Wednesday Nov 11, 2015

Online Reviews: What They Reveal about Insurance Customer Expectations and Why Insurers Need to Listen

thumbs-up-small Think about the last gadget you bought or a restaurant you recently tried for the first time. Chances are, you probably read online reviews and considered a few different options before making your decision.

We all tend to do greater due diligence in order to make smart purchasing decisions—not only because we can, but because we feel like we should. In the post-recession economy, we’re especially conscious that every time we spend money, we’re taking a risk on a product or service. We’re more protective of our resources and skeptical of the claims we see in ads.

People shopping for insurance are no different. That’s why online reviews have a powerful impact on how we select insurance providers. Four out of ten insurance customers read online reviews and base their insurance buying decisions on them, according to Accenture.

If you work in insurance—and you most likely do if you’re reading the Oracle Insurance Blog—you probably don’t have time to comb through insurance review sites. So I decided to explore them for you. I poked around multiple websites with insurance industry reviews like Consumer Affairs, J.D. Power and Associates, and, some of which feature reviews written by experts and customers. Not surprisingly, customers often use these sites to vent about their insurers unwilling to repair damages, raising premiums, or taking too long to respond.

Read the full blog...

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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

Don’t forget to keep up with us year-round:

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.

[Read More]

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...

[Read More]

Monday Oct 11, 2010

Transforming Enterprise Content Management through Document Business Intelligence

How can my company become more efficient at managing increasing volumes of content enterprise-wide?  It's a topic I discuss frequently with insurers (and have highlighted in previous Oracle Insurance blogs) - and has become increasingly more important to the industry.

The October digital issue of Insurance and Technology explores the continued explosion of content and its ongoing impact on how carriers do business internally within their own organizations as well as externally with their distribution channels, partners, and insureds. 

The need to more effectively manage content and be better positioned to adapt to shifting market dynamics and regulatory compliance requirements is top of mind for insurers when rationalizing their enterprise document automation and content management capabilities.  This is particularly true as they strive to meet evolving consumer preferences and demands, including improved interactive, real-time communication and servicing capabilities across multiple channels.

"Never have insurers had to communicate via so many diverse channels with such speed, and seldom have they been under such pressure to accomplish these tasks efficiently," notes Insurance and Technology  Executive Editor Anthony O'Donnell in the issue's cover story on page seven.

Seizing the Power of Enterprise Document Automation

My Oracle Insurance colleague James "Jim" Mullarney notes in the article that "the automation of content creation offers insurers the best chance to keep up with an exponential expansion of content resulting from both the changing definition of the document and the proliferation of communication channels.  'The notion of documents has been changing from locked-down PDF to living, breathing organisms adapted to a range of communications platforms.'"

He explains that "more than 80 percent of the content created within the enterprise today is unstructured", with that number "projected to grow at rates ranging from 60 percent to 200 percent."

Mullarney adds that insurers not only need to address the challenges associated with managing large volumes of content.  They also need to address the impact of "changing customer expectations on their ability to filter and package external content. 'Many insurers are trying to allow customers to choose the channels for various kinds of communication, and this can get very onerous to manage...Publishing eight or 10 types of communication becomes very difficult unless you have a single (enterprise document automation or Customer Communications Management) system to manage it.'"

Three Tips for Achieving "Document Intelligence"

He goes on to explain in the "Industry Voice" column on page 14 of this month's digital issue how insurers can maximize the value of their content by running content creation - or document automation - like a manufacturing business.  

Insurers require the ability to measure and improve efficiency, productivity and impact of their document creation and production by leveraging "a combination of BI (business intelligence), next-generation automation, and content management."  In an environment of rapid regulatory change where compliance may come down to changing or removing policy clauses this type of "document intelligence," can dramatically reduce time and cost associated with making changes.

To achieve this goal insurers require improved:

  • Visibility - The ability to mine content, enabled through smart archiving, and analyze in real time thousands of forms, identify key content and understand when and how it is used.  Analytic capabilities integrated into a document automation platform can help identify opportunities to reduce costs, optimize resources and accelerate production.  Ideally these tools empower business users to create and run reports without little or no IT intervention.
  • Automation - A flexible, end-to-end enterprise document automation platform that optimizes the production and delivery of high volumes of individualized documents through multiple channels - and that can scale support new channels and content streams.
  • Control - A single point of management via dashboards for greater visibility into the entire document enterprise.  Insurers can troubleshoot problems to avoid delays in document production and make changes to better utilize resources or address changing business priorities at the push of a button.

Want to learn more? 

Click here read to both articles in this month's digital issue of Insurance and Technology or go directly to Business Intelligence Brings Potential for Managing Content Enterprise-Wide.

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities and enterprise document automation solutions.


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


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