Underwriters say tech investments critical to successNews added by Benefits Pro on November 11, 2013

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By Dan Cook

The promise of technology has only been partially realized in the commercial insurance underwriting world. Underwriters know that they need it and that it represents a brighter future. But a lack of technology integration throughout the enterprise continues to limit its usefulness.

This conclusion comes from an Accenture survey of 559 U.S. underwriters, nine of 10 of whom are fans of tech investment. Trouble is, they say, so far, the technology cutting edge has led to more work for them, and a sense of frustration over lost opportunities.

Accenture provided further evidence with this survey that underwriting firms continue to struggle with technology. Two-thirds of respondents said investment in technology has “significantly improved underwriting performance.” Yet 54 percent cited a variety of reasons why their workloads have increased without significant benefit to them as underwriting professionals.

The three primary reasons this unhappy half cited were:
  • lack of data integration across their company (81 percent)
  • lack of process integration (67 percent)
  • insufficient training (57 percent)
“There is no question that technology has brought a step change in the quality of insurance underwriting in recent years,” said John Mulhall, an Accenture property/casualty insurance managing director. “But the full benefits of technology investments in terms of productivity and efficiency cannot be achieved without broader data and process integration across the organization.

“The right questions should be asked and answered before selecting and implementing any new technology, such as ‘What should these technologies be able to do? How do they enable underwriters to focus on value-added activities and complex cases? What training is needed to maximize user adoption?’”

The survey asked respondents where they planned to invest in technology over the next several years. Their priorities were:
  • process automation (57 percent)
  • predictive analytics for risk evaluation and pricing (51 percent)
  • external data to evaluate risk (51 percent)
Other key findings from Accenture:
  • Going mobile: 77 percent say their organizations are in various stages of implementation of mobile technologies for customers and for agents.

  • New products: 58 percent identified speed to market is the most important goal driving underwriting investments, but 72 percent said new product release was too slow at their shop, with release dates taking more than six months to realize.

  • Hold that line: 72 percent said that maintaining underwriting and pricing discipline represents a major challenge to their business objectives.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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