The Case Against a Homegrown Insurance Portal
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for insurers to explain to their customers why insurance is the one area in their lives where they can’t enjoy a fully digital, self-service experience. Whether we are talking about banking, Amazon.com or even ordering groceries, today’s savvy “netizens” demand a digital experience with real-time data. They expect a convenient and accessible customer experience.
Insurance agents, meanwhile, want self-service tools that will make their lives easier and help them better serve their customers.
Many insurers are turning to portals to fill this gap and the importance of portals should not be under-estimated, according to the PwC report, Gateways to growth: Insurance portals that deliver:
Portals are the windows through which insurance carriers face the world, offering policyholders and agents a central place for key interactions on demand. When a portal is created with a client-first mindset, the results are a positive user experience and stronger relationships between carriers, employees, policyholders, and agents. But many carriers have not yet faced the challenge of creating robust online portals (my emphasis added).
Insurers who decide they need a portal (or portals) are faced with the decision as to whether they should build a portal in-house, or turn to a reliable vendor. For the following four reasons, it is my view that insurers will benefit from working with a proven insurance software vendor:
- Insurance Best Practices – an established insurance software vendor will be able to mine its decades of experience with leading insurance customers and agents to offer a functionally rich and comprehensive portal solution supporting a variety of processes for business, sales and customer service. A sophisticated vendor solution will also include a dashboard, a full customer view of all polices and payments, and serve as a communication hub between the agent/client and the insurer. The portal should be accompanied by out-of-the-box, comprehensive insurance practices and an easily customizable user interface (UI).
- Mobility – a quality vendor portal solution will offer embedded and generic mobile support to all types of smartphones. This eliminates the need to build a mobile native application, as the provided application will support all functionalities over the phone browser. Not having to build a mobile native application will save insurers time and resources, while reducing the cost of obtaining a new portal.
- Policy Administration Pre-Integration – without a portal solution with pre-defined integration to an insurer’s policy administration system (PAS), insurers will need to invest significant capital and resources in integrating to a third-party portal, slowing time to market.
- Cloud and Managed Services – a good vendor portal solution will enable insurers to get a portal up and running quickly and affordably in the cloud, with comprehensive management services, including tier 1 support for high volumes of traffic to meet all the needs and demands of top-tier insurers. This includes features such as queue management and load balancing.
Of course, not all portal solutions are created equal and insurers would be wise (as always) to thoroughly investigate each prospective vendor and its portal solution.