Agent portal, business intelligence, claims and policy administration implementations top commercial lines insurers’ priorities for technology initiatives, according to “Business and Technology Trends: Commercial Lines,” a new report from Novarica.

Commercial lines continue to be hyper-competitive, with technology playing an ever-larger role in insurers’ ability to attract, retain and serve clients profitably, the report says. And while the report looks at technology initiatives across the enterprise, it emphasizes the importance of those priorities.

Operational efficiency and underwriting discipline are crucial for growth in the sector and, as a way to improve agent and employee conditions and tighten up claims and underwriting operations, insurers are enhancing a few technological capabilities.

The report says agent portals continue to be viewed as key elements for acquiring and retaining customers as well as for keeping producers informed of the carriers’ risk appetite and for ease of doing business. Business intelligence and analytics efforts are being expanded beyond claims reporting and analysis to operationalized predictive analytics using third-party and multidimensional data; also, core systems investments continue to be critical for improving time to market, product flexibility, and the consistency and quality of underwriting decisions.

The report also notes that the popularity of mobile devices in the commercial space is catching up to their popularity in personal lines. The current focus of the devices for commercial lines carriers is loss control.

Lower priority technology initiatives include billing, customer portals, distribution management, document creation and management, rating, underwriting workstations and specialized components; technology initiatives in these areas are more about enhancements than competitive necessity, Novarica said.

The focus on competitive advantages and efficiency are needed because, according to the report, premium growth for insurers writing predominantly commercial lines slowed to 3.2 percent in the first quarter of this year. Last year, during the same period, premium growth stood at 4.3 percent.

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