The future of underwriting: adapting fairly in a new global environment


Dennis Woollett

Meeting community expectations is of the utmost importance for the life insurance industry, as it continues to experience significant and rapid change. As medical procedures and treatments continue to advance, we must continue to update insurance underwriting approaches guided by these new insights, and backed by evidence-based data.

Underwriting is the first experience that customers have with their insurer, however the process can, at times, be extensive and complex. During this time of mass disruption, insurers have an opportunity to review and enhance the underwriting process for the benefit of customers.

The impact of COVID-19 on the role of underwriters

The COVID-19 pandemic has had the potential to considerably impact the underlying risks of customers. For example, it has led to new definitions of employment and different financial situations. As a result, a fundamental evolution of underwriting is taking place. Driven by the need to enhance the customer experience and improve digital capabilities, the shift has expanded the role of underwriting.

At TAL, we are continually reviewing our underwriting guidelines to better understand the risks, and adapt to any changes that are needed – ensuring we act in line with our underwriting and risk management principles, whilst bringing the best possible outcome to customers.

The evolution of underwriting will ultimately lead to a stronger industry

To better support you and your clients, at TAL we’re driving greater consistency into our underwriting decisions enabling more constant underwriting outcomes. This consistency has also helped our assessment of the overall risk of our customer base, and we work closely with our Health Services team to continually reassess and adapt our processes in light of the current pandemic.

One positive from COVID-19, is that technology is evolving at a rapid pace. The benefits of teleinterviewing and tele-underwriting are widely known to save you and your customers’ time and effort, and take-up of these services is on the rise. AI machine learning also continues to be reviewed and explored as a tool to assist insurers better assess what options may be available for customers.

For the industry to continue moving forward, insurers must communicate any significant underwriting process changes with advisers. This may help to provide confidence and reassurance in client conversations.

At TAL, we have always believed in sharing informative tools through our adviser portal to help explain and provide advisers with confidence in our underwriting approach.

Looking ahead

Technology will continue to play a key role in improving insurer processes, helping to shift underwriting to a more strategic and customer-oriented focus. We, as insurers, have a responsibility to be leaders in delivering high quality outcomes for customers. Now more than ever, we must be transparent with advisers and advocate for quality financial advice.

By Dennis Woollett, Head of Underwriting Operations

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