End-to-end in sight

L&G’s work on end-to-end processing of group risk should move the industry forward says Ian McKenna, director of F&TRC

In March of last year Legal & General gave me a preview of the work they were doing with Mastek to implement the Elixir system in order to radically reduce the time taken to process group risk renewals. In December I visited them again to gain an understanding of their progress and look at the next phases of development.

Elixir went live between January and April this year and has on average taken ten days out of all of core processes. New business cases that were taking nine to ten days can now be dealt with in 24 hours. Claim payments which used to take five days are now typically being settled in 24 hours. Existing schemes are now being moved to the new platform at the first opportunity, typically rate review or alteration. This process will take until the end of 2012 before the whole book is migrated. From a practical perspective, because of the work involved in transitioning advisers and clients, users will not see the full reduction in timesaving in the renewal process until first anniversary of the transition.

Legal & General is now moving to implement full end-to-end electronic processes from quotes, through new business and mid-term adjustments, renewals and accounts reconciliation and an entirely integrated straight through process. If they can do this, and the results to date are clearly very positive, this will be a massive leap forward in group risk processing and administration and should put considerable pressure on some of their peers who have a reputation for lethargic service levels.

The next phase is for Legal & General to externalise their quotes and new business process, developments that are currently targeted to go live this summer. Again I have been given an advanced preview of what is being built.

The quotes journey starts from the group protection page on Legal & General’s extranet where users are provided with a pre-quote checklist – to provide a summary of all the information needed which is designed to help advisers who post-RDR may be looking to write more group protection cover. It also holds an Excel template to capture data from members for the quote.

This will be a massive leap forward in group risk processing and administration and should put considerable pressure on some of their peers who have a reputation for lethargic service levels

Users can create a new quote, put on risk a saved quote, resume a quote in progress or view expired quotes. An eligibility page then lists all the requirements of their automated underwriting system. Cases outside these requirements can still be considered but have to be addressed using a manual process.

The system offers additional information at various stages of the journey, for example at the eligibility phase the system offers the product guides for group life and income protection. Later information on trust documents is provided as are the documents to accept the quote and a link through to medical underwriting when going on risk. By the side of each eligibility criteria question mark icons link down to more detailed explanations.

To obtain the quote users are taken through six key stages, product, employer and scheme details, category information, which includes who is covered and what are the benefits detail, employee details and the actual quote. Overall this is a radical change to group risk new business. Historically provisional data would have been used which the employer would then update. This and the need for a wet signature inevitably delayed the process. Under the new system data must be no more than three months old, hardly onerous given the processes well established in the group pension market. After providing details of the categories of employees to be included and the cover required the system then plays back high level summary of who is covered and for what.

At this point users upload member details in a spreadsheet either in Legal & General format or their own provided the latter has the required data and has the right headings. This only requires six data items per member; member number, category type, gender, date of birth, job title, annual salary and post code. First and last name are optional extras.

A ’what next’ section allows users to obtain further quotes or proceed to put cover in place. Overall Legal & General estimate the whole quote process should take in the region of 15 minutes which is a dramatic improvement over providers using paper. This is just the sort of innovation that with one or two honourable exceptions has been sadly lacking in the group risk market and such a major player making such dramatic changes will put pressure on all other group risk providers who still insist on using paper to raise their game considerably.