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Ian McKenna: The tech provider shaking up the protection space

Ian McKennaIn the seven years since technology provider iPipeline acquired the Assureweb business, the company has made huge advances in what is offered to advisers via its portal, as well as a number of other significant acquisitions.

In January last year, it bought TCP Life Systems, the company that now provides the life insurance administration for a growing number of providers, including Aviva, The Exeter and Zurich.

Now called the Self-Serve Generation Digital platform, it enables both advisers and consumers to access and update a range of services and functionality.

While Aviva may have had its challenges with its investment re-platforming, the migration of the life system went very smoothly.

Last week, it highlighted it is now achieving over 80 per cent immediate underwriting decisions, with a further 10 per cent underwritten in under 48 hours. This is not just down to SSG Digital; Aviva’s own Quantum AI engine has played a crucial role, too.

Ian McKenna: Preparing for the end of your practice management system

Aviva head of protection propositions Paul Dalgleish told me last week:  “TCP/iPipeline has given us a solution that reflects the needs of users in a digital age – for example, real-time information and self-serve capability – and that will enable us to continue to innovate in a very congested market.”

I also like what The Exeter has done with its diabetes product, using app-based SSG Digital technology to enable policyholders to submit regular medical data and benefit from reduced premiums if they can demonstrate their condition is under control.

While Vitality has been doing something similar for some while, its focus is on general wellness. The Exeter addresses an important constituency of consumers for whom life insurance is particularly valuable. It gives them access to insurance at more affordable terms where appropriate.

It is great to see this capability delivered out of the box, so it can accelerate how quickly an insurer can develop and deliver innovative products. I doubt it would have been cost effective for The Exeter to build this service itself. What is more, building on a tried-and-tested platform can provide more confidence for the insurer and advisers.

In terms of bottom-line impact, Zurich head of retail protection Peter Hamilton tells me its protection business in January was 108 per cent ahead of last year, and February was 134 per cent more year on year. To be able to manage that level of growth, even with a few service issues, is a testament to what SSG Digital can help deliver.

Boosting the appeal of income protection among the under-35s

The next iteration of iPipeline’s InsureSight AI platform is also interesting. The proposition has huge potential to help life offices, networks and support groups better understand the opportunities that exist with the firms they work with.

In the US, iPipeline supports the processing of approximately 750,000 new life policies each year via its distribution platform used by 320 brokerage general agencies – the US equivalent of networks.

It has enabled them to use AI to build a far more accurate analysis of the time it takes to get cases underwritten and on the books, as well as to better understand the propensity of some cases not to complete.

This has huge value in identifying where existing profitable relationships can be grown further. Such analysis can be incredibly powerful in the hands of development consultants, helping them focus on the accounts with most potential.

The reverse could also be said, identifying relationships that consume a disproportionate amount of resource – the key issues being productivity and profitability.

The technology can generate such analysis week in week out to identify where relationships may be deteriorating and provide the opportunity to take action to address any issues before they become serious.

Ian McKenna is director of the Financial Technology Research Centre

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