The war on keystrokes … it’s been a problem for years, particularly for the E&S Market. However, thanks to the Retail Agents/E&S Joint Industry Initiative sponsored by AAMGA, ACORD, ACT, and NAPSLO, standardization and technological implementations are taking hold and actually saving keystrokes.
In a session at the 2010 ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum, panelists Angelyn Treutel of Treutel Insurance Agency Inc (Retail Agent), John Deibler, an Independent Consultant recently retired from Scottsdale Insurance Company (E&S Carrier) and Scott Montney of Cochrane & Company (MGA) provided a history of the group, its progress, and a look towards the future.

So just how many keystrokes can be saved by technology? Calling on an example from a proof of concept test, Treutel said that they counted keystrokes. “In one submission that we were able to transfer electronically from the retail agent to the general agent to the carrier and back again, we saved 10,000+ keystrokes.”

Current Conditions
At the start of the session, Deibler discussed the problems currently facing the E&S industry and explained why the use of automation and technology is essential. “The E&S industry is very huge, over $30 billion. There are millions of transactions. But it is a very, very paper-based manual processing flow. There are a lot of unique supplemental forms that carriers have developed over the years. And there are substantial redundant data recording processes,” said Deibler. “It’s not unusual that the same data would be recorded on a submission six to eight times in the process before a quote was ever produced. That’s probably more typical than unusual. [There are] huge redundancies and inefficiencies in the process.”
This initiative was launched to: · Increase implementation of ACORD Standards · Build on standard market successes · Increase automation · Take advantage of existing technology · Increase use of Real Time and Download · Improve workflows · Improve profitability and sales
After just two years of regular calls and face to face meetings the group has made great progress:

· Several supplemental ACORD Forms are completed or in development.
· A sub-group is focusing on ways to market these successes to the industry to increase adoption.
· Systems have been developed to take advantage of the standardization.
· Membership in the group is up substantially.

“The interest level at this point is continually increasing. We have lots of folks that are recognizing that we’re making progress, that things are being accomplished in a very significant way, and we’re going to make some serious inroads into this process,” stated Deibler. “300 [participants] is a good number but it’s not enough … we’d like to see additional E&S carrier involvement in the process … [along with] anyone with an interest or focus in the E&S world.”

Three-Pronged Attack
Following up on the group’s formation, Treutel said that “it was like the alignment of the stars. Everything came into place at the same time. At the start of this effort we wanted to hit the ground running … so we broke into three segments all working concurrently to make the most progress as quickly as possible.”

1 – Websites
One focus was on general agent websites. While companies in the standard insurance market have robust websites, general agent sites are often just promotional. To help these sites evolve, the group established a roadmap showing how companies can go from level 1 sites (basic marketing) to a level 4 (incorporating Real Time and increasing automation).

2- Standards
The second focus was on company-specific forms — forms which many organizations felt were so unique they couldn’t be standardized. “We started looking at all of these special applications from all of these carriers, and it was amazing that a lot of the information was really the same,” Treutel said. “We were able to identify that 80% to 90% of the information in some cases was the same on all of the different applications. That’s where the idea came from to start focusing on ACORD Standards. We can get the 80% right now by using ACORD applications and then for that 20%, let’s work together to get those more standardized.”

3 – Implementation
Implementation was the third major focus. Treutel pointed to the work already being done by the ACORD E&S Working Group headed by ACORD Board Member and COO of Warwick Resources Keith Savino. To date, the working group has produced such forms as the ACORD 105 – Apartment Building Supplement and the ACORD 106 – Vacant Building Supplement that are both used with the ACORD 125 Commercial Insurance Application.
“One of the other major initiatives we’re going to have is to work with all of you in this room on getting these forms implemented so they can actually be used. Because if it’s just a piece of paper gathering dust, there’s no point in it,” said Treutel. “We can all do business more efficiently, effectively and profitably and all make more sales. It’s a win-win scenario,” she added.

Seeing is Believing
Rounding out the session was a demonstration of one solution in a real-world environment. Montney used a solution created by Appulate, Inc.
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An ACORD application was entered by Treutel through her agency management system. It was sent through a “print driver” process which converted it into ACORD XML. The ACORD message was sent to the Cochrane & Company system that had a “catcher” waiting. It received the request, and provided a link to the quote all in a matter of seconds.
This is a significant time savings from the existing methodology where it might have taken days using manual, and repetitive, data entry.
By doing this live demo, the audience saw first-hand that you could connect the dots and bring efficiency to the workflow. “One of the biggest things missing in the E&S market is the ability to connect the dots, said Montney.”We need a more established mechanism to connect the dots … we need solutions that can be pushed out for everybody, and this is where we’re engaging vendors.”
In this scenario, the solution utilized a web portal. However, Montney emphasized that portals are not the answer, just a stepping stone to future technology. “Web portals are a great start to building out services to retailers but it needs to be just that, a start. If you don’t build on from there, as soon as something better comes along, customers are going to go somewhere else.”
Deibler emphasized that the group was not endorsing any particular technology and that there were other solutions that accomplished the same task. The solution demonstrated was just one of many now available or being developed.

What’s ahead for the group? More work, more forms, more standards, and more participation. Their next face-to-face meeting is at the ACORD Implementation Forum in November.

As published in the ACORD Weekly Newsletter ( on 14 July 2010 and 21 July 2010

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