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Industry Voices Vol. II: Trailblazing the Insurance Landscape

Tim Cerimele, Director of National Accounts,   NoyoTim Cerimele, Director of National Accounts, Noyo
A common thread runs through the spectrum of insurance industry leaders faced with the encroaching pressure of technological advancement: to adapt or not to adapt? At Noyo, we believe the question is not whether to adapt as much as how to adapt. And once again, we are not alone in this thinking.

In the previous edition of Industry Voices, we shared insight from leaders who observed that trending digital solutions and consumer expectations have brought many benefits companies to the breaking point in the management of their digital infrastructure. Now we’ve gathered more opinions to clarify one thing: how do industry leaders handle the call to innovate?

The Risk of Being Left Behind

It is clear that the insurance industry is moving forward with technological efficiency—and consumers are driving the charge. With smaller companies now having access to much more powerful tools which level the playing field, digital insurance solutions are seeing the same tech revolution that fintech experienced.

“Our top producers drive the conversation with our platforms,” explains Jake Bendler, Director of National Accounts at Ameritas, “and while historically the same components of the sales cycle—quoting, marketing, selling, installing, renewing—could have tremendous overlap and cost implications, adopting new technologies as a carrier provides a lens to assure our customers who’s doing what, and how much they’re doing it for.”

The consequences of lagging behind, both where business and technology are concerned, are heavy. Profits go down, business shrinks, and market share is gradually captured by other companies who are willing to implement new trends. Technology also becomes irrelevant and outdated, and is unable to interact with newer systems. This fails to serve a critical component in the insurance playing field: growing consumer expectations.

Dean Del Vecchio, CIO and Chief of Operations at Guardian, likens this evolving mindset to the use of everyday technology around the globe.

“Carriers should be thinking about how in just about every aspect of a consumer’s life, they are able to easily manage complex tasks from a mobile app on their phone,” Del Vecchio points out. “Consumers expect and want insurance to be the same way.”

Indeed, the desire for simple digital insurance solutions is an enormous consideration for modern buyers: “Consumers today expect the ease and speed they experience in retail transactions to be the same when they use their insurance,” says Patrick Brassil, Director of Operations at Brella.

Ultimately, error-prone legacy systems are unable to meet the demands of the industry today. Those who innovate first not only secure their business in more ways than one, but also gain a head-start in the shifting insurance space. Mike Ganoni, Channel Development Lead at Humana, believes quick feet and an open mind are necessary for the changing landscape. “Carriers need to be thinking about the future and not simply the trends they are experiencing today,” he states. “As new generations enter the workforce, they will challenge carriers to rethink routine and carriers need to be ready and able to easily adapt to these new expectations.”

The rallying call, then, is that payers, ben-admins, and employers all must make the most of new technology before the industry carries away the opportunities.

Foresight: Keeping Up With Industry Trends

More and more, the speed of the changing times requires a near-constant gaze on the future of the industry.

Seeing the need to be proactive by anticipating change, Mike Ganoni further stresses that carriers must be receptive to feedback from their consumers and distributors while being prepared to integrate with partners to meet the shifting demands of payers. “In order for carriers to stay ahead of these consumer trends,” he says, “they need to be agile and look toward other industries to determine what trends to prepare for.”

Dean Del Vecchio echoes Mike’s thoughts: “Forward-thinking insurance carriers are embracing a consumer-centric approach, and customer experience is the key. Leading carriers should work to meet customers where they are and offer solutions that simplify and bring real, tangible value to the relationship.” Dean also suggests finding better ways to understand customers, such as connecting and partnering with other industry innovators and dedicating internal teams specifically to find areas to innovate and improve system performances.

Staying Quick On Your Feet—What is the Answer?

Adopting and integrating new technology solutions into your business is the only viable way to stay relevant as benefits platforms become progressively more vital to the user (and carrier) experience. The primary answer: API-driven connectivity.

“Benefits solutions finally feel like they are entering the digital age,” says Daniel Horowitz, CTO and Co-founder of Smylen. “Behind the scenes much of this is still managed with duct tape, glue, and EDI, but the backend will eventually catch up and move to API as the consumer demands more speed and functionality.”

Patrick Brassil believes the key to meeting modern user expectations is to create a positive insurance experience through the straightforward-yet-powerful interactions APIs provide. “The first step is to create simpler insurance products that members want to use,” he says. “The next step is to build delightful enrollment and claims experiences powered by digital technology. For most insurance companies that will require investing in integrated or centralized systems that make member data available throughout the member journey.”

If designed correctly, APIs unlock access to high-value member data that was previously trapped in files, spurring product innovation, generating new business insights, and enabling more experimentation. They also increase the speed at which benefits administration workflows can be completed, cut down on coverage-impacting errors, and make it simple for new partners on opposite ends of the ecosystem to interact.
In the end, versatile platforms with seamless multi-way connectivity will have an edge over their competitors. That means businesses on both sides of the insurance spectrum will seek out ways to increase their value and stand out amongst the crowd...but they’ll have to be smart when deciding who to partner with and why.

Conclusion: Integration, Accessibility, Capability

The statements shared above make one thing clear: in order to keep up with an evolving insurance ecosystem, APIs should be embraced for their invaluable accuracy, efficiency, and versatility. Without them, the age-old practices of the benefits services of yesterday would be unable to match the growing need for fast and personalized benefits programs. APIs act as both the disruptor and the savior for insurance companies everywhere.
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