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Book of quotations

The increasing range of protection products brings significant benefits to advisers and consumers in terms of choice but it can mean advisers need reams of illustrations to take into account all the options.

Various technology suppliers and portals are deploying a range of tools to help advisers in considering multiple policy options without having to get masses of individual quotations. One of the latest options is the multi-policy quotation option launched by Webline, one of the industry technology suppliers that has been consolidated by Capita as part of its Enabler proposition.

I recently had the opportunity to test this system and was impressed that users can aggregate multiple quotations on to a single screen. The service is highly intuitive. I was able to get illustrations for multiple products in a couple of minutes without any training other than reading one page of help notes that can be downloaded from the system.

From the “create quotes” menu, the user selects the multi-policy option. This then produces a screen with buttons to enter the client details and set up illustration details for up to three protection products.

The client details’ screen enables a user to add basic information for a quotation – name, dates of birth, gender and smoker status, occupation and annual earnings.

This information can be prepopulated from a number of client management systems including Quay, 1st, Bluecoat, Chrystal and FS Office.

When setting the occupation, the service links to an occupation database using the Origo standard which I am told now even extends to include bear trainers and Spiderman.

By entering the first few letters from the occupation type, this brings up a list of matching occupations so that the user can select the most appropriate match.

The selected occupations are then mapped to the provider’s quotation systems to use the correct occupation for illustration purposes.

When one of the buttons is selected to add a policy type for quotation, the user first has to select the type of cover required, for example, protection, income protection or accident sickness and unemployment.

This will then generate a policy details’ capture screen for the contract type selected. For protection contracts, this will mean selecting between life only, critical illness only or combined death or earlier critical illness as well as the amount of cover for each, the sum assured and the frequency of payments.

The amounts and deferment periods, as well as the length of the contract are collected for income protection benefits.

In either instance, the adviser can select to quote for guaranteed or reviewable rate or both and provide details of any increases in cover or benefits that are to be included in the quotation.

Having completed the details for each cover required, the user clicks a “get quote” button. At this point, the data is validated to check all the necessary fields have been completed. If anything has been missed, the appropriate screen is represented with the missing data highlighted.

After validation, which is done in a matter of seconds, quotations are returned from all providers offering each of the three covers requested and listed in order of ascending premium. Where a quotation has not been offered a notes’ option is provided to explain the reason.

Where more than three benefits are required, there is also the ability for an adviser to show an “add-on” benefits’ screen which provides for further covers, for example, family income benefit, mortgage protection and waiver. The idea behind this is to allow the adviser to up sell additional benefits should the client still have available budget. Personally, I do not think this as quite as elegant as the main multi-benefit quote.

Unfortunately, at this time not all providers are supporting the Origo XML messaging standard for menu products. Where providers offer this support they are included, however, this is a shortcoming life offices should address.

Inclusion within services like this and the use of appropriate standards is a significant scoring factor within our e-Excellence ratings.

Webline has acknowledged that the next obvious evolution of this tool would be to be able to include providers’ multi-benefit menu products where discounts are available.

It is impossible to look at this service without drawing some comparison with the Direct Life and Pensions Lifequote/Intelligent Protection software (Money Marketing, February 2).

To be fair to Webline, there are significant differences in the business model between the two products, not least because Direct Life normally establishes a commissionsharing arrangement, typically 20 per cent with the originating adviser, whereas through Webline the adviser keeps 100 per cent of the commission.

Having said this, I am hearing stories of some spectacular increases in the levels of premiums being generated through Intelligent Protection.

I feel the integrated dynamic fact-find is a more elegant way of assessing the client’s need for cover but the clear presentation of the maximum cover available for the budget probably provides a better way to maximise the selling opportunity for the adviser and the cover level for the client.

Conversely, the Direct Life and Pensions service does not disaggregate the individual elements of the covers taken in the way that Webline does and I am sure that many protection specialists would certainly want to look at. I understand that a new version of Intelligent Protection is due for release in the new year and I will be examining it for this column.

As stated above, comparison between the two is rather like apples and pears. As Webline is now part of Enabler, it may be well placed to share other tools from either Quay software or even the recently acquired Synaptic Systems to address this need.

Overall, the Webline multi policy quotation system is a simple, easy to use tool that should save advisers significant amounts of time compared with obtaining all the quotations individually and should be applauded.

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