Underwriting workbenches and the ecosystem imperative
As the insurance industry becomes increasingly digitalised, new and unprecedented technologies are making data more accessible, accurate, and easy to consume, fundamentally altering the way information is exchanged – and the way the industry conducts business.
One such tool is the underwriting workbench. Several vendors offer these “one-stop shop” platforms, which aggregate content from multiple disparate systems, allowing users to easily access and leverage a wide range of data. It’s a game changer for the industry – the ability to present greater volumes of increasingly accurate data in one central environment allows underwriters to make quicker, more informed decisions about whether or not to underwrite a risk.
“An underwriting workbench is an exciting and important technology because it brings everything that underwriters need under a single pane of glass; providing a compelling, clean, intuitive, browser-based (and user-customizable) workspace to enable the management, prioritization of all underwriting cases, tasks and actions with automatic allocation/handoffs,” says Mike O’Donoghue, VP Global Leader, Digital & Automation, Insurance at Genpact. “Done correctly, it provides much more than traditional, simple underwriting submission case creation and tracking.”
“This is genuinely an exciting technology for underwriters,” agrees Matt McGrillis, CTO and co-founder of Send. “An underwriting workbench doesn’t just represent a smarter, more enjoyable way to write business. It drives tangible benefits to insurers. But the decision to implement an Underwriting Workbench shouldn’t be approached in isolation. It’s vital to consult with stakeholders from right across the business, from the underwriters who will use the platform, to the IT teams tasked with implementing it.”
Underwriting workbench deployment makes an interesting case study on how to best leverage new and emerging technologies, and the capabilities they enable. Three core principles to consider are an API-first strategy, data-driven workflows, and consumability of data.
An underwriting workbench gathers data from a wide variety of stakeholders and systems into one interface – which means users must be connected to many different partners across the insurance ecosystem in order to meaningfully integrate this technology.
An API-driven real-time data exchange platform, such as ACORD Solutions Group’s ADEPT, facilitates this interoperability of systems. Any sender can connect to any receiver through connection to the platform, ensuring the mutual validation of data and enhancing the flow of information.
“What we call our ‘central data environment’ uses our own analytics, AI and machine learning, and integrates these with a range of data sources, client and third-party APIs, all to drive better informed and more timely underwriting decisions,” notes Ian Summers, Global Business Leader at AdvantageGo. “From an underwriter’s perspective, this point is really about the receipt of validated data. ACORD Data Standards are applied via ADEPT, which is a great way to reduce the risk of errors and omissions, reduce enquiry loops, and accelerate how fast you can unlock value from data. This is what will drive more intelligent risk selection and ensure that underwriters are only covering what they believe they are covering at the point of bind.”
By implementing an “API-first” strategy and leveraging tools that enable connection to a multitude of partners, underwriters will have quicker access to greater volumes of data, which allows them to make more informed decisions about whether to renew or take on a new risk.
With enhanced connectivity and more data available to users of an underwriting workbench solution, a common language through which partners can communicate and exchange information is essential. Through a standardised workflow, a sender knows the format in which to pass along data to a receiver, who is better equipped to make sense of the information.
Particularly relevant to underwriting workbenches is standardised placing data. Electronic placing standards were added in 2021 to the ACORD Global Reinsurance & Large Commercial Standards, which are being adopted across the London Market as part of the Blueprint Two initiative. Adhering to data standards allows the seamless, digital exchange of information between the underwriting workbench and other applications within the enterprise, as well as with external parties such as brokers.
“ACORD Standards provide a common framework for data exchange and interoperability within the insurance industry. We have incorporated these standards to ensure seamless integration with other systems,” says McGrillis. “Not only does this reduce manual data entry and ensure consistency, but it enhances and speeds up the overall underwriting process.”
Consumable Data Is Key
New and emerging technologies have not only streamlined connectivity and increased the volume of data available to industry stakeholders – they have also allowed users to access information that they may not have been able to before. But with so much data available from a wide variety of different sources in a range of different formats, consumption of this data – even when it populates in one control panel – can become complicated.
To meaningfully integrate an underwriting workbench solution or any similar technology, insurers must account for the many formats in which data can be sent, as well as any variabilities or errors in the data. Document digitisation tools such as ACORD Transcriber are a powerful resource for this. By automating the digital download, population, and extraction of data in insurance industry forms, ACORD Transcriber enables users to easily ingest information even from highly unstructured documents like MRCs.
“It is critical to make sure your underwriting workbench can integrate easily and seamlessly with best-of-breed technologies for intelligent document extraction, document generation, and similar capabilities,” says O’Donoghue. “Genpact is very proud to be the first ACORD Solutions Group Licensed Integrator Partner to have successfully integrated ACORD Transcriber MRC extraction into our underwriting workbench, which we have included in live demonstrations to our customers with very positive results.”
Stakeholders who integrate a document digitisation solution into their underwriting workbench can more efficiently consume the wide range of data – including that which they previously could not access or leverage in a timely manner, if at all – that the workbench requires.
Integrating an Underwriting Workbench Solution
The underwriting workbench is driving significant efficiencies for underwriters across the industry by making data more available, more abundant, and more timely. But these solutions cannot stand alone. “Nearly everybody in the market grasps that the insurance industry is going through major digital convergence,” says Summers. “As an application, our underwriting workbench needs to connect as seamlessly as possible with the wider marketplace.”
It is the capabilities and resources that streamline the use of these tools, enhance the quality of data flow, and enable greater connectivity between partners that will prove crucial to their integration – and increase their impact.