ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. (October 9, 2003)�Less than a year after rollout of new industry wide technology for real-time communications, thousands of independent insurance agents have easier workflows with their carrier partners, according to the Applied Systems Client Network (ASCnet), the user group of Applied Systems agency management technology.
In October 2002, there were 100 agents enabled for the industry�s real-time data exchange, called IVANS Transformation Station�, said ASCnet Executive Director Bill Jenkins. Today, just a year later, 2,600 agents currently are using the technology. Eight companies were conducting at least one Transformation Station inquiry, rating, or issuance transaction last year; today there are more than 30 carriers live or in development, with all offering their agents multiple transaction types. Critical mass is building quickly, Jenkins noted. Many members of ASCnet have at least half of their main markets using Transformation Station.
�Transformation Station has been developed as an interface web service that is available for use by multiple agency management systems,� Jenkins said. �This non-proprietary interface has been a huge success in less than a year. The old speed of industry adoption is a thing of the past. It took more than 17 years to exceed 17,000 communicating pairs for upload for all vendors. But after only 11 months, Transformation Station has accumulated 17,500 communicating real-time pairs. Download took 15 years to get where it is today, while Transformation Station took only one year. Real-time interface offers much greater efficiency to agencies in their day to day business activities. It also offers them a wider variety of transaction types than traditional batch communication.�
In related developments, ASCnet awarded the Allan M. Block Agency the Transformation Station Agency of the Year at its recent annual Technology, Education and Networking Conference (TENCon) in New Orleans.
The Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Block Agency has 65% of its premium volume is in personal lines, indicating the extent to which real-time communications can help independent agents remain profitable in personal lines, Jenkins noted.
Margaret Black, operations manager for Block, said, �We�ve found that the best features of real-time Transformation Station are no training for staff. I simply e-mail them that a new Transformation Station feature has been added for a carrier, and away they go using it.� She noted that while many carriers have websites with real-time tools, �there is constant rekeying, training, maintaining user IDs, resetting passwords�the list goes on.�
The agency�s claims manager �used to take four to five minutes to check on a claim. Now she takes 15 seconds,� Black noted, estimating the employee saves five hours a week just on that inquiry function.
The agency�s CSRs �really like billing inquiry�they say that addresses many of their calls, Black said. �Being able to pull up the policy in the image the client received makes servicing so much easier. While we rely on download in personal lines, there are times when we just need to look at the policy. Not having to pull the T-file is a big benefit.�
Transformation Station transactions currently include personal policy transaction pairs for rate and issue; commercial policy transaction for rate and issue; inquiry transactions for billing and policy; and claims transactions for claim inquiry, loss run report, and first notice of loss.
Founded in 1987 and based in Altamonte Springs, FL, the Applied Systems Client Network, Inc. (ASCnet) is an international association representing more than 110,000 insurance professionals. The only authorized user group for Applied Systems software, ASCnet promotes successful automation and business practices through communication, education and advocacy. For more information: www.ascnet.org.