The Joshu Design Process: Midterm Endorsements
- Chris Adams
- August 2022
Expanding the core Joshu feature set
Joshu delivers a fast, simple, and affordable way to create and distribute insurance products online. But there was no functionality once the policy was issued. After a policy is issued the relationship with the insured is not over. One key need is the ability to change the coverage while the policy is in effect. The term for these changes in insurance is endorsements, but since this term is also used for changes to the policy language at the start of the policy we will refer to these changes as midterm endorsements.
We believed that most customers would use their Policy Admin System or Agency Management System to process midterm endorsements. But the handover from Joshu to another system or going offline were far from ideal. We also heard, over and over again, that established carriers and MGAs were frustrated with existing systems, and that insurers didn’t want to spend the time or money to build a big PAS if they didn’t already have one in place.
Our goal is to make Joshu a holistic platform that supports the insurance product from its development and distribution to underwriting and policy management. Yes, insurers could use Joshu only for some functions while integrating with other systems for others, but to offer a more complete product, we set out to add core policy lifecycle features like midterm endorsements, cancellation, and renewal.
Step 1: Understand the problem
Joshu’s product team has been working on the midterm amendment feature continuously for about six months. In that time we spent dozens of hours with customers and insurance industry professionals to explore the following topics:
- What is a typical endorsement process? How do agents, insureds, and companies usually complete an endorsement? The answer was usually “it depends.” But in general, we’ll be able to cover the cases we learned about, including changes to dates, limits, coverage, and updating application questions. Underwriters need to make endorsements on behalf of agents, quickly approve requests, and change or decline requests.
- What works and what doesn’t? What are the key pain points? Common themes were information spread across multiple systems, ease of accessing past policy and quote data, and poor user interfaces that don’t match expectations of a modern user experience.
- How do underwriters and agents want to do endorsements? How can we make it faster, simpler, and more effective for everyone? The top requests were to make it self-service for agents to reduce the burden on underwriting, and give underwriters a lot of flexibility to match a variety of workflows and situations.
- Why is it so hard? From an information management perspective, editing is a complex concept. There’s the before, after, and the difference between them. Are we showing the latest and greatest, or a “track change” view that compares the before and after? Also, how do we organize multiple endorsements and show the history of the policy elegantly? Lastly, we have to build the flow so that it works for as many customers across as many business lines as we can, and the current process may vary across insurers and business lines.
Step 2: Explore concepts and get feedback
As we gathered more information we began to develop the user experience for both the agent and the underwriter.
- Develop prototypes. In the first design explorations, we started by identifying key screens in each workflow. We explored a variety of ways to begin the endorsement process, from several buttons to whole pages with explanatory content. Each exploration went through multiple iterations before we were ready to pick a winner and test with people outside of Joshu.
- Test prototypes. Every designer has a love/hate relationship with testing. We are disappointed when we see parts of the design fail. On the other hand, it’s good to find problems early and often, when they are easier to fix. Many of the issues we encountered were around language or process. While there are common terms in the insurance industry, there’s a lot of overlap as well. And everyone follows the same process, except when they don’t!
- Refine. Test again. And again. Our main user flows had at least four major — and countless minor — revisions. We often changed where features are found in the interface to make them more discoverable, broke up longer flows into smaller pieces for flexibility, and almost continuously refined the language to be sure people understand what they are doing.
Step 3: Launch, then continuously improve
This feature is live today for all customers. We know we’re not done because we will continue to get feedback and improve the flow. But we believe this is a great start, and we think people will love it.
- Agents get a modern, self-service experience. Agents requesting amendments on behalf of their clients will find a friendly, simple interface that gets them where they need to go as fast as possible — and even works on tablets and mobile. They can make changes to any part of the policy, and they get notified via email the instant that quotes or approvals are available.
- Underwriters get speed and control. While the underwriters and agents generally see a similar interface, the underwriter has more options to control the process. So it can be as simple as instant approval, or as complicated as changes to the application that result in a new quote.
Pro Tip: This process works for insurance products, too!
None of this will be new to anyone who has worked on an agile team. In fact, one of the key values we see for Joshu is to provide a tool that makes it easy for insurance professionals to participate in a fast, iterative process to develop and launch their insurance products. It may sound simple — but mostly companies simply don’t do the work. Talk with your customers. Identify the core need. Prototype some solutions. Test, repeat, launch, improve!