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From Stress to Success: Revolutionizing Year-End Underwriting with AI

Published On
October 11, 2023
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With year-end right around the corner, the need for precision and efficiency is paramount for underwriters. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes center stage, it's redefining underwriting processes, offering invaluable support to underwriters and industry professionals during the holiday season–and all year long.

We’ve reached that point in the year that always makes me a bit sad. The kids are back in school, stores are full of Halloween decorations, and some even have Christmas decor popping up. And of course, the weather is starting to change, which after this summer, most of you are probably happy about. But here in Minnesota, I’m looking at 7 months of a frozen lake and too many days below zero.

In years past, once Labor Day was over, my thoughts would immediately pivot to prepping for year-end. Having worked at places like MassMutual and New York Life, I became accustomed to a hectic holiday season. Working for an InsurTech company now, I actually get to slow down a bit as the year comes to a close. But that’s only because all of you are insanely busy trying to make sure every single application gets processed before the 31st of December.

So, while I do REALLY appreciate being able to travel for the holidays and have time to do my baking, I still empathize with the stress underwriters and their teams are under. I lived in that world for 30 years, and remember many sleepless nights stressing out about the workload our teams were facing and of course the phone calls from anxious sales reps. And now with most carriers facing hiring challenges, the pressures are even more intense.

Fortunately, there are a number of solutions available today that didn’t exist when I was in production underwriting — and there are even more on the horizon with the giant leap forward we are seeing in technology and now Generative AI. These technology solutions can help your team process work more efficiently all year long but are especially valuable during crunch times like year-end.  

As I see it, the possible solutions fall into 4 buckets:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Better prioritization of work
  • Free up additional resources
  • Streamline processes

Improve Efficiency

Most underwriting files can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to review. However, especially long records could take 10 or more hours to review. And aren’t most of the big, important cases loaded with dense medical records? AI technology has advanced to a level where you can extract all the key information from records with a high degree of accuracy — and then use Generative Text AI to put it all back together in a succinct, easy-to-read summary. So a 300 page APS can be reduced to 20 pages of just the relevant information an underwriter needs.

With AI solutions, you can even help your underwriters be more accurate. With the introduction of EMR platforms, medical records have become longer and more challenging to review. It’s super easy to miss something and all underwriters fear being “dinged” on an audit. AI technology can scan every single word of the medical record and ensure significant information like tobacco use, medications, abnormal tests, medical conditions, or symptoms aren’t overlooked. AI can help your team become more efficient and accurate — improving your workflow as well as the team’s mental health.

Better Prioritization of Work

Not all applications are created equal, and this becomes especially evident as year-end approaches. While carriers typically prioritize cases based on factors such as face amount and the performance of sales representatives, the year-end rush introduces a new level of urgency. During this crucial period, achieving both company-wide sales goals and individual sales office targets is imperative.

At year-end, highly rated cases may face greater challenges in finding placement, potentially hindering your progress toward achieving your goals. To address this, modern AI-driven solutions offer a unique advantage. By extracting detailed medical information from sources like APS, EMR, and other underwriting requirements, a treasure trove of data becomes available. This data can be efficiently organized, either within specialized software or through a spreadsheet, allowing underwriters to swiftly review a list of cases. This process empowers your team to identify which cases should be elevated to top priority, ensuring that precious time and resources are allocated to the most promising opportunities.

Free Up Resources

For most carriers, the majority of underwriters are assigned to daily production work. However, there are typically a small number of underwriters assigned to some audit functions, such as post-issue audits or underwriting quality audits. It’s tempting to just stop audits for a month or two, but can you really afford to do that? What if you instead found a way to make your audit process more efficient so you can staff both audits and production?

DigitalOwl’s post-issue audit tool can make this happen:

  • Reduce Time to Complete Audits: Our audit tool can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete post-issue audits by about 70-80%. How you ask? We extract the key data from your medical records such as tobacco usage, BMI, and significant medical conditions. This allows the auditor to quickly discern cases that require more research vs. those that are squeaky clean. And, if more research is required, “View” quickly links you to the original APS to validate whether you have an actual misrepresentation or not.
  • Compare Key Underwriting Factors: For underwriting quality audits, you can use our Abstract to compare the key items we extracted to the underwriter’s notes. Our medical chronology is set up to detail ALL key underwriting factors: preferred criteria, family history, habits, and medical impairments. We even identify non-medical risk factors such as occupation, hazardous sports/aviation, and financial concerns. So rather than review the entire file, the auditor can simply compare the underwriter’s notes to the summary. And again, with a couple of clicks, you can jump to the original APS if you need to resolve a discrepancy

Carriers using the DigitalOwl Audit Tool often choose to increase the volume of audits, but you could also choose to redeploy your audit team to production cases–which could be particularly useful at year-end.

Streamline Processes

While carriers have been able to automate many underwriting requirements, medical records have been a noticeable exception. They take the longest to review and traditionally have gotten the least benefit from technology. But that’s all changing for the better.

AI-assisted technology can help extract all the key information (e.g. preferred underwriting criteria, habits, impairments, etc.) and provide it back to carriers in a fully structured data file. So with structured data, the carrier has a number of opportunities:

  • Use the data to populate the underwriter’s workbench to streamline your underwriting review and documentation
  • Feed the data into a rules engine for fully automated or assisted decisions
  • Utilize the data to develop more effective predictive models

We all know data is essential to streamlining the underwriting process, but AI technology has finally made it possible to digitize the Holy Grail of underwriting requirements — the APS.


So as you plan for year-end, make sure you consider how you can effectively integrate new technology tools into your business process. Ensure your team is able to effectively process business this holiday season with the advanced AI business solutions from DigitalOwl.

Incorporating AI technology into your underwriting processes isn't just a year-end strategy; it's a year-round investment. These advanced systems are designed to enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and overall effectiveness of underwriters, ensuring that your team can consistently meet the demands of the insurance industry. From rapidly summarizing medical records to prioritizing cases and automating audits, AI can revolutionize how underwriters work in every season.

Contact DigitalOwl to answer any questions you may have about our underwriting AI solutions, and be sure to schedule your demo with us today! Follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest news, product releases, and more!

About the Author

Jennifer Richards

VP, Life Insurance at DigitalOwl

Jennifer Richards is a seasoned underwriting leader with a wealth of experience in the insurance industry. She has held leadership roles at some of the largest companies in the industry, including Principal Financial Group, New York Life, and MassMutual. Now at DigitalOwl, she serves as Vice President of Life Insurance and helps life insurance carriers, reinsurers, and others in the industry enhance and accelerate the medical records review process with DigitalOwl’s platform.

Jennifer Richards
VP Life Insurance
About the author

Jennifer Richards is a seasoned underwriting leader with a wealth of experience in the insurance industry. She has held leadership roles at some of the largest companies in the industry, including Principal Financial Group, New York Life, and MassMutual.