The road ahead for underwriting in a digital era

7 min readAug 17, 2020


The road ahead for underwriting in a digital era

Why digital

Traditionally, the insurance industry has always thought of themselves as the biggest and best handlers of complex data. However, with the digital revolution that is sweeping across all industries today, the in-depth insights that data provides are not available exclusively to insurers alone. Today, we see the emergence of numerous entities from IoT providers to social media outlets, which have the potential to obtain massive volumes of predictive data on insurance and insurance risks.

The slick and rapid transformation due to digital disruption has left traditional commercial underwriting lagging behind with a slew of changes needed to make the most of emerging technologies. Insurers that make the effort to evaluate and implement the right digital technologies can automate sluggish, error-prone and cost intensive processes to achieve increased speed of processing, accuracy and the benefits of efficiencies in cost. This will in turn allow them to incorporate far reaching insights into the underwriting process to improve the accuracy and efficiency of profitable risk selection.

In order to stay relevant and improve on accuracy and efficacy, underwriting will need to utilise the most suitable new technologies to effectively leverage the enormous and fast growing volumes of data to assist them in their assessments and analyses. It is also critical that insurers realise that it is only with the incorporation of technology solutions like AI, robotics and machine learning, that they can cut costs, improve customer engagement and have a positive impact on their bottom lines. And, all of these goals are must-haves if they are to stay ahead of the competition and thrive in the digital age.

The new landscape

Many commercial insurance carriers have already experienced the transformational value that digital technologies bring to their way of selling insurance products (through online aggregators) and the kind of products that they sell (with value added offerings). There is widespread consensus among both insurers and brokers that underwriting and pricing capabilities are two of the critically valuable factors as far as future technology investments are considered.

These two functions and processes have received a shot in the arm with augmentation by the more mature emerging technologies (predictive analytics, big data, automated portfolio management, underwriting trading platforms and GIS), as well as machine learning and sensor-based technologies.

The chart below outlines the new digital underwriting ecosystem:

Five key components in a digital insurance ecosystem:

While new channels (digital exchange players, peer-to-peer markets, POS offerings, etc.) continuously emerge and gain a footing in the insurance market space, agents and brokers remain the predominant channel of insurance distribution..

Underwriting tools (BI tools and UW desktops) and service providers (data and platform providers, reinsurers, loss engineers, etc.) are constantly innovating and improving. As these new tools gain traction and confidence in the insurance market, commercial carriers will begin to rely on them to a large extent and also realise that their services are indispensable to the furtherance of their business interests. Insurers and brokers will now ally themselves alongside data and platform providers to actively support the review and analysis of their external data as is currently the practice for their core systems.

With the digital age, the volume and type of data that is made available to insurers has seen a marked increase. The vast array of types and sources of data in both structured and unstructured forms is what insurers and their underwriters need to be well prepared for. And, it is this data that they need to quickly and efficiently organise, analyse and turn around to provide insightful analysis for ongoing as well as future risks.

There is a gradual but definitive shift away from the dependence of underwriting management on the hitherto two key functions of managing underwriters (to ensure a professional and proficient performance) and managing the book ( to take into account requirements of pricing, form or guidelines).

The large amounts of external data and the traditionally sourced data that underwriters source can now be handled offshore or by utilising automation. And, for triage or the evaluation of risks, insurers today have a few options at hand. They can consider onshore / offshore centres that undertake underwriting operations, the use of AI or even machine learning solutions.

New technologies that are impacting underwriting

The insurance industry has over the recent past invested billions of dollars in the pursuit of new technologies with the confidence that it will give them the competitive edge that will bolster their bottom lines and hopefully, propel them to the position of market leaders. However, as with most other long term solutions, there is no one-size-fits-all or a magic wand of technology that can be waved over the business as a panacea for all ills. The available technologies need to be carefully considered and investment choices need to be made with abundant caution. The infographic below gives an indication as to the technologies that are doing well now and those that are being phased out:


  • The current list of emerging technologies include IoT authentication, blockchain technologies, smart advisors, digital security and automated data classification.
  • Technologies that are showing promise and improving with time are: big data, software as a service (Saas), hyperscale computing, robotic process automation (RPA), IoT sensors and connected devices, advanced analytics, hybrid cloud and cloud security, application programming interfaces (APIs) and new productivity platforms;.
  • BPM (Business Process Management) and on-premise enterprise systems are some of the mature technologies in insurance today.
  • The aging technologies in insurance consist of the mainframes or legacy infrastructure systems, the tangled web of various outdated systems that almost everyone in the insurance industry has tucked away in a large backroom.

Neutrinos case studies:

1. Document and data driven process transformation with BPM

Working with one of Singapore’s leading Life Insurers, Neutrinos Prudential Singapore embarked on a transformation initiative with the key objective to create document and data driven business processes around new business, claims and policy servicing.

The Challenges:

The key challenge has been to move from a traditional way of operations to a modernized operation as well as move from sunset technologies to embrace a new BPM tech stack with a seamless integration of the Neutrinos application framework.

The Neutrinos solution:

Using an existing manual new business process, Neutrinos demonstrated a proof of concept in 3 working days, with a case management view that was custom built and could demonstrate headless BPM integration. This consisted of:

  • Create a visual prototype of the intended case management solutions.
  • Demonstrate a custom front end, that integrates to IBM BPM 8.5, that proves headless integration.
  • Demonstrate with a prototype document management capability of the case Management layer.
  • Demonstrate task assignment and capability for the platform to show analytical dashboards.

The results achieved:

  • Cost Effective : The Neutrinos platform is based on open source technologies based on a subscription, unlimited Users & Apps
  • Richer Front Ends: Drag and Drop front end builds with efficient data model definition and client-side services
  • NO LOCK-IN: Allows to use the code after it is built on the platform and run the code independently outside of Neutrinos platform in a cloud platform of choice
  • Skills Basic skill (HTML, JavaScript) requirements for front-end development on web, mobile, and tablets
  • WYSIWYG (Visual Drag & Drop) Designer for developing front-end and modelling services
  • TECHNOLOGY AGNOSTIC — Architected to use any DB, ECM, BPM, ESB engines, agnostic to overlaying front-ends, any AI Services & any Cloud of choice,

2. E-payment authorisation using RPA

The challenges:

One of Malaysia’s foremost insurers was facing multiple issues for e-payment authorisation. These included:

  • Upload of supporting documents between process
  • Issues around configurability, usability, Performance and wait times
  • Business Centric Digital Workplace
  • KTA (Kofax Total Agility) process flow process not optimized
  • Digital document archival process
  • Retaining original document format
  • Field level validations missing

The Neutrinos solution:

Neutrinos helped the insurer with Design e-forms on Digital Workplace that would help drive E-payment authorization requests of New Registration and Change of Beneficiary Banking Details. Data from documents would be extracted using KTA and help drive end to end E-payment authorization business process flow up until Policy/M update.

The results achieved:

The insurer achieved Business Agility with Compliance ease and visibility and a clear approval process took place for all the workflows.

With specialised solutions for the insurance industry, Neutrinos is helping leading insurers take impactful digital transformation decisions. We are experienced in legacy modernization and the integration of new age technologies to help insurers achieve both their digital transformation goals as well as their growth objectives.

Reach out to our experts for more details.