This series has been good. I hope it has helped advance the insurance e-business climate in some way. So now we’re on the last of the 5-part Series. Previously, we talked about attracting visitors to insurance Web sites through Search Engine Marketing, giving the visitor what he is looking for — quote and “Apply Now” choices, and then arranging the application process for the highest completion rates.

Let’s take it one logical step further — now that you have that insured in your system, let them print out policy documents and make selected policy changes.

E-issue (electronic issue) is the ability for an enrollee to print out their own policy materials, including a

  • welcome letter
  • policy book
  • benefits summary
  • ID cards — Medicare, Major Medical, Pharmacy, Dental, Vision, etc.
  • claim forms
  • and other documents relating to the policy they bought.

A sophisticated e-issue system will use the data stored behind the user ID and password to automatically fill-in the documents unique to the insured, on demand. Then the member just prints them to their local printer. They can also save them to a file, e-mail them, whatever.

Our clients have found that a lot of time and money are saved through this process as opposed to mailing out hard copies, and re-mailing them when the insured inevitably loses them. Plus, people like to control their own destiny. They are happy to use their own printer on their own schedule as needed. As an insurer, you don’t have to fear that the insured will think poorly of you for not mailing out the documents as they may have experienced in the past – a common worry in insurance company operations. Quite the contrary – they’ll understand you’re trying to save money and make things more efficient. It’s just a smarter way to do it, right? E-Issue builds retention and provides competitive advantage, no doubt about it.

Online Policy Maintenance, or OPM, also puts customer self-service to work for the insurance company. Now, before you go Spreewell and start choking me, I’ll be the first to admit that not all customer service functions are suitable for OPM. However, many are. Customers are more than willing to go on-line to change an address, update a policy to reflect family changes, or change a benefit level because they got a raise at work or had a baby. Heck, I’m doing my banking on-line — I’m sure going to be OK making a change to my life policy.

Obviously, this is a great tool for an insurance company:

  • Every time an insured does the work, it reduces the staff requirement to handle routine service issues.
  • It provides credibility for the insurance carrier. Why switch carriers if the one currently enrolled with provides such easy maintenance?
  • And OPM offers the carrier another chance to cross-sell or up-sell its other products every time an insured visits the Web site. More traffic is always better.

So again, with sophisticated online functionality like E-issue and Online Policy Maintenance, good things happen for both the insured, carrier, and agent.

One last ‘dig’ on doing these things in-house as the vast majority of insurance carriers are prone to do today. It is next to impossible for in-house technology folks to support the back-end system while trying to design and support an e-commerce site – and also stay on top of new technology developments at the same time. New technologies are coming out every day that further enhance insurance e-business concepts. It is extremely challenging to stay on top of all that.

That is where IdeaStar comes in. Not only do our clients get the current best practices built into their Web sites, but IdeaStar Insurance Technologies also stays on top of new insurance technology developments.

Call (800) 766-2635 x116 or write us as you consider insurance e-business development as part of your marketing strategy.