ACORD Form Processing

On Demand: 10 Things that Drive Agents Nuts Working with Carriers

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Stressful and frustrated Asian manager talking on telephone in oWhat better way to learn what drives Agents nuts than straight from the horse’s mouth? And that’s just what happened when Foy Insurance president, Mike Foy, and the head of our Agent Insight Team, Caleen Alexanderson, got together with ACORD  for the webcast “The Top 10 Things that Drive Agents Nuts Working with Carriers.” And it’s now available on demand!

Louisa RogersOn Demand: 10 Things that Drive Agents Nuts Working with Carriers
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A Look Back at 2015

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Spreading holiday cheer to the kids at DCF Roxbury

Spreading holiday cheer to the kids at DCF Roxbury

As we count down the final weeks of 2015, there is a lot to be thankful for at Agencyport:

  • Seven new customers
  • Surpassing of our financial goals for the 2nd year running
  • The addition of Fil Firmani, SVP of Product and Strategy, to the team
  • Articulation of our digital and omni-channel strategy
  • The most robust three-year, fully-funded product roadmap in Agencyport history
  • Two new AgencyPortal releases adding UX functionality based on Agent Insight to satiate the needs of our 125,000+ agent users
  • 18 Agent Insight visits
  • Our 200,000th Turnstile form in production—with over 130,000,000 keystrokes saved
  • Five ACORD awards
  • The addition of enough ACORD Certified Experts (ACEs) for us to claim more ACEs than any other vendor
  • A milestone 10th Agencyport Annual Conference—according many, the best yet
  • An official partnership with policy administration leader Accenture Duck Creek
  • The launch of our Customer Insight program, with four customers already signed on
  • Two successful hackathons, resulting in dozens of new ideas and more than ten solutions added to our Shared Solutions Repository

Not bad for twelve months. I’m extremely fortunate and proud to be a part of this team, and fired up about what is around the corner in 2016.


Curt StevensonA Look Back at 2015
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Eastern Alliance Reduces Manual Underwriting Steps by 70%

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Underwriting process inefficiency is a common concern for carriers, even those with a web-based agent portal. Because many agents still prefer to email new business submissions, underwriting technicians are often required to rekey submitted data into their portal—putting extra pressure on the underwriting staff and slowing the process. Eastern Alliance Insurance Group, a leading workers’ compensation insurer, was one such carrier.

Earlier this year, Eastern partnered with us to implement Turnstile®, our ACORD PDF form-to-XML SaaS conversion solution. Adding Turnstile to its underwriting process achieved two goals for the carrier:

  • To streamline underwriting workflow, and
  • To continue to allow agents to submit new business in their preferred manner—via AgencyPortal® or email.

The initiative has resulted in significant improvements and benefits in several areas:

  • A decrease in the manual new business process from 20 steps to 6 steps—a 70% reduction
  • Freed up time for underwriters to take on new projects and responsibilities
  • The ability to capture important location and geographical data, reducing work for underwriters later in the process
  • Simplified training of underwriting technicians

Learn more about Eastern’s new efficiencies and abilities in this case study.

Louisa RogersEastern Alliance Reduces Manual Underwriting Steps by 70%
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Ease of Quoting Expectations: It Depends on The Line

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I’m not sure what it is about New York, but it seems to have Agents who are eager to share their thoughts.  Last week, I traveled to Syracuse for our Agent Insight Initiative to visit two large agencies, adding a somewhat unusual perspective to our Insight gathering.  As large agencies, they both write business in Personal Lines and across many segments of Commercial Lines—Small, Mid, Large and Specialty.

I talked to Agents in each of the various segments and a theme soon became clear: expectations around how long it should take to quote new business, and how easy it should be vary with each line of business.

For example, the Mid/Large Commercial teams and their heavily manual processes are accustomed to the quoting process taking up to a week. In Syracuse, the process is so manual that the work is divided among producers, account reps and techs. The producers and account reps determine which carriers should see the business (eligibility) and the tech takes on the work of quoting with those carriers.  Ease of doing business is not a driver for these Agents.

And Specialty Lines was worse. Many of the agency employees in this segment log directly into carrier underwriting systems. There’s tons of potential for carriers to make improvements here. (Read an insight paper I wrote last year explaining how.)

At the other end of the spectrum was Small Commercial, where Agents make carrier selections based on ease of doing business. CSRs are key for this line as they manage the selection of which carriers they will quote with and then do all the submission work themselves. Carriers often ask us for time anecdotes around what is “good” for speed when quoting for The Small Commercial CSRs in Syracuse said 5-10 minutes for Workers’ Comp and 15-20 minutes for BOP.  A “bad portal” took 45 minutes to quote Workers’ Comp.

Each line had differing expectations for underwriting turnaround time as well. Small Commercial underwriters should get back to an agency within 24 hours. The expectation for Middle Markets is 72 hours and the Large Commercial Lines Agents were comfortable with it taking a week for an underwriter to get back to them.

With different expectations from Agent groups and lines of business, it’s especially important for carriers to know their audiences well and to assume they are not all the same. What is most important to them, if not speed or ease, and how can carriers help?

All in all, it was a very informative visit to New York.  If you want to learn more about Agent expectations, hear from them directly during our Agent Insight panel at this year’s 10th Annual Conference!

Jenn ParkerEase of Quoting Expectations: It Depends on The Line
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Agent Aggravation: Upload That Doesn’t Work

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google-search-agent-uploadDoing a Google search on “Agent Upload” quickly reveals the pain associated with the process. With auto-completes of the phrase like Agent Upload “fail,” “problems,” and “is locked,” it’s no surprise that Agents continually tell us that Upload is “broken.” But, for us technologists and carriers who’ve dedicated a lot of time to improving Upload, what’s broken exactly?

In this month’s edition of our Agent Aggravation Series, Agencyport’s Insight guru, Jenn Parker, explains what she’s hearing from Agents and offers a few solutions to help fix this nagging issue.

Read up and let us know what you think of Upload and our ongoing Agent research using the hashtag #agentsknow on your favorite social media site.

Tara DurheimAgent Aggravation: Upload That Doesn’t Work
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Evolving the ACORD Standard to include Cyber Liability

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Cyber Liability wasn’t a term you heard often 10 years ago. Today, however, with big data breaches making headlines more regularly than we’d like to admit, it’s a must-have coverage. In the past, Agencyport has had to extend the ACORD schema on the General Liability messages to accommodate cyber risk for our customers. Any extension of this kind can create inconsistent data collection and workflow for agents as well as longer development time for the carrier implementations. With this in mind, I set out to create an ACORD maintenance request (MR) for a new Cyber Liability Message as my project for Agencyport’s spring Hackathon. This evolution of the Standard would allow carriers and vendors to implement their cyber projects in the ever-growing Cyber Liability insurance market in a consistent, standard way.

With encouragement from several folks at Agencyport, I sent the idea into the ACORD Innovation Challenge and was selected to present at the semi-finals last week in New York. There was a lot of energy in the air, lots of folks sharing ideas, and several of us seeing long time industry friends. To learn more about the event, read Curt Stevenson’s blog post on his experience as a judge.

I’m not sure if my project will make it to the final round in Boca Raton at ACORD 2015 this November, but whether it does or doesn’t, I’m proud to say that the MR was approved last week, and is now part of the ACORD Standards. Check out ACORD’s announcement for all the details.

Caleen AlexandersonEvolving the ACORD Standard to include Cyber Liability
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Boost Efficiency Without Rocking the Agent’s World

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It’s a balancing act that carriers regularly face: how much agent routine is worth disrupting or changing in the name of improved efficiency?

The question is paramount when considering a new core system. The long-term benefits of modern PAS solutions are clear, but the potential pain for agents during a prolonged implementation can be detrimental to business for both parties. While a lengthy conversion process is unavoidable, introducing an independent front end to agents into the process can greatly diminish the hassle of transacting business with the carrier “during construction.” Arbella Insurance used the strategy as it was consolidating from five to one core system.

Similarly, carriers know that internal processing of ACORD PDFs that are emailed from agents is expensive and time-consuming. But, many agents are used to and comfortable with emailing new business forms to their carrier partners. Requiring a different workflow of them could be off-putting and risky. But, what if carriers could automate the form-to-data process internally? No change of routine for the agent; improved efficiency for the carrier. Magna Carta Companies, one of the largest mutual carriers of commercial business in America, did just that.

It was taking Magna Carta 45 minutes on average to process a single Commercial Package new business application emailed to the carrier from an agent. Using our form-to-data cloud service, Turnstile®, the insurer has decreased that time to roughly 15 minutes per application.

Keeping agents happy, focused and productive is key to their loyalty and to carriers’ success. Let technology help make all three possible.




Julie HoweBoost Efficiency Without Rocking the Agent’s World
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The ACORD Innovation Challenge Up Close and Personal

Caleen at ACORD Innovation Challenge

Agencyport’s Caleen Alexanderson at the Innovation Challenge

Exhibiting true market innovation, ACORD hosted a broad industry Innovation Challenge this week at its headquarters in Pearl River, New York. The best part? I got to be a judge in the Shark Tank-like forum for innovative ideas in Insurance.

The 37 live pitches covered new thinking across a broad range of areas. Some were hardcore, capital intensive projects, like one creating Autonomous Marine Systems (aka water drones) to ultimately replace the NOAA weather buoy system, to more lightweight tech projects like the pitch from Social Intelligence, who developed an algorithm for mining social media to assist with predictive underwriting data. One potential game-changer came from Haven Life, a really cool startup (backed by 150-year-old Mass Mutual), which has developed a life insurance platform that allows people under 45 years old to purchase life insurance completely online. Another one of my personal favorites came from Splice Software, a company that’s already mastered customer engagement in retail. Splice has an insurance solution that can receive alerts from Google Nest and other sensors, alert the homeowner (and carrier), and even dispatch a plumber or other service provider.

The rest of the entries were either innovative evolutions of existing products or technologies, or process improvements. All together, the pitches proved to be thought-provoking and a really positive sign that there are people in the industry who are not only ready for disruption, they’re working on creating it. ACORD will host a “virtual” session on Monday for 11 presenters who were unable to attend the event in person. The winners will be announced around July 1st.

My fellow judges were as diverse a group as the presenters. We had the usual suspects: solution providers, industry analysts, and insurance media members, but also representatives from a new sector that cares about innovation: the insurance accelerators. The accelerators included Brian Hemesath from the Global Insurance Accelerator, an entity backed by seven Iowa-based insurers that is committed to launching innovative insurance startups; and Drew Aldrich from Axa Strategic Ventures, the €200M fund backed by AXA, with an impressive portfolio of startups.

Creativity was palpable throughout the event, and it was expressed with a spirit of collaboration that ACORD encouraged from beginning to end. Not only were accelerators and solution providers able to talk with submitters after their presentations, conversation was encouraged. This meant that if AXA liked an idea, or I saw a partnership or M&A possibility, we all could swap business cards, schedule follow-ups, etc. Major kudos to ACORD both for providing this unique platform for industry disruption and for fostering such an open exchange of ideas. I think we can all agree that it was about time for an event like this.

Curt StevensonThe ACORD Innovation Challenge Up Close and Personal
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Rethinking Millennials

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Drones, driverless cars, and robots, oh my! While exhibiting at the IASA Annual Conference in Las Vegas this week, I had the opportunity to attend the session Disruption/Vision 2030 facilitated by Bill Freitag from Majesco. The objective of the session was to facilitate a discussion about these and other new industry phenomena, and how they could help carriers distinguish themselves from their competition.

During the session, Freitag posed the question, “How do you see the new generation of Millennials disrupting the industry?” (For the record: the term Millennials is competing in the overuse category with Innovation and Configuration.  A real Disruption would be finding a way to avoid the word Millennials!) As “an individual with a birth year between the 1980s and early 2000s,” this questioned piqued my interest. What do carriers think my generation brings to the table?

The answers shocked me. Rather than considering any technological knowledge or fresh outlook we might bring to a relatively slow-moving industry, the focus became the world view that (apparently) all of us possess. The consensus was that Millennials do not like face-to-face conversations, we want to make our own hours, we prefer to work from home, and (my personal favorite) we expect free food in the office. Sitting in the back of the room listening to Baby Boomers stereotype my generation, I decided to try to set a few things straight…

Dear Insurance Veterans,

Millennials are not here to throw a monkey wrench into this venerable industry. Quite the opposite. With your help, we see some great opportunities to make it better. In many important ways, we’re just like you. In fact, a recent survey from IBM Institute for Business Value compares workplace preferences and behavior patterns across multiple generations, and it turns out that most “individuals with a birth year between the 1980s and early 2000s” want the same things that our older colleagues do. For example, the study indicates that despite misconceptions to the contrary, employees from all three of the groups studied—Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials—share the desire to add value to their organization and to work with colleagues from varying age groups and backgrounds. Similarly, though Millennials suffer from a reputation of needing to do everything online, the study indicates that, like other generations, we prefer to learn by attending conferences, receiving training in the classroom, and working alongside colleagues—all face-to-face interactions (IBM Institute for Business Value).

IBM Institute for Business Value's study on The real story behind Millennials in the workplace

Source: IBM Institute for Business Value’s study on The real story behind Millennials in the workplace

We newcomers can’t compete with the years of industry experience of our older colleagues—the trends, the cycles, the nuances, the lessons resulting from failures and successes. But we can offer new ideas and perspectives that might improve things a bit. How might some of the technologies that we have been raised on provide a competitive edge? Could our social- and work-style preferences foster bigger and better ideas? Could we help speed processes?

At Agencyport, I’ve experienced first-hand practices that keep our younger staff engaged, creative and energized around a 350-year old industry. While they might not be perfect fits for all insurance-related companies, surely some elements could breathe fresh life into many business practices:

  • The environment supports applying our fresh outlook to past and current problems. Regular Hackathons and dedicated time within the workweek for special projects and creative ventures help prevent stale thinking.
  • We’re encouraged to work hard and play hard. After-work sports teams, company outings and feisty Pictionary competitions foster strong and trusting relationships between colleagues.
  • A variety of seating options and casual living spaces cultivate collaboration and teamwork.
  • Competitive salaries and benefits help keep us motivated and serious about our work.

The world is changing faster than ever before—technologically, socially, and business-wise. One of the greatest challenges that the Insurance industry faces is keeping pace with that change. Let us be your partner.

Louisa Rogers

Agencyport Software



Louisa RogersRethinking Millennials
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Hackathon ’15

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IMG_1040Agencyport hosted its first Hackathon back in 2007, an all-day event dedicated to employees and customers crowd-sourcing innovation for P&C carriers. And we’ve been going ever since. Starting with day-to-day industry hurdles, teams brainstorm and develop solutions that they then present to a panel of judges in a variety of categories. Our twice-a-year Hackathons are great for customers, the company in general and engineers (like me!) who love to problem-solve. Whether it’s entirely new product categories, incremental upgrades to existing products, or new internal tools and processes, in many cases, the solutions that come out of the day become industry-improving products and services.

A few weeks ago, we posted a blog reaching out to our customers and partners asking them to send ideas that they would like to see hacked. On April 2nd, we had our biggest Hackathon yet. With 14 entries this time around, our judges had a lot to choose from. Here is a roundup of the teams and their entries:

Patrick Sigafelz (Jamie Sigadel, Scott Surette, Matt Felzani, and Patrick Scott)

Patrick Sigaflez showed the world a better AgencyPortalÒ homepage experience. User interface updates included: a to do list, news feed, reports from amCcharts and a revamped lines of business selection.

The Underwriting’s on the Wall (Shane O’Donnell)

Shane finally got a chance to flex his nerd muscles in front of a large audience. He proved that he’s got this JavaScript thing down by putting together an amazing training web app powered by an AngularJS front end, talking to a Node.js/MongoDB backend (via a homegrown REST API no less).

Gone Sailing (Darren Bradford)

Darren hooked up a workers comp transaction to ClarionDoor’s cloud based rating solution. Cloud rating in a day. Not bad!

Shaolin Monks (Yong Shao)

Yong showed us all how to customize a portal to add global alert functionality. She demonstrated how an administrator could log into the portal and create an alert message (with an expiration date) that could be shown to specific groups of users when they log in.IMG_1042

Dashboarders (Peter Gawle, Shekar Kaithi)

The Dashboarders allowed us to delve into the mindset of an underwriter. The team created mock-ups for a user-friendly underwriter dashboard to help with assessing risk.

Cat Bunker (Kevin Spiers, Courtney Lloyd)

The Cat Bunker team explained to us why the world needs more cats and why and how agent portals could use gamification-centric user metric collection. Gamifying a portal would allow carriers to create incentives for agents based on real portal usage statistics and, ultimately, help carriers drum up more business.

 Turnstilers (Sriram Varadharajan)

Sriram proved to us once again just how obsessed the TurnstileÒ team is with PDFs. “Who needs a portal when you can just perform data corrections on an eform?!” Sriram demonstrated a Turnstile proof of concept feature which would take in a scanned form, strip the data from it, and place it into an eform with highlights on fields with low confidence scores. Ultimately, a user would be able to correct the data in the eform and re-upload it to Turnstile.

Anthonimuthus (Doss Anthonimuthu)

Doss toyed with the idea of tighter EWS integration for Work Item Assistant calendar syncing but ended up going back to Google+’s sign on api into a portal. Doss gives Google’s documentation a thumbs up.

Cyberbots (Caleen Alexanderson, Alyson Manning)

The Cyberbots presented an ACORD Cyber Liability template complete with Turnstile mapping. I guess Caleen interpreted the name “hackathon” too literally. Not all hacking is illegal Caleen!

Gone Fishin’ (Jeff Renshaw)

Jeff explained to us why he was feelin’ groovy. He plugged a homegrown servlet that would dynamically evaluate a Groovy script into the debug console. This tool offers endless opportunities for both debuggers and hackers alike.

Quizmasters (Jamie Sigadel, Patrick Scott)

The Quizmasters reimagined the AgencyPortal questionnaire from a UI perspective. Jamie and I illustrated a questionnaire that has a better visual relationship between questions, their follow ups and support for more than two types of field.

French Toast Mafia (Matt Sordello)

Matt told us why he likes graphics cards more than CPUs. Seriously. He learned about the world of parallel processing while the rest of us learned that he’s a little crazy.

West Coast Ballers (Frank Akridge)

Frank illustrated the parallels between ACORD standards and the mortgage standards body (MISMO) and showed us how our product suite could apply to a different industry.

 Seems leGit (Shane O’Donnell, Scott Surette)

Shane and Scott asked us if we even Git it. Turns out we don’t. And we totally should! Engineering shops around the world are abandoning SVN in favor of the much more flexible Git and, who knows, Agencyport might be next!

After three hours of presenting and a rigorous deliberation, the judges announced the IMG_1048winners:

  • In the WTF category: The Dashboarders (Pete and Shekar)
  • In the integration category: Gone Sailing (Darren)
  • In the industry changing category: West Coast Ballers (Frank), Turnstilers (Sriram) – tied
  • Technical Prowess Award: French Toast Mafia (Matt Sordello), The Underwriting’s on the Wall (Shane) – tied
  • Best in Show: Cyberbots (Caleen and Alyson)

Stay tuned for our next Hackathon! Have an idea or industry hurdle you are looking to solve? Leave a comment on this post. We would love to hack it for you!

Patrick ScottHackathon ’15
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