Fremont, Calif. - A recent study on underwriting in the $222 billion commercial lines insurance industry has revealed that U.S.-based property/casualty insurers are taking new approaches to risk assessment and acceptance to sustain profitable growth in their business. The study, commissioned by Infosys Technologies Ltd. and conducted by TowerGroup, was designed to assess the strategic direction and readiness of the commercial underwriting market, from both business and technology perspectives.The study found that P&C commercial insurance companies are choosing to make the strategic shift toward "flow" and "transaction" underwriting to build competitive advantage and gain profitable market shares. Flow underwriting promotes straight-through underwriting for risk classes that were previously underwritten through manual, subjective evaluation by underwriters.

The "low" or "no-touch" transaction approach is supported by automated decision support capabilities so that only "exceptions" are processed by underwriters. This underwriting approach reduces cost and saves time, and also enables consistency and controlled underwriting. Furthermore, the "low and no touch" (flow) underwriting approaches enable underwriters to focus on more complex risk submissions and develop the market through enhanced distributor interactions.

The study also uncovered that developing and deploying business process optimization capabilities was a key business goal for insurance carriers of all sizes. Interestingly, the study found that the mindset change to move away from manual exception processing to either "flow" or "transaction" based underwriting, is not limited to the mega carriers - small to mid-sized carriers are just as serious about deploying process and technology enablers to create competitive advantage.

The study additionally revealed the following interesting data points:

  • Close to half of the respondents (48%) felt that business process management (BPM) and modernization of legacy platforms were their main IT priorities.
  • Only 14% of respondents listed IT cost reduction as a priority; only 9% listed infrastructure consolidation as a top priority
  • Nearly 50% of respondents plan to upgrade their organization's capabilities and systems around straight-through processing and BPM over the next 18 months

"This research clearly indicates that the P&C commercial insurance market is at a point of inflection as carriers are demonstrating a change in mindset toward the way they underwrite commercial lines risks," says Brian Kearns, head of Infosys' insurance industry practice. "Infosys' goal is to help its clients build their market presence and capabilities, and our unique New Business Excellence (NBx) solution is one example of how we leverage technology to do so. With the NBx solution, P&C insurers are readily able to adopt innovative risk profiling and predictive modeling techniques to leverage both internal and external data for better decision making."
"The strategic shift by P&C carriers toward flow business detected by this study indicates the insurance industry is in transition," says Deborah Smallwood, managing director, insurance, TowerGroup. "TowerGroup sees this trend as quite significant in shaping the industry in the coming years, and we believe P&C insurers must be willing to invest in building the underlying flexibility into their business systems to take full advantage of this opportunity."

Source: Infosys Technologies Ltd.


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