IVANS Agent Survey Reveals 77 Percent Trust Their Carriers, Key Finding is Reflective of Value Agents Place on Efficient Agent-Carrier Communication

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Significant Increases in Automation Technology, However Insurance Agents Want More Carriers to Offer Real-Time and Commercial Lines Download

If certain carriers aren’t offering this technology or agents have it but aren’t using it, now is the time to get engaged and find out why.

According to IVANS 2011 Insurance Agents, Carriers & Technology Survey, 54 percent of those independent insurance agents surveyed trust their carriers “most of the time” and 23 percent trust their carriers “completely.” This high level of trust is reinforced through the steady increase in the use of agency-company interface technology. In IVANS 2009 Agent Survey, only 36 percent of agents reported using real-time upload, but this number has since increased to 52 percent of the agents surveyed in 2011. Usage of commercial lines download also saw an increase from 42 percent to 59 percent, and claims download is up to 30 percent from 18 percent previously.

Clare DeNicola, president and chief executive officer of IVANS, Inc., said, “Establishing and maintaining trust requires efficient and accessible communication between carriers and agents, and these findings are reflective of the value agents place on being able to communicate easily with their carriers. It is also a testament to the investments that carriers have been making and to the success of industry campaigns such as getrealtime.org, which IVANS has been proud to co-sponsor since its inception four years ago.”

While the use of interface technology continues to increase, an overwhelming number of agents surveyed (60 percent) said the number one reason they are not using real-time or commercial lines download is because many carriers are still not offering it. Carriers want to ensure agents will adopt this technology and are looking for a solid return on their investment. Agents are looking for ways to reduce redundancies and streamline their workflows, so they can increase their responsiveness and focus more on business opportunities. DeNicola said, “Good communication is a two-way street, and agents need to proactively seek information for their own benefit and work with carriers that are implementing interface solutions to keep up with consumer demands for quicker service and faster quotes. If certain carriers aren’t offering this technology or agents have it but aren’t using it, now is the time to get engaged and find out why.”

When agents were asked what they thought the most threatening issue was to their bottom line, 43 percent of survey respondents said “customers shopping around more for quotes” while 19 percent said “increased Internet sales on carrier websites.” With intense competition among carriers, especially in the personal lines business, consumers know they can often lower their premiums through comparison shopping. As a result, agents fear that a stalled economy combined with increased access to the Internet is causing consumers to focus more on price than the type of coverage they will receive. IVANS believes these threats illustrate the need for increased workflow automation, so agents can respond to customers faster, add more value to the sales cycle, and leverage up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.

As for new channels of communication, agents indicated they had an interest in social networking, but a lack of resources and clear strategic objectives prevented most from using this new medium to its fullest potential. According to the IVANS survey, 38 percent of agents do not engage in social media and have no plans to do so, and only 14 percent are currently using it to provide enhanced customer service.

DeNicola said, “Real-time increases efficiencies by reducing data re-entry and the number of passwords, and essentially puts the data at the agent’s fingertips. Other automation processes, such as commercial lines download take the speculation out of what data is required and where it is located, and enables agents to enhance the customer experience via a single workflow. Without question, we’ve come a long way in interface technology, but the findings in the IVANS study prove there is still room for growth. Consumers remain hungry for being able to access data anytime, anywhere, and emerging technologies, such as social networking and mobile applications, have only increased their expectations and made customer service more transparent. To stay ahead, carriers and agents must leverage technologies that enable them to communicate effectively with one another, or the customer will pass them by.”

The survey was conducted electronically from April 29, 2011 to May 5, 2011, and the results represent responses from 515 independent agents from across the United States.

Editor’s Note: For a full summary of IVANS 2011 Insurance Agents, Carriers & Technology Survey, please contact Cecile Locurto at (203) 698-7218 or Cecile.Locurto(at)ivans(dot)com. For more information about IVANS solutions for the insurance industry, visit ivans.com/property-casualty.

IVANS Inc. provides the property and casualty insurance and healthcare industries with fully managed network, electronic data interchange (EDI) and agency-company interface solutions to help solve complex business issues. Headquartered in Stamford, Conn. and a CMS approved vendor, IVANS serves over 1,000 insurance and healthcare organizations, more than 30,000 independent agents and 135,000 healthcare providers. With over 27 years of experience successfully managing networks, the company also offers its clients relentless customer service, security solutions, reliable and accessible technical helpdesk support and expert enablement. IVANS, which was formed by 21 insurance companies, also has offices in Tampa, Fla. and Cincinnati, Ohio. For information, visit http://www.ivans.com.


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Cecile M. Locurto
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