Insurance carriers have been hearing an incessant mantra from independent agents for years now: "Make it easy for us to do business with you." In fact, surveys consistently reveal that, when placing business, aside from price and product features, agents are most influenced by accurate, fast quote turnaround and ease of doing business with carriers through automation.One way carriers can make it easy for agents to do business with them is by building real-time interfaces to various agency management systems. Using XML, carriers and agencies can transfer data back and forth, eliminating re-keying of policy, billing, claims and other information.

Encompass Insurance, a subsidiary of Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Co., has been developing real-time agency transactions for several years. Since 2002, Encompass (formerly CNA Personal Insurance) has implemented several ACORD XML transactions, including billing, claims, policy and loss-run inquiries.

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