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At Commercial Lines Insurers, Agent Experience Is King


Eric Weisburg

Almost all commercial lines CIOs are working on multiple IT initiatives, but some common themes emerged at Novarica’s recent Special Interest Group Meeting on commercial lines. Several CIOs are focusing on technology and efficiency improvements, including consolidation, enhancement, or replacement of core policy admin systems. Several are also aiming to grow their commercial lines business by expanding into new states and/or developing new products. Many of those new products will require better data, supplied through better governance of data in insurers’ own systems and/or via integration with third-party data providers. A key area of effort for boosting growth, however, is improving the ease of doing business for agents by enhancing digital capabilities and improving agent and underwriter experience.

As part of efforts to improve agent experience and performance, some insurers are working to build relationships with younger agents, such as via training programs with lots of personal attention to build both skills and relationships. Many insurers do not have specific young-agent programs but recognize the value as the average age of agents continues its inexorable rise toward retirement.

Some CIOs were surprised that young agents rated AMS integration and comparative raters relatively low on the scale of importance in recent Novarica research. At the same time, carrier portals are “very” or “somewhat” important to the vast majority of agents under 40, while 91% of even young agents prize “direct access to underwriters.” This means attempting to increase underwriting efficiency by reducing underwriter/agent touchpoints could risk harming a key agent experience that impacts their decision to place business with a carrier.

One insurer has taken the focus on agent experience to another level: It has created an Agile team just for agent digital experience. The team has since revamped the billing experience for agents and improved system speed to provide a faster quoting experience—a vital criterion for agents when deciding where to place business.

As commercial lines carriers look to the future, digital experiences will continue to grow in importance, as will demand for quality data to support those experiences, underwriting, and innovative and competitive products.

For more discussions like this, please visit our events page. We have a full list of events running through the end of 2021 and are planning for hybrid and in-person events in 2022. The first in-person event will be our Silicon Valley Innovation Tour “reboot” in January.