Agents Council for Technology (ACT) Releases Comprehensive Technology Study

Honolulu, HI October 26 2001 –
a ground-breaking and indispensable insurance technology study was released at the
Independent Insurance Agents of America’s (IIAA) Hawaii InfoXchange by the Agents Council
of Technology (ACT), announced ACT Executive Director Jeffrey M. Yates.

The study, titled A Vision of the Future for
Agency Technology Including the Essential Next Steps for Independent Agents, provides
agents and industry leaders with a helpful framework to evaluate potential technological
decisions. ACT sought input from a wide cross section of technology opinion leaders in the
industry to create the most credible product possible. The report creates a picture of the
future so that decision-makers can put their current technology decisions into a larger
context based upon where industry computing is likely to go.

“The Internet has fundamentally changed
our business, and agents and companies need to adapt their technology capabilities
accordingly,” said Yates. “Consumers want to interact with our industry
electronically and expect immediate service. At the same time, companies and others want
to do business with agents in real-time over the Internet.”

“There are no perfect solutions, but
investing in technology provides a definite bottom-line payback to the agency,” said
Edgar J. Higgins Jr. CPCU, principal of Thousand Islands Agency located in Clayton, NY and
chairman of ACT. “It positions the agency for increased profitability, growth, efficiency,
and heightened standing with clients, companies, employees, and potential purchasers.”

The vision lays out eight major technology trends that will significantly affect
how agents do business in the future. The trends include:

  • Internet hosting services

  • Real-time interaction

  • Integration platforms

  • Prospects and customers do business electronically

  • Single-step process

  • Collaborative computing

  • Ability to compute, and

  • Personalized marketing and service

The ACT report recommends several essential
steps that independent agents can undertake to position themselves to profit from these
emerging technology trends. The critical first step is for agency owners to establish a
culture that views technology as a strategic opportunity and an integral part of the
process of running an agency. The agency should organize itself so that there is a chief
information person or its equivalent focused on maximizing the benefits of technology in
the agency. Technology should be implemented to respond to a defined need in the agency,
such as improving a particular business process or workflow.

“The ACT vision is for agents to initiate
transactions in their agency management systems wherever located, or in other front-end
systems, and access multiple company Internet sites to complete processing in real time
and on a single-entry basis,” said Higgins.

Yates encouraged agents, “to take
advantage of the new opportunities being created, agents need to stay current with their
hardware and software, have broadband communications capability to the Internet with an
always-on connection, and implement new vendor and carrier technologies when they become available.”

Agents should also use their current agency
management systems and other technology more fully and consider adopting digital imaging
technology, by exploring the benefits of electronic filing, adopting scanning, eliminating
paper and using digital cameras. Agents are urged to adopt 24-7 customer service to
increase efficiency and respond to new customer expectations. In addition, the agency Web
site offers a effective method to brand the agency and attract new prospects. Finally,
agents need to focus on the security of their systems because the new functionality
creates new risks that must be managed.

“IIAA created the Agents Council for
Technology to exercise agent leadership on technology issues,” said Yates.
“Agents can continue to look to ACT to play an increasing role as their advocate on
technology issues and as a source for practical technology information.”

The full ACT report, A Vision of the Future
for Agency Technology Including the Essential Next Steps for Independent Agents, as well
as several useful technology checklists, is available at the ACT Web site at and by clicking on the Agents Council for Technology.

Founded by IIAA in 1999, ACT is an
action-oriented partnership of independent agents, insurance company and technology
provider leaders focused on achieving the most effective use of technology in the
independent agency system. ACT members include the Independent Insurance Agents of
America, Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, Agency Revenue Tools,
Allstate/Encompass, ChoicePoint, Chubb, CNA,, First Notice Systems, Grange
Insurance, idNet/CSR 24, IVANS, MetLife Auto & Home, National Grange Mutual, Ohio
Casualty, Progressive, Prudential Property-Casualty, Royal SunAlliance, SAFECO, Safety
Insurance, St. Paul, The Hartford, TowerStreet, Travelers, Westfield, Zurich North America
Surety and Financial Services and Zurich Small Business.

Founded in 1896, IIAA is the nation’s oldest
and largest national association of independent insurance agents, representing a network
of more than 300,000 agents and agency employees nationwide. Its members are small
businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance
companies. Independent agents offer all lines of insurance – property, casualty, life,
health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: