Stop Tolerating Old Tech From Carriers

Customers demand a better experience, but carriers' antiquated systems get in the way. Here are four things every carrier must provide agents.

Waiting on hold. Faxing underwriting forms. Apologizing to customers for insurance-company errors. Sound familiar? Up until now, you and your staff accepted this conduct as the status quo. Your customers did, too. They won’t now! Today’s consumer expects a different experience. She expects to control her interaction with your agency on her terms, 24/7. This change in behavior occurred because of advancements in technology. Propelled by the Web and the computing power of the smartphone, consumers today expect to be able to digitally purchase a policy, make a change to the policy or file a claim. Several forward-thinking carriers anticipated this trend at the turn of the century and started to upgrade their technology platforms. The goal: Speed transaction processing and reduce cost. Many executives complained, however, that the benefits of their technology improvements couldn’t be fully realized because agents refused to improve their technology. Fast forward to today. Because of the advent of cloud computing, agile software development and more powerful processors, agencies can transform their customer experience quickly, at low cost. Leading management systems enable an agency to reconfigure its operations to provide a robust, up-to-date, real-time customer experience. This is one of the greatest advances for the independent agency system in many years. With agile technology and an online presence, successful independents are slowly but surely recapturing market share from less agile captive-agency behemoths. Unfortunately, many agencies encounter a roadblock -- their carriers’ outdated, inflexible systems. This creates a competitive disadvantage for the agency because it detracts from the customer experience. In today’s market, it’s too easy for a customer to switch. Agency owners can no longer put up with a carrier’s antiquated business processes. Remember that point the next time you are looking at two competitively priced quotes from two different insurers. Ask yourself, which one has the best technology interface that leverages your modern agency management system? It’s as important a question today as the commission rate. What You Should Expect From a Carrier’s Technology Platform Customer access: Does your system allow my customers to access your policy processing system from our agency website?
  1. Claims filing: Does your first-notice-of-loss system alert my agency by email or text when a customer files a claim? Does your claims system allow my customers to access your first-notice-of-loss process from our agency website?
  2. Data analytics: Do you have data analytics tools to allow me to determine the risks to target in my local community?
  3. Agency management system integration: Do you interface with my agency management system?
  4. Straight-through processing: How much do I have to interface with carrier personnel to issue a policy, make policy changes and adjust a claim?

Brian Cohen

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Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen is currently an operating partner with Altamont Capital Partners. He was formerly the chief marketing officer of Farmers Insurance Group and the president and CEO of a regional carrier based in Menlo Park, CA.


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