How Policygenius and Brighthouse worked together on digital life insurance

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Capitalizing on the cloud-enabled, services-oriented technology infrastructure it first implemented while spinning-off from MetLife in 2017, Brighthouse Financial is now extending its digital reach by collaborating with online insurtech broker Policygenius to launch a data-driven accelerated underwriting (AU) level term life insurance product delivering the majority of applicants a decision as little as 30 minutes on average. The company further says most applications requiring a closer look by a human underwriter receive an answer within 24 hours.

Called Brighthouse SimplySelect, the product is currently being sold exclusively on the Policygenius platform using a hybrid online and agent-enabled model. Prospective customers shop for quotes on 10, 20 or 30-year terms and, depending upon their answers to qualifying questions, are presented with SimplySelect as an option for up to $2 million in coverage.

Clicking through to the SimplySelect product simultaneously initiates a call from a Policygenius agent, who asks further questions. The agent is prompted by a reflexive insurance application that uses a rule set developed by Brighthouse and a cloud-based rules engine provided by a Brighthouse vendor. By tightly integrating with Policygenius’ systems, the agent-entered application information is ingested directly into Brighthouse systems, including the insurer’s in-house data-driven accelerated underwriting (AU) platform.

Automation maturity carries the day
“We originally developed the AU platform, rules set and application for our first branded product, SmartCare,” explains Conor Murphy, chief operating officer at Brighthouse. “Using those cornerstones, we considered how we could offer a term life product attractive to younger consumers. About a year ago we determined we could come to market faster, with a more elegant and streamlined purchasing process, by collaborating with Policygenius.”

At about the same time, Policygenius was looking for a respected term life insurance brand to enhance its existing who’s who collection of offerings. It was attracted to Brighthouse for its technology-forward capabilities and customer-centric perspective. “Working with Brighthouse was a breath of fresh air,” says Jennifer Fitzgerald Co-Founder & CEO at Policygenius.

According to Fitzgerald, what makes Brighthouse unique among traditional carriers is its automation maturity. “For most incumbent carriers, AU is still a multi-step, asynchronous process,” she says. “First, an agent pre-screens and sends the info to the carrier. Next, the carrier calls the customer and asks many of the same questions. But the customer doesn’t even receive a decision at that point, because the application goes into underwriting for about a week.”

With Brighthouse’s API-enabled platform offering integration flexibility, inefficiencies could be swept away. “We were very excited that Brighthouse’s platform could ingest data directly from our systems into their rules engine,” Fitzgerald says. “This completely eliminated backend manual data entry and enabled real-time automation of third-party data collection, resulting in decisions that are functionally instant in most cases.”

Just in time human touch
Despite targeting digitally motivated shoppers, SimplySelect’s hybrid sales approach was informed by consumer research. “We’ve found that life insurance shoppers want self-service until the point where they’re finalizing coverage,” Fitzgerald says. “They don’t make such big financial decisions often, so it’s our experience that inserting a human independent agent at the moment of truth develops trust, drives conversion and cultivates the relationship.”

Unsurprisingly, such a complex integration of two enterprise systems included a few hurdles. In addition to the typical extensive field mapping and multi-party coordination, compliance and information security required extra attention.

“Although we continuously monitor and enhance our security posture, for this integration and relationship we underwent our most thorough security assessment to date,” Fitzgerald says.

While it’s still early days, Brighthouse is pleased with the results. “By focusing on consumer needs, as well as financial professionals, we created a process that is vastly more palatable than the traditional version, with its lengthy procedures and required fluid samples,” says Murphy. “Truly embracing today’s buying experience netted a product that is convenient and safe to purchase, particularly during the pandemic, and also profitable for financial professionals short and long term. It’s proven an optimal opportunity thus far.”

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