The underwriting process is about to get easier for customers of MLC Life Insurance as the firm becomes the first in Australia to offer UK underwriting rules engine UnderwriteMe.
Partnering with the engine's proprietary owner Pacific Life Re, MLC Life and its customers will benefit from the new business processing and automated underwriting efficiencies afforded by the technology, using a database of industry standard questions to assess lifestyle and health factors.
The partnership with Pacific Life Re signals the first step in a series of projects MLC Life is undertaking to further innovate its offering to the Australian life insurance market. Nippon Life, which owns an 80% stake in MLC Life, is driving the strategy, investing about $400 million to improve technology and digital capabilities.
MLC Life believes the technology will transform the way life insurers measure risk, and significantly diminish the time it takes for people to access cover. So far, testing has indicated UnderwriteMe will double straight-through acceptance rates, insuring customers without the need for manual underwriting.
MLC Life chief customer officer, retail advised insurance, Melissa Heyhoe said the use of UnderwriteMe will allow MLC Life to ask fewer, more relevant questions in order to produce a more accurate risk assessment in a matter of days.
"Underwriting has traditionally been a complex and time consuming process. People typically fill out lengthy, paper-based questionnaires about their health and lifestyle history, and we use that information to determine if we approve life cover and on what terms. In some instances, because of the complexity of some health conditions and other factors, it can take a month to make a decision," Heyhoe said.
The UnderwriteMe rules engine stores more than 6500 medical conditions, providing a wide range of data to assess potential risks. The engine also includes a pre-assessment tool that financial advisers can use with clients to provide an instant, indicative price for life insurance cover.
In June, Heyhoe told Financial Standard that "underwriting is an area that has been ripe for innovation in the industry, and we know it is a process that can and should be done better."
UnderwriteMe director of business development Rakesh Kaul said the business is excited to be entering the Australian market.
"MLC Life Insurance is a respected and long established brand that is fast becoming an innovator in this market. We are thrilled they have chosen our software technology to help with their digital transformation. We look forward to playing our part in helping change the industry for the better," Kaul said.
UnderwriteMe will be available across all retail advised, underwritten bancassurance, direct life insurance products and select group insurance clients from late 2017.