Canadian Underwriter

How technology is addressing ‘broken offline processes’ and broker pain points

August 25, 2021   by Jason Contant

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Creating a “digital round trip” for all players in the insurance ecosystem – from broker to technology vendor to consumer – has really been catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to remote working, the CEO of tech vendor Applied Systems said Monday.

“What’s really happened over the last couple of years from our perspective is all of these broken offline processes have been exposed,” said Applied CEO Taylor Rhodes during the Applied Net media/analyst roundtable. “And that means if you’re an end insured, or you’re an underwriter on the other end of the spectrum and you’re working from home, the phone calls and emails and PDFs… don’t work for you anymore.”

The ability to offer your clients an omnichannel, “and let’s face it, more and more online experience with similar capabilities,” is crucial these days, Rhodes said. Omnichannel is essentially a seamless experience for customers that integrates different buying processes through in-person, phone and physical store, for example.

The end result is a better user experience and simpler interactions. Brokers also benefit, Rhodes said, “without the need to receive an email, print out a PDF, write in a bunch of data, scan it, send it back, and then the agent themselves has to take that, and then figure out which five carrier portals are we now going to try to submit that to, [and] … if the carrier’s appetite is on the list that I usually send things to.”

Rhodes made his comments following a question during the roundtable about how product developments announced during Applied Net (a four-day industry conference) cater to urgent needs in the property and casualty insurance space. For example, Applied announced it was launching a fully browser-native version of its Applied Epic agency management system. The new platform enables a single access point for multiple systems that occur as a result of a merger or acquisition, for example, and streamlines frequently user workflows.

“Browser technologies are simpler to integrate with,” Rhodes said. “They allow us to innovate and release new innovation to customers more quickly and less intrusively. They allow us to simplify the screens in Epic and make them less clicky, and leverage things like data prefill.

“Those are the types of products that we think are really hitting the existential crisis of needing to digitize the ecosystem and create digital connectivity with data enrichment processes along the way,” Rhodes said. “It doesn’t go into the underwriting black hole for weeks at a time with no updates.”

Applied was also asked about the biggest pain points it’s had during its digital transformation efforts.

“We think a lot about customer pain points,” said Applied’s chief technology officer, Rich Belanger. “From a customer perspective, I think the biggest pain points that we’ve heard are it’s expensive and time-consuming for them to update the existing rich internet client, which is one of the things that’s really driving a browser so strongly.

“That’s also coupled with a pain point on our end that the technology, the rich internet client, … makes it really hard for us to go as fast as we’d like to introducing new features and new capabilities to the

Held virtually for the second year in a row, Applied Net 2021 runs from Aug. 23 to Aug. 26, offering its more than 12,000 registrants education sessions, peer networking opportunities and first looks into new products and innovation efforts.


Feature image by Planet Studio

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