The world of the independent agency is rapidly and dramatically changing. Shifting customer expectations are creating a need for new business models. Insurance companies are looking to internal innovation and digital technology provided by software providers to deliver the operational efficiencies their agency partners are demanding to better serve their clients.
One area that has historically been a pain point for agencies is the policy placement process. Finding the right insurer or MGA for a certain risk, being appointed and underwriting can be an extremely time-consuming and manual process. Agencies may be forced to wait weeks or more to finally bind a quote for their customer, effecting their ability to acquire and retain clients.
While the introduction of digital technology and the use of data has significantly sped up many processes within the insurance sector, policy placement has unfortunately taken a back seat—until now. Agencies can make sure their agency’s clients get the best products for their specific policy in minutes or days, rather than weeks or months by using digital technology for appetite search, appointment and underwriting.
Here are three ways the digital transformation is improving your relationships with carriers:
1) Ditch outdated, paper appetite guides. Do you spend a lot of time reviewing appetite guides or visiting insurer portals to see if they have appetite for the business you are looking to write? This manual process is expensive and time-consuming. It can also limit you to a very small group of “favorites,” which puts you in jeopardy of losing a prospect or client.
With competition stronger than ever, you need to leverage digital tools to improve the process of finding the right products when your client needs it most. Consider online market search to quickly identify insurer appetites when searching for markets for commercial risks. These online search tools allow you to search by industry, state, class code and more. By providing a simple, automated solution to connect you with insurers and MGAs, online market appetite search expands market opportunities and drives greater efficiency.
2) Stop waiting months to be appointed with an insurer. Ever been forced to answer the same question several different ways on an application? The appointment process for an agency is historically a painful one because it requires large amounts of time to answer seemingly endless and redundant questions.
Furthermore, once the form is completed, the waiting game begins, along with the back-and-forth with the insurer to answer any outstanding questions. For some agencies, the appointment process can last months. Even worse, some may not even be appointed at the end of it, which severely impacts production and customer service.
The pace of the insurance industry does not allow for you to wait this long anymore. But through the use of artificial intelligence, it’s possible to shorten this process. If you have already inputted information in other areas of the form, redundant questions are eliminated. Additionally, by leveraging eSignature capabilities, the waiting period to have a document signed can now be completed in minutes.
3) Cut down on underwriting time and hassle. Have you ever spent weeks waiting for an insurer to underwrite your risk? Much like the application process, the underwriting process can also take weeks. Agency staff often lament about the amount of questions necessary to finally bind a quote for their customers. Even with the online rating systems that many insurers have begun to use to digitize the process, the forms still take valuable time away from an agent’s day.
However, by using powerful data sources to vet risks, you can now receive a quote by answering just a few questions. For example, by already having access to building data, sales revenue and other exposure information via third-party sources, digital technology and analytics can retrieve the information so that you don’t have to. These third-party data sources can even make risks that are historically more difficult to write, such as a lessor’s risk and restaurants, easier to write because the data to answer the most important questions is already available and filled in for you.
It’s time to leverage digital technology in each phase of the policy-administration process, including the historically clunky methods of appetite search, application and underwriting. There are forward-thinking insurers and software providers that recognize these frustrations in the industry and are turning them into opportunities for the benefit of you and your insureds.
By embracing digital, you are empowered to spend time where it matters most—with your clients, not on paperwork or administrative tasks.
Brian Wood is VP of data products group at IVANS Insurance and Pat Girouard is head of business development at Attune.