(Kelly Lynch is Senior Director, Underwriting Sciences with FirstBest Systems.)

In today’s competitive marketplace carriers have no margin for waste—whether time or resources.  Inefficient underwriting processes and systems jeopardize underwriting profitability as well as new business production. For many insurers, the solution can be achieved through account-based underwriting built on the “Three Rs” of enterprise underwriting:  Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

In order to realize the advantages of the Three Rs, including quickly streamlined workflow, time savings, improved risk selection process, and more accurate risk pricing, carriers must tackle the challenges that stem from some common inefficiencies. For example:

 Inefficient, time-consuming back and forth between agents, brokers and underwriters

  • Underwriters lack complete access to all of the data (third-party, risk data, models) to make the best decision in the least amount of time
  • People on account teams don’t have visibility into what’s happening across the account
  • Old systems simply no longer do what’s needed

In addition, there is the challenge of managing duplicate systems and data born from acquisitions or simply decades of evolution.  Just about every carrier wants to sunset one system or another, so they must consolidate. With consolidation comes duplication, and with scale comes complexity.  What if one line of business uses a different system?  How can you build a single view of the account?

Underwriting profitability will come from leveraging the data and resources you have to quickly price, quote, win, and bind the right business—and technology is making this possible.  In insurance research firm SMA’s IT Priorities report last year, of the 166 insurers surveyed, 63 percent planned to increase spending on underwriting in 2012. In order to drive business growth, insurers must streamline and improve the front office and underwriting process.

To reach efficient underwriting across an enterprise in 2013 and beyond, the organization should focus on account-based underwriting which drives a single view of the account and enables the entire account team to collaborate in order to make the best decision for the account and the insurer. 

Carriers can go green—environmentally and profitably—by taking these steps:

Reduce

  • The number of systems housing key data, from claims history to third-party verifications
  • Redundant processes and systems—instead, consider using a common underwriting platform across the enterprise, integrated to multiple back-end systems
  • The time from submittal to quote, and bind to issuance, by removing inefficiencies so you can provide better service and win the business
  • The needless back and forth between agents and underwriters by adding collaboration tools so you get the answer right the first time

The Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund (IWIF) is tackling data and system redundancies head on by leveraging integrated web-based technologies. “The underwriting management system (UMS) being implemented at IWIF will consolidate and optimize current systems as part of long-term strategic IT and business initiatives.  The system is a key component of our IT infrastructure and will ensure our new solutions are sustainable, maintainable, and economically appropriate for the organization for years to come,” says Paige Beck, chief administrative officer and CFO at IWIF. 

Reuse

  • The knowledge of the best underwriters by capturing and building their insight into the underwriting process, boosting discipline, and speeding training of the next generation of underwriters
  • Best practices and discipline—leveraging the rules, configurability, and automation power of a flexible underwriting platform.  Adjustable underwriting rules supporting scale and response to market changes are essential.
  • Back-end systems that might otherwise be replaced by leveraging their remaining value and eliminating costly, redundant features
  • Account-level data to inform the underwriting process for a specific risk—leveraging other lines of business written and relationships across the organization

Recycle

  • The (big) data you already have,  including claims data, to better price risk now and into the renewal process
  • Account data across the book of business and put it in the hands of underwriters and actuaries to better reflect the degree of risk; for instance, “Is it a landscape business that expanded to include tree removal? Does the new exposure place the risk into a new category deserving of a rate increase based on carrier results in that class?”
  • Risk, analytics, and third-party information across lines of business and across the enterprise using account-based underwriting

 Michelle Smith, Vice President of Program Management and Product Development at OneBeacon Professional Insurance, is working to ensure that underwriters have the full array of historical and new data they need. “We have recently deployed an underwriting management system and the resulting one-view desktop approach puts all rating informants and risk analysis data at our underwriters’ fingertips. This system allows us to utilize existing information while also incorporating new data to make more timely and sound underwriting decisions. Operating within this framework provides us with a more consistent, streamlined workflow. Questions are considered and addressed throughout the process, decreasing the possibility of extensive last-minute changes and allowing us to more effectively and efficiently service our brokers.”

Updating the front office with an integrated underwriting system used across the enterprise, and connected to any and all policy admin, rating and other systems, delivers automation and efficiencies.  It delivers a one-stop resource for risk, analytics, and third-party information across lines of business and across the enterprise. 

This ‘green’ strategy reduces waste by delivering  a welcomed single current (and historical) view of the insured’s account across the enterprise , so the underwriting team can more accurately analyze and price each risk, and consistently make the right decisions for the enterprise, not just for a particular line of business.  The carriers who think green about their enterprise underwriting operations and systems will benefit from sustainable practices that clear their environment of needless waste and benefit generations of underwriters and insureds to come.