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Imprimatur: the Association of British Insurers' approval of teleunderwriting heralds a new era of acceptance of this more consistent and less costly procedure.

A milestone in the evolution--more aptly said, "intelligent design"--of teleunderwriting just went down, albeit across "the pond."

The pond, of course, being that (ever-rising) body of water separating Her Majesty's realm from "the colonies" to the west.

The Association of British Insurers just bestowed its blessing upon teleunderwriting in a 12-page manifesto. Teleunderwriting is now officially the high road to serving the interests of proposed insureds.

Let the gauntlet from application to policy, at long last, be less onerously traversed.

"Who cares what they do over there?"

We do.

Because the road proactive players have paved over these past 20 years is now investitured with the bright light of sanction. Passing muster with the ABI is the industry equivalent of the Michael Jordanification of a sneaker!

The ABI has nailed a "10" in its delineation of the wonders of teleunderwriting:

* Reduced costs

* Cosistent decision making

* Improved disclosure

* Improved customer service

* Reduced reports from physicians

The words "reduced" and "improved" set bells ringing up corporate food chains.

ABI guidelines define our transforming process as "targeted questioning on specific conditions or particular pieces of information required for underwriting."

None have said it better.

They mandate that insurers "should record all telephone conversation" and further that producers should be expected to explain this customer-friendly experience to clients.

They recognize the imperative of high-quality interview questions and acknowledge the (underappreciated) merits of going "off script" as needed.

Their urging of insurer due diligence nearly caused my last savory shortbread morsel to tumble into my afternoon tea!

They script model language for reading insurance-seekers their rights regarding the consequences of nondisclosure.

Interestingly, the ABI also extended its approbation to gathering of (ostensibly) teleunderwriting-equivalent risk information via the computer screen.

One can conjure credible circumstances where this stratagem might dodge a bullet: for example, simplified issue and smallish face amounts.

On the other hand, online taking of risk histories is, in my view, Inadvisable for fully underwritten products, unless, of course, said products have been priced (into sales obscurity) to pacify actuarial apprehension for florid antiselection and its aftereffects.

Indeed, the only predictable countervailing characteristic inherent in lengthy online information-gathering is cyber-fatigue, assuring that the longer the risk rap sheet, the more likely that final key stroke will be "delete," not "send"

Enough nattering-nabob negativism!

Let us revel in this bold hash mark on the fuselage of the mode of underwriting already embraced by 75% of U.S. life carriers.

Detritus of a bygone millennium fades into the mists of history.

Furrowed brows of clients recede with the empowerment to tell it like it is to a pleasant, nonthreatening, tastefully dispassionate--and for once, human voice.

Producer grimaces morph into smiles as policies arrive before the leaves rum.

Underwriters stride confidently to the podium at the President's Club free of anticipatory angst.

Life, in underwritingland, is good.

At last.

Hank George, a Best's Review columnist, is the principal in his own consulting and training firm, Hank George Inc. He may be reached at HankGeorge@aol.com.
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Title Annotation:Life: Underwriting Insight
Author:George, Hank
Publication:Best's Review
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:500
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