Insurance Industry Hot Topics from AICP’s 2021

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A good number of hot topics and emerging trends are appearing on the insurance compliance scene. Keeping up can be hard to do. To that end, here’s an overview of the latest, per industry experts who recently gathered for a terrific hybrid event: the Annual Conference of the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals® (AICP). With a hearty round of applause to AICP leadership, staff and members, I’m glad to have been on-site to listen and learn. The presenters, session panelists and industry partners provided attendees, who participated both in person and virtually, with an impressive and valuable range of current compliance information and insights.

Staying true to its mission, the organization did a great job with the event, and the strong hybrid turnout seems a good indication that the industry is on the move. For its part, the Association’s mission was accomplished: Offering the insurance industry exceptional compliance and ethics education, training, and opportunities to engage with industry experts and regulatory authorities. Also, keeping members growing and learning, engaging, and exchanging ideas with other industry professionals and following the continual changes that are commonplace within the industry. In their own words, “AICP’s vision for over 30 years is to be the premier source for all things compliance, to all levels and sectors of insurance regulatory industry professionals.” And so they were. Here, then, is a summary of the event and where we go from here to continue learning and leveraging.

Taking the Industry’s Pulse: Top Priorities and Progress

So many hot trade topics. So much valuable information exchanged, notably current issues for which the industry’s compliance professionals need to stay apprised. Of the dozens of sessions and roundtable events presented, there are a handful emerging as areas of heightened focus:

  1. COVID’s impact;
  2. Cybersecurity, Privacy, Data Security;
  3. Diversity and Inclusion;
  4. Advertising Review and Disclosure Management;
  5. Technology innovations.

Not surprisingly, the impact of COVID on businesses, regulations, employers and employees has been top-of-mind for nearly two years. Also emerging as areas of growing concern were challenges of cybersecurity, ransomware, and critical privacy issues. A new strategic initiative addressing Diversity and Inclusion was announced, a necessary step in the right direction for any organization. Kudos to the state regulators whose participation in the roundtables was vital to keeping us all informed on what matters most. Essential updates on many fronts.
Words of Wisdom

Finding a keynote speaker who leaves his audience with memorable nuggets is always a challenge for planners. Done well, it’s a bonus for participants. Again, AICP did not disappoint. Motivational speaker, author and consultant, Doug Dvorak, offered words of wisdom not lost on me, and seemingly well-received by all. A few gems he shared: “The best gifts are of health, love, and time. Hard work, knowledge, and attitude win, but attitude above all and it’s something we all can control. Look up ‘laughter’ – it’s good for you. Another keynote observation: 7/11 – people make 11 impressions in the first 7 seconds.” It’s little wonder he’s a sought-after expert.

Trending Now: Ad Reviews and Regulator Radars

A necessary nod is due, too, to those presenting new insights on digital software platforms — clearly near and dear to my work — who addressed emerging innovations, and the ways in which platform partners can collaborate for less errors and more revenue: results.
Especially once the realization becomes clear that it allows companies to gain capacity and not reduce staff, appreciation for AI grows. Once employed, it does the routine calling out of errors so the insurance compliance professional can spend their time on the complicated judgments and nuances associated with compliance. Quite simply: artificial intelligence is here to help.

One particularly enlightening panel discussion, as it relates to an area of growing emphasis, “Staying Under the Radar,” featured two speakers Jen Crutchfield, Clearcover, and Anita Dulmes, First Consulting. The pair offered a deeper understanding of those areas of advertising compliance to help keep companies off of a regulators radar, including monitoring producers. With a prominent place on the AICP agenda, it’s clear that advertising compliance is emerging as an area of focus for regulators. The presenters reinforced that ensuring a high level of compliance for your company will help to avoid potential fines and an increased chance of market conducts exams.

Efficiency tools like AI-assisted platforms help companies and their compliance teams by gaining them more time, and aiding the knowledge workers. AI-assisted reviews are gaining traction, and for good reason. Many of my discussions with compliance team leaders that followed this session signaled a turning toward such tools as supportive software solutions. AI, understood by many and gaining slow but steady awareness by others, is a measurably beneficial tool which makes it worth greater understanding and implementation. Compliance directors are seeing how AI does have application in the Ad Review process, making the managing of disclosure content more accurate, even QA reviews on other mission critical documents. How? The key right now is to let the AI scan the repetitive rule elements and leave the nuanced compliance judgments to the professionals. Discussions on how content moves through the ad review process are becoming increasingly common. I’m learning of more large insurers starting Innovation Labs, and feel that this is a direction smaller firms will also follow their lead.

Industry Innovations: The Growing Role of AI

If reliance on sampling keeps you up at night, or if your team struggles with storing and retrieving compliance evidence, there are purposely-built platforms to meet those challenges.
With more compliance use cases completed, the industry is moving toward greater acceptance of AI-supported solutions. Just as underwriting and claims have utilized it already in the larger companies, it is proving its value as a way to future-proof compliance processes. Mainly, for those whose manual review process still let errors through, it’s a valued, valuable assistant. More on that in this and future blogs.

Collaborating toward compliance is key. It’s essential to meeting the demands in a complex industry immersed in rules sets and regulations. Enhancing understanding of new technologies and tools is critical, for businesses and their customers. That’s what drives my passion for serving as a resource. With compliance professionals whose day-to-day duty is to stay on top of emerging solutions, it’s important that I meet people where they are on the spectrum of understanding and appreciating, in varying degrees, the value of automation. As these technology solutions emerge to support their goals, and case studies in success are shared, valuable partnerships that benefit the goals of the entire enterprise emerge.

Industry Education to Improve Outcomes

Returning from the AICP Conference had me considering ways in which I can do more to deliver value as an industry partner. As I’ve come to see my responsibility, I’ve determined three key ways:

  1. Helping alleviate concerns of AI’s impact on staffing, reinforcing its ability to support not replace the knowledge worker in compliance review;
  2. Sharing measurable results on the value of automation for ad compliance review and intelligent reviews overall; and
  3. Educating compliance professionals on AI’s positive impact on disclosure management. This past year of such enormous change seems to me to have served as a clarion call for those of us, especially on the tech side, to play a more supportive role for the industry moving forward.

The “Aha!” moments that come amidst these information exchanges are a positive sign. Professionals are more willing than ever to build their knowledge base, and, necessarily, do business better. As compliance experts tune in and take in how these solutions help, without reducing staff but supporting them, there is a tangible leaning in. It’s a process. This is progress. It’s a complicated industry and the solutions to its key challenges are, too.

As one who feels a strong professional obligation to serve as a resource to my peers, it was motivating to see and speak to so many people whose work, like mine, support the common goals of our industry. Being able to discuss the innovations that technology is bringing to AICP members and partners was a privilege. What struck me was the deep commitment insurance compliance leaders and their teams expressed in wanting to deep-dive into the nuts and bolts of software solutions that are making significant, measurable contributions to risk reduction, compliance, ad review and disclosure management. This edge-of-the-seat, leaning in, if you will, bodes well for those wanting to embrace innovations for greater outcomes for both their customers and their businesses. These and other industry insights are what make collaboration among compliance professionals a hallmark of our industry, and one on which we should all take pride.

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give” said Maya Angelou. In that spirit, having learned so much from and among my industry peers, through both in person and virtual sessions and discussions over the years, it is time to give back. With appreciation to my fellow insurance industry partners, and the AICP for their work in connecting us all, I’m confident the ongoing information exchanges on key topics and trends will continue to help us advance. Stay tuned for upcoming feature articles to help connect compliance and technology in ways that advance the efficiencies, reduce the risk and support compliance approvals.