September 26, 2018
Funding for insurtechs isn’t slowing down, with $2.3 billion invested in 2017, a 36% increase from 2016, and, so far in 2018, insurtech funding transactions in Q2 have reached an all-time high, according to Willis Towers Watson.
At the same time, the benefits that insurance companies stand to gain from insurtechs are growing. A recent Accenture report found that US insurers could collectively grow their profits by $20 billion with the implementation of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics – the focus of many insurtech solutions on the market right now.
“When it first started with insurtechs, it was a lot of disruptors getting the funding, but now there’s a ton of insurtech enablers that are coming out,” said Linda Dodson, chief experience officer for AVYST, a technology solution provider aimed at independent insurance agents. “It’s always hard for anybody to get into carriers, especially the new insurtechs coming on board, but you have carriers, like The Hartford, that have whole programs set up for insurtech start-ups.”
Today, insurtechs can boost the work of carriers and agents by improving workflows, reducing costs, and speeding up the delivery of products and services, without requiring a major overhaul to the way insurance is sold or serviced, according to AVYST. In commercial lines, investments are being made to improve the submissions process.
“Carriers right now are investing exorbitant dollars into robotics or offshoring submissions to come in or are paying for them to be rekeyed into their systems,” said Dodson, adding that the improved technology eases the work of brokers when they’re doing a mid to large market submission.
“Right now, that producer prints off ACORD forms or takes a yellow pad out with them, sits down and meets with their clients, and hand-writes everything. When they finally get back to the office, they drop it on the CSR’s desk where they key everything into that management system, and that’s about a three-hour process,” explained the chief experience officer. “That lapsed time to just get that submission to market is extremely lengthy and, of course, there’s also the back and forth with the underwriters because there’s incomplete data.”
AVYST is focused on improving the submission process with the eForms Wizard, which allows the producer to collect data easily, even when they’re offline. It is also in the process of adding carrier-unique forms, which will be an industry-first.
“When that producer goes out, they pull out their Microsoft Surface or laptop and when they interview, they are typing directly into those ACORD apps the way they always have. That information then prefills across all those applications,” explained Dodson. Once the form is complete, the producer can submit it to however many underwriters they need to, and they can also send an editable file back to their staff – as a result, a three-hour process is cut down to 15 minutes.
Hurricane Florence and other natural catastrophes have underscored the need for the submissions process to be accessible, quick and easy, especially as many agents are suddenly without power and have many clients to attend to.
“They’re frantically trying to reach their customers, they’re printing out hundreds of ACORD forms, and trying to use cell technology because they can’t get online since everything is down. With AVYST, the claims forms are sitting in eForms Wizard, which is available offline, so you don’t need to be online,” said Dodson, adding that many brokers and agents actually downloaded this software in preparation for Florence so they could go out to meet with insureds, fill out the ACORD forms, and when they got back to their hotel with internet service, they were able to quickly and easily email those to their company and attach it to their agency management systems.
“In other disasters like this before, just trying to get those input into the management system was a nightmare for the agents – trying to scan, and attach and follow-up, and all the rest of it. Now, they at least have a semi-automated way to do this.”