This is part of our series on the biggest challenges carriers face when bringing new annuity products to market — and how to meet those challenges with ease. Read more in the series: 

Getting to market quickly is only one part of a successful annuity launch. What if it takes off and you’re flooded with applications? In a competitive market, customers and distributors will go elsewhere if a carrier can’t handle their business efficiently. Any advantage a carrier gets from launching first could be eclipsed by the reputational damage of not being able to serve those new customers accurately and on time. 

Carriers need to prepare for this best-case scenario: needing to process a high volume of new business efficiently.  

Why Efficient & High-Quality Processing Matters 

An application experience can make or break a consumer’s impression of a carrier. If it’s not handled quickly and efficiently, it can ruin that first impression. The same goes for other consumer interactions, like premium payments, withdrawals, and beneficiary changes. Delays can also frustrate distributors, who won’t hesitate to air their complaints. Efficient processes help build and maintain good relationships among customers, distributors, and carriers.  

But that doesn’t mean carriers can rush. Accuracy is also of paramount importance. Errors are costly enough on their own, but these costs can be amplified because annuities are highly regulated at the state and federal level, and the Biden administration has singled out annuities for further regulation. 

On the other hand, streamlining processes and reducing manual intervention can lead to cost savings. An inefficient process is an expensive process: It requires more humanpower. Automating repetitive tasks and minimizing errors can allow a carrier to operate more efficiently and use its resources more effectively.   

The Impact of Automations 

For many carriers, steps like onboarding policyholders and processing new business still involve filling out forms manually, which can cause delays and errors. Zinnia has focused heavily on eliminating manual touches in the annuity business it processes. Since building its automation software, Zinnia can now process 60% of new annuity business with little to no human touch, up from 3% at the beginning of 2023. 

By allowing carriers to process new business with less risk of human error, automation also provides a better experience for policyholders and distributors. Zinnia plans to continue to automate more of the annuity process in 2024. 

For a carrier launching an annuity, it can be helpful to have “digital first” guidelines for how to process and manage policies, but it’s also important to have a system in place to require adherence to those policies. Building a system like that can be difficult without significant technological investment, which is why carriers turn to partners who can provide solutions out of the box.  

Zinnia has helped even the biggest carriers process large volumes of new business. One of Zinnia’s partners experienced a 50% increase in volume in one month, totaling $1.2 billion in premium, and Zinnia helped process it without adding staff or compromising any service-level agreements, thanks to the automations in place. Zinnia supports this carrier’s entire distribution arm from application to claim. Like many companies that work with Zinnia, the carrier knew what products it wanted to design and sell; working with a partner allowed the carrier to launch new products without having to add staff or develop technology on its own. 

The average case completion time for this carrier’s applications has steadily improved since working with Zinnia, from 3.3 days in 2023 to 1.6 days in 2024 for an eApp with money, and 11.3 days to 6.7 days for an eApp with no money. In addition to speeding up case completion, automating new business generates better reporting data for carriers to analyze trends, such as why applications are submitted not in good order (NIGO). Carriers can use this information to improve their application experiences. In the case of the carrier mentioned above, NIGO resolution has improved from 9.8 days per contract in 2023 to 3.5 days in 2024. 

A strong partner may be even more important for private equity firms who are buying into the annuity market. The carriers they buy may give them the regulatory runway to sell annuities, but not the technology to do so quickly. The right partner can help carriers like this not only launch quickly, but also process business quickly. Experienced partners, like Zinnia, also have a relationship with the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation. It takes time and money for carriers to establish that relationship on their own, but they can skip that task by working with a partner. 


Time to market is just one part of the equation when it comes to a successful annuity launch. New annuity carriers need to plan for how they can handle all the new business they hope to gain. If they can’t process that business efficiently, the reputational hit could easily squander a first-mover advantage. That’s why it’s important to find a partner who has the capacity to process even the most roaring annuity launch with no hiccups.  

About the Authors 

Steve Halloran is Head of Zinnia Carrier Solutions, leading a global team of product, technology, and operational experts to help life & annuity carriers launch products, onboard distributors and new business, administer policies, and deliver high-quality experiences. An accomplished leader in fintech transformation, including leading a newly formed business function and two large scale merger integrations, Steve excels at leading large teams to drive strategic objectives and deliver commercial outcomes. Steve served as Head of Strategy and Operations at IHS Markit and has held senior roles leading transformation and strategy at Ipreo and Seismic Partners. Steve holds a B.A. from Middlebury College. 

Myles Ma, CPFC is a senior reporter at Zinnia. Previously, he was an editor and reporter for, as well as a reporter for the Star-Ledger. As a journalist, his work has also appeared in USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, CBS News, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As a financial expert, his advice has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, and elsewhere. 

Copyright 2024 Zinnia Tech Solutions LLC. All rights reserved. This white paper may not be reproduced, copied, or redistributed without the express written permission of Zinnia Tech Solutions LLC (“Zinnia”). The content of this white paper is without warranty of any kind, and it is not a substitute for personalized financial, strategic, investment, legal, tax, or other similar advice from a licensed professional. Zinnia does not accept liability for any loss or damages arising from the incorrect use of this white paper’s content. All citations are from sources that we deem to be reliable, but we make no representation as to their accuracy. We are under no obligation to update this paper’s content after publication.