Agent Insight

Agents and Carriers Must Collaborate on Download

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Quality customer service throughout the buying chain is key to customer retention and loyalty. Policyholders expect it from their agents, and if they don’t get it, they’ll find a different agency to work with. Worse yet, they’ll go with a direct online provider, (which is a whole other blog). The same goes for agents and their carriers. If a carrier does not offer the tools agents need to keep their agency management system (AMS) up to date with their policyholders’ information, agents will place business with an insurer that does.

Louisa RogersAgents and Carriers Must Collaborate on Download
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Carriers need to step on it

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That “time is money” is hardly a new concept, but the axiom is increasingly true around the sale and servicing of P&C insurance.  As agents work with increasingly impatient consumers and policyholders, the speed with which carriers respond to agents’ needs becomes a key differentiator. If carriers think of their agent portals as sales and servicing tools—for themselves and their agents—it becomes clear why sluggish response times from carriers are a major agent aggravator.

Julie HoweCarriers need to step on it
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The Growth of Comparative Rating in Small Commercial: A Phase or the New Personal Lines?

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Apple and orangeI’ve been thinking a lot recently about how quickly the relationship between insurance carriers and independent agents is changing.  (And, no, the irony of insurance and speed in the same concept is not lost on me.) New technologies and buying trends as well as changing market pressures are all playing a role.  The result is more agents stepping onto the digital technology path every day, and carriers and technologists needing to provide them with experiences that live up to their growing expectations. 

Colleen Anne WellsThe Growth of Comparative Rating in Small Commercial: A Phase or the New Personal Lines?
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Agent Insight pays a visit to NetVU16

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NetVu16What a great time I had in San Antonio the week before last at NetVU—catching up with old friends and meeting new agents and carriers.

As always, I was busy capturing as much Insight as possible from independent agents about their working relationships with carrier partners.  And, as always, they were free with their opinions, feedback and advice.  My findings from this trip will be added to our ever-growing volume of Agent Insight, the most recent example of which is our new eBook, A P&C Carrier Guide to Boosting Agent Loyalty.

Caleen AlexandersonAgent Insight pays a visit to NetVU16
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Agents’ Views on Growth, Productivity and the Future

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I was honored to moderate a panel of agency owners last week at the Valen Summit. The agency owners/CEOs on the panel, Mike Stromsoe of Stromsoe Insurance and Rob Cohen of IMA Financial, are both highly successful, outspoken, and dynamic entrepreneurs who were happy to share their expertise and opinions with the industry leaders gathered at the Summit.

The conversation provided tremendous insight that is too lengthy to capture in detail in a blog post, but I’m excited to share some highlights.

Curt StevensonAgents’ Views on Growth, Productivity and the Future
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Novarica’s recent research findings is music to our ears

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We’ve been shouting it from the rooftops since we opened our doors for business:

Carriers that make it easy for agents to do business with them see more and better business from those agents.

Our technology is rooted in the belief. In 2009, we traveled over 1,500 miles in 30 days to visit 66 agencies to learn exactly what carriers (and the vendors that support them) can do to further the cause. And it didn’t stop there. Our in-house Agent Insight Team continues today to bring the latest agent findings to light on our dedicated website http://www.powertotheagents.com/.

Julie HoweNovarica’s recent research findings is music to our ears
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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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4 Questions P&C Carriers Should Ask Portal Vendors

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Once reserved exclusively for complex Tier One carriers, frontend agent and consumer portals have become and industry norm—a competitive requirement.  But how does a carrier know which solution is best for their situation?  They ask lots of questions; and they don’t settle for vague answers.

While the frontend selection process is typically lengthy, and many aspects of due diligence are deeply technical, some of the most critical information that carriers need to understand about a vendor can be gleaned by asking a few simple, high-level business questions:

1.   Are portals a product focus for your company?

If you required open-heart surgery, would you choose a general surgeon or a cardiac specialist—a doctor who has performed a variety of operations, maybe even successfully, or one who has spent a career honing a particular set of skills for a particular set of circumstances?

When it comes to building web applications for users outside of a carrier’s four walls, a best-of-breed solution has enormous benefits. When a vendor spends years at a single craft, its team has seen myriad agent/carrier portal workflows and dynamics many times before, knows where the pitfalls are, and understands the straightest and safest path through the challenge. The more focused on portal implementations a vendor is, the lower the risk for a carrier.

2.   How is your solution designed and developed?

Understanding the business model and daily needs and habits of a portal’s end users, and designing a UX and workflow that matches those requirements at each touch point in the policy lifecycle is the single biggest influence on user adoption.

In the case of agent portals, many carriers make the mistake of either building or buying a web-based frontend designed from an internal system of record processing perspective, one that the carriers themselves are familiar with and can easily adopt internally.  The result is often a solution that makes little or no sense to the agent and her needs and workflow, making their online experience with carrier partners frustratingly slow and unintuitive.

It’s a fact, unhappy agents will take their business elsewhere.  When talking to prospective agent portal vendors, make sure you ask how much time they spend with end users understanding exactly what they need from an online experience with their carrier partners.

3.   What is your philosophy around dual maintenance between your portal and carriers’ backend systems?

Dual maintenance is a hot button. No team welcomes the prospect of keeping more than one set of data between its frontend and backend systems. To that end, minimizing dual maintenance should be every vendor’s goal. However, if one of your strategic objectives is to give each end user an experience tailored specifically to his or her needs, some degree of dual maintenance is necessary—and, in fact, valuable. Agents, brokers, MGAs, consumers, underwriters and administrators all have different process needs that require different terminology, questions, rules, limits, workflows, etc. The most successful (read: highly-adopted) portals have the flexibility to give different users and roles the online experience that is most intuitive and efficient for them.

What products do you offer; are they out-of-the-box or custom work? Just because a vendor can implement a line of business or type of transaction, does not mean that they’ve done it before.  Understanding the difference is critical for a carrier.  If a vendor indicates that it “can do that,” be sure to ask whether it is an out-of-the-box capability.  If it isn’t, carriers should consider the potential risk. Being a guinea pig is precarious business.  Each P&C line of business and the transactions associated with it is nuanced.  Rolling out any one of them quickly and safely requires extensive experience—the kind that ultimately allows a vendor to offer the element out-of-the-box.

Click here for a handy, shareable one-page version of these questions.

Julie Howe4 Questions P&C Carriers Should Ask Portal Vendors
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