People Not Selling People: Solution Boosts Sales of Insurance at ILFCU

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WESTFIELD, N.Y. — The online lending system at Inner Lakes FCU here sells more than twice as much credit and GAP insurance as the CU's three loan officers combined.

Loanliner.com is a "great sales tool and does a better job enrolling members in insurance than our loan officers," said Travis Heiser, CEO at the $55-million CU.

Provided by CUNA Mutual Group to more than 550 CUs, loanliner.com can connect to third-party systems to prefill member data into online loan applications; make instant loan decisions based on CU policies; transfer application data directly to just about any loan origination system; and deliver documents for electronic signature by borrowers, according to John Putman, director, lending business systems, CUNA Mutual.

About 40% of loan applicants opt for credit insurance during the loanliner.com application process, said Heiser. Nearly 20% opt for GAP coverage. "The insurance options are so simple, readily available and non-confrontational, and I think members like that."

Applicants can click to answer "yes" or "no" to short insurance options that loanliner.com displays in "exactly the right place" in the application, according to CUNA Mutual.

Additional white space on application screens can be converted to custom marketing campaigns via the loanliner.com Site Builder. "Site Builder allows credit unions to make configuration changes without any development expense," said Putman.

Loanliner.com garnered more than 530 loan applications last year for Inner Lakes, 26% of which were automatically approved, Heiser said. In 2009, 31% of the 600 loan applications generated by Loanliner.com were automatically approved. Remaining applications were forwarded to a loan officer for review-"and the vast majority also was approved," he said.

Loan officers completed more than 630 "over-the-desk" applications in 2010 and more than 540 in 2009, Heiser said.

At Royal CU in Eau Claire, Wis., applications through loanliner.com have grown by 20%. "We've been promoting this low-cost, efficient channel," said to Brandon Riechers, VP-consumer lending and collections at the $1.2-billion CU.

"Loanliner.com adds a convenient, on-demand channel for borrowers to request loans," Riechers said. "Due to its self-directed, intuitive nature, people can access it on their own time using their own methods, whether computer or smartphone.

New Regulation Z templates at loanliner.com ensure that multi-featured, open-end loans at Inner Lakes are in compliance. "It takes care of the burdensome Reg Z changes that dictate what we ask for during underwriting versus verification of information for subsequent advances," said Heiser.

Once the applicant chooses a loan type, loanliner.com walks the applicant through the process by asking questions required by Inner Lakes and regulations-and geared only to that loan type. The system continues through the application in the same fashion, asking follow-up questions that correspond to the choices the applicant makes.

"The web application asks dynamic questions that allow for a more streamlined, customized application for each borrower," Riechers explained.

Inner Lakes originates a wide range of loans through loanliner.com, though first mortgages are handed over to a nearby CUSO due to complex and unique regulatory requirements, Heiser said.

In 2004, Inner Lakes was preparing to hire a fourth loan officer to address increasing loan volume. The CU began using loanliner.com instead, "alleviating the need for an additional loan officer," said Heiser.

Although loanliner offers a site for mobile browsers, a custom mobile application will be released by Q3 2011.

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