In any organization, accurate information and open communication between employees are essential to creating a satisfactory final product. These practices are especially critical in the group insurance industry, where ineffective workflows can ultimately impact the end customer’s ability to get the employee benefits coverage they need.
But many carriers in today’s industry struggle to maintain these practices due to troublesome silo workflows. According to CMSWire, “Organizational silos describe the isolation that occurs when employees or entire departments within an organization…do not have the adequate means to share information or knowledge with each other.”
Luckily, carriers burdened with silo workflows can make changes within their organization to effectively eradicate them.
Weighing in with their thoughts on solving this problem are Garrett Viggers, Co-founder, VP of Innovation and Product Evangelist at Limelight Health; a leading sales and underwriting SaaS solution for group insurance carriers, and Dan Watt, VP of Product Management at FINEOS; a leading provider of core systems for life, accident and health insurers globally, which recently acquired Limelight Health.
Why Should Carriers Move Away from Silo Workflows?
Silo workflows can cause a number of issues for group insurance carriers, ranging from miscommunication and time-consuming errors to difficulty recruiting and collaborating with a younger generation of talent.
Even within the same teams using the same systems at carriers, there can be major discrepancies caused by silo workflows.
Dan Watt says, “They have different processes…but the same systems handling it. Right there, you’ve got a problem from an efficiency perspective….Either you’re inputting too much for a standard plan, and therefore stuff’s getting missed. Or, [you’ve] got a seven month implementation…and you’ve got a ton of different players…it’s very, very complicated.”
A freer flow of information between employees and departments at carriers is key to simplifying these processes and eliminating silo workflows.
Garrett Viggers says, “Pre-sale data should flow freely all the way to quoting and underwriting. Post-sale data should flow like a river into policy admin and enrollment….At Limelight Health…when we think about collecting this data to do a good hand off, at least in our system, we’ve got sold data, plan design, rates and…the employer master application data, that we’re able to collect and pass downstream or fill out PDF forms….So you’ve got all this data that needs to be set up efficiently to install that case.”
As the industry shifts to hire a younger, more collaborative workforce over the next few years, silo workflows will become increasingly unappealing and difficult to navigate for new talent hired by carriers.
A June 2020 Novarica Report speaks to the urgency for carriers to eliminate silo workflows in order to ensure they can attract a younger generation of talent;
“Legacy system challenges are among the issues in recruiting a new generation of home office workers. Legacy systems, along with their usability and information accessibility issues, will continue to hinder insurers’ ability to attract captive agents and home office staff as well as their ability to expand business with independent agents. New generations of business and IT associates will not be as willing to live with aging systems as their older counterparts. These issues are becoming more urgent for insurers today as Millennials remain on track to represent 75% of the US labor force by 2025.”
4 Benefits of Eliminating Silo Workflows for Carriers
Free-Flowing, Reliable Data
By phasing out silo workflows which prevent information sharing between entities, carriers can achieve a freer flow of reliable data that is automatically updated company-wide when changes are made.
Viggers says, “Ben admins, they need more data, they need access to more and more data and [to have] it flow from the policy admin [without] having a manual siloed workflow at the heart of new case install.”
Watt adds, “The sold case, the sold plan design, should be at the carrier and it should be current. And it usually is, just in [many] different systems that are archaic and can’t share their data.”
Less Time Wasted With Dual-Entry and Manual Processes
A freer flow of information means less time will be wasted performing tasks twice.
On this, Watt says, “There are certain things that you can’t stop from happening. But you can do your best to kind of mitigate the risk of all those processes when you can get data to flow…so you don’t have the case of reselling the business, spending your time manually doing what somebody just did two weeks ago and inputting those same plan designs.”
Reduced Enrollment Errors
With more automation and less manual processes comes a reduced margin of error for enrollments.
“A big part of what we’re seeing is the carrier integrating their sold plan design to the enrollment platform. So that also helps to reduce the overall risk of a person enrolling for a plan they shouldn’t, or being eligible for a plan that they should be, and they didn’t know about,” says Dan Watt.
Improved Customer Experience
Eliminating silo workflows creates a better experience for the carrier’s customers; brokers, employers, and employees.
On the broker experience, Watt says, “Working through those silos creates a lot of time and a lot of effort that [brokers] would otherwise not want to spend….There’s always issues that crop up no matter how hard you try, because there are [so many] different systems to set up.”
Without these issues caused by silo workflows, quote turnaround times are expedited and errors are reduced to result in a smoother and more positive experience for everyone involved.
End-to-End Solutions vs. Best-in-Breed Integrated Ecosystems
So, when choosing between end-to-end solutions and best-in-breed integrated ecosystems in order to eliminate silo workflows, which way should carriers go?
Watt says, “It’s not an either/or. I think it really all depends upon the pain points and depends upon the carrier needs. You’ve got to be able to look at the carrier…and say, ‘ Okay, I understand what your needs are. You need X, Y, and Z, or, you need a full suite.’ ”
Viggers agrees saying, “I think it definitely is both….And [there are] even some customers of ours that we’re going to integrate with legacy for a while. So the solution of choice for a certain part of the core system is going to be to integrate with legacy for two years. And then they’ll end up getting a new billing or policy admin system.”
Having the flexibility to choose either a full end-to-end solution or best-in-breed integrated ecosystem gives carriers the exact tools they need to cross the bridge of digital transformation.
What is the Solution for Eliminating Silo Workflows?
While the process of eliminating silo workflows entirely can take time, the core solution is simple; utilizing technology created for the group insurance industry to enable efficient data flow.
Speaking to this, Dan Watt says “You need to leverage technology…and that’s by building a bridge to then consume that sold data….You’ve got to build the technology there to make it easier from an onboarding perspective. Then from there, to leverage and integrate that source of truth once you have it. One source of truth feeding your downstream systems; billing, claims, commissions, etc. so that you don’t open it up to manual error.”
Garrett Viggers agrees saying, “We’re entering a world that is in the cloud, with API’s, and data can flow from multiple systems and that is a way to eliminate silo workflows….It’s not about 100 percent perfection of all data flowing, but it has got to put a dent…in the workflow post-sale. So I think our industry is on its way.”
To hear more from Garrett Viggers and Dan Watt on eradicating silo workflows to allow freely flowing data, check out their GroupTech Talks Podcast episode.
Garrett Viggers, Co-founder and creative force behind the Limelight platform, has worked in the employee benefits industry since 2002, driving product and modern tech innovation from the genesis of Consumer Driven Health to the Affordable Care Act. Garrett presents to many group carriers on the strategic path to insurtech success. He is an innovator in quoting, underwriting, renewal and decision support tools and continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the group ecosystem.