The insurance industry is perceived as a laggard in adoption of technology. For decades, the insurance industry has relied on paper processes across its entire value chain. The sales and customer on boarding process has been particularly painful for clients who are required to complete a myriad of forms to purchase a basic insurance cover.
Agents remain the largest distribution channel for insurance products especially life insurance. The manual paper based processes have also adversely impacted insurance sales agents.
Managing paper takes up an inordinate amount of agents’ time and reduces their productivity.
Globally, insurers are adopting technology based agent portals and mobile apps to overcome challenges faced by paper based processes. An agent portal is an internet-based system that digitizes the insurance sales lifecycle covering lead management, quotation, order acceptance, payment and policy issuance processes.
With the portal, the insurance agent can generate multiple electronic quotes setting out different scenarios for their clients’ consideration. These quotes can be shared with the client on e-mail and when they are ready to proceed to the next stage of the purchase they only need to click accept.
The portal can also allow a client to process electronic payments through mobile money or other branchless transactions without having to visit a branch and at the same receive an electronic receipt. After payment, the portal can also issue an electronic policy contract providing the client proof of cover.
With this portal, the sales agent can focus on offering their clients the right products and guide them through the order fulfilment process instead of spending time completing forms and dealing with back-office administrative processes.
As a leading pan-African underwriter, with a passion for enhancing client experience and facilitating agent productivity, Britam has invested heavily in an agent portal. Our journey began in 2016 when we launched the first release of our financial advisor portal focused on supporting life insurance sales.
The first version was well received by agents and customers and generated a lot of feedback on potential enhancements from various stakeholders. By adopting an agile implementation approach, we have leveraged customer and agent feedback to enhance the solution through quarterly releases.
Solution enhancements have largely focused on reducing friction in the interaction between the client, the agent and our back-office teams. We have integrated the agent portal with our underwriting systems to ensure quotes are accurate and certify straight through processing that is data capture on the portal is pushed straight into the back-office system.
We have also provided functionality that allows an agent access to their clients payment and auto-receipt eliminating long laborious reconciliation processes.
In addition, to streamlining the sales process, agent portals can also revolutionise customer experience. Insurance agents form a critical customer touch point; responding to customer queries, helping clients review their product portfolios and initiate claims or changes to policies.
By providing full details of a client’s portfolio and transaction details, the portal empowers the agent with the current information they need to support their clients. Having information on clients’ birthdays, claims processing status, upcoming maturities and premium payment allows an agent to be proactive and provide personalized service. This enhances the agent’s credibility and opens up opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling.
The Britam FA portal has been a resounding success with over 70 percent of our sales agents using the system to manage leads, issue quotations and submit applications. The portal has also enhanced customer experience, by significantly reducing time taken to issue policies and eliminating the risks arising from paper based forms.
Continued innovation including investments in technology such as agent portals, stands to deliver tangible benefit to the Insurance industry, its intermediaries and clients.
The writer is Group Chief Information Officer, Britam Holdings.
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