There's no question that both agents and carriers are enthusiastically embracing many of the Web services standards now available across the industry. However, we're still only in the early stages of this process, and there is much work to be done to smooth the integration and transfer of customer and policy data between agents and carriers.Some leading carriers, in fact, report their overall XML-transaction volume is still relatively low compared with other messaging modes. Leading the way in XML efforts is ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development, Pearl River, N.Y.). ACORD's XML specifications-covering property/casualty, life and reinsurance-are designed to help move the industry away from monolithic and proprietary systems and toward networks that enable interoperability among systems and the sharing of data between carriers, agencies, brokers and third-party services.

A recent survey from SEEC Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., confirms that 58% of carriers have adopted ACORD XML standards. Along with direct cost-savings to operations, the survey found that 62% of surveyed carriers see ACORD XML as a vehicle to improve service delivery to agents.

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