This ACT report describes the vision that independent agents and brokers have for real-time endorsement, new business submission, and activity and note transactions. The report then sets out the incremental steps that agents and brokers recommend to the industry to move us toward the ultimate vision for these transactions. This report seeks to set out the agents’ business requirements for these priority transactions to assist carriers and vendors in their development efforts. Several user group leaders representing AUGIE actively participated in the ACT-AUGIE work group that developed this report.
Real-Time Endorsement Transactions
The agency enters the change in its management system, and with one click, the change request is sent to the carrier, with confirmation of the change and its rate implication (pro-rated and annual) being sent back in real-time to the agency management system, permitting synchronization of the agency database with the carrier database and the update of the agency’s activity log. Where necessary to complete a transaction, the carrier and agency systems will continue to interact with each other in real-time bi-directional communications to resolve questions and secure additional information. The agency immediately can print and/or email an auto ID card, certificate of insurance, evidence of property, loss payee binder, or any form that needs to be signed by the customer, directly from the agency management system.
At this time, using web bridges from the agency management system to the carrier system to accomplish change processing is the most logical and expeditious approach to use given the current state of technology. The future direction of our efforts should lead to synchronization of the carrier and agency databases with true real-time updates, including the update of the agency’s activity log. However, until that occurs, an activity or note should be sent back to the agency management system in real-time to confirm what was done in the bridge transaction and to automatically log an activity in the agency system. The agent would continue to receive a batch download of the change transaction to update the agency management system policy data.
To handle those situations where a real-time activity or note cannot be sent back by the carrier, the agency management system should continue to generate an activity at the agency level for the transaction, into which the agent can paste information from the carrier web site confirming the transaction.
While at the carrier’s site, the agent should be able to print an auto ID card, certificate of insurance, evidence of property, loss payee binder, or any form requiring the customer’s signature. The agent should also be able to download or e-mail a PDF of any of these items upon completion of the transaction in the carrier’s system.
To facilitate implementation, carriers should focus on non-premium-bearing endorsements first, such as mailing address corrections and mortgagee and lien-holder changes, and then move to premium bearing endorsements. In personal lines, auto and home should be tackled first; and in commercial lines, the first lines to implement should be commercial auto, BOP, and workers compensation.
Even if the endorsement’s approval is subject to the carrier’s underwriting, there are workflow improvements when an agency is able to process the endorsement in real-time through the agency management system. The agent should receive a message back to the agency management system that confirms that the endorsement has been received by the carrier and is subject to underwriting. Once the endorsement has been approved, there should be a further message to the agent confirming the approval, as well as a subsequent batch download of the updated policy.
This workflow is preferable to a completed ACORD Change Request faxed to the carrier. There is only one point of data entry. The agent has directly entered the information. The information is likely to be more accurate because the agent is closer to the customer and his/her needs. It provides the agent immediate confirmation that the endorsement was received. And the underwriter is likely to act more quickly on the endorsement when he/she doesn’t have to key it in.
Real-Time New Business Submission Transactions
The agency enters the customer’s data one time into the agency management system or comparative rater and is able to select a group of carriers for transmission of the data in order to generate quotes. The selection of a group of carriers automatically generates an integrated list of all of the carrier unique questions that the agent must answer. Once these additional questions are answered, the agent with one click can submit the request for a quote to all of the selected carriers, and the agency system takes care of sending the carrier-unique information to the appropriate carriers. The carrier integrates the credit score into its rating process so that it is able to return a firm rate to the agent in real-time. Where necessary to complete a transaction, the carrier and agency systems will continue to interact with each other in real-time bi-directional communications to resolve questions and secure additional information. This real-time quoting process will also facilitate the agent’s requesting additional limits and coverage options. The rate would only change if the original data sent to the carrier is inaccurate or incomplete as shown by the MVR or C.L.U.E. reports that the carrier secures as a part of its real-time issuance process.
Once the agent selects the carrier to issue the policy, the agent’s system automatically would prompt for any additional items that the carrier requires as a part of its issuance process, such as a signature, a picture, appraisal, etc. The agency vision is for these carrier unique additional requirements to be eliminated where possible, and that where unique requirements are continued, electronic alternatives be permitted (such as electronic signatures). In a similar vein, the carrier would permit the agency to have the customer sign the ACORD standard application generated by the agency management system electronically, without the need for a “wet” (physical) signature. To the extent a carrier requires a specialized application or a supplement to the ACORD application, the carrier would return that application or supplement to the agent through the agency management system. Finally, the agency’s database would synchronize with the carrier’s database in real-time to reflect this new business.
A major incremental step forward occurs when the agent can start in the agency management system or comparative rater to generate rates for multiple carriers which integrate the relevant insurance score, C.L.U.E., and MVR information, and then permit the agent to review these rates in a comparative format. These systems are likely to pull rates in real-time from some carriers and to use a local rating database for other carriers. Along with the rates, these systems may also be able to generate unique coverage or service features offered by the particular carriers to assist the agent in making a value-added sale. Once the carrier is selected, these systems are able to transmit the data, including the third party underwriting reports, to the carrier’s system or web site to complete the binding and issuance of coverage.
Bridging data from the agency management system or comparative rater into the carrier’s web site, with the agent then completing the transaction on the web site, also is a very important step forward for agents, particularly when the agent has a good idea where to place the risk. This incremental step allows the agent to pre-fill the carrier screens with the data residing in the agency system without the need for multiple re-entry, handles the id and password process automatically in many cases, and navigates the agent directly to the proper page on the carrier’s site to complete the transaction. This approach, however, is not as efficient as the “straight-through processing” model described in the agency vision above, because it requires the agent to process a separate submission with each carrier and then to deal with a separate workflow on each carrier web site.
While ultimately agents would like their databases to synchronize in real-time with the carrier’s database following a transaction, in today’s environment batch download of data into the agent’s system remains incredibly important, particularly as carriers endeavor to turn off the transaction-related paper to the agents. Batch download in personal lines is working well for the most part, and the industry has begun an intensive effort to improve the effectiveness of commercial lines batch download. In time, however, the ability to synchronize the agent and carrier databases in real-time also will help the industry realize the vision described above for real-time endorsements because both the agents and carriers will be working from the same data.
Real-Time Activity or Note Transactions
Real-time activity and note communications should be generated by the carrier to keep the agency informed in real-time of actions taken or information requests made by the carrier or the insured. These real-time notes typically would not duplicate the information being sent to the agent by download, except where there is an important time sensitivity to the information. In contrast to e-mail, these real-time activity and note transactions are sent directly to the agency management system and create an automatic entry into the agency management system’s activity log, thereby establishing an audit trail. Carriers should have the capability to send specific activities and notes by transaction type to be attached directly to the customer or policy, or to an individual user designated by the agency for those types of transactions. Agents should be able to set their agency management systems to poll their various carriers throughout the day to gather carrier-initiated real-time activities and notes on a timely basis.
Real-time activity and note communications are only now starting to be implemented and are likely to be used for a broad range of communications in the future as their effectiveness becomes better understood. These activities or notes might emanate from an agent, carrier, or insured-initiated transaction or communication, and may relate to a specific policy and transaction, or relate to some general underwriting or marketing issue. The activities/notes will be used to reduce or eliminate the need to update the agency activity log manually as well as a lot of the current faxing, mailing, e-mailing, or scanning of communications between the carrier and the agency. It will serve to streamline the communication flow.
These real-time communications are likely to be used first by carriers to relay a confirmation to the agency management system of an agent-initiated transaction such as a policy change or inquiry completed on the carrier’s web site.
Carrier or insured-initiated events that are likely to trigger a real-time activity or note fall into at least four categories: transaction (i.e. policy-related), claim, underwriting issues specific to a customer, and marketing.
When an insured requests a change directly from the carrier, the carrier may send an activity or note to the agency management system that an inquiry or a change has been made. In the event of carrier communications made directly to the insured (paper or otherwise), the carrier might use a real-time activity or note to apprise the agent of that communication. The communications may be that a cancellation notice has been sent, or that a late payment has been received, or that additional information has been requested from the customer.
The carrier may use an activity or note to apprise the agent that a claim has been received, that the insured has submitted a claim directly, that there is a change in status of a claim, or that there is a need for further information regarding a claim.
An underwriter might send an activity or note to the agent with a request for further information on new business such as pictures or appraisal information, or to communicate a change in coverage based upon underwriting review, such as a change in the dwelling amount based upon a replacement cost calculation, or the addition of a youthful operator endorsement.
A marketing message from a carrier might be a notification that catastrophic weather conditions, such as a hurricane, have closed down the market for specific agents in the path of the storm. Less significant marketing messages in general, such as a change in underwriting rules or appetite for a particular type of risk, should be sent by e-mail so that the agencies’ agency management system activity logs do not become overly cluttered with entries from multiple carriers.
Vendors should build into the agency management systems the capability for the agency to designate how the activities or notes should be routed within the agency management system based on the type of transaction. For example, policy related activities/notes would be attached to the customer and designated to the appropriate CSR for follow-up; claim activities/notes would be assigned to the CSR handling that area within the agency; etc. The agency also should have the flexibility to “turn off” or automatically “close” activities, as desired.
With the advent of real-time activities and notes, agents should set their agency management systems to poll their various carriers several times each day to pick up any carrier initiated real-time communications on a timely basis.
This report was prepared by the ACT AUGIE Real-Time Work Group:
Angelyn Treutel, Treutel Insurance Agency, Chair
Kitty Ambers, ANeU
Peter Anderson, Anderson Insurance Services
Roger Barbe, Ohio Casualty
Donna Barr, Marsh, Inc.
Ron Berg, MetLife Auto & Home
Cal Durland, ACORD
Stu Durland, Seely Durland
Mele Fuller, Safeco
Alan Hedrick, County Wide Insurance Agency
Ed Higgins, Thousand Islands Agency
Brian Johnson, Allstate
Larry Johnson, UPAC
Shannon Maher, IVANS
Laura Nettles, Nettles Consulting
Mike Peterson, MI-Assistant
Keith Savino, Warwick Resource Group
Janice Sheffield, IVANS
Stephen Shook, Russell & Schrader Insurance Agency
Bob Slocum, The Slocum Agency
Peter van Aartrijk, The van Aartrijk Group
Martha Williamson, ONB Insurance
Steve Yacik, Chubb
Jeff Yates, ACT
For more information, contact Jeff Yates, ACT Executive Director.