The Life Cycle of Forms – Part 1 – ACORD

Author: Michael Carroll

4/28/2010 – ACORD forms are known across industries, not just in the insurance world. All kinds of companies use ACORD forms and often train their industry members on how to use them properly. But where does it all start? How do forms get created? When are they updated and why? These are a few questions that we hope to answer in these articles.

For those of us who remember Schoolhouse Rock, think back to I’m Just A Bill by Dave Frishberg. Forms development and maintenance is a process that starts with an idea, goes through development, and comes out an official form.

The Beginnings

ACORD forms begin with a need within the industry. ACORD members and non-members see a need to standardize information gathering techniques to streamline the process. This is actually how ACORD itself began.

Today, there are more than 750 ACORD forms available and that number continues to grow

Forms begin with an idea to meet a need within the industry. Someone or some group submits a Maintenance Request (MR) to ACORD asking that we create a new form. Perhaps it’s for a business product that doesn’t use standardized forms yet. Maybe something changed in the industry requiring new ways to gather data. People in the industry bring us those ideas and they enter the ACORD Standards Process.

Today, several working groups are deeply involved with creating new forms based on industry needs. Some recent examples of forms produced by the working groups include Employee Benefits, Excess & Surplus Lines, Specialty Lines, and Flood.

Regulatory Input

An important source of information for forms and form changes is regulatory requirements. ACORD receives information from state insurance departments, state legislatures and from a number of regulatory reporting agencies. When a change is made that impacts ACORD forms, we make the required alterations to those existing forms or, if needed, create a new form to respond to new regulations.

Industry Changes – Form Changes

Just like form origination, changes to forms can come from MRs submitted by members or from any interested party. MR changes can be anything from minor modifications to changes in wording to more elaborate alterations requiring working groups to be part of the process.


When an MR is received by ACORD, it is voted on. This applies to all standards including forms, XML or AL3. Once the vote is taken and approved by the membership, the changes move on to working groups and to execution by ACORD staff – the heavy lifting.

However, regulatory changes do not go through the voting process. They are mandated by the regulatory authorities and are implemented without a vote.

Coming next…

Forms Working Groups, Form Development, Releases, and Education


Based in New York, ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) is a global, nonprofit insurance association whose mission is to facilitate the development and use of standards for the insurance, reinsurance and related financial services industries. With offices in London as well, ACORD accomplishes its mission by remaining an objective, independent advocate for sharing information among diverse platforms. ACORD Standards and services improve efficiency and expand market reach. Affiliated with ACORD are hundreds of insurance and reinsurance companies, and thousands of agents and brokers, related financial services organizations, software providers, and industry organizations worldwide.