Lloyds of London “gets it”. Major carriers “get it”. The most profitable agents “get it”. It’s time to join the evolution into the next generation of agents and carriers: A world where it is easy to do business and the average consumer enjoys the experience of buying insurance.
A few years ago, a group of interested stakeholders: IIABA ACT, AAMGA, NAPSLO, and ACORD joined together with the intention of increasing automated interfaces among the partners to increase efficiency, speed and profit. As the group has grown to more than 350 participants in the “War on Keystrokes”, many successful implementations and recommendations have been introduced. A “Roadmap to Effective General Agent Websites” has been published to guide general agents (GA) in providing functionality on their websites that assist their partner retail agents (RA) in improved capabilities. The roadmap also helps GAs to prepare their websites to accept standard ACORD interfaces and allow electronic data exchange without the need to re-key data into multiple sites.
The Lloyds of London markets are increasingly recognizing the value of straight-through processing. More than one-third of all Lloyds business is written through U.S. markets, and since the U.S. has embraced ACORD XML standards for electronic interfaces, the gains in efficiency through implementing standard interfaces has become clear. The mantra “faster — smarter — together” is the phrase of the day.
The benefits of this processing flow are overwhelming:
- Data validation
- Faster turnaround
- No month-end reporting
- Immediate access to data by all
- No emailing of attachments yielding improved security
- Additional services for the partners with immediate access to data
- More time able to be spent on business and less time on administration
- Reduced reconciliation requirements and fewer data errors
- Streamlined processing
- The ability to process more transactions with improved security and improved profit
The group has completed a whitepaper highlighting workflow improvement recommendations for retailers and GAs to make our industry more efficient and profitable. (The whitepaper is available on the E&S JWG website.) These efficiencies allow agents to free up time to do marketing campaigns and sell more.
The call to action is, “The way we are doing business now has to change!” We must agree on standards to share data and resist building custom data interfaces. We must work together to increase efficiency and reduce our expenses. We must implement what is developed. But we still need significantly more industry participation. More carriers have stepped up to the plate to work on the modeling to help improve the industry. These interfaces will put excess and surplus lines carriers on a level playing field with standard carriers and would allow them to sell more policies.
As we continue to work together taking baby steps to improve our electronic interfaces, it still is shocking that we encounter such difficulty in adoption of the vitally important technology. Independent carriers and agents need to get on the same page to make it easier to offer our products. The standard market started figuring it out over 10 years ago, and has implemented ACORD standards and Real Time/Download. The time is now for the agents and carriers to work together for the good of today’s connected consumer.
Angelyn Treutel Zeringue, CPA, is president of Southgroup Insurance Gulf Coast and the chair of ASCnet's Industry Solutions Industry Initiatives Committee and the past-chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology.
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