“In 2005 we launched a Canada Life automated self-service system (CLASS), the 1st in the UK Group Risk market. That is a cradle to grave, digital end-to-end administrational reporting system. Just to walk you through that, you can quote on it, you can start a policy, you can make amendments, you can renew, and there are reports available.
This is an engine that fuels the sub 100 SME market, in our view companies with more than 100 employees need greater intervention.”
Insightive.tv: What would be Canada Life’s digital strategy?
Andy: Our digital strategy is based on the customer profile. The technical point here is that a digital insurance system, when you get to the larger employers, will benefit from more manual intervention as I have mentioned.
We have the standard process – with a quotes engine and a business administration platform. For customers with over 100 employees, there are some e-reporting facilities available. But they are not what I would call true digital. For the sub-one-hundred schemes, we have a system called CLASS that makes the whole manual process go away.
One area where I always see the need for personal intervention is in claims assessment because no two claims are the same. With life insurance, it’s easier because you’re either alive or you’re not. But we do long-term disability or group income protection insurance as well as critical illness — so that is an ongoing assessment of someone’s health needs. So I do think that the claims process, in the main, has to be much more personal to the claimant (albeit with opportunities to digitalise certain parts of the process), that’s where a bit more of the judgment and understanding comes in.
Insightive.tv: What challenges does the group insurance provides when it comes to digitalisation?
Andy: We provide specifically group insurance, and the complexity between that and individual insurance are very different in terms of how you digitalise the process. Most individual insurers would, of course, have quite mature digital platforms, whereas most group insurers wouldn’t.
The area we are exploring with our legal team is soft-signatures/digital sign-off on trust & other documentation — for example, a Master Trust or Health declaration. We continue to explore this with our legal team & industry experts.
All of our documentation is as pre-populated as we can make it. The lack of digitalisation is only at one point, and when we have completed our research we will be looking to do digital signatures on all forms.
Insightive.tv: What are the benefits to digitalisation for both individual and group policies?
Andy: What we do is unique. No one does all of the things we do.
We are 93% rated as good or excellent by our advisors — that’s the customer using our technology. I believe that the fact that we can digitally report on all schemes, and we can offer an SME digital solution, are reasons that we are deemed to be so good at service.
There are decreased costs, there’s a reduced policy charge. From an advisor’s perspective, issuing eight insurers with quotes means that they have to review eight quotes, and probably chase up five of those, and then realise three of those are wrong. So for all stages of the value chain, decreased costs and the ability to transact is what the automation provides.
With our systems, there’s a lot of flexibility within it, but you can’t really get it wrong, unless it’s human error uploading some manual data. But, ideally, you have spreadsheets pre-formatted where you automate the upload. Where human error in the standard process can mean that quotes are wrong and manual inputs into anything are wrong.
Digitalisation also means that we get the right information out at the right time. Remember it’s the advisor that is putting all of the information into the system, whereas on the standard forms we might get something wrong, that can’t happen with the digital system because it’s their information.
But we do lots of checks. For example, we check to make sure it’s the right data, we do checks for the absence of data, but the system actually drives good behaviour from an advisor.
Insightive.tv: What are the logistics on how the system is built and maintained?
Andy: We work with a third party with whom we have a long established relationship, NorthDoor. We have the ideas and we use them for the technical specifications and design. We have worked in collaboration with them for 15 plus years because they’re also the third party supplier for our platform that all of our traditional schemes are administered on.
It’s an infrastructure level relationship. We bought all of the source code and we’ve got proprietorial control over what we built on top. So we actually own this system now, albeit it’s licenced through our insurers. It’s quite a complex set of relationships.
Insightive.tv: How do you see things changing in the future?
Andy: As great as our system is, we would never be complacent enough to think it’s the end game. There are still further things that we want to do to improve the customer experience. So although customers get things in an electronic format, I think that we have to look at different ways that digitalisation can help us out. We have a clearly articulated roadmap of development, and there’re three or four big changes I think are going to happen.
I think we will see changes in the ease of purchase using a website. And that’s massively important because that’s the way many people procure. At the moment we wait for an advisor to drive activity. We need to continue to explore the thinking of how advisors can focus on advice for the customer with the provider focussing on administration. We want to make it very easy for customers to buy on the web and start communications digitally.
We want customers to be able to give us real-time information, upload to our system straight away. They should be able to get all the information out of the system that they need at a click of a button. At the moment, that all goes through an intermediary, and I think from an operational efficiency point of view, what really drives the customer journey is enabling them to do that themselves. At the moment they can’t do that because they haven’t got the right permissions to do that. And I think having that opportunity will improve the customer journey for them.
I also think that the technology to do the administration is only the beginning of the story. The ability to use social media and other means of communication — interactive fiction, video, all the new digital stuff that’s happening — means that you have to have a technology communication strand. And that will not only increase customer understanding, but take up of the benefits that we have got.
Having just technology to provide administration, without communication and really thinking through what the customer needs are, isn’t enough. You need all your ducks in a row to run a successful business. It’s not just the technology.
We spoke with Andy Tarzey, Head of Group Operations, to gain insight into how digital contracts have played into success at Canada Life.
Canada Life is one of Canada’s oldest insurance firms, and one of the highest ranked modern insurers for customer satisfaction. They have been operating in the UK since 1903, offering health, life, and disability insurance to both groups and individuals.
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