The LexisNexis Insurance Exchange — an online single-entry submission system that streamlines the flow of application data among agents, brokers and carriers — celebrated its first anniversary last month.
The Exchange, conceived by the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) and established by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, CIAB and Marketcore Inc., has grown rapidly during that time. The Exchange was originally launched in late 2010 and underwent an “early adopter” program until June 2011.
In the past year since becoming available industry-wide, more than 40,000 submissions have gone through the system. Some 125 brokers and 325 markets now use the Exchange. As the number of users grew, the Exchange has been extending its products and functionality, embedding new data, analytics and marketing tools to the system.
Over 40,000 Submissions Made in First Year
The Exchange has ambitious plans. Currently, the system focuses on helping P/C and employee benefits agents, brokers and carriers collaborate on commercial lines accounts. But in the future, the Exchange plans to add new capabilities for personal lines, life insurance and even reinsurance.
Further, the Exchange wants to expand its real-time market information to encompass all providers of coverage in the North American marketplace. It even wants to become an online collaboration and social media platform — a kind of Facebook or LinkedIn for insurance professionals.
LexisNexis Insurance Exchange’s General Manager Clyde Owen recently spoke with Insurance Journal and discussed the Exchange’s progress and future plans. A podcast of the interview is available on InsuranceJournal.tv.
IJ: The Exchange has been available industry-wide for a year now. How is it doing?
Owen: We’ve been live about a year, and before that we were probably a year or so in development. We think that it’s going very well. This was a very unique challenge to the industry to try to bring together brokers and carriers in a sort of new way of doing business.Our idea was to bring a new level of connectivity to brokers and agents — one in which there would be more efficiency, more collaboration, increased accuracy, security, certainly analytics and data about the process, and more transparency. So, we had a lot of goals from an agency perspective.
We wanted to give them, for the first time ever, a true marketing system. I think marketing is universally accepted within this industry as something that’s important, but [there’s] no real system. The marketplace is fractured from the agency management system to carrier portals to carrier proprietary systems, but nobody really in that fractured universe focuses on how to gather all the information relevant to a marketing process, whether from an agent’s perspective or from a carrier’s.
We’ve rolled out the functionality that was our roadmap that we deemed sort of most critical at launch, and we continue to add to that every day.
IJ: How many carriers, agencies and brokers are using the Exchange now?
Owen: On the Exchange, we have about 125 brokers, and that would include both wholesalers and retailers, and some what you might refer to as managing general agencies. So, we think of those folks as people who are generating retail business.
We have about 325 insurance carriers who are receiving business within the Exchange. We’ve gone from no transactions at the beginning to now tens of thousands of transactions having gone through the Exchange. In terms of the types of agencies, there are some agencies that you would think of as small agencies — i.e. less than 10 producers — to some very large agencies.
Most of the major markets in the United States have received some business in the Exchange; some more than others. In terms of how it’s being used, the Exchange has a number of products and tools at this point in time. We span the gamut of functionality from lead generation to bind. Within each of those steps, or components, of the marketing workflow, different users find different needs and different functionality.
So, for example, if I am a producer, then the producer likely uses our lead generation, or our lead management, or our sales management process. If I’m a CSR then I might use the marketing capabilities. If I’m an agency proprietor or owner I likely focus on the analytic and the reports that come out of the system.
So, much like any business, an agency is comprised of people with different functional needs based on the job that they have and we try to answer those needs within the context of what we’re trying to accomplish which is really a lead generation, lead management, and then marketing or the sales process by providing to them the tools and information they need within the function that they’ve got. So, it’s being used differently by different types of users.
IJ: Which accomplishment from the past year are you most proud of?
Owen: This has also been quite a learning experience for us, which maybe is a strange thing to say. We pride ourselves on really listening to our customers and reacting to their needs. That has led to some very useful and interesting extensions of our products and functionality.
Some of it has resulted from extending into the sales management and lead management process; by beginning to add data assets and infusing those in the process at the right place such as lead generation; such as information that can be used within the underwriting and submission process; and wrapping a mobile app around the entire product suite.
So, now a producer knows the exact submission status by just checking that on their iPhone. Same thing with the agency owner. Same thing with anybody that’s connected to the process. So, what we are most proud of is reacting to our customers’ needs with as much innovation as we can give around that desire.
IJ: Have there been any challenges that maybe you didn’t foresee one year ago?
Owen: One of the things that have been most interesting to us is the diversity of needs within the agency system itself. There are many, many different types of agencies in what we define as the independent agency environment. It’s not a homogenous group of people. Of course, they are independent business people so they have their own unique way and their own comparative advantages with respect to how they do business.
And so, we want to have a product that is both a platform-based product and one that is very easy to install and enroll in, which we believe it is, but yet at the same time is flexible enough to meet the needs of different user/constituents.
We think we’ve accomplished that, but it is a continuing challenge to add functionality in a way that doesn’t complicate the product but remains easy to use. So I think, if we have a challenge, it’s continuing to listen to our users and add the functionality that they need to do their job in a challenging, diverse marketplace.
IJ: You had mentioned that personal lines features may be added. Could you tell us more?
Owen: The LexisNexis Insurance Exchange at its outset sought to be the single place where marketing, sales management and lead management would take place within an insurance agency.
Whether that agency was focused on mid-market commercial line submissions or more transactional-based submissions or specialty lines or personal lines or life or health or benefits, we wanted to have one place that the agency could do that marketing and behind the scenes the LexisNexis Insurance Exchange would define the protocol to execute that marketing submission. We started in commercial and the next thing we did were benefits.
We’re not yet done with commercial. We’re not yet doing transactional processing, which we intend to do. Once we get beyond that, we will begin to turn our focus to other lines of business such as personal lines and likely life, and maybe even reinsurance.
But we’re still completing where we’re at with commercial. So we’re just timing-wise not there yet on our roadmap to have done personal lines.
IJ: There was also a talk about developing social media applications and real-time marketing.
Owen: Our long-term vision is that there ought to be an insurance marketplace, there ought to be a place where agents and brokers can understand what their markets are looking for and how they’re looking for it specifically, and how it’s not to be only submitted to them, but understood. So when an insurance carrier rolls out a new product to the agents with whom they’re contracted or to an open broker space, how do they know about that?
There are probably in the neighborhood of 4,000 or 5,000 providers of market in the North American marketplace, whether those are Lloyd syndicates, whether those are MGAs, or whether those are mainstream carriers.
For any individual broker at any point in time to understand those offerings turns out to be an impossible task in today’s environment. But it’s not impossible from a technology standpoint. All of that data and all of that content could be available. In fact, it could absolutely be available today in the Exchange if the markets would provide it and we could then essentially make that available as information to the community.
As people are on the Exchange, there then is the opportunity for them to collaborate with each other. So for example, the agents and brokers can invite their customers or the insureds into the process in a secure place through notes and through chat and through other online mechanisms. A carrier can instantly educate and update their insurance community in a secure platform that can be targeted just to their users.
So, you could think of it as a Facebook or a LinkedIn but only for in a secure environment within insurance with people with people communicating with each other who have essentially friended or appointed each other.
So it is about creating a network in a community in which people can communicate in a business language we define as insurance for the purposes of either educating each other or placing insurance and or other things that might arise out of that.
It is about connecting people in the language of insurance in a place where insurance can be transacted and people can keep themselves informed — as opposed to thousands of independent websites all essentially trying to accomplish exactly the same thing.
We are absolutely convinced of our success. We have a product that is absolutely necessary in the marketplace. It is growing and expanding everyday both in customers and in functionality.
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