Cultivating ACORD Implementation Talent

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Yesterday morning I had the honor of participating as a panelist in a webinar hosted by ACORD about cultivating ACORD implementation talent within an organization. In addition to ACORD leadership, the panel consisted of Jim Rogers from The Hartford, Suzanne Brazeal from Ebix Consulting (a solution provider to Life Insurance carriers), Enrico Alessandri from Swiss RE, and myself. We were all chosen because of the respective accomplishments of our organizations in the ACORD and ACE communities.

Curt StevensonCultivating ACORD Implementation Talent
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ACE Boot Camp

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As many of you know, Agencyport has always been strongly committed to promoting ACORD adoption. (Check out our blog history on the topic.) That commitment starts at home with Agencyport University’s (APU) education and certification of our own team (18 in-house ACEs to date and going strong), and extends out to the greater insurance community through our partnership with ACORD.

Lisa GilganACE Boot Camp
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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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Can’t get enough ACORD?

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Shhh. Testing in progress.

Shhh. Testing in progress.

Neither can we. That’s why we set out on a quest at the beginning of 2015 to become the industry solution provider with the most ACORD Certified Experts (ACEs) – evah! You may remember reading about this endeavor in my May blog post, AP University Hits the Airwaves. Since that time, Agencyport has shepherded 13 individuals through the certification process. My colleague, Caleen Alexanderson, has been hugely instrumental in this effort, drilling our ACE candidates with a series of exam prep sessions dubbed ACE Boot Camp. We started the year with three ACEs, and now have a total of 13! We need just five more to surpass the leader, an outfit with 10K+ employees. I’d say we’re holding our own against the big boys.

If you’re interested in pursuing your ACE certification, register here to attend the ACE track at our Annual Conference on Cape Cod in September. Not only will you be able to attend Caleen’s Boot Camp—the same preparation as our own successful ACE candidates—you’ll also be able to take the exam right at the conference and know whether you passed before you leave.* We’re also proud to tell you that ACORD representatives will be attending the welcome reception at the Conference, and will present Agencyport’s own newly-minted ACEs with their hard-won certificates.

A couple of other important ACORD tidbits have developed during this quest. First, I was invited by ACORD to serve on its ACE Certification Committee, which is responsible for updating the ACE exams. The committee will be meeting at the ACORD 2015 conference in Boca Raton in November.

Second, Agencyport registered with ACORD to become an official ACE testing site. Not only can we proctor the new online exams (with instant results) for Agencyport employees, but we can also offer proctoring services to external organizations looking to take the ACE exam. Please feel free to contact me ( or Caleen ( directly if this is of interest to you.

*advance registration with ACORD is required to take the ACE exam

It’s true, Agencyport really can’t get enough of ACORD… and for good reason. Its continued improvement, development, use, and adoption promises to do nothing but improve the industry we all know and love.

Lisa GilganCan’t get enough ACORD?
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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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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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ACORD Standards to Greater Heights

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Anyone who has been in this industry for more than ten minutes knows that ACORD standards, both their Form and XML Data versions, sit at its foundation. They provide consistency, efficiency and simplicity to one of the world’s most inconsistent, inefficient and complex industries.

Sadly, however, when these Form and Data champions of STP and defenders of streamline meet in the hands of insurance carriers, efficiency can come to a screeching halt. The ACORD form/data workflow chasm is wide, and continues to be bridged primarily by time-consuming rekeying by both agents and carriers.

The good news is that Agencyport has built its business on bridge-building—connecting the agency system world to that of the carrier system. As such, tackling the form/data chasm has been a natural fit for us. Over the last few years of actively pushing rekeying nearer to extinction with our ACORD form-to-data solution, Turnstile, we’ve learned a few important things about where the solution is most helpful and effective: improving adoption of carriers’ agent portals, and helping carriers’ new business and FNOL intake teams optimize and simplify their processes.

We’ve created a couple of videos to help paint more detailed pictures of each of these Turnstile applications. Let us know what you think. And we’d love to hear your ideas about where you think ACORD form-to-data conversion could help streamline and speed workflow.


Julie HoweACORD Standards to Greater Heights
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