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Insurance Industry News from ProgramBusiness.comKeep the Human Touch
Agents and brokers are pleased that insurers are upgrading electronic links between companies and producers, but say that emphasizing automation without human support will turn them away, according to a new survey conducted of Best's Review subscribers.
Respondents ranked fast turnaround times on submissions as the top service an insurer can offer, followed by easy access to insurance underwriters, according to the survey conducted online in May. Underwriters help determine whether the insurer can accept a risk and at what rate.
Survey respondents, 70% of whom are agents, brokers or advisers, repeatedly asked for speedier quotes and claims service. But many emphasized the importance of communication about risks and the ability "to speak with a real person during regular business hours."
About 80% of respondents said underwriters should be available until at least 5 p.m. in all U.S. time zones, and most suggestions of a reasonable amount of time for quote response ranged from one day to five days.
The ease of doing business with an insurer is more important than premium and commission for a third of respondents and about equally important for 62%.
Some respondents praised the use of e-mail and insurer Web sites, particularly the availability of underwriting requirements, target appetites, prequalification tools, quick quotes, endorsements and forms online. Others are less enamored with online capabilities. "Many are doing it; few are doing it well," said one respondent. "Technology without people is worse than no technology at all."
Respondents are most vocal when it comes to discussing the role of underwriters who work for insurers:
-- "Different underwriters at the same company will actually contradict each other."
-- "New underwriters come in not trusting what you say to them, so you have to start from scratch."
-- "Underwriters can become too close to an account, just like becoming too close to an agent."
Most respondents said insurers communicate their goals clearly to agents, but 43% said that often was not the case.
Complete results of the survey are available in the June edition of Best's Review, published by the A.M. Best Co. To subscribe, call (908) 439-2200, ext. 5742
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