“Real Time” is tech focus for independent agencies in 2014

At the top of producers’ tech wish list for next year is more real-time capabilities from carriers—and for good reason.

“Real Time” is tech focus for independent agencies in 2014

Life & Health

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The insurance industry’s highest priority in 2014 should be “getting additional carriers to offer real-time capabilities,” a new survey of US and Canadian insurance producers reveals.

Nearly half of independent agents and brokers who participated in the Real Time/Download Campaign’s 2013 Agency Technology survey ranked real-time capabilities as a “top three” priority from a choice of 13 enhancements.

That’s just as it should be, considering the importance of time-saving technology to the economic health of independent agencies and brokerages, said Real Time co-chair Joyce Sigler.

“The consumer is pushing agencies a lot more,” Sigler said. “The world is app driven—it’s instantaneous for the most part. Industries similar to ours, like banking, healthcare, or medical, are governed by the same time and are able to react quickly. Consumers wonder, why can’t we?”

Sigler said this is instantaneous reaction, enabled by real-time capabilities, is particularly important for agents specializing in personal lines, as consumers “already assume it’s there.”  However, producers are expressing a desire for increased Real Time access in commercial lines as well.

According to the Real Time campaign, 115 carriers currently offer real-time interfaces for independent agents and brokers. However, nearly four in 10 survey respondents said expanded “commercial lines real-time comparative rating” functionality was a “top three” priority for 2014.

Expanding that technology, as well as ensuring real-time capabilities are comparable across all carriers, will be the focus for the Real Time campaign next year, Sigler said. This will save independent agencies not only time during the underwriting process, but in training staff.

Sigler added that producers will need to push the carriers they partner with in order to expand real-time capabilities.

“Many carriers have adopted [Real Time]. It’s on their radar, but the processes adopted really depend on what their agent force has indicated they want,” she said. “That’s truly what it breaks down to. If agents speak up and make a business case to their carriers…that’s a lot of that driving force.”

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