New York Life’s efforts to increasingly remove friction from the life insurance purchase process over the last several years have involved achievements in digitizing, improving data resources, and automating. This work has proven to be quite relevant in today’s virtual world and tremendously beneficial to consumers as they obtain the financial protection they need in a faster, more efficient way than ever before.
As part of modernizing and digitizing the purchase experience, New York Life began accepting life insurance applications electronically as of 2015, a noteworthy achievement within the life insurance industry at the time.
The company’s progress in fluidless and rules-based or model-driven underwriting – the process of assessing a life insurance application with little or no human intervention – was underway well ahead of COVID-19 and was expedited in response to the pandemic to support consumers in meeting their financial protection needs. Today, more than half of the agent-sold life insurance policies New York Life issues are underwritten without the use of fluids.
Accelerating the decision-making process
The ability to accelerate underwriting decisions was further enhanced by a multi-year effort to safely and securely access patient data – with applicant consent – from electronic health records in near-real time and in full compliance with HIPAA. In 2018, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Life became the first life insurance company in the U.S. to have the ability to directly access electronic health records through an agreement with Epic, a leading comprehensive health records system. In early 2021, New York Life announced a collaboration with Cerner Corporation, a global health care technology company, to facilitate and simplify electronic health record retrieval.
As Alex Cook, head of Strategic Capabilities at New York Life, explains, “This pioneering work in the electronic health record space is an important part of New York Life’s mission to improve the life insurance purchase experience. The ability to instantly retrieve digital health and other data to accelerate life insurance underwriting modernizes the process, reduces application processing time, and streamlines consumers’ ability to meet their coverage needs.”
Beyond delivering faster decisions, New York Life’s digitization efforts also bring more transparency to the application process. Today, life insurance applicants, their New York Life financial professionals, and the company’s underwriters benefit from an integrated and singular view into the process that allows all to understand where an application currently stands and what is coming next. Applicants are also empowered to move through the process at their own time and pace, with their financial professional available to offer guidance as needed.
What the future holds
Looking ahead, Cook expects further advances of New York Life’s underwriting rules engine and models, with inclusion of more health data and the opportunity for an even higher percentage of policies to be underwritten in near real-time, without the use of fluids. Converting data into insights in other ways will also enable the company’s financial professionals to deliver even better planning, services, and outcomes to policy owners.
As Cook notes, “At our core, New York Life is a people-based business enabled by the insights that digital technology capabilities provide. While we have accelerated and improved our ability to support consumers in obtaining the financial protection they need in today’s virtual environment, we expect the demand for a simpler and faster approach to remain strong. Even as accelerated underwriting and technological innovation transforms so much, New York Life remains focused on preserving the company’s commitment to the role that trusted human guidance, empowered by technology, plays in delivering long-term financial security and peace of mind.”
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