International programs: certainty from the get-go

How ONE Form is delivering contract certainty upon inception, while improving consistency, claims and transparency

Creating contract certainty in international programs is a challenge, with time lags and conflicting market practices potentially leaving local offices in coverage limbo. Could ONE Form be the solution?

The complexity of international programs has historically made it difficult to achieve contract certainty from the moment of inception. In particular, gathering the necessary information and making sure it flows easily and consistently between all the involved parties is far from straightforward.

Achieving this is reliant on everyone within the value chain working together. This includes the customer, broker and carrier, both at the global and the local level.

As each of these parties tend to communicate through their own network, coordinating across the different countries, cultures and time zones becomes challenging. This can lead to a time lag before getting policies issued unless the insurer has information ahead of inception.

Avoiding insurance limbo

Ian Long, head of international programs proposition, says: “Another complication can arise from differences in market practices. Therefore, what is requested may not be possible based on either the regulatory system or the market practice at the local level.”

The time lag between the confirmation of insurance cover and the issuance of the policy can trigger misunderstandings, and uncertainties.

Furthermore, the longer the amount of time that passes between these two moments, the more severe the issues can be.

In fact, a lag can make it extremely difficult for global risk managers to keep control of the international program and the local operations. A delay can result in coverage uncertainties, particularly at the local level, where a client’s local offices might not have a proper insurance document for weeks, if not months.

Paolo Testa, property product manager ONE Form, explains: “If there’s a delay in policy issuance, then a client’s local offices could live in an insurance limbo and local operations and local brokers might decide to go out hunting for coverage themselves, which increases complexity and the cost of the overall program and can actually result in duplication of cover as well.

How ONE Form can help

Testa says that Swiss Re’s ONE Form product contributes dramatically to alleviating these challenges for risk managers by ensuring that information is consistent and international programs are delivered with contract certainty from the get-go.

The customer’s frustration goes down dramatically because they are able to pay the premium and purchase an insurance product, and after a few days they have the contract in front of them, which is consistent, complete and compliant in all the countries where the policy is deployed,” Testa explains.

ONE Form also keeps the claims process straightforward and timely, by ensuring that everyone involved has access to the same information and policy wording. Because both the global and the local claims handlers are familiar and comfortable with the wording, you get far quicker and clearer claims decisions.

One of the biggest problems faced by multinational insurance programs is the issues caused by re-keying. This can lead to delays, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and even just straightforward human errors in the process.

ONE Form, according to Long, eliminates these issues, giving companies peace of mind.

By having data flowing system to system, we make sure that we avoid not only the time delay but also the risk around any re-keying of information.

"Our requests are standardised, which means people are used to the information they’re seeing. They’re also familiar with ONE Form, so both the producing and the local office are providing content in the same way, so we get far more consistency,” Long adds.

This strategic use of data also helps make sure that the appropriate cover is deployed across all countries. When it comes to understanding what is possible given the local regulations, a lot of those conversations take place upfront when setting up the form, which eliminates issues further down the process.

Testa says: “This is truly an end-to-end process, which gives consistency and enhances customers’ satisfaction.”

Global solutions, local tailoring

Another crucial element of ONE Form is that even though it’s globally standardised, it can be adapted to specific needs at the local level, because it is modular. However, the master and local issuance remains consistent, with a clear oversight of what each policy contains.

This helps to reduce exposure arising through difference in limits or conditions. It therefore enhances clarity and gives a significant advantage in terms of claims payment and tax issues.

Long says: “What’s critical is the consistency, so the customer knows upfront what they are getting from us across the world. We’re working increasingly with network partners to adopt our wording and it helps support and build the strength of our network as well in terms of how we deliver the end-to-end service. The transparency means customer can have confidence around what is covered, which then makes it easier to make business decisions.”

Testa adds: “ONE Form is completely integrated with our PULSE platform, which delivers solutions to clients. That means that policy information and data is anytime available in PULSE and this enhances the knowledge and the capability of our clients to check and verify policy terms and conditions any time, anywhere in the world, and for the whole international program.

Originally published by Strategic Risk on 2 December 2021.

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