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The Connected Business of Insurance

IVANS Index: February 2019 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

March 07, 2019

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.

Positive Uptick in Premium Renewal Rate Change Average Across Nearly All Lines of Business
Year over year, February results showed an increase in premium renewal rate change across all major commercial lines of business, except Workers’ Compensation. Month to month, results showed an uptick in premium renewal rate change across Commercial Auto, General Liability, Commercial Property and Umbrella; conversely, BOP, and Workers’ Compensation experienced a negative rate change month over month.

Key findings from the February 2019 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: 4.61%, up from 4.57% in the month prior.
  • BOP: 3.94%, down from 4.23% in January.
  • General Liability: 1.81%, up from 1.16% last month.
  • Commercial Property: 4.58%, up from 3.74% at the end of January.
  • Umbrella: 3.06%, up from 2.17% in January.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -3.38, down -1.04% the month prior.

The latest IVANS Index figures showed a slight variance, with the most significant trend changes occurring with Umbrella and Workers’ Compensation month over month. The IVANS Index will continue to provide guidance to agents as they advise clients on premium changes at renewal and to insurers as they evaluate which lines of business to actively compete in.

Analyzing more than 120 million data transactions, the IVANS Index premium renewal rate change measures the premium difference year over year for a single consistent policy. Inclusive of more than 32,000 agencies and 400 insurers and MGAs, the IVANS Index is reflective of the premium rate change trends being experienced by all agencies and insurers across the U.S. insurance market.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the complete Q4 and FY2018 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.

2019 Digital Technology Survey: Share Your Feedback Now

February 21, 2019

by Reid French
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While digitally transforming your business was once a nice-to-have, it is now an imperative. The time for denial of the Digital Age of Insurance is over. Those who seize the opportunity of transforming their businesses to become digital stand to gain a triple reward of satisfied customers, lower operating costs and faster growth. Conversely, businesses still denying the digital transformation of insurance do so at their peril. It’s time to either accept and thrive – or deny and disappear.

The Industry’s Progress Towards Digital Transformation

To establish an industry benchmark and track digital technology adoption among independent insurance agencies and brokerages, IVANS developed an annual Digital Technology Survey. Now in its fourth consecutive year, the survey gives agents and brokers an opportunity to anonymously participate in this study, which determines an average industry score for digital technology adoption at an independent agency or brokerage.

This score is relevant because it reflects the progress agents and brokers have made in their adoption of digital technology. Regardless of where your business ranks compared to your industry colleagues, understanding the role digital technology plays in delivering on the promise of insurance – to safeguard and protect what matters most – in a world more connected than ever before is the first step to ensuring your business thrives today, tomorrow and in the years ahead.

How to Participate in the 2019 Digital Technology Survey

Simply complete the online survey by answering questions about the five competencies of a digital business, including management systems capabilities, data analytics, insurer connectivity, the cloud and mobile. Organizations scoring 80% or higher across all core competencies are considered to be digital businesses, having adopted most of the key drivers of digital transformation.

The results of the survey will be published later this year in the “Digital Agency/Brokerage Annual Report: 2019 Digital Technology Adoption Benchmarks and Trends,” which provides insights on how your digital technology adoption and strategy compares to your peers. By taking the survey today, you’ll be among the first to receive the report upon its publication.

I cannot thank you enough for taking the survey and contributing to the annual report. Know that all of us at IVANS are here to enable your business to thrive during the Digital Age of Insurance.

The survey is now closed. IVANS appreciates your participation! Stay tuned to the blog for the annual report later this year.

Reid French, Chief Executive Officer at IVANS, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the IVANS community. French came to IVANS in 2013, after the company was acquired by Applied. Former positions held by French include chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson-Humphrey. French holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and The Lovett School in Atlanta.

There’s a Better Way: The Secret to Delivering Superior Service to Your Benefits Clients

February 07, 2019

by IVANS Communications
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Keeping up with consumer demand for instant service is vital in the digital age of insurance. Are you sure your agency is taking advantage of every chance to automate servicing and improve customer satisfaction?

Year-over-year, demand to increase connectivity across the insurance lifecycle – from finding markets to binding policies to servicing and renewals – continues to grow from both insurers and agencies. According to a recent IVANS survey, agencies can save up to 60 minutes per employee per day when using automated download services.

Handling of Benefits information by agencies and insurers introduces more complexity into the insurance lifecycle. It requires all parties to accept new challenges and responsibilities such as consulting about costs and client needs, addressing compliance issues, and developing plans meant to improve the overall satisfaction of the insured.

The Challenges Facing Agents Today

Here is a look at the existing challenges agencies face when manually handling Benefits information exchange between their insurer partners, their own agency management systems and their clients.

Wasted Time
Agencies have to navigate to multiple insurer portals, retrieving information from each one and matching policies and codes across portals and documents to ensure information is getting to the right system. Contacting insurers and retrieving information from email can lead to unexpected delays.

Inefficient Proposal Process
Paper is a major factor in time wasted at an agency. Managing inbound physical paperwork as well as retrieving and printing numerous policy documents prevents an agency’s staff from focusing on directly servicing clients and discovering new business.

Greater Data Exposure
Security is a matter of utmost importance in insurance and manually sharing information back-and-forth between insurers, your agency and clients leaves room for exposure and loss of data integrity.

Increased Workload
Benefits information often requires multiple members of staff to manage. There are more document types and a larger number of them in comparison with P&C. This means an increased workload for your staff who have to pull, retrieve, and process files available in multiple formats from your insurer partners.

Decreased Customer Satisfaction
The last hurdle in the process of getting information to clients is manually sending them the files. When all of the challenges add up, your clients may not be getting documents in a short enough time period. This can lead to lower client satisfaction at your agency.

A Better Way to Service Benefits Clients

There’s a better way to manage Benefits information and it involves automated servicing with eDocs and Messages download. eDocs and Messages download is a secure way for insurers to automatically deliver benefits documents from their systems directly into your agency management system.

eDocs are file attachments related to the insured’s policy or billing – typically PDFs, Word or Excel docs and images. Messages are text-based memos that keep an agency informed on the status of their policies. This information flows securely through the IVANS’ network. With eDocs and Messages download, there are no concerns about paperwork or emails delayed, or worse, lost in transit.

Once in your agency management system, eDocs and Messages can be set up to trigger client servicing activities or be pushed to client portals automatically. All of this can happen behind the scenes, without any manual intervention by your staff.

The following types of eDocs can be received from insurers:

  • Summary of Benefits & Coverages
  • Census Information
  • Commission Statements
  • Proposals
  • Plan Level Documents
  • Renewal Proposals
  • Claim Summary Reports

The following types of Messages can be received from insurers:

  • Status updates, e.g. adding new employees and changing employee information

eDocs and Messages download for Benefits is now available in IVANS and leveraging it can greatly improve your agency’s ease of doing business.

Why Automated Servicing Is the Solution

Now is the time for agencies to opt into eDocs and Messages download for Benefits. Doing so automates the complete exchange of policy information from insurer to the insured, enabling you to receive a variety of messages and documents from insurers directly to your agency management system and providing a secure and managed alternative to email, mail and faxes.

Taking advantage of automated servicing means eliminating a long, difficult process of logging into insurer portals, downloading individual documents, organizing those documents, and then manually attaching them into the agency management system. Instead, you benefit from an automated process where documents are transferred directly into your agency management system when they become available, and your agency doesn’t have to lift a finger to manage the process.

Let IVANS do the work. As a complimentary service for independent agents, we’ll reach out to your Benefits insurer partners to get you set up to receive automated eDocs and Messages download.

Enter your contact information below and an IVANS representative will be in touch soon.

IVANS Index: January 2019 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

February 06, 2019

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.

Downward Trend in Premium Renewal Rate Change Average Across Nearly All Lines of Business
The latest IVANS Index results for January 2019 show that insurance industry premium renewal rates experienced a negative change across the majority of commercial lines, except Commercial Auto and Workers’ Compensation, which experienced a positive uptick, and Business Owners Policy which remained flat. Compared to the year prior, average premium renewal increased across all lines of business except Workers Compensation.

Key findings from the January 2019 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: 4.57%, up from 4.51% in December.
  • BOP: 4.23%, consistent from the month prior.
  • General Liability: 1.16%, down from 2.23% the last month.
  • Commercial Property: 3.74%, down from 3.95% at the end of December.
  • Umbrella: 2.17%, down from 2.29% the month prior.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -1.04%, up from -2.66% last month.

January’s IVANS Index figures show that most commercial product lines saw a slight downturn as compared to December 2018. As we begin 2019, IVANS Index continues to be utilized by agents to gain greater insights for better advice to clients during renewal periods and by insurers to support pricing strategies.

Analyzing more than 120 million data transactions, the IVANS Index premium renewal rate change measures the premium difference year over year for a single consistent policy. Inclusive of more than 32,000 agencies and 400 insurers and MGAs, the IVANS Index is reflective of the premium rate change trends being experienced by all agencies and insurers across the U.S. insurance market.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the Q4 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.

Growing Insurtech Together

January 24, 2019

by IVANS Communications
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Every day, articles on the latest Insurtech company or trends are covered in trade publications. The subject of Insurtech continues to be a hot topic as the insurance industry evolves. Once a conventional industry, we’re regularly seeing more positive change and growth among small and large, new and old companies.

To get the latest perspective on Insurtech trends, we sat down with our own Brian Wood, Vice President of Data Products Group for IVANS, who leads our Insurtech-focused initiatives to better connect insurers and agents one risk at a time.

IVANS Comms: With Insurtech being the industry buzz word for the last few years, do you consider these companies as trendy – or are they here to stay or leave? 

Brian: The energy and momentum behind Insurtechs have not stopped, but increased in many ways. Small and fast-growing Insurtech startups are jumping into the industry to solve niche problems via technology with the aim of making transformative change. In 2016, there were 117 Insurtech-related transactions. 2017 had 122, and 2018 had 154 transactions.  We will see if this trend continues in 2019.

Whereas many of these companies were originally funded by traditional venture capital (VC) investors, what has changed is the number of Insurtechs that are being backed directly by insurers or industry network groups. This is a sign that the industry recognizes the opportunity to transform their businesses with technology, but equally recognizes that many of these startups are led by technology visionaries – who may or may not have experience in the industry. In partnering with the companies, insurers can provide domain expertise and perspective.

At IVANS, we too see the opportunity that this focused energy around technology and innovation brings to the industry. The increasing pace of innovation and appetite for new technologies by stakeholders across the industry is positive for our business. We continue to more quickly deliver the technology required to connect each stage of the insurance lifecycle – for insurers, MGAs, and agencies alike.

“Combining smart, fast-moving, entrepreneurial-type individuals in the Insurtech sector with intelligent, seasoned insurance professionals, creates the opportunity to do great things.”

IVANS Comms: What lessons can insurers take from Insurtechs?

Brian: Insurers and their personnel are actively drawing in the folks who are starting Insurtech companies and utilizing them to monitor the startup environment. They’re not only getting to know what the Insurtechs are up to but the people behind them as well. This is a really smart play from an insurer perspective because they can keep an eye on what’s gaining traction – what problems Insurtechs are solving that are relevant to their businesses. Combining smart, fast-moving, entrepreneurial-type individuals in the Insurtech sector with intelligent, seasoned insurance professionals, creates the opportunity to do great things.

IVANS Comms: Why is IVANS still a relevant partner in the age of Insurtech?

Brian: Today, I believe IVANS is more relevant than ever because of the growing need for information exchange and platforms to do business.

In addition to our 35 years of leading innovation, we also have the industry expertise that so many Insurtechs lack, making us well suited to tackle the real-world challenges found in insurance. We are quickly developing new products and deliver dozens of APIs that drive hundreds of millions of interactions connecting disparate insurance information systems.

A good example of this innovation is how we’re able to quickly and effectively match insurers and agents on the basis of risk. Historically, this process has been extremely manual and time-consuming with heavy reliance on person-to-person communications. Whether it was toiling through pages and pages of outdated appetite guides or attending lunch and learns, today’s agent requires a digital solution. Yes, there’s advertising but even that takes a shotgun approach that just doesn’t work in the age of personalization.

Matching commercial appetite and markets is a very niche industry problem that IVANS has solved. Leveraging our network of 32,000 independent insurance agencies and 400 insurer and MGA partners, as well as talent acquired from Insurtech startup EvoSure, IVANS has simplified the process of insurers and agents finding one another for the most profitable business and best products. The solution is IVANS Markets, an online search integrated into agency management systems that automate appetite communications to ensure insurers products are constantly kept top of mind. Not only does it increase in-appetite submissions, it drives better submissions into the pipeline. Insurers have experienced significant increases in quote rates, for thousands of additional quotes annually.

IVANS’ goal is to better connect insurers and agents at each stage of the insurance lifecycle. For insurers, this means more of the right business to drive profitable premium and renewals. For agents, this means increased ease of doing business with insurers, resulting in the best protection for policyholders.

IVANS Comms: What can insurers and IVANS accomplish together?

Brian: At IVANS we’re recruiting strong entrepreneurial and engineering/development talent to continuously solve the next industry challenges and push innovation. Coupling that with working closely with our insurer/MGA partners and agencies, we’re creating an ecosystem that offers win/win solutions for all parties in the insurance lifecycle – including policyholders.

By not only leveraging our people and our modern approach to technology and engineering, but also providing insurer connectivity thought leadership, we’re bringing new ideas to the table on how to drive more efficient, more automated, and more engaging solutions.

If you think about the innovation that it took at the time IVANS was started in 1983, it’s hard to argue that it’s not possible for long-standing companies in the industry to succeed in today’s environment. In fact, we consider IVANS to be one of the original Insurtechs. As IVANS continues to innovate connectivity solutions, we’ll be ready to accomplish many great things with our industry partners for continued success well into the future.

To see a sampling of the innovations IVANS has developed in our 3+ decades as the insurance industry’s exchange connecting insurers, MGAs, agencies and insureds, view this 35 Years of Innovation infographic.

IVANS Index: Q4 2018 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

January 10, 2019

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.

Positive Uptick in Premium Renewal Rate Change Average Across Nearly All Lines of Business
The latest IVANS Index results for Q4 2018 show that insurance industry premium renewal rates are up quarter-over-quarter across nearly all major commercial product lines, except Workers’ Compensation. Commercial Auto, Business Owner’s Policy, Commercial Property, Umbrella, and General Liability show positive results compared to Q3 2018. Workers’ Compensation remains the only line of business experiencing a negative rate change, which was consistent throughout all of 2018.

Key findings from the Q4 2018 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: Premium renewal rate change averaged 4.66% for the quarter, ending at 4.51% for December.
  • BOP: Quarter premium renewal rate change averaged 4.23%, representing an increase over last quarter’s average of 4.15%. BOP premium renewal rate change finished the quarter at 4.23% in December.
  • General Liability: The quarter premium renewal rate change averaged 2.54%, increasing from 2.35% in Q3, and ended the quarter in December at 2.23%.
  • Commercial Property: Q4 premium renewal rate change experienced an increase quarter over quarter, with an average rate change of 3.74% as compared to 3.34% in Q3 2018.
  • Umbrella: Q4 premium renewal rate change averaged 2.42% versus 1.93% in Q3 and reached its high for 2018 in Q4 at 2.76% in November.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Average premium renewal rate change showed a decrease in Q4, averaging at -3.04% as compared to -2.76% in Q3 2018.

The most recent IVANS Index figures reveal generally positive results for premium renewal rate change. As the year comes to a close, the IVANS Index continues to show growth opportunities in most commercial lines of business, guiding both agents and insurers towards industry-wide insights and profitable opportunities.

Analyzing more than 120 million data transactions, the IVANS Index premium renewal rate change measures the premium difference year over year for a single consistent policy. Inclusive of more than 32,000 agencies and 380 insurers and MGAs, the IVANS Index is reflective of the premium rate change trends being experienced by all agencies and insurers across the U.S. insurance market.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the Q4 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.

A Journey Through IVANS’ 35-Year History

December 20, 2018

by IVANS Communications
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For 35 years, IVANS’ commitment to innovation has enabled thousands of insurers, MGAs and agencies from around the globe to safeguard and protect what matters most in people’s lives. Who would have imagined that a simple idea – a new way to connect an industry – would revolutionize the business of insurance?

It did, and over the last 35 years, IVANS has been at the forefront of insurance technology with a myriad of innovative “industry-firsts.” Here are some of the key milestones throughout our storied history.

Happy Holidays from IVANS

December 17, 2018

by Reid French
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On behalf of all of us at IVANS, I’d like to thank you for your ongoing partnership with our company. As we conclude this year and head into 2019, we look forward to driving continued success for your business in the digital age of insurance.

In the spirit of this festive season, we’ve created a special video card. I hope you enjoy it.

Wishing you and yours health and joy now and in the New Year.

Warmest regards,

Reid French

Reid FrenchReid French, CEO of IVANS, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the Applied community. French came to Applied in 2011, after serving as chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson-Humphrey. French holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and The Lovett School in Atlanta.

IVANS Index: November 2018 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

December 13, 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.

November Results Show Even Split Across Major Commercial Product Lines
The latest IVANS Index results for November 2018 showed rate changes are split evenly for the first time this year. Business Owners Policy (BOP), Commercial Property and Umbrella experienced an uptick in premium renewal rate while Commercial Auto, General Liability and Workers’ Compensation saw a downward shift.

Highlights from the November 2018 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: 4.66%, down from 4.81% in October.
  • BOP: 4.14% up from 4.08% the month prior.
  • General Liability: 2.65%, down from 2.74% the last month.
  • Commercial Property: 3.76%, up from 3.51% at the end of October.
  • Umbrella: 2.76%, up from 2.20% the month prior.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -3.25, down from -3.20% last month.

The most recent IVANS Index figures display mixed results for premium renewal rate change. As the year nears its close, the IVANS Index continues to show growth opportunities in several commercial lines of business, guiding both agents and insurers towards industry-wide insights and profitable insights.

Analyzing more than 120 million data transactions, the IVANS Index premium renewal rate change measures the premium difference year over year for a single consistent policy. Inclusive of more than 32,000 agencies and 380 insurers and MGAs, the IVANS Index is reflective of the premium rate change trends being experienced by all agencies and insurers across the U.S. insurance market.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the 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.

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.

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