After we reported Novarica research indicating that agents prefer using carrier portals to write business, we got lots of feedback from agent groups and others asserting the opposite: that agents would much prefer transactions begin and end in their own agency management systems (AMSes). We're investigating the competing views and will have a report in our next digital issue, which serendipitously enough is on distribution.
One interesting wrinkle came from Jim DeVito, the marketing process manager for Progressive who also heads the P&C company's agent technology advisory board. DeVito spells out a usability disconnect: it's easier for agencies to manage AMSes, but more difficult for insurers to stay on top of the integration challenges.
"The challenge as a carrier is that it's different technology and twice as much work to have both options available," he says. "It's easier to have just a link into our portal — we don't have to do all the standardization to ACORD standards, of all the data streams and all the connecting web services to all the AMS processes."
But conversely, he notes, independent agencies who work with more than one carrier find the volume of login information a challenge to keep straight.
"Imagine an agency that represents 15 different carriers and has 15 different producers in the office," DeVito says. "In portal world, that’s 225 different yellow stickies with usernames and passwords."
When agent groups such as the Big I circulate its list of agent priorities, password management is always near the top, DeVito adds. To that end, he's joined the board of directors for an ID federation that is taking steps to build standards for agency portal logins.
"We're going to address this pain point head on," DeVito says. "Passwords is something that we haven't already done. In the next 12 months we'll be making some big strides in that area."