- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

2020: Winning in the Digital Revolution of Insurance

By Steve Whitelaw, Vice President – Industry & Partner Relations, Applied Systems

Technology, consumer demand, new competition, and changing market dynamics are revolutionizing the insurance industry. The increased pace of innovation and change has challenged traditional insurance practices and created a new age of insurance defined by greater connectivity and automation. Technology and innovation are creating unprecedented opportunity to generate greater operational efficiencies and more value for your business.

In the digital revolution of insurance, we should be thinking about transforming our approach to how insurance is marketed, sold, distributed and serviced in ways that put the customer first. And we should be asking ourselves, “How can we take advantage of technology to delight our customers, sell them the right products at the right times, and work in ways that make our staff more efficient and engaged?”

Our data shows that brokerages that fully commit to digital, including using a foundational brokerage management system, operating in the cloud, extending self-service to customers and staff through technology like portals and mobile apps, and connecting with their insurer partners directly from their management system, experience 158% higher revenue per employee compared to brokers who do not leverage digital technology. These are compelling proof points that investing in technology – smartly and with the right partner – is well worth the money and the effort.

Think about the digital revolution of insurance and how it can provide value to your business in three areas:

  • The Digital Brokerage: practical innovation to help you run your business smartly with digital connectivity, automation, and expanded products.
  • The Digital Ecosystem: the need for closer and more valuable partnerships between insurers and their distribution partners, so that both realize even greater value from the other.
  • The Digital Future: technology is changing rapidly, and in the years to come we will see widespread adoption of technology that will radically alter the insurance landscape.

The Digital Brokerage

There are three core characteristics of the Digital Brokerage that work together cohesively to support your digital growth strategy. Each of these characteristics provides the core capabilities needed to operate more efficiently, make more informed business decisions, build better insurer relationships, improve customer service, and accelerate growth and profitability across all lines of business. These three characteristics are:

  • Digital connectivity to policyholders to improve customer experience
  • Digital automation within an agency to drive efficiency
  • And digital connectivity to insurers to drive intelligent interaction

Data shows that digital brokerages achieve a 15% increase in their organic growth rate compared to non-digital brokers; and they grow more profitably, gaining $150-200K in annual cost savings. By becoming a Digital Brokerage, your technology comes together to enable greater efficiency and value through automated workflows, integrated customer communications, and advanced insurer connectivity at each stage of the insurance lifecycle.

As we move into 2020, you have the opportunity to evaluate your digital strategies, assessing where you might be able to expand automation to grow your business in ways such as enabling your brokerage to diversify, by growing into commercial lines or Benefits, for example. You may also look to digital technology to enable more roles such as sales and marketing.

The Digital Brokerage involves much more than standard functions like automating policy transactions and accounting – this model can provide ease of doing business for other areas of your brokerage so you can focus on more revenue-generating tasks.

The Digital Ecosystem

It’s no secret that the insurance ecosystem is shifting. We are seeing new players entering the market and new moves being made by existing players. In this time of change, the relationship between insurers and brokerage partners is more important than ever.

Brokerages must take advantage of technology and connectivity to create digital workflows and interactions at each stage of the insurance lifecycle, enabling more effective collaboration with insurers. Consider these three steps of the insurance lifecycle to increase insurer connectivity and create value for your business:

  • First, a brokerage management system with integrated insurer connectivity enables you to eliminate manual, time-consuming work while providing a simple, digital application experience.
  • Second, an automated submission and renewal process allows for new and remarketing of existing policies, eliminating time spent and reducing E&O that can come with rekeying information into disparate systems.
  • Last, brokerages require the ability to automate the exchange of policy-related information from insurer systems into the management system to ensure the most accurate information is available for servicing. Secure, single sign-on enables brokerages to retrieve insurance company account status information, including billing, claims, policy and first notice of loss directly within the management system.

Looking towards the future, you have the opportunity to prioritize digital initiatives in order to gain the greatest collaboration and transparency with your insurer partners.

The Digital Future

Now, let’s shift our gaze from the present to the near future. The pace of innovation is fast and getting faster, and deciding how and when you should adopt new things can feel overwhelming. It is your technology provider’s role to make this complexity simpler, enabling you to adopt the right technologies that will revolutionize the way you manage your business.

Whether it’s implementing a foundational management system, adopting customer self-service portals and mobile apps, or setting up digital connectivity with insurers, the opportunities abound for brokerages that are ready to digitally transform. Moreover, the digital future holds exciting opportunities for innovation to remake the insurance industry into a better, more valuable ecosystem for all of us.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data supply us with even more opportunities than imaginable. For insurance specifically, the opportunities to put these powerful capabilities to work will be revolutionary.

What if you had the power of AI at your fingertips to recommend the right product – the type of coverage, the amount of coverage, the expected price of that coverage, and the optimal provider of that coverage – for each of your prospects and customers at the point of sale? Or what if machine learning could help insurers and brokerages better align based on size of business opportunities and underwriting focus to mutually drive profitable growth?

While our industry hasn’t yet taken advantage of many of these opportunities, the race to get them to market is heating up. The digital future holds exciting opportunities for innovation to remake the insurance industry into a better, more valuable ecosystem for all of us. As you make your way into the Digital Future, you have the opportunity to look to your software provider to empower you with the tools to compete and succeed.

For those not yet on the path of digital transformation, the time to start that journey is now. In doing so, you will increase your competitiveness and improve your ability to meet the needs of today’s customers – while laying a foundation for future success in the Digital Revolution of Insurance.

To begin your digital transformation, start by completing the Applied Digital Brokerage Survey to measure your brokerage’s digital score and see how it compares with the national average. This survey has been developed to provide a benchmark to assist brokerages with their digital strategy and deployment of technology to capitalize on the digital revolution of insurance. By completing this survey, you will receive the Digital Brokerage Survey Findings Report to assist you in developing your brokerage’s digital transformation strategy.

Take the Applied Digital Brokerage Survey

About The Author

Steve Whitelaw is the Vice President of Industry & Partner Relations at Applied Systems. He brings more than 20 years of leadership experience within the insurance industry to the global enterprise insurance software marketplace.

About Applied Systems

Applied Systems is the leading global provider of cloud-based software that powers the business of insurance. Recognized as a pioneer in insurance automation and the innovation leader, Applied is the world’s largest provider of agency and brokerage management systems, serving customers throughout the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom. By automating the insurance lifecycle, Applied’s people and products enable millions of people around the world to safeguard and protect what matters most. For more information, please visit

Applied Rating Index is a trademark of Applied Systems, Inc. All data is fully anonymized when aggregating and analyzing the Applied Rating Index.

SOURCE: Applied Systems