Insurance industry urged to be 'agile' to help customers

Insurance industry urged to be 'agile' to help customers

Insurance newcomer Guardian has urged the industry to become more agile in terms of underwriting in order to give advisers and clients the best possible service.

Katya MacLean, chief executive of Guardian, said companies which were agile enough in terms of technology, processes and people would be able to better weather what the market - or economy - throws at them.

Moreover, she said it was important for advisers and the end client that companies "constantly adapt" their businesses based on insight and feedback.

Ms MacLean said: "Being agile is key to the success of a start-up. Making sure you are on the ball to market trends as well as opportunities to improve is crucial. Listening is core to our culture and we’re constantly adapting our business based on insight and feedback.

"Technology is part of this, although it’s not the whole story. It’s the commitment to agility that’s important – to be the best we can be."

She said a crucial area to develop agility was within underwriting, to make it easier and more efficient for advisers and consumers to do business with insurers.

Guardian, which 'relaunched' in 2018 to the retail market with a new set of products and a series of partnerships with third-party support providers and advisers, has developed an underwriting rules engine, with an MI suite that allows quick evaluation of results and alterations of rules, particularly around disclosure.

Ms MacLean said: "Enabled by this, the team are able to conduct a programme of continuous improvement to better service our clients.

"This means we can use underwriting data intelligently to drive access to insurance. The market is constantly evolving and these trends, particularly around disclosure, offer opportunities to improve.

"Guardian’s underwriting philosophy is to always ‘have a look’. We want to offer cover, at the right terms, whenever we can. We also want to provide a good service and to do that, we aim to see as many applications as possible proceed straight through our underwriting rules engine."

The underwriting rules engine can track the most commonly disclosed conditions and decide if the outcomes shown in the MI are as expected.

For example, in its most recent review, Guardian looked at the top five disclosed conditions to improve access; to increase the numbers offered standard rates and the percentage of clients given immediate underwriting decisions.

"An example would be our change to the ‘anxiety’ rule which is actually the most commonly disclosed condition. In December last year, we noted that the URE made an immediate decision and offer of terms on just over 90 per cent of cases, however we thought the number offered ratings was a bit high.

"We changed the rule so that those who do get an immediate offer of terms from the URE will now get both Life and CI at standard rates, although some will still get a TPD exclusion", Ms MacLean said.