When it comes to producers, familiarity seems to trump novelty.
According to new report from Boston-based Celent, even now, a full decade after Internet usage became ubiquitous, old ways of doing business persist at many agencies.
The report “Independent Producer Survey: Technology, Services, and Other Drivers of Producer Choice” surveyed 255 agents from agencies of all sizes in the life, annuity and health sectors.
“Independent producers have shown limited progress in their use of newer, more cost-efficient technology tools,” the report, authored by Senior Analyst Mike Fitzgerald and Managing Director, insurance group, Craig Weber, states. “Paper dominates the new business submission process. The telephone remains the preferred method of communicating with carriers.”
Indeed, the report found the telephone still in wide use, with almost one-third of the producers surveyed using it to perform transactional tasks such as basic policy changes and submittal and management of claims. The report also found that agency management systems are not widely used.
Moreover, efforts by carriers to lure agency business by offering technologically advanced interfaces may be offset by a proclivity among producers to stick to a few carriers.
“Typically, between two and three carriers represent 75% of a producer’s book of business,” the report notes, adding that only 19% of carriers get that amount of premium from four or more carriers.
Yet, Celent concludes that these numbers do not mean that carriers should abandon efforts in this area.
“The good news is that 24% of the producers are ‘very satisfied’ with the technology delivered by their best carriers,” the report asserts. “However, 51% rated their comfort level as ‘somewhat satisfied,’ which argues that not all needs are being fully met.”
Celent also notes the growing popularity of carrier-proprietary Web sites among some agencies.
“There are opportunities for carrier differentiation in the areas of document imaging, mobile technology and transactional web portals,” the report states.
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