Online forms, interrogation or engagement?

Imagine a scenario where you visit a very slick well-designed website, complete an online form and get a response confirming everything is OK. 10 minutes later you get a call from someone checking what you entered! What a waste of time for all involved! I also suspect your opinion of the brand would change and you’d be somewhat frustrated with the time being wasted repeating information.

It’s predicted that by 2022, up to 80% of micro businesses will be underwritten, largely automatically, in direct-to-customer channels

Surprising manual processing is a very common occurrence in the world of commercial insurance and client onboarding.

Most commercial underwriting is still a very manual process lacking the automation seen most other areas of insurance. Manual processes come with a significant number of inherent issues which, if reduced, could not only enhance the client’s experience but also significantly reduce costs and increase revenue for the seller.

Our research has identified issues across the board with online commercial insurance forms which wouldn’t be tolerated in the domestic space, these include:

  • So many questions, why can’t the client just enter their company registration number? Most of the data being requested is available in the public domain anyway.
  • Errors need to be followed-up manually, why is there no online validation? If my company is listed as insolvent should I really be encouraged to complete the rest of the form? Why are admin staff wasting their time on processes which could very easily be automated?
  • Missed opportunities, the applicant is only offering information on the product they are applying for, what if they have several other businesses you could cross-sell services to?
  • KYC Failures, the fines for not following correct procedures are increasing all the time. Sanction checks, business status, Health & Safety Executive fines can all be embedded as part of the application process.

Brokers will continue to dominate but, 60–70% will be electronically traded on broker portals with 20% automatically underwritten

Less is more

Registration is a necessary evil if you want to capture data, but there’s nothing worse than long, overly detailed registration forms. This is especially true with business related forms which appear to be about 10 years behind the curve.

We spot checked 10 well-known insurance companies’ online applications forms. None of them had a built-in validation process. This means a lot of money is being unnecessarily wasted on manual processing.

With only the Company Number, you can auto-complete at least 4, but usually up to 6 out of an average 18 questions on a typical form – reducing the number of questions the customer needs to answer by up to 33%. Average form length could easily be reduced by a third with the addition of public data. This makes the process simpler and faster for the applicant whilst offering the seller greater revenue generating opportunities with less effort.

The average age of a company on the register in 2016/2017 was 8.3 years, there is a lot of data waiting to be tapped into

Focus on what’s important

A lot of time is wasted manually checking for errors in online applications and basic KYC processes, this reduces conversion rates and increases the cost of acquisition. Unnecessary manual processes can be removed, and sales increased if data is gathered automatically. Additionally, this means that follow-up calls can be made with a better understanding of the client, allowing your agents to spend their time generating revenue instead of checking spelling.

By pulling though additional data you can view information on:

  • Company directors and their connections
  • Company filings and significant controllers
  • Hygiene inspections, flood risks
  • Insolvencies, bankruptcies, and outstanding charges

There were 3,896,755 registered companies in March 2017, an overall increase of 5.9% compared with the end of March 2016

Now is the time

If you are not considering the above then you can be sure your competitors are, commercial insurance has traditionally enjoyed better margins than domestic but as the market grows and more companies get involved competition will increase accordingly. Best start reviewing those forms now and get ahead of the curve.


The contributor is the CEO of Doorda – Open data solutions, a leading provider of commercial onboarding solutions.

Sources: Chartered Insurance Institute  Companies House