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IVANS Index: Premium Renewal Rate Change for August

September 14, 2017

by Matt Foran
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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.

Auto insurance losses a cause of pain for most insurers over the past 18 months
Fitch ratings has stated that “U.S. commercial auto insurance has evolved into a chronically underperforming product segment.” Increased losses have been attributed to more miles driven as the economy recovers and gas prices remain low, distracted driving caused by cell phones, higher repair costs, and higher bodily injury severity.

Despite consistent and worsening product performance results, commercial auto premium renewal rates have remained steady since the beginning of the year. In July, rates moved above 3% and remained above 3% in August. One of the largest drivers of the increase has been California. As noted in the graph above, California commercial auto is on the move upwards. Many other large states have remained steady.

Will California be an early leader that other states follow? With Harvey impacting Texas and Irma likely causing substantial losses in Florida, it is likely that other states may be following soon.

Download the full IVANS Index Q2 Report >

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

Technology & Insurance: Yes, They Can – and Should – Coexist

August 31, 2017

by Matt Simon
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I am an insurance advisor in a small town agency in Ohio with five office locations, all located in rural areas. We’ve been around since 1920, so every stereotype of legacy systems, mentality and “the old way of doing things” have certainly been thrown at us over the years.  However, throughout our history, we’ve never lost sight of our “why”. We exist today because we take care of people: our clients, our associates, and our partner insurance companies.

But don’t interpret that as complacency. Or an old-school agency stuck in its ways.

The fact is, we’re making major investments in technology, but not because we believe technology will replace the relationships we’ve spent nearly 100 years cultivating.

Quite the contrary.

We believe that to truly fulfill our purpose of taking care of people, technology must integrate into our culture to enhance the relationship we have with our clients. And every technology we implement must free up our associates’ time to do what they do best – what no technology will ever do – helping people protect what matters most in life.

It was this aha! moment when we realized that embarking on a path to becoming a digital agency was not only necessary, but in complete alignment with our cause.

So here’s what we’ve done.

We identified three purposes for technology within our organization:

  1. Empower our associates – This is our internal technology strategy
  2. Better manage relationships with our existing clients to improve retention – This is our external technology strategy
  3. Develop new opportunities by finding clients aligned with our values not yet on our radar – This is our inbound technology strategy

Internal Technology
We needed a solution that not only helped our associates take better care of our clients, but was easy and efficient to use, so that they’re spending less time on data entry and more time on communication.

For us, that solution is Applied Epic. We can leverage technologies directly in our agency management system – download, workflows, reporting, CRM, anytime/anywhere access – to free up more time for our advisors to actually advise our clients.

Applied Epic provides us with a holistic view of our five agencies, allows us to manage the sales cycle for our producers, and when this cloud solution is combined with the power of Applied Mobile, it positions us as an organization desirable to potential associates, especially millennials, that want the same tech integration in their professional life as what they depend on in their personal life.

External Strategy
While we firmly believe no technology will ever replace the relationship agents have with their clients, we stand firm behind the belief that it’s absolutely critical for us to implement technology solutions that make our clients’ lives easier.

A good example: We’re using Applied CSR24 so that clients have anytime access to their policy information, and can utilize this solution for the more transactional workflows where they’d prefer to deal with a technology solution versus a human.

The client wins because they utilize a technology they’re not only comfortable with, but actually favor instead of picking up the phone to call us.

Our advisors win because it’s one less data entry task that needs to be completed, and now they have more time to spend on the challenges that require brain power instead of computing power.

Inbound Marketing
We’ve deployed a dual approach to our inbound strategy:

  1. Content Marketing – we’re constantly developing content that speaks directly to the types of clients we’re trying to attract, measuring and analyzing the results with tools accessed via HubSpot, and adjusting as necessary. And it’s working. In 2016 alone, $43,277 in revenue was directly attributable to our digital presence.
  2. Partnering with organizations that share our vision of technology enhancing the value of an independent agent. For example, we partner with TrustedChoice and Agency Nation to harness the power of connecting the right insurance buyer with the right agent.

Conclusion
This is by no means a complete list of everything we’re doing, or each technology we’re using. But it certainly touches on those making the most significant impact to our business today, and perhaps more importantly, what we see as critical to our future.

Two takeaways I’d love for you to get from this article:

  1. We didn’t make all these investments overnight. This digital path is one we’ve been on for the better part of seven years now. And we’re definitely not perfect. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes over the years. But we test, implement, learn and revise as necessary. And if we, an agency that’s been around since 1920, can do it, so can you.
  2. You don’t have to go it alone. Once we identified where we wanted to go from a digital perspective, I’ve been amazed at the number of strategic partners that have aligned so well with our purpose.

Let’s stop viewing technology as the major disruptor to our industry, and start leveraging its power to do what we’ve done so well for hundreds of years – advising our clients. After all, I’d love to have a business that my son can not only perpetuate one day (he’s only 3 ½ years old so I have some time), but one that he’s passionate about in an industry that’s thriving.

Who’s with me?

To learn more about becoming a digital agency, download the eBook now.

Matt Simon has been a Licensed Insurance Advisor with Hill & Hamilton Insurance, an industry leading, independent insurance agency headquartered in Ohio, since 2006.  Prior to joining the team at H&H, he worked as an Underwriter with a regional insurance company located in Columbus, Ohio. Matt is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and a Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), having successfully completed the rigorous coursework and exams to earn these prestigious designations. He’s the Vice President at H&H, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Insurance Agents Association and the Associated Risk Managers of Ohio. In 2013, Matt was awarded and recognized as the National Young Insurance Agent of the Year.

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

August 17, 2017

by Applied Communications
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There are only 40 days until Applied Net 2017, 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 2017.

Monday’s Pre-Conference Program

Kicking off the week, Monday’s Pre-Conference program included valuable educational sessions and networking opportunities. Last year’s Executive Management Program featured sessions highlighting best practices for digital businesses, new customer service technologies and strategies to create a digital sales culture. 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 cyber liability and insurance ethics. Wrapping up Monday night, attendees enjoyed the Welcome Reception where they reconnected with peers and friends in network 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 how technology is connecting the business of insurance, setting the tone for the conference as innovative and inspiring.

200+ Educational Sessions

With more than 200 sessions taught by subject matter experts and industry leaders, last year delivered attendees many 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.

All-New Session Formats

For the first time, Applied Net 2016 offered new session formats. 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. 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

Attendees experienced the digital technology enabling agencies and brokerages to seamlessly connect with insurers and insureds. 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, chief executive officer at Applied, revealed the initiative for 24/7 Applied technology support.

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 our winners: Central Insurance Companies, First West, The Horton Group, Insurance Office of America, KFSA Insurance Agency.

Keynote Speakers

Attendees at Applied Net 2016 were awed by an impressive lineup of keynote speakers including Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, Holly Hoffman, Disney Institute Facilitator, Applied Systems CEO Reid French, EVP of Customer Experience Kris Hackney, and SVP of Product Management Michael Howe. During his keynote, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger captivated attendees with his story of how he safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency landing in New York City’s Hudson River. He also shared insights on how to manage unprecedented crisis and the opportunity technology affords individuals and businesses today to prepare for the unexpected.

Applied Net Mobile App

The Applied Net app provided attendees with everything they needed to know about Applied Net 2016. 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 Applied Net 2016 enjoyed some of the most exciting events yet. Starting at Universal Studios Florida, Applied reserved The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and the New York stress sets at Universal Studios Florida. On Thursday, Jake and Elwood performed at the world-famous Hour of Blues in Disney Springs, wrapping up a legendary Applied Net with an unforgettable performance.

You don’t want to miss Applied Net 2017!

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 220 education sessions, including leadership programs, such as the Executive Management program and the all-new Emerging Leaders program. Additionally, Admiral William H. McRaven, Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, 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 2017.

Register Now

IVANS Index: Second Quarter Continues to Show Positive Results

August 03, 2017

by Matt Foran
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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.

Q2 Premium Renewal Rate Change Remains Consistent
Premium renewal rate change across the industry remained consistent for the quarter, with greater variability experienced by General Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance. The IVANS Index Q2 results show a slight uptick across Business Owner’s Policy, Commercial Property, and Workers’ Compensation compared to Q1. However, Workers’ Compensation moved back into negative territory at the end of Q2 following positive territory in May.

This quarter’s key findings include:

  • Business Owner’s Policy (BOP): Quarter premium renewal rate change averaged 4.21%, representing an increase over last quarter’s average of 3.89%. BOP premium renewal rate change finished the quarter at 4.11% in June
  • Commercial Property: Q2 reversed the downward premium renewal rate change trend of Q1, with rates moving to 3.52% in June from an average of 2.66% in Q1. 
  • Workers’ Compensation: Q2 experienced the first positive premium renewal rate change of 2017 in May at 0.58%, but quarterly average remained in negative territory at -0.16%.

Premium renewal rate change for Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) averaged 4.21% in Q2, with May marking the quarter high at 4.49% and April marking the quarter low at 4.02%. California BOP buyers have moved upwards to 6.47% premium renewal rate change in June vs. the average of 4.11% across all states. In the past quarter, California buyers have averaged 5.50% premium renewal rate change vs. the average of 4.21% across all states.

Workers’ Compensation premium renewal rate change averaged -0.16% in Q2 vs. -0.48% in Q1, with a six month average of -0.32%. In May, renewals experienced a temporary spike above zero, but quickly returned to negative territory at -0.86% in June.

IVANS Index continues to provide unique data insights on premium renewal trends that are influencing renewal and pricing strategies. IVANS Index is available to agencies and insurers as part of Market Insights at markets.ivansinsurance.com.

Download the full IVANS Index Q2 Report >

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

Customer Appreciation: Helping Protect What Matters Most

July 20, 2017

by Kris Hackney
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As businesses, our customers are core to the mission we live and work by each and every day. It is critical to keep customers happy in order to retain them and remain successful. If customers don’t remain at the forefront of our daily efforts, consumers will quickly find a new provider. In fact, customer turnover caused by declining loyalty and poor customer experiences represents as much as $470 billion Life and Property & Casualty premiums globally according to Accenture.

To prevent customer turnover, businesses must ask themselves, “What can we do to make sure our customers are happy with our products and services?” At Applied, our mission is to strive every day to provide our customers with the technology they need to protect and safeguard what matters most in their clients’ lives. Our core values hold us accountable for the service we provide, including “to be results-oriented” and “to exceed expectations.” Both values focus on striving for excellence and our commitment to our customers. This commitment is evaluated and demonstrated every year in our Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey, which is consistently around 94%, but that does not allow for compliance. It is critical that we remain steadfast in innovation so we can always fulfill our customers’ needs, so that you can deliver on the core promise of insurance – to protect what matters most. And it is the greatest opportunity and core purpose of the industry to deliver anytime, anywhere service to the insured in their time of need.

What kind of services are your insureds looking for?

Today’s consumers are looking for quick and easy service. It is important for independent insurance agencies to provide their clients with the technologies they seek in order to stay competitive.

Here are 3 service considerations to ensure you keep – and attract – customers:

  • Can your customers reach you 24/7? Nowadays, people can access all kinds of information anytime, anywhere with the internet. It is important for you to provide that same luxury to your insureds. With self-service software, customers can access important insurance documents, even when the office is closed.
  • How available are you? Consumers are accustomed to in-person service or calling to receive service, as well as logging in to a client portal on their smart phones or computers for services like online bill pay and text message updates. Companies like Amazon and Uber have made omnichannel servicing a must-have for businesses. Insurance agencies that provide an online client portal and mobile app for their policyholders will see a significant increase in customer retention and satisfaction.
  • Are you providing online convenience from the start? The buyer’s journey starts online, and accurate quoting integrated into your agency’s website easily converts prospects into clients. The customer experience is enhanced with access to a broad range of insurers and an easy and quick process of securing insurance products.

In the changing insurance landscape, it is important for agencies to stay up to date on the latest technologies so they can consistently provide the best service to their policyholders. At Applied, we strive to always provide the software agencies need to gain a competitive advantage. When we work together, we will all see success and ultimately help to protect what matters most.

Comment below on how you drive customer satisfaction at your agency.

Kristin HackneyKris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.

Top 5 Reasons to Attend Applied Net 2017

July 06, 2017

by Applied Communications
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Each year, thousands of insurance agents, brokers, industry experts and Applied team members from North America, the UK and Ireland come together for 4 full days of learning opportunities, access to the latest technologies and world-class networking events. As the largest gathering of insurance professionals, Applied Net provides the arena for agents and brokers to discuss how to embrace digital transformation and capitalize on new business opportunities.

Take advantage of the opportunities created by the Digital Transformation of Insurance at Applied Net 2017 and prepare your business for success in our digital world.

Register Now for Applied Net 2017 >

IVANS Index: More Jobs and Better Wages Are Pushing Workers’ Comp

June 22, 2017

by Matt Foran
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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.

Monthly Update: Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ Compensation has been the one holdout product in the IVANS Index to remain in negative territory since the beginning of the year. So what finally pushed Workers’ Comp into positive territory? Exposure.

The states that contributed most to the uptick include Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Many of these states have pushed for Workers’ Comp rate decreases over the past year. The Colorado Division of Insurance saw a 2.4% decrease in Workers’ Comp rates effective January 1, 2017.

The one substantial state difference in our analysis is Florida. Given the enacted state rate change, effective December 2016, Florida insureds have seen an average Workers’ Comp rate change of 10.2% since the beginning of the year. In addition to the state mandated rate increase, Florida has also seen strong economic growth with an April 4.5% unemployment rate, 2.9% wage increase and 3.1% quarterly growth rate.

Economic improvement in these states is contributing to the move upward in the IVANS Index. States that contributed to the upward Workers’ Comp movement have strong economic results, particularly strong unemployment rates, wage growth and quarterly growth rates.

There are many states with near all-time best unemployment rates. Even states like Illinois and Texas, with 4.7% and 5.0% unemployment rates, respectively, are still within 1 point of their best ever rate.

The average wage growth was 0.1%, with most states impacting Workers’ Comp showing far more positive results. The combination of strong unemployment figures and wage growth appear to have acted as a contributing force to move Workers’ Comp above zero.

Future actions by states like New York, where the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has approved a rate decrease of 4.5% effective October 1st, may cause Workers’ Comp to move back into negative territory sooner than later.

Further analysis of Workers’ Comp movements will be included in the IVANS Index Q2 Report.

View the full IVANS Index Q1 Report >

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

Digital Agency Scorecard: How Does Your Agency Rank?

June 08, 2017

by Kris Hackney
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Digital technology is rapidly transforming the way independent insurance agencies run their businesses. From accounting and administration to customer service and sales, technology has automated these processes so less time is spent on manual, administrative tasks. Agencies that have embraced digital technology benefit from higher employee productivity, better customer service and greater profitability – earning their designation as digital agencies.

The Digital Agency

Digital agencies capitalize on five areas of technology, including a foundational agency management system, data analytics, insurer connectivity, cloud and mobile technology.

  1. A foundational agency management system: Leverage a single system to efficiently manage customer relationships, policy and benefits administration, sales automation, financial accounting processes and document management across the entire business in one application.
  1. Data analytics: Make more informed business decisions through data analytics software to uncover insights on client and business operations.
  1. Insurer connectivity: Communicate and exchange data securely and seamlessly from insurer systems directly to your management systems to reduce manual processes and deliver faster, more complete service to your insureds.
  1. Cloud technology: Secure your data and improve performance by moving core software applications to offsite data centers.
  1. Mobile technology: Provide insureds and staff anytime access to insurance information with information readily available via mobile devices.

The Digital Agency Scorecard

Applied‘s Digital Agency Scorecard measures an agency’s digital transformation against their peers, based on industry benchmarks developed from agents’ answers to the Applied Digital Agency Survey. In this survey, independent insurance agents worldwide are asked a series of 15 questions about the use of technology in their businesses. Responses provide data, which is used to calculate a digital score for each survey respondent and identifies a baseline for technology adoption. Each year, the survey is distributed to agents around the world to gain an understanding of the current technology adoption trends across the industry, keeping the Scorecard up to date.

Businesses scoring 80% or above across all core competencies are considered to be digital agencies, having adopted most of the key drivers of digital transformation. By asking questions about technologies already implemented, the Digital Agency Scorecard also identifies which factors can be improved upon to become more of a digital agency, ultimately increasing productivity and profitability.

It is critical for agencies to evaluate their use of technology in order to grow their businesses. Digital agencies benefit in ways such as ease of doing business, better customer service and greater connectivity to insurers. Agencies can use the Applied Digital Agency Scorecard to see where they rank in relation to their peers, as well as assess how they can improve their operations through technology. It is imperative that agencies take the survey to keep adoption trends current and accurate. Please take a moment to complete the survey, so your business can take advantage of the latest industry technology trends and remain competitive.

Take the Digital Agency Survey now >

Kristin HackneyKris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.

Horse Racing and Insurance: Betting on Better Business Performance

May 24, 2017

by Michael Howe
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Big hats, seersucker suits, Hot Brown sandwiches and My Old Kentucky Home. These things are synonymous with the world-famous Kentucky Derby, run each May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Since 1875, people from around the world have gathered in the stands and in front of their televisions to watch 20 thoroughbred horses run for the roses.

Arguably, one of the reasons the Kentucky Derby has been named “the most exciting two minutes in sports” is because of the opportunity to place a bet on which horse will win. Take your pick among the contenders and, if you choose wisely, within two minutes you could end up in the winner’s circle. Of course, to increase the likelihood of success, we first have to understand the information available to help make a smart choice.

In order to make an educated assessment on which horse might win, a good place to start is with the vast array of statistics available on horses, jockeys, trainers and owners. There are myriad sources available which collect, organize and present the information in a way to help understand history, performance trends and any number of extenuating factors that can all be a predictor of future success. For those so inclined to take advantage of and learn from this information, the art of identifying likely winners becomes less a game of random chance, and more a calculated choice.

Like horse racing, the business of insurance creates massive amounts of raw data across customers, insurers and agents. For independent insurance agencies, there is an emerging opportunity to harness and analyze that information using technology similar to the databases used to house horse racing statistics. With data analytics applications purpose-built for independent insurance agencies, agency leaders can access this information to glean insights into key performance metrics needed to help make better and more informed business decisions. With the rapid pace of change and innovation across the insurance industry, agencies interested in the information edge provided by data analytics should focus on the following areas:

Internal Operations Productivity Optimization
Data can provide insights that enable agencies to focus on improving business production and efficiency.

  • Employee Productivity
    Understand employees’ renewals and books of business over time, how quickly they are completing tasks and activities, workflow bottlenecks, responsibility overlaps and which employees are hitting sales goals.
  • Current Client, Revenue and Policy Data
    View client value, size, policy mix, servicing team and various client trends over time – and evaluate how each is impacting your bottom line.

New and Existing Market Growth
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.

  • Customer Geography
    Identify locations of current clients and the types of coverage they have. Use these insights to measure the impact of events such as earthquakes or storms, or even marketing initiatives.
  • Client Retention
    Analyze factors affecting client retention, such as insurer choice and renewal submission status, against various drivers, like policies, revenue or premium.

Strong Insurer Relationships
Insurer performance data allows you to quickly assess which insurers are most responsive, enabling your agency to produce more new business with higher net revenues.

  • Submission Rates
    Track the performance of submission responses, declines and what policies were written with each of your insurer partners.
  • Policy Volume and Revenue
    Look at insurer performance in terms of new business and activity across all of your insurers.

Data analysis enables horse racing enthusiasts to better predict who will win the race. Conditions like the performance of the jockeys and thoroughbreds, weather conditions, and other factors provide comparisons and insights into the outcome of the event. Your agency can benefit from the same mentality. Employee productivity, client satisfaction and insurer responsiveness are important factors that can impact the health and growth of your agency. Data analytics can provide you with a deeper understanding of the factors that drive future success. Truly understanding your business uncovers new opportunities to grow and compete more effectively. Agency leaders should not leave growth and the future success of the agency to random chance. Data analytics can help agencies take advantage of the data they already have to monitor business performance, discover new insights and ultimately make smarter decisions to increase the likelihood of ongoing success in the future.

Discover how you can leverage data analytics to grow your business >

Michael Howe, Applied SystemsMichael Howe, senior vice president of product management, Applied Systems, is responsible for the strategic direction of the Applied product portfolio. Howe joined Applied in 2013 with more than 20 years of experience in enterprise software. He formerly served as senior vice president of marketing and product management at Aptean, a global provider of industry-focused enterprise software. Prior to Aptean, Howe held senior executive management positions at SAP and other leading software companies.

Convenience Is Key: Interacting with the Connected Insured

May 11, 2017

by Kris Hackney
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Technology has transformed the way businesses serve their customers. And insurance is no exception. Insurance consumers have many insurer choices and extremely high expectations for service. According to a 2017 Forrester report, consumers seek companies that provide the most convenience, often rewarding or punishing companies based on a single experience.

Your agency or brokerage can provide customers the convenience they expect through an omnichannel delivery model. In fact, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. Comparatively, companies with weak omnichannel strategies retain an average of only 33% of their customers, according to Aberdeen Group Inc.

Interacting with customers via their preferred channels on demand creates a connected insured experience. Convenience is key, and omnichannel consumers will only give their business to companies that meet their specific demands. Providing customers with real-time access to information through multiple digital channels enhances your agency’s competitive value and builds client retention. Your agency will also be positioned as a trusted advisor by delivering customer service through traditional methods, including phone and in-person interactions. Agencies that adopt an omnichannel customer service model create a connected insured experience for optimal service, when and how customers want it.

So how do you become more connected with your insureds?

3 steps your agency can take to fully engage with the connected insured:

  1. Invest in an online customer service portal to ensure your clients have 24/7 access to their insurance information.
    Consumers want convenient service. An online customer self-service portal provides your customers access to their insurance information at any time, from anywhere. Not only do customers want online self-service, they are tempted to switch to companies that offer online channels. According to Accenture’s 2015 Global Consumer Pulse Research, customer churn because of declining loyalty and poor customer experiences represents as much as $470 billion in Life and Property & Casualty premiums globally. Additionally, 47% of the survey’s respondents said they want more online interactions with their insurers. Enabling your customers to access their information and interact with your agency 24/7 improves the customer experience and increases brand loyalty.
  1. Consider an agency-branded mobile app that provides easy access to your business from mobile devices.
    Consumers increasingly expect to be served through all digital channels, including mobile access to information. Mobility has revolutionized the financial services industry by making mobile apps must-have additions to traditional methods of working. In fact, according to a recent study by Fiserv, 65% of insurance consumers say paying bills and premiums through their smartphones improves their customer satisfaction. Agencies need to ensure that all transactions can be done in real time, from anywhere in the world, from any device. Furthermore, having an agency-branded mobile app is critical to elevate your role as a trusted advisor. Consumers value a seamless, branded online experience because it promotes professionalism and security from your agency’s brand.
  1. Implement eSignature capabilities to streamline the sales process.
    According to the 2016 Applied Digital Agency Annual Report, in which more than 1,000 independent agencies across the U.S. were surveyed, only 38% of agencies offer eSignature functionality through their management systems. eSignature functionality enhances the customer experience by enabling customers to do business anytime, anywhere. Customers can easily finalize a policy electronically, omitting manual, time-consuming processes and eliminating cumbersome, physical paperwork. Today, more than 77% of Americans own a smartphone of some kind and many are transacting business online, making it essential to modernize the last step in business operations – the signature.

Technology is connecting our world and revolutionizing the way your business operates and interacts with your customers. It is critical for agencies today to adopt and leverage modern technologies to connect with consumers in whichever channel prefer. Providing an omnichannel customer service model provides a consistent and personalized service across all channels and touch points through the customer lifecycle. When your agency delivers convenient service, you gain a competitive advantage and build customer loyalty and retention.

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Kristin HackneyKris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.