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SMA Asks: What's The Best Option for Policy Document Management?

Point-counterpoint report concludes that insurers' specific business drivers are important in deciding which system is best to manage policy documents.

Most insurers have the ability to manage their policy documents inside their policy administration system. But in a fast-changing world focusing both on using less paper and taking advantage of every opportunity to communicate with the customer, those systems aren't always able to handle all the needed capabilities, according to an SMA research brief, "The Management of Policy Documents: What Software Option is Best for Your Company?"

SMA examined the pros and cons of using the policy administration system for policy document management vs. a customer content management (CCM) system. While the policy system has advantages in being able to pull all the needed data and produce documents without requiring a lot of adaptation, insurers also need to consider design elements and delivery options, says SMA founder Deb Smallwood.

"Most policy systems have forms and they have the capability to take the variable data. But the tech is somewhat old or it's not robust — it's really designed to do decks and schedules and not designed to global changes," she explains. "CCM systems have very robust form and design capability, or they have the ability to take the data and map it."

It all depends on if your organization is in the position to implement and link a CCM system into the enterprise, Smallwood says. Small insurers, who want to reap the customer experience advantages of advanced policy document management, but operate on smaller budgets, especially feel this pressure.

[In Insurance & Technology's latest digital edition, Esurance's Lisa Ward explains how the company's policy system supports its customer experience efforts.]

"More insurers are starting to shift to the CCM because of the quality of the design and e-delivery capabilities," she says. "They're starting to use it as a cornerstone to do other documents on it as well, but it's more expensive because you have to do data integration."

The research comes as insurers are trending toward using policy documents, both in presentation and delivery, as a way to portray themselves as modern companies. This has led to some interesting short-term strategies while paper remains a necessary component of this process, Smallwood concludes.

"We know a handful of insurers are looking at their billing and their decks," she says. "Some smaller insurers, who don't have color printing capabilities, know that over time, e-delivery means they're going to send less and less paper.

"But they need paper today," she adds. "So they're actually outsourcing their printing."

You can hear more about this topic at the upcoming SMA Summit in Boston Sept. 24. Click here to learn more.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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