Workflow Tools Can Pay Off Quickly
Software to help agencies and brokers administer the workflow of processing life insurance and annuity applications can significantly reduce costs and raise productivity, say vendors.
Typically, the technology can enable agencies to eliminate one or more full-time support employees by eliminating manual processing of applications and duplicated data entry, according to these vendors. They note that the software can also make an impact on producer productivity by cutting application processing time, thereby reducing the number of policies canceled by customers.
Workflow software is often sold to carriers, who then make it available through the Web to independent or captive agents. But there are also packages designed primarily for use by agencies and brokers.
Some of the widely used packages include the following.
Home Office from NaviSys Inc., Edison, N.J., is sold to carriers, which license the product for fees that may range from $175,000 to $500,000, the company says.
Carriers make its business processing and underwriting applications available to producers, at little or no cost, depending on the producers sales volume, says John Gorman, head of NaviSyss Home Office business unit. Implementation involves only a few hours of training at the agency or broker level, he adds.
Home Office leads the agent through the application process, often cutting policy issuance times to several days from the 30 days or more needed for manual processing, says Gorman. It also enables producers to view an applications status online or to receive periodic e-mails to advise them of the status of clients applications, Gorman adds.
The Administrator, from Life Insurance Data Processing Consulting Inc., Woodridge, Ill., is also purchased by carriers. Mike McCarthy, executive in charge of business development for LIDP, declines to cite prices for the software, noting that fees are based on the volume of data going through the system.
“If you break the costs down per transaction, youre talking about cents, not dollars,” says McCarthy.
In fact, carriers make the Administrator available to agencies and brokers at little or no charge, he says. It is used to help producers and their managers to propose and sell policies, administer claims, calculate commissions and provide other services to agents and policyholders.
Those features give an agency or broker control over many business functions that are traditionally part of the carriers functions, McCarthy says.
“Broker-dealers have discovered handling these functions provides them with a lot more opportunity for prospecting and creating additional opportunities for product sales, to add value and enhance their own brand in the mind of the prospect,” he says.
Agencies like that, McCarthy adds, because it means that if a customer has questions about other financial products, he or she thinks of the agency rather than the carrier.
The Administrator also gives the broker-dealer the ability to track commissions accurately, rather than depending on carriers for this function, he notes.
“The broker can then put in elaborate compensation schemes to motivate the sales force, remit the difference to the carrier and electronically deposit compensation into the producers account almost all simultaneously with the receipt of the application,” McCarthy observes.
Fast App, from AgencyWorks Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, is an Internet-based agency management system used by over 300 agencies, the company says.
Fast App enables an agency to automate the creation of a new application, using case-status reports from a life insurance carrier, thus enabling it to capture the information even if the agent submits the application directly to the carrier.