Time is money. Benjamin Franklin said it back in 1748 not knowing how relevant that statement would be to insurance companies in the twenty-first century. Rapidly emerging market conditions in the last decade are driving high demand for new insurance products. Today, developing new insurance products is a matter of necessity for corporate survival, yet product development remains at a snail’s pace.
Insurers are well aware of this problem. They’re concerned that they’re not adapting fast enough to changing markets. Around the world, the average time needed to launch a new insurance product from concept to sale ranges from six to twelve months, according to RGA. The longer it takes to get these products out to market, the more revenue losses insurers face.
What’s the root cause of the sluggishness?
Every professional knows all too well the inherent delays coordinating multiple departments within an organization. In insurance, complexity is ingrained in the industry. The process starts with the product development team bringing together people from claims, IT, underwriting, state filings, sales, marketing, and legal. They meet, discuss ideas, and set up action items. They schedule future meetings, share drafts, get input, revise drafts. And the cycle continues for several months. More meetings, more documents, more revisions, and various sign-offs—all before filing to individual departments of insurance via SERFF. After filing, the approval process is at the mercy of each state DOI.
There is no single culprit responsible for the slow pace of product development. However, one thing is for sure: the day-to-day business processes that come as second nature to most of us are contributing to the gridlock.
Here are five ways insurers may unknowingly be slowing down product development:
- Creating manual reports with spreadsheets.
Product development managers rely heavily on spreadsheet reports in order to stay informed, organized, and have a quick reference handy. Many people still rely on Excel spreadsheets to manually track state filings, historical filing data, and DOI forms. Managers typically create manual spreadsheets to track staff productivity.
Spreadsheets are time-consuming and leave insurers vulnerable to data entry mistakes. Insurers need to avoid manual processes like creating and updating spreadsheets as much as possible, and instead, seek automated solutions with report-generating capabilities.
- Using e-mail to collaborate.
Consider the hundreds of e-mails that insurance staffers exchange while collaborating on the development of a single insurance product:
“I missed the last conference call. Could we go over the deadlines?”
“Did legal confirm the status of their approvals?”
“Marketing didn’t get cc-ed on the last email. Could you resend it?”
With one central database accessible to all users, insurers can radically improve efficiency and eliminate the need for time-consuming internal correspondence. Lawyers, underwriters, actuaries, and others involved in product development need to be able to log into one place, share information and immediately make it accessible to all, and post messages to other staffers.
- Using Microsoft Word.
Insurance product development is a very document-intensive operation. Documents go through multiple rounds of revision, passing from one department to another. Word has basic track changes functionality, but it’s not the ideal solution for product development. Just as messages need to be stored in a central place accessible to all users, so do all notes, drafts, and revisions.
- Researching GIs (general information requirements) by visiting each state DOI website.
If you’ve bookmarked all the DOI websites for every state and jurisdiction on your browser or listed them in a spreadsheet, you might think you’ve created your own research shortcuts. There are smarter ways to research if you have the right tools. Your tech solution should provide all the information you need in one place.
- Having separate storage places for DOI correspondence, completed state filings, filings under development, forms, requirements, and more.
Again, the importance of a central database cannot be overstated. These documents need to be accessible and searchable, especially for the key players in the product development process. State filing analysts need constant access to filings, and actuaries need access to filing forms and records of historical roadblocks in each state.
- Converting to pdf manually.
In many cases, DOIs require that certain documents be submitted as pdfs. On the surface, creating pdfs might seem to be relatively easy to do with a couple clicks. However, depending on the file you’re working with, you can run into problems in the conversion process such as loss of image quality or complications from hyperlinks, layouts, or certain fonts.
The ideal tech solution for insurance product development has the ability to not only convert automatically to pdf, but also allow for native Excel format when necessary.
It may be difficult to imagine eliminating the business processes above from your routine, but with the right tech solution, you can radically speed up product development, from the beginning stages all the way through approval.
Oracle Insurance Compliance Tracker, the only third party software integrated with SERFF, was designed specifically for the insurance industry to speed creation and submission of regulatory filings. Insurers who use Oracle Insurance Compliance Tracker have reported huge productivity boosts of up to 50 percent.
If you’re interested to see what Oracle Insurance Compliance Tracker can do for you
For more information on Oracle Insurance Compliance Tracker, visit oracle.com/insurance.
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