Agency-Carrier Connectivity | Read Time: 5 Minutes

Agencies, Carriers, and Tech: What’s the Disconnect?

March 30, 2023

Mark Breading By: Mark Breading

While there’s a lot of synergy between agencies and carriers looking to technology for easier processes, there is also a disconnect. At Strategy Meets Action, a ReSource Pro company, our latest research on agency-carrier connectivity revealed this disconnect, which research by Ivans substantiates.

To explore the topic further, Ivans VP of Marketing Christen Kelley sat down with me to host a webinar featuring Donna LaGoy, senior vice president of business intelligence at Highstreet Insurance Partners, and Jessica Jeffress, associate vice president of commercial insurance at Peel and Holland, a division of HUB International Mid-South. If you missed our webinar or need a refresher, here are highlights from our conversation.

“If we look at what would be ideal, it would be anything via comparative rater that integrates with our agency management system so that we're entering it in there; it carries right over, populates whatever needs to get done, and gives us the quotes. If it can't do that, then at least if we have to submit it, it would be great to have some kind of tracking for the submission.”– Donna LaGoy, Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence, HighStreet Insurance Partners

What are agencies hungry for with appetite?

Jessica Jeffress: It’s a great question. I mean, there are so many nuances to it. It’s not cut and dry. It would make things simple if it were. We tend to get, “Here’s our hit list. We want contractors.” But when you dig into it, it's “We want contractors with at least five years of experience and only if they're residential, no commercial work.” There are so many asterisks that make it a struggle. When we get those appetite guides from carriers, they're not as helpful to us because they're not the kind of detail that is needed.

Donna LaGoy: We must go to various carrier websites (to submit business). Sometimes, we have to submit an application. And if the appetite isn't there, we're not 100% sure we're submitting it. We're spending that time on it, only to discover it's declined because it doesn't meet the appetite. Or, we have to wait days to get a quote back based on where it's going. It's not efficient at all.

“I mean, the simpler, the better. I say that, but with detail. We have a lot of new sales talent, and they're hungry out there drumming up business. If they don't know who to go to, that's a struggle.”– Jessica Jeffress, Associate Vice President of Commercial Insurance, Peel & Holland, a division of HUB International Mid-South

How important is document automation with tools like eDocs?

Donna LaGoy: If we have the documentation and policy data that comes in more quickly, we can turn that around to our clients more quickly. We tend to go with carriers that allow us to give a better client experience, which means higher retention because they're happier. And it means less work on our end. We have tried to focus on specific carriers that make it easy to do business with them.

How do you balance the human element and technology?

Donna LaGoy: Having a trusted advisor is priority number one. We know what our clients need. We know the products. We know their backgrounds. We know what's available and what they should or shouldn't purchase. But we need to make it easier so that we, as independent agents, can reach out and get those quotes and provide that back to our clients. We need it as quickly as possible to save time and to be able to get that information back to the client quickly. But we don't want to go away. Our clients need us. I hope carriers realize that it's not about replacing the independent agent. It's about making us work more efficiently.

Jessica Jeffress: One of the priorities of carriers' investments is on the end-customer, like policyholder-facing technology. And honestly, we don't want to push them to log into their website and figure that out. We love partnering with carriers that help us highlight that versus sending a client directly to them. We love that interaction, and I would much rather see investment in agent-focused portal improvement versus policyholder-focused.

What does research tell us about the disconnect?

On the disconnect side, one of the big things we saw pertained to eDocs. In the middle and large markets, for instance, 50% of agencies said it is a priority for them to improve eDocs delivery. Only about 30% of carrier respondents in those markets said they are working on that now.

Another area of disconnect is filing a claim in the small commercial line side of things – 45% of agency respondents said that's a high priority. However, only about one in four carrier respondents are working to enable that capability.

On the middle market side, it is more about claims download. A lot of work still needs to take place with respect to the download of more complex claims. 59% of agency respondents said (carriers) have to work on that, yet only about 30% percent of carrier respondents are working on claims.

How do you continue to ignite agency-carrier connectivity?

This is just a snapshot of our conversation. Watch the on-demand webinar for more information and to gain access to the SMA research and read the 2022 Digital Technology Trends Report.

Mark Breading

Mark Breading

Mark Breading is a partner at Strategy Meets Action, a ReSource Pro company. He is known for his insights on the future of the insurance industry and innovative uses of technology. Before joining SMA in 2009, Mark spent 25 years with IBM in roles including the Global Insurance Strategist and Director of Global Financial Services Executive Conferences in addition to leadership roles in consulting and marketing. Mark co-developed IBM’s Account Based Marketing program and led the global project office to implement ABM across all industry verticals worldwide.