Wednesday Sep 02, 2015

6 Sources of Gridlock in Insurance Product Development

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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Thursday Jun 11, 2015

A Practical Approach to Defining the Digital Customer Experience in 2015

A decade ago, the digital experience meant simply having a functional website. We’ve seen how social media, mobile apps, and big data can enhance relationships and deepen the connection between businesses and consumers. With so many possible touch points, businesses run the risk of overwhelming customers with a hodgepodge of digital strategies gone awry.

Is there a magic formula to define the ideal digital experience or measure a successful customer experience in 2015? Pose this question in a public forum, and you’ll get hundreds of answers from consultants, analysts, and other self-proclaimed experts. For this post, we’ll keep it simple.

Click "Read More" to view the full article. We’ll look at three successful companies that epitomize first class experiences at various stages of the customer journey.

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Friday May 15, 2015

Customer Communications Management for the Digital Age

Think of the last boss that drove you crazy. He had extremely high expectations, demanded everything to be done right away and always put his personal convenience above all else. If you didn’t deliver, he’d find someone else to replace you in a heartbeat. Meet the new hyperconnected consumer.

In today’s digital age, mobile technology has drastically changed the power dynamic between business and consumers. Consumers literally hold in their hands more power than ever before through their digital devices. Smartphones, tablets and laptops keep them online 24/7, which empowers them with virtually unlimited information accessible within minutes.

Read the full article to learn more...

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Monday Mar 23, 2015

Hyper Connected Communications for the Digital Age

As a sign of the times, I have an iPhone, iPad, a work laptop, and a home laptop all routed through a very nice broadband router – everything connected with wireless networking, of course. While my child’s phone isn’t connected yet, I still have the advantage of an unlimited data plan.  This all means that I can work from anywhere and anytime, responding to coworker requests and what not.  Healthy or not, it is the reality of more and more people as services and devices become less expensive and more capable. 

What I don’t have any more is a land line at my house.  I also don’t have much room left in my paper recycling bin or a desire to complete forms manually on paper using a pen!  In my personal business dealings I’ve made the decision that if you can’t process my request digitally, then I’ll take my business elsewhere.  No, I’m not a millennial nor do I categorize myself into a fixed generation definition, but I am in my (still early) forties and I’ve adopted (or adapted) to 99% digital correspondence.  Fortunately my family, including my parents (who are in their late seventies) have adopted a similar tendency towards digitalization. 

We are all connected all the time whether sitting at home at the laptop, walking through downtown, or at the office.  This level of connectivity results in an expectation that the companies we deal with are as well connected and can service us across all those connections.  David Ewell, Oracle Strategy, recently gave a webinar presentation with Xplor, “Hyper Connected Communications Management” that discussed the development of this paradigm and how business can benefit.  One tool is the new Documaker Mobile offering that extends the existing Documaker suite of offerings.

Documaker Mobile was released in February 2015 and is a foundational component for content delivery for any digital banking or digital insurance strategy.

Digital Strategy and Oracle Documaker Mobile

Over the course of the last several years, consumers of all types have moved from just being connected to being hyper connected 24/7 across multiple devices.  The proliferation of mobile options has crossed all generations from teenagers to octogenarians and the new hyper connected consumer is demanding 24/7 instant easy access to content formatted for any device. Financial services companies, insurance carriers, and healthcare payers are all looking to address the ever increasing demand for delivering this information with rich content access capabilities on any device. Documaker Mobile fulfills this need and much more to help companies that are currently struggling with the delivery of highly regulated content so that is viewable and actionable across all the devices consumers use today.

Documaker Mobile is a new addition to the Documaker family of products.  This new and exciting offering also has the added advantage of leveraging and repurposing existing document publishing assets and investments. Over one-thousand existing Documaker customers can now embrace the exploding digital consumer movement with very few changes to regulated content and rules.  Documaker Mobile produces dynamic, interactive, and device responsive documents that are targeted to consumers of all types via their mobile devices of choice. This includes the ability to generate device responsive output for the iOS and Android operating systems as well as desktop browsers. The Documaker suite now extends capabilities to address the huge mobile market as the single source of truth for all event-driven communications across all channels from an enterprise.

Documaker Mobile enables output of content that is interactive, easy to navigate, and responsive to the device. It does all this while adhering to open international industry standards from the W3C to define the mobile output presentation. This allows businesses that have traditionally delivered complex documents to their customers using print or through static electronic versions (PDF) to join the customer centricity movement and reach their hyper-connected customers across all channels in ways that will engage and delight their customers.

Oracle Documaker Mobile directly responds to the consumer’s expectations to “Know me, Understand Me and Wow Me”! Learn more by visiting

Friday Nov 14, 2014

Insurers Embrace Customer-centricity and Other Thoughts from the Recent Insurance Distribution Strategies Forum in Rome

I attended the 6th annual Insurance Distribution Strategies Forum for 2014 held in Rome last month. This event was organized by Fleming Europe and chaired by David Webster from Oracle. In the five years Oracle has been lead sponsor of the conference, it has grown from a European regional event to a much more global event that includes delegates from Africa, Indonesia, Russia and Eastern Europe and the UK. This year's forum had over 100 delegates in attendance and was a terrific success with some great speakers.

This was my third year as a speaker at the forum, and it was much different than the previous two years. In years past much of the conversation and presentations focused around product, pricing and distribution channels. This year’s forum was overwhelming dominated with presentations and discussions around customer centricity. During a breakout session we were asked "what are the top three take a ways from this forum?"

Read the full article for more... 

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Oracle’s solutions provide the modern, rules-driven flexibility insurers need to support Digital Insurance transformation, simplify their IT environments, and innovate to keep pace with changing demands.

For more information, visit


« October 2015