How digital is transforming commercial insurance for customers and agents

Buying direct is here to stay, but agents are still key to success

Commercial underwriting is inherently complex, and it’s led many insurers to underinvest in technology. Translating complicated underwriting requirements into technical specifications posed one challenge. Another has been the lack of appetite for digital and self-service commercial insurance products, as buyers preferred agents to guide them through the application process.

In recent years, however, customers in nearly every industry have migrated online—a trend that’s only accelerated in the wake of the global pandemic. Commercial insurers are now finding that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have also grown more receptive to purchasing simple and affordable policies through digital and direct-to-consumer channels.

To capitalize on this opportunity, insurers will need agile technologies that can create flexible programs and seamless experiences. This type of cloud-native, API-driven platform will not only transform the commercial insurance industry for customers, but also for agents. With limited time and rising costs, agents can take advantage of tech-enabled customer segmentation and automated workflows to make their jobs easier and more efficient.

Here’s how a modern core platform can help commercial insurers go digital to improve customer and agent experiences.

SMEs demand a better buying experience

Agents are undoubtedly the most important channel for commercial insurers, but that doesn’t mean other channels should be ignored. Developing direct-to-consumer programs can help commercial insurers address the specific needs of SMEs.

47% of SMEs prioritize flexibility in product coverage and 30% consider each step in the buying journey extremely challenging. These customers want to compare policies through a one-stop shop offering retail-like experiences, an intuitive interface, and straightforward language. And they are increasingly relying upon self-service digital channels like websites and apps for their convenience and efficiency.

Seizing the digital-direct opportunity with an agile core platform

Meeting the demand for digital experiences is impossible without modern technology. An agile and API-driven core platform enables commercial insurers to rapidly spin up simple insurance programs, streamline the online application process, and easily integrate with next-gen services like chatbots.

Insurers can also leverage a configurable core platform to improve product flexibility by:

  • Offering multiple coverage options at various price points for cost-sensitive customers
  • Initiating, pausing, or stopping policies as needed without penalties
  • Delivering usage-based, price-by-mile insurance products for commercial auto
  • Bundling policies with “free” add-ons (e.g., six months of cyber insurance)

Empowering agents through segmentation and automation

Deploying a modern core platform not only helps commercial insurers reach more customers, but also empowers agents to become more productive through segmentation, pre-qualification, and automation.

  1. Segmenting customers. Agents are integral to the buying process and provide the personal relationship that customers crave. But their time is limited. A self-service digital channel is a good option for simpler, lower-premium policies and allows agents to focus their time advising on more complex ones.
  2. Pre-qualifying customers. 70% of customer journeys start in direct channels, which means that insurers can leverage digital tools to help pre-screen customers, so the ones that might fail underwriting requirements are eliminated before they reach an agent.
  3. Automating workflows. Underwriters spend 30% to 40% of their time on mundane tasks like rekeying data and manually executing analyses. A modern core platform like Socotra can automate underwriting processes, streamline exceptional cases for analysis and decision, integrate with solutions to pre-fill applications, and give agents better access to data from advanced pricing algorithms to personalized quotes.

How Socotra helps commercial insurers modernize customer and agent experiences

Socotra is on a mission to make insurance interactions better for customers and agents worldwide. We’ve partnered with insurers like MS Amlin, AXA, and Elpha Secure to create commercial insurance programs and digital buying experiences in as little as two months.

Insurers can start with a fast and affordable proof of concept to evaluate our platform and then seamlessly transition into implementation. Our expanding third-party ecosystem provides easy integration with chatbots for customer service, document managers for faster application process, and telematics providers for personalization.

With our flexible data model, insurers can rapidly develop digital-first programs and update existing ones. We enable omnichannel engagement (phone, tablet, computer, and call center) to help streamline interactions. And agents can easily access and leverage data to improve business outcomes.

Full article: How digital is transforming commercial insurance for customers and agents.

1McKinsey, From art to science: The future of underwriting in commercial P&C Insurance, Feb. 2019.
2Celent, Commercial insurance: Who will buy direct and why?, Dec. 2020.
3Calculated based on research from the Insurance Information Institute, McKinsey, and Celent.