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Nathan Golia
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ID Federation Draws Closer to Solving Password Problem

Insurers and vendors join forces in nonprofit to identify login standards for independent agents.

Late last year, Progressive marketing process manager Jim DeVito talked about joining an ID Federation that was working to solve the problem of password proliferation at insurance agencies. The goal of the group, which contains representatives from the insurer, vendor and agency communities, is to create a framework for single sign-on so agents aren't juggling dozens of passwords, each with different conventions and expiration dates.

At a session on the first day of the ACORD/LOMA forum in Orlando, DeVito and three other members of the federation — Jim Rogers of The Hartford, another insurer; Gray Nester of BB&T Insurance Services, an agency; and Doug Johnston of vendor Applied Systems implored the room to join the federation now as it ramps up to a solution. Its four working groups — one developing use cases, another technological standards, a third legal terms and conditions and a fourth to bring them all together — has reached a point where a beta is ready.

"These four working groups are getting things off the ground," Nester said. "So, if you as an organization want to have input into the rules as we go forward, even if you're not ready to federate today, you want to join now so you can have input."

Before the wider federation was conceived, Nester and Rogers worked together to develop a private federation between The Hartford and BB&T's agencies. The executives pointed to this as a successful case study in how single sign-on can relieve other parts of the business.

"We eliminated support call issues from a identification perspective," Rogers said. "At an enterprise level it fit nicely with what were doing and helped enable us to grow into other distribution channels."

Applied's Johnston played up the customer experience benefits of the initiative. Consumers don't go to agents to service their policies often — but when they do, they don't want to see the agent fumbling the password.

"At least once a day a password gets rejected," Johnston said. "Other industries have solved this problem and so can we."

[Johnston and DeVito weigh in on whether agents prefer to connect with insurers via agency management systems or carrier portals.]

Progressive's DeVito noted that the goal of the federation is simply to ease business — the framework won't be logging transaction information.

"We're talking about using technologies that are established in other areas of financial services," he said. "It's not creating transactions. Ideally, there's no need for this entity down the road" because single sign-on standards are well-established, he added.

Other members of the ID Federation include representatives from Vertafore, The Hanover, and Slocum.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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