November 04, 2021
How third-party quoting platforms can drive better analytics and more sales for health insurance carriers
By Matt Leonard, Ideon’s Vice President of Carrier Relations
In recent years, brokers have flocked to third-party services to quote health insurance plans from multiple carriers. As a result, most carriers wanted to immediately tap into this new, growing distribution channel. They were quick to share rates and product information with external partners, making the downstream quoting process easy and accurate for brokers assembling employer proposals.
But not all carriers bought in. Holdouts chose to keep rates in-house, forcing brokers to obtain quotes directly from them. Their chief concern: a perceived black hole of visibility and analytics. Specifically, carriers worried they’d lose access to valuable information typically gleaned when brokers quoted plans via carrier websites and portals—e.g., which brokers sold what products (and where), what employer groups were shopping for new policies, etc.
Today, with a majority of health insurance carriers having made their plans and rates available to third-party quoting platforms, we can now see whether those early fears were justified.
Short answer: Carriers that embraced the “platform revolution” are being rewarded with a stream of high-quality data that can drive advanced analytics and turbocharge sales operations. In fact, their visibility into quoting activity on platforms is not all that different compared to if quotes are prepared on carrier websites. It’s truly a win-win—i.e., modern distribution combined with valuable insights.
Meanwhile, carriers that are not distributing their rates continue to miss out in two ways: limited distribution to digital sales channels and zero visibility into how—and if—their products are being quoted externally.
To understand why, let’s examine two scenarios.
- Carrier relies entirely on in-house website or portal for quoting
In the past, brokers logged on to each carrier’s website to get the quotes they needed to assemble a client proposal. That’s a lot of busy work for the broker, but it gave the carrier critical information. Location data, insights on which brokers are quoting which plans, and information about group sizes and quote-to-close ratios are all part of the typical carrier analytics package. And when they see quotes generated for potentially lucrative accounts, the carriers can assign sales representatives to help brokers to win the business.
This may seem like an appealing option to carriers that want full control over where their products are quoted. And, understandably, they crave these in-depth analytics. But this mindset—control over distribution—is built upon a false premise. Third-party quoting platforms still add the plan and rate information of non-participating carriers, mainly by tracking down public filings and other sources.
The difference? The data could well be incomplete or out-of-date, risking the possibility of inaccurate quotes appearing on client proposals. And carriers receive no information at all about how well their products are doing on downstream platforms and no leads on deals in progress.
- Carrier engages with today’s platform ecosystem
Today, nearly all brokers use quoting platforms to save time compiling rates from multiple carriers and building proposals. Most carriers understand this reality and have reacted accordingly. These carriers distribute their product information to quoting platforms to ensure rates and plans are represented accurately.
At the same time, the participating carriers have access to a precise record of every quote issued, often specifying the individual broker, the employer group, and more.
Carriers can use this data to build sophisticated analytics that can help optimize the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and commission programs. For example, they can calculate the quote-to-close ratio across different brokers, client types, geographic areas, and commission rates. Carriers are also feeding the data they get from quoting platforms directly into their CRM systems. That way their sales team can monitor how well they are being represented by each broker in the market and react quickly to opportunities.
Today, most carriers clearly see the two main advantages in working with platforms: distribution and visibility. The good news for those only now seeing the light is that they can catch up quickly, i.e., they need not build relationships with platforms from scratch. Middleware vendors, like Ideon, act as one-to-many distribution partners for carriers, accepting their plan data in any format and sharing it throughout today’s modern quoting ecosystem. And because a middleware partner pulls in quote activity and analytics from many downstream platforms, carriers get all the visibility they need to make informed decisions.
What are the opportunities that non-participating carriers are missing? Consider the recent experience of one new Ideon customer, a major health plan in the South, that recently started using our solutions to publish their plan information to quoting platforms. Until then, this carrier had assumed that most brokers were looking up their rates on their website. They were shocked when they looked at the analytics we delivered to find that brokers, using third-party platforms, were quoting their plans 600+ times per month. Before Ideon, the carrier had zero insight into these potential new business opportunities.
Now that’s a black hole to be concerned about. Contact us to learn more!