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The Hartford’s ExpressWay Speeds Small Commercial Business

The Hartford Financial Services Group's new platform lets agents import data from leading agency management systems, avoiding the need to re-key information needed to quote and place business.

The Hartford Financial Services Group has begun to rollout ExpressWay for Small Business, a tool that enables agents to place business owner's policy (BOP), auto and workers' comp business without rekeying information already entered into their AMS (Bothell, Wash.) and Applied Systems (University Park, Ill.) agency management systems. The tool is currently in use by 150 agencies in six Northeastern states as the beginning of a methodical nationwide rollout, according to Jim Rogers, director of agency interface and technology strategies, The Hartford (Hartford; $26.5 billion in 2006 revenues).

"Our No. 1 issue with agents is rekeying of data, and that's what this eliminates," Rogers says. "This application also uses some of the newer technology we have to even insert third-party data to augment whatever they are prefilling from their management systems, such as VIN lookups."

Major Improvement

The tool is a significant development in that it allows the entry of information into a single source, according to Cyndy Smith, VP, IT, Haylor, Freyer & Coon, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based property and casualty (P&C) agency. "We enter [information] once into our agency management system, then we can take that information, move it directly into The Hartford's quoting system, answer a few additional Hartford-specific questions, and it returns us a quote," she says. "In the past we always had to enter the information into our agency management system ... [and] rekey all that information."

Smith cites ExpressWay as an example of where the industry should be going, noting that regional P&C carrier Selective Insurance (Branchville, N.J.) offers similar functionality but that The Hartford is the first nationwide carrier to offer the capability to Haylor, Freyer & Coon. "We're hoping to see other carriers follow The Hartford so that we can reduce the time it takes to process small business quotes," she says.

ExpressWay for Small Business works with AMS Sagitta, Sagitta Online, AfW, AfW Online, AMS 360, Applied TAM and TAM Online systems -- one of which is used by 80 percent of the agencies that do business with The Hartford, according to the carrier.

The Hartford executed a proof of concept for ExpressWay between May and October 2006. From October 2006 to early April 2007, the carrier ran the application with selected agents in the Northeast and incorporated about 200 enhancements based on customer feedback, according to The Hartford's Rogers. The platform debuted in April as a live pilot in the Northeast and should be rolled out across the country by early next year.

"We're studious in how we're rolling it out because of the different policies in different states," Rogers says. "We find that we pretty much get one opportunity with the agencies -- either it's successful and they like it, or they don't -- and we always want a positive experience."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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