Many insurance agents are embracing straight-through processing (STP) to help them quote new business quicker, slash paper and postage costs, reduce not-in-good-order (NIGO) rates and reap other benefits. Yet, others are resisting change, and before STP can truly catch fire, the three partners involved - the agency, carrier and agency management system vendor - have to be in lock-step in their drives to boost automation.

Hardly discouraged, carriers are swarming to join industry efforts to increase real-time offerings and embrace standards, while agencies are choosing carriers based on their STP services, and are awarding agents who adopt STP. STP growth has been brisk, even at a time when many carrier initiatives have stalled. For instance, Download transactions from carriers to agents, and real-time transactions from agents to carriers, increased 17% and 21% respectively in the past year, according to Stamford, Conn.-based IVANS Inc.

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