Why Do Agents Choose
One Carrier Over Another?
Unless carriers have a solid product at a competitive price, ease-of-doing-business
and technology are meaningless to agents. By Carrie Burns
Fresh off a tour of 66 independent agencies along the Atlantic coast in an effort to deter- mine what technologies are succeeding (or not) in moving the industry from paper to
online, Boston-based AgencyPort Insurance Services
(now referred to as Sword AgencyPort after being
acquired by Lyon, France-based Sword Group) came to
the conclusion: Transacting property/casualty business
over the Web remains more of a messy art than a
Agencies of all sizes, AgencyPort says, continue to
struggle with an inefficient morass of paperwork, re-keying, faxes and phone calls, all in the name of trying
to get P&C products into consumers’ hands. Carriers,
according to the findings, have been slow to streamline
inquiry, quoting, issuance, endorsement and renewal
transactions over the Web in a coherent manner.
While AgencyPort’s research cites specific shortcomings with carrier technology that cause agents to
choose other carriers for quotes, it also finds that
unless carriers have a solid product at a competitive
price, all the talk of ease-of-doing-business and technology is meaningless.
As carriers aim to differentiate their products, predictive models and specific behavior in agent portals
for each carrier becomes different and sometimes difficult with which to work. Agents are forced to work
with a many idiosyncratic carrier systems.
online endorsement processing exceeded its expectations. Despite the demand, few carriers offer it, but
those that do stand out. In fact, agents discussed one
carrier with a winning practice—it is able to give
agents a premium for each endorsement, even
enabling them to perform “what if” scenarios.
time be when something is referred? A long wait
time only to be told “no” is frustrating.
Agents told AgencyPort that portals have become the
most important technology in issuance and policy service transaction workflows, and that when they want to
bind or issue new business, process a change on a policy or submit a claim, agent portals are where they go.
• Force an agent to try to map ACORD or ISO to
• Prohibit agents from archiving or saving quotes
• Give cryptic error codes
• E-mail too much. All agents really need is the
commission summary e-mails, and any notice of a
policy form change
• Provide lengthy explanations with a quote declination INN
WHAT AGENTS WANT
All 66 agencies on the tour provided feedback about
the specific portals offered by their carrier partners.
The dos and don’ts stood out to AgencyPort:
Featured Stories on
STILL PUSHING SEMCI
It’s not breaking news that agents want a single-entry
multiple-company interface (SEMCI). They’ve wanted
it for years, and are still in search of it. Therefore,
online processing remains slow.
AgencyPort found during the tour that one in four
personal lines agents use comparative raters. The company was surprised to find that agent demand for
• Ask the fewest number of questions possible
•Offer pre-filled, third-party data (e.g.
Choicepoint, MVR, vehicle data, driver info, etc.)
• Provide the ability to pre-fill city, state and county based on entering of zip code
• Provide the ability to view the entire Motor
Vehicle Report online
• Provide the ability to leverage auto information to get a homeowner’s quote with just one
• Offer access to electronic copies of the policy
• Offer access to a sharp-looking quote propos-al/presentation, which saves agents from having to
re-key the information into a proposal document
• Provide more transparency in the underwriter
referral workflow. Where does an agent’s submission stand in the queue? What will the response
PAs and MGAs
Hungry for M&A
Program administrators and
managing general agents are
interested in growing through
acquisition of other PAs/MGAs
and carriers, according to a recent survey.
Study: Predicting Another
Global Financial Crisis
Economists say there is little
hope of finding a common sta-
tistical model to predict another massive, worldwide economic meltdown.
A Work in Progress
While much progress
has been made, the
still struggles with