Principal changed the rules of the underwriting game by challenging the status quo.
Life insurance underwriting has historically been a lengthy, manual process. And for those who aren’t fans of doctors or needles, it can be a scary and powerful reason to remain uninsured . To address these barriers, Principal brought together a team of internal experts to evaluate changes in the healthcare industry that could lead to big changes for a life insurance customer’s experience.
Suppose an application requires additional medical information to qualify -insurance labs or attending physicians' statement (APS). Could we re-imagine the underwriting experience with instantaneous access to digital health information offering an easy, noninvasive, digitized journey?
Can we shorten the almost 30-day underwriting process for APS applicants to less than ten days?
And, in the scenario that a global pandemic could reset social rules and close the entire world, are we ready to keep offering uninterrupted life insurance application services?
For Principal, the answer was yes.
In March 2020, shortly after COVID-19 limited in-person interactions and created formidable challenges for our underwriting team, we were in a unique position to challenge the underwriting timeline and enhance the user experience by using the accelerated underwriting process -we were already known for- and enhancing it with the use of digital health data to eliminate the need for an APS when it was necessary, something that was extremely difficult to obtain in the midst of a global pandemic.
Our early and extensive experimentation with electronic medical records set us up for the COVID environment and created a model for other carriers, who were not far enough in their experimentation, to follow.
The result? The use of digital health records as a new norm for underwriting; A needleless and visit-less experience; And a fully digital underwriting process completed in record time.
Uniqueness of the project
Within a month of the shut down across the country during the pandemic, we were no longer able to send paramed examiners into a home or business to collect fluids and other key medical information. Because we had been willing to innovate and experiment very early, before the healthcare industry was well established in the use of electronic health data, we were learning what we needed and what we didn't. By starting so early we had experience with different types of data:
• Longitudinal records (long standing medical charts per patient including electronic medical records hospital to hospital and wellness data related to lifestyle and activity).
• Medical claims data.
• Digital health data (which became the name for all data we use and represents the patient medical record from a provider or specialist).
That early exposure and understanding of how to use data gave us the experience to know which sources would be most viable when the pandemic hit, and as a result, we were highly successful in pushing more applicants through our process than most other life insurance carriers.