Glenmont, N.Y. — Four chapters of the Professional Insurance Agents’ organization asked their member agents to rank insurance carrier performance recently, and the results of those surveys were made public today.

For two years in a row, Mayfield Village, Ohio-based P&C insurer Progressive scored among the top-10 carriers in each of four states’ company performance surveys conducted this year by the Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York State (PIANH), Glenmont, N.Y. The Hartford, Hartford, Conn., OneBeacon, Canton, Mass., and The Travelers Cos. Inc., Hartford, Conn., scored in the top 10 in three of the state surveys for the second year running.

A total of 1,094 agents, led by a 556 participants in New York state, provided feedback, with each scoring an average of five companies in the 2008 survey. This year marked the second time PIANH conducted its survey and, based on the results, awarded honors to the Andover Cos., Acadia/W.R. Berkley, MMG Insurance, Mt. Washington Assurance Corp., Peerless and Progressive at its Joint Education Conference last month. It is the fourth year for the PIANJ survey; the sixth for PIANY; and the seventh for PIACT.

Each survey used the same methodology, but included different national and regional carriers, depending on market presence and agency representation in each state. Independent agency personnel were asked to rate carriers on 16 performance items in areas including product and pricing; treatment of agents; marketing support; technology; claims handling; service and underwriting. Respondents were asked to provide separate ratings for personal and commercial lines in some cases where a company operates them as distinct business units. The survey was conducted earlier this year via the associations’ Web sites and fax-back survey forms.

Agents who participated also could provide comments on each company they rated. Comments frequently centered on companies’ technology.

Agents are quick to congratulate companies for improvements, but the survey’s comments also point out the competitive costs for companies that fail to keep up. While companies’ Web sites remain important, agents also have begun to compare companies on their Real-Time functionality—or lack thereof. The Real-Time/Download Campaign is an initiative to increase implementation of real time and download technology-based workflows and independent agency-company interface applications

The surveys included the following comments:

Said one Connecticut agent: “Technology must be improved. Real-Time Web-based rating and endorsement processing [are] needed to compete with other carriers.”

From a New Jersey agent: “If they would start using Real-Time, they would be the perfect company.”

Another New Jersey agent: “Their new platform for Real-Time is outdated and clumsy.”

And from New York agents: “Need better Web site … Too difficult to use—causing us to not write business with them … Advanced automation capability would allow us to write more business.”

Several companies placed among the top scorers in the important category, “treatment of agents,” comprising items such as support for the independent agency system, compensation and communication.

What do their agents say? The survey revealed a coming trend: a preference for good technology to speed business transactions does not imply that agents are willing to forego personal relationships and accessibility at their carriers.

Each company received a private, full report on its individual results and the June editions of the associations& squo; PIA mag zine contain complete results of the surveys, including representative comments by the companies’ agents.

Full results of each of the surveys are also available online at

Source: Professional Insurance Agents

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