Several industry organizations have come together to improve the technology available for surplus lines markets. In the standard market, much success has been derived through the implementation of ACORD standards and realtime interface, which allows data to be electronically transferred through the various partner systems, including agent and carrier systems as well as other needed third-party systems.
Because of the success in the standard market, a group of energetic leaders from AAMGA, NAPLSO, ACORD and IIABA’s Agents Council for Technology (ACT) joined together to form the E&S Joint Working Group. The industry initiative now has over 300 members and is gaining great momentum and success.
Since inception, the E&S JWG has been working together to streamline processing to remove redundancy. Knowing that speed to market is critical, the emphasis has been on standardizing the interfaces among the retail, wholesale and carrier systems through the use of ACORD standards. Unfortunately, the industry is still seeing low adoption rates.
We need to work together to turn this around.
Using standardized interfaces lowers the overall cost of doing business because individually customized solutions are no longer required. The relationship for data exchange can be one-to-many instead of a one-to-one solution. Customized programming costs are escalating, and if we all agree to accept a standard format, the software development cost is not required. The way we are currently doing business has to change. Consumers are demanding faster response and lower cost. We must improve our processing.
At the ACORD Implementation Forum, the E&S JWG demonstrated proof of concepts for retail systems to use realtime interfaces to transmit ACORD standardized data using Transformation Station and TransactNow to general agent/wholesale systems and further on to E&S carriers systems, and then back again through the general agent system to the retail agent system—in six seconds. We have won one of the battles in our War on Keystrokes. The technology is here and now. The industry must adopt it to lower our costs, increase profitability and improve the speed and efficiency with which retail agents may serve the end consumer.
Some express concern that if we continue to automate, there will be no further need for general agents—I wholeheartedly disagree. Wholesalers will always be an integral part of the equation because they provide more flexible markets that are expected by consumers. With improved technology, the general agent and their markets are placed on a level playing field with the standard markets which will allow them to be quoted more often and sell more policies. Data submissions will be improved, re-keying will be eliminated; they can process more business, save time and money, and have more relationship time to spend with their retail agent partners on more complicated risks. There is no downside.
Spread the word and join the effort. We need you.
Angelyn Treutel is President of Southgroup Insurance and the chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology and ASCnet's Industry Solutions Committee.
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