Responding to change within the insurance industry requires understanding customer-specific circumstances as well as viewing property/casualty insurers in the aggregate. In Customer Reflections, we combine invaluable customer feedback from a recent implementation of QuickFill®, Verisk’s prefill application tool, with observations from our bird’s-eye view of the industry.
Insurers get positive results with QuickFill for auto underwriting
More and more, consumers shop for auto insurance on the Internet, and online sites and call centers generate a great deal of business for insurers. While customer-direct selling is a boon to carriers, it can create its own set of problems for gathering accurate information. Prefill application tools address those problems, and QuickFill is the tool of choice for many insurers.
Insurers tell of changing sales organizations
In managing insurers’ sales organizations, the biggest change over the years has been the trend of selling directly to customers. Thanks to billions of dollars of industry advertising, consumers are very aware that they need to shop for insurance. And they’re getting much savvier about how to do it. They often bypass traditional agents and use the Internet as a starting point to find out about insurance coverage, investigate insurers, look up rates, and begin the application process. Some use mobile apps.
A surprising number of people still begin the application process by phone. Throughout the industry, the split between web and phone for initial contact is about 50/50. One of our insurer customers gave us significant feedback on QuickFill. The insurer reported that of those who apply through the Internet, only 40 percent are entirely self-service; 60 percent still follow up with a phone call. Having more applicants complete everything online is ideal, but there are still those who need the reassurance of speaking to an agent. A primary reason consumers call is to save money, but sometimes they have questions or want advice.
The good news is that the direct-selling trend also brings opportunity to remove some long-standing barriers to efficiency and productivity.
Eliminate delays caused by unprepared applicants
Applicants often don’t know their coverage limits on existing policies and don’t have other essential details at their fingertips, especially when they call an agent for the first time. Insurers have many rating and discount plans that depend on prior liability coverage limits, so QuickFill eliminates a potential issue by providing those details — instantly and accurately.
QuickFill accesses key data elements such as an accurate VIN number and driver’s license details. The system also provides information about other drivers in the home — and having that information automatically appear prevents quoting inaccurate rates to customers who might be inclined to hide information or don’t realize they need to provide it.
When call center agents don’t require additional information or clarification, they’re able to complete more applications in less time.
New tool helps companies remain competitive
The impetus to look into prefill tools often comes from assessing the competitive landscape. It’s becoming increasingly clear that a prefill system is a competitive necessity. After researching prefill tools, one of our customers anticipated significant movement of several key metrics and decided to include QuickFill in its workflow.
The carrier was aware of Verisk’s proprietary auto database and our significant presence in the insurance space for comprehensive customer, driver, and vehicle data. The company was already using a number of Verisk’s services, and we had a good business relationship.
QuickFill creates a dramatic difference in key metrics
Our customer discovered some dramatic differences after it began using QuickFill. Tracking statistics on consumer applications at the call center and online revealed:
- increased productivity
- decreased follow-up costs and a 40- to 45-second reduction in per-quote call time
- improved online flow-through and abandon rates
- unchanged overall conversion from 2011 to 2012 — a positive trend given the increasingly competitive market
Our implementation team worked with the customer to understand the company’s business flow. The insurer had never deployed a similar system but felt that Verisk had the database to back up the solution. Our customer noted that we delivered on time, were responsive, and answered all questions. In short, Verisk was a good strategic ally. The carrier noted feeling more confident about its improved quality control and overall underwriting abilities now that it uses QuickFill.
But even the improvements in our customer’s metrics wouldn’t have driven the prefill project for this company. Different insurers have different priorities. For some, it’s a numbers game — less time on the phone, more closes; others are more concerned with accuracy and efficiency. QuickFill can achieve all those results, but accuracy and making the workflow process more efficient were the more important drivers for this carrier. Our customer wanted correct applicant information as quickly as possible to help its business, agents, and consumers.
QuickFill helps insurers, agents, and consumers
For insurers, QuickFill can:
- provide more accurate quotes, which means improved premium accuracy — and that saves money
- foster cooperation between sales and underwriting, despite their different functions — and that makes interactions between the departments smoother and more accurate, too
For agents, QuickFill can:
- reduce the need for follow-up calls, which streamlines the agent’s workflow
- improve flow-through rating and reduce abandon rates by increasing productivity
- provide detailed coverage limit information
For consumers, QuickFill can:
- make the application process easier and smoother
- help avoid unexpected premium increases because of new information
Prefill capabilities work for property, too
Expanding the prefill concept to property lines makes sense because the same core principles apply. The percentage of consumers applying online is lower for home insurance; it’s a more complex product than auto. That means the opportunities for increasing an insurer’s efficiency can be even greater than with auto. We encourage companies to use a prefill tool for auto and property to get the maximum benefits.
With customer-direct selling at an all-time high, prefill application tools help property/casualty insurers overcome the barriers to gathering accurate information, streamline the application process, and focus on their business priorities. Based on feedback from insurers throughout the industry, we know they view prefill applications — such as QuickFill — as the right tool to help them transform change into opportunity.
John Cantwell is vice president, marketing and business development, for Verisk Insurance Solutions – Underwriting. He’s responsible for marketing and branding strategy as well as leading the development and launch of innovative new products.