Many insurers are expanding their portal offerings to serve a wider range of stakeholders, including prospects, policyholders and distributors, as well as offering workflow management and collaboration tools that enable integration with legacy systems, according to “Stand-Alone Insurance Portal Solutions: An Overview of Vendor Offerings,” from Celent.

Increasing customer sophistication and higher expectations from prospects, policyholders, agents and others has been driving web technology development. “With such an emphasis on user experience within the industry, the burden to produce a quality entry into an insurer’s system has become much higher. No longer can a carrier simply put up a minimal amount of content and expect it to gain and/or maintain interest in its various stakeholder groups.”

Previous iterations of portal technology were geared toward making it easier for agencies to conduct business and were typically referred to as ‘agency portals.’ However, trends in the industry have increased the value of efficient and effective user experiences.

Many insurance products have become commoditized, Celent said, and there are fewer opportunities to differentiate products according to features. “Thus, a frictionless transaction environment, also termed ease of doing business, becomes a way to separate one scheme from another and avoid a destructive pricing contest,” Celent said.

Use of business rules, edits and workflow, as well as the availability of better quality data has decreased the amount of human effort required to issue new business, facilitate underwriting, reduce expenses and improve company performance, according to the report.

Highlights from the report:

The intent of portals was to attract business by increasing the ease of placing business from independent agents, accepting automatic uploads of data from agency management systems and downloading policy information. For carriers with exclusive agents, portals were designed to increase productivity and efficiency.

Insurers have expanded portals to serve prospects, policyholders and distributors; data exchange and translation are still core capabilities, but offerings frequently now include work management and collaboration tools, enabling insurers to front-end multiple legacy systems with a single platform. “Meeting and/or exceeding the expectations of users, no matter where they lie on the value chain, is now the goal of many solutions,” Celent said.

The report also features 20 vendor profiles, including: Agencyport, Appulate, Backbase B.V., Bolt Solutions, Broadvision, Brovada, CSC, Ebaotech Corp., FirstBest Systems, Focus Technologies, IBM, L&T Infotech, Microsoft, Nexj, Nxtech, Oceanwide, Red Hat, Temenos, Ticoon Technology and ValueMomentum.

Portal features reviewed include:

Client Information Management (CRM): Manages a company's interactions with customers and prospects

Collaboration: Facilitates the movement of data, decisions and information across functional lines in an organization

Content Aggregation: Collects information from multiple sources into a single logical and physical space

Single Sign-On (SSO): Access control of multiple related, but independent software systems

Identity Management: Manages the identification of and ancillary data related to entities that include individuals, computer-related hardware and applications

Mobile Configuration: Simplifies the set-up and ongoing management of mobile platforms

Business Unit Personalization: Changes system preferences based on business unit

Agency Personalization: Changes system preferences based on agency

Rules: Drives system behavior based on logical construct which may or may not require programming skills to establish and maintain

Search: Queries system data and returns results

Workflow: Controls the movement of tasks from one entity to another

Work Lists: Provides task lists of actions to be taken by different entities

Xslt Transformations: Transforms XML documents from one form to another

“With such an emphasis on user experience within the industry, the burden to produce a quality entry into an insurer’s system has become much higher,” Celent said. “No longer can a carrier simply put up a minimal amount of content and expect it to gain and/or maintain interest in its various stakeholder groups. Finally, clever use of rules, edits and workflow increase the quality of data available for decisioning and decrease the amount of human effort required to issue a piece of business. The favorable impact on underwriting and expenses improves company performance.”

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