Do you dread paperwork and manual tasks that are still a reality in the insurance industry? If you answered yes, you are not alone.
According to the IVANS 2020 Agency-Insurer Connectivity Report, 71% of agencies ranked the importance of an automated interface to connect to insurers a 9 or 10. This is the highest rating we have seen in the six years IVANS has conducted a connectivity survey. However, only 47% of insurers ranked this with the same level of importance.
I recently had an insightful discussion with Encova VP and Chief Customer Officer James Sullivan about findings from the survey, digital trends, and how technology can support industry partner relationships.
James pretty much captured what we’ve all been living through during the pandemic when he said, “It was a crazy year in 2020. Everything changed overnight, which drove the need for this digital adoption that we're seeing.”
Going digital with download
Agencies value download – 69% said they use eDocs and Messages to access client and policy information through download within their management systems. In addition, 65% of insurers reported sending eDocs and Messages directly to their agency partners’ management systems – a 19% year-over-year increase.
Of the agencies surveyed, 60% use download for claims. Similarly, 59% of insurers sent claims information directly to their agency partners’ management systems. The insurers’ use of claims download jumped a staggering 110% from the 2019 report.
James said he also sees increasing interest from agents to receive download for both personal and commercial lines, “We’ve made a big push on this and we’re seeing an increase in eDocs and Messages month-over-month as well. I mean, there are so many advantages for agents to help their specific workflows.”
Looking to the future
Some of the indications we have seen for the future are the transformation of the commercial lines process, the adoption of more technology to replace manual tasks, and an increase in digital connectivity.
The commercial lines process has historically been a more complex and lengthy process than personal lines. The industry is starting to realize this and would like to see commercial lines quoting and submissions to match what is offered for personal lines.
In the connectivity survey, 90% of insurers would like to receive quotes digitally and 77% of agencies said they give quotes to insurers who quote the fastest.
James reinforced this sentiment stating, “We're seeing a big push from our agents, especially in that small commercial space and around that submission process as to how to get quotes in. I think we'll see the quoting process be more like personal lines in a few years, if not sooner.”
He added that he sees connectivity and APIs as a continuous trend, “One of the things that has come out of the chaos over the last 12 months is the need to interact more in real time and leverage APIs where possible. We’re working on different ways to adjust new quotes and speed up the quoting process for our agents.”
One solution James sees gaining traction and playing a role in the future of agents and speeding up connectivity is IVANS Bookroll:
“We're also leveraging IVANS Bookroll. Even though it's a small percentage on here, we see this as being an up-and-coming option for our agents. And also looking for ways to speed up connectivity between us and our agents. We're trying to speed that connectivity up everywhere we can.”
IVANS Bookroll allows insurers to easily receive and evaluate agencies’ books of business without the hassle of manual processes.
Searching for specific offerings and packages
A trend that is on the rise is agents are looking for specific offerings and insurers are catering to this request.
“We're starting with certain lines of business and starting small with certain classes. I want to dip our toes in the water, make sure it's working well, and then look at how to expand. And we'll probably expand more classes before we expand additional lines, just depending on what the agents are asking for there,” James said.
There has also been a demand for commercial packages with policies – for example, combining professional liability with additional offerings like cyber liability. James said he also sees this expanding and works to try to meet the need of commercial package requests:
“When we're selling a package, we're trying to make that a well-rounded experience and be able to offer everything inside that one package.”