Field Views Are Mixed

On Tele-Underwriting

While companies that use tele-underwriting tout its effectiveness and ease of use, some agents in the field prefer the traditional data collection method.

“I collect all the medical information; I think it builds the relationship with the customer,” says Michael Blau, an agent with Farmers Financial Solutions, Kansas City, Mo.

Blaus primary company gives agents the option of using the tele-underwriting process or collecting medical information on their own.

Even though Blau hasnt tried submitting any business through the tele-underwriting system, he feels it would actually “slow down the entire issue process.” When the company tries to contact a client for the underwriting interview, it may take three to five days to get them on the phone, he says.

Instead, Blau takes all the necessary medical information on the application while hes meeting with the client–which he says takes only an additional five minutes.

On the other hand, Ernie Testa, a partner at Soarant, an information technology and management consulting firm in Middletown, N.J., says the tele-underwriting process, when integrated into a properly redesigned business model, will shorten the cycle time it takes to issue a policy. “Theres no question you get into telephone tags, but thats where call center expertise and knowledge comes into play.”

The telephone interviewers are “extremely diligent,” says Ed Omert, president of Roster Financial, West Berlin, N.J. Omert, who uses the tele-underwriting process, notes that he hasnt seen anything significant in terms of people missing phone calls for tele-underwriting interviews. If a client misses the first call, there will be two more follow up calls made before the agent is notified, he says. “The overwhelming majority of people are contacted within those three telephone calls.”

–Barry Higgins


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 28, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.