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Easy by Design: A Digital-First Approach to Insurance Distribution Management

Jake Sloan, VP of Insurance
December 5, 2022

When a leading office supply chain coined the phrase “That was easy!” in an iconic 10-year-long ad campaign, that simple idea resonated with people everywhere. And that’s no coincidence. None of us wants our daily tasks to be labor-intensive, time-consuming, or complicated.

The same is true in the world of insurance. To drive growth, insurers need to make it easy for agents and brokers. In fact, 76% of agents said they would send more business to insurers who improved their technology and made it easier to do business.

Technology is especially important to Millennials and Gen Xers, who are starting to make up the majority workforce as baby boomers retire. Insurance carriers that simplify the distribution process with technology will win more business from their agents and brokers. This is especially true when you look at insurance distribution channels for life insurance, where 89% of policies are sold through agents and brokers, and for P&C, where that percentage is upward of 70%.

Current insurance distribution models add complexity.

Distribution management is a prime candidate for a digital-first approach.

In a typical insurance environment today, multiple departments perform separate tasks in the cycle. It’s difficult to coordinate activities or look at information holistically, resulting in delays. This is especially problematic since insurance sales and distribution management involves a large volume of transactions and a large number of stakeholders who work in different systems or even for different companies.

The disjointed access to data negatively impacts performance, resulting in:

  • Loss of the first-mover advantage.
  • Reduced quote, rate, bind and straight-through processing (STP).
  • Poor service in a difficult market that’s focused on retention.
  • Lack of insight into producer performance and quality.
  • Unreliable, disparate data.
  • High support costs.

As insurance carriers work with more agents and brokers in multiple jurisdictions, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the complexity of emerging insurance products. Multiple policy administration systems and reporting limitations make matters even worse.

Simplifying onboarding, improving compliance, and speeding up time to quote will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of distribution management.

Another vital aspect of a distribution system is performance management, which helps you manage the annual goals and productivity of insurance agents and brokers. Insurers should look for a system that makes it simple to report on proficiency levels, quality of submissions, outcomes against determined performance measures, behavior patterns, customer satisfaction levels, areas of training and development, and overall broker engagement.

Accelerate your digital-first distribution strategy.

Insurance carriers are already working with various digital systems and data stores, such as CRMs, agency management systems (AMS), lead management systems, digital experience platforms (DXP), core admin systems, centers of excellence (CoE) for data science and AI, robotic process automation (RPA) tools, and so on. Insurers can no longer afford the time and risk associated with rip-and-replace strategies, which have tremendously negative impacts on IT, business, and customers (that is, agents, brokers, and consumers)—including increasing the likelihood of project overruns.

Fortunately, with the Appian platform, you can quickly move toward digital-first distribution management while keeping all your existing systems in place. Appian lets you design and build apps for workflow orchestration with a data fabric architecture that pulls data from various disparate systems across your enterprise to provide a 360-degree view. It leaves the data in the system of record, sidestepping architectural complexity. Read the Forrester Total Economic Impact study to see the benefits you’ll reap from this approach.

Creating a highly personalized experience for customers was once restricted to in-person services only. The industry has now pivoted to allow a highly personalized virtual experience with a focus on service and connection. Appian can create an insurance policy renewal process that is highly personalized yet highly efficient, further differentiating your broker and insurer brand. For example, Appian apps can notify the agent or broker of a customer’s change in life circumstances that would warrant a change in coverage or the addition of new products. Similarly, an agent or broker can be automatically alerted to a retention risk so they can use data to determine how to proceed and invest their time appropriately. Alerts about cross-sell and upsell opportunities within their existing book of business or across multiple entities for M&A-type situations, which are accelerating, would provide value to insurers looking to scale in an increasingly difficult market.

With Appian, you will:

  • Gain greater visibility into the agent/broker and distribution lifecycle.
  • Increase straight-through processing with built-in AI intelligent document processing.
  • Unlock greater insights with data-driven dashboards that display metrics in real time.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to deliver a superior digital-first agent experience. This in turn improves the customer experience, where speed is paramount and stakes are high.

Insurers who invest in modernizing their insurance distribution channels become easier to work with and attract the most productive agents and brokers, while preserving risk profiles for profitable business growth. Appian optimizes workflow orchestration in your back office to keep both parts of the organization in sync.

Appian makes it faster for your agents and brokers to get what they need easily. And everybody wants easy.

To learn more about adopting a digital-first approach to distribution management, download this industry report from Celent, where the analyst explores insurance distribution management solutions.