Since work on creating standardized Life & Annuity forms first began in 2000, ACORD has said much about what it could mean for the industry. Well, those days of mere talk are over. ACORD Life & Annuity forms are a reality. They are submitted to and approved by most states, and they are being adopted by an increasing number of carriers. The movement to streamline communication within the industry is underway and, while the work was tough, the benefits for all parties along the insurance value chain are enormous.
Nevertheless, people often ask why they should implement ACORD's standardized Life & Annuity forms since they have their own. The answer is straightforward enough -- standardized forms make good business, economic, resource-allocation and compliance sense:
- Download, Don't Warehouse -- Download the latest forms anytime, anywhere from ACORD's Web site and eliminate the need to store out-of-date, non-compliant versions.
- Streamline Communication -- Use a single, standardized form making it easier to train personnel, increase efficiency and facilitate communication with partners.
- Remain Compliant -- ACORD forms are always up to date and monitored for changes to ensure compliance with the latest regulations.
- Focus on Growth -- You aren't in the forms business; you're in the insurance business. Focus on growing your business, not your private forms library. Compete on the basis of insurance product and service, not on the quality of your paperwork.
- Ease of Doing Business -- In these competitive times, the easier you make it to do business with you, the more likely distributors will choose to do so. Simplicity is essential.
The industry is truly taking notice of the movement to standardized Life & Annuity forms. Strong support was signaled by NAILBA MGAs at NAILBA XXIII where more than 90 percent of NAILBA MGA members were represented, and 100 percent voted for standardized forms.
This May at the ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum, by popular demand, there will be a panel discussion entitled, "Breaking Down the Barriers," featuring representatives from ACORD, Allstate, Merrill Lynch Insurance Group and Genworth. The panelists will be discussing how leading insurance carriers are breaking down internal and external barriers within their companies by implementing standardized life forms.
The industry increasingly is taking notice, with industry participants making their voices heard and encouraging carriers to adopt standardized forms.
The ACORD Life & Annuity Forms Catalog
The ACORD Life & Annuity Forms library now contains more than 22 forms, a catalog of which is available at www.acord.org. The forms are available to all ACORD Life & Annuity members through ACORD's Web site or through a new ACORD Life & Annuity non-member program. Several large carriers already have signed on to the program and have authorized ACORD to file the forms with the states on their behalf. While the number is still modest, it is only the beginning. As the library grows and more companies see the benefits these pioneers are achieving, the movement towards standardized forms will increase -- and fast.
Users can download these forms and print them like a traditional paper form, or they can exploit them to their fullest potential by filling the forms out on-screen and then saving, e-mailing, faxing or printing them afterwards. In addition, the forms are mapped to the ACORD data model, making it even easier for IT to integrate the forms with ACORD XML messages to support straight-through processing. This is where the full utility of standardized forms shines through.
Standardized Forms and the Future
So what is the next step in the world of standardized Life & Annuity forms? As interest continues to rise and more industry members from across the value chain get involved in the process, the library will grow, as will adoption of the forms.
The time has come for the industry to standardize its Life & Annuity forms. The more the industry as a whole becomes involved, the better we can streamline communication, improve business efficiency and increase the impact on the bottom line.