Personal lines carriers and their commercial lines counterparts have at least one thing in common when dealing with independent agents: It is absolutely critical for carriers to offer solutions that make it easy for agencies to do business.
At commercial lines carrier CNA, Belen Tokarski, assistant vice president of technology and agency solutions, has learned that not all agents are ready for the newest technology, so knowing the agents is imperative.
Dan Driskell, a producer for Brower Insurance, 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,” he says. “With the advent of technology it’s crucial we stay on the cutting edge and get information to the correct people in a timely manner.”
CNA realizes some agencies may not be large enough or have the interest to embed technology in their business model; so, the carrier wants to ensure it is offering solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
The carrier recently created a team to train all its agencies, regardless of an agency’s level of technical sophistication, explains Tokarski. This allows the carrier to make an assessment on the agency’s readiness for technology and how CNA can aid agency efficiencies so the agents can spend more time winning business and servicing accounts.
CNA appreciates the support of the user groups from the various agency management system vendors and groups such as GetRealTime.org, but Tokarski is unsure about the level of involvement by agencies in these organizations, which is why the carrier believes in face-to-face meetings with its agents.
“We can be more personal and have conversations with the agents, but it’s going to take a paradigm shift for the industry to get out of the world of working directly in carrier Websites,” she says. “By giving agents a taste of what technology can do with ACORD XML, we are slowly moving them up the spectrum until they are in the high-end of technical adoption; but, you can’t force real-time quoting. They have to get interested themselves.”
“When we implemented the AppReader portion of the underwriting management system, they were excited,” says Siglar. “[Brokers] can take a PDF out of their agency management system and download it into our UMS within our portal. With one password they are already in the system. There’s no double entry. It’s automatically populated with an ACORD app and that cuts down on inputting errors and time. As we move forward with the brokers, it greases the skids—the path of least resistance. Brokers want to go to a company that is efficient and can get them a quote right away.”
Siglar believes brokers and their CSRs often are set in their ways so PacificComp needed to do face-to-face training. Siglar believes it helped that the AppReader solution is an intuitive system, which meant users could be trained quickly.
Blust believes when you can go to an agent and their chief concern is getting access to solutions for small accounts—other than one or two direct appointments—and offer them a single-entry, multi-carrier quoting platform with the ability to access numerous markets in the admitted and non-admitted marketplace, and hopefully 90 percent of the time they will receive quotes, that’s a value proposition that’s hard to beat.
“We think people are going to be drawn to the solution, and that is evidenced by the first four weeks of the program where we have contracted over 1,100 agents,” he says. “There’s specific interest in this platform.”