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The Connected Agency: Transform Your Agency Through Technology

April 13, 2017

by Michael Howe

According to Ernst & Young’s 2016 U.S. Property & Casualty Insurance Outlook report, technology is the most impactful external force to the insurance industry. Technology is transforming agency operations, and forward-thinking agencies recognize the value and competitive differentiation that comes with becoming a connected agency.

So, let’s first define what it means to be a “connected agency.” Simply put, it is about the strategic implementation of technologies that help an agency better connect with insurers and insureds, and run internally on a more transparent and efficient basis. A connected agency enables agency staff to access and act upon a complete view of a customer or prospect, facilitating more cross-selling and upselling to drive agency growth. Further, mobility in a connected agency provides staff the ability to conduct business outside of the agency via mobile devices with an up-to-date view of client and business information. A connected agency uses enhanced reporting and data analytics to ensure principals and other agency managers can fully capitalize on opportunities to improve and grow the business.

Evolving toward the “connected agency” helps alleviate and eliminate very common technology and operational challenges that can hold an agency back. Agencies often struggle with separate, disparate systems that are costly, difficult to integrate and even more challenging to maintain. Agency employees have to enter data multiple times in a system and it is never fully clear where the single source of truth about the customer is. Lacking a complete view of the agency’s end customer, there are many missed opportunities to serve the customer in new and more complete ways.

A truly connected agency has better visibility, automates processes and information exchange, and deepens their connections with insurer partners, insureds and internal agency employees. A connected agency builds more profitable relationships with insurers and provides personalized service, both in-person and online, to attract and retain customers.

So, in what ways can agencies become more connected?

Here are three actions agencies can take to become more connected:

  1. Implement a foundational agency management system that delivers a single view across all lines of business for all staff members
    A foundational agency management system ultimately promotes growth and efficiency by connecting all users and all lines of business through a single interface. In a connected agency, staff manage multiple lines of business such as P&C, Specialty, and Benefits, in the same application. Separate, disparate software applications result in duplicative and disjointed information about a customer or prospect. A single foundational management system provides staff with a comprehensive view of the customer or prospect across all lines of business, enabling staff to provide complete customer service while evaluating opportunities to cross-sell and upsell. Agencies can also follow consistent and common workflows for each segment of the business, automating operations to reduce inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
  1. Adopt mobile applications to provide employees remote access to customer information
    Mobility enables agents to meet customer demand for anytime, anywhere access to information via their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Producers can access and input important policy information and client details directly into their mobile devices. With a direct link back to the agency management system, the information is updated in real time, providing all staff access to the most up-to-date activities, opportunities, risk analysis and more.
  1. Invest in data analytics for more informed decision making
    Data analytics enables connected agencies to uncover business insights and make data-driven strategic decisions. Agencies can leverage their management systems to discover patterns, market trends, customer preferences, performance metrics and more to promote strategic business growth. Robust data analytics applications make analyzing data easier with graphical reports and dynamic, interactive dashboards.

As your agency evaluates its digital transformation strategy, consider the benefits of becoming a more connected agency. Technology has transformed the way in which agencies do business, enabling users to make more informed business decisions and capitalize quickly on new opportunities. Growth-driven agencies have learned to adapt to changes in the industry. In order to thrive in today’s market, businesses must become connected agencies as part of their digital transformation plan.

Reserve Your Copy of “The Connected Agency” White Paper

Want to know more about becoming a connected agency? Complete the form below to be among the first to get this soon-to-be-released white paper:

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.

Invest in Yourself at Applied Net

March 30, 2017

by Brian Langerman

Applied Net ExchangeIn the digital age of emails and text messages, the value of conferences is often overlooked.

Managing a successful agency or brokerage — and a successful team — requires personal connections. And a large part of business is about building relationships.

Conference calls, emails, video conferences and social networks are all crucial elements in building and maintaining business relationships. However, none of them capture the impact of meeting with someone face to face.

Applied Net 2017 is a unique opportunity to not only maximize your investment on your Applied solutions, but to meet and network with a community of insurance industry leaders, Applied partners, exhibitors and peers.

A handshake, swapping news, sharing a meal — all can lead to new business, an idea, a quick tip, future efficiency, and the list goes on.

Our members often tell us that attending just one session at Applied Net generates enough tips and ideas to cover the cost of attendance. Imagine the exponential possibilities that experience can be when you meet thousands of other Applied users at Applied Net.

Face-to-face events can also build high-performing talent. When employees connect with each other, clients and peers, these interactions build trust, understanding and a shared mission. This can make all the difference in the success of your business. Millennials, especially, value highly collaborative environments and want to learn, meet and grow.

So break from the norm. Invest in yourself and your agency or brokerage, step away from your day-to-day office work and get inspired at Applied Net.

Top 4 Face-to-Face Learning Opportunities at Applied Net

  1. Networking Roundtables
    Take part in an energetic discussion around a particular topic with fellow agents to encourage informal learning. Have your voice heard during these interactive discussions, meet other Applied Net attendees and learn how to maximize your Applied Net education experience.
  2. The Applied Net Exchange
    Open daily throughout the conference, the Applied Net Exchange provides you with the opportunity to network with industry experts and speak with Applied business partners to learn about integrated solutions. Meet one-on-one with Applied software experts and demo the latest Applied innovations at the Applied Net Exchange.
  3. Evening Events
    Applied Net attendees enjoy lively and entertaining nightly events each year. The highly anticipated events are the perfect setting to meet fellow agents and brokers and have some fun.
  4. Education Sessions
    Applied Net 2017 offers more than 200 sessions within a variety of tracks, offering education opportunities for growth and networking. Sessions include favorites that are back by popular demand, as well as new sessions and formats including case studies, roundtables and peer spotlights.

Register Now for Applied Net 2017 to take advantage of limited-time early bird discounts.

Brian Langerman, Applied Client NetworkBrian Langerman is the CEO of Applied Client Network. He’s a seasoned technology executive and won’t be missing this year’s Applied Net.

The Power of Positivity: A Lesson In Successful Change Management

March 16, 2017

by Kris Regier

KFSA Insurance Agency has grown to be one of the largest insurance agencies in the state of Kansas, with four offices and more than 60 employees. At KFSA, we work hard to create a culture based on continued education and a constant commitment to leveraging technology innovation. But with adopting the latest innovation comes change, and there’s no way around it – change is difficult. And I think every agency leader would agree.

It’s critical to change and adapt to keep pace with today’s consumer habits and technology demands. When evaluating implementation approaches and methodology, it’s important to focus on the best steps to champion change for a successful technology transition. When we switched agency management systems last year, there were a number of programs put in place to facilitate successful change management, from hands-on training to fun activities. Managing change can only be truly successful when you work alongside a dedicated technology partner to ensure you gain the most value from your software.

Here are a few pointers that really helped us when we implemented new software to become a digital agency:

  • Acknowledge that change is difficult – We cultivated a culture that said “this is a change that’s coming.” And then we helped everyone prepare for it. Employees truly saw the advantages of moving to digital agency technology like a single management system. You have to believe in the technology you’ve purchased and transfer that belief to your employees.
  • Management support – I can’t stress enough that top-down support is crucial for a successful technological change to take place. Our management team supplied the resources we needed for a successful management system change.
  • Prepare with hands-on training – We created a hands-on training lab with older computer equipment for our employees. Anyone could go into the lab and use the demo database to work through examples and try different things. In order to be prepared for the data conversions – interactive learning is critical. Hands-on training makes employees more confident, and when your staff is confident in the system, it’s going to work better. Remember to keep your employees engaged with different types of training experiences that work for all types of learners.
  • Create a fun environment – We created a scavenger hunt within our management system. For example, employees would be asked to look for a client, set up a new client or bill a policy as part of the scavenger hunt. As we got closer to migration, employees could take an activity all the way through. And as we approached go-live, it wasn’t foreign to them. We also had a transaction party. All of accounting sat down and realized that our current billing methods weren’t going to work with our new system. So we all played with the data and tried billing different items to see how it would flow in the new system. The training at the transaction party was very successful. It helped us to write and establish various procedures that we still use today in the system.
  • Take advantage of online learning – When you have access to online resources, take advantage of them! Applied University was an amazing resource for us. There are more than 30,000 hours of education course work available in the University and more than 3,000 instructor-led courses. Giving your employees access to this type of knowledge is invaluable.
  • Be positive – We were highly focused on creating a positive change culture. You have to make your employees feel that the change is manageable, and then it will be.

Change doesn’t have to be scary – it’s all about the culture and employee attitude. The reward is in the way our employees work today. To thrive today in a time of digital transformation, agencies must seriously consider their technology options and become a digital agency. It’s no longer viable to remain un-automated and consumers expect mobile and self-service technology during all interactions. Digital technology has given our employees access to every customer, from anywhere at any time. And that amount of insight and ownership of their day-to-day has led to happier employees.

Have you lead a team through change management?

Comment below to share your thoughts and insights about the process and your tips for success. Are there any specific programs or strategic advice you can offer to other agents and brokers?

Kris Regier, director of operations for KFSA Insurance Agency, has been with KFSA since 1976. Over the last 40 years she has had held of number of positions within the agency. Currently she oversees the operations of KFSA offices with concentration on procedures and workflows of the agency. Kris obtained her Certified Insurance Representative designation in 1988 and her Certified Insurance Counselor in 1992.

Cloud Technology: Not All Clouds Are Created Equal

March 02, 2017

by Applied Communications

Cloud technology has become one of the most impactful trends for businesses in all industries. Providing many benefits including data security, operational efficiency and enhanced business continuity, cloud technology reduces time and expenses spent managing IT issues and resources. While there are many clouds to choose from, it is important for insurance businesses to be hosted on a cloud created specifically for the insurance industry.

To learn why all clouds aren’t created equal, view the infographic below:

How You Connect to the Cloud Matters

Applied Net 2017: Why Applied Net Is a Must Attend Event

February 15, 2017

by Applied Communications

Applied Net is the largest gathering of independent insurance agents and brokers in the world. Each year, agents and brokers across North America, UK and Ireland come together to discuss the latest technologies transforming the industry.

To be held at MGM Grand Las Vegas, Applied Net 2017 will raise the table stakes and feature inspiring keynotes, more than 200 educational sessions, and an innovation showcase to explore how agencies and brokerages can position their businesses to grow and thrive in the connected business of insurance. Applied Net also includes highly anticipated nightly events to network with other agents and brokers while experiencing world-class entertainment.

Lisa Colwell, operations manager at Wilson Insurance Ltd. in New Brunswick, Canada and multi-year Applied Net attendee, sat down with us to discuss her favorite parts of the conference and why she recommends every independent insurance agent and broker attend.

Q: What is the best part of the conference?

A: My favorite part of Applied Net is networking with other brokers because I’m able to learn about how they’re using digital technology. I’m all about taking the most out of the content and bringing it back to my brokerage. I usually have information overload on my way home because I want to implement so much.

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

A: I attended a session on auditing workflows when I was in Orlando in 2016. The speaker, who was absolutely amazing, talked about the basics of auditing and how reports can help to create workflows. It was a great session. My brokerage has since added immense efficiency with just this one session.

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

A: It’s great when you find somebody who’s in the same situation as you because the relationship continues even after the conference. Whether you’re becoming a member of the local chapter or you’re troubleshooting things together, I’ve gotten emails from people saying, “Hey, how did you go about that?” It’s really nice to have that connection with agents and brokers from Applied Net.

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

A: Applied Net is a great resource to stay on top of what’s out there and how brokers can keep up with digital technology that makes their businesses better. Applied CSR24 would’ve been unheard of a few years ago in our industry. I’ve always found that the conference is a great way to get that introduction and speak with the people who have it. Whether it’s Applied CSR24, Applied Rater or anything else, it’s great to be able to ask, “What do you like about it?” “What would you give as a takeaway if I were to move forward?” There’s a lot of helpful story sharing.

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

A: Yes, absolutely. As I said before, the toughest part is coming back to the office on your first day back when you’re on that information overload – you’ve got a list of 30 things to do because you’re so energized when you leave the sessions. My advice? Pick three ideas to implement first, then go on to the other 27 ideas.

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

A: The evening events are always unique and fun. I really enjoy the networking, so it’s nice to get a relaxed atmosphere, have a conversation and get to know people. It feels like a family since everybody understands our industry. Unless you’re in it, you don’t really get it, so it’s nice to troubleshoot with members of the community.

Register now for Applied Net 2017 and discover how to take advantage of the opportunities created by the digital transformation of insurance to prepare your business for success in our digital world.

Learn more about Applied Net

The Connected Business of Insurance: Technology for Driving Growth in the Digital Age

February 02, 2017

by Michael Howe

Technology continues to transform the insurance landscape, connecting all stakeholders across the insurance lifecycle. The future of our industry will be defined by the connected business of insurance, with complete connectivity between the agency, insurer and insured.

The connected business of insurance enables digital agencies and insurers to create higher-value business transactions and deliver superior customer experiences throughout the entire insurance lifecycle. Truly digital agencies operate more efficiently, make more informed business decisions, build better insurer relationships, improve customer service and accelerate growth and profitability across all lines of business in the new digital era.

The connected business of insurance is comprised of three key components:

  • The connected agency: Has a complete view of clients and prospects for each person in an agency to access and act upon – regardless of role, time or location.
  • The connected insured: Expects consistent and personalized service across all channels and touchpoints – anytime, anywhere.
  • The connected insurer: Connects to a network that allows agencies to work directly with insurers to access markets and ensure accurate, timely and comprehensive customer service.

Here is the technology needed to achieve the connected business of insurance and the benefits agencies can realize:

  1. The connected agency: One system for the entire business
    Connected agencies build their businesses on a single management system to gain a comprehensive view of customers and prospects across all lines of business. A single agency management system also provides essential capabilities for every stakeholder in the agency to better manage customer relationships, sales opportunities, market appetite search, financial accounting, and policy and benefits administration across all lines of business, reducing time spent on multiple, disparate systems.

    Connected agencies utilize mobile capabilities integrated with their agency management systems. Agency staff can access and manage client, prospect, and overall business information anytime, anywhere via a smartphone or tablet device. On-demand access to client and prospect information enables users to conduct more business outside the agency and deliver better service to clients with a single, up-to-date view of client and business information.

    Data analytics applications also enable connected agencies to make quicker, more informed business decisions through analysis of their books of business, employee operations and insurer relationships. Graphical displays enable agencies to identify potential new markets, the most profitable client and insurer relationships and opportunities to improve employee productivity.

    With easy access to critical information anytime and from any location, every stakeholder at a connected agency is able to:

    • Capitalize on new business and service opportunities
    • Standardize operations and automate workflows
    • Provide better customer service with mobile access to information
    • Make data-driven decisions through enhanced reporting
  2. The connected insured: Omnichannel customer service
    Insureds today expect anytime, anywhere service. Connected agencies service insureds through innovative technologies such as a branded mobile application and a self-service client portal. A mobile app puts insurance information at a client’s fingertips, ensuring agency’s advice – and brand – are always available. Online customer portals provide an additional digital channel for 24/7 access to insurance information, online bill pay and self-service quoting.

    Information is updated in real time, so clients always have access to up-to-date policy information, claims filing and processing, premium payments and insurance documents. An omnichannel customer service model enables agencies to increase client satisfaction, build client loyalty and deliver a more competitive business proposition.

  3. The connected insurer: A single network for market access and service
    Insurer connectivity is critical to automating the distribution and servicing of insurance products between agents and insurer partners. A single network to insurer markets is essential to gain easy market access – and automated servicing of policies drives efficient interactions across the insurance lifecycle.

    The connected insurer enables agencies to quickly search market appetite for commercial risks, as well as review data-driven industry insights to better understand expected renewal rate changes. Insurer connectivity also enables agencies to automate the exchange of policy-related information with insurer partners, saving significant employee time by reducing manual administrative tasks.

    By developing relationships with the best insurers, agencies gain greater access to markets to provide customers superior product choice and timely servicing throughout the insurance lifecycle.

At the pace and direction the industry is headed, more agencies are embracing digital technology to realize the benefits of the connected business of insurance. The most successful agencies will meet the ever-changing expectations of the connected insured and capitalize on the new market opportunities of the connected insurer through digital connectivity.

Download the eBook, “Connecting the Business of Insurance: Reshape your business through digital technology,” to learn how you can grow and thrive in the connected world.

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.

Accurate Quoting: The Key to Unlocking High Net-Worth Business

January 19, 2017

by Applied Communications

As a rule, high net-worth clients have not been a common target market for independent insurance agents. However, the number of U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more has hit a new record of 10.4 million households. This record marks an increase of 300,000 households since 2014 according to the Spectrem Group’s Market Insight Report 2016.

What’s interesting is that many high net-worth individuals are overpaying for their insurance; and what’s more, they are usually underinsured. It’s extremely common that we are introduced to a high net-worth client who doesn’t even have an umbrella, or has never heard of an umbrella,”* says Peter Houldin, president of Ericson Insurance Advisors.

The opportunity lies in your ability to provide more personalized coverage to these high net-worth consumers. Jim Fiske, senior vice president of Chubb, explains the challenge will be “convincing them they need to switch from their current carrier when they’re already satisfied.”*

Many quoting services prepare fast quotes, but they are not accurate. When working with high net-worth clients, professionalism is key. If you give a client a fast quote, but it’s inaccurate, your credibility suffers and the prospect will most likely walk away. The best way to convince these potential clients is to provide the best and most accurate quotes for their personal lines policies.

Applied Rater, an accurate, cloud-based insurance quoting application for independent agencies, automates quoting workflows for more than 500 insurers nationwide – the broadest coverage of any rating provider in the United States today. Applied Rater boosts your agency’s competitive value by delivering the most accurate quotes to enhance customer service and drive business growth.

In order to sway the high net-worth clients in finding a policy that is actually more beneficial for them, it is critical to be the subject matter expert. Applied Rater enables you to find the best policy from multiple insurers in a single point of data entry. The quoting workflow is then shorter, so you spend more time advising your client rather than searching for the best policy.

Your clients are also covered in whichever personal lines product they need. Applied Rater supports all personal lines of business including auto, home, umbrella, renters, condo, dwelling fire, flood and toys. Because high net-worth clients typically have extensive investments across all classifications of collectibles such as fine art, antique cars, wine, etc., it is important to have a broad range of insurers and product line coverage to offer your clients.

To enhance your customer experience even further, Applied Rater offers built-in proposals. These pre-designed templates pull in the rate quotes you have selected for your clients and arrange them in an easy-to-read, professional-looking proposal. Your high net-worth clients are always looking for the best, especially when they have such expensive assets to protect, so it is critical to provide a buttoned-up proposal that they can easily follow.

With the amount of high net-worth households rising at a record rate, it has become not only opportunistic to serve them, but necessary. Many can have gaps in their coverage, making them prime targets to evaluate and help protect. With the use of an accurate quoting application, it becomes easy and fast to give these potential clients the best quote for their needs.

Watch the full product demo to learn more about Applied Rater.

*What You May Not Know About Insuring High Net-Worth Clients, 2016

Insurance in a Connected World – What We Can Do Today for a Better Tomorrow

January 05, 2017

by Reid French

Technology is revolutionizing the business of insurance. According to Ernst & Young, technology is the number one external force impacting today’s insurance market. Technologies such as social media, telematics and analytics are redefining our market, impacting areas from marketing and distribution to customer service and pricing.

There is a notion oft discussed in our industry that technology is just now disrupting insurance. I would argue that technology has been impacting the insurance industry for decades and, frankly, mostly for the better. What is new is the opportunity that technology is now providing to better connect insurers, agents and insureds.

A recent Reagan Consulting report cites that technology investments have driven improved productivity and resulted in outstanding profit margin growth for agencies and brokerages. In fact, average profit margins for Best Practice agencies have grown from 12% to nearly 27% since 1993. These numbers clearly illustrate how investing in technology can enable agencies and brokerages to drive profitable growth, improve operational efficiencies and maximize business valuation.

Technology has clearly driven financial returns, but we shouldn’t forget that it has also raised customer and employee expectations. In fact, technology has reimagined nearly all customer experiences and at a pace never before seen in our world. All of us are experiencing a more connected life in a more connected world. And those connected experiences are impacting the expectations of insurance consumers across our industry.

To meet these expectations, our industry must deliver a connected experience between all participants in the insurance ecosystem. This means greater connectivity within an agency or brokerage; greater connectivity with insurer partners; greater connectivity to the insured; and greater connectivity and simultaneous exchange of information between all key stakeholders across the insurance lifecycle. When the business of insurance is digitally connected, we all benefit from superior experiences across the entire insurance lifecycle.

The connected business of insurance is comprised of three key components: the connected agency, the connected insured and the connected insurer.

The Connected Agency
Using multiple systems for different lines of business inhibits an agency’s ability to cross-sell products, which is the main reason agencies diversified into multiple lines in the first place. In fact, in a study completed by AUGIE, 98% of agencies responded that having a complete view of client business in a single agency management system was either important, very important or extremely important. Utilizing a market-leading agency management system is undoubtedly the first step to creating a connected agency.

A connected agency allows each and every employee to have the right information and products available anytime, anywhere to better serve clients via a single, integrated system. With many agencies expanding their focus to more lines of business, having the ability to efficiently access and act upon a complete view of the customer is becoming more and more important, regardless of whether the product is personal lines, commercial lines or benefits.

A connected agency also requires the ability to provide this complete view of the customer to your staff regardless of role, time or location – meaning at home, on the road, on a plane via a smartphone or tablet app.

The Connected Insured
Today’s consumer expects an omnichannel delivery model. A study by Bain & Co. found that over time, insureds will utilize online, self-service transactions more and more. They expect real-time access to information via multiple digital channels like self-service portals and mobile applications. They demand convenient, digital services such as online bill pay and eSignature. Agencies that cater to these demands are the ones that experience the most growth. In fact, according to research from Celent, when consumers were asked why they chose a particular provider when looking for financial services, 52% indicated that their selection was based on convenience or ease of service.

The Connected Insurer
Customers demand product choice and effective interactions with their insurance agents. A connected insurer relationship enables profitable growth through access to the right markets and automated servicing. A recent IVANS survey found that 79% of agents save at least one hour per day using eDocs & Messages, while 43% of agents save at least one hour per day with Claims download. A connected insurer relationship provides ease of doing business and greater productivity with automated download.

In today’s connected world, it has become more critical than ever to adapt with the changing landscape of the industry. Those who fall behind will become less competitive and less profitable. As Charles Darwin said over 100 years ago, “We don’t have to be the strongest or the smartest to survive – we just have to be the most adaptable.”

How do you feel about the changing technology landscape? Leave your comments below.

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. Before Intergraph, French was chief operating officer in North America for Solution 6 Group Ltd., Australia’s largest software company. 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.

2016 Best Practices Study – What the Latest Report Says About the Industry

November 30, 2016

by Applied Communications

Since 1993, Reagan Consulting and the IIABA, “Big I,” have conducted the Best Practices Study to identify the top performing agencies in the United States. Conducted on a three-year cycle, the study measures the operational performance of nominated agencies against critical industry and business benchmarks. As the Best Practices program has grown, being nominated and taking part in the study has become a prestigious recognition of the superior accomplishments of the top insurance agencies in the country. In 2016, the beginning of the current three-year study cycle, over 1,000 independent agencies through the U.S. were nominated to take part in the Best Practices Study, with 255 of the nominated agencies ultimately designated as Best Practices agencies.

4 Key Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry

Year-over-year, the study evaluates new challenges facing the insurance industry. Let’s take a look at the four key challenges spotlighted in this year’s study, what each challenge means for your business and the opportunities technology can provide to enable you to succeed in today’s digital era.

  1. Growth is slowing

    What this means: The velocity of agency growth is slowing but remains strong. In the competitive landscape, consider the following:

    • Who is your target customer?
    • In what ways can your agency deliver a unique value prop to that target client?
    • How do you reach the target client?

    Specializing your business in a crowded marketplace can focus your internal resources on target growth opportunities.

    How technology can support: Identifying target customers and finding the right markets for their risks can be complicated. Consider an agency management system that provides a complete view of your total business – both clients and prospects – to identify growth areas within your current book of business and trends within your prospect base to target specifically. Once your business has identified new – and potentially hard-to-place – risks, leverage appetite search tools to quickly find the best markets for your risks.

  1. Consolidation is occurring at a record pace

    What this means: On a daily basis, there is a news story on the latest M&A deal happening in the industry. The pace of consolidation continues to steadily increase, with more than 469 announced transactions in 2015 alone (source: SNL financial). This trend presents two opportunities – either beat them or join them. Make changes of your own internally to compete in a more specialized market and maintain customer retention.

    How technology can support: Increasingly, firms being evaluated for M&A are considering what technology systems are being used. Between account management, customer service, employee benefits communications, workers comp mods, rating systems, websites and more, using a variety of different tech hardware and software could be a nightmare during or after a consolidation. For that reason, although the transition period could last anywhere between one and two years, having the same tech is highly beneficial in easing the transition and bringing employees on-board.

  1. The workforce is aging

    What this means: The average age of the employees at most agencies has increased significantly, and the Millennials are here. Succession planning and recruitment are critical during this time. Developing the next generation of leaders – at an early enough stage – is critical to maintain your position as an industry leading firm.

    How technology can support: Training and on-boarding employees as you develop your staff can be time consuming. Leverage an agency management system that has pre-defined workflows built in to reduce time spent on training. Additionally, your agency should consider opportunities to embrace cloud-based and mobile technologies to empower your young staff to work when and where they prefer. By creating a mobile work culture, you can increase operational efficiencies, extend customer service opportunities beyond the office and meet today’s employees demands for flexible working environments.

  1. New technologies threaten the traditional broker model

    What this means: Technology has a profound impact on every aspect of individuals’ lives. The expectation for technology and connectivity has seeped into people’s customer service and workplace expectations. Technology startups in the industry are targeting consumers who are increasingly willing to purchase nearly everything, including insurance, on the internet. It is important for agencies to meet this consumer demand for online quoting and self-service to remain competitive against direct insurance providers.

    How technology can support: Agencies must embrace digital transformation to enhance their competitive value while protecting their core trusted advisor role. Provide online customer self-service portals and mobile apps for your customers to access their insurance information anywhere, anytime at their own convenience. Automate quoting processes through enhanced insurer connectivity to provide timelier service while ensuring the best coverage.

Interested in learning more from the 2016 Best Practices Study?

Preview the Key Benchmarks from the Study >