Columbus, Ohio-based insurance and financial services organization Nationwide recently announced it is more than halfway through a significant multi-year investment designed to transform, enhance and simplify its life insurance business capabilities.
“We’re in year three of a five-year journey to transform our life insurance business to a digital, real-time integrated experience that makes it simpler and more efficient for advisors and their clients,” said Kirt Walker, president and chief operating officer of financial services, Nationwide. “For many, there is still the perception that purchasing life insurance is a time-consuming, intrusive and perhaps expensive process. The changes we’ve made and are making is a more customer-centric, efficient and digitized way of doing so.”
Several of the new capabilities that are part of the transformation include:
- Intelligent Underwriting – a streamlined approach introduced two years ago that can provide a faster and more efficient underwriting process. It requires fewer attending physician statements and is an accelerated process for some of the healthiest clients by eliminating medical exams. For advisors it means less time spent on application paperwork, including the need for the advisor to gather the clients’ medical history. Snyder said Intelligent Underwriting has led to approximately 50% of preferred risks being accelerated, meaning an offer was extended within a day or two and no labs were necessary. Also, these cases have had a 95% placement rate.
- Pending Life Business Online Tracker – a real-time, mobile-friendly dashboard that allows advisors to check the status and information on their pending life insurance cases. There are no apps to download and no additional log-ins are required. It offers advisors quicker access to other tools, such as illustrations and e-applications, and allows them to sort, filter and organize cases by different criteria.
- Digital Customer Interview – Later this year, the Digital Customer Interview will provide a personalized, digital option for the proposed insured to complete the medical portion of their life insurance application. The assessment is dynamically generated for each proposed insured based on available data. This will provide a third option for the proposed insured to answer medical questions in a way that works best for them: in-person, over the phone and online.
The assessment will eliminate the need to schedule a telephone interview or paramedical interview, saving time and allowing flexibility for the proposed insured to complete the assessment when it is most convenient for them.
The process is more efficient, convenient, secure and cost effective since it reduces life application unit costs.
“The manual, intrusive process for underwriting healthy individuals with ambiguous results is rapidly changing to a faster, automated, more consistent process using machine learning and predictive analytics,” said Eric Henderson, senior vice president of Nationwide’s annuity and life insurance businesses. “We want to make it a simpler, more streamlined and efficient experience for advisors and their clients through digitization.”
Nationwide to expand innovation space, add new jobs in Columbus
Beyond the life insurance transformation, Nationwide also recently announced plans to open a new 31,000-square-foot innovation center in the Arena District of Columbus next year.
The company plans to renovate space within the building at 175 W. Nationwide Blvd., owned by Nationwide Realty Investors and its partner, Capital Square Ltd. The company is also planning to add several dozen jobs to support its innovation programs.
“Nationwide’s heritage as a mutual insurance company is driving our approach to innovation,” said Terrance Williams, Nationwide’s chief marketing officer and president of emerging businesses. “The expansion of our innovation facilities reflects our commitment to developing new ways to help members protect what’s most important and plan for a secure future. By repurposing a space we already own, we will cost effectively meet our growing business needs. It’s a win-win for both Nationwide and the Arena District.”
Furthering Nationwide’s commitment to Columbus, the innovation center’s location in the middle of the Arena District will create additional opportunities for collaboration with companies and organizations throughout the city.
Nationwide continues to ramp up its innovation programs, and it expects to run out of space in its existing innovation center, Refinery 191, by the end of this year. Nationwide will eventually move all the work from Refinery 191 to the highly collaborative new innovation center, which is scheduled to open in 2019.
In a release announcing the innovation center, the company said it is focused on establishing a repeatable approach to create a pipeline of innovation now and for years to come. A critical part of that structure is the physical space in which the team operates.
“Nationwide has nearly a century of experience thinking about our members and identifying innovative ways to solve their needs,” said Scott Sanchez, Nationwide’s chief innovation officer. “Expanding our space will ensure that associates have the right environment and resources they need to support collaboration and create new opportunities to delight our members in ways they can’t even imagine.”
Last August, Nationwide announced its commitment to drive more innovation that helps members:
- Live comfortably in retirement
- Meet their insurance and financial needs in novel and digital ways
- Protect their data and digital assets
- Protect them in the evolving area of mobility
“Innovation is a team sport, and we need spaces that enable our associates to do the rigorous and collaborative work they need to do; that’s exactly what the new innovation center will provide,” said Sanchez.
Along with the space expansion, Nationwide plans to hire several dozen highly skilled workers for innovation roles in Columbus over the next year.
Nationwide will also move its user-experience (UX) team to the new center. Co-locating the UX team, which has been focused on creating user-centered customer solutions for over a decade, with the innovation team allows for greater collaboration to help round out the team sport of innovation, Sanchez said. The move also establishes one unified space for user-centered design activities to create efficiencies for Nationwide and an optimal workspace for all user-centered designers within the organization.
In addition to housing these workers, the new center will help Nationwide attract talent.
“Bringing together diverse perspectives is critical to any team’s success,” said Sanchez. “This new space will be another great selling point as we continue to recruit top talent from right here in Columbus and from other innovation hubs across the country.”
Nationwide is also investing more than $100M of venture capital in startups. Nationwide has already made investments in startups like blooom, Nexar, Sure, Matic and Betterview—all of which focus on evolving the insurance and financial planning process for members. And Nationwide continues to look for partnerships with big and small companies, where it can collaborate across organization boundaries and drive innovation together. This center will further support this mission.
About Nationwide: Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.