A recent article in Insurance Thought Leadership by Kseniya Yurevich notes that 88 percent of U.S. customers expect an organization to have a self-service portal:

“If tailored well, a portal might help insurers to get closer to their customers, increase their loyalty and improve service quality, all of which greatly contribute to the overall CX (customer experience).”

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast…

I’ve seen a similar scenario play out at multiple customer sites recently. Carriers are excited to implement a self-service portal, or different type of portal, but their policy administration system (PAS), or systems, isn’t agile enough to meet the demands of evolving distribution channels.

This has given rise to the so-called two speed digital scenario: portal development happens quickly, but execution services in the PAS aren’t able to keep up. To put it in simple terms: hurry up! And then wait…

Unsurprisingly, this usually doesn’t end well. As part of the rush to get the front-end set up and aligned to a particular distribution and product line, the insurer actually ends up with a disparate portal framework comprised of components that cannot communicate with each other.

This leads to misalignment and discontinuity across the whole supply chain – the disparate front- and back-ends create a compounding effect. Eventually, it’s not enough to merely renovate the PAS. Escaping this difficult situation requires an entire supply chain revamp, as the portal itself becomes outdated and unwieldy. The key to extricating an insurance organization from this quagmire requires examining (and ultimately upgrading) the “heart.”

Policy administration systems are insurers’ beating hearts. They manage the end-to-end policy lifecycle of an insurance contract from initial quote, through underwriting, policy issuance and post-sales support. Traditional policy administration systems were built in a monolithic manner  with no consideration for collaboration or customer experience, and little to no capabilities to integrate outside the back-office world. It’s time for insurers to hit the accelerator on obtaining modern capabilities.

Customers in the digital world expect a supreme customer experience via all channels, including self-service. This experience needs to be underscored by minimal interaction, without wasting time filling out reams of information already in the possession of the insurer. Such experiences can exist only by implementing new technologies that automate most processes, using some of the technologies previously mentioned to enable straight-through processing  This will dramatically enhance the customer experience and also improve the insurer’s internal processes, while saving time and costs, and reducing errors.

Insurers must empower consumers with the ability to manage their own policies and provide self-service capabilities. They expect to have limited interactions with their insurance carriers, but also want to be able to make payments, file claims and review policy information when they want, how they want, on any device. The necessity for a carrier to support the new digital customer and have a PAS that can extend these services is critical in today’s market.

Speed is generally positive, but not when it leads to a “hurry up and wait!” outcome for insurers.