The industry should place its highest priority on “getting additional carriers to offer real-time capabilities,” according to a survey of insurance agency and brokerage professionals in the United States and Canada.
Nearly half (47%) of respondents to the Real Time/Download Campaign’s 2013 Agency Technology survey called it a “Top 3″ priority from a field of 13 possible enhancements. A similar number (48%) rated it a “5″ on a “1-5″ scale; the average rating among all respondents for the item was 4.27.
Expanded “commercial lines real-time comparative rating” functionality ranked second in the campaign study. Nearly four in 10 (38%) survey respondents described it as a “Top 3″ priority. A similar number (37%) assigned it a “5,” with the issue earning an average score of 4 from among all respondents.
“Bringing more companies to the table will create the critical mass agents and brokers say is important as they seek to operate more efficiently and effectively,” said Joyce Sigler, vice president and corporate secretary at Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency in Fairlawn, Ohio, and Real Time/Download Campaign co-chair.
However, Sigler said agents do not need to wait to implement Real Time. “They can eliminate duplicate key strokes and save significant time today by implementing Real Time with those carriers that offer it,” she said. “Agent adoption will encourage more carriers to make the investment in this time-saving technology.”
Real Time Campaign Co-Chair Stuart Durland, vice president and co-owner of Seely & Durland Insurance in Warwick, N.Y., said that agents and brokers have seen the benefits of personal lines real-time comparative rating and they’re eager to see similar benefits in the commercial arena. “Many carriers now offer commercial lines real-time rating through agency management systems,” Durland said. “Agents can avoid considerable duplicate data entry today by using these tools and suggesting to their non-Real Time company partners that they implement this technology as soon as possible.”
One-third of survey participants said “consistency in the real-time workflows offered across carriers” and “easier password management” were “Top 3″ priorities. Each was ranked “5″ by 39% of respondents, with the former notching a 4.13 average score and the latter a 3.87.
“We have made significant progress increasing implementation and adoption of Real Time and Download,” Durland said. “By sharing best practices information among carriers and by helping to remove password barriers, we expect to see continued growth in the use of these important interface tools.”
The Campaign has developed a resource guide, titled “Agency Real-Time ˜Best Practice’ Workflows and Implementation Strategies: Guidance for Carriers and Vendors,” to help drive better, more consistent carrier and vendor real-time implementations.
Other potential enhancements ranked by responding agency and brokerage professionals include:
- Improved real-time quoting functionality that eliminates or reduces the number of quote requests that error out: Described as a “Top 3″ priority by 24%; ranked “5″ on a “1-5″ scale by 44%; average score of 4.21 of a possible 5.
- Faster response time: A “Top 3″ priority of 30%; “5″ on a 1-5 scale for 34%; average score of 3.95.
- Consistent lines of business offered across carriers: A “Top 3″ priority of 26%; “5″ on a “1-5″ scale for 34%; average score of 3.95.
- Improved personal lines endorsement processing: A “Top 3″ priority of 20%; “5″ on a “1-5″ scale for 28%; average score of 3.93.
- Improved commercial lines endorsement processing: A “Top 3″ priority of 15%; “5″ on a “1-5″ scale for 28%; average score of 3.91.
- Greater availability of real-time quote submission functionality for mid-commercial business: A “Top 3″ priority of 12%; “5″ on a “1-5″ scale for 28%; average score of 3.80.
- Extension of real-time service capability to clients through agency website portal: A “Top 3″ priority of 11%; “5″ on a “1-5″ scale for 20%; average score of 3.35.
- Greater availability of real-time quoting for Excess & Surplus business: A “Top 3″ priority of 9%; “5″ on a “1-5″ scale for 20%; average score of 3.27.
- Greater availability of real-time inquiry and service for Excess & Surplus business: A “Top 3″ priority of 5%; “5″ on a “1-5″ scale for 20%; average score of 3.27.
“We need to work together as an industry to help address these issues and to help drive even broader availability and adoption,” said Sigler.
The survey went to more than 2,200 professionals who work in agencies and brokerages in all 50 states as well as in Canada. Respondents were asked to rate, on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5, each of 13 possible items. They then were asked to choose from among those items they rated highest and create a list of their “Top 3″ recommended improvements.
Launched in 2007, the Real Time/Download Campaign (GetRealTime.org) seeks to improve the competitiveness of the independent agency distribution channel. The campaign advocates workflow approaches that free up more time for agencies to sell, process and service business.