Enhanced electronic interface between insurance agents and carriers is enjoying broad agency acceptance and growth, according to a survey conducted by the industry-wide Real Time/Download Campaign. The spring 2013 survey received nearly 2,200 responses from agency and brokerage professionals in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Adoption of real-time rating tools within agencies and brokerages has increased considerably since a similar survey conducted in fall 2011. Real-time rating is up by more than 32 percent over the 18-month period. "We're encouraged to see increased use of these tools," explains Stu Durland, AAI, AINS, campaign co-chair and vice president and co-owner of Seely & Durland Insurance in Warwick, N.Y. "With strong competition on many fronts, it's important that independent agents and brokers have -- and use -- tools that can help them remain strong."
Personal lines workflows, including download and real-time rating, are seeing the greatest adoption, with 95 percent and 83 percent of respondents, respectively, saying they use the functionalities. Real Time* and download** are less broadly used in commercial lines. Commercial lines download is used by more than three-fourths of respondents that write commercial policies. Real-time rating for commercial lines is used by 50 percent of agencies and brokerages with a commercial lines book of business.
Respondents say they save a significant amount of time by using these technologies. For example, those who use personal lines download save nearly an hour and a half per employee per day.
Personal lines real-time rating saves agencies and brokerages roughly an hour per personal lines employee per day. Commercial lines download saves nearly an hour per commercial lines employee per day, while commercial lines real-time rating yields just over half that amount of time savings.
Respondents indicate Real Time and download deliver a wide range of benefits besides time savings. "These include improved information accuracy, better activity documentation, easier password maintenance and other efficiency gains," notes campaign co-chair Joyce Sigler, CISR, CPIW, CPIA, NcAM, vice president and corporate secretary at Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency in Fairlawn, Ohio. "Real-time tools also free up time that can be devoted to selling and account rounding, and they help agents quote more business more quickly."
Real-time inquiry and service activities are performed by three-fourths of respondents, up considerably from roughly one-half of those who reported using them in 2011. Those who use them save, on average, 53 minutes per employee per day.
* Real Time is the ability to click on a button from a client file in your agency management system or comparative rater for immediate access to carrier information on that client. The transaction may be a quote, billing inquiry, claim inquiry/loss runs, policy view, endorsements or a request for information. This approach provides a single workflow for servicing or quoting.
** Download is the movement of customer policy data from an insurer to its partnering agency or brokerage's agency management system. This download directly to the agency management system normally occurs after a transaction is performed by an agent, such as adding a vehicle or changing a deductible; or by the insurer, such as creating an automatic renewal notice.
About the Real Time/Download Campaign: Launched in 2007, the Real Time/Download Campaign (www.GetRealTime.org) is dedicated to improving the competitiveness of the independent agency distribution channel. The campaign isn't advocating a specific technology, but a workflow approach that frees up more time for agencies to sell, process and service business. Most agents can leverage tools already contained in their agency management systems or comparative raters.
Campaign participants include agents, brokers, carriers, technology providers, user groups, and agent and industry associations. The campaign is led by industry groups and sponsored financially by: ACORD and the ACORD-User Groups Information Exchange (AUGIE); Allied Insurance/Nationwide; Applied Systems; Applied Systems Client Network (ASCnet); CNA; EMC Insurance Companies; Erie Insurance; Grange Insurance; Harleysville; The Hartford; Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) and its Agents Council for Technology (ACT); IVANS; Liberty Mutual Insurance; MetLife Auto & Home; Network of Vertafore Users (NetVU); PIA of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut & New Hampshire; Progressive; Travelers; Vertafore; and Westfield Insurance.