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Putting Agency Connectivity to Work: Best Practices and Implementation Strategies

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Sometimes it seems that most of  the attention given to agency/broker connectivity focuses on what is the ‘perfect’ connectivity method and when (or whether) it will happen.  The reality is that industry standard interface is happening now and some agents/brokers and carriers are seeing real benefits by using it to improve workflow and customer service.  A recently released report by a group of such practitioners in the US provides solid advice to those interested in taking advantage of the possible while waiting for the perfect.

The report “Agency Real‐Time ‘Best Practice’ Workflows And Implementation Strategies”, was produced by the Agency Real‐Time Experience Work Group under the auspices of the Realtime/Download Campaign, a federation of independent agents, carriers and industry bodies in the US.  The report can be accessed through the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America website.

The intent of the report is to provide real advice on best practices and implementation strategies based on real life experience, using currently available technology.  A major objective is to provide vendors and insurance carriers guidance to allow  “more consistency in the real-time transactions that are offered to agencies and better performance in those transactions”.  To get information, the working group surveyed and interviewed agencies, carriers, and vendors that are actually involved in using the current technology.

The sections of the report are functionally oriented.  The first addresses ‘Credentials Management’ (security and access control).  Practical advice is provided, and alternatives are offered to insurers based on current practices.  For example,

“The security team at another carrier determined that since agents using the realtime capabilities of their agency management system had authenticated to get into that system, they were comfortable with allowing trusted source status to those agents. When an agent first completes a real‐time transaction through the management system and goes through the normal authentication process, from that point forward, the carrier attaches a temporary token to that agent. All future real‐time transactions do not follow the normal authentication process and instead directly enter the carrier’s system. This entire process is invisible to the agent and the response has been extremely positive.”

Pretty dry stuff, but a practical approach that will save agents real time in logging on.

Other sections of the report focus on Service Transactions (Inquiries, Endorsements, etc.) and Sales Transactions.  The last section lists techniques to effectively roll out functionality to the agents.  For any carrier (or vendor) that has not implemented broker facing technology, this is invaluable.

The industry owes considerable thanks to a group that strives to make the best out of the possible now.

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