Technology has undeniably simplified how independent agents receive and send information to insurers. But the high expectations that accompanied the development of real-time interfaces and Web portals hasn't been achieved largely due to this simple fact: Insurers are faced with a Catch-22 dilemma. Many aren't inclined to aggressively roll out real-time capabilities to agents unless they're certain agents will use the services. But the trouble is, many insurers can't be sure.As a result, carriers continue to pin their hopes of program adoption on their preferred agency partners-using these agencies as a testing ground for future expansion. To be sure, independent agencies that have developed an affinity for technology are championing these carrier and vendor-led e-services programs and using their influence among fellow agencies to embrace adoption.

Preferred agencies often play a key role in the actual development of e-services solutions as insurers take less of a "home-office" approach to program formulation. Instead, insurers are going out to the field to assess agency workflow processes before proceeding with a development strategy.

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