Differentiated products and services are key to growth among life and annuity carriers. Underwriters are poised to help drive this new growth, but they need the right tools and training. Insurers have already invested in a host of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and automation. Now they need to invest in the people who use those technologies. In short, insurers need to reimagine the role of underwriters by integrating technology with human ingenuity so they can add to the insurance value chain. What will reimagined underwriters look like? They will be technology-savvy masters of data. They will know how to use new underwriting platforms that include built-in data analytics and predictive models. They will leverage their skills to provide deeper insights and improve underwriting efficiency, without compromising robust risk management.
Preparing a future-ready underwriting workforce
But they’re not there yet: underwriter skillsets lag behind the new technologies. The value of technology is limited if people don’t know how to use it properly. Insurers must find ways to make their workforce fit into their reimagined roles, prepared to work in a new era of intelligent insurance dominated by data, AI, and automation.
There are different ways to strategically invest in a talent strategy that delivers a future-ready workforce. One is to adopt a four-point holistic model of talent sourcing that includes:
- investing in the existing workforce,
- borrowing talent from external talent pools,
- automating tasks using bots and AI,
- buying talent, either individuals or acquiring organizational functions.
The good news is that underwriters are eager to learn. More than 90 percent of underwriters we surveyed late last year cited improved training and skills development as a priority.
But insurers will need to re-evaluate their current training models. The existing apprenticeship model helps novice underwriters build competency by working alongside experienced underwriters on simple life insurance cases. As AI and automation increasingly handle these easier cases through a direct-to-consumer sales channel, insurers will need to find new ways to train the next generation of underwriting talent.
One approach would be to combine human and machine learning, training underwriters in data analytics capabilities so they can better understand how the data models work and use them to train the machines.
Investing in underwriting talent
Investments in training can generate benefits beyond upskilling the existing workforce. It can also be a powerful recruitment tool. Millennial and Gen Z cohorts, in particular, are seeking out employers who will provide them with marketable, in-demand skills. They also value stability, security and some of the more traditional markers of career success according to Universum 2021. Couple all of that with their positive views of insurtech innovations in health and wellness, and L&A carriers are in a strong position to attract qualified candidates from those talent pools. And what kind of new technologies and underwriting processes might these new hires expect to encounter? Some of the technologies identified as top priorities to drive underwriting efficiency today and over the next three years include modern policy/underwriting platforms; external data, data cleansing and data quality to improve risk selection, fraud prevention/detection; data analytics and management reporting; and robotics process automation.
With the proliferation of AI and automation across the industry, insurers must also consider their talent strategies within the context of business agility. Technology alone is not enough: insurers must also understand how human ingenuity and empathy can best serve their business. They need to understand where AI and automation can enable human ingenuity to flourish.
In the end, to extract maximum value from these many changes, carriers must successfully integrate technology and human ingenuity, allowing each to flourish both together and independently for the benefit of the customer and the business.
Underwriters from our survey said they were optimistic about the technologies their companies have adopted because they see firsthand improvements in underwriting. Let’s ensure these investments reward their optimism by creating business strategies for top-and bottom-line results in addition to upskilling and retaining underwriting talent. Let’s have a conversation about investing in your future-ready underwriting workforce.
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