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2016 Agency Universe Study - Technology Summary

Summarizing the technology insights from independent agents across the U.S.

The Agency Universe Study (‘AUS’) is a product of[MF1]   Future One, a cooperative effort of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) and independent agency companies.  The AUS started in 1983 and was fielded every 4-5 years until 2002, when it went to biennially to stay abreast of the fast-paced changes in the industry.
 
For those who do not purchase the full AUS report[MF2] , ACT is providing this overview of the technology –focused results of this 2016 survey.  Far more detail, comparison charts, and insight are available in the Management Summary and Full Report, both of which can be ordered on the IIABA AUS webpage.
 
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High-Level Observations
 
For 2016, the total number of independent agencies in the United States remains stable at 38,000 – this is a small decrease from 2014 (38,400).  Since 2004, the estimate has not fluctuated greatly, running between 37,500 and 39,000.
 
The survey had 1,972 respondents, using their 2015 experiences as a lens to provide insights.
 
From 2014-2016, the number of Small agencies (<$150k revenue) increased from 15% to 21%.
The number of agencies in small towns/rural areas decreased from 19% to 9%.
 
Jumbo agencies (>$10m revenue) increased from 0.8% to 1.6%.
 
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Technology Section; High-level Findings
 
Marketing Budget - % of Agencies who include each technology activity as part of Marketing Program
                                                                                2016     2014     Change
Creating/Maintaining Website                           65%      64%        +1%
Social Media                                                          56%      43%      +13%   
Creating/maintaining portal technology          30%      29%        +1%
SEO                                                                         35%      27%         +8%
E-marketing activities                                          21%      18%         +2%
Digital content - blogs, webinars                       10%      11%          -1%
 
Just over half of agencies also counted social media among their 2015 marketing activities, up significantly from 2013.  In ranking use of social media, the top reasons were to build brand, attract new prospects, and provide client timely information.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter (in order of use) continue to be the top platforms.
 
Far fewer (one in ten) promote digital content and online videos, although Jumbo agencies are far more likely than others to participate in these initiatives.
 
 
Overall Agency Technology Challenges:
 
Responses indicate that Small agencies feel particularly challenged to market their agency on the internet; Jumbo agencies are most likely to be challenged in staff adoption of new workflows & technologies.   Some changes from 2014, with Marketing effectively move to the top.
Those ranked 1, 2, or 3 as a top challenge:
 
                                                                                          2016     2014      Change
Marketing agency effectively on the internet             57%      46%      +11%
Dealing with multiple carrier interfaces                      44%      50%         -6%
Keeping pace with technology changes                       36%      39%         -3%
Overall cost of technology                                              32%      42%      -10%
Ensuring data transmission confidentiality                  24%      26%         -2%


Comparative Raters: 
 
Highest utilization in Personal Lines:
o   EZLynx: 22% (+3% from 2014)
o   PL Rating: 11% (-1%)
o   SEMCAT (now AppliedRater):  6% (+2%)
o   WinRater and ITC TurboRater:  3% (+2%) 
Note: Rating via management systems <1% each for TransactNOW and Transformation Station. 
43% report they are not using a comp rater (down a full 5% from 2014).
 
 
Management Systems: 
 
The trend continues stable, with little change between the market shares of the major systems.
82% of respondents are using a management system (up 3% from 2014).
 
Highest utilization:      
17%      AMS360 (no change from 2014)
12%      TAM (down 3%)
  8%       EZLynx (up from 6%)
  6%       Hawksoft (no change)
  4%       DORIS, Eclipse, QQ Catalyst, Agency Software  
  3%       Xanatek, EPIC, Agency Matrix  
  2%       Partner XE, Special Agent, Quomation
  8%       Other
 
 
 
 
Management System Functions (PL and CL):
 
Compared to 2014, fewer agencies seem to find Payments to be a valuable PL management system function.  Overall, Similar results between PL & CL, although PL slightly higher.
Surveyed value of functions through management system:
 
Function                                                     PL          CL
Customer view/search                            82%      81%      both up ~8%
Inquiries on claims, billing, etc.             71%      68%
Endorsements                                           69%      68%
Real Time Auto Quotes                            65%
Real Time Home Quotes                          64%
Rate Quote Requests                                             52%
Policy Issue                                                 64%      62%
Alerts/Activity Notifications                     62%      68%
Payments                                                     59%      58%
Claims Reporting                                        50%      49%
Carrier Loss Runs                                        42%      49%   (Note: important to 72% of Jumbo agencies)
 
 
Overall processing technologies used:
Between five and six in ten agencies use personal lines and commercial lines download tools.
 
                                                                        2016     2014
Personal Lines DL                                          68%      71%     
Commercial Lines Download                       56%      57%
Carrier ePolicy Delivery to agency              51%      56%
Direct Bill Commissions Download             49%      57%      Significant drop in utilization
Paperless office (Personal Lines)                 45%      47%
Agency ePolicy delivery to clients               39%      39%                    
Secure email                                                   29%      42%      Significant drop in utilization
 
 
Electronic Communications Used:
 
Texting with clients continues to increase, up 8% since 2014.
Use of technology varies with agency size.  Example: Jumbo agencies are more likely to use tablets/smartphones (57%), eSignature tools (60%), and an intranet (54%).  17% of Small agencies say they use none of these technologies.
 
                                                                               2016     2014
Activity Notifications from the carrier             44%      57%     
Texting with clients                                              43%      35%
Tablets/smartphones                                          34%      32%     
Agency eSignature solutions                             33%      28%     
Carrier eSignature solutions                              29%      26%     
Instant Messaging within the agency              16%      22%     
Intranet for internal communications             13%      15%     
Mobile apps from the carrier                            13%        5%      
Mobile apps for clients                                       12%        8%      
 
 
Attitudes Towards Technology:
No surprise, Cyber concerns are now at the top of everyone’s list.
But surprisingly, only 34% of agents indicate they have a written security policy, and only 23% have a written disaster recovery plan.
 
These responses are ranked as ‘6’ or ‘7’ on a 7-point scale.
 
Agency sees need for an agency cyber liability policy             61%
Achieved improvements through use of new technologies   50%
Agency offers a cyber policy to customers                                45%
Agency believes digital marketing is a core discipline             40%
Agency has implemented written security policy                    34%
Agency has a written disaster recovery plan/trains empls.    23%
Agency has a focused mobile strategy for customers              20%
Agency has a focused mobile strategy for employees             18%
 
 
Perceptions on Electronic/Digital Resources:
50% of startup agencies (established in last two years) say they’ve seen cost savings by using paperless communications – This is in contrast to only 26% for established agencies.
Newer agencies are also more likely to have insured be open to e-documents (54% vs. 33%)
 
                                                                                                                       2016              2014
Insureds are just as likely to accept e-documents as paper                 35%              33%
Agency has seen significant cost savings by offering paperless         
                             options offered by carriers                                            29%              36%
Agency has seen significant cost savings by offering customers        
                             paperless communications options                              29%              31%
Agency measures ROI in use of traditional marketing                            22%              27%
Agency measures ROI in use of digital/social media marketing            18%              16%
 
 
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 Adobe PDF version of this summary:  2016 Future One Agency Universe Study - ACT Summary - 2016Oct.pdf

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