Insurance Noodle 2.0 was introduced to provide independent insurance agents with access to an online, single-entry, multi-carrier quoting platform with admitted and non-admitted markets for small commercial lines accounts and admitted markets for personal lines. What's more, with Insurance Noodle, agents go beyond just online quoting - they get an end-to-end agency service entity, which includes renewing policies and servicing accounts.
We spoke with Ralph Blust, Executive Vice President and Managing Partner of Willis Commercial Network, (which is part of global broker Willis Holdings, plc) about Insurance Noodle and the benefits it is providing to retail agents. Ralph is responsible for the operation and strategic development of the Willis Commercial Network, a provider of products, services and resources for small agencies, and the unit's product delivery platform, Insurance Noodle. He has more than 27 years of insurance industry and leadership experience.
Ralph explained that Insurance Noodle is the cornerstone of the Willis Commercial Network. It is an online vehicle for member agents to submit and quote business with leading national A-rated insurance carriers for BOP, workers compensation, umbrella, commercial auto, and professional liability for over 1,700 classes of business. The typical account size submitted through Insurance Noodle is under $3,000 in premium per line of coverage for commercial lines. The platform recently launched a new segment that provides personal lines quotes for home and auto in 48 states.
"Insurance Noodle was initially established in 2000 and was one of the first companies to utilize a technology play within the insurance aggregation arena," said Ralph. "Since Insurance Noodle had strong brand recognition, we kept the name and most of the team, but re-engineered the organization and built an entirely new operational model. The new platform was released in July of 2011 for commercial accounts, and July 2012 for personal lines. Today, Insurance Noodle provides a way for agents to obtain access to other carriers' products, receive near immediate quotes, and bind more business faster and more efficiently than ever before. We evaluated other industries and Best Practices to partner with a technology company, carriers, and others who would help us deliver solutions that would be a game-changer for agents."
With Insurance Noodle, you have the ability to receive immediate quotes for both Commercial and Personal Lines. There are six admitted carriers for commercial and seven for personal. Additionally, the platform is linked to multiple non-admitted carriers through CRC|Crump Insurance Services' Boomerang portal. "If an agent is seeking a quote for a risk in the admitted arena and the carriers decline the risk, the data that has been completed on the Insurance Noodle website is automatically transferred to Boomerang, and marketed to those carriers for a non-admitted alternative," explained Ralph. "There is no need for duplicate entry and no additional legwork on the agent's part for marketing the risk." All quotes and policies placed through the Insurance Noodle are stored in the agent's secure dashboard on the Insurance Noodle website, with no re-keying needed.
As of September 1, Insurance Noodle began connecting its members to an additional group of non-admitted markets through TAPCO, a sister company of CRC|Crump. TAPCO operates in 25 states, and is accessed via a toll-free line. "When admitted markets decline to quote, the risk is automatically sent to TAPCO, on eligible classes. The agent is provided with a reference number to use when they call, and the application with the data that was initially input into Insurance Noodle is retrieved by the TAPCO underwriter - again, reducing the need for duplicate entry," said Ralph.
"What Insurance Noodle delivers to agents," explained Ralph, "is access to admitted national markets with which they can't get or don't have a direct appointment. They get the benefits of a direct appointment without going through the appointment process and having to meet any minimum production requirements. It's simple to use and you can get quotes 24/7. It takes less than 10 minutes for agents to complete an application on the Insurance Noodle site and they'll receive quotes back from the carriers within two to six minutes.
"Once an agent receives indications through the online system, they simply need to verify the default risk characteristics contained in the quote document. Should anything differ from the default answers, such as losses or unique risk characteristics, or, if the agent wants to include higher limits on a specific coverage, adjustments can be made by simply contacting an Insurance Noodle representative. Binding the coverage typically takes about 1.5 days, to make sure we have all the data needed to bind the risk."
In addition to quoting and binding coverage on-line, an agent can manage accounts directly with the insurance companies on-line or via the phone. Account changes are controlled via carrier service centers where automatic renewals are the norm.
"Insurance Noodle is continuously looking to add new carriers and considering new products and enhancements for release in the future. There are currently 22,000 registered users, with the platform becoming increasingly more popular and gaining more members. "When you sign up and become a member, you can begin quoting in just a few minutes," Ralph said.