Streamlining the Upstream Swim

Angelyn Treutel Zeringue
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 31, 2014

We are clearly faced with an uphill battle as independent agents. Marketing blitzes from within our own industry have convinced consumers that insurance is something that may be purchased in a box with the particular flavors they may choose, or the specific price they would like to pay. These messages downgrade the important work done in the insurance industry, where we work hard to protect our clients and their assets from accidents and disastrous perils.

Instead, it is far better for our industry to educate consumers on the importance of working with a trusted advisor to assist them in evaluating their options and determining the best value for their protection. This highlights the importance of a superior partnership between agents and carriers. Carriers want their products explained and sold to consumers, and agents want to help their clients and make the sale.

Carriers and agents have come a long way in improving the efficiency of the sales process, but we still have a long way to go. Many new tools and interfaces are available, and we need industry adoption for our mutual success. The latest article from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America’s Agents Council for Technology, written by Donna LaGoy, highlights some of the newest features available for carriers and agents.

Claims download is a critical piece of the puzzle because it assists agents and carriers in providing a seamless resolution and a united front to settle the claims of our mutual client. We sell a “promise to pay,” and claims handling is the reason we exist. The more information that both the carrier and agent have when a client contacts them, the more quickly we can partner together to alleviate any concerns the client may have and provide them with current information on the status of their claim. Even more important is the value provided by claims download during a catastrophic event when thousands of claims are being processed. The more automated our processes are, the better for both the agents and carriers.

We need automated processes in place so that whether the client first calls the agent or the carrier, we are able to provide them with exceptional service and attention and easily begin the claims process. If the client initially contacts the carrier following the claim, the recommended workflow is to have the carrier immediately notify the agent via an activity notification, and then follow-up with a full claims download to the agency system overnight with all of the specifics on the claim in process. If the client initially contacts the agency to report the claim, the industry recommendation is for the agency system to be able to upload a first notice of loss directly to the carrier’s system. This allows both the agent and carrier to track losses in their systems without the need of rekeying the claims data.

Together we can do this! 

Angelyn Treutel Zeringue, CPA, is president of Southgroup Insurance Gulf Coast and the chair of ASCnet's Industry Solutions Industry Initiatives Committee and the past-chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Angelyn by using the “Add Your Comments” box below. She can also be reached at

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