The New Insurance Pricing Process. 6 Keys to Success

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1 6 Keys to Success

2 WHY A NEW PRICING PROCESS? In a business that has been around as long as the insurance business, it is not uncommon to find well entrenched processes that have been practiced for decades. Having been practiced for such a long time, there is something to be said for the robustness of such processes. However, in every business comes a time when fundamental changes in the business environment and shifting market forces make a reevaluation of existing practices necessary. Advances in technology can also be a catalyst for process transformation. While technology plays a major role as process enabler, we have all witnessed cases when overtime the process becomes hostage to the limitations of legacy systems. When fundamental market forces and significant technology paradigm shifts combine to form the perfect storm, the writing is on the wall for a reconsideration of existing processes. That s the situation we are facing in insurance pricing today. Based on Earnix s work with leading insurers worldwide, this ebook will help you understand the following questions: What are the shortcomings of existing pricing processes? How do they impact the business? How to reinvent the pricing process 2

3 WHY NOT JUST CONTINUE WITH BUSINESS AS USUAL? The new economic realities Although most insurance companies (albeit with some notable exceptions) survived the financial crisis of without any major downfalls, they cannot escape the broader implications of the new, post-crisis economic realities. Insurers around the world are acutely aware that achieving growth and profitability in this new era is going to be more difficult than in the past. Impact of Financial Crisis on Pricing Importance The age of consumer power Insurers also realize that consumer behavior is undergoing a major shift. Empowered by the democratization of information, consumers increasingly exercise their ability to compare products and services and share recommendations with other consumers. With these capabilities at their disposal, consumers are far less hesitant to shift alliances from one brand to another as their needs and perceptions change. The shifting competitive landscape The changing patterns of consumer behavior have a profound impact on the competitive landscape in all markets, and the insurance market is no exception. Just like Amazon became a retail powerhouse without building a single brick and mortar store, new insurance players are no longer inhibited by the barrier of building an agent distribution network. In this new world, the winners are companies that are able to better communicate directly with customers, present choices that closely meet individual needs, and promptly respond to market dynamics. So why not just continue with business as usual? In short, because the business has changed forever, and those that don t change with it will be left behind. Source: 2011 Earnix European Insurance Pricing Survey 3

4 HOW ARE INSURERS RESPONDING TO THESE NEW REALITIES? As Celent s 2011 US Insurance CIO Survey shows, although insurers largely recognize the new normal, the response often lags (see chart). Insurers that address these challenges are adopting the following strategic responses: Market Challenge New economic realities requiring new ways to generate profit and growth Increasing consumer power and diminishing brand loyalty Strategic Response A shift from cost-cutting to operational efficiency A deeper understanding of the customer at the center of the business Source: Celent 2011 US Insurance CIO Survey A shifting competitive landscape where responsiveness is the key competitive advantage Agility to keep up with the pace of change Unfortunately for insurers, existing pricing processes often stand in the way of adopting these response strategies, as we are just about to see 4

5 HOW DO EXISTING PRICING PROCESSES HINDER INSURERS RESPONSE TO THESE CHALLENGES? Current-state pricing processes are largely constrained by the limitations of an aging IT infrastructure. With pricing processes fragmented across multiple legacy systems, changes to pricing strategies often require substantial IT resources. Current processes are often laden with manual steps that further slow down the ability of the organization to respond to market dynamics. Scattered in information silos that are not readily accessible across the organization, pricing processes are difficult to audit and control. Collaboration among the different stakeholders in the pricing process is cumbersome without a centralized pricing system that all functions involved can directly access. The constraints of pricing structures and formats supported by legacy systems restrict the range of pricing strategies the insurer can exercise. With no capacity to capture data about price offers rejected by customers, there is limited ability to test and optimize new pricing schemes. 5

6 THESE SHORTCOMINGS OF EXISTING PRICING PROCESSES HAVE SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS IMPLICATIONS Falling behind the competition: According to a recent Earnix survey, most insurers require at least 1-3 months for rolling out a new pricing strategy; as many as a third of the respondents require over 3 months (see survey results). With such long cycles, these companies are always a step or two behind the competition. Time Required for Executing a New Price Strategy Suboptimal pricing decisions: Long cycles and restrictive systems also mean that pricing teams have limited opportunities to evaluate new pricing strategies based on real data, potentially diminishing the opportunity to optimize prices before they roll them out to the field. Higher operational costs: With many steps that add little to no value to the final outcome and high degree of dependence on costly IT resources, current pricing processes add an unnecessary burden on already strained operational budgets. Source: 2011 Earnix European Insurance Pricing Survey The bottom-line: there is clear and measurable evidence that inadequate pricing processes translate to lower profits and growth rates. 6

7 THE NEW PRICING PROCESS: SIX KEYS TO SUCCESS 1. Establish a Closed-loop Process 2. Empower Your Pricing Team 3. Enable Collaboration 4. Implement a Single Pricing Platform 5. Automate Price Execution and Real-time Pricing 6. Simplify and Streamline the Process 7

8 KEY #1: ESTABLISH A CLOSED-LOOP PROCESS Pricing professionals have long known that rates cannot be set in a vacuum. However, forming new pricing strategies that incorporate market input is extremely challenging when the process of getting new rates to the market is lengthy and heavily reliant on IT resources, and when IT systems lack the capacity for collecting feedback data from the field. A closed-loop process enabling pricing teams not only to quickly bring new rates to the market but also to collect performance data, analyze it, and translate the findings into additional strategy modifications is critical to the ability of pricing teams to calibrate their output with market dynamics. 8

9 KEY #2: EMPOWER YOUR PRICING TEAM Given the right tools, there is little doubt that your pricing experts can come up with the best pricing strategies for your business. However, bounded by today s restrictive practices and systems, your pricing team depends heavily on IT resources and has little room to maneuver. Providing your team with powerful price analytics capabilities that can be easily used by business users will allow your pricing team to put their expertise to use and maximize the effectiveness of your pricing strategies. 9

10 KEY #3: ENABLE COLLABORATION It is hard to find anybody in the organization that doesn t have a say in the pricing decision. In a risk-driven industry, actuaries are traditionally the owners of pricing decisions. Marketing, however, see it as one of the traditional four P s (Product, Price, Promotion, Place) they need to control. The channel management team, being the closest to agents and brokers that interact directly with customers, has a stake in the pricing process as well. And with direct implications on the company s bottom line, it would only be natural for finance to be in the picture. Last but not least, senior management often gets involved in strategic pricing decisions. Effective collaboration on pricing decisions is therefore vital to keeping all stakeholders on the same page and ensuring that pricing decisions reflect a cross-functional consensus. 10

11 KEY #4: IMPLEMENT A SINGLE PRICING PLATFORM Putting a closed-loop process in place and enabling all stakeholders to contribute is significantly more challenging when different steps of the process are scattered across multiple systems that are not always accessible by all participants. Eliminating IT silos where fragments of the current pricing practices take place and consolidating them into a single pricing platform is a key enabler to a collaborative, integrated, closed-loop pricing process. Needless to say, such a platform must address all security concerns that come with a shared system. And to truly enable an end-to-end process, it must also integrate with other operational systems that play a role in the process from underwriting and renewal applications to agent- and customer-facing systems. Furthermore, when all pricing activity is performed in one platform, controlling and later auditing who does what, when, and why becomes an important added benefit that is easy to achieve. 11

12 KEY #5: AUTOMATE PRICE EXECUTION AND REAL-TIME PRICING With a compressed development-to-market pricing cycle, insurers are able to stay ahead of the competition and quickly respond to changing market dynamics. Automating price execution enables insurers to accelerate the steps involved in moving prices from the development phase through testing and to the field. Where possible, moving into real-time pricing optimization further empowers insurers to reach maximum agility and responsiveness by constantly incorporating market input into their pricing decisions. 12

13 KEY #6: SIMPLIFY AND STREAMLINE THE PROCESS As often is the case with corporate processes, pricing practices at many insurance companies are confined by the limitations of legacy IT systems. One of the greatest benefits of a new pricing platform is that it frees the organization to remove these shackles and eliminate inefficiencies that have become entrenched overtime. A typical pricing process today comprises many steps that can be greatly streamlined, resulting in significantly quicker turnaround for the development, testing, and deployment of new prices. 13

14 THE BENEFITS ARE MEASURABLE The insurance industry is not one to embrace change for the sake of change. But faced with market realities, insurers are now forced to treat new pricing processes and tools as a necessity rather than novelty. Those that have stepped up to the challenge have already been realizing the benefits. Insurers that have adopted new pricing processes and systems regularly see improvements of 5-20% in their profits, along with other measurable benefits that include higher growth rates and greater operational efficiencies. The benefits are probably in excess of 15 [US$23.8] million a year. Martyn Green, Chief Actuary, Lloyds TSB Insurance (Insurance & Technology, June 2009) LEARN HOW YOU CAN JOIN THE LEADERS To learn how your insurance organization can benefit from optimizing the pricing process, contact us or visit 14

15 ABOUT EARNIX Earnix is a leading provider of customer value and pricing optimization software solutions for the insurance and banking sectors, led by a team of seasoned professionals with significant financial services background combined with expertise in optimization technology and enterprise software development. The Earnix integrated pricing platform enables insurers, insurance brokers, and banks to maximize customer relationships and drive significant improvements in profitability by utilizing robust analytics and delivering the power of optimization to the point of customer interaction. For more information visit 15

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