Insurers Must Go Paperless in Right Way, Group Says

July 14, 2004

A report issued by the Agents Council for Technology said that if the move by insurers to “turn off” paper documentation is not done in the right way it could seriously set back agency efficiency.

The report, Turning off the Paper to Agents: Recommended Agent and Carrier Workflows (Word document), is the second phase of an earlier report by the group, a partnership of independent agents, companies and technology vendors, user groups and associations dedicated to enhancing the use of technology.

The primary conclusion of the report is that carriers should not go paperless unless an effective download is already in place.

“Download continues to be very important to agents in this new environment even though the electronic information should also be accessible to agents on the carrier’s Web site,” ACT Executive Director Jeff Yates said in a statement.

The report provides a series of recommendations to agents and carriers depending on whether the transaction is downloaded or not. Where there is an effective download, agents should be able to rely on “spot checking” the downloaded items for accuracy and viewing the electronic documents on the carrier’s Web site when needed.

Even where download is in place for a line of business, there are likely to be some transactions relating to that business that are not downloaded, according to the report. Examples might include notices of cancellation, audits, property valuations and correspondence regarding underwriting issues sent directly from the carrier to the insured. The carrier should either continue to send the paper for these transactions or “push” the electronic information, or links to it, to the agent. The ACT report also praises carriers that e-mail or download daily transaction reports to their agents with links to electronic documents.

Where an effective download is not in place, the report urges carriers not to turn off paper unless the agency agrees.

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