Agents and Insurers, Face-to-Face
Insurance Experts' Forum, August 3, 2012
A group of dedicated agents recently embarked on a bus tour to meet with carriers and encourage them to work on needed technology priorities. Many carriers have invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of programming hours to develop electronic interfaces among our systems to improve workflows and reduce the number of keystrokes required for transactions.
Some carriers have done an awesome job; others have not even started.
The bus tour was designed to meet face-to-face with key carriers in a specific region to thank them and encourage them to better meet the needs of their agent sales force. We called the visits “Partnering for Efficient Workflows” which seems to describe our message: Agents and carriers working together to become as efficient as possible and make more sales.
Our message on future enhancements needed was well-received and furthered our relationships with carrier partners. We also learned many ways that agents can help carriers through lively discussions; the following are some of the main points.
First, carriers don’t mind spending the dollars if the agents adopt the technology. Agents must embrace the improvements carriers are making on their behalf. When carriers make it easier for agents to write business with them, both of us benefit. Efficiencies are critical for both agents and carriers to be able to transact business efficiently and profitably.
Next, security remains a major concern for carriers and agents. The IIABA Agents Council for Technology (ACT) has recommended that all partners embrace TLS for encrypted emails, and now, the ID Federation is available to help our industry conduct transactions more safely.
Also, ACT is recommending Best Practices standards for real-time implementations to provide a more consistent experience for agents with increased speed and fewer error conditions.
Finally, a good way to have agents embrace new technology is to encourage them to take the “21 Day Challenge” in their offices—because we all know that it takes 21 days to form a new good habit.
The carriers we met with see great value in having agents become involved in their Agency Management System User Groups. These groups provide education and advocacy to their members and help the agents learn how to more fully use their agency systems. This helps increase the utilization of the great interface functionality that carriers are providing for agents.
Stay tuned: There may be a bus tour in your area very soon.
Angelyn Treutel is President of Southgroup Insurance and the chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology and ASCnet's Industry Solutions Committee.
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