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Improving Underwriting Accuracy: 6 Strategies to Elevate Your Outcomes

The insurance industry operates in an environment of constant change and evolving risks. One of the key challenges insurers face is ensuring underwriting accuracy while staying up to date with the latest industry trends and developments. In this blog post, we will explore six strategies that insurers can implement to improve their underwriting accuracy and enhance their overall operations. Some of them are simple and can be implemented quickly with some thoughtful consideration, while others will require deep buy-in across the organization 

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1. Utilizing 3rd Party Data for a Global Perspective 

In today’s interconnected world, understanding an applicant’s driving history, especially across state lines and international borders, is critical for accurate underwriting. Insurers can leverage third-party data sources to gain insight into potential issues with foreign driver’s licenses and driving records. By doing so, they can obtain a comprehensive view of an applicant’s driving history worldwide.  

According to NerdWallet’s 2017 Driving in America Report, 10% of Americans who have ever had car insurance admit to intentionally providing inaccurate information when purchasing a new car insurance policy. Automating the process of collecting and analyzing initial quote data can significantly enhance efficiency and accuracy. Technology-driven solutions can quickly identify inconsistencies or red flags in an applicant’s driving record, allowing insurers to make informed underwriting decisions. 

2. Straight-Through Processing (STP) 

Automation has changed the way that most industries operate, and insurance is no different. One of the more recent developments in insurance automation can take a big load off an underwriter’s desk. Straight-through processing (STP) is a powerful tool that enables insurers to evaluate applicants quickly and efficiently. By implementing a set of predefined rules, insurers can assess whether an applicant meets the underwriting criteria without the need for manual intervention. Prospects who meet these criteria can pass through the underwriting process swiftly, reducing processing time and costs. 

STP not only enhances efficiency but also minimizes the risk of human error. It allows underwriters to focus their expertise on complex cases that require their specialized attention, ensuring that each application is evaluated accurately and consistently. 

3. Continuing Education for Underwriters 

The insurance landscape is constantly evolving, with new regulations, technologies, and risk factors emerging regularly. To maintain underwriting accuracy, insurers must invest in the ongoing education of their underwriting teams. Providing the team with open access to industry-specific institutions, such as The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, can provide them with a self-paced way to stay up to date on industry trends and best practices. Ongoing education is essential for making informed decisions and adapting to changing underwriting circumstances. 

Regular training and professional development programs can help underwriters hone their skills and deepen their understanding of emerging risks. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, insurers can ensure that their underwriters remain at the forefront of the industry. 

4. Combatting Claims Fraud through Collaboration 

Fraudulent insurance claims pose a significant threat to insurers. According to 2023 data shared by The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, fraudulent claims in property and casualty insurance cost insurers around $45 billion last year. To identify and mitigate these risks, insurers can collaborate closely with  Special Investigations Unit (SIU) teams. By sharing data and insights, insurers can detect risky trends and patterns that may indicate fraudulent activity. 

Effective collaboration between underwriting and claims departments can help insurers proactively address fraud and reduce financial losses. Sharing information about suspicious claims can also lead to the development of more accurate underwriting guidelines that account for emerging fraud tactics. 

5. Data Quality and Integrity 

The accuracy of underwriting decisions relies heavily on the quality and integrity of the data used in the process. As important as having clean, reliable data is to underwriting accuracy, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain the rigor necessary for your business to thrive. According to a 2019 study by Accenture, 26% of insurers say they validate data sources to some extent, but admit there is more they should do to ensure data quality.  

Insurers should partner with reputable third-party data providers to ensure that the information they rely on is accurate and up to date. Regularly auditing and verifying data sources can help maintain 1st-party data quality. Investing in robust data management practices, including data cleansing and validation, can significantly improve underwriting accuracy. By leveraging accurate data, insurers can make more informed decisions and reduce the risk of costly errors. 

6. Collaborative Peer Review 

Commercial insurance often involves complex and unique risks that may require a collaborative approach to underwriting. Insurers can enhance underwriting accuracy by cultivating a culture of peer review and knowledge sharing across teams. Different underwriters bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table, and collective insights can help catch issues that may be overlooked by a single underwriter. 

By encouraging open communication and collaboration, insurers can harness the collective expertise of their underwriting teams to make better-informed decisions and ensure the accuracy of their underwriting processes. 

The Bottom Line 

In an ever-changing insurance landscape, underwriting accuracy is paramount for insurers to manage risks effectively and remain competitive. By implementing the strategies outlined above, insurers can leverage technology, data and collaboration to improve underwriting accuracy, enhance efficiency and better serve their policyholders. In doing so, they can adapt to evolving risks and position themselves for long-term success in the insurance industry. 

Want to learn more about how you can improve your underwriting process? Download our whitepaper below. 

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