Use of Technology in the ever changing Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Community
We all agree that technology touches our lives each and every day. A typical start to most mornings is to wake up and check your smart phone to see if you have a text, email, voicemail or whats been posted on your facebook wall. Society today interacts in a way that just 10 years ago would ahve seemed, well, like science fiction to most of us. And it not only changes how we live, bur also how we work.
In the past, most E&S business was done by a phone call, a fax, or more recently by email. WHile the system works, it is impreative that the indurstry keep abreast of the every changing wants and needs of its target audience, in most cases for E&S this is means how do we best help our agents get the information they need quickly and efficently. As Roxanne Barry wrote on the JM Wilson Blog (http://jmwilsonmga.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/top-5-excess-surplus-lines-insurance-trends-for-2013/):
“Technology is key – if you’re not ahead, you’re already behind – Most of our carriers have either developed, or are actively developing, vast improvements to their technology. The ones that are ahead of the curve are very well positioned for 2013, and the types of improvements they are investing in will help us to quote risks faster, with greater efficiency, and to process policies much more quickly.
While the statement by Ms. Barry is certainly true, what the E&S community is seeing is the start of a slow, methodical change, one that will not happen overnight, but will, again as stated by Ms. Barry- “as a slower, more well thought out changes over time will be the key to more lasting underwriting results.”
For a lot of E&S companies, technology starts and ends with a few basics. Their offices are server/desktop computer based, they may run one or more “industry specific” software applications (Concept One, Vertafor AMS360, Agency Matrix for example) and they have a company webpage which gives them an “internet” presence. But in todays complex technology driven society are they doing enough?
Linkedin, Constant Contact, Facebook, Twitter- these are a few examples of technology that has an immediate connection to many E&S customers, but these are just the beginning. Creating a website is a start, but allowing your agents to get to the information they desire in a clear, concise and easy matter is a goal that many companies overlook. Creating content that lets tablet and samatphone users work from the field. A recent article in the Insurance Journal (http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/06/14/295576.htm) indicates that 77% of the majority of insurance agencies DIRECTLY attribute their fiscal growth to the use of technology.
Another identifiable technology want of many in the industry point to is the need for carriers to offer more “real time” abilities. . As shared again in the Insurance Journal (http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/12/19/314983.htm) the article seeks to push the importance of getting the industry to place its highest priority on “getting additional carriers to offer real-time capabilities”
Technology continues to evolve on daily basis and the E&S community needs to strive to not only keep pace but to identify the areas where they can better utilize existing and developing technologies to better serve their clients and themselves. We will continue to explore these areas in future blogs.