Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life have launched a web-based platform that accepts electronic applications for all products. Since July 14, advisors can use New Business Now to obtain instant policy issue via a real-time link to the underwriter.More and more insurers are offering automated underwriting, and are rolling out electronic platforms for one or more of their products. Great-West is taking the lead with the first real-time environment that bundles all these features in a single system. Advisors can now procure the whole line of Great-West and subsidiaries’ life insurance and living benefits products online.
The new Great-West Web application integrates many of the steps of the sales process between advisors and clients. The system automatically generates additional appropriate questionnaires based on the answers given in the electronic application, for example the form for sports or dangerous activities. Information entered in the application is then sent directly to the underwriter.
The company and its subsidiaries expect New Business Now to reduce policy issue time by 33%. “Today, a policy can take on average 30 days to issue. The new system will reduce this time to 20 days. A case that would have taken five days to approve in the traditional model can now be approved the same day or the next day, said Phil Marsillo, senior vice-president, distribution at Canada Life, in an interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal.
Lighter workloads for advisors and fewer levels accelerate lead times, Mr. Marsillo adds. “As soon as an advisor transmits a proposal via the Web, it reaches the underwriter’s office, and requests for paramedical or attending physician reports are sent immediately. The advisor doesn’t have to do any of that.”
Advisors do not need to pay to use the system. They can connect via their tablet or computer and receive e-mail updates on the progress of the client’s file on their smart phone. The client information does not remain on their computer; it is housed in the cloud. Great-West lets advisors choose between the cloud model or the traditional method of transmitting a paper application and exchanging information with the underwriter by telephone, Marsillo says.
Generation Y is not alone in finding this model appealing. “Regardless of their age or number of years in the industry, most advisors who tried our system found it very easy to use,” Marsillo says. Many expected older advisors to balk at the application. “In fact, the opposite was true. They told us it was about time that we came up with a solution like this,” he adds.
The system responds to the client’s declarations and refines applications during the process. In simple cases, that is those without sensitive information, policies can be issued instantly. The Canada Life website gives the example of a healthy insured age 45 who buys life insurance of under $250,000, the maximum amount for instant approval in life insurance. The limit is $50,000 for critical illness insurance and $1,500 in monthly benefits for disability insurance.
Another upside of the electronic application is that it cannot be transmitted if incomplete, Marsillo adds. “Underwriters get all the information they need to make their decisions. On paper, we don’t always have enough details.” Depending on the client’s replies, additional questions pop up as the advisor completes the application. “A Yes to a question about hypertension leads to other questions: Are you being treated by a doctor? What is the doctor’s name? Do you take drugs? If so, which and how frequently?” he explains. Similarly, clients who travel abroad will be asked about the destination, frequency and reasons. “If the client says no, we go to the next question.”
New Business Now is also a cross-selling tool, Marsillo points out. “Clients can apply for more than one product at a time – life, critical illness or disability. If they are accepted for individual life insurance, they can obtain instant approval for $100,000 in Term 10 critical illness insurance, for example. This will enhance advisors’ conversations with clients,” he says.
When the advisor closes the transaction, the electronic signature can be transmitted on the tablet by touch or stylus. On laptops, it will be the client’s name plus the last four digits of the application. A confirmation e-mail is then sent to the client and a copy to the advisor. Clients can pay the initial premium by credit card. They can also pay by Interac and set up preauthorized withdrawals for subsequent premiums.
This model is aimed to meet advisors’ and managing general agencies’ demand for less paperwork. It also eases recruitment of Generation Y clients and their advisor cohorts, who are used to working with tablets, Marsillo explains. “We are making their life easier. New Business Now will bring new people to the industry, and we expect our sales to grow.”