As carriers "turn off" paper documentation and replace it with electronic information, agents and brokers are confronted with a new set of workflow challenges that can set back agency efficiency significantly unless carriers take specific steps with regard to the electronic information they provide to their sales forces.This is a conclusion of phase two of a report published by the Agents Council for Technology, a partnership of independent agents, companies and technology vendors, user groups and associations dedicated to enhancing the use of technology.

Because of the importance of this paperless trend to agency workflow, the ACT, which is affiliated with the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), Alexandria, Va., created a work group to develop recommendations for carriers, agents and vendors.

ACT published its Phase One report in July 2003 and this week is publishing Phase Two of the report, Turning off the Paper to Agents: Recommended Agent and Carrier Workflows. Both reports are available on by clicking on the "ACT" link and then clicking on the "Technology Reports" section.

"The report’s overarching recommendation is that a carrier should not mandate the shutting off of paper to the agent unless there is an effective download in place," says Jeffrey M. Yates, ACT executive director. "Download continues to be very important to agents in this new environment even though the electronic information should also be accessible to agents on the carrier’s Web site."

The report provides a series of recommendations to agents and carriers depending on whether the transaction is downloaded or not. Where there is an effective download, agents should be able to rely on "spot checking" the downloaded items for accuracy and viewing the electronic documents on the carrier’s Web site when needed.

Source: Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America

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