Onwards and upwards

Cross- and up-selling group risk to people already on technology platforms is the next step in growing the market says Paul Avis, sales and marketing director of Canada Life Group Insurance

The constant development of technology and the various ways in which we – as insurers – are able to utilise it, can sometimes leave the feeling that you are racing to keep on top of everything. While I like to think we at Canada Life are keeping up to speed with the evolving technological landscape, there will always be room to adapt and progress further.

Let’s go back to the beginning, in the mists of time, to the late 1990s when interactive technology was wholly absent from the group risk space. We noticed the benefits that other industries derived from embracing the speed and efficiency offered by new technologies. Could technology help us achieve the ultimate goal of the protection industry in the UK – market growth – by making it easier for advisers to do business with us?

The next question was where to begin? The logical starting point appeared to be with a quotes engine – a tool that would enable an intermediary to go online and produce a quote in minutes. In addition, it should be able to store these quotes with the ability to create variants. Even better, if it could allow intermediaries to work with multiple product options using the same data easily this would allow for cross selling – from a group life scheme into a group income protection or a 1 x salary critical illness for example.

Taking this a step further, could we assume risk, provide inception accounts and have all other on risk paperwork ready immediately? If all of this was brought together, it would create a seamless quotation-to-risk process that was under the adviser’s control. Ideal.

The next point to consider would be renewal functionality. Advisers needed to be able to control the whole renewal process by receiving full renewal documentation instantly -creating the opportunity to achieve unbeatable accuracy. In addition, by incorporating some of the administration of these schemes online – such as with the inclusion of a confirmation of receipt for use in a compliance file – efficiency would markedly improve, therefore allowing the adviser to concentrate on the process of advice and maximising their efficiency.

So how are we doing with the ambition of market growth? Not as well as we hoped but in the future, technology will definitely play a growing part.

Continuing with the administration of benefits, there was much additional development functionality that advisers would find useful. These included the ability to generate online reports at both a scheme and portfolio level, view a scheme overview document, track the progress of medical underwriting and monitor the progress of a claim, all at the touch of a button. In short, the ability to access information that had come directly from a provider’s back office was required.

Fast forward through the last 10 years or so – and we see the above ambitions realised in our system and other providers are similarly responding to the demands of intermediaries by delivering a technology solution that streamlines processes and maximises efficiency.

So how are we doing with that ambition of market growth? Not as well as we hoped but in the future, technology will definitely play a growing part. Some ways in which it could help include removing the resourcing issues that seem to prohibit adviser firms from embracing a focussed campaign on their corporate client bank.

Everyone might not be ready to embrace this bright future immediately. But an interim stage would be for individual advisers to link with providers to generate automated quotations and administrative enhancement, thus leading to the opportunity for cross-selling campaigns.

As part of this, data transfer must be included within a common trading platform, providing added functionality to obtain data from payroll systems, flex platforms and pension databases. It would also be important to add further flex functionality to that so an employee can ’flex up’ at the touch of a button and where all resulting forms and documentation are immediately issued.

As an industry, I believe we have achieved operational efficiency through process excellence. The next step needs to be to maximise this data to cross and up sell to clients already on these platforms. Only then can we look at what might be achieved by a fundamental acceptance of data transfer capability across multiple platforms with aligned functionality bidding to drive further operational excellence.