Commercial insurance quoting solutions have come a long way over the past decade. Today, there are key platforms that insurance agents can use that bring many benefits for their own workflows, as well as those of their clients.
Commercial quoting started off with Acord forms. The challenge with this method was that not all carriers had the same supplemental questions to ask of certain industry classifications or businesses in certain geographies, which meant that this information wasn’t captured in the forms. In turn, when agents did submit a form, there ended up being a lot of back and forth between them and an underwriter asking those questions.
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“From there, it evolved to carriers creating their own portal sites, where an agent could go in and enter all of the information, particularly if it was a new prospect and they didn’t have an existing Acord form,” said Kris Tibbetts, director of product management at Zywave. “The challenge there was that every carrier had its own flavor of site, with its own set of questions, and there was a lot of manual entry and re-entry of data, which is very time consuming and inefficient.”
Now, there are several commercial insurance quoting tools on the market that have developed past these solutions, with the Zywave CPQ – P&C tool being one of them. What these modern tools have in common is the ability to enter answers to common questions once, and then have that automatically populate in carriers’ quoting systems.
“In our case, we support carriers who have APIs and carriers who don’t have APIs for their product lines,” explained Tibbetts. “Some of the tools only work with carriers who have APIs, so there are some differences in terms of the breadth of carriers and lines of coverage that can be quoted through these tools. The basis for why agents are adopting them is that improved efficiency of being able to answer a bunch of questions once on behalf of a risk and have it automatically allow you to send a submission to multiple carriers in one push of the submit button.”
Another benefit of using such a tool is the agent’s ability to cast a broader net. If the agent is, for instance, appointed with eight carriers, it is possible that the risk working through that agent could now get eight quotes for comparison, rather than the two to four that would have been normal in the traditional processes, since few agents would have time to go to eight separate carrier websites and answer all of the questions eight separate times.
Instead, “With automated commercial quoting tools, these businesses have an easier way to compare and get competitive rates across a broader set of carriers,” said Tibbetts.
The modern-day commercial quoting solutions in turn help to underscore the value that insurance agents bring to the marketplace by providing a range of options for insureds. Moreover, the benefits of such tools are likely to develop even more in the future.
Today, commercial quoting tools are accessible to agents, and not the end purchasers of commercial coverage, while on the personal lines side, the tools are generally accessible in a self-service method to insureds. Although there is a much more complex set of questions for commercial coverages, Tibbetts does expect that this feature will start to trickle into the commercial side of the business.
“An example of how that could happen is that over time, data as a service will start to infiltrate these commercial quoting tools, so that agents on behalf of the end client – or ultimately, the clients themselves – will be able to see benchmarking data that would give them an indication of, for instance, what other businesses in the same industry or same geography or same size as them typically experience in losses,” explained the Zywave expert. “That gives them some benchmarking data to work off of to decide how much insurance they should purchase.”
As these tools evolve, clients will also be able to get an idea of what premium they can expect to pay for certain amounts of coverage, which is already popular in lines like personal auto insurance.
Zywave already has some of this benchmarking data available in its products and is looking to integrate it into its commercial quoting platform in the coming 12 to 18 months, which will also help agents because they can then provide a more consultative experience for end users. The company is likewise exploring the ability to make it easier for a small business owner to quote both their commercial business needs and their personal line needs in a one-stop shopping experience. Additionally, with its recent acquisition of Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), Zywave now offers a personal lines rater.
In terms of the commercial quoting tool it already offers to agents, Zywave stands out because, said Tibbetts, “When agents are using our tool, they remain the agents of record and get credit with the carrier all the way through the process, which is important to many agents who are trying to build strong business relationships with a set of carriers.”