the page, a metaphor would be more appropriate when describing the exciting innovations in life insurance technology. Here is my metaphor, “Life Insurtech in 2022 is a whole new highway.”

Five Ways to Renovate the Life Insurance Value Chain
The first week of March my company, InsurTech Express, exhibited at the iPipeline Connections conference in Las Vegas. At the conference, I met Hari Srinivasan, CEO, and Nicole Mwesigwa, co-founder and COO, of iCover. As I have said in previous Tech-Tock articles, data is the fuel driving innovation in the life insurtech space. iCover is an AI/algorithmic underwriting platform that assesses, prices and delivers life insurance in five minutes. With a built-in eApp, QUITM behavior-based questions and a proprietary decision engine, iCover can transform your new business process in 12 weeks.

By most measures life insurance is essential to household economic stability, but ownership fell in the last decade from 63 percent to 52 percent (these stats are from LIMRA Fast Stats Sept. 2021). So, what is preventing us from “connecting” with and “covering” more consumers? Lack of product innovation and the buying experience, which is too long and too complicated! The good news is we have the tools, the data, and the talent to change the trajectory of our industry. Here are five ideas that can be implemented in 2022!

  • Offer a multi-channel distribution platform to reach consumers wherever and whenever they are primed to think about insurance and seamlessly connect them to a digital buying process. Include digital messages to keep the consumer engaged and informed about the application status and next steps.
  • Revamp the eApp to use behavior-based vs. reflexive questions. This will make the purchase journey intuitive and fast. Fast means less than 10 minutes from app to offer for most consumers.
  • Use data differently. Data functions to knock out apps or supplement the traditional underwriting process. Using data to detect non-disclosures and rate applications behind the scenes eliminates the uncomfortable task of fact-checking the consumer over the phone and increases opportunities to price applications on the spot.
  • Install AI/Algorithmic underwriting to simultaneously assess applications and make decisions at the point-of-sale. A data-driven system maximizes auto-acceptance without compromising risk and is the flywheel for the entire buying process!
  • Create a feedback loop for the AI decision platform. Whether online or offline, this loop will expedite learning, improve accuracy and increase straight-through processing rates. Data can come from multiple sources; consumer buying analytics, claims, post-issue DHR requests, manual underwriting decisions, application and admin surveillance activities.

Renovating the value chain does not have to be overwhelming, particularly when using an agile approach to manage incremental change. Choosing the right partner and solution, like iCover, also helps!

Effective Life Insurance Illustration System Implementations
Over the years working on various single carrier and multicarrier illustration systems, the implementation process includes critical pieces like the functionality and the user experience. When adding life insurance products to a platform there are three areas that are key to the implementation (Calc Engine, Reporting, and User Functionality). Some features in the illustration platform are already baked in, but other features such as how to select age, riders, and strategies, just to name a few, can be sensitive in ease of use and practicality in running the illustration. What most agents and BGAs may not realize is that it is not necessarily the vendor who may be the cause of a challenging user experience, but how the carrier did their implementation. The key to a successful implementation is to have advisor and BGA beta testers in the field before the launch.

“Modern and capable Illustration systems are absolutely critical for carriers, of any size and complexity, to both drive the sales process and enable the exponential benefits of a digital ecosystem,” says Lyndon Edwards, president of illustrate inc, a leader in providing illustrations, eApp, and other digital cloud-based solutions to the North American life insurance industry.

Edwards continues, “Illustration systems are much more today than they used to be, and they continue to evolve. In addition to providing accurate, instant, compliant, and secure information, today’s systems also need to be feature rich, integration capable, and future ready to deliver customer, user, and operational experience, all critical for carriers to attract agents, succeed, and grow in today’s market. Choosing a proven illustration partner with the actuarial, industry, and technology expertise required, to understand and deliver on specific carrier needs and requirements, will ensure and provide the continued innovation, evolution, and commitment in a constantly changing environment.”

More Innovation Using Electronic Health Records (EHR)
If you read my Broker World article in February, Electronic Health Records (EHR) For Life Underwriting Surging In 2022,” then you will see the rapid expansion of how EHR is being used in the life insurance industry. AdamsBridge understands the healthcare data and pharmaceutical industry which defines their expertise to retrieve and translate medical records from an industry that uses them for maximizing healthcare reimbursement, not for the interpretation needed for the life insurance Industry.

“We are the only organization in the industry to show and document the risks of using EHR records for risk assessment in life insurance, showing variances it has in ‘missing’ data compared to legacy APS records—variances that could range several tables. It is not about your ‘hit’ rate, but the ‘useability’ rate of the data,” said Peter Iras, executive director of AdamsBridge.

Iris continued, “We further redefined the logic used by other summary/data providers with the industry’s first LOMA certified summary team. Another first for the life industry—a customer driven tier builder platform where the clients can build their own summary. Imagine getting the medical data of your choice digitized, extracted, and sorted the way you want and not by some off the shelf or plagiarized version. Data that is searchable, sortable, chronological by body part, body system, key words, diagnosis, scripts, labs, or whatever method you want to use to gain that edge. Useful reports designed by you that focus on impairments with their underlying factors, morbidity, diagnosis, prescriptions, labs, body limbs and specific body systems, delivered in any format, from any data aggregator, with even a customizable analysis focused on directional recommendations (decline or approve) for your underwriters or an underwriter snapshot so you can make easy directional decisions.”

Up until now, many InsurTech disruptors were start-ups steered by ambitious young people with impeccable technology credentials but limited knowledge and understanding of the life insurance industry. They typically arrive with a solution looking for a problem to fix and often stumble when confronted with regulatory and compliance obstacles as well as with the complexity of insurance distribution. The situation is now being reversed.

Discover How Data Transforms The Digital Life Sales Process

You can control your own destiny with web-enabled Lead Gen and Data-Driven Decisioning.

Raise your hand if you want more leads.

Hands up if you think your website could be better utilized to capture interested prospects.
Okay, last one. Hands in the air if you have felt an intuition about a strategy that could make a substantial impact on your business, but had no facts or metrics to back it up.

If you have any hands above your head right now, read on. First, let’s talk lead generation. Lead gen has two primary impacts on your business: 1) the potential for new revenue and, 2) attraction and retention of agents. I have yet to encounter an agency that doesn’t want more leads. And with the right tools at their disposal, agencies can efficiently attract, capture, and distribute ample leads.

One of the biggest areas of lead capture opportunity? Your website. Think of your website as a storefront. When you don’t provide a virtual shop window for prospective clients to browse, you forfeit the chance to draw them inside. A consumer-based quote engine on your website can be a game-changer for your agency in 2022. You can increase lead volume, leverage existing CRM technology as you transfer leads to agents, and even jump-start an application. Sound interesting? Check out this clip: https://www.ipipeline.com/bgas-jump-start-your-lead-gen-in-the-new-year/.

Next up, data-driven insights and decisioning. Most agencies are short on resources—people, time, and money to examine strategies, test and analyze, execute, and improve. In the absence of humans, more hours in the day, and an influx of unexpected funding, the differentiator is data. What if you could look across your carrier partners and know where your cycle times are shortest and longest? What training would you prioritize for employees if you could pinpoint where execution breakdowns were occurring in case management? What if you could measure agent productivity by premium and cycle time? What if you were able to see that by reducing cycle time by five days, your placement ratio would go up by 13 percent?

If you were able to use metrics to drive decisioning, you would gain invaluable insights into your business, enabling you to confidently take courses of action using the resources of teams three times your size. Data is that powerful. And the best part? You don’t have to be a data scientist to utilize it. Check out this video of three BGAs discussing the results of their data-driven decisioning: https://www.ipipeline.com/bga-panel-how-data-is-driving-better-performance-more-business/.

Small adjustments can make big impacts. Ask yourself the questions above in a few months…and let’s get those hands down! These video links and metrics were provided by Roy Goodart who is head of product management at iPipeline, offering an end-to-end ecosystem for fully digitizing the life insurance industry. iPipeline provides distributors with the technology needed to differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering a comprehensive end-to-end platform. They provide you with the agent tool sets that a modern workforce needs in order to process business quickly in this ever-innovating market.

Agent Tools Using AI Predictive Data for Product Recommendations
Sproutt is a new kind of life insurance provider who is transforming how life insurance is purchased and distributed. I met the Sproutt team at the LIDMA conference last October in Denver. I found their sales model coupled with their Insurtech platform very innovative. I asked Sproutt about their technology: Using proprietary AI technology, Sproutt’s Quality of Life Index (QLI) identifies consumers’ “hidden” healthy behaviors to provide a personalized life insurance buying experience, in 10-minutes or less. Sproutt has established itself as a key player within the direct-to-consumer space, and following its rapid growth and technology evolution in the last two years, it is now pioneering agent distribution within the insurtech sector.

Sproutt is bridging the gap between traditional distribution and modern technology, providing agents a competitive advantage. They do things differently at Sproutt. “We put agents first and we provide them the tools and latest technology to be successful,” said Assaf Henkin, co-founder and president. Sproutt covers the full spectrum of omni-channel distribution including independent agents, brokerage, P&C, banks and wire-houses, along with partnerships and affinity groups.

Sproutt’s agent platform includes proprietary Smart Routing technology, which can accurately match clients to a personalized product that best meets their needs and buying preferences. The agent platform includes instant issue term and permanent life insurance covering protection and accumulation sale scenarios while enabling agents to reach clients in a much more effective manner. “We have fully integrated the needs of a life insurance agent into our platform and leveraged our proprietary technology to provide a best in class agent experience,” said Henkin.

As a data-first company, Sproutt is leveraging historical and real time data to provide a predictive experience for both agents and consumers. The ability to accurately predict customer needs, confirm that with agents’ input, and recommend the right product is extremely valuable in a digital buying scenario where speed, transparency, and responsiveness go a long way. Sproutt is preparing to launch a new, fully-redesigned agent portal that will feature a “next generation” series of products all hosted on the company’s predictive data platform later this year.

More Life Digital Sales Platforms and Using Behavioral Science
New from Covr Financial Technologies is Covr Pro, which brings Covr’s digital life insurance technology to independent distribution across multiple channels and agency business models. Originally built for Covr’s 30,000 financial advisor partners, Covr Pro gives independent agents, agencies and producer groups a new digital toolset to rapidly grow their business while future-proofing their practice.

In addition to term and permanent life insurance solutions, Covr Pro offers asset-based long term care, disability, and will introduce an annuities path from more than 30 top-rated carriers including Prudential, Protective and AIG. The fully digital experience also includes needs analysis tools, multi-carrier quoting, case status tracking, and policy delivery and review. The platform is the only one in the industry to offer drop ticket for 100 percent of the available products.

Covr Pro also gives agents access to Covr’s team of industry experts with omni-channel support and assistance. Signing up is easy and fast—agents can create an account and submit business immediately, and get paid some of the most highly competitive commissions in the industry today.

InsurAware™ is an end-to-end digital distribution platform built on state-of-the-art data analytics, behavioral science, and artificial intelligence which aims at matching clients with cost-effective insurance policies provided by leading policy providers. InsurAware™ is equally beneficial for financial institutions, as it leverages the power of precise digital marketing coupled with the accuracy of industry data processed with state-of-the-art AI to become a one-stop solution for the customer acquisition journey.

I asked the InsurAware team, “What are the market trends?” They replied, “We are seeing traditional and digital carriers coming to market with truly end-to-end digital products complete with APIs. Helping to identify the consumers that have the ability and intent to purchase while also providing agents with digital tools to better match these prospects with the right solutions for their specific needs will be table stakes in the future. The ability to take customers and agents through the fulfillment journey, achieved through using data services, data analytics, and state-of-the-art flexible rules engines and fulfillment systems, is becoming table stakes as well. Low code configuration tools are increasing speed to market and accelerating the pace of digital transformation within carriers and distributors. Real time interface techniques through APIs and SDKs are making automated underwriting and the intelligent quoting process much easier.”

Electronic Health Records (EHR) For Life Underwriting Surging In 2022

There is a surge of services, innovative solutions, streamlined processes and automated underwriting for life insurance utilizing Electronic Health Records (EHR). I get it that the availability of electronic medical data still has a mountain to climb to completely replace Attending Physician Statements (APSs), however what you will find is that solution providers are creating intelligent processes to support both. By the end of this article, you will be convinced of the surge of EHR.

Accessing EHR
MIB is e-connected to 99.9 percent of the insurance companies in North America and for over 100 years has been a trusted industry partner, providing unique insights to aid in the underwriting process. Their Electronic Medical Data Service (formerly MIB EHR) improves the life insurance industry’s ability to access electronic medical records, streamlines the broader APS process, reduces overall costs, and accelerates the underwriting process. Offering the only solution in the life insurance market with access to the top three EHR systems in the U.S. (Epic, Cerner and Allscripts), and with access to NextGen and Practice Fusion (through Veradigm) and over 5,400 patient portals, MIB has more than doubled their release rates in the last year. Available to carriers as well as distribution, MIB provides the industry with a single point of access to secure records from multiple data sources, including the ability to systematically reflex to a traditional APS where electronic records are not available.

MIB recognizes the growing opportunity for electronic medical data platforms to provide a greater value to underwriting in 2022 through improved access to data, enhanced speed of data retrieval, and enriched usefulness of the data available to life insurance underwriters. “To meet the full needs of the life insurance industry, we recognize that data needs to be available from multiple sources through a single interface, including electronic data and traditional APSs,” said Andrea Caruso, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MIB. “It must also be provided in a way that makes it easily utilized in the underwriting process and comprehensive so that it can be decisional in nature.” In addition to making the format of the data more useful, MIB recognizes there is a critical need to provide underwriter support and educational materials to encourage use and adoption of electronic medical data. With former underwriters on staff, they are taking a leadership role in providing training and other resources, developed by underwriters for underwriters, which can help organizations get past the learning and adoption barriers.

Last year when I was browsing Human API’s website, their Vision Statement caught my attention and sent a simple yet powerful message, “We exist to radically accelerate the pace of health innovation for everyone, everywhere.” I reached out to the product team at Human API to find out more about their ever evolving EHR platform for life distribution. “Human API launched their Health Intelligence Platform for BGAs to enable better carrier collaboration, improve placement rates, and create better consumer experiences. The platform simplifies EHR and APS ordering into one unified process and turns health data into actionable intelligence that accelerates underwriting. With a single order, Human API searches for all available EHRs through their proprietary network. If no electronic records are found within a predetermined time period, an APS will automatically be ordered, reducing the operational burden on agents and case managers while decreasing the time it takes to get usable medical evidence.

Human API’s electronic health record network consistently exceeds a 50 percent conversion rate for customers by leveraging the largest combination of networks including HIPAA authorized networks, patient portals, and consumer-mediated record retrieval networks. The Health Intelligence Platform was built with distribution in mind, allowing brokerages to securely share evidence directly with carriers, keep agents and case managers informed with automated status notifications, and quickly understand the key aspects of an applicant’s health with simple health summaries. In addition, Human API’s structured health data powers improved client experience and better placement rates with personalized product matches. To learn more about how Human API’s Health Intelligence Platform can empower your business, reach out to Human API through humanapi.co/request-info.

Sharing Information and Integrating Solutions for a Better User Experience
This is the fourth consecutive article where I mention APIs. An open API (Application Programming Interface), is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. The market of Insurtech for life insurance has made it necessary that solution providers offer APIs. This emphasizes the importance of sharing information seamlessly between disparate systems and also building your own user experience. APIs make both of these possible.

MediPro Direct offers simple API connectivity solutions for exam and APS ordering. This includes access to MediPro Direct’s zip scheduler, which identifies coverage and availability for insurance exams before an order is placed. Additionally, MediPro Direct has partnered with Clareto and AdamsBridge Global to deliver real-time access to consolidated EHR data, reducing both time and cost throughout the underwriting process.

Industry consolidation in the life insurance exam space left service gaps including a lack of concierge type services for large, fully underwritten applications. MediPro Direct is filling this gap with a team of highly rated mobile nurses and phlebotomists, as well as informal APS and lab services.

Management Research Services, Inc. (MRS) has 33 years of history with Attending Physician Statement (APS) services, leading the U.S. market. MRS takes pride in its ability to locate the records, obtain needed special authorizations and conduct all research needed to verify requested information. MRS representatives contact the applicant and/or the agent when necessary if your process allows. In essence, MRS makes every effort to find the records prior to closing an order.

Recently, MRS has evolved into a more technology focused company supported by growth capital partners to help enhance its breakthrough no-code platform. This technology focus has resulted in tremendous growth over the past two years, proving MRS’s excellence in insurance technology and automation. MRS migrated its entire APS business to its modern platform in 2021, enabling an agile solution for its clients and internal representatives to process and complete orders with minimal human touch.

MRS’s technology platform allows it to support a stand-alone APS business, or to provide APS as an add-on to an e-App or tele-underwriting service. The MRS platform also provides advanced reporting capabilities that provide standard reports for time-service, volume, and average cost per order. The entire platform is constructed utilizing Application Program Interface (API). This allows for other systems to use their own existing technologies to still harness the power of the MRS rules engine. Data is collected via the MRS call center, online application or both. The next generation of application collection and underwriting technology is here. This is how it works: The rules engine enables the user to construct the detailed scripting and logic necessary for completing and underwriting an application. The MRS self-service model allows any subject to construct the scripting and underwriting decisions without the support of a software developer. This enables a more cost effective and timely process, as well as easy maintenance moving forward.

New Services and Solutions
eNoah has developed a structured, streamlined, cost-effective, technology-driven solution which addresses not only traditional medical record collection but EHR/HIE retrieval. With this, expert team members have developed time-tested and foolproof methods of speedy and effective communication with hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, and their copy services. Their deep long standing relationships with these facilities and copy services also contribute to best-in-class cycle times without compromising quality. Because of new technological developments and increasingly stringent security measures, confidential data is secure and in accordance with the regulatory guidelines of PHI and HIPAA privacy rules.

Traditional medical records collection is not going anywhere any time soon. While electronic health records are making an impact for some carriers, it will be some time before we get strong adoption. eNoah has developed and is continuing to develop advanced technology to assist with getting the records in as quickly as possible without compromising quality. eNoah is partnering with some of the top EHR/HIE vendors to ensure a smooth and timely request process and transition to the traditional records request when needed. Their platform and records retrieval experts insure there is no lost cycle time in being able to immediately switch to the traditional records request.

In response to the increased complexity of the insurance sales and underwriting process, ApplicInt has automated the information collection process. Whether you are an agent, carrier, call center representative consumer or examiner, ApplicInt solutions are utilized by their partners for the life insurance application digital point of sales and fulfillment end-to-end process with the data transmitted to the carrier in-good-order, which significantly decreased cycle time and ultimately results in placing more business. ApplicInt’s EHRComplete platform Integrates the collection of electronic health records (EHR) directly into ApplicInt’s ExamComplete, CallComplete or UComplete data collection processes. It saves time by obtaining permission from the consumer to initiate the collection of EHR in real time when the proposed insured is engaged in providing medical history. This simplifies and speeds the application process and at the same time reduces the workload for the underwriters or other staff from needing to initiate the collection of EHR separately.

I know when this article gets published there will be push back from other firms and vendors whose innovative EHR solutions and services were not mentioned. This just proves my point about EHR surging in 2022.

The Pains And Gains In Commission Accounting

Functionality in commission accounting systems and processing carrier commission data feeds has advanced over the years, however there are still issues unresolved that are impacting BGAs today. Looking into the future, leveraging new architecture and modifying the process can be a game changer. Let’s start by outlining what is Agency

Commission Accounting for life insurance, annuities, and LTCI:

  • Commission Reconciliation (Did you get paid as expected?)
    • First commissions not received on a new case.
    • Deferred first year commissions on modal premium.
    • Bonuses.
    • Renewals and trails.
    • Commission transactions totaling the payment amount.
    • Chargebacks and adjustments.
    • Tracking receipt of the payment.
  • Out-Of-House Deals for Top Producers (Setting-up, tracking modal premium, creating an override statement, and paying the GA or agent)
  • Projecting Income (Monthly Cash Flow)
  • Know Your Score Card (Reporting on revenue/profitability by carrier, line of business, product, agents, and marketing campaigns)
  • Research for Agents (Commission inquiries as to when they are getting paid, fixing incorrect commissions payments, and tracking down old commissions from carriers)

Agency Management Systems (AMS) with Commission Accounting Past and Present
The origination of life BGAs automating commission accounting was first introduced as part of their agency management systems back in the early 1990s. First Colony Life’s PDQ system and Multidata’s AMS had the largest BGA market share. Both agency management systems had some type of commission accounting functionality. They were ahead of their time, however, there was low adoption of their commission modules. BGAs just didn’t turn it on and use it because it was complicated to set up, training and support wasn’t readily available, and manually entering in commission statements was very time consuming as there were no carrier commission data feeds back in those days.

In the early 2000s, “Commerce Agency”and the “Zebu GA System” were the agency management systems with commission accounting built-in used by the NAILBA BGA community at that time. The Zebu GA commission project was funded by two BGAs: Diversified Brokerage Services and Centrelink Financial. Because these BGAs did high volumes of life insurance and annuity business with complex hierarchies, the Zebu Commission Accounting System was very robust in functionality, and it was the first commission accounting system to take in industry standard commission data feeds direct from carriers to process and reconcile commissions. At that time, NAILBA’s Flat File Commission Data Standard was being adopted, as ACORD’s 1206 Life & Annuity Commission Data Transaction was still being developed.

As we move forward to the 2010s, EZ-Data, who built an AMS on top of their CRM called “SmartOffice,” included a commission accounting module. Some of the team involved in Commerce Agency were the designers of the SmartOffice Commission Accounting Module. Those Commerce Agency BGAs had their data converted into SmartOffice as part of vendor acquisitions. EZ-Data had a data exchange hub called Data Exchange Online (DXO) which supported commission data feeds from carriers. In 2009, EZ-Data was acquired by Ebix. AgencyWorks developed, several years before, an AMS called “Agency Integrator” which had a robust platform including commission accounting. AgencyWorks had a data exchange hub called “Data Rail” which supported data feeds from carriers including commission data feeds. AgencyWorks was first sold to Crump Life Insurance Services and then eventually sold to iPipeline in 2009.

At the end of the 2010s, both SmartOffice Commission Accounting and Agency Integrator Commission Accounting had become mature products which automated key commission accounting functionality such as manage schedules, enter statements, run reports, and track actual and estimated commissions. Some newer AMS solution providers are OneHQ, AgencyBloc, Equisoft Centralize, and Techficient. Over the years there have been agencies who have developed their own proprietary systems. Today the current commission data standards used by carriers are ACORD 1206 used mostly by life BGAs, and DTCC’s NSCC Commission Data Standard used by financial institutions and broker-dealers mostly for annuities.

Stand-alone Commission Systems and Outsourcing Commission Accounting
Throughout the years there have been vendors that have commission accounting systems that are stand-alone. There are pros and cons of having a separate commission accounting system compared to one built into the BGA’s agency management system. A benefit of integrated commission accounting can be tied to a case record in the AMS and can be used to follow up on agent licensing and contracting. The advantage of having a separate commission accounting system apart from your AMS is the philosophy of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If you are changing your AMS or your commission system, there is less disruption to your office operation. Today GreenWave is a powerful and innovative stand-alone commission accounting system that integrates with agency management systems and supports carrier commission data feeds.

Outsourcing your commission processing can significantly reduce your costs. Employee pooling (EP) dedicates fractional shares of departmental specialists and their management hierarchies, all for the price of an intern, to meet your services standards day-in-day-out from case management to commission accounting. eNoah is another provider whose experts set up agency hierarchies, schedules, carrier and product information, and other configurations to ensure that they generate accurate reporting through your AMS like SmartOffice.

Life Brokerage Commission Ecosystem is Broken
A study was done many years ago by the NAILBA Technology Committee that concluded BGAs don’t believe they are getting paid properly on their block of business from their carriers. In 2019, I was told by NAILBA that this was one the top three issues BGAs were complaining about. Because BGAs cannot completely reconcile their commissions, that lack of trust still remains today. Many BGAs spend too much time visiting 20+ carrier websites to download, view, and check commission statements. The costs and time for a BGA to manually do commission reconciliation is too high and too long if they can’t automate the reconciliation process. Finally business opportunities are left on the table because a BGA can’t make out-of-house override deals. The reason is that BGAs have not implemented an automated way to track and pay those top producers.

I mentioned above that an agency management system or stand-alone commission accounting system today has all the tools and features needed to process, reconcile, report, and track commissions. Most carriers have commission data feeds available. Why is there low adoption of commission accounting systems and under utilization of carrier commission data feeds? Setting up and maintaining commission schedules and hierarchies for 20+ carriers and hundreds of insurance products is very labor intensive. There is no validation process or controls that agent contracts were setup properly by the BGA or the carrier. Data feeds are inconsistent from carrier to carrier; and even if a carrier is using a data standard like ACORD there is no validation process.

Proposed Solutions (SmartContracts, Blockchain, and a Data Validation Hub)
Let me start by stating that these proposed solutions have not been fully developed or implemented yet. The approach is a process I designed utilizing a SmartContract, Blockchain, and a Data Validation Hub. This process has a provisional Patent Pending. The heart of the process is the SmartContract which is “programming code” that would specify all the rules you see in a commission contract, including defining hierarchies, and the details of commission schedules. Carrier commission transactions and BGA reconciliation would utilize this SmartContract. The SmartContract will use Blockchain for commission transactions. One of the key components to a blockchain is a Distributive Ledger Technology (DLT) which are decentralized databases (nodes) replicated across a network. Only a private key gives access to pieces of the data based on the rules of the SmartContract. If a BGA for example is adding an agent to a carrier contract, or changing an agent carrier contract, then both parties must approve the contract before it can be used on the blockchain. This validates accuracy of hierarchies and commission schedules resulting in building trust. Each carrier, IMO and BGA can be a node on the Blockchain. This process is secure, and fraud and hack proof. Here is the beauty of the SmartContract: It only has to be set up once. A carrier can use a Microservice against the SmartContract to validate the accuracy of each commission transaction for the BGA and agent before generating the payment; and the BGA can use the same SmartContract to run a Microservice from their commission accounting system to reconcile their commissions.

A blockchain only works effectively if it is used as a community that carriers, BGAs, agents and solution providers would participate in. This commission blockchain would be a private blockchain not a public blockchain. An example of blocks on the blockchain is an override or bonus payment to a BGA account. Another example of a block in the blockchain is the commission statement with the detailed commission transactions. A block is a permanent record that can be audited, viewed, but never changed. Blockchain can also be used to get paid commissions faster and handle the money settlement through a financial transaction. Before a commission statement would be added to the blockchain it would first run through a validation hub. If any of the transactions fail the validation process, then they are sent back to the carrier with an error code to fix it, and the BGA would also be notified. The validated transactions would be used by the BGA to process commissions, reconcile commissions, track payments on out-of-house deals, and used to research commission requests from agents. You can learn more by visiting the InsurTech Express Commission Blockchain page: www.insurtechexpress.com/blockchain.

The Power Of Life And Annuity Inforce Innovation For 2022

Let’s draw the roadmap of where life and annuity inforce automation is going as we end this year and move into 2022. Policyholder self service will continue to grow and dominate whether it is account management in a carrier’s portal or an App that can be used to perform inforce transactions on your mobile device. Then there are inforce policy management platforms that can help advisors create policy reviews with their clients and discover new sales opportunities using innovative data mining, analysis, and reporting. The key to these solution platforms to be successful is the data. We will also take a quick look at solutions that leverage your inforce book of business in the social media/online virtual world.

Inforce Self-Service Portals and Apps
Today’s generation of insurance policy portals include a host of features that help modernize and improve the advisor and client experience. Equisoft/servicing portal removes the need to take your team away from more important tasks. Their portal provides policy holders and agents the ability to self-service changes to addresses, beneficiaries, and payment details. Equisoft/servicing portal is a ready to go, out-of-the-box, online solution that drastically improves the customer servicing experience at any time, on any device. It provides detailed policy summaries and coverage information. Customers get up-to-date information like cash value, payment requirements, and more. And, on the portal, changes are able to be made to policy contract info, eliminating the need for paper change request forms to be sent by mail or fax and reducing the need for calls to the agent’s office.

As more organizations seek to put their customers in control of their policy servicing experience, insurers that provide digital self-service will not only improve their customer loyalty but will support their profitability goals by reducing their servicing costs. Sureify’s LifetimeSERVICE platform is a great example of a simple, intuitive online and mobile self-service interface that leads to customer and producer satisfaction. It gives customers control and takes the burden off producers who want to sell, not service, the business. Additionally, insurers will see immediate cost and efficiency savings using Sureify’s LifetimeSERVICE because in weeks, not months, they will be able to comfortably scale new business without increasing customer service salaries.

Notifications to the policyholder are very important. Sureify’s LifetimeSERVICE includes push notifications, emails and text messages for critical information like lapse notices and account changes. The platform has strong support features like Chat, Co-Browsing, Video-Chat, Advisor Lookup and FAQs. There is life and annuity account information which includes performance visualizations. The policyholder can do transactions like withdrawals, loans, payment and billing. Account maintenance is an expected feature like beneficiary changes. To round out the self-service features would be document management like policies/contracts, illustrations and tax documents (upload/download).

Inforce Policy Management Systems and Services
Employee Pooling (EP) has been developing a holistic policy management system since 2018. They can work with your CRM or one of the policy management platforms like Insured Connect (NIC) and Proformex. The current version of EP’s system includes policy data aggregation, updating policy data, policy monitoring (identification of policies in danger of lapsing or rate increases), campaign development, annual review presentations, and lead management. In a version to be released in the first quarter, EP expects to include policy owners’ current contact information (email and/or phone).

Post-sale policy servicing has historically been a nightmare for independent advisors. While writing policies through multiple distributors and carriers has major benefits in terms of product availability for clients, it has its downfalls too, namely in the way that an advisor’s clients’ policy data is all over the place. As a result, the concept of managing and monitoring policy performance for an inforce book has been largely reactive; it’s only when a carrier or client notifies an advisor that they even know there might be a problem like a lapse-pending policy. Proformex is transforming life insurance servicing from a reactive approach to a proactive one. The key to enabling proactive management of policies is access to timely and current information. Carrier data access is critical, and Proformex centralizes carrier data into a single, secure platform. It’s all about having the right information on the right policy at the right time. That enables advisors to have meaningful interactions with their clients and take proactive action to correct a policy that is no longer meeting its owner’s objectives.

Inforce APIs to Exchange Information
This is the part of the article where I discuss API’s again. I am hoping that by illustrating a variety of business cases month after month you will see the value of APIs. API stands for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Insured Connect (NIC) Inforce Data Exchange provides existing NIC carrier and distributor subscribers with even greater access to inforce data and the ability to use that data with multiple tools, apps and solutions. Whether you want to push pending lapse notices to your CRM, populate your sales pipeline with renewal opportunities or update your AMS, NIC’s data products are specifically designed to support your business. NIC’s data products support both life and annuity inforce data.

Policy/Contract API: Includes individual policy information that can be used to populate reports, forms, tools and apps (e.g. inforce illustration tools, digital marketing platform). The policy API supports individual policies or lists of policies. The policy API does not include policy owner PII data.

Policy Owner / Annuitant API: Includes PII data about the policy owner that can be used to populate a CRM or marketing automation solution. The policy owner API supports individual policy owners or lists of policy owners.

Agent Profile API: Includes data about the agent that can be used to populate a CRM or marketing automation solution. The agent profile API supports individual agents or lists of agents.

Agent Book of Business API: Includes all of an agent’s policies with information about each individual policy owner and policy. The API can be used to populate apps and tools (e.g. CRM) for pricing or analyzing an agent’s book.

Distributor Book of Business API: Includes all of a distributor’s policies with information about each individual policy owner and policy. The API can be used to populate apps and tools (e.g. CRM, AMS) for pricing and analyzing a distributor’s book.

Carrier Book of Business API: Includes all of a carrier’s downline firms, agents, policy owners and policies constructed in the distributor’s hierarchy. The API can be used to populate third-party databases.

Sales Opportunities API: Includes sales opportunities including renewal and conversion opportunities identified by NIC. The API can be used to update carrier and distributor CRM, AMS and other systems.

Policy Service API: Includes policy service changes initiated by NIC users, and includes address changes, beneficiary and other policy changes. The API can be used to update carrier and distributor CRM, AMS, and other systems.

Standardization in data exchange for annuity inforce data is widely adopted in the financial institution channel using DTCC services between annuity carriers and banks, clearing firms (e.g. NFS and Pershing), independent broker/dealers and wirehouses (e.g. Merrill Lynch and Raymond James). On the life insurance side, ACORD has a Life Inforce Product Group, which I have been a co-chair for the last couple of years. The group’s objective is to standardize life inforce data transactions from notifications like lapse notices, replacements, and conversions to financial transactions like withdrawals and fund allocations on variable life products. The concept of a next generation digital strategy by ACORD is to establish a common approach to setting standards, structures, and implementation guidelines while leveraging ACORD data standards invoking API methods.

Solutions Using Social Media/Online Finding New Sales for Your Inforce Book of Business
There are solutions driven by algorithms used in social media/online like Verisk Jornaya for example. These are strategic products and solutions that help you adapt your marketing and lead buys in real time by incorporating your consumers’ online shopping behavior. A solution like Jornaya takes your inforce book of business and optimizes timing and messaging for improved acquisition, cross-sell, and retention using this technology. This is a model similar to what Google, Facebook, and Amazon use. A good example: If your customer was shopping for a mortgage online, then in real time it could trigger an event where they may need more life insurance. This is a winning formula that will continue to gain traction in the insurance industry moving forward into 2022.

Life Carriers, Distributors And Vendors Collaborating On Key Technology Initiatives

The life insurance industry is coming together to work on some key initiatives in 2021. The governance of these projects are spearheaded by industry associations like the Life Distribution Technology Committee (LDTC) and ACORD. This is not new as many of our associations have developed projects in the past such as LIDMA’s Process Improvement Team enhancing ePolicy Delivery, Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) developing Straight Through Processing Standards for Annuities, and life data initiatives partnering with ACORD and LIMRA. There are many more associations educating, standardizing, and identifying best of breed solutions for the life insurance industry including new projects this year. This article will focus on the current initiatives of Life Automated Underwriting, Common API, The New Norm, and the Next Generation Digital Standards.

The Life Distribution Technology Committee, formerly known as the Life Brokerage Technology Committee (LBTC) set up working groups (subcommittees) focused on three projects this year: Common API, Automated Underwriting, and The New Norm. These projects were the result of a survey back in the fourth quarter of 2020 asking the industry to prioritize potential projects solving technology and process pain points. The survey allowed the respondents to rank in order of importance including recommending prospective initiatives not listed. There was then a “Call to Action” for subcommittee co-chairs and volunteers to participate/contribute to each project respectively.

A little history lesson on LDTC: From the mid-1980s through 2008 NAILBA had a Technology Committee. This included a technology magazine and developing their own data standards as well as other technology initiatives. After the Financial Crisis of 2008, funding for the committee was no longer available. In 2009, life carriers, BGAs, and vendors formed a new independent committee with a Charter called “The Life Brokerage Technology Committee” now known as the Life Distribution Technology Committee. The purpose is to have equal representation from carriers, distributors, and vendors to create and maintain an open forum to address technology and process issues that affect the efficiencies and costs of member’s businesses. LDTC is focused on the adoption of best practices by the member organizations for their common good and the benefit of their customers. There are no membership dues; LDTC is strictly a volunteer organization. There are currently over 160+ carrier, distributor, and vendor members. The LDTC LinkedIn group has 300+ industry members. The current LDTC co-chairs are Marjorie Ma of AIG, Pat Wedeking of Tellus Brokerage, and Brian Kirkland of SuranceBay. The steering committee, who are also co-founders, is Ken Leibow of InsurTech Express, Joann Mattson of Highland Capital Brokerage, and Jeff Lingenfelter of John Hancock Insurance Company. Over the years LDTC had worked on many important initiatives to help standardize and improve processes from eApp and ePolicy Delivery to developing a Test Harness to validate a life carrier’s pending case status data feed. LDTC had an annual face-to-face meeting at the NAILBA conference who sponsored a meeting room where the annual technology survey results, deliverables on projects from subcommittees, and the latest on emerging technologies were presented. The meeting was open to LDTC members and non-members. This year in the COVID world we are having the annual meeting Virtually in December.

Common API
What is an API? This stands for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. A fully API-driven data model is critical for the data dissemination process within the life insurance ecosystem to truly make data distribution and usage simple, secure, and reliable once and for all. Driven from within the independent distribution space, this modernized vision of data exchange could reduce costs and operating burdens for the biggest of industry players, while opening up revenue channels, enabling innovation, and removing market entry obstacles for best-of-breed insurtech and accelerators. The co-chairs of the working group are Meg Rose of Insurance Technologies and Amanda Yoho of Proformex. The working group is identifying key industry issues such as data consistency, distribution involvement, use cases, and vendor commonality. They are also building an industry wide adoption strategy.

Automated Underwriting
This sub-committee focuses on benchmarking and providing guidance on a go forward basis as it relates to automated and accelerated underwriting for fully underwritten products. The co-chairs of the working group are Dana Grove of Cerner and Jeff McCauley of MIB. This is different from “Simplified” or “Instant” issue products we’ve all known about from the past, but rather looking forward on what we are doing and should do as technology and data help us underwrite policies faster. One of the key objectives is to identify pain-points in the accelerated underwriting workflow and recommend solutions. The Automated Underwriting Subcommittee is also creating an “Underwriting Programs Search Tool” for the industry to use and an Admin Tool to maintain the content. The types of underwriting programs included are Accelerated Underwriting, Simplified Issue, Non-Med, and Executive Advantage. The tool has search functionality like “show me Accelerated Underwriting programs that will issue up to age 70” and/or “programs for face amounts up to $3 million.” The tool has information on Average Processing Time, Tele-interview Time, and ways to submit business like eApp and Drop Ticket for example. There are underwriting programs from the top 27 life insurance carriers like Lincoln Financial’s “LincXpress” and John Hancock’s “Express Track.” The LDTC Underwriting Programs App was developed in partnership with InsurTech Express and was scheduled to be made available to BGAs online free by the end of October. Here is the website to try it out: https://www.insurtechexpress.com/underwriting-programs/.

The New Norm
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt operating models across the insurance industry, there is still a significant gap for the industry overall compared to other finance or consumer industries, even on the property and casualty side. This sub-committee will identify the next impactful areas for the life insurance industry as a whole to embrace cutting-edge technology or processes in order to better serve our customers. The co-chairs are Mike Carter of National Life Group and Lance Taylor of Vanbridge.

Next Generation Digital Standards (NGDS)
ACORD has been working on a new standard for life and annuities called the “Next Generation Digital Standards” (NGDS). Digital standards are designed to enable “small” fine-grained business transactions between insurance systems. They will define the data structures necessary to support granular messages which can be used in microservices or invoked by API methods.

Reasons for Using Digital Standards

  • Increased Resilience: With microservices your entire application is decentralized and decoupled into services that act as separate entities.
  • Improved Scalability: With each service as a separate component, you can scale up a single function or service without having to scale the entire application.
  • Software/Hardware Flexibility: Each service can use its own language and framework while still being able to communicate easily with the other services in your application.
  • Faster Time to Market: By developing in smaller increments that are independently testable and deployable you can get to market quicker.
  • Improved ROI and Reduced Costs/Development: The increased efficiency of microservices reduces infrastructure costs and minimizes downtime. Development time is reduced and code will be more reusable.

The goals and mission of ACORD Digital Standards is to establish a common approach to setting standards, structures, and implementation guidelines while leveraging ACORD Data Standards. Also maximize data interoperability resulting in seamless and controlled data exchanges between applications. ACORD leverages member inputs across geographies and communities to ensure ACORD specifications developed are cross-domain. What ACORD has done over the years and continues to do is to receive subject-matter expertise and members through sharing business scenarios, use cases, and specifications. This also includes providing feedback for improvement and production implementation.

ACORD kicked-off a NGDS Electronic Health Records subgroup that I am participating in. The goal of this group is to identify the relevant Electronic Health Records use cases and data points needed to support APIs and develop standard structures that are reusable and easily implemented. The scope covers more than just electronic health records, we are looking at the entire life underwriting process from prescription checks to electronic lab slips. We want to normalize the transactions in the underwriting process for the purpose of reducing costs and speed-to-market. Leading the subgroup is Nicholas France of ACORD. The team in the subgroup has top life underwriting experts from carriers like AIG, Transamerica and Prudential; distributors like Highland Capital Brokerage and M-Financial; EHR experts from Human API and Clareto; and representation from MIB, Diameter Health, and Verisk. There are many more industry experts participating in this NGDS subgroup.

If we want to continue to improve and solve industry challenges in technology and process for life insurance, then it requires the professionals in our space to actively collaborate and participate in these associations and working groups. For those that have made contributions in the past as well as the present, we thank you for volunteering your valuable time and expertise as well as company resources. We are working together as a community to make the industry better for all the trading partners and ultimately for consumers who buy life insurance.

Data, Data, Data Driving Life Underwriting

Digital point of sales solutions for life insurance continue to become more innovative. I am trying to keep up. The auto-fulfillment process for applying for life insurance is all about data and getting an instant underwriting decision. While we all want instant underwriting decisions, the impaired risk business is not going away. There are new enhancements regarding Electronic Health Records (EHR), and lab testing for COVID. The Internet of Things (IOT) is now playing a role in personal wellness that will affect underwriting in the future.

Point-of-Sale Instant Underwriting Decisions and Data Prefill
SCOR’s Velogica® helps protect families by facilitating easily acquired life insurance at affordable prices while digitally integrating the most advanced evidence sources. Using a patented process to deliver instant underwriting decisions, the Velogica algorithm helps major clients drive new models of efficient distribution through predictive risk assessment and point-of-sale policyholder capture by correlating information from the life insurance application, motor vehicle reports, MIB reports and prescription drug history and other data sources. Velogica is designed with flexibility to incorporate new data sources as they become available.

The most recent release of Velogica integrates SCOR’s predictive analytics capabilities and electronic health records scores and offers powerful data visualization and analytics functions that allow for strong case management and tracking. With more than four million life insurance applications processed, this proven platform has a record of achievement that is unmatched in the industry.

Ash Brokerage, Ameritas and SCOR recently announced a new next-generation term life insurance product, Ash Instant term issued by Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. Ash Instant term is an example of how Velogica’s solution for point-of-sale life insurance combines reinsurance and product development. Ash developed the frontend journey for Ash Instant term and Velogica is the underwriting engine that supports it. This innovative digital product is available to Ash advisors through the Ash Term Express platform.

“We were excited to partner with ASH Brokerage and Ameritas to assist in the development of Ash Instant term. This digital product offers one of the best automation rates in the market while it maintains very competitive prices,” explains Richard De Sousa, senior vice president, deputy head of Growth and Development at SCOR. “Qualified applicants can confirm receipt of coverage within 15 minutes in either an agent-assisted or self-serve fully digital environment.”

LexisNexis® Life Data Prefill is an interactive single-inquiry solution that streamlines the insurance process at the point of application, reducing the time and cost of capturing data to evaluate applicants. With just a name, address and date of birth, Life Data Prefill can help prefill other important application data in near real-time. This solution reduces the number of questions that need to be asked, minimizes mis-keys and enhances the overall customer experience. Life Data Prefill can help easily reduce Not in Good Order rates, minimize errors and prefill information that is often incorrectly entered. Completing the application more accurately the first time helps reduce customer follow-up so that agents can better place policies in a more efficient manner, carriers can speed up the application process and underwriters can better evaluate risk.

LexisNexis® Risk Solutions also just released four new enhancements to Life Data Prefill that add additional value at the point of sale by providing an even more improved experience for the insurer and agency/broker. The four optional enhancements to Life Data Prefill include:

  • Criminal and Bankruptcy Flags, which can be used by insurers to reduce critical application omissions related to criminal and/or bankruptcy records, determining a more appropriate applicant path.
  • A Persistency Indicator, used by insurers and agents to identify the potential for early lapse and increase consumer satisfaction.
  • A Family History Flag, used by insurers and agents to reduce application omissions related to premature family deaths and determine a more appropriate path for the applicant.
  • An Accelerated Indicator, designed for agents, to provide a likelihood that the applicant will progress through accelerated underwriting programs.

All of these new Life Data Prefill enhancements provide point-of-sale data points that enable carriers and agents to approach the underwriting process with more confidence, while simultaneously increasing placement and retention ratios.

EHR, Latest on Labs for COVID, and Personal Health Scoring
I followed up with vendors to find out what they were doing and found that Human API had evolved their solution into a Health Intelligence Platform that connects carriers and distributors and converts health data into actionable information that drives faster underwriting decisioning. All of this is of course aimed at ultimately improving the consumer buying experience and increasing placement rates.

Human API’s new platform has different layers of capabilities designed to make it easy for carriers and distributors to get started with using EHR data. It’s powered by a data network which is a source of raw health data that feeds the platform that converts data into meaningful information. The reporting capabilities then transform this information into contextual knowledge that underwriters can leverage to make their decisions faster. Finally, the analytics layer provides insights to continuously optimize the performance and impact of the Health Intelligence Platform.

Human API is now connected to all electronic health records (EHR) data sources via direct EHR networks (Epic Chart Gateway and Veradigm), public networks like CommonWell Health Alliance, regional health information exchanges (HIEs), and their proprietary patient portal network, in addition to traditional APS vendor partners. It’s now possible to get health data through their platform via a HIPAA authorization or with patient portal credentials. They informed me that these new data integrations along with their Smart Orchestration capabilities which automatically order medical evidence from the best available data source are consistently powering hit rates above 50 percent for their carrier customers (a milestone for our industry). This is a signal that life insurance is really starting to make the transition on the digital transformation journey since there are platforms like Human API that are enabling health data access and useability.

Their new Health Intelligence Platform brings full stack data capabilities under one solution, from access to normalization to customer reporting and analytics. Historically a lot of these data capabilities had to be purchased from different vendors and stitched together, so they designed their platform to make it easy to both retrieve and use health data and expand the utility of EHRs beyond an APS replacement. All the data on Human API’s platform is normalized and feeds a custom reporting engine that creates unique reports tailored to underwriting needs. For example, carriers can triage blind spots with a report that screens for key conditions, or avoid labs and exams with a “Health Check” report. This makes the information within EHRs useful and customizable, reducing the need to manually review all the pages in the records. With the launch of their new platform, they’re making the APS an exception rather than the norm for a lot of their customers.

Additionally, the platform enables distributors and carriers to easily share records with one another for more transparency. Distributors are able to keep their applicants updated on the status of their cases as it moves through underwriting. This single view into the process is not only creating a better experience for customers but also enabling better collaboration between carriers and distributors.

While we looked at medical records, let’s now pivot to labs and the latest in COVID testing. In addition to initial COVID-19 strains, variants such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, are now creating concerns of resurgence in the U.S. According to a New York Times report, overall deaths from COVID remain around 1.6 percent, which the CDC indicates is a staggering 100 times that of the combined total of influenza and pneumonia.

While even vaccinated individuals are being infected, the CDC indicates that breakthrough infection rates, as well as hospitalization rates for breakthrough infections, are 1/10th that of the infection and hospitalization rate among unvaccinated individuals. This is good news for the vaccinated; however, not all vaccines are created equally, and none are 100 percent effective.

In fact, effectiveness rates among the top three vaccines range from 66 percent to 94.1 percent. This means as many as three out of every 10 vaccinated individuals will not develop the antibodies capable of neutralizing the COVID-19 virus. The only way to really know if a vaccination is effective is to get a test that identifies neutralizing antibodies post vaccination, such as the ImmunoRank Neutralization Assay offered by MediPro Direct.

MediPro Direct also offers a COVID-19 Titer test three to six months post-vaccination, which will identify the number of neutralizing antibodies remaining in an individual’s body. This result indicates whether a booster shot for COVID-19 is necessary for that individual. Results from these tests help individuals and organizations manage risk and better account for mortality rates by identifying the “truly” vaccinated.

I have an Apple Watch, iPhone, Withings Digital Blood Pressure Kit and Scale, plus health and workout Apps. These are all IOT devices capturing health and wellness data. I discovered a White Paper by dacadoo called “Health Scoring and The Personalization of Risk.” It had been developed in conjunction with a Data Science team to bring to life the tangible outcomes of Health Scoring technology. The results can be significant for healthcare expenditure savings. They also explore how new personalization efforts in life or health insurance can combine new technologies and correlative analysis techniques that leverage Big Data to deliver real-time customization of offerings, content, and customer experience at an individual level. There are a lot of important statistics in the report. A simple example is how adding an additional 1,850 steps to your daily activity can translate into hundreds of dollars of healthcare savings, which is especially beneficial today with the spiraling costs of healthcare. The Digital Health Engagement Platform from dacadoo is a mobile app. The platform includes its Health Score and Risk Engine for Life and Health Carriers globally. Click here to download the free White Paper.