Agencies considering the purchase of a new agency management system have never had a better time to do it. System vendors are in the midst of introducing a wide variety of new features designed to improve agencies’ efficiency, cut down on time spent on paperwork, and create more time for building strong relationships with customers.
EZLynx has introduced new features to enable self-service for commercial clients. Their client center customer portal allows agency clients to issue certificates of insurance from templates assigned by the agency, whenever they are needed. They can also submit endorsement requests, print auto insurance ID cards, and upload documents to the agency.
A new agency dashboard, in beta testing now, will permit agencies to run dozens of standard reports. It will also give them the ability to run and email standard and custom reports automatically. For example, month-end production reports can be scheduled, generated and delivered to stakeholders a few days after closing with no human intervention.
EZLynx is also working to create a commercial lines version of its personal lines Retention Center tool. Agencies that have used this tool for personal lines have increased their retention rates by an average of eight percent. Agents have been clamoring for a commercial lines version, which EZLynx hopes to release by year-end.
Also on the drawing board is a new sales center tool for managing personal and commercial lines leads and prospects. The system would feature a user interface already familiar to EZLynx users.
Vertafore announced a mobile version of its AMS360 system in July 2016. The mobile capability will permit agents to solidify client relationships by providing more value, the company says. It gives agents the ability to manage certificates of insurance, access auto insurance ID cards, confirm coverage, review claims, and manage client contact information, all from a smartphone or tablet.
An enhanced version of the Sircon Solutions web site is designed to give users a better experience when conducting regulatory transactions. Agents use this system to apply for licenses in multiple states, check the status of new and renewal licenses, and manage compliance with continuing education requirements. It is also a repository for a wide body of information to answer agents’ questions about specific industry and compliance topics. The new version updates the look and feel and reduces the number of clicks necessary to find desired information.
One brand new product introduced this year is Vertafore Agency SalesTrack, an insurance industry-specific sales management tool. It integrates with AMS360 and enables workflows through the sales pipeline. Encouraged by the product’s initial success, Vertafore plans to expand it to more lines of business over the coming months.
Applied says its users consistently ask for new features to improve the efficiency of their operations, meaning improving their systems’ usability and speed. In that spirit, Applied plans the release of its Applied Epic 2017 system in 2016’s fourth quarter. Some of its capabilities include:
· Automated benefits renewal, designed to reduce manual data entry and speed up the renewal and re-marketing process for benefits plans.
· Sales automation, which helps executives manage pipelines and sales growth. The new version allows more customization of reports and increased data security to protect client confidentiality.
· Optimized document management, allowing users to drag and drop multiple documents at a time, modify attachment descriptions and enter comments within a single workflow.
· Increased automation of workflows to reduce keystrokes.
· Further automation of accounting processes.
Applied TAM’s forthcoming release will include many of these features, plus features to help match agency new business opportunities with carrier appetites. Applied’s mobile apps will offer enhanced document access and a modern interface. In addition, the Applied MobileInsured app will enable client self-service for things like claims reporting and policy change requests.
NowCerts says it is trying to make its system a single point for management of agency workflow and back-office needs. Some of the capabilities rolling out in the last four months of 2016 are:
· A module specifically for life and health clients
· New customer management features
· Tools for agencies to design their own custom reports
· Enhanced user activity reports
· Enhanced internal chat, text messaging, and email synchronization features
· Expanded integration with QuickBooks
· Integrated e-signature capabilities
· Easier commission reconciliation
· Enhanced cloud security and reliability
Coming down the road are expanded integration with comparative rating systems, direct quoting for some commercial lines with participating insurers, and outsourced customer service representative services. A new mobile app is also on the horizon for late in the year.
Insurance agencies have a wealth of feature-laden options to pick from when it comes to automating their operations. Some are better suited for larger agencies, while others may be better for smaller agencies or those who do not write all lines of business. Any system decision requires a lot of careful testing and consideration. However, with these innovative vendors competing for agencies’ business, an agency should have no trouble finding the right fit.
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