Paul Avis, Natalie Summerson and Bill Eddolls on improving customer experience with underwriting technology – MAF182

This week, I’m welcoming back Paul Avis to the show for the fifth time along with his colleagues Natalie Summerson and Bill Eddolls.

We talk about how technology has transformed the once lengthy and complex underwriting process into something more customer friendly.

It’s a deep dive into the world of financial services and protection insurance.

Welcome to episode 182 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Paul Avis, Natalie Summerson and Bill Eddolls on improving customer experience with underwriting technology - MAF182

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • How the underwriting process has changed over the years, from simple in the 1980s to complex in the 2000s
  • The three main reasons customers drop out of applying for protection insurance
  • Fixing the frustrations of long waits for General Practitioners Reports
  • Cutting back on questions to make shorter, more understandable applications forms
  • Pints and glasses not “units” – Talking the customer’s language
  • Putting the customer at the heart of the journey, not the Actuary

Who Paul, Natalie and Bill?

Paul Avis is Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance. A keen sportsman, Paul notes his interests as Bath Rugby, Somerset Cricket, Swindon Town Football, Diving, and Skiing. Natalie Summerson is National Sales Manager for Canada Life Individual Protection. As well as being passionate about protection insurance, Natalie enjoys keeping fit and entertaining her friends and family. Bill Eddolls is a Development Underwriter at Canada Life Individual Protection. A father of three, Bill’s hobbies include walking the dog and supporting his children’s sporting interests: hockey, kickboxing and playing football for Bristol City Academy.

Summary of our chat

Back in the 1980s underwriting was simple. Application forms were short. Over the last 30 years companies have added many pages of questions. And they’ve made the process longer. Getting General Practitioner’s reports can still take longer than 30 days.

Also when people get a quote for protection insurance, they are often disappointed to find they end up paying more after underwriting. This all adds up to a process that frustrates the customer rather than engages them.

Canada Life are at the forefront of changing customer experience using underwriting technology. Back in 2002 they introduced the CLASS (Canada Life Application Self Service) system for group protection insurance. In 2014, with the rest of Canada Life focussing on Pensions Freedoms, the Group team lent their expertise to individual protection underwriting.

Their research found there were three reasons why customers drop out of applying for a protection product:

  • Question sets are too long. At over 32 pages (and that’s on paper, online might appear more) people get fed up with intrusive questions
  • The price they got from a “Quick Quote” system is not the same as they end up paying after they apply. One in three people find the price goes up after underwriting
  • Processing can take many weeks, often over a month if the insurance company needs a GP report.

Natalie and Bill talk about how Canada Life have tried to solve these problems. They’ve cut the number of questions by 40% and introduced simpler language. For example whilst most companies ask people how many “units of alcohol” they drink, Canada Life talk about pints and glasses. When was the last time you went into the pub and asked fro 2 units of alcohol?

They’ve brought in tele-interviews instead of GP reports and now 80% of their applications go on risk within 20 minutes.

Insurance companies have in the past resisted cutting questions or dumping the GP report for fear of putting up the price of cover. But Paul say, “We’ve put the customer at the heart of what we do, not the actuary.”

Links and contact details

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