Although insurers have begun embracing electronic and Web-based approaches to recruiting, onboarding and managing agents, most organizations have seen only patches of efficiency and cost savings. For example, a recruitment campaign launched through Monster.com or other employment Web sites reaches more and better-qualified candidates than does a 1 x 2-inch classified ad in the local newspaper. But after passing through the initial screening, a candidate is reviewed for licensure or licensed, appointed in one or more states with one or more writing companies, subjected to a background investigation, positioned in a compensation hierarchy (if the organization uses them), set up in payroll, new business or other back-office systems, and otherwise pulled like a minivan in a carwash through a succession of checks and scrubbings. In most organizations, each step is performed independently, with redundant information keyed into isolated electronic systems, and accompanied by a folder full of paper forms, reports and other documentation.

The industry has computerized manual processes without changing the processes themselves. Where once a paper-based method to contract a new agent took 26 steps, it now takes the same 26 steps on computer screens. Most organizations still rely on “people power” to pull the electronic triggers on multiple systems that move data from one stage in the process to the next. The disappointing sum of efforts to date has been only to digitize a process requiring far too many separate steps and involving too much human interaction.

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