Making Insurance More Accessible to People with Disabilities

Making Insurance More Accessible to People with Disabilities

Blogpost Image

Many individuals with disabilities struggle to navigate insurance. Purchasing coverage, filing claims, and monitoring the status of claims is quite complex for most people, and may feel insurmountable for people with disabilities. Insurers can help by prioritizing accessibility when designing experiences and user journeys. 

Providing accessibility accommodations is paramount, ethically and legally. In the UK, companies must make their goods and services accessible to everyone under the Equality Act. In the US, businesses are subject to similar requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And, as an added benefit, providing more intuitive interfaces can improve overall customer satisfaction. Easier processes reduce frustration and confusion for everyone, leading to a better experience for all policyholders. 

There are many ways insurers can make life easier for people with disabilities. Insurance policies, for example, tend to be dense, complex documents filled with legal jargon and technical terms. This can be challenging for individuals with cognitive disabilities. Less intricate language can ensure that more people can understand the coverage. 

Insurers should also make the process of buying insurance and filing claims user-friendly and straightforward. They can do this by simplifying steps and forms and using digital interfaces that are compatible with accessible technologies such as screen readers and text-to-speech software.

We shouldn’t forget about insurance industry workers, including underwriters or claims adjusters, who navigate these processes daily at the other end. Their disabilities, too, should be accounted for, as well as those of third parties, such as brokers or vendors.

However, for many insurers, technology presents an obstacle. Outdated legacy systems, built many decades ago when there was less awareness of disabilities, or even more modern systems that haven’t been upgraded in several years, make this more challenging. 

Adopting an advanced, SaaS solution such as Guidewire, which is frequently and painlessly updated, means that many accessibility features are baked into the system with each update. Accessibility has rapidly become a significant priority for Guidewire. A dedicated accessibility team within our UX organization ensures ongoing additions to each new Guidewire version. We have also launched an accessibility community network internally, helping promote awareness of accessibility within Guidewire, share skills and knowledge, keep on top of trends, and ensure we have a range of people in different roles who have accessibility expertise. One example is the consultants from our Delivery Services team who carry out Guidewire InsuranceSuite implementations.

We strive to go beyond simply adhering to the bare minimums of accessibility. Components are being tested across multiple platforms and browsers using a range of assistive technologies such as screen readers. We believe that accessibility that is only considered as an afterthought and added later in the development process rarely leads to truly inclusive products. We therefore look at our entire software development lifecycle to ensure accessibility is considered throughout – from design to development to QA. This ultimately helps us to create more consistent and inclusive products, which can be used by people who have a range of access needs. We are adding accessibility features to each Guidewire release, which is now every four months as we recently sped up our release cadence. Guidewire Cloud updates are now mostly automatic and completed painlessly in days, which means that customers are already making some progress in accessibility just by adopting Guidewire Cloud and being on the latest version.

We are mindful of accessibility for all stakeholders involved in insurance – not just the policyholders, but also the industry workers using our systems in their daily jobs, as well as third parties such as brokers or vendors. We have added a number of accessibility settings within InsuranceSuite, such as high contrast interfaces for better visibility and tooltips that can be read by screen readers to add additional context. And Jutro Digital Platform, our tool to build intuitive interfaces to all insurance stakeholders, has been rigorously tested with accessibility in mind. We have audited each visual component to make sure it is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the internationally accepted standards for web accessibility. 

Maximizing accessibility in insurance is a team effort, and the responsibility of all of us serving the industry. Our SaaS, cloud model, with frequent releases, enables us to provide new accessibility features to our customers on an ongoing basis. By addressing accessibility, insurers have an opportunity to make life easier for people with disabilities, improve experiences for all insurance stakeholders, and ensure that everyone can access the coverage they need.