A cautionary tale for your insurance company

This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.

Systems disconnected: a cautionary tale for your insurer

We talk a lot on this blog about the problem with data silos, the pain of manual data entry (and re-entry), and how frustrating it is for producers, employees, and business partners to constantly deal with these issues.

In case our previous arguments are not convincing, I want to tell you a story that, on the surface, seems to have little to do with insurance or your insurance business. Just give me a minute, and I think you’ll understand how that relates.

Almost two years ago, I moved home. It’s never been a fun attempt, but I’ve moved on at least a dozen times in my life and it’s never been that bad. It wasn’t the fact that the moving truck hit our power line and knocked our internet out for a week. Nor was it that our new neighbors soon proved themselves to be such busy people who aired all their complaints about the upkeep of the garden to the county authorities.

It was mail. Exact change of address forms.

The problem is twofold:

First, we moved to a rural area where the Postal Service does not deliver mail to an actual home address. If something doesn’t have our mailbox number, forget about it. Since the post office does not have an easy, fast and automated way to associate our address with our box number, the staff completely refuses to do the job of forwarding our mail to our box.

This means that anything destined for the same house is returned to the sender as undeliverable. If you try to imagine how many important things we don’t receive because someone has our physical address and not our mailbox, multiply it by 100 and you could be close.

Second, though, change-of-address forms (and yes, including the listing of the PO Box number) have been filed with everyone from the Postal Service, to the IRS, to the state department of revenue, to the motor vehicle department, to the county treasurer, county tax assessor’s office, and more. From that, the mail is still sent to our old address – or sometimes it’s sent to our new address but without the box number, which means it can’t be delivered as much.

The last time I had a mail that finally got through thanks to the very nice new homeowners at my previous residence, I called the goverment to correct the address (again). I was really at my wits end with the poor lady on the phone who had to listen to me so hoarsely at all times, all places, I’ve already filled in my new address over the past eighteen months.

“How could you still have the wrong address for me?” I begged to know.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that, the systems aren’t connected.”

I have come to realize at this point that there is a very big disconnect between my expectations as a consumer and the technological capabilities of every government agency I have to interact with as a citizen.

Are you beginning to see similarities between my story of woe and what your employees, producers, or insurance distribution partners might go through? Just to be super clear, let’s break it down:

Manual Processes Only: The people responsible for product licensing compliance in your organization can be tasked with some crazy manual processes. Such as cross-references between paper documents, spreadsheets, and websites. They probably have to re-check things on a regular basis because there is no real-time way to instantly check the license status of a product.

All of this means that it is possible that, just like local postal workers, they may simply choose not to do some manual labor, or let things slide, or not have time in their day to get to them. Even if everyone takes the time to work hard through these manual processes, they’re still error-prone, so you’ll likely end up with less-than-ideal accuracy levels. Like the time someone moved the numbers in my mailbox and accidentally gave someone else a box of live wasp larvae with the intention of controlling the fly population on my farm.

Multiple and disparate systems: If you are an insurance company that contracts with many different agencies (or other intermediaries), or an insurance agency or MGA/MGU that contracts with many different producers, it is almost certain that someone along your insurance distribution channel is entering Same information in more than one place. In fact, they are likely entering the same information in more than two or three places. Not only is this frustrating for everyone involved, but it can lead to errors and oversight processes that could put your organization into compliance.

There is no single source of truth: imagine the frustration of a licensed product trying to update or correct some information. Maybe it’s a new non-state resident license, or maybe they just passed the licensing test for a new line of authority. How many different places do they have to enter this information? Depending on what it is, they may have to go through your company’s human resource information system (HRIS), your agency’s management system (AMS), customer relationship management system (CRM), incentive compensation management system (ICM), and their insurance department and other regulatory agencies – For example but not limited to! And since we don’t know what we don’t know, they’ll continue to play whack-a-mole with incorrect information as long as every site has that information until it shows up.

Now, imagine, if that were the case for a single product, what would it have to be for anyone in the distribution channel tasked with managing information for multiple products. Do you have a headache yet?

To sum it up, the price you pay for committing to manual, labor-intensive processes may include:

  • Data is not updated once verified
  • Frustrated employees, producers and distribution partners
  • Compliance risks and regulatory incidents
  • Losing the best people to an organization that makes their jobs easy and stress free

The good news is that AgentSync can help eliminate these issues for your insurer and its partners. For my part, I have no choice but to fill in the forms for the umpteenth time and to pray that the day will come when everyone who needs my address will have the correct one. You don’t know how much I’d give for a handy solution that could make this problem go away faster than my ever-decreasing patience.

So, for all the people out there who don’t have a fix for the woes of data warehouses, manual processes, and outdated technology wherever these things might creep into life, don’t you owe it to yourself to check out AgentSync?

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