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A few clues to getting straight through

It would appear Fortis Life UK is ahead of the game after revealing a straight through processing rate of 58 per cent, just nine months after entering the protection market.

Fortis LUK managing director Martin Werth says speeding up the immediate decisions for a large number of applicants was key to giving advisers a much better experience. He has stuck to his word.

Despite it being the newest entrant into the UK life market as recently as July 2008, Fortis LUK has racked up the STP rate at an astonishing pace, with a target of putting 80 per cent of business on risk within two days.

Werth says: “The aim is to drive up the speed at which we can give decisions to distributors. People quickly lose interest in life insurance and unless you can get back to them rapidly you find their mind has wandered and they’ve gone on to something else.”

Other providers meanwhile are bubbling with suggestions on how to increase STP rates.

Aegon head of individual protection Rod McKie says while implementing an expert underwriting engine within each providers’ extranet service would be an obvious one, he suggests smaller things to increase STP rates. For example providers can feed back to the adviser why a case has fallen off the system due to “irrelevant disclosures like an ingrown toenail”.

McKie says: “Lists on websites or sales aids within data capture forms are just a couple of ways we can cut down on irrelevant disclosures. Another simple way of increasing the STP rate is to create greater awareness of the fact that many extranets can allow more than one benefit to be applied for within the one application.”

Legal & General PR manager for housing and protection Joe Wiggins says technology is key to increasing STP rates.

He says: “Advisers need slick point of sale systems to give a better service to their clients. Straight through processing is about reducing the friction points where an application can get held up, so you need underwriters with a high level of skill that can turn things around quickly. You need technology to help you quote and apply with the minimum of fuss and you need pricing that is attractive to the client.”

Meanwhile, Norwich Union director of protection Richard Verdin has set out a series of golden rules. He says front-end systems must be designed with the end user in mind, underwriting rules must be developed within the STP framework and reasons why decisions cannot be made immediately must be explained.

He says: “Advisers place significantly more value on the systems that really have had a significant amount of underwriting intelligence incorporated within the process.”

For Direct Life and Pensions Lifequote key account manager Phil Jeynes, the development of straight forward, simplified question sets for basic term products is an area with great potential to minimise underwriting timescales.

LV= is currently launching a guide for customers applying for protection. The guide explains different application processes and what information a customer is likely to need to put their policy on risk more quickly.

LV= head of protection and pricing Chris McFarlane says: “We have issued this guide for precisely this reason – to help advisers get cases on risk quicker and more efficiently.”


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