Underwriting can delay the process, test the will of the most patient adviser and, at worst, it can risk losing a client’s interest.
But it is often an essential part of the process and a number of companies are striving to give customers a better experience.
While each insurer has their own systems, rules, forms and procedures it can be a time-consuming process as well as being difficult to set realistic client expectations on occasion.
However, doing so at the outset can result in many more policies going on risk as well as facilitating better informed and more satisfied clients.
Ian McKenna, director at technology and research specialist F&TRC, believes the industry should start with a clean sheet of paper when looking at ways to improve underwriting.
He says: “We need to think about what good looks like rather than tweaking a broken process, and that is beginning to happen. We need to think about the customer and what experience we are really delivering to them.”
Perhaps it is a case of revolution rather than evolution, as somebody once said.
Advisers are best placed to not only manage client expectations during the application process, but also have an impact on underwriting times.
Explaining the process and likely outcomes as early as possible is a general win-win for all concerned.
If the customer understands why the insurer needs to write to their GP and also why that might take a little while to happen (because Doctors are busy helping people to get better) they will be less likely to chase you up and complain – and more likely to process with the business, even if it takes a month or two.
Likewise, positioning any likely underwriting decision can be just as important.
If we know there is going to be a rating or exclusion for health or other reasons lets discuss the realistic cost and budget at the start.
There is not much point agreeing a £50 a month budget and sending in a £50 a month application that you know is going to come back at £100 a month.
This is an area where advisers can add genuine value because when people buy online without advice none of this is likely to be explained to them and the likely outcome is that they won’t buy any cover and will be lost of the industry thinking ‘they’re all the same’.
Here we look at ways advisers could help speed up theprotection underwriting process and improve their customer service at the same time.
Information is king
Being able to guide clients on the information underwriters are looking for and ensuring they are armed with any relevant supporting documents can help speed up the process significantly.
Answering questions honestly and thoroughly is essential, but giving insurers too much information might also slow the process down.