New Tech Products Make Doing Business Online Easier For Agents
As technology advances, financial services agents have more and more products to choose from in order to perform transactions online.
The following is a sampling of some of the newer products available to help agents do business on the World Wide Web.
AI Roboform is free software that “walks behind you on the Internet, and anywhere theres a form that needs to be filled in it will fill it in,” says Andrew Finkle, vice president, business development, Siber Systems, Herndon, Va.
The product was created to save users time when having to fill out forms to register on a new Web page.
A user fills in information on AI Roboform, including name, address, social security number, credit card numbers and so on. AI Roboform then pops up whenever the user encounters a form that needs to be filled in, Finkle says.
The user is asked via a prompt whether he or she wants the form filled in by AI Roboform, and indicates a choice by clicking the appropriate icon.
“It recognizes a new username and password and remembers it, so every time you go onto a site youve registered on, Roboform asks if you want it to sign on for you,” Finkle says.
AI Roboform can be used in insurance company call centers, he adds.
When a customer service representative takes a call and enters a callers information, AI Roboform “can remember every field, so every time that person calls, you put in his name or social security number, one piece of information, and automatically the Roboform can fill in every other bit of information on the page, like phone numbers, addresses, type of insurance policies they have, cars they drive, as long as its a form and on the Internet,” Finkle says.
All the personal data entered into the Roboform profile stays in an encrypted file, he says. “The only time it goes anywhere else is when you tell it where to go.”
AI Roboform works with any Windows operating system, and it will fill in any HTML-based form, Finkle says.
The company also offers an enterprise version of the product that can be customized to work with a companys particular applications, he notes.
For instance, if a company uses time card software, AI Roboform can be configured in a way that keeps employees from having to fill in redundant information every time they punch in or out.
“Its not just what time are you going to your department, they want to know your name, managers name, [and] department. These people have to fill this out three times a day,” Finkle says. “With Roboform, they only have to do one step.”
Finkle declined to name a price for the enterprise version, but said that a version for personal use is free.
Theres a link on Roboform.com through which the latest version can be downloaded. Once downloaded, the software installs itself, Finkle says.
“It asks you for information like name, address, credit card numbers, and thats it,” he says. “Then it operates non-invasively in the background and any time you go to a Web site with a form, Roboform will pop up and ask if you want it to fill it out.”
For business use, the product costs $29.99, the company says. The price decreases depending on the number of licenses the company wants to buy.
“If the company wants to buy a thousand seats, it might only cost $5 each,” Finkle says.
It takes a “negligible” amount of time to learn to use AI Roboform, he says.
Insurance Quote Application Services Inc., Chandler, Ariz., has launched Insurance Quote Application Process (IQAP), a product meant to speed up the life insurance application process for the consumer.
“Any product application can be converted for use in the IQAP system,” says Doug Donnenfield, chief marketing officer for IQAS. “All life applications, health applications, annuity apps, disability, even enrollment forms.
“Virtually any application that requires filling out a document can be used with the system,” he continues, “however, to date, we have only been converting life apps.”
System requirements include any Windows version, 9x and higher, and a Web server, he adds.
The product can be used on the Web or internally for agents in a call center, Donnenfield says.
“The agent in the field, or customer, would log onto a Web site that contained the IQAP process, and link up to all the application files stored on the Web/data server either at the agent/brokers office, or at the carrier,” he explains.
Training to use IQAP is minimal, Donnenfield says.
“It is no different than completing an application by hand,” he says. “However, there is a considerable amount of time and training involved in converting the carrier specific forms.
“IQAS would provide this [conversion] service for a fee (approximately $18,000 per carrier per product line),” he notes.
Cost for the product varies, depending on the components of the IQAP system required, Donnenfield says. The basic form programs and conversion run between $90,000 and $120,000.
“There are additional costs for the insurance quote engine, the digital certificate system, and the premium payment system, plus implementation,” he adds. “The total costs are under $200,000 for a complete conversion and use of all the systems.
“In addition, transaction fees are charged by each component based on usage with price breaks,” he states.
E-ticket, an online pre-application process from First Penn-Pacific Life Insurance Co., Schaumberg, Ill., is the first program launched under E-Life Express, a system with which the company hopes to streamline life insurance processing to reduce paperwork and save time for the companys distribution partners, according to company literature.
Jeff Francione, underwriting manager for First Penn-Pacific Life says E-Ticket allows an agent who writes business for First Penn to submit an application for insurance in a few minutes.
The process is so complete, Francione says, that there is a high probability that the rate class the process says the client belongs to is accurate. The only missing components are blood and urine information, he adds.
“Theres a series of questions that match First Penns underwriting guidelines,” Francione says. “As the questions are asked, the rate class the person qualifies for appears and the others disappear, the only ones we dont know are blood and urine.
“Assuming everything clears on the tool, whatever rate class the person qualifies for, theyll get,” he notes.
The product is Internet-based. A user must have an IBM compatible PC, Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher, Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or higher, a modem speed of at least 56K, and 128-bit encryption.
The product can be used for underwriting in the tele-application business, says Francione. This includes what business agents get through Internet and telephone leads.
“The agent doesnt do the amount of work they normally do when they take a complete application. When they do that, they may go to the house and it takes an hour,” Francione observes.
“This is much shorter,” he notes. “The agent gets preliminary information [and] forwards it to a call center” where the application process evolves further.
The process is basically a way for an agent to collect life insurance applications, or initiate the process, he says.
In order to use E-Ticket, an agent needs to be authorized by a broker/general agent, a matter of a phone call, according to Francione.
“The BGA can authorize them or do the work for them on their behalf. It takes a few days for paperwork to get done,” Francione says. “Training is negligible, its an easy-to-use process and theres online help.”
The process is free, he says.
Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, October 21, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.