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The Connected Business of Insurance

The Google and CapitalG Investment in Applied Systems: Good News for Independent Agents & Brokers

November 08, 2018

by Reid French
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At last month’s Applied Net, 4,000 insurance agents, brokers and insurers gathered to hear about the latest trends and technology developments driving opportunity for their business. One announcement that generated buzz throughout the conference and the industry was the recent minority investment in Applied Systems by CapitalG, the growth equity investment fund of Google parent company Alphabet. Not surprisingly, the announcement spurred excitement and questions, particularly given Google’s previous forays into insurance. Let me use this as an opportunity to reiterate how the independent agent and broker channel stands to benefit from this investment and dispel any misconceptions.

How CapitalG Approaches Its Investments

CapitalG invests in larger, growth-oriented technology companies that have the potential to leverage Google technology, including notable names such as Lyft, Airbnb, SurveyMonkey and Glassdoor. Their investment approach includes providing portfolio companies access to Google and parent company Alphabet’s people, knowledge, and technology to support each company’s growth and strategic plan. The investment will bring Applied access to Google expertise across artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital marketing, to name just a few areas, and should be extremely helpful to both our company and our customers as we move into the Digital Age of Insurance.

What This Investment Does Not Mean for the Industry

Before partnering with CapitalG, we considered what others might say about Google becoming involved in Applied and more broadly, the insurance industry, as a result of this investment. Let’s get those concerns out of the way. The first question is: does Google have access to our customer’s data? Simply stated, no. By contract, not a single field of customer or Applied data will be available to Google. None.

The second question is: should this be seen as Google’s attempt to get into the insurance industry with the hopes of competing with the independent agent and broker? CapitalG invested in Applied because they believe in our mission, which is to revolutionize the business of insurance with cloud-based software. CapitalG believes what we believe: that the independent agent and broker is the cornerstone and future of the industry. Given that Applied’s success is directly tied to the success of agents and brokers, CapitalG cannot succeed in their investment if the independent agency channel doesn’t prosper.

What Agents and Brokers Stand to Gain

We believe this minority investment by CapitalG is an opportunity to further improve the technology we deliver to agencies and brokerages, dramatically improving the productivity of your organization to drive higher profitability. Simply put, it allows us to better prepare our customers for the future of the insurance industry.

It’s too early to share specifics, but it’s not too early to discuss how excited we are at Applied for the opportunity to work with Google. We’ve already begun brainstorming sessions internally about which Google technologies would benefit our customers and in what ways. You can imagine the possibilities that artificial intelligence and machine learning can have on our solutions in terms of reducing the amount of data entry required for Applied Epic® or improving the risk management advice presented to clients. To that end, 20 of our top developers are en route to New York later this month to attend Google’s internal machine learning boot camp, which is open to CapitalG companies.

The Digital Age of Insurance

The insurance industry is undergoing significant change. Applied intends to remain at the forefront of digital transformation for the benefit of our customers by taking advantage of opportunities like the investment by CapitalG. We believe the benefits of this investment will flow directly to the independent agents and brokerages who have selected Applied.

We also believe that this investment serves as a powerful validation of Applied’s people, technology and track record of success. Let me assure you that CapitalG and Google have the opportunity to invest in many market–leading firms. I am so very proud that they selected Applied. It is a testament to all of the progress that we have made together, both as a company and as an industry.

In our 35th anniversary year, know that we are proud of our shared history of success. But let me be very clear that as an organization, we spend precious little time looking backward. Instead, we choose to look forward, to the next trends in technology – such as artificial intelligence, micro-services, Big Data & block chain. With this investment from Google and CapitalG, we are doing just that. If you want to be prepared for the Digital Age of Insurance, there is no better technology partner in the world than Applied.

Thank you for your support and please do let us know how we can serve you better.

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.

Applied Net 2018: Week in Review

October 25, 2018

by Applied Communications
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As more than 4,000 attendees can attest, Applied Net is THE forum to learn about the latest insurance technologies and strategies to prepare your business for the digital age of insurance.

If you missed the world’s largest gathering of independent insurance agents and brokers in Nashville this year, all is not lost. Here’s a recap of Applied Net 2018, as experienced and reported by some of this year’s attendees.

Getting Ready for the Week

Whether catching the flight to Nashville, picking up a conference badge and those ever-important ribbons at the registration desk, or connecting with new and old Applied Net friends at the opening night reception, excitement was in the air as attendees descended upon the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.

Inspiring Keynotes

Tuesday’s opening keynotes set the tone for the week ahead. First, Applied Systems CEO Reid French took the stage to update attendees on the state of the insurance industry and five key areas of business value from the Digital Age of Insurance. Then, a true American hero, Captain Scott Kelly, shared what his experiences as a U.S. Navy Captain and U.S. Astronaut have taught him about leadership, teamwork and the importance of believing you can reach any goal, no matter how ambitious or audacious.

On Wednesday, Michael Howe, SVP of Product Management, unveiled the latest Applied product innovations and roadmap, while Kris Hackney, EVP of Customer Experience, discussed the expectations of today’s connected consumer and how Applied is dedicated to providing the technology needed to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Time to Learn

This year’s conference included more user-led education sessions than ever before. With more than 240 sessions and 9 different tracks to choose from, there was something for everyone.

Making Connections

As our alumni know well, Applied Net is the best place to network with agents and brokers from across the industry. We kicked off the week with great roundtable discussions at the Applied Net Networking Roundtables, where attendees chatted with new and old friends about topics of mutual interest. After sessions, attendees enjoyed exploring the Applied Net Exchange floor to network with peers, connect with exhibitors and test drive the latest product innovations.

Evening Events

In Nashville, there are countless opportunities to enjoy award-winning southern cuisine, catch the hottest in live entertainment, and kick up your heels on the dance floor. After full days of learning and networking, it was time to let loose! From a night out in Nashville at two iconic entertainment venues to seeing chart-topping artists in an exclusive performance at the Grand Ole Opry House, Applied Net 2018’s evening events showed us all how to have some fun in Music City.

Final Goodbyes

As the week came to a close, it was time to reflect on our time in Nashville and think about the knowledge and experiences we would be bringing home.

Looking Ahead

Excited for Applied Net 2019 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas? Make sure you’re a part of it.

Register for Applied Net 2019 by November 16, 2018 to take advantage of the lowest rates.

If you experienced the excitement of Applied Net 2018 first-hand, leave a comment and tell us about your favorite part of the week.

Benchmarking the Industry: The Best Practices Study

October 12, 2018

by Tom Doran
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The insurance industry is a challenging and evolving marketplace. To keep from getting left behind, agencies must continuously look to improve their performance. 25 years ago though, there weren’t meaningful industry metrics or benchmarks for insurance agents to compare their performance to. Reagan Consulting and the IIABA, “Big I,” responded to this need in 1993 by developing the Best Practices Study to identify the operating and financial characteristics of top performing agencies in the United States.

By studying the leading agencies and brokers in the country, Reagan Consulting and the Big “I” hoped to provide agents with meaningful performance benchmarks and business strategies that could be adopted or adapted for use in improving agency performance, thus enhancing agency value.

After 25 years, why does the initiative still matter? It matters because healthy firms can control their own destinies by understanding their business value levers, setting goals, managing carefully and strategically and leveraging opportunities.

5 Key Metrics Agencies Should Be Tracking

The Best Practices Study includes a variety of metrics on growth, profitability, productivity, perpetuation readiness, sales culture and more. However, there are five key metrics that every agency should track to best assess and improve their overall performance.

  1. Organic Growth
    Growth and profitability are the two variables that most impact your agency’s value and most closely influence your agency’s long-term viability. To grow and attract the best talent in our industry, you have to be a winning organization. Winning in our industry boils down to your ability to grow and generate strong profit margins. Organic growth is a great starting point to get a sense of where you are compared to the top performers in the industry. At the end of the day, winners and also-rans in this industry are generally characterized by their ability to grow organically. How do you compare with your peers?  
  1. Sales Velocity
    Over the years I’ve heard agencies say, “We want to grow 10% a year” – and that’s the end of the discussion. What they haven’t done is ask, “How much new business would we need to write to accomplish that?’” If you want to grow by 10% and you’re giving up 7 percentage points on rate, retention and exposure realities, you’ll need to write 17% in new business to get to your 10% growth goal. The Sales Velocity metric can be a real help in understanding how likely you are to be able to achieve your growth goals. Expressed as a percentage, Sales Velocity is calculated by dividing this year’s written new business by last year’s commissions and fees. By isolating the new business component of your organic growth, Sales Velocity will help you to assess your own performance and develop realistic growth goals.
  1. Pro Forma Profitability
    It’s important for your agency to generate strong profit margins. This is the money you’ll use to hire new producers, invest in new technology and to make other the investments required to grow your business. Pro forma profitability is the actual profitability of an agency after non-reoccurring/extraordinary revenue and expenses and excessive owner compensation/perks are normalized. It is the best measure of profitability to allow you to compare your agency to top performing agencies. 
  1. Net Unvalidated Producer Payroll
    One issue we’re struggling with in the insurance industry is the ability to attract and retain young talent, specifically producers. The key metric we developed to determine if an agency is making an effective investment in its new producers is net unvalidated producer payroll (NUPP). This metric is a percentage of an agency’s annual revenue that is invested in payroll compensation for young and developing producers, over and above what their books of business would entitle them to receive. The average agency’s NUPP is between 1.0% and 1.5% and the more successful agencies tend to have a NUPP of greater than 1.5%.  NUPP is a great way to ensure that you’re making an appropriate investment in next-generation producers. 
  1. New Commisions & Fees and Total Book Sizes for Validated Producers
    OK, I cheated – there are actually 2 metrics here. But both very important. New business per validated (mature) producer is another key metric in better understanding your agency’s sales culture. By understanding better how your producers are performing relative to your peers, you are able to identify and address new business performance gaps that are hindering your overall growth.  Your average book size per validated producer is critical to understanding the efficiency of your producer and support teams. Knowing what book sizes producers in peer agencies can support and service enables you to establish achievable goals and workloads for your producers and support staff. If your producers are handling materially smaller books of business than your peers, it may be an indication that you are understaffed or in need of additional training and supervision. 

Overall, focusing on the best practices that drive agency value remains one of the best disciplines available to firms of all sizes looking to achieve their long-term goals and maximize their values.

For more insights on benchmarking and key findings from the 2018 Best Practice Study, watch the “Benchmarking the Industry: The Best Practices Study” webinar I recently hosted.

Tom Doran is Senior Vice President and Principal at Reagan Consulting. Tom joined Reagan Consulting as a consultant in 1993 and became a principal in the firm in 1995. He is a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) with an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems and a Masters of Business Administration from Georgia State University. Before joining Reagan Consulting, he worked in the computer industry, both as a software developer and as a management consultant. Tom’s areas of expertise include merger and acquisition representation, agency valuation, ownership perpetuation planning, agency valuation enhancement and strategic planning facilitation. Tom is a regular contributor to Reagan Consulting’s industry studies and is frequently published in various insurance industry publications. He also speaks on a regular basis to industry trade groups and associations on a wide variety of topics concerning the insurance distribution system.

Understanding the Consumers of Tomorrow: What Younger Generations Look For in Insurance

September 27, 2018

by Applied Communications
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Over the past few decades, rapid and increased technological innovation has significantly changed the behavior and expectations of those generations coming after the Baby Boomers, most notably millennials and Generation Z.

Representing one of the largest living generations, millennials – those born 1980-1996 – are projected to surpass Baby Boomers in total population by 2019 according to Pew Research Center. While, Gen Z – those born 1997-present – are expected to make up 33% of the global population by 2020 and outnumber millennials according to Superior Access. Both of these generations are the workers and consumers of tomorrow with purchasing power estimated to be in the trillions of dollars annually.

Given the size and economic capital these two generations possess, combined with the fact that eight in 10 have insurance, it’s critical for insurance providers to adapt their business strategies to attract and retain millennials and Gen Z as customers.

Buying Behaviors and Preferences of Younger Adults

To better understand what millennials and Generation Z are looking for in terms of insurance service providers, Applied Systems partnered with ORC International, a leading business intelligence research firm, to conduct a survey of their insurance habits and preferences.

Here are a few key findings:

  • Auto insurance is the most common insurance held
    Across all countries – United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland – the majority of millennials and Gen Z (8 in 10) have some form of insurance. Auto insurance is most commonly held, and younger adults in the U.S. are the most likely to have it.
  • Word-of-mouth referrals are the biggest influence
    Word-of-mouth referrals influence millennials and Gen Z the most when they are shopping for insurance. However, online searches are growing in popularity and should be considered in communication strategies given consumers’ shift to mobile first.
  • In-person interaction is the most common insurance purchasing channel
    While in-person interaction continues to be the most common method of acquiring insurance, particularly for younger adults in Canada, digital channels are growing more popular especially among those in the UK and Ireland.
  • Direct call with an agent is the preferred method of communication
    For auto and homeowners insurance, the preferred and most frequently used communication channel by millennials and Gen Z is a direct call to an agent. For renters, an in-person interaction is preferred but a direct call to an agent is used more often.
  • 24/7 customer service is the most important insurance feature
    Overall, both 24/7 customer service and mobile app access are perceived to be highly important in selecting a provider. However around-the-clock customer service is perceived to be more important, especially by younger adults in the United States.

For the complete survey findings, download a complimentary copy of our report, Understanding Millennial & Gen Z Insurance Buying Behaviors.

 

 

 

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, 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.

 

240+ Educational Sessions

With more than 240 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 4,000 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.

Learn more about Applied Net today.

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, 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 mobile app makes networking even easier.

Use the Applied Net App

With the Applied Net 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 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.

 

 

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 will feature inspiring keynotes, more than 240 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.

Learn more about Applied Net 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.