Incorporating Lean Principles to Insurance

Over the years, we have worked with countless organizations in a large number of service and manufacturing industries, and on a broad diversity of process challenges. Such experience has given us uncommon perspective. Perspective from which we have been able to make observations about where Lean and Six Sigma is being applied most successfully and conversely, the industries where the greatest opportunities exist.

Let’s take the insurance industry for example. First of all, it’s important to appreciate that the word “insurance” belies what is in fact an amazing diversity of processes, some simple, others incredibly complex. It continues to mystify us, for example, why more insurers and brokers don’t invest the time to familiarize themselves-for starters- with the eight wastes. Whether one is managing the “operations” (i.e. underwriting, claims, administration, actuarial) or “distribution” sides of the business, most organizations, whether they be Life, Health or P&C, could benefit from even a small dose of Lean, and the results that will flow from it in customer responsiveness, efficiency and productivity terms.

When one considers that in Ontario alone, 90 auto insurers still write auto insurance policies, you get a picture of market fragmentation and process inefficiency. Add to it the regulatory changes that will be coming down the pipeline in 2018 that are going to severely test insurers ability to maintain earnings, and you have a situation that cries out for process improvement. Not to ignore Life and Health insurers, we were amazed to discover that the way insurers and brokers manually exchange and process data to support group renewals hasn’t changed in 30 years.

If the foregoing reflections don’t prompt you to learn more about what even a “shallow dive” into Lean or Six Sigma can do for you and your organization, perhaps McKinsey’s paper will.