Brokerage Ops

The Journey to Reduced Errors and Omissions in Benefits

Comprehensive digital integration of agency platforms is a boon for insurers and their clients.
By Anupam Gupta Posted on May 27, 2024

From the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to the Affordable Care Act, agents must be up to speed with state and federal regulations or risk exposing themselves and their employer clients to penalties or lawsuits.

There’s also a significant risk of information loss, potentially leaving the agency noncompliant with legal regulations and jeopardizing relationships with impacted clients. Many employee benefits agencies lack the connectivity and automation seen in the property and casualty (P&C) sector. Agents often work from multiple systems that don’t connect or share data, resulting in duplicative data entry and searching across multiple systems for a data point. Others maintain multiple Excel spreadsheets in local and shared drives, separate from the agency’s management system.

This lack of connectivity can cause major compliance and security headaches. Agents face higher risk for reduced productivity, data entry errors, and even deletion of information. There’s also an elevated security risk because it is harder to control who has access to documents in shared and local drives.

Instead of this patchwork approach, agencies would benefit from full digital integration of their technology platforms, using the system that best fits their needs to mitigate E&O risks.

However, integration must be purposeful.

At Applied Systems we think of this as the “Digital Roundtrip of Benefits” – a reshaping and reimagining of the approach to navigating this market. We believe that benefits platforms can and should be able to communicate with each other. Comprehensive digitization and connection of the insurance life cycle would eliminate obstructions and expedite the work of agents, brokers, and carriers, making things easier for their clients as well. In addition, this approach would strengthen security and compliance, leaving fewer E&O hazards.

Digitally connecting data at each stage of the benefits life cycle—quote to enroll—creates a seamless and secure end-to-end experience for all stakeholders and offers agents a condensed view of their customer.  

Laying the Foundation

The first step in creating this experience uses an agency management system to capture general plan information: rates, coverages, eligibility criteria, stop loss, third-party administrator information, and any other relevant account data. This gives the agency a single view of the client by housing information in a secure, central location. Account servicing and reporting become more efficient because agents no longer need to switch between platforms to find information.

Using an agency management system lays the foundation needed to continue digitizing. With information in one place, the foundational agency management system can be integrated into the business’s benefit plan modeling application to seamlessly transfer the data needed for the second stage: marketing and quoting.

Simplifying and Quoting

Having integrated the agency management system and benefits plan modeling application, agents can easily quote, market, and consult with clients. With data flowing in and out of the foundational agency management system, agents can model and compare benefits plan options for clients and present the data in the way customers want to see it, guiding them to the right decisions. It’s no longer necessary to present clients with large, complicated spreadsheets or static presentations. Agents can easily change the options being presented and provide accurate cost adjustments in real time. Employer clients can even confirm plans from this newly integrated platform.

Digitizing the marketing and quoting process saves agents and clients time and allows the agents to provide more strategic advice and value to their clients. Knowing they got the best option and optimized cost, and that their benefits are competitive from an employee standpoint, will give clients more confidence as they enter the third stage: enrollment.

Enrolling with Ease

Integrating the benefit plan modeling application with the agency’s benefits administration system enables critical plan data to be moved from quoting to enrollment with just a few clicks. The benefits administration system makes benefits elections paperless and gives employees the self-service tools they need to make selections, view company information, and  update their personal information at their own pace. Employers can use the benefits administration system to obtain a comprehensive audit trail. This allows employers to easily offer a comprehensive set of benefits without having to manually manage applications and payroll deductions.

To complete this process, the agency integrates its benefits administration and agency management systems, allowing new or updated information to flow back to the agency management system. The agency once again has a full view of the client and agents have everything they need for the renewal process.

Rounding Out the Benefits Life Cycle

Integrating technology platforms eliminates the need to rekey information, saving time and reducing the risk of manual errors. It also eliminates the need to store data in clunky Excel spreadsheets that can easily be deleted from shared drives or, worse, end up in the wrong hands.

It’s critical that benefits agents take steps to reduce the risk of E&O exposure. Integrating technology to fully connect the Digital Roundtrip of Benefits will not only lessen risk, but create a simpler, more seamless experience for agents and their clients.

Anupam Gupta Anupam Gupta, chief product officer, Applied Systems Read More

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