Recently, world markets have taken a huge hit and will continue to be impacted by the current pandemic. In times like today, people look for insured investments and guaranteed fixed products more than ever. People reconsider life insurance and long-term care products that they have put off buying while others look to Fixed Annuity and Fixed Indexed Annuity products that provide the guarantees they are looking for to protect their capital and provide lifetime income.
For reasons we have no control over, agents and firms are being forced to move away from face-to-face interactions. The entire world is social distancing. Restaurants and bars are closed. Shelter-in-place orders are being enforced, keeping agents from meeting with their clients to discuss their financial needs, forcing them to move to virtual meetings. That means, for agents who are still submitting paper applications, they are faced with more challenges in following and meeting firms’ compliance requirements than ever before. When an agent cannot meet with their clients, they are not able to comply with authentication requirements or collect signatures. With forced distancing, carriers, distributors and advisors are looking for ways to efficiently and effectively support and service their clients’ urgent needs remotely.
So, what is the answer? A digital electronic order entry solution that enables agents to collect required data, manage authentication, capture e-signatures, and electronically submit the application to the carrier, while entirely remote. By providing agents the ability to transact business digitally and remotely, they can continue to run their businesses and support their clients with financial and insurance products during times of separation.
For firms who are struggling to find a quick solution for their paper workflows, who are missing out on sales opportunities or firms who have a digital gap in their current process, this can create some real anxiety. There are options available that can help calm the fears.
If a firm needs to become fully digital to adapt to today’s sales environment, FireLight® is here to help. For firms that are processing all paper or firms that are digital, but not 100%, here are just a few features available in FireLight today that can be implemented to get fully digital.
FireLight sales platform provides electronic application, including transfer/exchange/replacement processes, that guide agents through data collection, e-signature capture with authentication, review and electronic submission to the carrier.
Workflow Flexibility – With many workflow options across all lines of insurance and retirement business, firms can implement and replace the existing paper process across multiple sales activities. For example, firms can use FireLight for Pre-Sale Functions (account opening, pre-suitability, needs determination), Quote/Illustration, and e-Application and more. If a firm has these processes in place in the paper world, the processes can be automated and followed by the agent. In fact, in a digital world, data is entered one time and flows into the next activity, so it is far more efficient.
Client Fill and Sign – Agents do not have to know all the information for an application to get it submitted. Agents can use the “Client Fill & Sign” or “Client Fill” features to allow the agent to fill in required agent information and then send a request for the client to fill in missing information and sign the application in one step. This capability is valuable in required remote sales situations.
Authentication – Agents no longer need to be face-to-face to authenticate the signer or capture signatures. FireLight has base support for various types of e-Signature Authentication. Firms can define the level of authentication required for their activities. The authentication can be assigned at a base level, at a group level, at a signer level or rules can create heightened authentication under specific situations.
e-Signature – FireLight has built-in e-signature capabilities that support face-to-face (SignNow) and remote signing at no additional cost. In remote signing situations, Agents can send the documents to the client to review and sign. When the client has completed the signature process, FireLight sends a signature request to any remaining signers and then submits the application to the next workflow. The FireLight electronic signatures are legally binding and meet the compliance and regulatory requirements of the SEC and FINRA and are IRI STP certified for e-signature standards. Additionally, in a fully remote situation, firms can turn-off the SignNow option so that the only option that appears is remote signing.
Transfer/Share/Case Access – What if the sales process involves a call center, a sales assistant, or someone other than the agent that will complete the application? In these situations, someone needs to initiate the application/activity and send it to the agent. FireLight supports base functionality for firms to support these workflows.
Share – Share capability allows the sharing of an activity or all activities among users and is an excellent option for firms that have call centers that need to share a view into other activities that they initiated. Groups that have the Allow Activity Share option enabled see a “Share” option on the Other Actions menu while an activity is in edit mode. Users can create Read-Only and Full Control share requests, as well as cancel previous requests.
Transfer – “Allow Transfer Activity” is an organization setting that allows the user to transfer an activity to a new owner using the Transfer link on the Other Actions menu in FireLight. If this access permission is enabled and the user is the owner of the application, the Transfer link appears on the Other Actions menu.
Review – Compliance/suitability/manager review is often part of the process that, in a paper world, requires shuffling of paper and faxes. In a digital world, firms can build in the reviews and manage the review electronically.
Electronic Submission to the Carrier – FireLight submits the completed, in-good-order paperwork and electronic data to the carrier for issuance, eliminating manual processes and expediting policy issuance. Back-office personnel do not have to manage paper to submit the signed documents to the carrier.
Post-Issue Services – If post-issue changes are being completed via paper, these processes can also be moved to a digital process. Name changes, address changes, withdrawal request and in-force contract changes can also be supported in FireLight so that maintenance changes are digitally automated, benefiting from the same electronic advantages as the initial application, including data collection, e-Signature, authentication and submission to the carrier.
Post Submission Status of the Carrier – As everyone is moving to fully digital processes, call centers that receive status requests may become overwhelmed. Anything that can be done to eliminate call volume would be beneficial. FireLight can receive the status of the submitted applications and display the status in FireLight for their agents to access. This capability eliminates the call center receiving requests for contract status.
Training/Playbook – Training resources are key when moving agents from a paper experience to a digital experience and are available in FireLight for firms to leverage with their agents to create a smooth transition. Agents need to understand the electronic process, what to expect, and how to submit their business fully electronically. There are so many reasons to move to digital, and once agents are given the blueprint for how to submit business electronically it becomes second nature.
Options are available to firms that have not begun their digital transformation or for firms that are not fully digital, but are looking to become 100% digital. Firms can work with an already implemented FireLight client to provide their advisors with digital sales capabilities now to support their clients remotely. Insurance Marketing Organizations (IMOs) and Brokerage General Agents (BGAs) have already built solutions with FireLight for fully electronic data collection, e-Signatures, and submission to the carriers. If you have not already implemented a solution, you can work with one of these firms. Additionally, many insurance carriers have direct solutions on their site that support fully electronic submission.
By Katherine Dease, Chief Product Officer, Insurance Technologies