John Hancock’s ExpressTrack Accelerates and Simplifies Life Insurance Purchase

The insurer’s new underwriting approach, whereby customers can receive a decision in as little as three days, with no paramedical visits or lab work, validates a continuing trend.

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John Hancock Insurance (Boston) has introduced ExpressTrack, a new underwriting approach that accelerates the life insurance buying process, letting customers receive an underwriting decision in as little as three days, with no in-person paramedical visits or lab work required. The process was developed internally by John Hancock’s underwriting, medical, product, advanced analytics, and IT teams.

Brooks Tingle, SVP, Marketing and Strategy, John Hancock Insurance.

Brooks Tingle, SVP, Marketing and Strategy, John Hancock Insurance.

ExpressTrack uses a proprietary process that leverages data and analytics, along with traditional underwriting practices, to eliminate the need for invasive medical tests and lengthy medical questions, particularly for healthier buyers, according to Brooks Tingle, Senior VP, Marketing and Strategy, John Hancock Insurance. “ExpressTrack leverages John Hancock’s underwriting and medical expertise together with analytics, data, and cutting-edge technology to enhance the buying experience for consumers and make it easier for advisors to do business with us,” Tingle comments.

To initiate the application process within ExpressTrack, advisors have two submission options: JH Life eTicket, available for single-life term submissions, and JH Life Paper Ticket for single-life term or permanent submissions, according to John Hancock’s description. The ticket processes are available for all ages and face amounts. Consumers, ages18-60, initiating their application with a John Hancock proprietary ticket and applying for single life coverage of up to and including $1 million may qualify for John Hancock ExpressTrack.

“With the availability of analytics, big data and new technologies, it’s an exciting time to be in the insurance industry,” Tingle adds. “We’ve been able to redefine the life insurance buying process by making it much easier and faster for consumers through programs like ExpressTrack.

Tom Scales, Research Director, Celent.

Tom Scales, Research Director, Celent.

John Hancock’s ExpressTrack validates a continuing trend of companies accelerating their underwriting process, according to Tom Scales, Research Director, Celent. “I am particularly pleased to see that this includes not just term products, but permanent products as well. To be able to underwrite complex permanent products in a few days is a big step.”

“From Insuretech companies like Policy Genius and Ladder Life, through direct distribution owned by carriers, such as Haven Life, through major back office improvement such as this announcement by John Hancock, we are seeing change at an unprecedented pace in our industry,” Scales remarks.

Celent has observed encouraging progress in the underwriting space, and the broader new business and underwriting process, according to Scales. Celent’s recent benchmarking research shows that the average cycle time of an application, from application to policy issue, has dropped from over 50 days to around 40 days in the last ten years or so. “Our research also shows that just implementing an automated underwriting system can drop that down to 17 days,” Scales notes.

The way life insurance has been underwritten, which can take over a month to conclude, is a process that seems designed to fail, opines Rob McIsaac Senior Vice President of Research and Consulting, Novarica (Boston). “Concluding the new business process faster reduces the chance of buyer’s remorse and gives an insurer a competitive advantage,” he says.

Rob McIsaac, SVP, Research and Consulting, Novarica.

Rob McIsaac, SVP, Research and Consulting, Novarica.

The property/casualty industry has paved the way for their colleagues in life insurance, in the first place by affirming that underwriting is more science than art, considering available technology, according to McIsaac. “Through more rapid underwriting insurers were able to get access to the better risks,” he notes. “And as we’ve seen in the P&C world, laggards are adverse-selected against.”

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

New external data sources are giving insurers the ability to identify new factors that correlate to risk, enabling both faster underwriting and a less onerous experience for the new customer. “Carriers such as Principal [Des Moines] and MassMutual—through Haven Life—[Springfield Mass., and New York] are making significant changes that provide for a fundamentally different experience in terms of the underwriting process outcome,” McIsaac comments. “John Hancock deserves credit for moving the ball forward, and I think this throws down the gauntlet for other carriers—if they haven’t started to think about how to fundamentally reimagine underwriting, they’d better get on it.”

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For over a decade he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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