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Category Life Insurance

The Holly Experience: Underwriting simplified with the help of technology

21 May 2024 Hollard Life Solutions

In the rapidly evolving insurance landscape, digital transformation is reshaping the way intermediaries interact with clients and process claims.

Just over a year and a half ago, Hollard Life Solutions launched a first for South Africa, a digital tool to streamline the underwriting process and improve the overall customer experience. Known as the Holly Digital Solution, or simply Holly, the programme was designed to assist brokers in streamlining and simplifying their interactions with clients and, in turn, improving the overall insurance experience for both advisors and clients.

Amanda van Heerden, Underwriting Consultant at Hollard Life Solutions, says, “Hollard recognises the crucial role played by insurance in providing a safety net for consumers in some of life’s unpredictable circumstances. At the same time, we acknowledge that the complexity of the process can sometimes discourage consumers from purchasing certain insurance products.”

Some consumers struggle to understand the processes, while others become impatient with them. Technology can, however, simplify these processes to enhance the consumer experience, Van Heerden explains. “Holly was introduced to address some of the challenges faced by intermediaries in completing applications and meeting underwriting requirements. Holly eliminates the back-and-forth associated with incomplete information in manual applications by introducing a simplified underwriting process that enables quicker onboarding and smoother claims processing,” she says.

The Holly Digital Solution tailors the questions it asks to the client's declaration, and there are fewer medical questions for standard life policies.

Holly is the first fully underwritten digital offering that makes an immediate decision for standard, or mildly impaired applicants, when it comes to underwriting. If a client does not accept terms offered by Holly, or if the nature of impairment or sum assured does not qualify for an immediate decision, they can ask for full underwriting, combining the immediacy of digital processing with the precision of manual underwriting.

The uptake of the Holly solution by intermediaries has been mixed, Van Heerden says, “We’ve had an interesting mix in terms of the response from advisors. There is currently a 1:3 ratio of completed Holly applications to manual applications.”

“Some intermediaries are adopting it for its operational efficiencies and productivity gains, while others have been slow to take it on because of misconceptions that Holly is a non-underwritten product. However, for those who have embraced Holly, the benefits are clear.”

One of the key benefits of Holly is its impact on the speed of the overall underwriting process. It has eased the demands of SLAs and eliminated the effects of incomplete information on decision-making, leading to faster processing times and improved service delivery to clients.

Holly's unique features, such as its suitability for all personal applications, regardless of health status and/or the sum assured, make it a valuable tool for intermediaries looking to enhance the quality of services provided to their clients. The option of combining the digital process with full underwriting provides clients with the best of both worlds – an immediate decision for single impairments or a more precise manual underwriting process with medical and or financial information.

Since its inception, Hollard Life Solutions has introduced underwriting rules to increase acceptance rates through its rules around the cover in force, and its policy on financial acceptance.

As with all digital solutions, Holly is always evolving, and Hollard Life Solutions continually evaluates its effectiveness as it becomes a familiar feature of the brokers’ customer-centric tools.

Among its benefits is the fact that it is the only fully underwritten digital process in the market which offers an immediate decision on standard, or single impairment lives, with or without HIV. The immediate response to clients is a major benefit. It makes it suitable for all personal applications and as there are no returns on incomplete information, it has reduced the time spent on applications. It is a wholly digital, seamless application.

Plans to further enhance Holly in the future include using of third-party data to increase approval rates and lessen the need for medical examinations. There is also the possibility of integrating business insurance into the system, should the adoption rate increase.

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