Have we reached a turning point in carrier/agent technology? Deb Smallwood, founder of Strategy Meets Action (SMA) believes commercial lines is the new frontier for connectivity.
“For the past several years the focus—especially for the large carriers—was to automate personal lines,” she says. “It was straight-through processing and adding predictive analytics in the pricing. Progressive really raised the bar and the industry had to follow suit. Those that weren’t using predictive analytics with a scorecard were not pricing policies correctly.”
Agents feel small commercial should be able to quote multiple carriers and use real-time, according to Yates. Many already use the inquiry functionality for claims status and policy status.
“We want to see more submission activity using real time,” says Yates. “In mid-commercial it’s mainly an email process today so we are trying to move it to real time.”
“Every status an agent wants to know they can get in real time,” says Fergang. “We have subscriptions for up to 26 alerts that anyone in the [agent’s] office can choose. You can choose one or all 26. On a real-time basis you are alerted on things that are transactional—claims, pending cancellations, anything. You can get that in real time.”
Whoever subscribes to the alerts receives an email with an imbedded link, which allows the subscriber to get into Grange’s portal to gain more information.
Reasons cited for these failures include workflow or the technology the agents have in place. On the back end, though, the ones that report they have mastered the approach or are almost there have built both real-time access and a portal.
“It’s not one or the other,” says Smallwood. “Depending on their book of business, some carriers have more business coming through the portal and some have more coming through real-time access, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.”
Petersmark feels some large carriers—but certainly not all—have reacted to that strategy by working toward that same goal.
“I think [large carriers] have definitely moved in that direction, but not as quickly,” he says. “There are a couple carriers that are arrogant enough to believe they don’t have to worry about it because [premium decisions] are all about price to them. If they return a good dividend every quarter it’s all hunky dory.”
Social networking has come a long way in a short time, but Yates believes some agencies are using it more effectively than others.