NAILBA Announces New Standard For Agency Management Systems
By Ara C. Trembly
The National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies has announced a new technology standard for agency management systems that it says will speed business processing.
According to Fairfax, Va.-based NAILBA, “the standard serves to expedite the processing of new business involving fixed annuity and fixed life insurance products by facilitating the exchange of policy information among insurance carriers and independent producers.”
The specifications of the new standard include implementation of the ACORD XMLife format, the association says.
Jeff Kraber, technology advocate for NAILBA, says the new standard will enable parties in the transactions to take advantage of the Internet. “Agents will be able to get more information from carriers” under the standard, he notes.
Agents can access the new standard in multiple ways, says Kraber, including from the technology section of NAILBAs Web site at http://www.nailba.org/technology/acord_standards.htm.
According to NAILBA, the new standard was facilitated by its Technology Committee, in collaboration with carriers and agency management system vendors.
The new standard can be downloaded to and will integrate with agency management systems from Integrated Insurance Technologies (formerly ZeBU) and AgencyWorks, among others, says Kraber. While no hardware upgrades are needed for those using these systems, he notes that “you would need their latest software.”
For those with no agency management system, Kraber says, “you need to know someone who knows XML” in order to integrate and make use of the new standard.
Kraber adds that the new standard is provided at no cost to agencies and to carriers who are ACORD members. “Its an open standard,” he notes.
According to Rick Heil, life standards program manager for Pearl River, N.Y.-based ACORD, “NAILBA has created an implementation guide for independent agents and brokers using the XMLife standard.”
Heil says NAILBA and ACORD are “focusing on the issues of concern to independent producers and trying to use broad standards and apply them to solve day-to-day issues.”
The primary issues include: submitting new business to multiple companies; creating standardized forms for use across multiple companies and multiple states; and delivering in-force and pending case status in a standardized format, “which greatly lightens the load and improves the information flow to the agent and also to the customer,” says Heil.
Overall, the emphasis is on consistency, Heil explains. “You want to be able to get information to and from companies in a consistent format. That information is more timely, more meaningful, more understandable.”
He adds that NAILBA and ACORD are working to make sure that various “constituencies” within the insurance industry are well represented in addressing the need for standards.
“This standard is the first in a series involving the conversion of agency management systems to ACORD XMLife standardized format,” says NAILBA. “Major companies from both [carriers and agency management system vendors] are expected to adopt and implement the standard by year-end.”
Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 14, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.