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Standards Turn Foes into Friends

Robert Regis Hyle | August 12, 2014

It’s always enlightening to speak with independent insurance agents—and even carriers—about the issues that matter the most to them in their partnership. Both sides usually agree with what the other is saying, but problems arise when they try to reach an accord on how the issues should be resolved.

Not all issues are technology based, but most of them have, at the minimum, a need for technology teams to be involved in the solution. Unfortunately, that solution often is created by the carrier’s IT team and with it comes the word standards backers detest: proprietary.

Having hundreds of different mousetraps may have been the American way at one point in time, but the subtle differences in some of these proprietary solutions leave many in the industry wondering how different companies can come up with such similar solutions.

ACORD and others have put up the good fight for standards for decades and the latest effort—single sign-on for agencies—appears to be gaining momentum. This is an important step in the relationship between insurance carriers, not just between carriers and agencies.

Its value carries beyond ease of business for the agencies. It also frees up time for carriers to no longer deal with customer service calls from their agency partners to reset IDs and passwords. Depending on whom you speak with, that can be a minor annoyance or a major aggravation. Most carriers look at it as the latter.

The enemy of my friend may indeed be my enemy and the enemy of my enemy quite likely is my friend, but doesn’t this get just too confusing? No one is asking carriers to disclose their trade secrets, but connectivity issues between partners don’t need to be trade secrets. They are good business.

How about this: The friend of my friend is my friend. It would be a simpler world if we could all agree on that.


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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.


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