Angelyn Treutel,
SouthGroup Insurance

treutel

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Real Time?

Real Time is the ability to click on a button from a client file in your agency management system or comparative rater for immediate access to carrier information on that client. The transaction may be a quote, billing inquiry, claim inquiry/loss runs, policy view, endorsements or a request for information. This approach provides a single workflow for servicing or quoting.

Real Time also can be used to log on to carrier websites automatically, since the IDs and passwords are stored in a secure manner and automatically applied. In some systems, agents can send a First Notice of Loss to the carrier in Real Time, and immediately get back a claim number. Some agency management systems are also capable of receiving activity notifications from the carrier using Real Time.

  1. What is Download?

Download is the movement of customer policy data from an insurer to its partnering agency or brokerage’s agency management system. This download directly to the agency management system normally occurs after a transaction is performed by an agent, such as adding a vehicle or changing a deductible; or by the insurer, such as the creation of an automatic renewal notice.

  1. What is the Real-Time/Download Campaign?

The campaign brings together agents, carriers, technology providers, user groups, national and state agent associations, and industry associations – all dedicated to increasing agency and carrier usage of Real Time and download interface applications. The goal is to double the use of Real Time in the industry over the next year. Most recent numbers show slightly more than 20,000 real-time transactions are performed industry-wide each day through agency management systems. (This figure does not include the number of real-time rating transactions taking place through comparative raters.)

The campaign aims to increase use of Real Time by encouraging agencies and brokerages already using the interface application available in their agency management systems to increase their number of Real Time transactions, and by encouraging agencies and brokerages that aren’t using the technology to implement it through their agency management systems. Also, the campaign will encourage carriers to implement Real Time interface applications with their appointed agencies, and it will encourage those already using it on a limited basis to expand it to all transaction types with independent agencies and brokerages.

  1. What is the campaign’s logo and why was it chosen?

“Eddie,” the campaign mascot and an integral part of the campaign logo, stands for “Ease of Doing Business.” Eddie is the agency employee’s friend, because both Real Time and download give time back to agency staffers (symbolized by the clock) and reduce the level of frustration caused by inefficient transaction processing and duplicate-entry workflows.
The slogan “Make it Your Business” says two important things:

  • It encourages agency employees to act and to learn what Real Time and download can offer them, and then to take specific steps to implement these interface applications.
  • It connotes how Real Time should become a core part of how all agencies do business, enabling employees to respond to customer requests immediately using Real Time and to have more time to advise customers and to sell.

The logo drives agents, brokers, CSRs, carrier personnel and other interested parties to the industry’s dedicated site for the campaign—www.getrealtime.org. This site is designed to provide interested individuals practical implementation information on Real Time and download as well as direct links to vendor, carrier and user group pages for system-specific information, including implementation and troubleshooting steps.

Enough of the introduction! Now, let’s meet Eddie:
Eddie

  1. What specific resources are available at the website for agencies seeking to learn more about Real Time and download and to implement the functionalities?

  • The definition of Real Time as well as an insightful real-time implementation guide specifically for independent agencies and brokerages.
  • Links to information from carriers, major automation vendors and user groups concerning Real Time and download functionality, automation vendors (or carriers) they work with, implementation and installation information, troubleshooting guides and contact information.
  • Links to resources, including the AUGIE Workflow Timer, the AUGIE Cost Savings Calculator and the AUGIE Real-Time Time Study Report, and a link to www.ACTtech.org, a website that enables agents to run reports on the specific Real Time and download capabilities their specific carriers offer through their automation vendors by line of business.
  • A link to the AUGIE Commercial Download Policy Detail Agency Start-Up Guide.
  • Information about Real-Time stakeholder commitments and links to documents that can help various stakeholder groups, as well as campaign materials such as logos, ads, stories, speeches, presentations and more.

  1. Why should agencies be concerned about Real Time and implement this workflow?

First, most features of Real Time are already available through your agency management system, so there likely is no cost to implement the functionality. However, to ensure maximum use and benefit of Real Time, agencies should employ the most current version of their agency management system.

Second, and most significantly, there are tremendous cost-savings, efficiencies and profitability benefits to be gained by implementing Real Time. They include:

  • Greatly speeds handling of customer service requests, thereby cutting response times.
  • Improves retention by keeping customers happy through better service.
  • Meets customer expectation for immediate service/request responses.
  • Increases processing efficiency through consistent workflows across carriers as well as internally among CSRs.
  • Boosts staff time for more productive activities, i.e., sales, proactive advice and service, and account rounding.
  • Creates organic growth to the bottom line by generating efficiency, cost savings and, most importantly, more time for new business development.
  • Raises staff satisfaction.

Through Real Time, customer service is made simpler because the latest policy information is at the fingertips of producers and CSRs. Agency image is enhanced, driving greater customer satisfaction, increased customer retention and heightened employee satisfaction. Also, training costs are reduced because agencies and brokers do not need to train employees on different carrier workflows.


  1. Why should carriers be concerned about Real Time and implement this interface application?

Agents and brokers increasingly are placing business with carriers that provide streamlined processing capabilities—often called “ease of doing business.” Through successful implementation of real-time capabilities, agencies and brokers can make the best use of the processing efficiencies provided by their agency management systems. By offering Real Time and helping with implementation, carriers and their agencies will provide better service to customers and save money because agencies will use Real Time to make inquiries rather than call a service center for customer information—which is a significant business expense for carriers. Also, implementation of Real Time will greatly improve the rating process for new business and free agencies to prospect for more business.


  1. Why should agencies be concerned about download and implement it?

Download enables the round trip of data back into the agency management system after a CSR or producer conducts a Real Time transaction with a carrier. Employing both personal and commercial lines download is essential to fully implement Real Time transactional processing. Moreover, the ability to receive downloads directly from carriers creates significant operational and customer data management improvements (staff can access up-to-date customer information in the agency management system the next time a customer inquires about a policy) and workflow efficiencies, and it provides an immediate profitability boost for independent agencies and brokerages. Like implementation of Real Time, download functionality is available on all agency management systems. However, to ensure maximum use and benefit of download, agencies should employ the most current version of  their agency management system.


  1. Why should carriers be concerned about download and implement it?

By implementing personal and commercial lines download, carriers provide useable customer data that agents and brokers can access directly from their agency management systems. This data exchange enables agents and brokers to take advantage of efficiencies available in the paperless environment that both agencies and carriers seek.

Even with “paper turned off,” which is how many companies now operate, agencies still need policy data to create documents—certificates of insurance, binders, ID cards, summaries of insurance, applications and more. Plus, agencies need up-to-date customer information in their management systems so they can conduct Real Time transactions, cross-market existing customers and generate reports. Without personal and commercial download from their carriers, agency staff must manually maintain and update customer data.

While some carriers provide policy information access electronically via company websites, this limited solution doesn’t work well for independent agencies, which typically represent several carriers. For independent agents and brokers to serve clients quickly and efficiently, they must operate under a single, uniform workflow that includes personal and commercial download. Without download, agents and brokers also are burdened with the time-wasting and expensive task of learning, maintaining and training staff on divergent carrier workflows.


  1. What are the messages of the Real Time/Download Campaign?

Each industry group that will benefit from implementation and daily use of Real Time transactions will be targeted for appropriate messaging. Here are the messages by group:

For Agency Non-Users

  • Real Time inquiries are being used successfully by thousands of agencies today. Start with inquiries and then move to Real Time rating through the agency management system or a comparative rater. If something goes wrong, get help. Real Time is the workflow of the future. Tools and resources are available to help your agency and its staff through the journey.

For Agency Real-Time Users

  • Boost agency-wide use of Real Time—go for more carriers and more transactions. Show and tell carriers, vendors and other agencies how Real Time helps your agency. Require that all of your employees use Real Time, and monitor their use. Take advantage of available vendor and carrier reports that indicate individual employee use of Real Time. Get user groups and your state and national agent associations involved.

For Carriers

  • Real Time inquiry helps agencies save time and deliver better customer service. Plus, it saves carriers money because agencies will make fewer calls to service centers for info. Real Time rating can help your company grow with your agencies. It can actually help your company stay in the quoting process.
  • Real Time technology implemented for one vendor can be re-purposed to use with additional vendors, especially if ACORD XML standards are used, allowing the carrier to reach most of its agencies. This is an important investment in the competitiveness of your company and your distribution force.
  • You can influence agency decision-making, so encourage agencies to implement Real Time and download, whether the message is delivered by the company’s marketing representative during a visit or by the CEO during a speech to a group of agents. Offer agents training, including partnering with specific vendors and user groups.

For Vendors

  • Real Time inquiries and transactions should be a core part of your marketing and product demo activities. Tell agents what system or software versions they must have to benefit from Real Time.
  • Implement—and if needed fix—new standards and functionality that enable Real Time and download capabilities agencies want and need. Identify and add information fields that will make Real Time rating an effective tool so agencies don’t have to develop a work-around.

  1. What are some of the key things the campaign is requesting the various concerned stakeholder groups to do to communicate the importance of Real Time and to increase its use? (See www.getrealtime.org for complete lists of requested actions by various stakeholders.)

Independent Agents & Brokers

  1. Promote the use of Real Time and download to your CSRs and producers as well as to your carriers. Monitor individual employee use, and provide additional training where necessary.
  2. Promote the Real Time/Download Campaign prominently in your office and with your carriers. (Tools: Go to www.getrealtime.org for creative materials you can use.)
  3. Point out any implementation problems or slow performance to your carriers or automation vendor, and work with the specific carrier or vendor to fix the problem.
  4. Use carrier marketing visits, advisory councils and other opportunities to encourage carriers to provide Real Time functionality for all lines of business and all transactions.

Carriers

  1. Provide agents regular reports on your new Real-Time and download transactions by vendor, and keep www.getrealtime.org, www.ACTtech.org and ACORD’s OARS database up to date with new functionality.
  2. Partner with automation vendors to provide agencies Real-Time and download implementation training sessions and in-agency training, and with user groups for training and communication opportunities.
  3. Provide agencies a responsive help desk that is knowledgeable about Real-Time and download and how to implement these interfaces.
  4. Educate marketing executives about Real Time and download’s benefits, and instruct them to encourage agencies during visits to adopt Real Time and download. Carrier field reps also should know how to contact automation vendors to get immediate help while in an agency.
  5. Promote Real Time and download capabilities (and the campaign) to your appointed agents, promote agency implementation of Real Time and download at agent association and user group meetings, and include Real Time and download info and vendor installation info on your agent website.
  6. Provide agencies usage reports showing website and Real Time and download use by employee.
  7. Continuously review your real-time implementation progress to increase speed, eliminate double-entry and streamline the workflow so agents get an improved experience compared to the carrier’s website. Meet regularly with specific automation vendors and user groups to discuss results and ways the overall agent experience with real-time implementation can be improved.

Vendors

  1. Promote Real-Time and download (and the campaign) to agents on your website, in e-mail communications, in electronic newsletters, in trade ads, at agent meetings and in other agent communications, and promote agency implementation at agent association and user group meetings.
  2. Provide agencies quick and knowledgeable troubleshooting support.
  3. Provide agents regular reports about availability of new Real Time transactions and download offered by carriers; keep www.getrealtime.org up to date with your products’ latest Real-Time and download functionality.
  4. Offer Real-Time and download implementation sessions and in-house agency training—on your own and with carriers—and provide carrier reps immediate support when they are at an agency.
  5. Include Real-Time and download info on your website (i.e., installation instructions, frequently encountered problems, directions for obtaining prompt assistance, carrier implementation lists, and links to user group and industry information), and deliver quick, knowledgeable trouble-shooting support.
  6. Provide agencies employee Real Time usage reports, and provide carriers agency reports that show what system an agency is on, and whether the agency is configured for Real Time and using Real Time with other carriers. Provide information about the agency’s system version, if possible.
  7. Continuously review your real-time implementation progress to increase speed, eliminate double-entry and streamline the workflow so agents get an improved experience compared to the carrier’s website. Meet regularly with specific automation vendors and user groups to discuss results and ways the overall agent experience with real-time implementation can be improved.

User Groups

  1. Promote Real Time and download (and the campaign) on your website, in e-mail communications, in electronic newsletters, in trade ads, at meetings and in other communications. Include Real Time information prominently on your website (installation instructions, frequently encountered problems, directions to obtain help, carrier Real Time implementation lists and links to additional industry information).
  2. Provide training at national, regional and local meetings and publicize agent success stories, including testimonials of opinion-leading agencies in the user group.

National & State Agent Associations

  1. Promote Real Time and download capabilities (and the campaign) on your website, in e-mail communications, in electronic newsletters, in trade ads, at meetings and in other agent communications; and direct agents to www.getrealtime.org for more information about Real Time and download.
  2. Provide Real Time sessions at conventions and partner with vendors, carriers and user groups to provide specific Real Time and download training workshops.
  3. Publicize stories about agency Real Time success stories, including testimonials of opinion-leading agencies in the state and nationally.

ACT & AUGIE

  1. Continue to provide a forum for industry discussions of ongoing improvements in Real Time and how best to raise awareness and training of agents and provide oversight to Real Time/Download Campaign and its Web site. Enhance ACTtech.org and provide similar input for the ACORD OARS database.
  2. Promote Real Time and Download capabilities prominently to agents, carriers, vendors and the industry on your website, in e-mail communications, in electronic newsletters, in trade ads, at meetings and in other communications. (See www.getrealtime.org for creative materials your organization can use to promote Real Time and download to agencies and carriers.) Direct agents to www.getrealtime.org for more information about Real Time and download.
  3. Fully support and recommend speakers for Real Time sessions hosted by associations, user groups or other industry segments.
  4. Publicize agent Real Time and download success stories, including testimonials of opinion-leading agencies.

ACORD

  1. Promote Real-Time and download capabilities (and the campaign) to agents, carriers, vendors and the industry on your websites, in e-mail communications, in electronic newsletters, in trade ads, at meetings and in other communications. (See www.getrealtime.org for creative materials your organization can use to promote Real Time and download to agencies and carriers.) Direct agents to www.getrealtime.org for more information about Real Time and download.
  2. Continue to enhance the ACORD electronic standards, implementation tools, form standards and support services to facilitate easier implementation and use of Real Time by carriers, vendors and agencies.
  3. Encourage carriers and vendors to implement the ACORD standards in their real-time transactions, to obtain ACORD certifications of these implementations and to report this information in the OARS database.