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Life Insurance Accelerated Underwriting Survey

Background and Purpose

Accelerated underwriting programs take advantage of technological innovations and give life insurers new ways of assessing financial risks quicker than traditional underwriting programs. Accelerated underwriting programs are also less intrusive for an applicant than traditional life insurance underwriting, potentially improving the consumer experience in the new business process. Given these benefits, there is an increasing interest among life insurers in accelerated underwriting programs.  Yet, there are few industry studies available to help companies establish expectations or assess the actual effectiveness of their accelerated underwriting programs in comparison to policies underwritten using traditional methods.  The Reinsurance Section in collaboration with the Product Development Section and Committee on Life Insurance Research is sponsoring research examining insurer accelerated underwriting programs and practices.

The purpose of this project is to provide a resource for practical analysis of life insurer’s accelerated underwriting program and practices. In addition, the project will aid the Society of Actuaries in investigating the feasibility of an experience study on mortality and policyholder behavior of accelerated underwritten life insurance policies.  

Research Objective

The Reinsurance Section, Product Development Section and the Committee on Life Insurance Research (“Sponsors”) are seeking researchers to perform a survey of life insurance accelerated underwriting programs and practices. The survey would address how accelerated underwriting has evolved, how much accelerated underwritten business has been sold, the amount of claims experience available and how the accelerated underwritten business is performing relative to expected and company interest in participating in an industry experience study. The issues to be investigated include but are not limited to:

  • What are the life insurance products that use accelerated underwriting?
  • How are the accelerated underwritten products being distributed?
  • When was the accelerated underwriting program first introduced?
  • What is the high level structure of the initial accelerated underwriting program?
    • Data sources used
    • Age/Face limitations relative to the company’s fully underwritten program
  • What changes have been made to data sources used or limitations through time and when were the changes made?
  • Does the predictive model used in the accelerated underwriting program take adverse actions (such as decline)?
  • How is the accelerated program monitored and how is the success of the accelerated underwriting program measured?
  • At a high level, what is the process to adjust the accelerated underwritten program based on ongoing results?
  • How does the expected/actual mortality and persistency for accelerated underwritten policies compare to the expected/actual mortality and persistency for fully underwritten business?
  • What percent of a company’s individual life insurance applications are eligible for acceleration? Has that percentage changed much over the course of the program and what caused the change?
  • What are the not-taken rates and early duration lapse rates for accelerated underwritten policies compared to fully underwritten policies?
  • What is the average turn around time (from the time the case is opened to when a final underwriting decision is made) for an applicant under an accelerated underwriting program in comparison to a fully underwritten applicant?
  • What is the current straight through processing rate for the accelerated underwritten program and what is the target rate?
  • What are the primary reasons for misrepresentation (build, smoking) for accelerated underwritten applicants?
  • How much accelerated underwritten business is in force?
  • How much claims experience is available from the programs?
  • How are the policies tracked in relation to other underwritten life insurance?
  • Is the company willing to participate in an industry experience study?

It is expected that follow-up telephone and/or in-person interviews with some of the survey respondents may be required to gather additional information and insight into some of the issues.

The Researcher(s) will compile and analyze the survey responses and summarize the results of the survey in a report made available to the SOA membership.

It is expected that the Researcher(s) will work closely with a Project Oversight Group (POG) in finalizing the information to be collected, the survey questionnaire and/or interview questions, and the final report of survey results. The Researcher(s) will also provide the POG with periodic progress reports. Members of this group will be available to provide feedback and guidance to the Researcher(s) as needed.


To facilitate the evaluation of proposals, the following information should be submitted:

  1. Resumes of the researcher(s), including any graduate student(s) expected to participate, indicating how their background, education and experience bear on their qualifications to undertake the research. If more than one researcher is involved, a single individual should be designated as the lead researcher and primary contact. The person submitting the proposal must be authorized to speak on behalf of all the researchers as well as for the firm or institution on whose behalf the proposal is submitted.
  2. An outline of the approach to be used (e.g. literature search, model, etc.), emphasizing issues that require special consideration. Details should be given regarding the techniques to be used, collateral material to be consulted, and possible limitations of the analysis.
  3. A description of the expected deliverables and any supporting data, tools or other resources.
  4. Cost estimates for the research, including computer time, salaries, report preparation, material costs, etc. Such estimates can be in the form of hourly rates, but in such cases, time estimates should also be included. Any guarantees as to total cost should be given and will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. While cost will be a factor in the evaluation of the proposal, it will not necessarily be the decisive factor.
  5. A schedule for completion of the research, identifying key dates or time frames for research completion and report submissions. The Sponsors are interested in completing this project in a timely manner. Suggestions in the proposal for ensuring timely delivery, such as fee adjustments, are encouraged.
  6. Other related factors that give evidence of a proposer's capabilities to perform in a superior fashion should be detailed.

Selection Process

The Sponsors will appoint a Project Oversight Group (POG) to oversee the project.  The Project Oversight Group is responsible for recommending the proposal to be funded.  Input from other knowledgeable individuals also may be sought, but the Sponsors will make the final recommendation, subject to SOA leadership approval. The SOA's Research Actuary will provide staff actuarial support.


Any questions regarding this RFP should be directed to Ronora Stryker, SOA Research Actuary (phone: +1-847-706-3614; email:    

Notification of Intent to Submit Proposal

If you intend to submit a proposal, please e-mail written notification by April 30, 2018 to Jan Schuh.

Submission of Proposal

Please e-mail a copy of the proposal to Jan Schuh.

Proposals must be received no later than May 14, 2018. It is anticipated that all proposers will be informed of the status of their proposal by the end of June 2018.

Note: Proposals will be considered confidential, and in order to preserve the research intentions of the proposer will not be shared beyond SOA review teams.


The selection of a proposal is conditioned upon and not considered final until a Letter of Agreement is executed by both the SOA and the researcher.

The Sponsors reserve the right to not award contracts for this call for proposals. Reasons for not awarding a contract could include, but are not limited to, a lack of acceptable proposals or a finding that insufficient funds are available. The Sponsors also reserve the right to redirect the project to other committees or sections within the SOA as is deemed advisable.

The Sponsors plan to hold the copyright to the research and to publish the results with appropriate credit given to the researcher(s).

The Sponsors may choose to seek public exposure or media attention for the research.  By submitting a proposal, you agree to cooperate in publicizing or promoting the research and responding to media requests.

The Sponsors may also choose to market and promote the research to members, candidates and other interested parties.  You agree to perform promotional communication as reasonably requested, which may include, but is not limited to, leading a webcast on the research, presenting the research at continuing education meetings, and/or writing an article on the research for an organizational publication.