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2013 Agency Survey Points to Continued Growth of Real Time and Download

Agencies using these technologies are realizing significant time savings and other benefits

The industry has worked hard to promote Real Time and Download to both agencies and carriers, so the Real Time Campaign 2013 Survey Report provides important research to take stock of the progress the industry is making.  This report, reflecting the responses of 2200 agencies and brokerages, shows that Real Time and Download usage continues to grow and that those agency employees using the technology are saving significant time using both Download and Real TimeIt also shows that our job is not done – pointing to areas in need of continued improvement and attention.  Several of the responses also clearly indicate that there is a need for renewed education and advocacy by the Campaign, as well as by individual organizations, to encourage agencies not currently using the technologies to take another look at them based on the improvements that have been made and the benefits that other agencies are clearly deriving from using them.  
     
Some Key Highlights from the Survey Report
 
·        Pages 7-8 provide a great overview of the key findings in the survey results, including the current levels of usage of each of the technologies and what agencies are saying who do not use the functionality.
·        The time savings for agency employees using each of the technologies are striking: personal lines download, 81 minutes a day; commercial lines download, 55 minutes a day; personal lines real-time quoting, over an hour a day; commercial lines real-time quoting, more than 30 minutes a day; and personal and commercial lines real-time inquiry and service, 53 minutes per day.  Page 25 provides a great chart laying out all of the benefits agencies are deriving from using Real Time.
·        Increasing numbers of agencies are using Download tools for personal lines and commercial lines policy data, but also for direct-bill commission data, claims information and activity notifications. (pp. 10-11)
·        Personal Lines Real-Time Quoting stands out as an incredible success story with 83% of the agency respondents using it.  Page 17 lays out exactly which tools agencies are using.
·        Pages 28 & 29 provide key charts that tell us what our priorities should be going forward in the minds of our agency users.  The chart on Page 28, lists the percentages of agencies which give a needed improvement a “5” on a scale of 1 to 5.  The chart on Page 29 tells us the percentages of agencies which make a needed improvement one of their top three priorities. 
 
Attacking Some of the Key Areas in Need of Improvement
 
The Campaign, as well as each of us individually, should continue to encourage additional carriers to provide real time capabilities.  In addition, agents want to see more consistency in real-time workflows across carriers. The Campaign has created a tool that will help carriers get started with real-time implementation, as well as to provide greater consistency by documenting the “best practice” real-time workflows that agencies would like to see – Agency Real-Time “Best Practice” Workflows and Implementation Strategies; Guidance for Carriers & Vendors
 
A number of carriers have been successful in reducing the number of real-time quote requests that error out – another of the priority areas agencies have identified for improvement.  These carriers make assumptions if the quote request that comes in does not conform exactly to their criteria, so that it does not error out.   They then disclose any changes made as part of their quote response.  In addition, several carriers monitor the quote requests that do error out and then follow up with the agent to find out the root of the problem.  It is also important for the carrier to provide clear error messages, so agents know exactly why the quote has failed.
 
Improving password management for agents continues to be a priority in need of attention.  Over the longer term, creating federated identities adhering to the Trust Framework created by the ID Federation would provide an amazing improvement for the industry and all of us should participate in the ID Federation to make it happen.  However, there are additional things carriers can do now to make password management easier for their agents.  One is to implement password synchronization, as several carriers have done.  Other carriers have moved to implement more complex, non-expiring passwords for agencies to use specifically for real-time transactions.  For more details on these password management enhancements, please see the ACT report, The Business Case for Improved Password Workflows within Real Time.  
 
Commercial Lines real-time comparative rating has moved up considerably as a priority for agencies and this tracks with the frustration I am increasingly hearing from agents when they have to go to multiple carrier websites to enter the same data multiple times.  This problem has become especially acute in today’s market where we are seeing rate increases, requiring agents to get multiple quotes frequently in order to protect their relationships with their clients.  As an industry, I think it is time for us to make a major push to increase the use of Real Time for commercial lines quoting.  We need to take the message to both agencies and to carriers.
 
The final area I want to highlight involves the tremendous opportunity we have to encourage greater use of the new and improved download tools that have become available.  This includes increasing the usage of direct bill commission statement download and claims download.  It includes encouraging agencies to take a fresh look at commercial lines download in light of all of the improvements that have been made in the functionality.  And finally, it includes greatly expanding the use of ACORD Activity Notifications in areas such as electronic policy delivery, underwriting memos, status of new business and quotes, overdue payments and pending cancellations.  For more information on Activity Notifications, please see ACT’s recent report, Agency Preferences for Carrier Electronic Communications.
 
Please also take a few minutes to listen to the Insurance Journal podcast that Campaign Co-Chairs Stu Durland and Joyce Sigler recently did providing their insights from the survey results-- http://www.insurancejournal.tv/videos/10074/
 
 
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