Creator: Edvvc  Copyright: CC BY 3.0A friend of mine loves fast cars. Recently he went to a “tuner” school where they taught him how to enhance a normal automobile from its factory settings up to 1000 horsepower. To put this in perspective, a NASCAR racing engine produces about 750 horsepower.  “Tuning” can make cars go much faster and significantly increase their value.

OK, so how can the topic of fast cars be tied to insurance, in a good way?

My friend’s trip to the school got me thinking about insurance company technology and how successful carriers can get even more return or “horsepower” from their technology investment.

The answer lies not in technology, but in people. Their agents will place more business with them if their team behaves in a way that “tunes up” the available technology.

What Agents Want from Carrier Technology

Data from independent agents indicates what agents want from carrier technology. They want an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that allows them to quote, bind, and issue policies.

This quote from one agent represents the technology experience most agents say they are looking for:

“Automated online systems for straight through quoting to issuing.”

Achieving this is not as easy as it sounds.

Technology is a Great Tool, but NOT the Whole Solution

To their credit, many P&C carriers are working hard to transform their technology to improve the efficiency of agent transactions.  However, these efforts are not always successful from an agent’s perspective. When this happens, carriers fail to attract the amount of new business they initially anticipated when they decided to invest the extra effort and expense in the transformation.

Often these carriers are missing another key element. They need to “tune-up” their technology tool. To get more horsepower they must also support and develop underwriting teams that interact with the technology tool in a way that provides highly responsive service to their agents.

As one agent explains,

“Technology is a tool, not a replacement for the human interaction and decision making.”

We often see comments that start by describing what agents want the technology to do and end with the desire to easily access a decision maker they trust and who responds quickly. Here is an example of that type of comment.

“Strong online capabilities:  rating, claims reporting, policy changes, billing inquiry, responsive to underwriting questions.”

And in this quote, the agent prioritizes responsiveness before they even mention what they need from the carrier’s technology.

“There are a couple of things that are primarily important to me… One is being able to contact an underwriter for assistance and receiving a timely response.  And one is being able to run quotes and issue policies myself, for personal and commercial accounts.”

Key Take Away

P&C Carriers that want to maximize their technology investment must look beyond technology. They also need to provide responsive human interaction, particularly in underwriting.