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Insurance embraces digital service

How a pandemic has accelerated positive business change

Through great challenge comes amazing innovation, and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 may very well go down in history as the spark that has turned up the innovation dial within the insurance space. With face to face client meetings no longer a viable option, online meetings have become the norm. But that has created a new set of challenges. How do you provide fast and efficient service in an industry that relies on wet signatures, paper forms and stringent underwriting guidelines?

Rob Hollingsworth, Head of Distribution for Individual Insurance at Manulife, says simplifying the overall insurance process, along with a swift pivot to digital is helping to keep business moving forward for advisors.

“During this unprecedented time, Manulife has made some important changes to help advisors. We’ve increased the no-fluid underwriting limit up to $2 million for new or in process business, we’ve removed all restrictions on non face-to-face applications, and we’ve greatly expanded our capabilities for electronic delivery and the use of electronic forms.”

There is also a proactive process in place to help finalize contracts as quickly as possible to ensure clients have at least some coverage in place sooner rather than later.

“Our goal is to find creative solutions to get contracts finalized for clients as soon as possible. That might mean offers are less than the initial coverage request, to help get some coverage in place. We can then look at the full coverage request in the weeks that follow,” says Hollingsworth.

Kathy Schmidtke, Director of Distributor Relations and Learning says it’s amazing to see how quickly advisors began using new digital tools and processes in the early stages of the pandemic. Electronic insurance applications have been available since 2016, but there’s been a strong surge in advisor usage in the past few months.

“We’ve seen our E-Application uptake move from 60 per cent to 85 per cent. Advisors are loving it, and we’re collecting feedback that it’s an overall great experience,” says Schmidtke.

Electronic delivery of new insurance applications is another recent advancement to assist advisors in business continuity – again with very positive feedback.

“70 per cent of our policies are being E-Delivered and that’s a combination of paper and E-Applications. Clients are enjoying the experience, advisors are getting the contracts to the customer faster and they’re able to do it non face-to-face,” says Schmidtke.

From E Application to E Delivery, to AIDA our underwriting robot, to fillable forms and eSignatures for inforce policy changes, advisors can have a completely paperless, non face to face experience. In the investment space, there is now the Online Transactions Tool (OLT), which now includes eSignature functionality for new segregated fund and GIC applications, with more transactions to soon follow.

“Most of our inforce insurance forms, with the exception of a couple are now available in an electronic format that are fillable online with DocuSign®,” says Schmidtke. “Thanks to advisor feedback, we’ve now made these forms fully fillable by the advisor. They are then sent to the client for a quick eSignature using DocuSign. Advisors are loving it, saying it’s very, very easy.

While this may be the early stages for digital transformation within the insurance industry, there is no doubt that electronic processing is here to stay. Being digitally enabled is an important evolution for future growth and success. For those who are still getting up to speed with e processing, check out the dedicated E Business Solutions page on Advisor Portal where you can find all the information you need in one place. Advisors can also visit the E-Business resources tab on the Training Corner (Repsource Login required), as well as the COVID-19 portal on AdvisorCafe.