3 Customer-Facing Processes Every Insurtech Business Needs To Automate Today
If fintech experienced a “boom” over the past 25 years, then by comparison, the rise of insurtech in just the last 10 years has been an absolute explosion.
In less than a decade, the insurtech market has skyrocketed – from the stuff of startups and hooded sweatshirts, to a global powerhouse growing by 36% every year, and expected to reach a $61 billion market value by 2028.
It's a huge sum considering that the entire insurance technology platform market has a projected valuation of $328.5 billion by 2026. And specifically, it suggests that insurtechs – the tech companies focused on bringing disruptive innovation to insurance since 2010 – will continue to gain traction and influence on the way we "think about" insurance globally.
46% of insurtech growth will originate in Europe, where the competitive landscape is fragmented, with no clear “take-all” winner and a red-hot competitive market.
How can an insurtech business hope to differentiate itself and stay competitive in this dog-eat-dog market?
Customer Experience (CX) is the insurtech game-changer
Insurtech’s core advantage is the ability to offer superior – mostly digitized – customer experiences in a historically inconvenient, paper-based industry. They are also one among several industries now recognizing the strategic benefits of using customer experience (CX) as a main differentiator.
A recent Gartner study found that 89% of businesses intend CX to be their main differentiator. Two-thirds of the businesses surveyed planned to be “industry-leading” in CX by 2020.
So what is driving this change in emphasis?
Increased customer expectation and pricing competitiveness are two of the main drivers – as the logic goes, if an insurer cannot offer superior pricing or product, then best to differentiate with a superior customer experience that’s difficult for the competition to replicate.
Which insurance processes matter the most to customers
Customer experience will make or break an insurtech. There’s no getting around it.
Think about the last time you purchased a new insurance policy. Did you pick up the phone and call a broker? Doubtful.
That’s because the days of paper-based insurance are coming fast to a close. The game has changed, market expectations have shifted, and the insurtech businesses who come out on top are the ones who put in the work to over-deliver on customer experience throughout the entire insurance process.
Leading insurtech companies have already started implementing operations automation using process and workflow automation to accomplish just that – a way to build better customer experiences and incorporate learnings fast, without waiting around months for engineers or consultants to make system improvements for them.
Here are three processes that insurtech operations teams need to automate today at a bare minimum in order to retain their customers and stay competitive in the marketplace.
1. Customer Onboarding
What do these insurers have in common? Ridiculously smooth customer onboarding processes.
The speed and convenience of these onboarding experiences has sparked a general trend in which customers have begun to expect the same, simple sign-up experiences across the entire insurance market – whether it’s private, commercial, or any other policy.
Regardless of process complexity or total number of steps, the onboarding process doesn’t need to be slowed down by paperwork, manual verification, or the dreaded “call for a quote” CTA. Thanks to rules-based process and workflow automation, the entire onboarding process can be automated.
What’s this look like in practice?
The user enters the onboarding with clear, step-by-step instructions that ask for small, bite-sized pieces of information, one-at-a-time. At every step, there is another impression of the insurer’s brand and tone-of-voice, and the user is only asked for the essential information and estimates that they are likely to have on-hand. Within minutes, the user has completed the process, and receives both a quote, as well as next step instructions and payment integration, should they choose to continue. The whole process took 5 minutes in total.
As highlighted by Forbes, “Digital onboarding is the start of a user’s journey with the insurer.” It can either make or break a user's first impression, and sets the tone of customer experience for the duration of the relationship. It's best to get that right the first time around.
Moreover, by connecting your prospects' onboarding experience directly to your customer operations systems, workflows, and people, your teams gain much more insight into customer behavior. Having that insight helps teams understand the weaknesses in both their onboarding flows as well as their own, internal processes, all of which contributes to accelerating the application process, reducing costly operational grunt work, and providing the exact kind of onboarding experience your customers are looking for.
Although customer onboarding is an important tone-setter for customer experience in insurance, the claims process is the truly decisive moment.
Claims processing is the most important function for an insurance company – it's where the insurance company actually delivers on its contract to the customer. The customer experience of claim submission and settlement is basically synonymous with the reputation of the insurer.
On the insurance customer side, the increasing expectation for customer experience is largely centered around claims. According to research by Accenture, a massive 83% of insurance customers who were dissatisfied with the way a claim was handled would switch to another provider within a year. 94% of customers in the study cited speed of settlement and claims process transparency as key expectations and important contributors to their customer loyalty.
With claims submission processes built on an automation platform, insurtech companies provide their customers with 3 major benefits.
- Reduced data entry: less manual work to complete a successful claim application
- Increased speed and convenience of settlement: less time is required for the settlement to be paid out, and fewer additional steps are required
- No black box: claims processing is made transparent with real-time updates, so there is minimal ambiguity about the status of a claim
So what about claims automation benefits on the operations side?
The foremost operational benefit of automating the claims process is that auditing claims becomes extremely simplified. Within an automation platform, a fully-compliant audit trail of customer and operations team actions is created for every claim submitted, including submitted documents, photos, and other required claims data. It's audit-ready, secure, and eliminates the need for additional storage and archiving.
And by providing customers with a clear, simplified experience to submit complete claims the first time around, process automation eliminates a huge amount of costly email coordination and time spent on follow-ups for incomplete or even fraudulent claims. In truth, insurance businesses with manual claims process will be unlikely to survive much longer – if customer expectations don't kill them, the rising administrative and operations costs will.
3. Policy Management
One final and essential insurance use case for process automation is the entire category of policy management operations, including policy issuance, renewal, amendment, and termination.
As a policy is first being issued, the underwriting decision has already been made – the policy only needs to be issued, internal systems updated, and the official start of coverage communicated to the customer. These traditionally multi-step coordination processes are ripe for process automation. With predefined rules-based automation, operations and customer teams can configure these processes to be triggered by key system or human actions – for example, submission of payment or confirmation of signature – and run on full auto-pilot.
Where before, a multi-step and multi-stakeholder process like policy issuance would require manual coordination work, emails, letters, and system updates to carry out, process automation enables insurers and insurtech companies to carry these processes out with domino-like efficiency. Simply trigger the process, and all the necessary following steps cascade automatically in-turn, with no extra coordination required.
Existing customers can also submit update requests – such as address changes or payment details – triggering similar automated processes. A further application of automation in insurance policy management can help transform other document-intensive operations, including communicating explanations of insurability or policy terms updates to customers, and other policy administration processes. All of which amounts to less input required from the customer, and less manual coordination on the provider side.
The real beauty of it? Process automation enabled each of these processes to be streamlined end-to-end, regardless if process steps were completed by internal teams, customers, or both. Whether operations, customer support, or – most importantly – the customers themselves, each carried out a clear, consistent and simplified user experience with a few clicks and as little friction as possible.
The future of insurance is Customer Experience
Winning insurtech players win along two paths.
On one side, they take steps to reduce friction and boost customer experience. On the other side, they implement systems to improve operations efficiency – and in doing so, further contribute to boosting customer experience. That is what enables an insurtech business not only to win, but also to differentiate itself in a crowded market.
Both heightened customer experience and operational efficiency can be achieved with process and workflow automation tools.
Process automation helps insurtech operations teams to build and automate their processes – including their most vital, customer-facing operations – and bypasses the loop of legacy systems updates, engineering, and consultants that insurance companies have relied on for years. By integrating systems and streamlining process steps, operations teams have everything they need to make decisions and carry out steps efficiently throughout the entire customer journey – from onboarding to underwriting, claims and renewal.
And instead of waiting months for the next system update, operations teams in insurtech businesses are now building and launching fully-integrated, automated processes that deliver improved customer experience in a matter of hours. Best of all, they have the flexibility to test, iterate, and improve their customer-facing processes on the fly – without any coding or application development experience.
If you’d like to learn more about how insurtech businesses can automate operations fast, download our Operations Automation Playbook - Fintech Edition and find out how Next Matter can help you automate your core operations processes and workflows starting today, and see results tomorrow.
Get the latest operations thinking and Next Matter updates once a week.
Next Matter blog.