If a carrier isn’t offering automation technology to make your job easier, now is the perfect time to get engaged and find out what you can do to help change that. Staying ahead of the curve in today’s fast-paced market is critical. Carriers and agents must work together and embrace technologies that enable rapid response and automation, or the customer will pass them by.
In an industry where instantaneous communication is changing customer expectations, insurance companies that integrate automation technology into their agency-company workflows give their agencies a significant edge over the competition. This is especially true with personal lines and small commercial lines of business, where some agents fear commoditization is happening due to consumers focusing more on price than on the type of coverage they are buying. According to IVANS 2011 Insurance Agents, Carriers & Technology Survey, more than 43 percent of the agents surveyed indicated that “customers shopping around for quotes” (primarily on the Internet) was the most threatening issue to their bottom line.
In IVANS 2009 Agent Survey, only 36 percent of agents reported using real-time upload. This number increased to 52 percent of agents IVANS surveyed in 2011. Commercial lines download also saw an increase from 42 percent to 59 percent of agents, and claims download is up to 30 percent from 18 percent previously. More agents are realizing the benefits of agency-company interface automation through reduced data re-entry and number of passwords, and they are enjoying the fact that real-time and download essentially places the data at their fingertips.
In fact, Allied Insurance, which recently conducted a real-time survey with agents, found that of those agents using real-time technology, 52 percent are saving four hours or less a week, and over 47 percent are saving five to 11 hours or more each week. Other automation processes, such as commercial lines download and claims download, take speculation out of what data is required and where it is located, so agents can focus on up-selling and cross-selling opportunities instead of performing administrative tasks. While this is encouraging news, there is still room for growth.