Challenges in Leveraging Bureau-Based Content

by Craig Weber,  Michael Fitzgerald, September 30, 2008


New York, NY, USA October 1, 2008

Carriers are overrun with the administrative forms required to sell and service their products. A recent Celent survey suggests that, for insurers, the amount of form customization rarely matches the amount called for by the business strategy. This disconnect increases the analytical challenges on pricing and underwriting, makes marketing more difficult, and drives up costs.

In a new report, , Celent advises carriers to carefully assess their competitive approach and explicitly outline their forms strategies. This report examines several key questions:

  • What is the current state of play in using bureau-based administrative forms?
  • What is the context for use of bureau-provided content, such as policy forms, rates, rules, and forms?
  • How can companies best balance the efficiencies gained through use of standardized content with the value from product differentiation?

Companies responding to the survey were North American enterprises engaged in property/casualty, life, and multi-line distribution. Many characteristics of their forms management approach were common across the group, including the following:

  • Forms are being created three times faster than they are being retired.
  • Two-thirds of panel respondents said that, by the time they are done, virtually everything about a typical product is customized.
  • Panelists said that the biggest drawback of heavy customization is the effort required to keep up with changes to standardized content. However, "going it alone" without any use of bureau content would put most companies at a severe expense disadvantage relative to their competitors.

To improve the alignment of business strategy with forms maintenance, actionable suggestions are made in three focus development, product creation, and product maintenance. "The suboptimal use of forms and standardized content results from the reuse of traditional approaches and technology, whereas a deliberate strategy could enable vast improvements," says Craig Weber, senior vice president with Celent’s insurance practice and co-author of the report.

Mike Fitzgerald, coauthor of the report, comments: "Given the current market disruption, regulation is likely to increase. Carriers realizing any type of efficiencies in the speed and quality of forms compliance will benefit exponentially."

The report is 26 pages and contains 15 figures and nine tables. A table of contents is available online.

Members of Celent's Life/Health Insurance and Property/Casualty Insurance research services can download the report electronically by clicking on the icon to the left.  Non-members should contact for more information.


Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

Media Contacts

North America
Michele Pace
Tel: +1 212 345 1366

Europe (London)
Chris Williams
Tel: +44 (0)782 448 3336

Asia (Tokyo)
Yumi Nagaoka
Tel.: +81 3 3500 3023

Table of Contents

New York, NY, USA  October 1, 2008

Executive Summary 3
Introduction 4
About This Report 4
Respondents 5
Definitions 7
Do Administrative Forms Matter? 7
Market Conditions 9
Bureau Content As Starting Point 9
Organizing for Action--Different Approaches  13
Operational Results 15
Getting the Value 17
Providers  20
Matching Strategy and Tactics 21
Conclusions 23


Sign in to download reports and access personalized information