The AI Advantage in Group and Voluntary Benefits Sales and Underwriting

By streamlining quoting, optimizing resources, and automating manual tasks, AI can help increase group insurance sales, boost profitability, and improve the customer experience.

(Image credit: Markus Winkler/Unsplash.)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the group and voluntary benefits industry, particularly during peak business periods when human resources are stretched extremely thin and with a growing number of generational segments as employees who have different needs.

Mike de Waal, founder of Global IQX and SVP, Group Insurance, Majesco, co-authored this article.

By streamlining quoting, optimizing resources, and automating manual tasks, AI can help increase group insurance sales, boost profitability, and improve the customer experience. As a result, 74 percent of insurance executives are planning to increase their investments in AI. Insurers that seize this opportunity early on will have a critical advantage in meeting changing customer needs, optimizing operations and driving growth.

How can group and voluntary benefits insurance providers leverage AI to maximize sales and remain competitive?

Personalize and Recommend Alternate Plan Designs with AI

Traditional new business and renewal processes can be time-consuming and result in missed opportunities. It’s helpful for sales and underwriting teams to have data-backed reference points when designing plans for clients.

Using predictive analytics, insurers can quickly generate alternate plan designs using one of their most valuable assets: data.

Here’s how it works: using an AI recommendation engine, carriers can use their historical sales data to identify the most successful sold plan designs for similar clients. Recommendation engines, like those offered by the Majesco Global IQX Sales & Underwriting Workbench, will fetch data for similar groups (size, geography, industry) and suggest an alternate plan design that can be presented alongside the handpicked plan.

This acts as a powerful benchmarking tool while circumventing data limitations in group insurance because it uses the carrier’s data.AI can also be trained to make suggestions for upselling and cross-selling opportunities on optional worksite products and improve the plan member experience while unlocking new revenue opportunities. Some factors it might consider to recommend products may include age, gender, activity level, job role, and more.

These tools not only help insurers tap valuable existing sources of revenue but also reduce the quote turnaround time, providing a better customer experience.

Optimize Underwriting

During high-load periods, the volume of quotes requiring underwriter review can slow down processes due to an inefficient allocation of human resources.

Underwriters have varying levels of expertise across different products and quote complexities. Additionally, managers must take their existing workload into account too. As a result, quotes might be sitting for days or even weeks before they can be turned around.

AI can assist underwriting managers in suggesting the most effective distribution of quotes across the underwriting team, taking into account an individual underwriter’s current capacity, expertise, and performance history.

Additionally, AI can prioritize quotes with the highest chance of closing based on past successes. By identifying these resource efficiencies, insurers can write more business in less time while improving close ratios.

Optimize Operations by Automating Manual Tasks and Processing RFPs Faster

The influx of Requests for Proposal (RFPs) can produce unwanted friction and increase quote turnaround time. To assemble a group benefits quote, sales and underwriting teams need to collect and process several key pieces of information from different sources. These may include past plan booklets, policy summaries, employee census files, prior claims experience, and general client information (industry, size, location).

Here’s the problem – these data often come in different formats, and they are often not delivered in the form of structured data. In other words, it cannot be automatically ingested by digital tools. As a result, underwriting teams lose countless hours rekeying information into their internal systems.

This is where AI comes in.

AI systems can extract information from broker emails, attachments, and RFP source files using techniques like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to identify and process unstructured data trapped in PDFs, images, the “back of a napkin,” and other formats.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be used to train an AI system to read an RFP booklet, learn carrier-specific terms and abbreviations, and generate a quote based on the information detected within the source document. These automated processes not only save time but also reduce errors, providing an enhanced customer experience.

Once the raw data has been captured, it can be converted to structured data in the insurance company’s format and sent directly to their quoting portal or underwriting workbench.

AI leveraged in this way can drastically cut the time it takes to assemble a group benefits quote, contribute to improved close ratios, and fosters better relationships with your distribution partners.

Leverage AI Chatbots to Drive New Revenue Opportunities

Gone are the days of clunky, frustrating chatbots that pop up when you least want them. The release of ChatGPT in the fall of 2022 showed the true promise of generative AI.

By using AI-powered chatbots, group insurers can provide immediate assistance and answers to customer queries, providing a better customer experience. These tools can be trained to learn an insurance company’s products, policies, and general “language,” helping customers fully understand their benefits plan.

Chatbots can also be used to identify potential upselling and cross-selling opportunities for voluntary benefits, improving overall sales and profitability. By integrating with health data providers (e.g., Fitbit) and behavioral data tools, this functionality can become even more personalized, and tailored to the individual’s unique situation and goals.

While agents and brokers can’t offer personalized advice to thousands of individual insureds with varying needs and levels of knowledge, technology can. Digital assistants and chatbots can provide valuable guidance to plan members, answering questions, guiding them through the enrollment process, and recommending new products and services based on their health and demographic information.

The best digital assistants are proactive, not reactive, providing helpful nudges to users at the right time.

For example, Sun Life’s AI-enabled “digital coach,” Ella, encourages plan members to take action on important deadlines, cost-savings, and product offerings. Ella’s proactive nudges resulted in nearly two million additional interactions from plan members early in the pandemic from January to September 2020.

Sun Life’s investment in virtual coaching paid off. Thanks to Ella’s interventions at the right time to the right user, the company experienced an 83 percent increase in additional coverage purchased compared to the previous year. This success demonstrates the power of digital assistants in providing personalized education and guidance to insurance customers.

Embrace the Potential

Bryan Strang, Director of Learning & Business Development Solutions, Canada Life.

AI is poised to revolutionize the group insurance industry, providing significant benefits to both insurers and customers.  By streamlining quoting, optimizing resources, automating manual tasks, and improving customer service, insurers can increase group insurance sales, improve profitability, and provide a better customer experience.

The production-proven Majesco Global IQX Sales & Underwriting Workbench has been adopted by over 20 major carriers across North America. To take your group and voluntary benefits business to the next level, the Majesco Global IQX Sales & Underwriting Workbench offers a suite of AI-powered tools for employee benefits carriers. These include AI-assisted census file scrubbing, a predictive analytics recommendation engine to help unlock optimal plan designs, AI-driven quote assignments, and more.  And check out this webinar  with Bryan Strang from Canada Life on the business and customer value of AI-driven sales and underwriting workbench.

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Denise Garth // Denise Garth is Chief Strategy Officer responsible for leading marketing, industry relations and innovation in support of Majesco’s client centric strategy, working closely with Majesco customers, partners and the industry. She is a recognized Top 50 InsurTech Influencer and industry leader with both P&C and L&A insurance experience as a CIO and business executive with deep international ties in Asia and Europe through her ACORD leadership role. Denise is an acknowledged strategic thinker, innovation leader, international speaker, and author of thought leadership and articles regarding the key issues and opportunities facing the industry today to prepare for the future.

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