In protection, we all agree we need to simplify our application processes for intermediaries and consumers alike and that the best way to do that is to ensure the quote given is the real one, not one just for the perfectly healthy. We now believe consumers are happy enough to answer questions if those questions allow immediate cover, so it has become clear to all that producing a quote that just takes into account age and smoker status must change.
That is the good news. The bad news is change is being obstructed by some vested interests, who are promoting second rate solutions and briefing against the obvious market leader in the field.
Because, fortunately for us intermediaries, and our clients, there is one solution that has developed an online journey that will revolutionise how business is processed.
The system allows:
- Users to key in the application details once and then choose the most appropriate insurer, once underwritten rates are confirmed.
- Each insurer to use their own unique rule set, which sits behind a common set of questions agreed by all, allowing them to differentiate themselves through their underwriting
- An end to multi-proposing or having to make pre-sales enquiries to all the underwriters, thus saving intermediaries huge amounts of time, and helping clients get the best premium/benefit combination for them, while letting insurers reduce their cost of sales dramatically
- Clients who get accepted immediately to go on risk immediately within the same system with no need for a subsequent manual re-keying of their details into the insurer’s own extranet.
- Insurers who do not compete solely on basic price and instead rely on skilled underwriting to get presented as the cheapest when that is actually the truth, in contrast to those who top the price comparison table to get the applications in by pretending to be cheapest, and then load or reject many of the applications that come their way.
The alternative systems, some in play today, others being proposed, fail to properly solve the issue.
One system looks to offer something similar to the above by simply asking all the application questions before delivering a quote, but cannot offer terms from different insurers, therefore promoting simplicity as the opponent of choice, which is need not be. Another includes a couple of key questions before the quote stage, for example body mass index, that greatly improve accuracy, but don’t actually deliver it. And it is precision that intermediaries and consumers really need.
So why aren’t all insurers getting on board with the above system? Why did they not launch with the first phase?
Maybe it is their own self-interest? A lack of gumption? Not enough resources? Confused thinking? Other priorities? Perhaps all of the above apply to an extent and we appreciate that this is a big, brave decision to make. But big, brave decisions are what our industry needs in order to grow, be more successful and ultimately reach out to more consumers through honest pricing and efficient processes.
Tom Baigrie is chief executive of LifeSearch