Fearless Modernization: A Roadmap for the Independent Insurance Agency

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the urgent need for digital transformation in the insurance industry. A robust technology stack is necessary for keeping agencies operational and efficient, as well as for meeting clients’ needs during challenging times.

But modernizing isn’t only about maintaining operations in crisis mode; it’s also about positioning your agency for long-term growth and profitability. Data shows that agencies that invest in best-practice technologies in four key areas of modernization report up to three-times higher revenue growth compared to the industry average. That’s a major jump that can make a huge difference in your ability to retain your clients, attract new business, and expand into new markets and services.

The combination of crisis response and hardening markets means now is the time for agencies to examine their processes and technology and put in place solutions that enable maximum efficiency, superior client service, and faster, smarter decision-making. So where should your agency focus its modernization efforts?

Modern client digital experience

In a world where we can access everything from banking, shopping, news and healthcare with a single tap or click, clients expect digital options for interacting with their agents and insurance products. By offering clients with 24/7 self-service access to their policy data and online transactions through an online portal, agencies can provide timely, streamlined service that benefits both customers and agency efficiency. Instead of spending valuable time mailing out policy ID cards, processing payments and other routine tasks, agencies can let the app take care of that, which gives them more time to spend providing valuable risk advisory services.

In addition, combining a digital content platform with the client data stored in your agency management system (AMS) allows you to send targeted, timely content to clients at the right time. For example, you might share information on litigation and legislation around business interruption insurance or workers compensation due to COVID for business clients or send details about new cyber-security risks to vulnerable individuals.

A digital experience allows you to offer advice, keep in touch, and provide value outside of the transactional relationship—all of which increase your stickiness with the customer. And, with the tools in place to automate the process, it’s fast and easy.

Efficient agency management

The agency management system is the core of every agency, but are you taking full advantage of all the features? At Vertafore we often hear customers say, “I wish I could do ____,” and many times they already have this capability within the technology they already own.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your AMS, start by reviewing processes and practices with agents and CSRs. This can help ensure consistency in both AMS usage and data entry, resulting in better, cleaner data. Getting everyone on the same page also ensures you’re running as efficiently as possible.

On top of the AMS, many agencies see significant bumps in efficiency and productivity with advanced workflow automation and document management systems that can further streamline processes and improve client service.

For example, the carrier download process in many agencies is manual and time-consuming. Automatically pulling new policy updates into the system not only eliminates this manual chore but keeps your records up to date in real-time. Similarly, the submissions process can be radically faster and more accurate by leveraging an AMS that allows you to enter data once and send it to multiple carriers.

Streamlined market connectivity

To provide your clients with the right coverage at the best possible rates, you must work with the right trading partners and maintain strong connectivity. As the market hardens and prices increase, your clients are more likely to shop around. Agencies with the ability to reach out to more markets faster and get the best coverage options for the best price have a strong advantage.

Tools like comparative rating and electronic submissions platforms can help you get the right information to underwriters quickly and reduce the amount of questions and forms the end-insured needs to answer or fill in. With an efficient system for submitting risks, you can also identify which carriers have an appetite for that risk and quickly choose the right ones for your client’s needs.

Unlocking the power of data

Agencies have a wealth of data available inside their systems, but many aren’t able to take advantage of it. In fact, the entire industry has been slow to leverage its treasure trove of data, for several reasons:

  1. Most data is unstructured and trapped in formats and systems where it can’t be easily used.
  2. To date, we haven’t seen a cohesive data model for aggregating industry-wide insights.
  3. The industry has lacked analytics resources to unlock the value of the data.
  4. A fear of the unknown. For some agents, the notion of “data science” flies in the face of the personal touch upon which they’ve built their business and they don’t see data analytics as a necessity.

The problem is that this leaves a huge untapped potential. But data analytics has never been meant to take the place of a personal relationship. Instead, it is an incredibly valuable tool that can enhance with insights from across the industry to provide better advisory services. The key is aggregated insights embed directly into the workflow, allowing agents to leverage that information immediately.

A roadmap to modernize fearlessly

The combination of crisis response and hardening markets means now is the time for agencies to examine their processes and technology. Investment in these four key areas of modernization has radically transformed the business performance and growth potential for many of our independent agencies by enabling maximum efficiency, superior client service, and faster, smarter decision-making.

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