Agents still say ease of doing business is the key to working with a carrier. But that means different things to different people, and certainly different things between agent and carrier. For years carriers have been working to streamline operations within their organizations to make life easier for agents. Recognizing and implementing standardization such as the use of ACORD forms for applications was an initial step. Then there was integration between the carrier’s systems and the agency’s management systems that allowed agents to submit applications through online integration. Finally came the age of the real time online portal where agents can log in to carrier systems and submit applications directly. How much easier can it get than that – A LOT.
All of these technological advancements are offered by almost every carrier. So what becomes the differentiator to an agent when they can place business with multiple carriers? It’s still ease of doing business. Which carrier allows me to get a quote the easiest by entering the fewest data points and then complete that application and close the business fastest? Many agents try to close business in volume because more volume means more premiums, which means more commission.
Most of this work is done by agents within the confines of their office. They can make visits to customers and prospects to talk about other offerings, but then many have to make a follow up appointment to review the quote requested in the meeting. How about the chance encounter in the supermarket or the church social when you don’t have a computer with you? This is where insurance agent mobility comes in.
The ubiquitous smartphone is always available and at the ready within its holster. There are many carriers, such as Amica, Nationwide and Travelers, that have developed smartphone apps for insureds, but not as many allow agents to access information that way. MassMutual, as an example, developed E4 (Electronic Enhanced Enrollment Experience) which allows agents to enroll retirement plan participants entirely over their smartphone.
If I can check in to, or change my flight on a mobile web site for an airline using my smartphone, shouldn’t an agent be able to get a quick quote for a prospect, file an endorsement for an insured, or even bind coverage and email the policy documentation to their customer? Imagine the response by the insured to the agent when after about a 2 minute conversation, the newly insured’s phone beeps because the email with all the policy documentation just arrived in their inbox.
Wow, that was easy.
This is a major opportunity, not only for the agent, but also the carrier, to utilize the latest technology to make things easier not only for the agent, but the insured.