Meet Caleen Alexanderson, Agencyport’s new Data Standards Specialist. For nearly 26 years, she worked in a variety of key positions at Vertafore, researching and implementing business specifications for agency management system integration using the ACORD Standards. Caleen is an active member of ACORD working groups, currently serving as Chair of the Coverage Implementation Group.
Why are insurance standards important for the modern insurance carrier?
Standards support carriers in a couple of important ways: first, they allow carriers to integrate consistently with a variety of industry vendors. Standards also streamline workflows and create consistency for carriers’ agents—making agents’ lives easier ultimately brings more business quickly to those carriers.
Why are the standards important for today’s agent?
Every carrier is unique—different products, different workflows, different rules, different requirements—and agents need to work with all of them. Being able to use standards lets agents employ consistent, efficient, best practice workflows within their offices and spend less time trying to figure out what each carrier is asking for on a quote or submission, or what they are getting in download. Agents who request standard data from their carriers are likely to get it. Agents need to understand they are an important and influential part of the process and can (and should) request that their carriers use standard data.
What is your favorite ACORD Standard and why?
That’s an interesting question. I’d have to say Activity Note Download because it’s a very simple transaction for carriers to implement and can provide great benefit to an agency. Activity Note Download allows carriers to send all kinds of transactions—from billing pending cancellation notices with an attachment of the billing notice that was sent to the insured, to claims download notifications, to the actual policy document. This ability saves agents significant time since they don’t have to log into carrier websites to download the activity. It’s also an XML transaction, not AL3, which is much easier for implementers to develop.
Why should vendors be actively involved with ACORD and its working groups?
Because we have the unique experience of working with both the senders and receivers of data, vendors are a key piece of the standards process. As such, we need to share our carrier and agent experiences as well as explain how data will be processed in our own systems. ACORD working groups are three-legged stools; without one of the carrier, agent or vendor legs, the stool is useless. Standards are only as strong as the groups who use them… ACORD is always looking for new participants.
What can we expect to see from ACORD in the way of standards in the coming year?
ACORD is deeply involved with getting all forms mapped to the XPaths and AL3 elements to ensure consistent mapping and enhanced real time experiences. This work has created an increase in maintenance requests to improve the data mapping for AL3 and XML. Because the data standards are being reviewed and enhanced by working groups, we’ll also see more lines of businesses, such as Commercial Inland Marine and Agriculture, being implemented by more participants. It’s very exciting to see lines of business that agents have been requesting moving forward.
Can you tell us something about ACORD or standards that people may not know that you think they should?
A lot of organizations don’t realize the benefits of having their employees certified as ACORD Certified Experts (ACE). Employees who understand the standards process and have a working knowledge of AL3, XML and insurance are simply better at their jobs. With this designation, ACORD also provides great opportunities for networking, sharing ideas and finding resolutions for tough implementations. ACE Certification is a great organizational investment.
What is your favorite episode of the ACORD minute?
Oh, without a doubt, it’s the AIF spot starring Dale Ductible, Ken “Sticky Fingers” O’Sullivan and Ernie Varadharajan Jr.! A must-see!