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ACT and AUGIE Leaders Urge Industry to Embrace Key Technology Priorities
Joint efforts focus on ID Federation, Real Time, e-signatures and self-service capabilities.
ACTlogo.jpgALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 22, 2013 -- The leaders of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s Agents Council for Technology (ACT) and ACORD’s User Group Information Exchange (AUGIE) recently concluded joint planning sessions and agreed to work together to advance four important industry priorities in 2013: ID Federation, Real Time, e-signatures and client self-service capabilities.
 
“Carriers and vendors frequently ask the agents to identify their key technology-related priorities which they would like to see the whole industry get behind and adopt,” said Jim Armitage, ACT chairman and vice president of Arroyo Insurance in Arcadia, Calif. “We have now done that and encourage industry leaders to support these priorities and implement them.” 
 
ACT and AUGIE have worked together on numerous issues in recent years and this recent effort is part of that continuing partnership.
 
“The last five years have brought enormous improvements in agency and carrier efficiency and customer service, because we have all worked together to streamline workflows and incorporate improved technologies,” added Lisa Goth, AUGIE’s February meeting rotational chair and vice president of the Charles P. Leach Agency in New Bethlehem, Pa. “It is now time to build on these accomplishments and put our distribution system in an even stronger position for the future.”
 
The four key priorities the AUGIE and ACT leaders urge the industry to work together on to implement in 2013 are:
 
  • To support the ID Federation and movement to federated digital identities to replace passwords. Efforts are underway to encourage vendors to become identity providers and the carriers to support the initiative. The development of an effective digital identity infrastructure is also likely to increase agency use of Real Time and enable agencies to provide greater customer functionality through the agency website, such as to make a payment.
  • To increase agent and carrier adoption of Real Time. The groups are encouraging carriers to build out their transactions following the industry recommended workflows, so that agencies will have a consistent experience across their carriers. This includes increasing the use of Real Time for commercial business, including program and E&S business, and supporting the all-industry Real Time Day to be held April 9, 2013. 
  • To encourage agencies to incorporate e-signature tools into their client workflows and carriers to support their agencies employing these tools. The groups also are seeking integration of e-signature technologies with the agency management systems.
  • To enhance agencies’ ability to offer clients self service capabilities through the agency website which integrate with carrier functionality, such as to make a payment.
 
“In addition to advocating for these industry priorities, both ACT and AUGIE will put greater focus on achieving successful industry implementations of the recommendations that come out of our groups,” said Cal Durland, CPCU, ACORD director of member relations and AUGIE facilitator. “We will ask our working groups to validate their recommendations with a larger audience, encourage proof of concepts and develop timelines to set industry expectations.”
 
The ACT and AUGIE leadership will continue to meet quarterly and review the progress on these industry priorities.
 
“Another outcome of our joint planning sessions was to coordinate the agendas between our two organizations so that the industry does not duplicate its efforts,” added Jeff Yates, ACT executive director. “Each of our organizations has a number of additional initiatives that we each will be pursuing, but we thought it was important for our two groups to work together on these four key priorities in an effort to get the whole industry behind them and to achieve actual implementations in 2013.”
 
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The ACORD-User Groups Information Exchange (AUGIE) mission is to gather information, share ideas and actively shape the future of the insurance industry through collaboration with ACORD, agents, brokers, insurers, vendors, and associations. AUGIE provides a forum for this segment of the industry to discuss the issues, submit research and development topics, work with the team developing the standards and ultimately advocate for implementation of the ACORD standards and/or workflow process improvement. 
 
ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) is a global, nonprofit organization serving the insurance industry. ACORD facilitates the development of open consensus data standards and standard forms, and works with its members and partner organizations to drive implementation of those standards. Implementing ACORD Standards has been shown to improve data quality and flow, increase efficiency, and realize billion-dollar savings to the global insurance industry. ACORD members worldwide include hundreds of insurance and reinsurance companies, agents and brokers, software providers, and associations.
 
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Established in January 1999 by the Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”), ACT provides a candid, action-oriented forum to address the critical workflow and technology issues facing the Independent Agency System. ACT helps participants understand the perspectives of the other stakeholders in the process and provides excellent networking opportunities with the participants who are shaping the future for the industry on these issues. For more information about ACT visit www.iiaba.net/act.
 
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address:  www.independentagent.com.