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Top Improvements for Retail Agent-GA Workflows

Report developed by the Retail Agent-GA Subgroup of the E&S Joint Working Group (October, 2012)

This report presents several recommendations to improve workflows and efficiency in the E&S market.  It reflects several months of discussion among retail agents and GAs as to how business processes within the E&S industry can and should be improved.  The report identifies workflow improvements that should be given immediate attention by the parties, as well as workflow improvements sought 12-24 months in the future.  This work group product contains a number of great ideas as to how general agents and wholesale brokers can improve their ease of doing business with retail agents.  There are recommendations here for retail agents as well, and retail agents are encouraged to bring these recommendations to the attention of the general agencies and wholesalers with whom they do business. 

 

I. Workflow improvements for immediate attention
1.     Expand and enhance the use of email for general agent/retail agent (GA/RA) communications:
a.     GA and RA implement TLS secure email as the industry continues to promote the adoption of secure email.
b.     GA offers self-administration tool on website for retail agent to specify where communications go and to designate an agency administrator to maintain the list.
c.      RA set up generic email address (e.g., commercial@abcagency.com, claims@abcagency.com, etc.) to allow multiple user access for review and assignment, as well as to allow access when individuals are out of the office or no longer employed. 
2.     GA accepts ACORD applications, preferably electronically.
3.     GA provides automated "pop up" screens on their web site for the retail agent to provide additional needed information (electronic supplemental apps) when the RA has uploaded the ACORD application information and the submission is completed at the website.  As an option, GA immediately generates an email requesting the additional information. The email includes the questions or a link to the GA site where the questions reside and may be completed.
a.     Limit proprietary supplements and/or requests for non-standard data wherever possible.
b.     Eliminate redundant data entry by retail agent wherever possible.
4.     Improve underwriting communication
a.     GA sends initial quotes to the original requestor’s email address.
b.     GA sends a full set of quote forms (including bind request, surplus lines affidavits and terrorism rejection forms) with the final quotes.
c.      GA sends renewal quotes, endorsements and other changes to the generic email address designated by the agency administrator.
d.     GA sends copy (PDF) of policy endorsements (changes) to the agency.
5.     When a renewal questionnaire is not required, the GA sends a message to the retail agent 90 days in advance of a renewal stating that no questionnaire is necessary and what to expect with regard to the renewal premium (whether a routine pricing change or to expect a price change because of a change in underwriting). Renewal questionnaires are sent to retail agents at least 60 days in advance.
6.     GA posts on its website the current status of outstanding quotes, submissions, endorsements and renewals.
7.     The industry encourages retail agents (RA) to accept policies electronically. These electronic policies should be pdfs and indexed. Recommended index points include: Table of Contents, Line of Business Sections, Exclusion Sections (pull all together in one place), Signature page, Dec page, Additional Ownership Interests breakout (pull all together in one place), Rate Sheet (agents copy only), and Information Privacy Statement.  Retail agents are provided with the ability to opt out of receiving a given policy electronically and to receive a paper copy.
8.     Clearly communicate on invoices whether payment is needed immediately or if it is to be paid on the monthly statement.
9.     GAs and retail agents are kept in the loop by E&S carriers when claims are made. MGAs & retail agents are given access to claims on the carrier's portal.   
 
II. Workflow improvements sought 12-24 months in the future
1.     Activate real-time logon transaction with the retail agent’s management system and provide a more complex, non-expiring password for real-time transactions.
2.     GAs strive to provide ACORD standard download to retail agents:
a.     Direct bill commission statement download (and as an interim measure, provide direct bill and commission statement data on Excel spread sheets, so agents can import them into their systems)
b.     Policy download for new business, changes and renewals
c.      Claims download for first notice of loss, changes in status and claims payments.
3.     GAs provide online quick quoting capability based upon the submission of a few pieces of data (typically SIC/NAICS code, Class code, primary state and zip code, losses and the risk's specific work). This tool also alerts the agent as to whether the risk falls within the GA’s appetite.
4.     GAs implement Real Time quoting.
5.     GAs and/or E&S carriers implement real time inquiries (billing, policy and claims) and begin to use ACORD Activity Notes messaging to replace email communications.
6.     GAs and E&S carriers accept credit card payment.
7.     GAs accept e-signed documents from their retail agents, where the retail agent has secured an e-signature from the insured in place of a wet signature.
 
III. Outstanding items for work group
1.     The work group submitted, and ACORD has now approved, a change to the ACORD standards for download to add unique identifiers for GAs, based upon the firm’s NPN (National Producer Number) provided by the NIPR (National Insurance Producer Registry), so that download to retail agents can function effectively. This addition to the ACORD standards was voted on in November. The group is now in the process of developing an Implementation Guide for the change and will encourage GA and retail agent management systems vendors to incorporate the standard into their systems.   
2.     Put on webinar for GAs, retail agents and E&S carriers that reviews the work group’s recommendations, including items such as:
a.     Pointing out the advantages to GAs and retail agents of implementing TLS secure email between business partners and how to do it
b.     Providing tips for GAs in implementing email self-administration and for RAs in setting up generic email addresses  
c.      Encouraging carriers to keep GAs & RAs in the loop on claims processing
d.     Discussing the opportunities and advantages for GAs & carriers to participate in the industry’s ID Federation.
3.     Monitor progress with the ID Federation and encourage GAs and carriers to help shape it and participate in it, so that the industry can replace multiple ids and passwords with federated, digital identities.   
4.     Continue to provide a forum for GA – retail agent discussions to assist in the implementation of the work group’s recommendations and to identify further workflow improvements that the industry should pursue.