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The Connected Business of Insurance

Agencies in the Digital Age of Insurance

November 27, 2018

by Dina Buxton
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Today’s insurance agencies are faced with new demands from prospects and customers for mobile capabilities, new opportunities to improve agency-carrier connectivity via digital solutions, and new competition from InsurTechs. In the face of this new marketplace dynamic, many leading agencies, including ours – Crane Agency – have seen the writing on the wall and are transforming to become digital businesses.

While huge efficiencies have been gained by both agencies and carriers who are using digital technology for internal process automation, this alone is simply not enough to grow and thrive. In today’s digitally driven, hyper-connected world, agents and carriers need to extend their use of technology beyond their own offices. By connecting through digital technology, agents and carriers work better together and mutually benefit.

Industry-Wide Trends on Digital Transformation

It is easy to say that partnership is important, but how do agencies and carriers see each other’s contribution toward successful digital capabilities? IVANS and Strategy Meets Action (SMA) conducted a research initiative to delve into many aspects of agency and carrier digital transformation.

Here are a few key takeaways from the report, Agencies in the Digital Age, which really resonated with me:

  • Web, social media and marketing tools are the 3 top areas of investments in customer-facing technology for agencies of all sizes.

Expanding our agency’s presence through multiple channels and ensuring that employees are trained to meet our clients’ needs through Web and mobile in particular, is an integral part of our business plan. First, like a majority of agencies surveyed, we have put a huge focus on updating our website. From more descriptive content to enhanced design features, we’ve made a variety of improvements to enable a more user-friendly experience for our clients. Beyond engaging with clients on our website, we’ve developed a more effective social media strategy that focuses on creating more personalized content to reach targeted demographics. We are also in the process of rolling out an online customer self-service platform that enables our agency to meet today’s insurance consumer demand for anytime, anywhere service by providing clients 24/7 access to the policy information they need through a custom-branded portal and mobile app. As the world becomes increasingly more digital, I encourage agents to create a detailed strategy for how to evaluate and implement digital platforms as part of their businesses.

  • Over 40% of the agencies under $5M plan to increase investment in their agency management systems.

In 2013, our agency transitioned to a new management system because we understand how crucial a single system is to building a strong foundation. A world-class management system drives the day-to-day operations at an agency, enabling the business and all employees to be as efficient and effective as possible. It’s also the hub for all prospect, customer policy and financial data across the business so it’s important to consider how to protect all this data. Extreme weather and natural disasters are becoming more commonplace and can have financially debilitating effects on businesses that are not prepared. To reduce loss and mitigate risk associated with potentially crippling situations, we decided to migrate to the cloud. Hosting our management system and other applications in the cloud gives us peace of mind knowing our data is safe and secure.

  • About a quarter of all agencies believe that InsurTech startups will be either competitors (21%) or potential partners (6%).

A concern weighing heavily on the minds of many agencies is the amount of venture capital investment pouring into the insurance industry. Because of such increased digitization, some may wonder if insurance agents are still needed. The answer is yes. I recently read an article in Insurance Business America that stated that 71% of auto insurance shoppers started online. While consumers may start their search online, 50% of auto insurance shoppers close a purchase through direct contact with an agent, and 22% do so by phoning a call center. Insurance is a complex and difficult product to configure. That’s why insurance agents are so important. Agents are knowledgeable, offer advice and help insurance shoppers make informed decisions. Agents provide consumers with more than a policy sale, and no online bot can replace that level of expertise. Although I believe that technology will never fully replace the independent agent, I do think that these startups will have implications for virtually all agencies, either because they offer digital solutions for agencies, become direct competitors, or change the expectations of carriers dealing with distribution partners. Every agency should at least be kept informed and begin to understand the new entrants and their value propositions.

How is Digital Changing the Nature of Agent-Carrier Interactions?

For agents: Connecting with carriers enables your agency to access new markets and quickly search carrier market appetite to submit new and renewal business, enabling staff to provide product range and carrier choice. Technology also automates the exchange of policy-related information from carriers’ policy admin systems into your management system to ensure the most accurate information is available for servicing. Ultimately, connectivity technology provides your agency with a single workflow for information exchange, reducing manual processes and allowing you to deliver faster, more complete service to your customers.

For carriers: Agents value ease of doing business – from finding markets, to quoting, to issuance and service – over anything else with carriers. The ability to have information delivered directly to our management system versus visiting countless different carrier portals results in significant time savings. As a result, we prefer relationships with carriers who provide digital services that increase ease of doing business while providing a more diverse product range. A significant opportunity exists for carriers who automate information exchange and appetite communications with agencies.

The bottom line is agencies and carriers must partner for digital success. Both sides of the insurance transaction have a stake in – and influence upon – successful digital execution. And failure hurts both sides as well.

For more insights on digital transformation and key findings from the report, watch the “Agencies in the Digital Age” webinar I recently co-hosted with SMA.

Dina Buxton, CIC, CISR, Director of Communications and Development at Crane Agency
Dina brings to her current role at Crane Agency over 20 years of Commercial Lines experience working for independent agencies in the insurance industry. Her previous positions include Account Manager, Account Executive and Marketer. In 2015, after 8 years as a Middle Market Marketer at Crane Agency, Dina was promoted to Director of Communications & Development. This newly created position was designed to prepare Crane Agency for the future and provide leadership in all areas of communication and development within the agency. Dina is incredibly passionate about developing the next generation of insurance talent and inspiring all Crane Agency employees to reach their full potential. Dina also works closely with carrier partners on technology and training initiatives.

In Case You Missed It: IVANS Connect 2018

October 18, 2018

by IVANS Communications
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IVANS Connect is the insurance industry event dedicated to advancing information exchange – connecting insurers, agencies, MGAs and their insureds through digital technology. This year, more than 200 insurance professionals gathered at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.

If you missed out on the excitement this year, all is not lost. Here are some of our favorite moments from the conference.

Insightful Keynotes

Applied Systems CEO Reid French took the stage to update attendees on the state of the insurance industry, offering exclusive insight into how digital technology is transforming the industry and how insurance businesses can adapt to be successful.

Invaluable Networking

IVANS Connect 2018 was truly an industry event. Insurance professionals from all facets of the industry — insurers, policy and agency management system vendors, agents and industry organizations — were well represented, giving attendees the chance to network with and learn from peers. The IVANS Connect opening reception jumpstarted the conference with an evening of lively discussion.

Innovative Education Sessions

This year’s program featured valuable education sessions specifically designed to help businesses embrace digital to drive new distribution and service models across the insurance industry. Sessions explored topics such as new collaboration and distribution opportunities with today’s digital agencies, future opportunities and the evolution of download, and how to improve agency-insurer connectivity to further automate servicing. This year’s conference also featured an all-new technical discussion that provided an open forum for attendees to have their technical questions answered by panel of IVANS experts and to discuss implementation best practices with peers.

Exclusive Product Announcements

Attendees got first-hand exposure to the latest product innovations from IVANS and gained exclusive insight into IVANS’ key product initiatives for the coming year. Interactive discussions allowed attendees to weigh in on these new solutions and share their thoughts on the impact they’ll have on the industry.

Looking Ahead

If you experienced the excitement of IVANS Connect 2018 first-hand, leave a comment and tell us about your favorite part of the week.

IVANS Index: Q3 2018 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

October 04, 2018

by Brian Wood
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Industry Insights to Help You Run Your Business Better.

Insurance industry premium renewal rate change experiences uptick in nearly all major commercial lines products
Q3 results of the IVANS Index showed a positive uptick in premium renewal rate change average across nearly all lines of commercial business, including Commercial Auto, Umbrella, Commercial Property, and General Liability compared to Q2 2018; however, Business Owner’s Policy and Workers’ Compensation demonstrated slightly negative premium renewal rate change during the quarter.

Highlights from the Q3 2018 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: The third quarter premium renewal rate change increased with an average of 4.48%, ending at 4.50% for September.
  • BOP: Quarter premium renewal rate change averaged 3.77%, representing a decrease compared to last quarter’s average of 4.00%, and finished at 3.57% in September.
  • General Liability: Q3 premium renewal rate change increased to 2.35% and ended the quarter in September at 2.29%.
  • Commercial Property: Premium renewal rate change experienced an increase quarter over quarter, with an average rate change of 3.34% in Q3 and ended at 4.36% in September.
  • Umbrella: The third quarter premium renewal rate change averaged 1.93% versus 1.77% in Q2 2018. September premium renewal rate change finished at 2.30%.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Q3 showcased a decrease in premium renewal rate change, averaging at -2.76% as compared to -2.49% in Q2 2018.

As the vast array of pricing drivers, including tariffs, storm losses, etc., play a part in the very dynamic nature of insurance pricing, the latest figures for the IVANS Index show a slight increase quarter over quarter and demonstrate a general hardening of the Commercial Lines market. The IVANS Index continues to provide insights into overall health of the industry and most profitable opportunities for both agents and insurers.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the full Q3 2018 IVANS Index report now >

 

Brian Wood, Vice President of Data Products Group for IVANS, develops innovative and data-driven applications, tools and services for the insurance industry. Prior to this position, he co-founded EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied in Sept 2015. Brian spent 10 years with Marsh & McLennan as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis where he developed global insurance distribution platforms. Brian began his career in insurance building the first company to bind insurance online, insuranceOrder.com (a Trilogy company) which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2001.

The Value of Face-To-Face: Networking in the Digital Age of Insurance

September 20, 2018

by Thad Bauer
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As innovation in technology and artificial intelligence continue to enhance opportunities in automation, the value of face-to-face interaction will become increasingly important for certain industries to consider. Managing a successful business requires personal connections, and a large part of business is about building relationships.

While innovation in technology is constantly providing new opportunities for engagement and business growth, increased automation will inevitably change the way we work and interact with people. To fully realize this potential, people and technology will need to work hand in hand.

This can already be seen in the insurance industry today. Mobile and self-service technology are making it easier to stay connected on the go, and insurers and agents alike are benefiting from automated technologies for new distribution and servicing opportunities. However, insurance is complex and is built on the foundation of trusted, specialized advice. Face-to-face interaction holds great value in our industry, so why not go somewhere where you can enjoy those interactions and learn how technology adds a new layer of interaction in the digital age.

IVANS Connect 2018 offers a unique opportunity to not only maximize your investment in IVANS solutions, but to meet and network with a community of insurance industry leaders, technology partners and peers, beyond just connecting through a digital medium. A handshake, swapping news, sharing a meal — all can lead to new business, a new idea, a quick tip, future efficiency and more.

Top 4 Face-to-Face Learning Opportunities at IVANS Connect

  1. ACT and AUGIE Meetings
    IVANS Connect 2018 will be held in conjunction with ACT and AUGIE’s fall meetings. AUGIE and ACT bring independent agencies, insurers, and solution providers together to collaborate on the most effective business processes, practices and technologies, in order to enhance productivity, service, marketing, sales and security. All agents, insurers and solution providers are welcome to attend both of these programs at no additional cost. Pre-registration is required.
  1. Welcome Reception
    To kick off the conference, attendees gather at the IVANS Connect Welcome Reception to network with insurance professionals from across the industry. Whether you are meeting first-time attendees or reconnecting with old friends, the Welcome Reception is the perfect place to jumpstart your IVANS Connect experience.
  1. Education Sessions
    IVANS Connect 2018 includes valuable education sessions offering opportunities for growth and networking. This year, sessions will explore topics such as how to improve agency-insurer connectivity to further automate servicing, future opportunities and the evolution of download, and new collaboration and distribution opportunities with today’s digital agency. Take part in these interactive sessions and have your voice heard during energetic discussions to shape the future of agency-insurer connectivity.
  1. Applied Net
    IVANS Connect precedes Applied Net 2018 the largest gathering of independent insurance agents in the world. Insurers and MGAs can expand networking opportunities even further at the must-attend insurance event of the year. Choose from more than 200 educational and technical sessions that address business and technology challenges facing the industry, enjoy lively and entertaining nightly events to meet industry peers, and participate in exclusive, conference-only workshops to hear from other attendees and experts.

Build New Relationships at IVANS Connect
In the digital age of insurance, it is necessary to recognize the value technology adds to face-to-face interactions in an industry that aims to safeguard and protect what matters most to people. So break from the norm. Invest in yourself and your business, step away from your day-to-day office work and get inspired at IVANS Connect 2018.

Register now for IVANS Connect 2018 to explore the digital age of insurance and discover the opportunities to embrace digital to drive new distribution and service models across the insurance industry.

Thad Bauer, IVANS InsuranceThad Bauer, vice president and general manager of IVANS Insurance Solutions, has had 25 years of property and casualty experience and has played a key role in furthering the adoption of ACORD standards to exchange data within the industry to improve efficiencies.  He has helped carriers and MGAs realize benefits through innovative technology and workflow implementations of real-time, download, Web service connections to third parties and maximizing data within their enterprise. Prior to IVANS, Thad was president and co-founder of  NxTech, a leading provider of agency-MGA-insurer connectivity and data integration solutions. Prior to NxTech, he spent nine years with BWC Systems and IVANS, Inc. and has worked with more than 350 insurance insurers throughout North America.

A Match Made in Heaven – What Makes Agencies Love Insurers

September 06, 2018

by Lori Heemstra
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Nowadays, nearly everyone expects the convenience of not only accessing information on their mobile device via a web browser, but from a mobile app too. Think about it, when was the last time you stood out on the street waiting for a Taxi? Companies like Uber have made hailing a ride so easy that consumers have become accustomed to this type of instant service and now expect it from every company they do business. In fact, I came across a recent Salesforce report that indicated 64% of consumers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real time.

To meet changing consumer demand for anytime, anywhere service, leading agencies like BHS Insurance are going digital. As a result, we prefer relationships with insurers who provide digital services that increase ease of doing business while providing a more diverse product range. From my role at BHS Insurance agency and with the IVANS Agency Advisory Board, I know that agents value ease of doing business – from finding markets, to quoting, to issuance and service – over anything else with insurers. We conduct business with countless insurer and MGA partners. The ability to have information delivered directly to our management system versus visiting countless different insurer portals results in significant time savings. Automated workflows and faster insurer communications enable us to deliver better service to our customers.

The Latest Automation Trends
According to the latest IVANS survey on the current state of agency-insurer connectivity and digital collaboration across the industry, demand for greater connectivity and automation – from finding markets to quoting policies to servicing and renewals – continues to grow from both insurers and agencies. Yet, there remains a gap from expressed interest in digital collaboration to implementation of the tools required to facilitate greater digital distribution and servicing.

Here are a few key takeaways from this year’s survey that really resonated with me.

68%

of agents reported lost business because they couldn’t find or access a market that will quote their risk.

Historically, agents have relied on relationships with insurers, paper guides and insurer websites to identify insurer appetite for commercial risk. These manual processes prevent us from having the most up-to-date data and only provide a partial view of potential markets for risk which can lead to a lost business. Technology automates the market search process, eliminating time and cost spent managing paperwork so that we can easily find the right market for our risk. IVANS enables us to find those insurers that we may never have even considered or didn’t know were writing a piece of business. To support your agency partners, you need to market directly to agents via tools that integrate into our daily workflows to keep your products top of mind 24/7.

44%

of agents would prefer to quote Commercial Lines directly from the agency management system verses portals or comparative raters.

The ability for us to receive quotes directly through our management system reduces duplicate keystrokes and saves us an enormous amount of time. By eliminating the need to log into multiple insurer portals, we are able to respond to clients more quickly and easily. For insurers, automating quotes instantly to agencies’ systems reduces overhead costs and time spent managing portals while ensuring constant product visibility.

81%

of agents found they place more business with those insurers that provide automation.

When choosing an insurer to do business with, we prefer partners who enable us to save time through download. IVANS enables you to automate the exchange of policy information directly from your system into agencies’ management systems through download services, like eDocs and Messages. Spending unnecessary time and money managing paperwork that your business sends to agencies is hindering our collective ability to focus on servicing our mutual customers. Automate information exchange with your agency partners to drive efficiency and improve ease of doing business.

The Bottom Line
A significant opportunity exists for insurers who automate information exchange and appetite communications with agencies. Demand for greater insurer connectivity continues to rise because we want to provide the best products and advice to our customers while maximizing productivity. You can build stronger agency relationships as well as save significant time and money by using market search tools, rating services and download technology to communicate with agencies.

Hear more from Lori and other industry professionals on the opportunity to support agencies’ digital strategies in this exclusive webinar, Distribution in the Digital Age.

Image of woman smilingLori Heemstra joined Berends Hendricks Stuit in 2005 as the Commercial Lines Division Manager. Her duties include overseeing the customer service agents and support staff, training new and existing staff, coordinating technology and developing consistent professional standards. She has over 25 years of insurance experience and is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC). Lori is a member of the IVANS Agent’s Council, Applied Client Network Large Agent Alliance, the Vice Chairman of the Applied Client Network Member Relations Committee and serves on various insurance company councils.

The Latest Trends in Digital Distribution and Automated Servicing

August 23, 2018

by Thad Bauer
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From new industries to new economies, technology is changing the way we live and work. To learn more about how technology has influenced the insurance industry, IVANS recently conducted its annual survey to better understand agency-insurer connectivity and digital collaboration across the industry. Gathering responses from agents, MGAs and insurers about the demand for and adoption of key digital technologies, the survey results provide a roadmap for success in the digital age of insurance.

More than 1,900 independent agencies, MGAs and insurers across the U.S. participated in the 4th Annual IVANS Agency-Insurer Connectivity Survey. Results indicate that the time is right for insurers and agencies to digitally collaborate on business opportunities to drive mutual growth and profitability. Agents and insurers alike want increased connectivity and more digital collaboration so they can provide the right products for their customers and deliver quick service.

While both agencies and insurers recognize the importance of leveraging digital technology to better connect with agency partners, there is still a gap between expressed interest in digital collaboration to the implementation of the tools required to facilitate greater digital distribution and servicing. Read on to discover the survey’s key takeaways and learn how you can better prepare your business for success in the digital world.

Key Trends in Digital Distribution

68%

of agencies said they have lost business because they cannot find or access a market that will quote the risk.

While aspects of insurance are becoming more digital, the process of finding markets and marketing business for both agencies and insurers remains to be manual and time consuming. A majority of insurers stated continued investment in appetite guides, which is mirrored by agencies who use appetite guides as one of their top go-to resources for finding markets. Technology automates the market search process, eliminating time and cost spent managing paperwork so that agents can easily find the right market for their risk and insurers can reach new agencies and geographies quickly.

86%

of agencies believe they would write more business with insurers if they provided real-time appetite within the agency management system.

Agencies continue to demonstrate to insurers the importance of integrated connectivity as part of their daily management system workflows, requesting quicker access to markets and product information. Insurers need to market directly to agencies via tools that integrate into agents’ daily workflows, making it easier to keep your products top of mind 24/7 and find the right agents at the right time.

45%

of agents use comparative raters for Personal Lines quote. Yet, only 6% would prefer that method. 73% of agencies would prefer to quote Personal Lines directly from their agency management system.

Historically, insurers have focused on investing in company portals and comparative raters. Now that agencies are demanding greater connectivity with their insurer partners, it’s time to shift your focus to integrated quoting so that you improve ease of doing business with your agencies. You can ensure constant product visibility while reducing overhead costs and time spent managing insurer portals by quoting directly to agencies within their agency management system workflows.

Key Trends in Automated Servicing

81%

of agencies surveyed said they place more business with those insurers that provide automation.

Agencies are looking to do business with insurers that understand the importance of a more connected experience. Agents need access to the most up-to-date and accurate policy-related information to provide the omnichannel service their customers expect. Leverage digital technology to eliminate paper and automate policy-related information exchange directly into partner management systems, so you can create a servicing strategy that better aligns with your agency partners’ needs.

Both agencies and insurers can save 60 minutes per employee per day when using download services.

Agency demand for increased download options continues to rise, with 66% of agencies indicating they currently receive eDocs and Messages. This type of download offers mutual benefits to insurers and agencies as it provides valuable time savings by automating information exchange and providing a secure and managed alternative to email, mail and faxes.

So what does all of this mean for insurers?

Knowing what your agents want is the first step to providing better service and ultimately growing your business. With digital technology, marketing to the right agencies doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Adopt online tools that give you exclusive insight into agencies’ books of business and download demands will enable you to more easily communicate with agencies about new business and service opportunities. Creating a digital distribution and servicing strategy will improve current and new agency relationships and ensure better service to the end insured.

For more insights on digital distribution and servicing and the current state of agency-insurer connectivity, read our report, Agency-Insurer Connectivity Survey, now.

Thad Bauer, IVANS InsuranceThad Bauer, vice president and general manager of IVANS Insurance Solutions, has had 25 years of property and casualty experience and has played a key role in furthering the adoption of ACORD standards to exchange data within the industry to improve efficiencies.  He has helped carriers and MGAs realize benefits through innovative technology and workflow implementations of real time, download, Web service connections to third parties and maximizing data within their enterprise. Prior to IVANS, Thad was president and co-founder of  NxTech, a leading provider of agency-MGA-carrier interface and data integration solutions. Prior to NxTech, he spent nine years with BWC Systems and IVANS, Inc. and has worked with more than 350 insurance carriers throughout North America.

The Future of Commercial Lines Distribution

August 09, 2018

by Brian Wood
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The traditional way of working with your agency channel is changing. Today’s insurance agencies are going digital and have the same technology expectations as traditional consumers – they want 24/7 service and choice. In the competition for the best agents’ business, ease of doing business is foundational, and a robust digital experience is a differentiator. Paper-based or word-of-mouth communications are ineffective by today’s standards. Digital communication and collaboration are imperative.

Agents and brokers are competing for business, and they have an urgent need to easily select the right provider for their customer. True ease of doing business – fast quote, fast submission and/or rejection – via next-generation technology with real-time integration between agent systems and insurer systems is critical in a digital world where successful business outcomes happen in minutes, not weeks or months.

So What’s Causing This Change?
The insurance space is dynamic and becoming increasingly competitive due to tech-driven change and customer expectations for instant, more personalized solutions. But it would be a mistake to assume that the implications of the digital age are just intended for Personal Lines. Transformation is also highly relevant for Commercial Lines insurers. In the case of Commercial Lines, the nature of the transformation is different, with agencies indicating the main changes they expect to see in Commercial Lines over the next five years are consolidation – a move to fewer agencies – and an increase in the trusted advisor role.

Source: SMA Research, 2018 Agencies in the Digital Age

However, just like Personal Lines, small commercial insurers may come under pressure from some of the same forces, like digital-first insurance companies. These InsurTech startups may not always take the same form as existing providers. While many InsurTech startups will not survive, there is no denying that distribution disturbance is underway. Insurers need to consider how these InsurTech investments are changing the agent relationship and ensure that they are adapting to meet the new digital demands of agents. As the New look for Commercial Lines graph demonstrates, InsurTechs are targeting Commercial Lines with 18% focused on distribution. This level of investment should be shifting how your business is evaluating its distribution strategy.

With all this change, there are still fundamental needs at the heart of the business – the need for insurers to pinpoint which agencies are the best partners for specific types of risks and the need for agents to understand which insurers are the best partners for submissions of specific opportunities.

In a recent survey, Commercial Lines agents cited finding new business, pricing, and access to better, more helpful underwriters as some of the top challenges they are facing. Think about this as it relates to your business. Are you making it easy for your agencies to find you and understand your appetite? Are price details obvious? How are you looking to change this as part of your go-forward technology strategy?

Source: NU, the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) 2017 Independent Agent Survey

The Game-Changing Tool for Our Industry
Traditional ways of identifying market appetite, such as referencing paper guides and insurer websites, prevent agents from having the most up-to-date data and only provides a partial view of potential markets for risks which can lead to lost business. In fact, in a recent IVANS Survey, 72% of agencies reported losing new business opportunities because they could not find the right insurer for their risks. This means that both sides are missing opportunities. This doesn’t need to be the case. IVANS provides insurers and MGAs an industry-first application to instantly communicate appetite and identify new business opportunities with agencies.

Three ways IVANS enables you to increase in-appetite submissions and drive premium growth:

  1. Product visibility to expand your marketing efforts
    Through a single platform, you can communicate new appetite to current agencies while expanding your marketing capabilities to drive new business. With a single exchange, you have access to a network of more than 30,000 independent agencies. Studies show that IVANS clients experience 4 times higher click-through rates than insurers only showing historical appetite data and 50% more impressions than traditional online advertising.
  2. Integrated search capabilities within agent workflows
    IVANS solutions are complimentary for agents to use and provide insurers the ability to communicate with agents directly within their everyday workflows. By using automated digital tools, you are able to instantly update your appetite without having to reprint manuals or update PDFs, allowing you to go to market instantly with the most up-to-date and accurate information for increased ease of doing business with agencies.
  3. Advanced appointments
    The system is easily customizable to help show your agents where you have interest, help them understand why they should go to you for business and provide them with a link get started. Not only will your agency partners see your appetite information but agencies that are not yet appointed with you will be able to search for and view your current appetite, enabling you to expand your distribution network and find new agencies to do business with.

Expand Your Distribution Footprint
IVANS technology is creating new opportunities for insurers to build the omnichannel distribution strategies required to drive profitable premium growth in the digital era. Insurers that automate appetite communication to increase product visibility for agencies are well positioned to grow their business.

Watch The Future of Commercial Lines Distribution webinar to learn how IVANS can help you find the right agents at the right time to improve submission mix and build a stronger pipeline.

Brian Wood, Vice President of Data Products Group for IVANS, develops innovative and data-driven applications, tools and services for the insurance industry. Prior to this position, he co-founded EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied in Sept 2015. Brian spent 10 years with Marsh & McLennan as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis where he developed global insurance distribution platforms. Brian began his career in insurance building the first company to bind insurance online, insuranceOrder.com (a Trilogy company) which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2001.

Prepare Your Agency for the Unexpected

July 26, 2018

by IVANS Communications
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Extreme weather and natural disasters are becoming more commonplace and can have financially debilitating effects on businesses that are not prepared. Take last year’s hurricane season for example. Damage caused by a series of storms, including Harvey, Maria and Irma, was the most expensive hurricane season in history, totaling $202.6 billion.

To reduce loss and mitigate risk associated with potentially crippling situations, agencies need to consider how to effectively support customers and manage operations during a disaster.

“Having a disaster plan in place improves the likelihood that businesses and organizations will not only survive and recover themselves, but also help their neighbors and communities recover more quickly.”

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), having a disaster plan in place “will improve the likelihood that businesses and organizations will not only survive and recover themselves, but also help their neighbors and communities recover more quickly.” Instituting a business continuity plan (BCP) minimizes the negative impact to a business by supporting its operational agility and financial stability during an unexpected and often uncontrollable event. It entails planning for the adoption of technology, tools and processes that enable an insurance agency to serve its customers at a time when they need it most. More specifically, a BCP allows a company’s management team and employees to prepare and respond effectively, including:

  • Protecting critical and sensitive customer data
  • Remaining operational and continuing to service customers
  • Accessing policy and claims information 24/7
  • Eliminating downtime that leads to loss of revenue

“75% of businesses that experience a significant
disaster fail within six months.”

Get Started Building Your Business Continuity Plan
It’s more important than ever for your organization to develop a business continuity plan and leverage technology to remain financially and operationally viable during a disaster. Your business cannot afford prolonged downtime. Statistics show that 75% of the businesses that experience a significant disaster fail within six months.

This checklist provides step-by-step instructions and the digital tools needed to build a successful business continuity plan:

Step 1: Make a plan

  • Analyze possible threats to your business, i.e., fire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, blizzard, tsunami, server crash, data breach, theft, human error, etc.
  • Determine how your agency can and should respond to each threat listed.
  • Identify specific situations that put disaster plans in motion when you are facing a threat.
  • Create a “no warning” plan should disaster strike without warning.
  • Involve your team in planning and communicate any updates to the plan as they happen.

Step 2: Protect your data in the cloud

  • Host your management system and other applications in the cloud for optimal data protection and security.
  • Convert paper files into electronic files when possible.
  • Have one or more laptops set up to access your agency management system remotely.
  • Consider purchasing a wireless hotspot to connect to the Internet through your cell phone provider should the Internet go down.

Step 3: Stay connected to your insurer partners with IVANS

  • Quickly find and resend policies, claim details, and eDocs that have been downloaded in the past 90 days with IVANS Exchange™.
  • Leverage claims download via IVANS to receive detailed claims information directly in your management system to stay up to date with the claim adjustment and settlement processes.

Step 4: Create a communications plan

  • Communicate contact numbers and instructions for claims to your clients through your website and social media pages.
  • Research and decide if text communication is right for your agency staff and clients. If so, collect cell phone numbers and look into mass texting options.
  • Have a plan for telephone calls to be re-routed in case your phone lines are down. A third-party call center or another office outside the disaster zone should take emergency calls.

Always Be There for Your Customers
Agencies must be able to respond and provide information rapidly in order to stay competitive and serve as a trusted resource. Creating a business continuity plan helps reduce downtime and bolsters connectedness during events that could otherwise cripple the business. Leveraging IVANS solutions and cloud technology provides you with immediate access to claims and policy details so that you can proactively communicate with clients during their time of need.

Watch the Prepare Your Agency for the Unexpected webinar for more information on how IVANS can support your agency during disaster and to gain broader insights on disaster preparedness.

IVANS Index: Q2 2018 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

July 12, 2018

by Brian Wood
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Industry Insights to Help You Run Your Business Better.

Second Quarter of 2018 Shows General Uptick in Premium Renewal Rate Change
Compared to the previous quarter, the latest results from the IVANS Index show that the insurance industry premium renewal rate change has experienced variable change across nearly all major commercial lines products, including Commercial Auto, General Liability, Commercial Property and Umbrella. There was no change in premium renewal rate change for BOP, and Workers’ Compensation remains the only line of business experiencing a negative rate change.

Highlights from the Q2 2018 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: Premium renewal rate change averaged 4.32% for the quarter, ending at 4.38% for June.
  • BOP: Quarter premium renewal rate change averaged 4.01%, representing no change over last quarter’s average of 4.00%. BOP premium renewal rate change finished the quarter at 4.14% in June.
  • General Liability: The quarter premium renewal rate change reached 2.16% in April and ended the quarter in June at 2.35%.
  • Commercial Property: Q2 premium renewal rate change experienced an increase quarter over quarter, with an average rate change of 3.14% as compared to 3.11% in Q1 2018.
  • Umbrella: Q2 premium renewal rate change averaged 1.77% versus 1.49% in Q1 2018.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Premium renewal rate change slightly decreased in Q2, averaging at -2.49% as compared to -2.47% in Q1 2018.

The latest IVANS Index figures demonstrated slight variance quarter over quarter, with the most significant trend change occurring with General Liability and Umbrella. As the second quarter comes to a close, the IVANS Index shows that the Commercial Lines market continues to harden, providing guidance for agents to advise their clients on policy changes and market intelligence for insurers to support pricing strategies.

General Liability
General Liability insurance premium renewal rate change for Q2 averaged 2.29% versus 2.01% in Q1 2018, with a six month average of 2.15%. In Q2, May marked the quarter high at 2.37% premium renewal rate change, with the low in April at 2.16%. Retail firms continue to experience higher than average premium renewal rate change across the past six months, most notably in Q2 2018, relative to the average. Six month premium renewal rate change was 4.63%, with a spike in May at 6.25%.

Umbrella
Umbrella premium renewal rate change averaged 1.77% in Q2 versus 1.49% in Q1 2018, with a six month average of 1.63%. Premium renewal rate change reached a quarterly high at 2.31% in April and low at 1.46% in June. Texas experienced higher than average premium renewal rate change in Q2 at 4.25% relative to the national average at 1.77%, with a spike in June at 5.09%.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the full Q2 2018 IVANS Index report now >

Brian Wood, Vice President of Data Products Group for IVANS, develops innovative and data-driven applications, tools and services for the insurance industry. Prior to this position, he co-founded EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied in Sept 2015. Brian spent 10 years with Marsh & McLennan as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis where he developed global insurance distribution platforms. Brian began his career in insurance building the first company to bind insurance online, insuranceOrder.com (a Trilogy company) which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2001.

Insurers, Ever Wonder How You Can Better Support Your Agency Partners? Hear Directly From a Leading Digital Agency

June 28, 2018

by IVANS Communications
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As independent insurance agencies become more digital, they expect their insurer partners to provide digital services that increase ease of doing business while providing access to the best products – and pricing – for their clients.

Those insurers who support their agents’ digital strategies will stand to reap the rewards of building stronger relationships with the right agents that will drive profitable premium growth.

“Technology isn’t replacing our relationships, it’s enhancing them by allowing us to better serve our customers.”

Matt Simon, Vice President at leading digital agency Hill & Hamilton, sat down with us to discuss what it means to be a digital agency and how insurers can better support their digital businesses. 

IVANS Communications: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Matt. To start off our discussion, can you explain why your agency and other agencies are going digital?

Simon: In today’s insurance market, agencies are moving at a faster pace and cannot afford to be bogged down by manual processes and paperwork. Our agency was experiencing inefficiencies with manual, day-to-day tasks that prompted us to search for technology to enable flexibility and automation throughout. I believe that implementing a digital agency strategy goes hand-in-hand with our core value of being a trusted advisor. I’ve heard from both agents and insurers that they are worried technology will replace the relationships they have. But technology isn’t replacing our relationships, it’s enhancing them by allowing us to better serve our customers.

IVANS Communications: How does technology drive success at your agency?

Simon: Technology has impacted our agency in three areas:

  1. First, it enables us to retain our existing clients and positions us to win new business that we may not have had an opportunity to win before. Today’s consumers expect omnichannel service in real time via whatever channel they choose – be it in person, phone, web and mobile apps. By delivering the excellent customer experiences our clients expect, both physical and digital, we solidify our customer relationships, which ultimately drives business returns through enhanced retention.
  2. Technology also allows us to attract and retain top talent. Just like consumers, the next generation workforce expects instant access to information, both in the office and while on the road or at home. By providing the best software tools to our team, we experience higher retention and easier recruitment.
  3. Before we went digital, our agents had to be in the office to complete tasks or provide customer service. Now, our agents have the ability to work on the go and are not bogged down by paper-based transactions. The greater efficiency that technology affords has had a significant impact on our bottom line.

IVANS Communications: Now that we’ve explained why agencies are going digital, let’s discuss what digital agencies look for in an insurer partner.

Simon: Agents are increasingly valuing ease of doing business over anything else when evaluating their insurer partnerships. We conduct business with many insurer partners. The ability to have information delivered directly to our management system versus visiting countless different insurer portals results in significant time savings. Automated workflows and faster insurer communications enables us to deliver better service throughout the insurance lifecycle.

IVANS Communications: How can insurers better support their agency partners?

Simon: When evaluating our insurer partners, we see three core areas as critically important in the success of these relationships:

  1. Greater visibility into their latest appetite and product details
  2. Access to quote and rate details in real time
  3. Continuous access to the latest policy information

IVANS Communications: Let’s take this one step at a time. Can you explain what the market search process is like for your agency and how insurers can better support you?

Simon: Many insurers communicate their appetite to us via phone or in person. The problem with this is that they only have the conversation with one person in our agency, so it then becomes that person’s responsibility to make sure everyone else in our office gets this information. The second problem is that by the time we hang up the phone or the insurer leaves our office, the information is already outdated. Technology streamlines these one-one-one conversations to provide the most up-to-date appetite information that is accessible by everyone in our agency. To ensure continuous product visibility, insurers need to market directly to agencies via tools that integrate into our daily workflows.

IVANS Communications: Next, let’s talk about the quoting process. How do agents want to receive quotes?

Simon: We prefer to work directly from our agency management system verses portals or comparative raters and I’ve talked to other agents who agree. The ability for us to receive proposals directly through our management system reduces duplicate keystrokes and saves us an enormous amount of time. By eliminating the need to log into multiple insurer portals, we are able to respond to clients more quickly and easily. For insurers, automating quotes instantly to agencies’ systems reduces overhead costs and time spent managing insurer portals, and ensures constant product visibility.

IVANS Communications: Lastly, let’s examine how download is changing the way agents interact with insurers. Can you explain the process agencies must go through to get physical documents from insurers into the agency management system without download services like eDocs and Messages download?

Simon: When insurers don’t offer eDocs and Messages download, our associates have to manually print, sort, file and scan all of the policy documents. This a very time-consuming and costly process that prevents us from having access to the latest policy information. To keep up with consumer demand for instant service, we need continuous access to the latest policy information directly within our daily management system workflows. Implementation of eDocs and Messages download eliminates paper-based transactions related to policy details and documentation to save both agencies and insurers a significant amount of time and money.

IVANS Communications: To conclude our discussion, can you touch on why insurers should support digital agencies?

Simon: As agencies continue to become more digital, they expect insurers to provide and support these digital services. Those insurers and MGAs who support their agents’ digital strategies stand to reap the rewards of building stronger relationships with the right agents that will drive profitable premium growth. Those who continue to rely on the “way things have always been done,” will begin to miss out on new agency opportunities and could even run the risk of straining current agency relationships.

Hear from Matt and other digital agents on the opportunity to support agencies’ digital strategies in this exclusive webinar, A Day in the Life of a Digital Agency: Panel Discussion.

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