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Technology > Artificial Intelligence

The 5 I's of underwriting

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The benefits of next generation underwriting for complex risks are quantifiable and real. So – when, where, and how to start?


Now. The sooner, the better.  


It all starts with understanding the possible. You need to know what is realistically possible with the offerings that are available today. It is equally important to figure out what will be possible in the not too distant future.

Once you’ve got a grip on the possibilities, it’s time to set priorities. Describe the capabilities that go on the priority list using business terminology. This makes it much easier to have meaningful conversations between the business and IT interests. It is very important to look at how your plans for underwriting will align and work in concert with your policy administration system. Figure out what the best path for your organization is, and then just make it happen.  


The most effective path for making progress depends on the characteristics and culture of the company. For some insurers, shifting focus to the possibilities for underwriting gets things moving. Other organizations might need some help or just a kick-start. You can move the ball forward significantly by bringing in advisors that can describe what the options are and then put the value in context for your company. The important thing is to make progress one way or another. Time is of the essence.

The pace and breadth of change inside and outside our industry make the Partners at SMA feel very strongly about the significance of our signature Top 10 Imperatives. It is the urgency that makes it so important to concentrate on the underwriting imperative – Interconnect Intelligence for Underwriting.

When we started to build this out, we wanted to describe modern underwriting capabilities in the most basic terms. Simply put, the goal of underwriting is to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. This is how the 5 I’s were born.

SMA’s concept of modern underwriting capabilities can best be described by using the 5 I’s: IntuitiveIntelligentInterconnectedInformative, and Insightful. The next generation insurers are embracing solutions that embody these characteristics, and they are reaping the benefits.

What do these 5 I’s mean for you? Let’s explore:


A user-experience centric desktop, an intuitive desktop, saves time spent hunting and searching for information, and it eliminates rekeying into several systems. It also reduces the learning curve and ties directly to the main goals of underwriting: efficiency and effectiveness.


For complex risks that require the touch of an underwriter, the modern underwriting workstation can significantly augment the expertise and experience by incorporating and taking advantage of new sources of data and models. This new level of intelligence automation will help make better decisions and provide controlled discipline.


Modern underwriting capabilities are delivered through a variety of solutions that are tightly integrated with everything underwriting needs and feeds. The required capabilities extend beyond what a single solution can deliver. The requirements include an interconnected, intelligent, modern platform that facilitates easy integration and synchronization with core systems, tools, spreadsheets, models, and data, as well as external data sources.

Informative and Insightful 

Modern platforms provide underwriting with data and analytics like never before. Emerging technologies, as well as an abundance of new information, are generating new possibilities for underwriting and new ways to accomplish far-reaching transformation for the next generation of underwriting excellence. It is now possible to make smarter, more informed decisions by using new sources of data and models. New levels of sophistication in the information about both risk and customer intelligence are possible.

Looking back on my past-life as an insurer, I am in awe of the today’s possibilities. The power that data and analytics are giving our industry is boundless. Just thinking about how far underwriting has come in a very short time makes me even more excited for the future!

This is why at SMA we consider “Interconnect Intelligence for Underwriting” an imperative. It is critical to becoming a next-gen insurer. The world is moving as fast as we think it is. Any steps you can take to gain an edge by improving efficiency and effectiveness are must-take steps!

See also:

What a spreadsheet won’t tell you about selling life insurance

Prudential exec issues 6-point call for industry transformation


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