Alexandria, Va. — The Excess & Surplus (E&S) market is the focus of a joint initiative to improve the efficiencies for retail agents interacting with managing general agents (MGAs) and wholesale brokers and to promote the electronic exchange of data between the parties.

The Independent Agents & Brokers of America’s Agents Council for Technology (ACT), the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) and the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO) hope the initiative will help stakeholders build from existing improvements in electronic communications.

“The Retail Agent—E&S Market Initiative has made excellent progress since its May launch with several virtual meetings and an in-person meeting of the work group and its three sub-groups,” says Angelyn Treutel, independent agent, ACT chair and co-chair of the work group. “The work group and its three subgroups now involve more than 100 industry representatives, including ACORD representatives, retail agents, general agents, wholesale brokers, E&S carriers and vendors all working to improve how retailers and MGA/Wholesalers do business together.”

John Deibler, director, Scottsdale Insurance and co-chair of the work group, spoke for the E&S community, saying they are “equally excited about the efficiencies general agents, wholesale brokers and E&S carriers can derive from more efficient data flows between all of the involved parties. Deibler says they have three sub-groups addressing retail agent interface (including applications and supplementals), electronic interfaces between the parties and general agent Web site functionality.

Mike Roy, CIO of CRC Insurance Services and a major driver in creating this new initiative, says “The managing general agents and wholesale brokers see major opportunities to apply more of the technologies that the standard market is implementing, such as the ACORD XML electronic standards, Real Time workflows, the use of ACORD forms where possible and more consistent functionality on general agent/wholesaler Web sites in order to be easier to do business with for our retail agent clients.”

The objectives of the initiative include improvements in the E&S industry over the next 12 to 18 months in the following areas:

•    Retail agent interface: Focus on E&S carrier supplemental applications to streamline supplemental data requirements and migrate to the use of ACORD standards for applications as much as possible

•    General agent interface: Concentration on data transmission streams from retail agents to general agents as well as within general agents and begin to automate the flow of this data as much as possible

•    General agent Web sites: Develop a roadmap of recommendations for MGA Web site capabilities—Generation 1 is a Web site with basic marketing information. Generation 2 adds login and rating capability. Generation 3 provides for online applications and policy issuance capabilities. Generation 4 expands the Web site for integration with retail agency management systems.

The associations believe retail agents have vastly improved their electronic interfaces between agency offices and standard carriers through the adoption of Real Time. Real Time, they say, is “the ability to click on a button from a client file in your agency management system or comparative rater for immediate access to carrier information on that client. The transaction may be a quote, billing inquiry, claim inquiry/loss runs, policy view, endorsements or a request for information. This approach provides a single workflow for servicing or quoting.” As a result, retail agents have recognized significant time-savings, which has resulted in improved client service and more sales for the agents and carriers.

Source: The Independent Agents & Brokers of America

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