RFI and RFP Resources
Usability, Accessibility, and Configurability in a SaaS-Based Portal Package
No matter the line of business, the successful implementation of portals can be a game-changer. With ever-changing market conditions and increasing consumer expectations for service and accessibility, insurers are scrambling to upgrade, enhance or replace legacy systems. The need to accommodate shifts in business model, evolving distribution channels, and speed-to-market challenges means portals are often put on the back burner, left to wait for after the legacy modernization is complete and insurers are ready for the next step.
The aspect often overlooked in that scenario is that modern portal solutions are built to be highly-flexible, easily configurable, and platform agnostic. Portals can actually be used to bridge the gaps in existing legacy systems and extend both life and usefulness for resource-starved insurers. This means there are benefits to be gained from portals for insurers at every stage of the game; before, during, and after a legacy modernization initiative.
SaaS-based portal solutions, in particular, have the flexibility needed to help insurers achieve better speed-to-market, revenue growth, and true scalability and redundancy, at a fraction of the cost that insurers previously invested.
Business users have long lamented the inability to quickly design and launch new products and make changes to existing products because of system constraints and lack of IT resourcing. If insurers had the power to deliver the right products to the right place at the right time, a tremendous competitive edge could be gained. Unfortunately, while many “new” technology solutions claim to empower insurers with speed-to-market capabilities, most are simply empty promises that fail to deliver, and still require significant IT involvement and technical work.
True SaaS portals, however, are the real deal, offering robust, self-service policy processing functionality for agents and clients through easy-to-use, web and mobile interfaces. Such portals can be implemented with screen-based configuration tools that eliminate coding and scripting, and can be delivered in weeks instead of months or years. A strong portal solution can also be used in a standalone capacity as a tactical solution to prototype and test new products and distribution channels without having to build all the downstream processing capability.
Portals offer a range of benefits to help underwriters drive revenue growth. Further, the empowerment of agents and clients with real-time, self-service tools is often the differentiating factor in the selection of an insurer as the “carrier of choice.” If the portal offers strong collaboration capabilities, then the traditional underwriter-agent relationship is replaced with one that is more responsive.
As routine tasks are managed via the portal`s self-service tools, resources are freed to focus on business development, thereby improving the customer experience and operational efficiency. Of course, fully-automated quote, bind, pay and issue solutions offer the ultimate panacea—opening up new distribution channels, turning underwriters into program administrators and making it possible to offer low premium, high volume products on a profitable basis.
True Scalability and Redundancy
The benefit of SaaS traditionally viewed as most attractive to insurer IT groups is the ability to launch at low cost without a large outlay of capital for servers, IT infrastructure or professional services, and add processing power on demand, at peak times, or as volume grows. For small to mid-tier insurers, this means being able to react and respond at a moment's notice to policyholder needs while matching costs to revenues. SaaS removes a huge question mark when considering the launch of a new program.
Another key benefit of SaaS is redundancy, which is important in part because the unexpected nature of severe weather events has caught more than one insurer unprepared. SaaS-based portal solutions provide built-in data redundancy, disaster recovery and business continuity benefits.
With the current focus on core policy systems replacement, many carriers have delayed work on their portals with the expectation that the new policy systems will facilitate portal implementations with modern interface tools. While this logic sounds practical, the lack of a flexible, friendly self-service platform for agents and clients stands to cost insurers dearly during the lengthy legacy modernization process, as consumers are establishing new relationships with competitors that can offer those capabilities right now.
The piece of the puzzle often overlooked is that modern portal platforms are extremely flexible, easily configurable, and platform agnostic. Portals can be used as interim solutions to “fill in the gaps” in existing systems, offering rating, rules, documents, payment processing, and more, essentially extending the life and usefulness of a legacy system to insurers. These immediate benefits insulate insurers from the threat of client base erosion during multi-year policy administration systems modernization projects and then serve as a platform for the launch of new features that the new policy systems can enable.
SaaS-based portal solutions, in particular, have the flexibility needed to help insurers achieve better speed-to-market, revenue growth, and cost-effective scalability.
Mitchell Wasserman is the CEO for Oceanwide. He can be reached for further comment or information at email@example.com.