By Carolyn McAvinn, FLMI, AALU, PMC-IVJune 3, 2022
With more than two years passing since we last gathered together, I think we can all agree that AHOU 2022 felt a little different than years past as we all re-adjusted to the live conference scene. It was great finally getting to see everyone in person and kudos to all of our industry colleagues that invested hours in the development of the content!
Beyond being our first in-person event in quite some time, the conference was also different regarding the nature of the session content. In 2019, the content was highly focused on automation and acceleration and how best to process new digital data tools for quicker decisions, at lower price points while preserving mortality results. In 2022, while many of the sessions continued to focus on the digital data transformation within our industry, the discussions also made it clear that we have come a long way. The dialogue this time around had a strong emphasis on the learnings of the last two years, reflecting the industry’s accelerated use of these tools during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Personally, I was excited about the positive momentum and industry chatter about electronic health data and the upward trends of usability.
Here are some key takeaways from AHOU, based on the sessions as well as the things our member carriers are saying and demonstrating:
Growing acceptance that digital data transformation is a continuous improvement process
Several of the session speakers promoted a progress vs perfection mindset regarding emerging data tools. Setting and communicating appropriate expectations, and providing allowances for ramp up time, is a strong key to the success of data integration. Those who understand that a new data tool will perform at less than 100% capacity in early years, and communicate that to underwriter users, always have a better experience.
Developing trust of electronic medical data to deliver what is needed to successfully assess risk
One of our members shared their success in leveraging electronic medical data to effectively expedite underwriting a $20M case where an APS would have taken a month.
Case had largely been underwritten during the informal process and was ready to issue when the underwriter learned of a recent medical visit, which was missing from the underwriting file.
One month backlog before paper files could be copied and sent by attending physician.
By pivoting to MIB Electronic Medical Data Service, the team was able to find the records they needed, approve the $20M case and demonstrate a positive life insurance buying experience for both the producer and end consumer.
Improvement of decisional use (usability/sufficiency) rates
During the session about emergency underwriting data, a large member carrier publicly shared that they are seeing improvement in the usefulness of the data and a decisional use rate of 40%. Other member carriers with strong leadership support have shared a rate as high as 70%!
Expanded adoption by underwriters is strongly aligned to leadership engagement and a robust change management process
There is a distinct relationship between decisional use rates and the level of support and engagement provided by leaders. If underwriters are allowed to determine when they will break old habits and use new digital tools, they will often default to what is familiar, stalling change.
Holding underwriters accountable by tracking and monitoring the ordering and use of digital data is key to high adoption.
An open mindset to use case adoption beyond APS replacement
While many carriers start their use of electronic medical data as an APS replacement for new case underwriting, I continue to hear success stories about other opportunities. Once carriers gain a little comfort with electronic data and start seeing the benefits it can bring, they begin to expand their thinking to other use cases such as policy change/reinstatements, claim review, acceleration triage etc.
I continue to remain optimistic about the many innovation opportunities our industry has yet to discover. As a community, we will do our part to close the protection gap for families. We will make a difference.
Carolyn McAvinn is the Director of Underwriting Innovations for MIB. Prior to joining MIB in late 2018, she held various underwriting roles supporting multiple companies, product lines and distribution platforms. These included underwriting management, direct line production underwriting in the life, disability and long-term care markets and assisting with the development of underwriting engine automation and accelerated underwriting programs. Carolyn is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts - Amherst and currently serves as a board member of the MUD (Metropolitan Underwriting Discussion) Group in NYC.