Gateways to growth: Insurance portals that deliver

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June 2015

How a well-designed portal can drive growth

Insurers are investing in core transformations of systems, including billing and claims. But some fail to travel the last mile.

Based on our experience, many companies have not yet realized the full value of their core transformation investments. While their core transformations are advancing their operational capabilities into the 21st century, they still need digital strategies to fuel growth. These digital strategies include everything from how a carrier wants to communicate with its clients to how it manages social media and search engine optimization. The cornerstone of a digital strategy is the carrier’s portal.

This paper outlines the key considerations that we think Property and Casualty (P&C) technology executives need to weigh when designing and implementing portals. These executives will face decisions ranging from which benefits they hope to achieve and what types of architecture flexibility they’ll need, to how they should coordinate portal development with related core transformation projects.

Decisions, decisions: The problem with portals

The endless options, continual advances in software, and rapid changes in the business landscape make portal implementation complex.

Carriers need an integrated strategy and a clear focus on client needs to develop portals that deliver a unique brand experience and drive growth.

We’ve seen many companies stumble into common mistakes. These include:

  • One size fits all: Some carriers don't consider the specific needs of respective user communities, or personas, when building portals. The personas could be policyholders, agents, or employees. When carriers try to serve several personas equally with their portals, carriers run the risk of serving none of them well.
  • Technology for the sake of technology: When carriers fast track their portal development to a particular technology solution, they miss the opportunity to truly differentiate themselves by focusing on competencies that complement their business models.
  • Failing to optimize the timing of portal rollouts: Portals are closely integrated with core systems and, therefore, the timing of the initial portal implementation—as well as subsequent updates—must be carefully sequenced against other core system upgrades.

Focus on capabilities

Your portal should help you achieve your business goals in the digital domain.

Once you understand how to use your portal to define your brand and support your business objectives, it will become clearer how to select and implement a portal solution from the many options available. Our approach outlines three steps:

  • Step 1: Use a capabilities-driven approach to help you tailor the portal for your most critical user communities. Identify the capabilities and experience differentiators a portal solution can provide for different users.
  • Step 2: Evaluate portal solution options: Identify what’s at stake by analyzing growth objectives and the competitive landscape. The answer to this question helps inform decisions about how much to spend and how quickly you need to implement a new portal.
  • Step 3: Balance expected business benefits, costs, and risks when planning the timing of the implementation. When making this decision, consider how you’ve prioritized client and operational needs against cost and technical constraints, as well as the desire to minimize rework and maintain a positive user experience throughout the change.

Portals are more than online marketing and branding tools. By following a structured portal implementation approach that aligns with the digital strategy and offers unique capabilities targeted at their user bases, carriers can make the most of their portal and core investments. A portal can be the place policyholders go to research and buy insurance, submit claims and pay bills, and update coverage as their financial needs change. It can also be the place where agents go to obtain quotes, transmit claims data, and renew policies. In short, a portal can be an anchor for the carriers’ brand identity, a cornerstone of a digital strategy that emphasizes branding and client centricity in an age of continually rising client expectations.

Contact us

Imran Ilyas

Principal, Global & US Guidewire Alliance Leader and US Guidewire Practice Leader

Scott McMillen


Matthew Hurlbut


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