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The Connected Business of Insurance

30 Days to Applied Net: 10 Favorite Things from Last Year

September 13, 2018

by Applied Communications
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There are only 30 days until Applied Net 2018, and we are preparing for the biggest and best conference yet. As the largest meeting of independent insurance professionals approaches, we’re highlighting attendees’ 10 favorite things about Applied Net. As you get ready for this year’s conference, be on the lookout for all of these exciting things and more at Applied Net 2018.

Monday’s Pre-Conference Program

Kicking off the week, Monday’s Pre-Conference program includes valuable educational sessions and networking opportunities. Last year’s Executive Management Program featured sessions highlighting best practices to protect your business from cyber risk, new trends in agency-insurer connectivity, and strategies for marketing your agency to a new generation of consumers. Attendees also took advantage of the Continuing Education sessions, providing a way for U.S.-based agencies to meet their state licensing requirements while gaining additional education on niche topics such as Errors and Omissions, Claims Prevention, and Additional Insured Endorsements. Wrapping up Monday night, attendees enjoyed the Welcome Reception where they reconnected with peers and friends at networking roundtables and explored the Applied Net Exchange.

Opening Video

Technology is changing our world and the insurance industry is no different. Last year’s opening video highlighted the opportunities created by the digital transformation of insurance, setting the tone for the conference as innovative and inspiring.

200+ Educational Sessions

With more than 200 educations sessions taught by subject matter experts and industry leaders, last year delivered attendees endless opportunities to bring valuable insights back to their businesses to leverage for growth. The sessions provided attendees with critical insights regarding their Applied technology investments, industry trends and best practices. Session tracks represented a variety of interests including mobility, data analytics, the cloud and more.

Session Formats Back By Popular Demand

Last year’s Applied Net featured even more of the session formats that you’ve asked for. During Case Study sessions, attendees had the opportunity to hear from their peers about recent projects completed with Applied technology. Attendees could participate in Roundtables for energetic discussions around a particular topic to encourage informal learning. Hands-on Workshops provided attendees with an interactive experience and allowed them to apply learnings to their agency in real time. Lastly, Peer Spotlights enabled attendees to share experiences on a recent business challenge or opportunity, what they did to address it, and what they learned from it.

Applied Net Exchange

Open daily throughout Applied Net, the Applied Net Exchange allowed attendees to witness first-hand how technology can transform their businesses. Attendees also had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Applied software experts, demo the latest Applied innovations, and network with peers, vendors and insurers on the latest technologies.

Applied Developments

Applied is committed to providing innovative technologies to drive productivity and profitability within the insurance industry. Last year, Reid French, CEO at Applied Systems, discussed the initiative for 24/7 Applied technology support that was launched earlier that year.

Pinnacle Award Winners

Every year at Applied Net, five Applied customers are awarded the Pinnacle Award, our highest customer honor. This award recognizes a select group of Applied Systems customers for their valuable partnership with our company and visionary usage of Applied software. On stage last year, Reid French recognized these winners: AssuredPartners, BrokerLink, HHM Insurors, INSURICA and Motorists Insurance Group.

Keynote Speakers

Attendees at last year’s Applied Net were awed by an impressive lineup of keynote speakers including Admiral William H. McRaven, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Applied Systems CEO Reid French, EVP of Customer Experience Kris Hackney, and SVP of Product Management Michael Howe. During his keynote, Admiral William H. McRaven captivated attendees with his extraordinary experiences as a four-star admiral and commander of U.S. Special Operations Command where he led counter-terrorism operations worldwide. He also shared lessons and insights on authority amidst turmoil and instability, the force of teamwork and personal initiative, resilience in the face of opposition, and the unconditional importance of never giving up.

Applied Net Mobile App

The Applied Net app provided attendees with everything they needed to know about Applied Net. With detailed conference and education session schedules, venue maps, daily updates, and a lively discussion board, all the conference info needed was easily accessible from a smartphone or tablet. Attendees could even connect with other conference attendees, compete in the conference game for a chance to win amazing prizes, and check in by posting on the daily news feed.

Networking Events

Attendees at last year’s Applied Net enjoyed some of the most exciting events yet. Starting off the week, attendees were amazed by KÀ, Cirque du Soleil’s ultra-lavish production that featured mind-bending acrobatics, fierce martial arts, blazing pyrotechnics and jaw-dropping aerial adventures. On Wednesday, attendees wrapped up a legendary Applied Net with an unforgettable evening at Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub.

You Don’t Want to Miss Applied Net 2018!

This year’s Applied Net conference is anticipated to be the largest and most exciting yet with more than 3,000 insurance professionals in attendance. Attendees will have access to valuable networking events and more than 240 education sessions focused on how your business can compete and thrive in the digital age of insurance. Additionally, Captain Scott Kelly and Applied Systems CEO Reid French, among others, will provide keynotes discussing industry trends and inspiring transformation within the industry. Don’t miss what is sure to be an unforgettable event at Applied Net 2018.

Register for Applied Net 2018 today to explore how you must incorporate digital technology into your organization’s DNA to compete and thrive in this new digital age.

Register Now

6 Tips for Navigating the Applied Net Exchange

August 29, 2018

by Applied Communications
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Witness first-hand how technology can transform your business. Open daily throughout Applied Net 2018, the Applied Net Exchange provides you with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to network with your peers, Applied product experts and insurer partners in a single expo. This year, the Applied Net Exchange will be the biggest ever, with more than 100 exhibitors for you to meet with to discover the latest products and services driving the digital age of insurance.

To make navigating the Exchange easier, here are a few tips to help you stay organized and make the most of your Applied Net Exchange visits:

Plan Ahead – Identify Exhibitors You Want to Meet

Before your first visit, browse the exhibitor list and decide which companies you’d most like to meet with. Are there vendors there that your business would like to learn more about? Are there exhibitors your agency or brokerage already has relationships with? Make a list of any questions you might have for them and be sure to stop by their booths to learn about the latest vendor and insurer products and technologies.

Bring Your Contact Information

Don’t forget your business cards. Industry peers, Applied staff, Applied Client Network members and exhibitors are ready and willing to network with you so have your business cards handy to exchange contact information. Or, the Applied Net 2018 mobile app makes networking even easier.

Use the Applied Net 2018 App

With the Applied Net 2018 app, you’ll have all of the resources you need at your fingertips to successfully navigate the conference. You can manage your session schedule, network with peers and exhibitors, access conference venue maps, and more – conveniently from your phone or tablet. While you are visiting exhibitors, be on the lookout for QR codes placed throughout the Applied Net Exchange. Scanning a QR code and then posting a status update in the app will earn you an app Achievement Badge. Download the Applied Net 2018 app to get the most out of your conference experience.

Experience New Applied Technology

At the Applied Net Exchange, you can meet with Applied software experts at the Applied booth to demo the latest Applied innovations, or schedule a one-on-one meeting with a support specialist. Below are some questions to think about ahead of time to help narrow down which products you should check out:

  • Are there technology solutions available that can automate communications from insurers directly into my management system?

    Suggestion: If you are a U.S. agency interested in solutions to increase efficiency and save your staff time, don’t miss the IVANS Insurance Solutions booth. IVANS solutions enable U.S.-based agents to seamlessly connect to insurers and MGAs by a single, efficient workflow for information exchange that reduces manual processes, so agents can deliver faster client service. Stop by to demo IVANS complimentary solutions to discover how you can access more markets and automate servicing.
  • Am I still using the best Applied agency or brokerage management solution for my business?

    Suggestion: Stop by the Applied booth for a demo of the latest version of Applied Epic®, the world’s most widely used management system chosen by agencies and brokerages to manage their property and casualty and benefits business in a single application. Applied will be announcing some new capabilities at the conference that you don’t want to miss!
  • Do I have multi-channel service capabilities that enable my business to meet today’s consumer and workforce expectations?

    Suggestion: At the Applied Net Exchange, you can demo technology solutions that enable mobility for your customers and your staff. For example, Applied Mobile® connects insurance producers and brokers in the field to information in their management system via a mobile app, enabling them to sell more business for increased profitability. Consider an online self-service portal like Applied CSR24® to provide your clients with 24/7 access to their information. You can demo both at the Applied booth.
  • We have massive amounts of data but does our current technology truly provide data-driven insights that enable us to make quicker, more informed, actionable business decisions?

    Suggestion: If you’ve heard about big data and understand its importance but find it challenging to actually move from data to insights, stop by the Applied booth and ask for an Applied Analytics™ demo. Applied Analytics is the first insurance data analytics solution built for independent insurance agents and brokers that provides access to multiple levels of analysis on key performance indicators, book of business, employee operations and insurer relationships.

Don’t Miss the Applied Client Network Booth

The Applied Client Network is the only authorized user group for Applied Systems software. The network assists member agencies and brokerages in driving Applied product system utilization to increase agency and brokerage value through communication, education and advocacy. More than 55 affiliated local and virtual chapters give members the opportunity to network and utilize training materials, seminars and membership support with other users in their area. Simply put, Applied Client Network facilitates “users helping users.” Stop by their booth to learn more or visit www.appliedclientnetwork.org.

Last But Not Least, Learn All You Can

The most important thing that you should take away from the Applied Net Exchange or Applied Net conference as a whole is education – whether new tools, insights, or best practices, putting what you learn to work at your agency or brokerage will help you succeed and grow. Gather as many insights and best practices as you can for using Applied solutions to take back home with you so you can share your knowledge and improve your agency or brokerage.

Learn more about Applied Net 2018 >

35 Years of Serving the Insurance Industry

August 16, 2018

by Reid French
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As Applied celebrates its 35th year in business, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the past three-plus decades and what the future holds for our industry.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 35 years. Who would have predicted that a simple idea – a new way to manage an agency and connect an industry – would be so embraced? Some would say our longevity is a testament to our hard work. I like to attribute Applied’s 35 years of success to our commitment to software innovation and customer success, as well as the people of Applied – aka Team Applied – who make this promise possible each and every day.

Our Past Prepared Applied for an Exciting Future
Since our founding in 1983, Applied has set out to be the leading technology partner to the insurance industry. As the original InsurTech, we’ve built our leadership position with many notable “industry-firsts,” including the first PC-based management system; the first SEMCI Interface systems, enabling automated download; and the first mobile app purpose-built for independent insurance agencies, just to name a few.

When Applied became a business 35 years ago, we were laser-focused on advancing agency automation with state-of-the-art management systems. Today, while a necessity for every agency, a management system alone is no longer sufficient to be successful in our digital world. Thus, in 2011, we expanded our vision to focus more on digital connectivity between every stakeholder in the insurance lifecycle – agents, insurers and insureds. The connected business of insurance enables digital agencies and insurers to create higher value business transactions and deliver superior customer experiences.  

But, It’s Really About People
To our clients: We’re so appreciative and honored to work with you. I would like to thank you for partnering with Applied and trusting us to provide you with the industry-leading technology, and unmatched support and services to compete and thrive in the digital age. Team Applied is committed to your success and making possible the core promise of insurance – enabling agencies, brokers and insurers to safeguard and protect what matters most in people’s lives. Many of you have become personal friends and advisors to our company, allowing us to grow and learn individually, and, as an organization. Thank you for your unwavering support.

To our team members: To be in business for 35 years requires incredible people. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work every day with such an amazing team of talented, passionate and caring people across the U.S., Canada, the UK and Ireland. Your willingness to give of yourselves and help each other and our customers is very special and is deeply admired. 

To our partners: Thank you for collaborating with Applied to automate workflows and increase connectivity across the insurance lifecycle by embedding leading functionality into Applied’s solutions and connecting to our applications. Your best-of-breed solutions have a positive, sustainable impact on our clients’ businesses. You are a key part of our success, and we are proud to work with you as an open technology provider.

What’s Next for Applied?
Although the nature of our industry has changed immensely over these past 35 years, one thing has not changed. Applied remains steadfast in our values, our mission, and our vision – to revolutionize the global business of insurance through innovative cloud software.

We have established a track record of setting industry standards by which others aspire to follow. At the heart of these accomplishments is a great deal of hard work, dedication, and a willingness to take risks to benefit our customers and industry. However, you will not find Team Applied resting on our laurels. While our 35th anniversary may tempt us to indulge in a momentary self-congratulatory moment, we remain mindful that the insurance industry is an ever-changing place, and if anything, we must accelerate, not relax. We must think ahead to what the next 35 years will hold.

While we have come a long way, our work is not done. Building upon our industry leadership and expertise requires further dedication and focus on software innovation and customer success. Our culture of passion for delivering innovative solutions is unique in our industry. Despite the many changes we will undoubtedly make, it is this passion, and our relationships with you, our customers, which will remain the foundation for our next 35 years.

With gratitude for your support, 
Reid French

Reid FrenchReid French, Chief Executive Officer at Applied Systems, is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the Applied community. French came to Applied in 2011, after serving as chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson-Humphrey. French holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and The Lovett School in Atlanta.

Be There When Your Customers Need You Most

August 02, 2018

by Applied Communications
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Given that the U.S. experienced a historic year of weather and climate disasters in 2017, as an insurance agent it’s important to consider how you will effectively support customers and manage operations during an unforeseen event. Your business cannot afford prolonged downtime. According to Business News Daily, small businesses can lose $3,000 a day from being closed.

Even more troublesome than the debilitating financial effects, a disaster can lead to:

Data Loss

Your management system data is the lifeline of your business. If you were to permanently lose your data, could your agency recover?

Business Disruption

Physical damage to infrastructure can shutter a business for days, even weeks. Could your business sustain an extended disruption or closure?

Inability to Serve Customers

Being there for customers in their time of need is critical for both your clients and your business. Could your agency withstand reputational losses due to poor service?

94%

of companies that suffer from a catastrophic data loss do not survive.

University of Texas

93%

of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more during a disaster, filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.

National Archives & Records Administration in Washington

91%

of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave.

ThinkJar, 2017

 

Leveraging Technology to Protect Your Agency’s Most Critical Assets
To reduce loss and mitigate risk associated with potentially crippling situations, agencies need to develop a business continuity plan (BCP). Being prepared and having the right technologies in place will allow you to continue to operate and support customers when the unexpected happens.

For business continuity during a disaster, build your agency on a strong digital technology foundation that provides:

With “always-on” cloud, mobile and online customer self-service technology, your digital agency can:

  • Safeguard your data assets and operations against any threat
  • Remain operational and continue service to customers
  • Proactively communicate with customers and staff
  • Access policy and claims information 24/7
  • Eliminate downtime that leads to lost revenue

Cloud benefits can be particularly useful during a natural disaster or other crisis situation, helping insurance agencies reduce downtime and minimize the financial and reputational losses that can be caused by such event. It provides major cost and customer service advantages over competitors who suffer days of downtime waiting for generators or new computer equipment. Having infrastructure, tools and critical data running in the cloud ensures your data is safe and accessible no matter what. Essentially, the cloud supports continued operational resiliency by removing the need to immediately reinstall software or restore critical applications, data or files, allowing for faster recovery.

For business continuity planning, mobility provides an essential communication channel when other channels, such as landline phones, may not be functioning or accessible. Mobility provides customers with greater access to resources during critical times when they need their insurance agency. Mobility extends beyond servicing customers, however. It allows agents to conduct business from anywhere – whether at the office, a disaster site or at home – providing for faster workforce recovery following a disaster.

Prepare for the Unexpected
Today, customers expect the ability to communicate with their agency and receive key information regardless of the circumstances. Providing connectivity, continuous customer service and the quick dispatch of information during unexpected events has therefore become increasingly important for the successful operation of an insurance agency. Integrating cloud solutions and emerging communication channels helps reduce downtime and bolsters connectedness during events that could otherwise cripple the business. Ultimately, a BCP safeguards your agency’s most important assets: your relationships with loyal customers and employees.

Watch the What It Takes to Be a Digital Agent video to hear from leading agencies on how they’re using cloud, mobile and other digital technologies to transform their businesses and better support their customers.

IVANS Index: Q2 2018 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

July 19, 2018

by Brian Wood
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Get Ahead of Renewal Pricing for Your Clients.

Second Quarter of 2018 Shows General Uptick in Premium Renewal Rate Change
Compared to the previous quarter, the latest results from the IVANS Index show that the insurance industry premium renewal rate change has experienced variable change across nearly all major commercial lines products, including Commercial Auto, General Liability, Commercial Property and Umbrella. There was no change in premium renewal rate change for BOP, and Workers’ Compensation remains the only line of business experiencing a negative rate change.

Highlights from the Q2 2018 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: Premium renewal rate change averaged 4.32% for the quarter, ending at 4.38% for June.
  • BOP: Quarter premium renewal rate change averaged 4.01%, representing no change over last quarter’s average of 4.00%. BOP premium renewal rate change finished the quarter at 4.14% in June.
  • General Liability: The quarter premium renewal rate change reached 2.16% in April and ended the quarter in June at 2.35%.
  • Commercial Property: Q2 premium renewal rate change experienced an increase quarter over quarter, with an average rate change of 3.14% as compared to 3.11% in Q1 2018.
  • Umbrella: Q2 premium renewal rate change averaged 1.77% versus 1.49% in Q1 2018.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Premium renewal rate change slightly decreased in Q2, averaging at -2.49% as compared to -2.47% in Q1 2018.

The latest IVANS Index figures demonstrated slight variance quarter over quarter, with the most significant trend change occurring with General Liability and Umbrella. As the second quarter comes to a close, the IVANS Index shows that the Commercial Lines market continues to harden, providing guidance for agents to advise their clients on policy changes and market intelligence for insurers to support pricing strategies.

General Liability
General Liability insurance premium renewal rate change for Q2 averaged 2.29% versus 2.01% in Q1 2018, with a six month average of 2.15%. In Q2, May marked the quarter high at 2.37% premium renewal rate change, with the low in April at 2.16%. Retail firms continue to experience higher than average premium renewal rate change across the past six months, most notably in Q2 2018, relative to the average. Six month premium renewal rate change was 4.63%, with a spike in May at 6.25%.

Umbrella
Umbrella premium renewal rate change averaged 1.77% in Q2 versus 1.49% in Q1 2018, with a six month average of 1.63%. Premium renewal rate change reached a quarterly high at 2.31% in April and low at 1.46% in June. Texas experienced higher than average premium renewal rate change in Q2 at 4.25% relative to the national average at 1.77%, with a spike in June at 5.09%.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the full Q2 2018 IVANS Index report now >

Brian Wood, Vice President of Data Products Group for IVANS, develops innovative and data-driven applications, tools and services for the insurance industry. Prior to this position, he co-founded EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied in Sept 2015. Brian spent 10 years with Marsh & McLennan as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis where he developed global insurance distribution platforms. Brian began his career in insurance building the first company to bind insurance online, insuranceOrder.com (a Trilogy company) which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2001.

Applied Net: A Must-Attend Event for Your Entire Agency

July 03, 2018

by Applied Communications
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Each year, insurance professionals from across North America, Canada, the UK and Ireland come together to discuss the latest technologies empowering them to compete and thrive in the digital age of insurance. Applied Net is the flagship annual conference, exhibition and networking event for insurance professionals who use Applied Systems software.

To be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville October 15-18, Applied Net 2018 will feature inspiring keynotes, more than 200 educational sessions, and an innovation showcase to explore the digital age of insurance and how you must incorporate digital technology into your organization’s DNA to compete and thrive in this new digital age.  

Collin Passman, IT Coordinator at The Signature B&B Companies, an Acrisure Agency Partner, and multi-year Applied Net attendee, sat down with us to discuss his favorite parts of the conference and why he recommends every insurance professional – regardless of role – attend.

Applied Communications: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Collin. To start, give us a brief introduction to your agency and role there.

Passman: We are an 87 user agency with two office locations. We write Personal Lines, Commercial Lines and Benefits. Our agency has been on Applied Epic since January 1, 2012. My current job duties include training new employees on Applied Epic as well as coordinating all IT and agency management system projects.

Q: Appreciate the introduction. Let’s switch gears and talk about Applied Net. What is the best part of the conference?

A: My favorite part of Applied Net is learning from other Applied technology users and networking with people at agencies similar to ours.

Q: Do you have an example of content that you’ve brought back and implemented into your agency?

A: I have brought back so much it is hard to choose just one thing. We recently moved all of our Benefits business onto Applied Epic as a result of recommendations that I received at Applied Net.

Q: Can you tell us more about the feeling of community you get from Applied Net?

A: It’s all about users helping users, and that is what Applied Net brings to the forefront. When you are at the conference you know that you are amongst your peers and know that you can turn to just about anyone for advice and help.

Q: Do you feel that Applied Net is a good place to discover new technology?

A: Applied Net is an awesome place to learn. The Exchange is a great place to discover the latest advancements in technology and third-party applications that integrate with Applied technology. The Applied booth is the best place to get hands-on training and product demonstrations.

Q: Do you feel like Applied Net pays for itself in terms of how it helps your agency?

A: If you can bring back at least three things to implement at your agency then it pays for itself, and I have never been disappointed.

Q: What other parts of the conference do you enjoy?

A: I really enjoy the evening events. They are always top notch and prove that both the Applied Client Network and Applied Systems really care about the attendees. I also take a lot of pleasure in seeing old faces and making new friends.

Q: As a conference alum, can you tell me why you would recommend attending Applied Net again?

A: That’s easy. There is always something new to learn and someone new to learn from. I have presented at Applied Net for the past four years and will be doing so again this year.

Register now for Applied Net 2018 and discover how to take advantage of the opportunities available in the digital age of insurance to prepare your business for success today and in the future.

Golf & Insurance: Guide to Scoring a Data Analytics Birdie

June 21, 2018

by Applied Communications
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Golf & InsuranceLast week, 156 of the world’s top golf talent competed in the 118th U.S. Open. Taking place in Southampton, N.Y. at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the annual tournament is one of the four major golf events and is as stern of a test of golf as there is in the game.

Each year, viewers watching the U.S. Open on TV see an increasing number of stats and data on each of the world famous players. Scrolling along the bottom of the screen, networks broadcast stats on distance, accuracy, iron play and short game. It’s really quite fascinating how each facet of a player’s golf game can be digitally tracked and compared, then improved upon.

Even more amazing is that this one tournament holds just a small subset of all of the data that goes into the game of golf. Golf has millions of data points behind it. GOLFstats.com alone boasts over 2.1 million records (that is records per golfer) for men/ladies golf tournaments in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The record for Jack Nicklaus for example, takes into account EVERY single tournament he’s played, each swing from driving distance to short game – even his cash winnings.

Like golfers, independent agents and brokers have a vast amount of data to draw upon and analyze to improve their business game, both long and short. But how can you use all of this information to gain a deeper understanding of your business? Consider robust data analytics applications to transform data into visual insights so you can more efficiently understand how your business is playing “the game” and the strategies needed to improve.

Move Beyond Simple Reporting
I’ve heard many stories from agents about being able to see their data, but not being able to unlock it for insights. A basic report, created in Excel for example, is defined and static and only offers a point-in-time snapshot of one or more business metrics. In contrast, data analytics is more advanced in how it analyzes data and often delivers multiple levels of analysis via highly graphical, interactive dashboards. Because data analytics solutions are automated and utilize real-time information, users are empowered to make faster, more insightful decisions across many aspects of a business – without spending countless hours manually pulling reports.

5 Steps for Data Analytics Success
Becoming a data-powered business requires solid planning, resource allocation and effective change management. With a clear plan and the right tools in place, you can use your data to turn information into actionable insights that drive your business forward.

Here are 5 steps to better understand your game, improve your swing and get one step closer to a business performance “hole-in-one.”

  1. Define the business value.
    Start your data analytics project by determining what problem you are trying to solve or what goal you are trying to achieve.
  1. Create your data ecosystem.
    Because there are multiple sources for data, your agency needs to implement the technology and methodology to build a data architecture that is secure, fosters collaboration, and can easily scale as business demands grow. This is known as the data ecosystem. When it comes to data, always remember that garbage in, is garbage out. Creating a culture of data quality is critical in fully realizing a data ecosystem.
  1. Outline your insights.
    Define what key performance indicators your organization is trying to better understand, determine the level of frequency that you want your business reviewing the data, and consider if there are benchmarks that you would like to analyze your data against.
  1. Integrate decision workflows.
    Incorporate data analytics review and analysis in your decision making process. You can use it to design more effective work practices, drive accountability within your agency, improve transparency, and align agency resources through increased awareness of performance.  
  2. Manage adoption.
    Successful adoption requires employees to accept and trust the data analytics tools, understand how they work, and use them consistently.

Thrive in the Age of Data
Understanding your data gives you a competitive advantage into today’s digital market, as well as the opportunity to grow your business. While our handicaps may never be as good as the golf pros at the U.S. Open, we can at least analyze our performance data in many of the same ways.

For more insights on how to achieve data analytics success, download the Data Analytics: Turning Information into Insights White Paper.

Brian Wood, Vice President of Data Products Group for Applied, develops innovative and data-driven applications, tools and services for the insurance industry. Prior to this position, he co-founded EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied in Sept 2015. Brian spent 10 years with Marsh & McLennan as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis where he developed global insurance distribution platforms. Brian began his career in insurance building the first company to bind insurance online, insuranceOrder.com (a Trilogy company) which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2001.

IVANS Index: May 2018 Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change

June 07, 2018

by Brian Wood
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Get Ahead of Renewal Pricing for Your Clients.

May Results Show Uptick Across Majority of Major Commercial Product Lines
The latest IVANS Index results for May 2018 showed that the majority of standard commercial lines products are trending positively, except Commercial Auto and Umbrella, which experienced a slight downward tick while still remaining in positive territory.

Highlights from the May 2018 results include:

  • Commercial Auto: 4.04%, down from 4.54% at the end of April.
  • BOP: 4.02%, up from 3.86% the month prior.
  • General Liability: 2.37%, up from 2.16% at the end of last month.
  • Commercial Property: 3.20%, up from 2.98% at the end of April.
  • Umbrella: 1.54%, down from 2.31% the month prior.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -2.71%, up from -2.93% at the end of April.

May’s IVANS Index figures show that premium rate change across the industry still remains steadily positive, with average variance from month to month across nearly all lines, except for Umbrella which experienced the most significant trend change. These numbers demonstrate that the Commercial Lines market remains hard and further provide guidance on the most profitable lines of business for both insurers and agents.

Analyzing more than 120 million data transactions, the IVANS Index premium renewal rate change measures the premium difference year over year for a single consistent policy. Inclusive of more than 30,000 agencies and 380 insurers and MGAs, the IVANS Index is reflective of the premium rate change trends being experienced by all agencies and insurers across the U.S. insurance market.

For further insights into premium renewal rate change across the industry, download the full IVANS Index report now >

Brian Wood, Vice President of Data Products Group for IVANS, develops innovative and data-driven applications, tools and services for the insurance industry. Prior to this position, he co-founded EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied in Sept 2015. Brian spent 10 years with Marsh & McLennan as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis where he developed global insurance distribution platforms. Brian began his career in insurance building the first company to bind insurance online, insuranceOrder.com (a Trilogy company) which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2001.

Spring into the Digital Age of Insurance

May 24, 2018

by Reid French
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Our 2018 Digital Agency Survey indicates that the national average for digital technology adoption among independent agencies is 44%. Given this score is exactly the same as 2017, it reveals that agencies have yet to fully embrace the opportunities that digital technology affords to service and support connected consumers in the digital age.

Technology expands your business’s communication channels – to clients and insurer partners. It effectively mobilizes your staff from their desk to your customers and prospects in the field. Digital technology also elevates your role as a trusted advisor, making you present at all moments of opportunity – anytime, anywhere. There is significant opportunity and competitive advantage to be had for agencies willing to adopt new technologies and implement digital transformation strategies.

The 5 Pillars of a Digital Agency

The Digital Agency Survey evaluates adoption of the five core capabilities of a Digital Agency, including a management system, insurer connectivity, mobility, cloud and data analytics, which work cohesively together to drive digital transformation.

Here are a few key takeaways from this year’s report:

  1. 97% of survey respondents use a management system
    This almost ubiquitous adoption by agencies worldwide confirms that the management system is the foundation of their business operations and indispensable for their day-to-day operations. Managing separate, disparate systems is both costly and time consuming to agencies. In fact, studies show that switching between different systems can reduce staff productivity by as much as 30%. Using a single application to manage your entire business, including personal lines, commercial lines, and employee benefits, eliminates the need for multiple systems and creates standardized workflows so that your staff can be more productive and make better business decisions faster.
  1. 77% of survey respondents receive download directly into the management system
    Some download types, such as Personal Lines, are more widely received, but overall, use of download services is strong and growing among agencies throughout North America. This strong showing reinforces the importance agencies place on digital connectivity with insurer partners. Through increased connectivity, agents have greater access to markets and automated servicing, providing instant access to the latest client information – from quotes to policy details to claims management – at a moment’s notice and when clients need it most.
  1. Only 45% of agencies have mobile access to management system information, and even fewer, 24% and 18% respectively, offer clients mobile apps and self-service portals
    Given that more than half of all consumers first use mobile devices for anything they do online, agencies must embrace mobile technology now for both clients and staff. Today’s consumers demand anytime, anywhere service and businesses that don’t provide this risk losing their customers to alternative providers. In fact, studies show that 52% of consumers would switch providers for greater online service. Your staff also demand greater flexibility and servicing options. Giving staff remote access to information and tools within the management system empowers them to quickly respond to client and prospect service and sales requests.
  1. 65% of agencies host software in the cloud
    Studies show that 60% of small and medium-sized businesses that experience a cyber-attack go out of business after six months, which is why 65% of agencies rely on the cloud. Hosting the applications that your agency relies on day in and day out in the cloud ensures continuous business operations and data security. By leveraging software that is always accessible and backed up by redundancies, your business is available to customers – even during a catastrophic event that historically would have completely disrupted agency operations. Additionally by eliminating the time and expense managing IT systems, more of your staff’s time can be spent selling insurance and servicing customers.
  1. Only 20% of survey respondents use data analytics applications
    Year over year, agency use of data analytics applications to gain insights from their management system data remains virtually unchanged. Ambivalence to adopting data analytics is likely due to the misconception that it is too complex and technical for agencies to manage on their own. However, data analytics solutions have rapidly advanced and are extremely accessible to any business regardless of size, revenue and/or IT resources. Agencies need to gather, process and get insights from data in real time across the entire business. Making the shift from being a data-generating organization to one that is data-powered gives agencies a competitive edge through enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization. Studies also show that information-centric organizations realize 20% more profit than their competitors.

Why Becoming a Digital Agency Matters
While the independent insurance agency channel has progressed in its adoption of technology, this year’s results indicate that there is still considerable opportunity for agencies to digitally transform their business to provide complete connectivity to staff, insurers and insureds. When you think about the core promise of insurance — to safeguard and protect what matters most in people’s lives — it is vital to use digital technology to ensure your agency will be there when your customers need you most.

For more industry insights and to learn how technology can help your business grow in the digital age of insurance, download the complete Applied Digital Agency Annual Report.

Reid FrenchReid French, Chief Executive Officer at Applied Systems, is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the Applied community. French came to Applied in 2011, after serving as chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson-Humphrey. French holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and The Lovett School in Atlanta.

There’s Gold in Them Thar Management Systems

May 10, 2018

by Brian Wood
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The phrase “there’s gold in them thar hills” is probably best known as being uttered in various Bugs Bunny cartoons. However, Dr. Matthew Fleming Stephenson first said it to persuade miners to stay in Dahlonega, GA instead of heading to California for the Gold Rush in 1849. Today, over 100 years later, I still hear the catchphrase being used to bring attention to an opportunity where there are riches to be found. Mining for valuable resources still happens today and in the insurance industry, that mining is for data.

Data is the rich and growing renewable resource of the information age. And the good news is you don’t have to head west to find it. There is an enormous amount of valuable data related to your customers, insurers and agents within your management system just waiting to be unearthed. Like mining for gold though, data requires the right set of tools and processes to be extracted and understood. Data analytics applications turn information into visual insights for faster, more informed decision making. Reliance on outdated, manual reporting is no longer sufficient. To survive and thrive in the data-driven digital age, agencies must embrace new approaches that enable them to maximize the value of their data.

“Information is money. The ability to extract the right information at the right time holds an immense value and should be the goal of every executive, manager and employee”

Tomasz Sloniewski, Analyst at IDC

Why Tap the Gold Mine?
“Information is money. The ability to extract the right information at the right time holds an immense value and should be the goal of every executive, manager and employee,” according to Tomasz Sloniewski, Analyst at IDC. In fact, Gartner reports mirror this sentiment and have found that information-centric organizations are 20% more profitable and 110% more valuable than their less analytically driven peers. By becoming data-powered businesses, agencies gain a competitive edge through enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization.

Specifically, data analytics empowers agencies to:

  • Determine how profitable their book of business is
  • Adjust sales practices to improve profits
  • Reduce time wasted on unresponsive policyholders
  • Increase per agent and per customer profitability
  • Maximize overall business profitability

What Kind of Data Can Be Mined?
Although data analytics solutions have traditionally focused on areas of interest to agency principals and owners, these applications have evolved to provide more expansive insights of value to the entire business, including Sales and Accounting departments. With this in mind, consider data analytics to evaluate the following core areas of your business:

  • Book of Business Performance
    Understanding your client data enables your agency to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, as well as analyze potential growth and new market opportunities to drive business profitability.
  • Financial Performance
    Analyze the overall performance of your business to ensure you’re on track of reaching your goals and measure year-over-year performance to compare the outcomes of different strategies.
  • Staff Performance
    Your staff keep your business running. It’s important to look at employees’ books of business over time and how quickly they are completing tasks so you can identify any workflow bottlenecks that may impact the growth and profitability of your business.
  • Insurer Partner Performance
    Lastly, it’s important to look at your insurer relationships to see which are the most responsive, providing the best services and driving the most revenue.

Data: The Gold of the Digital Age
It’s hard to imagine analyzing so many metrics when traditional reporting is complex and time-consuming. Data analytics solutions are automated and utilize real-time information to ensure greater productivity and timely decisions. To be competitive in the digital age, processes need to be automated, employees more productive, and decisions made in an instant. With data analytics successfully woven into the fabric of your agency, you position your agency to retain current customers, acquire new customers, streamline operations, increase profitability and remain a viable competitor now and in the years ahead. 

Ready to turn your information into insights? Download the Data Analytics: Turning Information into Insights white paper to learn how to achieve data analytics success.

Brian Wood, Vice President of the Applied Data Products Group, develops innovative and data-driven applications, tools and services for the insurance industry. Prior to this position, he co-founded EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied in Sept 2015. Brian spent 10 years with Marsh & McLennan as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis where he developed global insurance distribution platforms. Brian began his career in insurance building the first company to bind insurance online, insuranceOrder.com (a Trilogy company) which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2001.