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What is no-code for insurers?

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Published on:30th August 2023
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Frequent readers of the insurance and technology press will have no doubt seen the term no-code bandied about with increasing frequency over the past few years. In fact, worldwide Google searches for the term “no-code”, and “no-code development platform” have increased significantly since 2019, reaching peak popularity in October of last year (2022). The same trend can be observed for searches for “low-code” development.

At the end of 2021, a report by Gartner estimated that by 2025, organisations will build 70% of all new applications using some amount of no-code or low-code technology.

It seems that people are actively seeking out these no-code solutions with increasing frequency, but what do the terms really mean, and what do users need to consider when exploring new solutions?

What are these solutions?

No-code software development options essentially enable people (citizen developers) to create solutions for their systems without requiring a huge degree of specific programming or coding knowledge. They rely on visual, drag-and-drop components and pre-configured templates to make it possible to create simple applications.

In an insurance context, this could mean that underwriters have the power to build their own quote journeys, automation rules, ratings, email templates, and more, without the need for technical knowledge, specialist teams, or to spend time passing these changes to over-burdened IT teams or outsourcing to developers.

Using no-code solutions can often enable faster development to match the pace of the market and give insurance businesses the ability to better tailor their system to meet their requirements.

No-code works on the principle of lowering complexity for users by using visual tools and techniques like process modelling, where users employ visual tools to define workflows, business rules and user interfaces for example.

The benefits include:

  • Democratisation of technology: giving more people the power to use these solutions reduces the dependence on expensive specialists
  • Ability to create a minimum viable product: using these solutions allows developers to get feedback on an MVP from quick, easy-to-build prototypes, giving them access to early go/no-go feedback quickly and before investing significant time and resources
  • Cost effectiveness: solutions can be more cost-effective compared to development as they require smaller teams, fewer resources, and infrastructure costs
  • Collaboration: bringing users closer to the technology can develop a greater understanding of developers’ insights and priorities and vice versa, helping both parties to gain a joined-up understanding of the bigger business and IT picture

Though both solutions have a similar starting principle, whereas low-code requires some level of development and oversight, no-code is completely automated… apart from a team of developers sitting behind the solution and managing it so that the customer has a completely automated experience.

In addition, no-code drives the following specific benefits:

  • They can quickly create functional, simple, software applications
  • People with no programming experience can use no-code technology
  • End-users can design the apps they want rather than waiting for overworked IT teams to build them
  • Businesses can create prototypes of the apps they hope to build, and these prototypes can guide development teams
Sounds good right?

From that description, it’s tempting to believe that no-code solutions represent a panacea for building digital products and platforms. And at first look, the automation, speed and simplicity would appeal to most businesses with growth in mind.

However, it’s important to consider some of the potential limitations when evaluating no-code solutions and decide whether they are suitable for your business and specific requirements. Some options may fall short when dealing with complex scenarios or applications within the underwriting process.

Let’s look at some of the specific scenarios you need your software system to respond to:

Speedy deployment

To respond quickly to market changes, insurance businesses need to be able to launch products, and tweak parameters such as limits, rules and rates. Those bound by legacy systems don’t have the flexibility to move at that speed. Any changes would require requests to IT teams which would then have to be prioritised accordingly. Using no-code architecture enables individuals to make these changes themselves, quickly.

However, in some cases, this could see valuable resources shifting from coding to configuration. This is a hidden cost that often comes with interfacing and integrating with other systems, often these projects become less about the code and more about configuring and sticking layers together.

Before proceeding, it’s important to consider what resources you have, and where you want to deploy them.

Customisation

The idea behind no-code is that it’s largely template-driven and with this, comes a rigidity that can be hard to overcome. Changing something within a no-code platform would require a significant level of coding which is counter-intuitive to the template model.

When working with many lines of business, each requiring a high degree of personalisation of the underwriting process, no-code solutions might be surprisingly inflexible. Though fantastic for simple processes at scale, no-code is likely to only be able to achieve around 80% of what complex businesses need to achieve, it’s the last 20% requiring the customisation that really makes a product work well.

Often teams will underestimate the resources and time required to customise the no-code solutions, with projects often going from weeks to months or months to years to complete. As well as the internal resources required to deploy a new solution and run the business day-to-day.

Underwriting teams want to focus on underwriting better risks without the distraction of customising new software.

Expertise

In theory, no-code requires zero expertise. Once implemented it runs off automated rules that require minimal user input and little developer knowledge.  

However, developing something without this expertise could mean that downstream teams are charged with learning how the system works for themselves, and they must figure out the best practices, integrations and workflows that make sense for their organisation.  

We don’t think there is a silver-bullet here, and the tools you use don’t remove the fundamentals of building and supporting business solutions. You still need to define what you need, work out how to achieve it using the tools you have, develop and test the solution, and manage it over time.  

Insurers need to ensure that the workflows are optimised for each line of business which is rarely the case with most out-of-the-box solutions.    

User-interface

Underwriters want to work with products and solutions that not only do the job but look and feel intuitive – this is a balance that needs to be struck to get the best results out of teams. 

No-code solutions often offer a slick and stylish interface which is visually impressive, but can be quite generalised, lacking the capabilities to craft a logical user journey that makes sense in the context of the underwriting role.  

For example, having a large amount of data on an underwriting submission needs to be presented in a way to make sense for the underwriter. No-code developers may feel limited in terms of what they can achieve with the tools available. 

Not only does the system need to look and feel easy to use, but it also needs to make sense for the user. 

 

With all this in mind, is there a place for no-code within the insurance ecosystem?

Absolutely, the appeal of these solutions is entirely justified. They are a useful way for teams looking to build an MVP or a no-code solution for a very specific function within the organisation.

But careful consideration of your own individual needs and requirements is essential to ensure you end up with the solution that really suits your business.

It might be that a low-code solution offers more benefits to the business as it encompasses greater scalability and the ability to adapt quickly to different use cases. But businesses need to match the solution to their own requirements factoring in what they need to achieve now, as well as what they need to achieve in the future.

Contact Send to find out more about our approach and how our Underwriting Workbench enables underwriters to do what they love.

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