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Digital/Paper-Free in 2023?



If you have been around long enough you may recall the call for the industry to be “Paper-Free in ‘83”.

It is now 35 (!!) years later, and the insurance industry still generates a significant amount of paper.


Clearly, there have been many changes, advancement and improvements in insurance processes over the past 35 years. We have improved many aspects of the customer experience as well. Yet, much of the advancements we have made would be classified as incremental and we question if it is enough?


We have developed and implemented ACORD standards, worked on communication strategies like upload, download, SEMCI, and Real Time. We have come up with electronic signatures, digital delivery of policy strategies, and ID cards. We could go on, but given the capabilities new and emerging technology provides to us today these efforts and others like them are outdated, ineffective, inefficient and no longer relevant.


An old idea made new.


ACT and the Strategic Future issues workgroup think it is time to revisit this initiative but through the lens of new technology, our digital society, and today’s consumer expectations. We would recommend that the industry embark on an industry-wide initiative to rethink, and reinvent core insurance processes and design, develop and implement a new insurance model that is no longer based on a paper paradigm, multiple databases, duplicating or synching records and that is designed from the ground up to provide a new customer experience.


Clearly, “paper free” never happened. But could it now? What if we launched an initiative to stop all paper?   No paper applications/ACORD forms, ID cards, or Certs. Not even PDF’s of policies. No paper for agents and no paper for policyholders. Instead agents, carriers, insureds and any other stakeholder or relevant party would all access policy info from the cloud - a central (or even several dispersed) repositories for all risk related information (underwriting, risk management, claims, billing, all documentation). Each stakeholder would have security and clearance to access only specific approved areas relevant to them. One could imagine that policyholders would have an AI-based app that would compile policy information from multiple carriers (for example, HO with Hartford and Auto with Liberty). Agency management systems might also have AI capability that would enable filtered searches across various insureds and carriers, etc. This model would completely change how insurance information is gathered, reviewed, evaluated, accessed, changed, updated, shared, and managed.


Insureds would basically have insurance ‘Bots that contained all pertinent info needed for the insurance transaction - much of their info might also come from IoT sensors and telematics. This would unleash the power of cloud computing, big data and AI and truly enable mass customization.


Making the case


While there would be significant savings in a paper-free model we feel even a more important reason for moving in this direction would be to adapt to our digital society and remain relevant and deliver an experience to today’s consumer that they not only expect but hopefully delights them.


Today, the traditional insurance market is being bombarded by InsurTech firms anxious to change how insurance is marketed, sold, underwritten, and serviced. They all are looking for ways to improve the customer experience and drive cost and inefficiency from the process.


The traditional market is under great pressure to quickly adapt in order to remain relevant. Incremental change is not going to be enough – it is time for a reinvention of the insurance model.


What have been the barriers?


Why has the industry struggled to move more aggressively to adapt to a model that fully embraces the new technology and capabilities it provides? There may be many reasons but here are four key ones.


  • Paper paradigm in a digital world (FORCING a paper mindset into a now digital-world).  We need to come up with a concept around what ‘paper-free’ looks like.
  • Regulation – Is there a need for standards anymore?  Can we rely on architecture and id/transmit data without ACORD and other standards?
  • C-suite decision makers are technology deficient.  If you don’t understand the technology, it is difficult (not always impossible) to imagine the future of “what if?”
  • We’re laboring under the assumption that regulators won’t allow what we are trying to push forward.  We’re seeing more examples of regulators allowing innovative implementations.



Initiative structure


Sponsors – who should lead this, needs to be several (agnostic) organizations – a truly industry effort

Funding -

Oversight –



There is more


The initiative described above is only one component – In order to meet the rapidly changing nature of risk new policy and coverage models must also be created and implemented.



Use ‘Truly Digital’ as a working title?  Overused?

Changing our mindset from ‘paper’ to ‘digital’.

Include discussion at ACT, within User Groups, engage Big ‘I’ leadership.  “Prime the pump”.

Prior to ACT Meeting – Have mini-conf calls with org leaders to get input, create a framework

What are we doing to move this forward?  Steps for prep for ACT Meeting.

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