ACT Urges Carriers to Implement Agency Testing Process and Agencies to Take a Fresh Look at the Benefits of Commercial Lines Downloads
ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 15, 2005-During the past year, the Agents Council for Technology (ACT), working closely with ACORD and agency management system user groups, has undertaken a major initiative to make commercial lines download more accurate and effective for independent insurance agencies and brokers.
ACT�s Commercial Lines Download Work Group, which drew broad participation from carriers, vendors, agents, and user groups, has released a series of important recommendations toward this end.
“Our accomplishments to date demonstrate the industry�s strong interest and commitment toward fixing past problems and working towards successful implementation of commercial lines download,� says Donna Barr, assistant vice president, Marsh USA Inc., Private Client Services Division, co-chair of the ACT Commercial Lines Download work group, and chair of the ASCnet Interface Committee for Applied Systems users. �We have three key accomplishments to-date to improve commercial lines downloads: the development of an ACORD implementation guide to give carriers and vendors more specific guidance in implementing these downloads, the crucial addition of an agency testing process by carriers to make sure the downloads sent are accurate, and the development of three prototype documents to assure that agents get the information they need to implement these downloads in their systems successfully.”
With ACORD’s important help, the work group developed the ACORD CLDL Implementation Guide for the five major commercial lines�BOP, property, general liability, business auto and workers� compensation. This guide, which is now in the final ACORD approval process, identifies for carriers and vendors the minimum data elements agents need to receive in the CLDL process in order for the information to be sufficient. The guides also inform agents as to what they can expect when they receive commercial lines downloads.
“A major finding of our study is that carrier implementation of an agency testing process as part of the CLDL implementation process is critical to assure that the commercial lines downloads being sent are accurate, complete, and appear where agents expect to see them,� says Cyndy Smith, vice president of technology at Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc., co-chair of the ACT Commercial Lines Download work group, and chair of the CLDL Committee of the AMS Users Group. �There was considerable misunderstanding as to the scope of the ACORD and vendor download certifications. These certifications only test that the data being sent is in the proper ACORD standard format, not that the data itself is accurate.�
ACT’s recommendations are contained in its report, “ACT CLDL Work Group Review of Accomplishments & Next Steps; Recommended Agency Testing Process� which is available in the �Technology Reports� section of the ACT Web site (www.independentagent.com/act).
The third major component of ACT�s work was to develop prototype documents, which are easily adaptable to individual carrier and vendor processes, in order to help assure that agents receive the information they need to implement a particular carrier�s downloads in their specific systems successfully, with a full understanding of any idiosyncrasies in that carrier�s downloads. These documents, which are included in the ACT report, are: a Carrier/Vendor Certification Document, an Agency Testing Checklist, and an Agency Testing Results Document.
“We had the broadest participation in the CLDL Work Group of any of our work groups attesting to the interest within the industry to make commercial lines download work more effectively for independent agents and brokers,� says Jeff Yates, ACT executive director. �It is highly important now for carriers to implement the agency testing process as approved by ACT so that they send agencies the very best downloads. It is also time for agencies to take a fresh look at commercial lines downloading because of the improvements being made in these downloads and the significant efficiencies they can bring to the business, just as personal lines downloads have.”
The next step for the work group will be to develop education and training programs to assist agencies in implementing CLDL successfully. The staff support of the work group for this phase will move from ACT to AUGIE which is led by the agency management system user group officers and managed by ACORD, because of the predominant role the user groups will play in carrying out this systems specific training and education of agents.
Established in January 1999, ACT is a part of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA) and provides a candid, action-oriented forum to address the critical technology issues facing the independent agency system. ACT helps participants understand the perspectives of the other stakeholders in the process and provides excellent networking opportunities with the participants who are shaping the future for the industry on these issues.
Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance-property, casualty, life and health-as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.