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PIA's Brevik Addresses How Carriers Relate to Agents With Technology

Carriers could move away from proprietary Web site systems if they wanted to and a standard interface is achievable. Those were among the observations of...
April 20, 2006

Carriers could move away from proprietary Web site systems if they wanted to and a standard interface is achievable. Those were among the observations of PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Len Brevik, in an article in the April issue of TechDecisions magazine, published by the National Underwriter.

"To have a standard interface certainly is achievable," says Brevik. "The bottom line is if you can make the job [of an agency CSR] easier because of technology, [carriers] are going to win. When you have proprietary-based systems, you are not making it easy. If you look at the companies with the fastest growth and what their CIOs are doing, those posting the biggest numbers are the ones that have that ease of doing business."

There are three requirements agents need from carriers regarding technology, Brevik believes.

"Number one is ease of doing business," he says. "The second is sharing information about shared customers. The third area is to use technology to break down the barriers between product lines." Another change Brevik would welcome is for carriers to allow agencies to download policy information in a useable format. Most carriers currently send information to the agencies in PDF files, he explains. "You can't manipulate the data within those files, and what it does is push [agents] back to paper," says Brevik. "If the company would change that one thing, it would make a dramatic difference in the day-to-day ability of our agents."

Sandy Clark, a consultant to PIA and founder of the PIA Insurance Technology Coalition, would like to see both agents and companies become savvier on what's going on from a technology perspective on Capitol Hill. Clark is concerned with the inadvertent impact of laws. Legislation starts out with one idea, he contends, and sometimes ends up almost by accident causing a disaster because businesses have to comply with unintended consequences. "You don't have to look very far to see that," says Clark. "If you are an agent, you know what it has cost to comply with Gramm-Leach-Bliley." The amount spent for GLB compliance across the U.S., he estimates, is somewhere around $1.4 trillion. In the future, he believes Congress is going to step in to examine the issue of data loss.

The Pursuit of Happiness (TechDecisions April 2006)

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