Issues and Solutions to Commission Accounting

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By Ken Leibow

Published in NAILBA Now Newsletter

November  2019

 

Commission Accounting Systems have been around since the mid-1980s. They are usually found as a standalone system, and having three main purposes:

  1. Commission Reconciliation (Did you get paid as expected?)
  2. Tracking Payables (Track out-of-house deals with top producers on modal premium)
  3. Know your score card (Report on your income by line of business, carrier, and top producers)

Current Issues
There are two challenges with commission accounting systems. The first challenge is setting up carrier commission schedules, assigning those contracts to agents and then building hierarchies. In the Life Brokerage General Agency (BGA) channel for example, the average BGA is writing business with 20 + carriers and each carrier has several Life and Annuity products. Each product has rules like commission banding by year (first year & renewals), banding by age, target and excess premium commission rates on UL products etc. Carriers offer BGAs several commission levels that a BGA can use for their hierarchy downlines. Setting up these commission schedules is a lot of manual work. Even if a system offers tools and resources to build and maintain these commission schedules, there is no process that validates they were even setup correctly.

 

The second challenge with commission accounting systems is to process commissions received on each case on modal premium. If a BGA, for example, writes a large block of business, then to manually process each commission statement is cost prohibitive. Therefore; a carrier’s commission data feed into a commission accounting system is critical. The problem is that even if the carrier uses a data standard, the commission data feeds are not consistent or complete from every carrier, making it difficult to accurately reconcile commissions.  Many distributors will still go to visit 20 + carrier websites or even lookup paper commission statements to verify they have been paid correctly.

 

Solutions
There are several solutions to the challenges of commission accounting systems. A carrier, for example, could electronically send their commission schedules in a data standard that could automatically update the distributor’s commission accounting system. This would eliminate all the manual setup of commission schedules for a distributor. Commission data aggregators could build a verification process that rejects bad or incomplete commission data files, thus only delivering clean data to a distributor.

 

A new innovative solution is that a carrier and distributor together could use Blockchain technology. The carrier commission schedules could be programmed into “Smart Contracts” that are used by both the carrier to calculate to pay commissions and used by the distributors commission accounting system to reconcile commissions. The commission schedules only need to be created once. The beauty of the Blockchain is that each party of a commission contract must approve the contract prior to it being available on a Blockchain for use. These parties connected to the contract essentially build an agent hierarchy and each participant in the hierarchy has a private key with access to the contract and the commission detail in the commission statement. This type of solution can offer privacy and security, thus enabling trust, accuracy and simplicity across the business.

 

 

The Battle For The Dashboard

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November 2019

By: Steve Morelli 

InsuranceNewsNet Magazine

 

Ask Doug Massey why it has been so difficult to create seamless and effective insurance technology and he will take you on an Uber ride from hell — metaphorically speaking, of course

 

Massey knows all about the ride because his career has followed the route of insurance tech itself in the early 1990s, when he started a property and casualty quote engine company as a college student. Later, he worked with leading insurance tech companies such as Ebix.

 

Massey is now the executive vice president for sales and relationship management with Insurance Technologies, which, as the name implies, is a key player in insurance tech. And he said the company is finally closing in on a eureka moment when it all comes together into a seamless insurance tech nirvana.

 

But we are in an age when we can get dinner delivered by drone with a click of the thumb, so why is the life insurance and annuity industry’s tech seemingly stuck?

 

Ah, step inside Massey’s exasperating Uber for an explanation.

 

“Let’s assume I’m using my Uber app and I want to do a ride, but it’s the way insurance works,” Massey began. “I’ve got to open up my Google Maps or my Apple Maps. So, I’ve got to find my location. I have to set a pin for my location. Then I say, ‘OK, well I’ve set my pin for my location. Now I want to share that over to this Uber app.’”

Life Inforce Policy Management Automation

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November 2019

By: Ken Leibow 

Broker World Magazine

 

It’s finally here—online tools for life insurance agents and clients to do basic tasks like change beneficiaries, look up paid-to-date information, see account values, and address changes without having to fill out a form or call a customer service phone number. It’s no longer a one-off but being implemented by most life insurance carriers today. You are also now seeing Artificial Intelligence (AI) chat tools for clients to get the information on their policies or to answer basic insurance questions on demand. Readily available for agents is new technology leveraging Big Data Analytics to analyze a policy resulting in new sales opportunities with products that better fit your client’s needs.

 

Policy Review
As an agent, you should do a review with your client on their life insurance policies at least once a year. Policy review should also occur when there is a life changing event or a family’s situation has changed, which could result in the need to increase or decrease coverage. Interest crediting rates on certain policies are much lower today than when the policy was first purchased. This can affect the future performance of your client’s policy, which could result in having to pay additional premium dollars to meet your client’s needs. Because people are living longer or if your client’s health has improved, then they may need to make an adjustment on their policy. On permanent insurance like universal life policies, loans and withdrawals and other changes to the policy, like premiums not paid as planned, may have impacted the current performance. Of course, if premiums have increased then you should do a policy review with your client. If the client is an owner or co-owner of a business and that business has grown or changed, then that is a compelling reason to do a policy review. Occasionally a life insurance company’s ratings or financials have changed, which may no longer meet your client’s risk tolerance.

 

The objective of the policy review is to do a thorough analysis of current insurance holdings vs. current needs. There are also industry and product changes to consider as well. I would recommend to carefully look at older life policies because of the way life insurance is designed today—the current changes in pricing, and how it’s medically underwritten, may have a significant difference in 2019 compared to five, 10 or more years ago. Also, you need to be up to date on the current tax, business and estate law changes. Higher life expectancies (mortality tables), lower interest rates and dividend crediting rates affect performance. There are new products on the market today to consider like indexed universal life products. Look at your client’s goals: If their goals are the same, is there a better insurance product for them today? If their goals have changed, then what’s available today to best meet those financial needs? For living benefit needs there are linked benefit products to consider. Should your client consider a way to financially maximize a policy he no longer needs by looking at a life settlement option?

The Insurance Consumer Journey

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By Ken Leibow

 

Jornaya has taken Data Analytics to a new innovative level. “Jornaya Activate” is an application that enables more cost-effective target marketing by witnessing the behavior of the consumer online shopping experience. An example is a Life event whereby a consumer is shopping online for a new home loan or to refinance their current Mortgage. This will identify that the consumer will need more Life Insurance. A Carrier or Agency’s portfolio of customers can be better targeted with marketing campaigns with messages that will be more cost-effective in generating new sales opportunities.

 

Jornaya captures 200 million unique shopping events each month of which 5 million are life insurance related opportunities. This has increased 30% over 2018. Literally there are portfolios of millions of customers. There is NO personal identifiable information captured (PII). Privacy of these consumers is secured. The data criteria captured are focused on witnessing the behavior of consumers filling out online forms for shopping for insurance, mortgages and other activities across multiple websites that can be analyzed to determine specific insurance needs. Jornaya works with Multi-Line Insurance Carriers and Agencies including life insurance Direct Marketers like AccuQuote and eFinancial. I interviewed Jamie Pickles, GM of Insurance at Jornaya, for this article and he had a quote that sums it all up. “A predictive model is great, but facts are better”.

 

Jornaya Activate monitors a portfolio of prospects/customers for Major Life Purchase (MLP) in-market behavior by incorporating intelligence on behavior and measuring intent in Real Time, Jornaya’s innovative technology can Provide intelligence that could become a new sales opportunity for life insurance. If you are a marketer, the data captured will allow you to interact better with your customer and improve customer retention.

 

Download and Read the Report by Jornaya “Understanding the Insurance Consumer Journey” by clicking the button below.

What Is Life Insurance Straight Through Processing?

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By Ken Leibow – September 1, 2019

Broker World Magazine 

 

I get asked all the time: “What is life insurance straight through processing (STP)?” The answer varies because there are different perspectives based on whether you are a carrier, vendor, BGA, agent or consumer. Life insurance STP has evolved quickly because of the advancement of insurtech, with each piece contributing to the next phase (Term Ticket Model, Accelerated Underwriting—Predictive Automated Underwriting, Digital Sales Platform). So, let’s explore the different types of STP, the benefits today and the trends for the future.

 

Term Ticket Model
In the Distribution world, Straight Through Processing was defined as a Drop-Ticket or Term-Ticket during its peak years from 2011-2016—running a term insurance quote, then clicking a button to do an abbreviated eApp, and then ePolicy delivery. A term ticket is not a full eApp. The term ticket platform may be a proprietary platform like Legal & General AppAssist or a multi-carrier platform like iPipeline iGO. Basically, it involves filling out questions for most of a Part 1 and replacement information, then asking the best time to call your client. The data and pre-filled forms are sent to a call center at the carrier or a third-party service provider like ExamOne for example. The client gets a call that typically lasts 30 minutes or less. The person conducting the tele-interview asks questions to complete the Part 1 and the medical questions for the Part II of the life insurance application. The interviewer follows a reflective script. Signatures are captured for the medical authorization in some cases, and for all the relevant forms, via Voice Signature. The interviewer also schedules the Paramed exam.

 

Once the underwriter receives the lab slip from the exam, with the results from blood drawn from the client, and reviews all the necessary information captured in the interview, then they approve the case—unless the underwriter determines additional information is needed like a copy of medical records from a doctor or hospital (APS). If the case is approved as applied for, and the client has provided his or her email address and opted in for eDelivery, then a notification either goes out to the BGA, agent or client via email depending on the eDelivery workflow setup. The eDelivery process for the client is a ceremony of consenting to eDelivery, even though they already opted in, reviewing the policy, paying the balance of premium due either by credit card or EFT, and then eSigning the delivery requirements like an amendment or delivery receipt. The client then saves or prints their policy. The agent is notified, the case is placed in force, and commissions are paid. This is one example of Term Ticket STP, however each carrier has slight variations of the process described above, and different distribution channels, like direct marketers, have a modified version of a Term Ticket STP. Essentially, it’s the same model.

 

Benefits to the BGA and Agent:

  • Cases submitted in good order;
  • Handing off fulfillment to focus on sales;
  • Faster cycle time;
  • Higher placement ratio;
  • No chasing down delivery requirements—especially premiums;
  • Commissions paid faster;
  • Reduce travel costs in delivering a policy; and,
  • Seamless experience.

 

Benefits to the Carrier:

  • Cases submitted in good order;
  • Control over the fulfillment process;
  • Higher conversion rate from interview to exam;
  • Faster cycle time;
  • Higher placement ratio;
  • Ease of doing business; and,
  • Reduced costs of mailing and printing policies.

 

This article was originally published by Broker World Magazine, September 1, 2019. To read the complete article, then please click the Button below:

Proformex Publishes Analysis of Life Insurance Best Interest Standards

 

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Kris Beck Headshot

WRITTEN BY

Kris Beck, CEO

Proformex

 

An In-Depth Look: Best Interest Standards for Life Insurance

Where did they start, where are they now, and where are they going?  “Best interest standards” are regulations that require carriers and producers that sell life insurance to establish criteria and processes overseeing product recommendations given to retail consumers. Under best interest standard regulations, all investment recommendations given to consumers must be made with the consumer’s needs top of mind. The ultimate goal is to protect the consumer and define the ethical duties of agents and advisors selling life insurance. This paper takes a deeper look of how best interest standards have been introduced to the life insurance industry, the various moves made on the state level to legislate these standards, and the future direction of the industry.

 

Download or View the full Article click the Executive Brief Button below:

Life Insurance Companies Investing in Insurtech Accelerators

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Why are so many of the biggest players in the life insurance sector investing substantially in their own insurtech accelerators? They know that these tech companies are creating the future that will help traditional life insurers in their own transformation processes. They also know that it is simply a wise financial investment. Insurtech is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Given the flexibility inherent in the startup sphere, these companies are also able to look at perennial concerns from a fresh perspective. With a host of new tools at their disposal, they can tackle problems with innovative approaches and often at minimal cost.

 

The life insurance industry as a whole has long struggled with the problem of trying to sell a product that forces people to consider their own mortality, an uncomfortable situation. However, current trends in wearables, data analytics and instant communications have given the industry a tremendous opportunity to focus on fostering wellness and quality of life. Consumers can think of their life insurer as a partner for living, rather than the last thing they want to think about.

 

The growing world of insurtech also allows smaller life insurance companies to punch above their weight. They can bypass clunky traditional systems and implement sleeker, more minimalistic software that takes advantage of new technologies in cloud computing, data analytics, AI and machine learning.  Smaller insurers can also look to insurtech firms to facilitate their adoption of the latest trends in distribution, customer service, pricing, claims and even underwriting, at a fraction of the cost of traditional software solutions.

 

You can learn more about insurtech, and meet the heavy hitters, at InsureTech Connect, September 23rd – 25th, 2019 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Register.

 

InsureTech Connect is the world’s largest insurtech event, offering unparalleled access to the largest and most comprehensive gathering of tech entrepreneurs, investors and insurance industry executives from across the globe. Founded by Jay Weintraub and Caribou Honig, ITC is expecting more than 7,000 attendees from 60+ countries this year. InsureTech Connect 2019, presented by Oliver Wyman, will be held September 23rd – 25th, 2019 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

 

 

HOW OUR ROBOTS RAN 30 MILLION ILLUSTRATIONS IN 24 HOURS

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BY BILL ATLEE, JUNE 4TH, 2019

Last year, our industry ran 400 million illustrations for permanent life insurance, 95% of which ended up in the trash can. Agents and their back-office staff wasted thousands of man-hours a week generating 10-20-page PDFs that are seen by a client. Why the insanity? It’s not because the insurance commissioner tells us that we have to do it this way. It’s because of the way insurance agents sell.

When agents meet a prospect for the first time, they typically don’t know the details of the prospect’s insurance needs, medical background, or price tolerance. Consequently, they pre-run multiple illustration scenarios to provide prospects with various options.

They do this in advance to avoid the clumsy nature of running carrier illustration software in front of a prospect. This madness will seemingly never go away as long as clients want options, illustrations software remains complex, and agents desire a smoother selling experience.

What if an agent could go out in the field with no paper illustrations, avoid dozens of confusing PDFs, and clunky illustration software, yet still react quickly to client curve balls…

How? iSolve.

iSolve teaches robots how to pre-run millions of illustration scenarios each month and stores these calculations in a massive online database. iSolve then wraps an intuitive user-friendly interface around these pre-run calculations, allowing an agent to use their smartphone, tablet, or laptop to instantly display various product options.

When the agent has met the client’s product and pricing expectations, the agent simply clicks a button and an NAIC-compliant illustration is rendered for all parties to e-Sign. iSolve also integrates directly into iGO e-App, making it simple for the agent to digitally apply for coverage.

As a life insurance agent that founded iPipeline over 20 years ago, I know what it’s like to be in the field with clients, and how much of an obstacle illustrations scenarios are to rapidly moving sales. Alongside my colleagues, we have developed this new illustrations innovation, iSolve, to provide digital access to infinite illustrations for a possible sales scenario. No more “wouldn’t it be nice if…” Just 30 million pre-run illustrations right at your fingertips.

Did I peak your interest?  Explore the power of iSolve in my on-demand webinar.

Exam completion rate case study

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By KATIE PALKA, July 9, 2019

One of the challenges facing the direct-to-consumer segment of the life insurance industry is improving completion percentage. Over the last year, we analyzed our client’s data to compare how and where applicants schedule exams, and measure the impact on completion rates. Three common factors emerged to demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing some of ExamOne’s tools and solutions.

The challenge

One of the challenges facing the direct-to-consumer segment of the life insurance industry is improving completion percentage. This means more applicants into underwriting, increased premium payments and more families protected.

How can ExamOne help directmarketers with these common issues?

  • Lost premiums due to fall-out fromunresponsive applicants
  • Applicants find the examprocess inconvenient

The solution

When looking to improve applicant completion rates, direct marketers have turned to ExamOne’s suite of solutions. Our goal is to simplify the scheduling process and offer applicants more exam location choices.

The results

ExamOne analyzed our client’s data* to compare how and where applicants scheduled exams impacted completion rates of policies. Three common factors emerged to demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing some of ExamOne’s tools and solutions—convenient exam centers, scheduling tools, and the combination of these two.

Get the complete Case Study by clicking the button below:

Place More Business And Get Paid Commissions Faster Using Life Standard Data Messages

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By Ken Leibow, InsurTech Express

 

It’s easy to think that this is over simplified, but if you want to place more life insurance business and get paid commissions faster, then you need to eliminate paper! Use eApp instead of submitting a paper application; don’t send licensing and contracting forms via mail or email—do it electronically on a platform like SureLC by SuranceBay; eDeliver life policies rather than mailing or hand delivering paper policies; and process commissions from a carrier’s commission data feed instead of manually using paper commission statements. Trading partners in the life insurance industry have their administration systems and distribution platforms interconnected by using insurance data exchanges that move data seamlessly via standard messages. What you get is speed, accuracy and reduced labor costs.

 

Accelerate Cycle Time with eApp and eDelivery
There are several ways to submit life business electronically such as using an eApp or eTicket platform plugged into one or more fulfillment models like a tele-interview, accelerated underwriting or predictive underwriting with auto-issue. Whether the agent is submitting the business on a single carrier platform like CBLife QuickApp or a multi-carrier platform like iPipeline iGO, the data is being transmitted to the fulfillment center or directly to the carrier using a standard data message. This data automatically populates the recipient’s admin system in good order, auto-creating the case and triggering requirement ordering or ultimately policy issue. Cycle time compared to processing paper is at least 60 times faster resulting in up to 85 percent placement of paid business.

Delivering life policies electronically (eDelivery) benefits carriers, agencies, agents and consumers. The cost savings are huge; there is also a decrease in NTO rates, better customer experience, tighter legal and compliance control, and commissions are paid faster. Here are some impressive eDelivery statistics:

  • 70 percent reduction in cycle time.
  • 55 percent of the eDelivered polices are being completed within 48 hours.
  • Consumer opt out rate is below 10 percent.
  • 95 percent of agents repeat use (Stickiness).
  • Reissue time is significantly decreased.
  • Eliminates the cost of postage and transportation.
  • Higher placement rate (ePayment).
  • No need to chase down delivery requirements.