A critical tenet of strategic planning at the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner is to leverage state-of-the-art technology to gain oversight in insurance regulation. The determination was made in early 2018, based on a thorough analysis of the innovation occurring in various insurance industry sectors, that adding online testing with a robust online proctoring engine to the examination program already offered by the Washington OIC at PSI’s test center network, was the way forward.
“Many parts of the country are geographically remote,” says Jeff Baughman, Producer Licensing and Oversight Program Manager at the Washington OIC, “Eastern Washington is no exception to that rule.” Availability issues for convenient candidate scheduling at traditional test centers throughout the state, especially during the annual Open Enrollment period from October through December, led the Washington OIC to consider supplementing their existing program based at traditional, in-person test centers, with online proctoring. “The thought process behind adding online proctoring to the equation,” says Baughman, “was what if candidates didn’t have to travel at all. Brick-and-mortar sites would feel less pressure, and candidates could take selected exams almost anywhere.”
Even after expanding their test center network throughout the state in 2015, many of the Washington OIC’s candidates were driving three or more hours one way to complete their exams. “Wouldn’t it be great if they didn’t have to drive at all, and candidates could take their exams from the convenience of their homes or offices at a time that worked for them,” Baughman adds. PSI’s multi-modal online proctoring platform connects test-takers with highly qualified live proctors anytime, anywhere.
No regulator has done this before, and PSI helped us figure out how the pieces link together to make this work.
The combination of traditional exam administration at test centers and a secured online proctoring platform that is accessible to remote candidates marks a revolutionary change in Washington State and for the entire insurance industry.
“It comes down to what the mission of our organization is. We want to be at the forefront of the insurance regulatory industry, using the latest technology wherever possible,” Baughman explains. But the prospect of finding the right partner who understood exactly what the program required and delivered to the highest standard was no easy task.
“We had a longstanding relationship with a different test provider who didn’t seem to be interested in our ideas or the things we wanted to have access to,” Baughman notes. “To have PSI say that our vision for this hybrid program is possible, and venture forth to find out how this will work, how all the pieces fit together, and then execute flawlessly has been an incredible experience.”
No Stress Testing
“If you’ve ever taken an insurance exam,” says Baughman, “you know there’s all this preparation that you put in on your own. Candidates must find the time to schedule the exam. Then there’s the worry, the stress, getting to the test center, having the right ID, sitting in a lobby with other test takers and waiting. Eventually you get to take the exam in a room you’ve never been in before, and the whole environment can be very, very stressful for some test takers,” he adds.
PSI’s online proctoring platform allows test takers to securely access their exams at a time and location of their choosing. “The great thing is now, as people are preparing for these exams, they know they can take them from the comfort of their own home or workplace with nobody else around. We’re aiming for a frustration-free environment, and how much more satisfying can we make the exam process.”
Privacy and Security for Candidates
Data security is among the greatest concerns for today’s regulatory agencies, and PSI’s developers and highly-skilled proctors work very closely with the Washington OIC to ensure strict adherence to security protocol. “Throughout the entire process we worked diligently with the developers to make sure that there were not going to be any incidents where someone was outside the rules of test taking,” explains Baughman. “Since we’ve put such an emphasis on the security piece, I don’t think we’ve had an instance yet where anyone has been caught cheating. PSI’s proctoring is so tight, if something looks questionable, the candidate is asked about it,” says Baughman, “and if the behavior in question continues, the proctor ends the exam.”
“We received a lot of questions and pushback on security from long-time licensees in the state when we made the announcement,” Baughman adds. “Really, we heard every possible scenario you could think of about what may or may not take place during the exam experience if security was not tight.” PSI’s integrated solutions are designed to protect not only the integrity of the exam process, making certain that the opportunities for misconduct during the exam are mitigated, but also to ensure that candidate data is the least exposed to potential fraud.
PSI and the Washington OIC are committed to sustaining the work of future-focused online proctoring that enhances and protects their examination programs. In the twelve-month time period since conceiving, developing, and launching the hybrid program, administrative and candidate feedback has been resoundingly positive. “The hours are great, the technology’s great. We’ve never been happier than making the change that we did,” says Baughman.
Based on the success of the program since its launch with five of the Washington OIC’s single-line exams, the program is set to expand rapidly in March of 2020. “We launched this with the first group of exams on a trial basis, and now I’ve corresponded with PSI and we’ve made the remainder of our insurance exams available with online proctoring.”
Starting this year, every insurance regulatory exam in the state will be available to be accessed remotely by candidates and proctored online. As a final thought, Baughman adds, “At this point nobody else in the country is doing that. I know there’s more innovation coming from PSI on the technology side, and we’ll listen with open ears.”