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Business Process Improvements

A Minnesota-based medical insurance underwriter

The Goal

Decrease the underwriting process from 36 days to less than 15 days.

The Challenge

An insurance industry client was experiencing rapid and steady growth. Underwriting orders were increasing at a rate of 10% month over month. This situation was problematic because underwriting turnaround time, being extremely paper oriented, had increased to 36 days, a level unacceptable by the client’s customers and non-competitive with the industry. Increasing the number of trained underwriters to meet demand appeared to be a costly and impractical solution. Endurant was asked to assess the entire back office operation to improve overall effectiveness of the work processes.

Endurant Approach

Using their change management methodology, Endurant reviewed the company’s business model and underwriting processes. Endurant formed a team of client executives to help set the vision for future operational performance. In parallel, Endurant formed a cross-functional team of process owners to develop a new, innovative way to streamline order fulfillment. On behalf of the client, Endurant also conducted a series of interviews with the client’s customers, as key overall stakeholders, to obtain their constructive suggestions to improve customer service.


  • Operations Assessment. Using their change management methodology, Endurant analyzed the company’s business model and underwriting processes identifying the “hot spots” to focus business performance improvements.
  • Future Market Position. Working with the executive team, Endurant’s organization architects identified the future position of the client’s products and services and the critical success factors for them to achieve that position.
  • Business Models. Based on the needs and expectations of the client’s customers, the architects designed a new way of doing business based on a paperless environment.
  • Process Flows. To fully utilize the power of the paperless processes, significant changes in the current processes would be necessary. Two sets of business processes were identified, one supporting the current business model and the other supporting the paperless business model.
  • Phased Implementation Plan. Endurant used this input, along with their own assessment of client’s business, to create an overall plan for “stepping into” the paperless way of doing business. Phase I focused on the immediate need to reduce the processing time of the sales orders while Phase II defined a phased implementation of achieving a fully paperless document management solution.
  • Change Leadership. Once the team had defined the new processes for Phase 1 of the plan, Endurant provided a change leader to assist the organization in realizing the change and gain the improved business results. The team, led by Endurant, then designed and implemented new processes to complete orders.

Results – Phase I

The new process resulted in a 400% reduction in order processing turnaround time, allowed client to regain its competitive position in the industry and avoided the need to make costly staff increases.

Results – Phase II and Beyond

As an immediate follow-up to Phase 1, Endurant provided design, testing and mentoring services to the client to achieve Phase 2 of the plan. The scope of Phase 2 included the implementation of an online, web-based system whereby client customers are able to electronically submit underwriting service orders and attach all related documentation. This new capability eliminated the need for customers to submit only paper documents in support of their orders.

The Bottom Line

Endurant’s client met their objectives to reduce the underwriting process time and recover their leadership position in the industry while improving effectiveness and profitability.