From the February 6, 2012 issue of National Underwriter Property & Casualty • Subscribe!

‘Friends of Eddie’ Plan Real-Time Party

Are you a F.O.E. (Friend of Eddie)? Lots of agents are, and now there’s a plan to help you get to know him a lot better—and to introduce him to new friends.

For the uninitiated, Eddie is the cute little clock mascot—spokesclock, if you will—for the Real Time/Download Campaign, the industry advocate for implementation of the Real Time and download interface applications for independent agencies and carriers.

Set for Feb. 29, the first all-industry Real Time Day will provide agents and brokers, insurance carriers, and service providers with opportunities to explore how Real Time can boost profitability.

Long before Eddie and Real Time came along, agency workflow was a hodgepodge of carrier legacy systems, making processing slow and complicated. Real Time, the result of collaboration between agents, carriers and technology vendors, allows agents to use the most current version of their own agency-management systems to conduct one-step transactions for quotes, billing inquiries, endorsements or information requests.

Recent surveys have shown that 63 percent of agency-management-system users employ real-time rating to access multiple carriers at once, a 10 percent increase over a similar survey conducted last year. The Real Time campaign says users save an average of an hour a day by eliminating multiple data entry, password management and other redundancies.

But Real Time is only as good as the number of players involved—and the more, the merrier. That’s the main reason for the Leap Day event, says Rick Morgan of Aartrijk, which is helping to coordinate the event.

“We wanted to create a national exposure for Real Time and get the whole industry behind it: carriers, vendors and associations, all focused on one day’s worth of activities to create an amazing awareness for Real Time,” says Morgan.

The highly interactive virtual event will offer Webinars, interviews and discussions with Real Time users and other experts, as well as presentations by carriers and vendors on using Real Time tools.

And because the Real Time campaign hopes agents will share their problems and success stories, they’re soliciting input for Real Time Day activities, which will appear at bit.ly/RealTimeDay (send your ideas to RealTime@Aartrijk.com).

The event grew out of the need to “get Real Time to the next level” by reaching more agencies, says Morgan. “It’s a struggle to reach those agents out there who are not members [of industry associations supporting Real Time]. But every agent has relationships with carriers, so if the carriers promote the event, we could reach more agents who will see that this isn’t just about technology; it’s a workflow that makes people more productive.”

The event is also designed to educate carriers and vendors on the need to add more functionality, uniformity and process to keep Real Time advancing.

 “In a perfect world, agents should be able to sit at their agency-management system, push a button and get whatever they need to do,” Morgan says. “The technology today really exists, but there’s still the matter of agents who don’t use Real Time and some inconsistencies between carriers and multiple workflows. But the technology has real advantages, and that’s the message we want to deliver.”

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