Insurance is an extraordinarily complex, highly segmented, and highly regulated industry. As a result, the application of No-Code in insurance proves to be a great opportunity for automating various business processes. Yet, there are also many challenges.
The industry is broken down into many segments (or lines of business), such as Property & Casualty (P&C), Life, and Health, each with its own set of rules and regulations. For example, health insurance may include factors for medical, dental, vision, and mental health. Each sub-segment also has its own rules and regulations. Additionally, these rules may vary by country or state. For example, most of the health insurance industry in the United States is private, but there are also government-operated Medicare and Medicaid programs. In many other countries, the health care program is entirely public, with some insurance companies providing private health insurance.
This level of complexity is also reflected in the application development needs of an insurance company, making it very difficult for IT departments to keep up with the development and maintenance lifecycle. Business units often turn to Excel spreadsheets as a means for building their complex rating applications, which in turn makes insurance a prime industry to benefit from No-Code platforms.
There are Many User Roles in Insurance
Before we dive into the type of applications that are best suited for No-Code in insurance, it is important to understand the end users of these applications. There are various role players in the insurance industry, but as far as application development is concerned, there are three main categories: customers, partners, and internal users.
Customers are the end users of insurance products. They are called beneficiaries in insurance, and are either policy holders or members.
In P&C insurance, end users are policy holders. A beneficiary can be a person or an organization. For example, an individual may have auto, homeowners, and boat insurance. These are called personal lines. Similarly, a business may also purchase auto, building, and liability insurance. These are called commercial lines. In Life and Health Insurance, end users can be members. These are individuals that are purchasing life or health coverage. Additionally, businesses can purchase insurance coverage for their employees. Coverage types can include life, health, disability, dental, or a variety of others.
All in all, while the end users of an insurance product may vary depending on its segment, they are either individuals or businesses. This means that an insurance company can have tens of millions of end users of their products.
In the insurance context, partners are individuals or organizations that are not direct employees of an insurance company, but work with them to serve as a part of the entire insurance process. Agents, brokers, hospitals, insurance adjusters, appraisers, and even regulators can be partners.
Insurance agents and brokers are the most important partners in the insurance industry. They are also sometimes referred to as producers. They sell insurance products and manage a part of the relationship between beneficiaries and the insurance company.
The concept of an insurance agent and broker is often confused and the two are used interchangeably. Agents represent the insurance company, and they can complete a sale, whereas brokers represent the beneficiary and cannot complete a sale. Most insurance companies sell their products through agents and brokers. Each of these positions play a critical role in insurance operations. Almost every insurance company operates portals and applications for their agents and brokers.
There are also key roles that are internal to insurance companies, such as actuaries. They are responsible for key operations, such as pricing insurance products and calculating reserves. They are extremely critical to the overall success of an insurance company.
Underwriters are also critical in insurance organizations. Their responsibility is to analyze each policy and decide if the insurance company should sell or renew it in order to minimize their risk.
Applications in Insurance are Highly Diverse
There are unique processes in insurance that are automated using applications, such as policy administration, claim management and processing, underwriting, and billing. These processes are highly data driven. For example, a large health insurance company could be processing hundreds of millions of claims per year. These applications must be designed to handle such high volumes of data.
Insurance applications are also highly mathematical and logic-driven. Many operations in an insurance company are affected by actuarial calculations. Thus, the need for incorporating complex logic into these applications is not uncommon.
Customer Facing Applications
Now, let us take a look at insurance applications from the end-user perspective and discuss the use of No-Code. It is important to note that we are excluding non-industry-specific business functions. For example, an insurance company might be using an HR software, which can similarly be used across any industry. These types of applications are excluded from this analysis, unless they require industry-specific or company-specific features that cannot be handled in a general-purpose software.
Customer facing applications are used by policy holders or members. They are Internet-based applications. Their user base can be massive, often calculated in the millions.
Since they are accessed by customers, the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are extremely important. Development of these applications must involve UI/UX specialists. Often, they are built to be very simple and user friendly, rather than exposing the complexities of the back-end calculations.
Mobility is also an important aspect of customer facing applications. They are almost always required to have responsive web interface, or to be developed as native mobile applications.
Security is also critical in customer facing applications. They often collect and store personally identifiable information (PII) or personal health information (PHI). Both types of data is governed by data security regulations, such as HIPAA. Hence, most insurance companies prefer hosting these applications internally as opposed to using cloud vendors, except for those vendors that already comply with industry specific security regulations.
Due to their massive user base, scalability is another important aspect of customer facing applications. A requirement like enabling hundreds to thousands of concurrent users is common in customer facing applications. High availability is another important factor, as these are business critical applications with extremely low tolerance for downtime. A typical infrastructure will include multiple servers for scalability and redundancy.
Some common applications include policy administration, claims submission and tracking, online quoting and payment processing.
Customer facing applications are not ideal candidates for No-Code, mainly because of the strict requirements for security, scalability, and high availability. Most No-Code platforms are cloud based and cannot be deployed internally. While some carry security certifications, it is important to review their security measures with respect to the insurance organization’s compliance requirements.
Partner Facing Applications
These are more complex applications compared to customer facing applications. The user interfaces tend to be more complicated, explicitly displaying various factors and calculated output. The UI/UX design requirements are often not as critical as in customer facing applications.
The user base is also not as large as in customer facing applications. A typical insurance companies’ brokerage base can be in the thousands, which means that the scalability requirements are less stringent.
Due to the UI complexity, most broker facing applications are not necessarily mobile enabled. There are often many input fields that need to be entered in these applications, which makes them impractical for use on mobile devices. Brokers usually want to minimize the time they spend on data entry through these applications. If they can do it faster on a computer than on a mobile device, they will use a computer.
Security requirements are also less stringent than in customer-facing applications. Brokers typically deal with businesses rather than individuals. They often sell commercial products in P&C or group insurance products in Life and Health Insurance. They usually deal with aggregate data instead of member level data (which may include personally identifiable information). Some examples include quoting applications, policy management, renewal, claims processing and management.
Partner facing applications are better suited for No-Code. They are typically accessed via a portal application.
Internal applications likely represent the largest driver of application development in any insurance company. Internal applications are typically highly diverse by business units and department. Most internal applications receive limited or no resources for development and maintenance, which is why business units have been historically developing most of these applications in spreadsheets.
The typical user base is relatively small, often ranging in the dozens to hundreds. Since they include a smaller user base and the applications are less business-critical (relative to customer or partner facing applications), they may also accommodate a certain level of expected downtime. Thus, the high-availability requirements of customer and partner facing applications are not as vital here.
Functionality is the most important factor for an internal application. The overall UI/UX requirements are often secondary in these applications.
Since these applications are used by internal users, they can be hosted on the Intranet as opposed to the Internet, which lowers the security requirements as all data reside within the corporate network behind firewalls. The risk of business users mis-configuring and exposing sensitive data can be minimized by keeping these applications internal.
These are typically data and logic heavy applications. They also tend to be collaborative, and workflow-driven applications. Data analysis, reporting, dashboards, pricing, rule engines, and document management are some of the typical use cases.
Internal applications are perfect candidates for No-Code development. It allows business users to build and deploy applications quickly without relying on IT resources.
However, it is important that No-Code platforms are reviewed and approved by IT departments for security. When business units are expected to develop No-Code applications with various features, the risk of exposing sensitive data can be higher.
No-Code in Insurance is a Great Opportunity
No-Code development platforms offer a great opportunity for application development in the insurance industry. However, inherent complexities and regulatory restrictions also make it a challenge for No-Code in insurance.
It is important for insurance companies - especially their IT departments and security professionals - to evaluate and select the right platform for their needs depending on the type of applications. They should not be limited to selecting one No-Code platform either. As in traditional development, there is no “one size fits all” in No-Code.