Canadian Underwriter

How to handle paperwork from pandemic-related policy changes

January 25, 2022   by Tara Kelly

Man with his hands up in a pile of papers. Business concept. Vector illustration.

Print this page Share

Have you noticed an uptick in new policies and policy change requests lately?

Many P&C insurance companies have, because coverage needs for individuals and businesses throughout Canada changed drastically during the pandemic.

For example, people who once had long commutes may be working from home, so their vehicle insurance needs have changed. And their needs may change again, post-Omicron, as they begin to return to the office.

The booming housing market is also changing property owners’ insurance needs, with some customers downsizing and others opting for more space. Business owners are taking a fresh look at liability and rethinking their coverage levels for reopening.

It’s hard to predict exactly when the wave of new policy business and change requests will crest, but insurers will have to be ready to handle a flood of enrollments and alterations. If you’re not already prepared for the paperwork influx, now is the time to look for ways to make processes more efficient.

Better digital capabilities can help you handle the increased paperwork while keeping customers satisfied. And contrary to popular belief, automation not only helps streamline office processes, but can also lead to more meaningful and long-term relationships with policyholders who appreciate the fast, responsive communication. When you go digital, you can have conversations with customers on the platforms they prefer — and do it on their schedule.

The pandemic’s also changed customer expectations. A brand’s ability to interact digitally is now table stakes. Even people who weren’t communicating digitally with businesses before 2020 learned to do so last year, and they expect to continue.

And keep in mind insurance price comparison tools are a click away, giving customers an easy way to switch insurance companies. Responsive automated communication can help you keep customers on board with a better, more consistent experience.

How customers respond to automated communication isn’t a mystery: P&C insurance companies across Canada and around the world did a test run with automated communication workflows related to claims.

Claims communication was the right place to start, since that’s when customers need a quick response based on up-to-date data. The experience also helped companies adapt more quickly to touchless claims processes and the use of digital channels during the pandemic.

Now it’s time to automate more processes to match evolving customer expectations.

A recent McKinsey & Co. insurance industry report found that 65% of customers who adopted digital channels during the pandemic intend to keep using those tools, adding a new group of digital-first customers to the younger consumers who were already communicating on digital channels.

If you’re looking to expand digital communication capabilities to handle customer interactions around new policy enrollment and change requests, be sure to evaluate all your options through the lens of the customer experience.

If you can automate policy conversations with the same quality standards used to drive fast, accurate, and personalized responses about claims, customers will respond positively.

To set the stage, you’ll need to address privacy concerns and comply with regulations by using workflows that allow you to capture new and existing customer consent to have an ongoing conversation. You’ll also need to gather customer preferences about which channels to use, such as email, text messaging, SMS, and social media. This is necessary to ensure regulatory compliance and to create a sense of trust with customers.

A digital communication add-on that shares data across applications can simplify automation and help you ensure data accuracy and communication consistency, no matter which platforms you use to reach out.

APIs integrated into a digital add-on can simplify the process of expanding automated communication to handle interactions around new policies, policy changes, customer onboarding, quotes, meeting and call schedules and more. By using APIs, you can ensure customer communication is accurately personalized and consistent regardless of the purpose of the interaction.

The important thing to remember when formulating an automation strategy is that the customer experience must come first.


Tara Kelly is the president, CEO and founder of SPLICE software, with offices in Calgary and Chicago. This article is excerpted from one that appeared in the Aug.-Sept. issue of Canadian Underwriter.

Feature photo courtesy of