Going Paperless

Steve Gugler & Lisa Teggert, Partners at 3Tree

At the beginning of the pandemic, working online became a necessity for many in the insurance industry. Vendors needed to work with industry professionals and with their customers online in a paperless world, but there were no clear guidelines or expectations for what a paperless office looked like. Then, a highly engaged and committed Working Group comprised of brokers, carriers, and brokerage technology vendors stepped in to start the Going Paperless: Getting it Right for Consumers initiative. The initiative is focused on gaining industry alignment and developing a workable paperless framework for delivery to Canadian Insurance Industry consumers.

“We saw that paperless handling during the pandemic was heading in all kinds of different directions,” notes Colin Simpson, CEO of IBAO. “We took a look at the key areas where significant divergence was either happening or could happen, starting with the consumer experience. By establishing a consistent baseline for all, each program across the industry can focus on delivering the same consumer experience, which progresses the industry as a whole towards that critical mass we are always shooting towards.”

The Working Group has published a series of frameworks to assist the industry with the path to paperless servicing. This includes:

Consumer Digital Charter: Establishes what a consumer should expect, regardless of who their broker or carrier is.

Vendor Digital Charter: Based on the framework provided in the Consumer Digital Charter, this provides clear guidance to vendors via their technology of choice. 

Best Practices Guide: contains practical information and guidance on launching paperless programs, including ideal lead times and times of year that work best. Also included in the document is the wisdom gained through going paperless programs and processes that have already launched.

Going paperless can require significant manual effort at the beginning as online documents need to be downloaded and processed. Through the course of the initiative, it became clear that some very small changes could yield very big gains for brokers and ultimately provide more efficient customer service. With this in mind, the Working Group proposed two key recommendations: 

Ensure that all Carriers download the Client Copy of Personal Lines Declaration Pages, and 

Ensure that each Carrier downloads each insurance document as a separate electronic document. 

“Recognizing that time has gone on since we initially started down the path of eDocs, a little modernization can result in major time savings on the brokerage side. We have reached a very high usage of eDocs as an industry to download documents to brokers, and can now look to achieve consistency across carriers in how the documents are labelled for download so that brokers’ systems can automatically process these documents. Also, the customer service usage of key documents had not been considered in the early days. We now need to ensure that we are making available—and consistently identified—the key documents brokers need to service their clients digitally.” 

The Going Paperless Working Group is also looking ahead and adding additional recommendations about how to best communicate the customer’s preference for document servicing (paperless or paper). They administered a large, national consumer survey asking consumers what the appetite was for paperless servicing. 

“We asked consumers some far ranging questions regarding both capability and appetite to receive paperless servicing, to assist brokers with framing up the best possible paperless programs for their brokerages,” notes Colin. “It’s clear that one size does not fit all, but based on the experiences of other industries that started down the paperless route much earlier, that should not be the expectation.” 

To further assist the industry, a Town Hall is being held on October 12th, which will provide an overview of each document. Brokers are encouraged to submit their specific paperless questions in advance of the session. 

“We need to keep talking as an industry on what is working, and what isn’t in terms of paperless servicing. It is critical to monitor and take any corrective action needed to ensure that we in insurance are supporting customers in the best way digitally, and without question what that looks like will change over time,” added Colin.

Anyone can access the suite of documents from Going Paperless at ibao.org/going-paperless/

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