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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Learn how State Auto simplified online new business processes for its agent partners

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SMA Research, Insurance Ecosystem 2015

SMA Research, Insurance Ecosystem 2015

It’s no secret that many insurance carriers are lagging when it comes to a modern, digital new business process. Agent and consumer expectations around online experiences have soared ahead of many insurers’ capabilities. The good news is that insurers know it.

The number one strategic initiative and investment for 85% of North American insurers in 2015 was customer engagement and experience (SMA Research, Insurance Ecosystem 2015). Tier 1 P&C carrier State Auto acknowledged the demand and set two goals to promote new business: 1) increase overall agent satisfaction and 2) simplify and modernize its agents’ web-based experience.

With the implementation of AgencyPortal® and E-SignLive from Silanis, State Auto Insurance Companies has reduced its cost of managing paper by 90%, increased its quote volume by 50-70%, and seen a 72% increase in new business.

Join us, State Auto, Silanis Technology, and PropertyCasualty360 for a free on demand webinar where you will learn:

  • Digital workflow best practices for ease-of-use
  • Top portal and e-signature requirements to consider
  • Change management best practices to achieve high adoption (State Auto reached 50% in just 10 days!)


Louisa RogersLearn how State Auto simplified online new business processes for its agent partners
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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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Annual Conference Gold Nuggets

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It’s been extremely gratifying over the last couple of weeks to hear so many customers call our recent Tenth Annual Conference “the best one yet.” I’ll admit, I have to agree. And that admission is much less boastful than it sounds. The conference’s success reaches far beyond Agencyport’s role. What put the event over the top was the dynamic, multi-directional idea-sharing and learning among its attendees—our carriers, prospects, partners and user communities. It was the most energetic I have experienced at an AP conference–everyone eager to learn from everyone else.

Over the course of two and half days, there were a number of themes that emerged. Some we expected (and even planned), and others we did not. Here is a tasting:

  • People no longer need to be convinced that disruptive change is coming to the Insurance Industry. It’s here. Now. Rather than speculating about whether it is coming, or even when, carriers are figuring out how to either compete with the change or participate in it.
  • Newer dilemmas join not-so-new ones:

– The delicate trend of direct-to-consumer… Everyone acknowledged the consumer demand—both in personal and small commercial, and to some degree, even mid- to large-sized commercial risks—and the varying degree to which insureds want agents involved in purchasing and servicing. The consistent new reality? Consumers want to interact with carriers and agents on their terms. While agents’ perspectives on direct to consumer run a broad spectrum from denial to whole-hearted embrace, agents’ at our conference indicated that they just want to be informed (in real time) by the carrier—not just so they have the opportunity to up-sell (a win-win, by the way), but also so that they can meet their fiduciary obligations to their insureds. This increasingly complex relationship fully supports the digital omni-channel vision we have been discussing with our customers.

– Though not new, the tradeoffs between sticking with industry-standard fields versus asking carrier-specific questions during the application process remains a debate and challenge. Clearly, asking strictly “standard” questions makes carrier participation in third-party solutions such as comparative raters, Google Compare, compare.com and other marketplaces much easier—a clear advantage. But how do carriers weigh that against the potential risk of losing the “Secret Sauce” to your underwriting and profitability, namely carrier-specific questions?

  • At a time when very little about the future of P&C Insurance seems certain—whether the quickly evolving hardware and software technologies and consumer buying trends or carrier and agency business models, weather patterns, and M&A trends—more and more of our customers and partners are seeing the value of collaboration. The fear of disclosing secret sauces is fast giving way to the benefits of story-, challenge-, solution- and idea-sharing. Group problem-solving is being seen less as an agent of competitive erosion and more as a necessity for ongoing industry strength.

Thanks, once again, to our Conference sponsors: Ivans, Lexis/Nexis, Silanis, Valen Analytics, Capgemini, E2Value, Accenture Duck Creek and Guidewire, without whom ours would be just another conference. And, of course, our amazing customers, without whom we wouldn’t exist. We look forward to many more years of bright, exciting problem-solving and market shattering solutions.

Curt StevensonAnnual Conference Gold Nuggets
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The Secret Sauce

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In keeping with our time-honored tradition, here it is: the 2015 Agencyport Annual Conference video. Having premiered in Chatham, Massachusetts on Monday to an exuberant gathering of P&C carriers and service providers from all over the country, we are now proud to now offer it to the world!  (We get pretty excited about our videos.)

Special thanks to our genius film-making muse, Jeff Boedeker; to our oscar-worthy customers, Ken Wolff from Electric Insurance and Mark Benoit from Arbella; and to our ever-enthusiastic Agencyport cast.

Grab some popcorn and a Coke, sit back and enjoy…



Julie HoweThe Secret Sauce
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Check Out Our Annual Conference Keynote Speakers

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As we continue to gear up for the conference, I am thrilled to share with you the members of our Customer Keynote Session. This highly experienced group of insurance leaders will share some of the challenges and opportunities they and others face as they navigate a rapidly-changing marketplace.


Mike Lex: SVP Commercial Lines

Mike has served the Allied and Nationwide Insurance organizations for more than 25 years in both operational and strategic roles. He currently leads commercial pricing, product and underwriting strategies for Nationwide.

    Kimberly Koury: CIO & VP Information Systems

Kimberly leads the development and execution of Electric Insurance’s multi-generational information systems plan. She also serves as Executive Advisor to the GE Women’s Network Beverly hub.

       Cilsy Harris: VP Business Delivery 

Chosen as a top emerging leader at The Hanover for the carrier’s Leadership in Action forum, Cilsy has more than 20 years of experience at the company, successfully leading large programs focused on technology implementations, risk mitigation, cost effectiveness and workforce design.

To expand the conversation further, leaders from Strategy Meets Action (SMA) and Novarica will respond to the Customer Viewpoints from their perspectives during an analyst panel discussion later on Monday afternoon.

Only 11 more days until the Conference. I look forward to seeing you there!


Louisa RogersCheck Out Our Annual Conference Keynote Speakers
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