Filed Under:Agent Broker, Agency Technology

Carrier/Agency Technology: Producers Seek Efficiencies

Brower Insurance puts a premium on technology and has traditionally spent additional funds on the technology side to help its staff be more efficient, according to Dan Driskell, a principal for Brower, a regional agency in southwest Ohio. 

“The producers and principals in our office rely on the customer service reps quite a bit to handle the day-to-day activities of our accounts,” he says. “[Producers] are in the business of bringing in new revenue and we need a great staff behind us to bring in renewals. We find making life easier for them keeps everyone happier and streamlines some of the efficiencies.

(For more on carrier/agency technology, check out the interview with Nort Salz of Deep Customer Connections and this interview with John Siglar of PacificComp..)

One of the tools used by Brower is the InsiderConnect electronic marketing solution from the commercial lines solution provider ProspX. Driskell uses the solution to stay in front of clients and prospects and manage the pipeline of business opportunities. The collaboration software allows producers to load the system with data based on the company’s specific information and send that out to multiple carriers to determine if the carriers have interest in looking at that particular account.

“Instead of typing e-mails, I can boil it down to one process and from that exercise we can find the carrier most interested in writing that business and we can work with them to get it on the books,” says Driskell.

Brower works with approximately 15 carriers, according to Driskell, which he concedes is a large number.

“Brower has different segments of business,” he says. “We specialize in quite a few segments and every segment has specialized carriers so that’s probably why we have that many we regularly go to. In this competitive nature we need to have more carriers in our quiver just to be competitive.”

In the world of small commercial lines, real-time download works really well, according to Driskell.

“It streamlines the efficiency and that’s a huge time saver,” he says. “The less time we have to spend on processing business the more we make.

With the middle market and large commercial, producers spend more time on the interview phase with clients and performing due diligence to get things right, adds Driskell. Bower’s producers spend a lot of time interviewing managers inside the company and bringing in an internal risk manager who looks at the company’s contracts.

“I don’t know if we can slow that down too much,” he says. “What we can do is improve the application process. What we are shooting for is to get applications to the carrier so they can quickly rate and underwrite the risk.”

Driskell believes that in today’s business environment, people want things faster.

“They don’t necessarily want it today, but it’s not what it used to be in the industry,” says Driskell.  “With the advent of all the technology it’s crucial we stay on the cutting edge and get information to the correct people in a timely manner.”

Driskell believes some commercial lines carriers are reluctant to quickly step into the technology realm beyond doing work over the Internet in at least some capacity. National carriers typically roll out programs first for small business policies and simple products that don’t involve much underwriting.

He maintains that national carriers are looking at ease of business to try and pick up more of the small commercial market.

Most of Brower’s middle market and large accounts still need a face-to-face communication with the underwriter, which means more time involved and expense.

Most carriers have sunk some money into their systems and all have different nuances, explains Driskell. Regional carriers are more reserved, though, but most have Web-based rating systems.

Some carriers prefer agencies pick up the phone and discuss coverages prior to sending in submissions.

The more revenue an account offers means there is a certain threshold to market it. Brower recognizes that when you work on an account it costs a certain amount to submit the policy to the company.

“We’re cognizant of that threshold and what we need to do to write it effectively and still be profitable,” says Driskell.

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