Survey says…the road ahead looks promising, but technology continues to be a hazard

The results are in from our second annual Enrollment Technology Survey, and guess what? There are really no surprises. The results of our survey of LIMRA Enrollment Technology Conference attendees and others didn’t show large differences with our 2014 survey. But, like a tipping point being reached in a slow arch, some small measures give clues to the direction of insurer initiatives in enrollment plans and enrollment technology.  And unfortunately, technology infrastructure limitations are still standing in the way of insurers being able to execute their growth strategies.

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Moving Out of the Slow Lane

The number of fence sitters has decreased in 2015. More insurers have declared their plans to participate with benefit exchanges. In 2014, only 21% said they were not planning to participate and in 2015 the number has dropped even lower to 16%.  

Those that do participate in enrollment exchanges show a great deal of activity. We didn’t poll insurers in 2014 on how many exchanges they were active with, but they appear very busy today with the majority (42%) reporting they work with more than 10 exchanges and 63% reporting they will engage with 4–10 more exchanges in the next twelve months.  And 32% said that exchanges will generate11-20% of their voluntary sales in the next 18 months, with a further 11% expecting over 20% of their sales from exchanges.

Technology Limitations Continue To Slow Progress

While there is good velocity towards integrating with enrollment platforms, it is not easily done. Almost identical to our 2014 result, 60% cited not having “a system infrastructure that can integrate with multiple distribution channels” as the #1 impediment to participating with exchanges. Number two, having the right mix of products for exchanges and, number three, being able to adapt product and underwriting rules to exchanges, each registered as significantly lower barriers.

Taking the Horse and Buggy to Market 

Technology problems rear their unruly heads again when insurers are asked “what is the greatest impediment to new product launches?” Respondents were quite unanimous in citing technology infrastructure as the greatest impediment. Organizations appeared more confident in their ability to market and sell into the emerging channels.

The consequence is a toll on speed to market. In fact, with 58% now reporting it takes 12-18 months to launch a new product, the average time to market is greater than what was reported in 2014.

Technology Gets Up to Speed           

It is evident that the value of connecting with customers has become a critical driver across a multitude of industries, and has become increasingly paramount for voluntary benefits carriers. It stands to reason that technology must keep pace with these broadened initiatives too.

Greater connectivity to markets, product innovation and speed-to-market go hand-in-hand in a market that is in a state of flux like voluntary benefits.  A flexible, configuration-based system infrastructure is a key enabler for carriers to be able to navigate an ever changing market and it  only follows that carriers repeatedly state system infrastructure as their number one impediment to success. For early adopters, the competitive advantages are significant.

For a full copy of the survey, please email info@eisgroup.com.