Increasing numbers of agents and brokers are leveraging real-time technology tools to handle policy rating and sales, manage customer inquiries, and deliver service, according to new research produced by a coalition of organizations that represent the independent agency system. More than half of agency management system users tap a real-time tool to start an inquiry or service transaction (54 percent for inquiries and 55 percent for personal lines endorsements), the study found. In addition, 43 percent of agents queried said they are rating personal lines in real time through the agency management system or comparative rater. Also, slightly more than 90 percent of respondents said they use an agency management system in their offices.
The survey, based on polling of approximately 3,200 agency staff members, was developed by the Real Time/Download Campaign and promoted by management system user groups, carriers, software vendors, state agent associations, ACORD-User Groups Information Exchange (AUGIE), and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America's Agents Council for Technology (ACT). Real Time is the ability to click on a button from a client file in the agency management system or comparative rater for immediate access to carrier information on that client. Launched in April 2007, the Real Time/Download Campaign is dedicated to improving the competitiveness of the independent agency distribution channel.
According to the survey, the most frequently used real-time inquiry functions are personal lines billing inquiry (selected by 87 percent of inquiry users) and personal lines policy inquiry (82 percent), followed by commercial lines billing inquiry (75 percent), personal lines claims inquiry (70 percent), and commercial lines policy inquiry (69 percent). Some 55 percent of those with management systems said they do personal lines endorsement processing, and 34 percent do commercial lines endorsement processing. Forty-three percent of agents who responded said they use a real-time tool to rate personal lines policies, and 18 percent use such a tool for commercial lines rating.
Agents reportedly have increasing numbers of carriers offering real-time functionality in their offices. About 60 percent of agencies doing personal lines real-time inquiries or service transactions say they have it available with four or more of their carriers (42 percent have four or more carriers providing this functionality in commercial lines). Six of 10 of agents doing personal lines real-time rating have it with four or more carriers. For commercial lines, 32 percent of agents say four or more carriers provide real-time rating.
"Today, more than 90 insurance organizations—representing some 140 distinct carriers—offer independent agents and brokers the ability to complete some kind of transaction in Real Time through their management system or rater," said campaign co-chair Lisa Parry Becker, vice president of sales and marketing at William B. Parry Agency (Langhorne, Pa.), in a statement. "The number of carriers offering real-time service and inquiry capabilities is up about 17 percent since the campaign started. For real-time rating and quoting, it's up 36 percent."
The Real Time/Download campaign is led by industry groups and sponsored financially by: ACORD (Pearl River, N.Y.); ACT (Alexandria, Va.); AMS Services (Bothell, Wash.); AMS Users' Group; Applied Systems (University Park, Ill.); Applied Systems Client Network (ASCnet); Artizan Internet Services (Windsor, Conn.); AUGIE; EMC Insurance Companies (Des Moines); Grange Insurance (Columbus, Ohio); IIABA (Alexandria, Va.); IVANS (Stamford, Conn.); Liberty Mutual Agency Markets (Boston) ; MetLife Auto & Home (New York); Nationwide/Allied (Columbus, Ohio); PIA of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut & New Hampshire (Glenmont, N.Y.); SilverPlume Rating Solutions (Pulaski, Tenn.); Strategic Insurance Software (Gahanna, Ohio); The Hartford; and Westfield Insurance (Westfield Center, Ohio).
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio