Immerse yourself: life as an intern at Agencyport Software

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John making a save for the AP Kickball team

Day one in the office you’re thrown into the deep end of a pool of experienced co-workers who are extremely technically gifted and have a natural ability to pass their knowledge on to those around them. These employees are the driving force behind a well-structured internship program that puts everything in place for a student who is willing to seek help and learn from others.

A strict open door policy gives you the opportunity to reach out to leaders in every department of the company; allowing you to meet and learn from some of the firm’s most highly ranked employees. As a perfect example, I had no more than a few working days under my belt before finding myself in the office of CEO Curt Stevenson who was more than happy to set aside thirty minutes to answer the questions of an Irish intern who had just hopped off a plane!

Such a welcoming environment makes it easy for you to settle in quickly and get into your comfort zone–and when I say comfort zone, I don’t mean the office’s couch area that is littered with bean bags and has an Xbox, a Wii and even a dartboard! I simply mean it’s a place where you can feel free to share your own opinions and are encouraged not to shy away from questioning someone even if they have more knowledge and experience than you.

This company really does raise the bar when it comes to educating their employees. The existence of AP University as well as a Director of Training who constantly pushes the need for continuous learning emphasizes Agencyport’s belief in staying up to date in the ever expanding software industry. Regular training programs, ‘lunch and learn’ sessions and the invaluable experiences gained in your daily tasks add up to create a world of education and learning–epitomizing the ideal environment for an intern.

Looking back, I would compare coming to Agencyport to develop as a programmer to coming to the States or Ireland to learn English. With exposure to the language on a daily basis and surrounded by willing people who want you to improve, your progress is inevitable. And on the other side, you can look forward to life as a readied job seeker!

John O'KeeffeImmerse yourself: life as an intern at Agencyport Software
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In theaters this fall: The Agencyport Annual Conference video

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If you’ve ever attended an Agencyport Annual Conference, you know what an important part of our opening session the video has become. 2015—our 10th annual conference (!)—will be no different. We hope to see you for the premiere of the action-packed 2015 Annual Conference Opening Video in Chatham on September 28th.

For now, enjoy a little sneak peek:

Julie HoweIn theaters this fall: The Agencyport Annual Conference video
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A warm AP welcome to Fil Firmani!

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Fil Firmani

Fil Firmani

We are proud and excited to announce that Fil Firmani, a 25-year product and digital strategy veteran, has joined the Agencyport leadership team as SVP of Product and Strategy. With a career spanning from Accenture and Epsilon to Fidelity Investments, BusinessEdge Solutions (now part of EMC Consulting) and other leading companies, Fil brings just the broad-based experience that Agencyport sought to help lead us to our next growth phase. For the full scoop, check out a recent press release.

Welcome aboard, Fil!

Julie HoweA warm AP welcome to Fil Firmani!
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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 (lisa.gilgan@agencyport.com) or Caleen (caleen.alexanderson@agencyport.com) 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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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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Casting Call – Open to Customers!

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Curt and the Guru

Myself and The Guru in Last Year’s Video

Ever considered the possibility of acting on the big screen? This could be your chance to make that dream a reality! To celebrate our Tenth Annual Conference, we are entering uncharted territory by inviting you, our customers, to star in our opening video with us.  If you aren’t familiar with The Guru, Kenny Frawd or any of our other characters, make yourself a bowl of popcorn and check them out.

I don’t want to unveil too much of the plot for this year’s cinematic feature, but we’ve again enlisted our friend and highly-overqualified producer/director, Jeff Boedeker, to take some time out of his intellectual, award-winning film-making schedule for National Geographic and the Discovery Channel to help Agencyport Studios create something like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles meets Weekend at Bernie’s meets West Side Story meets National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Sound interesting? You don’t need acting chops, a SAG card or even a sense of humor–we just want you. To participate, you must be able to come to Boston on either July 29 or 30 (we’ll pick the day that is best for our volunteers). Filming will take about two hours, and you’ll be welcome to work out of our Boston office for the rest of the day (maybe even with your project team!). Of course, lunch is on us!

If you are interested, please email our event coordinator, Louisa Rogers, to get all the details.

Curt StevensonCasting Call – Open to Customers!
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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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BookSmart® 2.6: Making book roll analysis even better

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BKS_screenshotThe ability to accurately analyze books of business is core to the success of most insurance carriers. Whether you’ve acquired another carrier (a big shout out to you, ACE and Sentry!), or are looking to sell off a languishing market, carriers need to be able to review policy data confidently and efficiently. Sadly, many carriers still spend countless, onerous hours rekeying and manually building reports as part of the process—wasting time and money, and introducing inevitable human error.

But there’s good news amidst this bleak picture! Our BookSmart® tool not only removes virtually all of the risk that manual processes invite, version 2.6 provides even more reporting capabilities and better 3rd party integration.

Let’s say you’ve acquired a new book of 5000+ policies. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to view that data in different, consumable categories rather than a single lump report? Manually, a reporting project like that could take weeks to complete. With BookSmart, it takes seconds. 2.6’s new report functionality allows you to split a book by lines of business or number of policies, making it easier to separate the analytical work by department or team.

2.6 delivers additional reporting power and data cleansing with improved integration capabilities to third party solutions. With robust integration capabilities with most agency management systems, you can pull books directly from your agent base and quickly analyze the data. BookSmart also easily integrates with systems that validate addresses, automatically perform territory look-ups, verify coverage amounts with e2Value and MSB™ and check insurance scores with CLUE/Choicepoint.

Book rolls are powerful, complex business tools. But they don’t have to be painful. To learn more about how BookSmart greatly reduces risky manual data entry, and gives carriers the robust data processing and reporting they need for confident decision-making (plus, our growing list of the supported lines of business and included reports) check out our Developer Zone.

Tara DurheimBookSmart® 2.6: Making book roll analysis even better
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Agents’ Views On The Good And Bad Around Agent Portals: An At-A-Glance Guide

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QuickGuidePreview_AggravationYou may remember that in our ongoing pursuit of deep understanding of all things Agent and CSR, I recently embedded myself at an independent insurance agency for a full week this past April. To learn all of the details of my adventure, including my newfound love of lunching at Wegmans, read the daily blog posts or download the papers from our Agent Aggravation Series.

In honor of that epic week as a CSR in New York, we’ve created a handy infographic that highlights Agents’ views of the Good and the Bad when it comes to Agent portals. The diagram includes all the best insight nuggets I gathered firsthand—from preferred web–browsers to preferred carrier swag. (Stop sending stress balls!)

Let us know what you think using the #agentsknow on your favorite form of social media.

 

Jenn ParkerAgents’ Views On The Good And Bad Around Agent Portals: An At-A-Glance Guide
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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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