Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
Robert Regis Hyle | August 04, 2014
Independent insurance agencies face significant challenges, particularly when it comes to technology, but the biggest voice for agencies facing technology issues believes single sign-on for carrier websites is the biggest issue facing these insurers.
Ron Berg, executive director of the Agency Council on Technology, points out it is not just an agency issue, though. Single sign-on offers great benefits to carriers as well, in the form of fewer password/ID calls from agencies.
“The plethora of IDs and passwords that are out there for any given carrier to their agency and the sharing of IDs and passwords is one important issue,” says Berg. “The high percentage of password calls that any carrier gets just for that issue is something the industry has to work on as well.”
There are different flavors of the single sign-on issue and Berg maintains three entities need to work together on this—carriers, agencies, and technology providers—to reach an agreement on what is best for everyone. The best answer thus far, according to Berg, comes from the ID Federation in the form of a product called SignOn Once.
“As SignOn Once is adopted and implementations reach critical mass with the carrier partners and with the vendors, that is the solution the industry will get to when it comes to IDs and passwords,” he says. “It creates benefits not only for the carriers in almost wiping out calls for ID problems, it provides far greater security in that an authenticated user in an agency cannot take that ID when they leave that agency and go to another agency. De-provisioning happens immediately. This is the single highest initiative in our industry. It’s where we’ve needed to be for a while and is a major pain point with agents. SignOn Once provides a template for all participating carriers and vendors and one template process for agents to use.”
New to the Job
Berg has been involved in ACT for the better part of 13 years. Initially, he represented Met Life Auto & Home as a member of some of the technology-based work groups. When Jeff Yates retired as executive director late last year, he turned to Berg as a candidate for the position of executive director.
“At MetLife, I was the advocate for the voice of the independent agents,” he says. “Now, I’m the advocate for the independent agents for technology for the entire industry.”
There are some technology avenues the independent agents need to come up to speed, according to Berg. Carriers have provided functionality to improve the agents’ ability to service customers and quote prospective clients, but there is a great deal to be done from more optimized use of their agency management systems with tools such as business intelligence and analytics and on the front end with the use of electronic signatures and the marketing tools that are available such as tying social media into their business process, making their agency websites optimized for mobile, and potentially offering mobile apps.
Agents have to reach out to prospective clients in the way clients are looking for and expecting,” says Berg.
Berg isn’t sure how much carriers will be able to help independent agents from the mobile aspect. Many carriers offer a mobile app specifically for their customers, and agents want to keep their customers in the conversation, continue to be a trusted partner, and maintain touch points with them.
“Having individual carrier apps goes against that to a degree,” he says. “There are those of us that are engrained around our workflows and around email. You might not classify that as the cutting edge trend of using your phone or social media for everything, but we have to understand the majority of the upcoming customer base is going to be centered on mobility.”
ACT works with the ACORD e-signature community collaboratively to make sure there is a consistent message going out to the agents. They are putting transparency around what the carriers are offering from an e-signature standpoint.
“There are some carriers that are looking to develop a proprietary or a co-opted solution,” says Berg. “A number have come out and said they will accept e-signatures from agents in whatever format they want if the agents follow some carrier guidelines. Insurance vendors are integrating e-signature solutions on their platforms with various vendors. There are agents looking for clarity around all of that to understand what’s going on. We are trying to put as much clarity around this for the carriers and the vendors so agents can make intelligent decisions about ROI, turnaround time, and improved close ratios.”
Security in Place
ACT works proactively to communicate with its members on security issues such as data breach, system errors, and the need to be cautious around viruses, malware, and holes. ACT has a security and privacy work group that has been active with a strategy around providing a refreshed best practices. The work group also is looking at current carrier and agency agreements to find out what technology holes there are in those agreements.
“Agreements even five years ago didn’t contemplate things like data breach, e-signatures, and a number of things, so we are finalizing an updated recommendation on what those agreements should look like to include the emerging technology issues,” says Berg. “Between industry advocacy as far as knowledge on security and privacy issues and a best practice document that would cover a lot of the issues, we are updating technology agreements to provide some width and breadth of assistance to agents on those lines.”
Berg reports it is not difficult to convince agents the importance of security and privacy, but what needs to be done is to provide the agencies with more information.
“There are all these things they know they need to address,” says Berg. “It is so easy to say they’ll look at it later or there is so much information they don’t know where to start, so it gets delayed, but agents are well aware there are security and privacy threats out there. There’s just so much that agents have to plan for and address. I can appreciate how difficult that is for them.”
The Future Agency
Berg believes in five years many independent agencies will become less brick and mortar and will respond to the needs of the incoming workforce who want more work/life balance and more flexibility.
“The agent of the future is going to have to be more mobile,” he says. “We’re going to have to tap into the ability and access a larger array of data that’s available from state and local databases, and from providers that give background and analysis on what’s available on individuals and provide that BI. We’re going to have to, as an industry, react to some of the changing things that will impact our industry—things like the Google driverless car once it becomes more of a reality. We’ll see things like the Amazon drones. What does that mean for commercial lines insurance?”
Where agencies are going in the next five years as far as automation and technology advancement is going to affect every aspect of personal lines and commercial lines, explains Berg.
“We’re going to see far more acceleration and expectation of the end user and the customer experience when and where they expect it,” he says. “The agencies that are fully automated and mobile enabled and have active social and web presence are going to be the ones that get the business.”
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Adaptik Named Among Best Workplaces 2017 List
- Guidewire Launches Accelerators to Meet Consumer Applications
- New Platform Enables DRC Customers to Conduct 6,000,000+ Ratings an Hour
- Roost Unveils Next Gen Smart Home Products
- MetLife Auto & Home Offers Digital Products via Guidewire
- Solartis Releases Rating Micro Service with ISO Electronic Rating Content
- Majesco Announces Digital Engagement and Microservices Platform as a Service
- Franklin Mutual Adds Roost Home Telematics Solutions
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA is pleased to present the 2014 Webinar Series. We have many topics for you to choose from and attendance is open to all ITA members. The webinar topics are current and exciting — ranging from predictive analytics to telematics and will focus on the direction insurance carriers need to follow for the future. All webinars are presented by insurance IT professionals along with some of the leading analysts and consultants in the field. There is no cost to attend an ITA webinar. For more information and to register for the webinar, click the “title” of the webinar below.
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
Robert Regis Hyle
Insurance has gone through several business and technology cycles in the last two decades and with the infusion of not just insurtech tools but with... READ MORE
The whole transportation sector is in for massive transformation. The way people and goods will be moved from point A to point B in the future will be... READ MORE
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE
The core systems replacement cycle is speeding up. Twenty years ago, even if you spent your entire career working at the same insurance company, you... READ MORE
- Partner News