To succeed in today’s competitive insurance marketplace, companies must manage growth, handle change effectively and balance multiple priorities. Agents and agency channel partners are playing an increasingly important role for insurance companies, which are facing sustained growth rates of approximately 10 percent per year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.
At the same time, agent turnover rates are high at about 40 percent per year, which could leave some companies onboarding up to half of their total pool of agents each year.
To address the challenges of industry growth and agent turnover, insurance companies need a way to bring agents onboard quickly. The onboarding process has traditionally been complex, with companies handling corporate and regulatory compliance issues and verification requirements through multiple manual steps. The delays caused by the onboarding process can hamper companies’ ability to get agents into the field to generate new revenue. But new onboarding technology solutions can simplify the process considerably — and provide a major competitive edge.
How to choose the right onboarding solution
Technology solutions that streamline credentialing can provide a real competitive advantage. But it’s important to choose a scalable solution with the flexibility to handle multiple workflows. Ideally, an onboarding solution would be customizable to meet varying requirements, as well as capable of effectively managing the documents and tracking license and appointment expirations.
Before choosing an onboarding solution, it’s important to clearly define all possible use cases and identify the requirements to onboard in your organization. The right solution should support all the territories, states, product lines and agent classifications the insurance company handles.
It’s crucial to know in advance that a proposed solution:
Allows customization to address a broad range of business scenarios
Integrates with background check and learning management systems
Works seamlessly with e-signature solutions and integrates with current company systems
Easily accommodates changing regulations with date-sensitive capabilites
When evaluating a potential onboarding solution, insurance company decision-makers should carefully evaluate the following factors:
IT configuration and support requirements: Companies have their own unique requirements, so any robust onboarding solution will require some level of configuration to maximize the investment. But it’s a good idea to find a solution that doesn’t require extensive IT support, since most corporate IT teams are already stretched thin. An ideal solution will allow marketing and operations staff to manage routine updates and changes. It should also come with a strong feature set built in, including correspondence functions that allow business staff to send out legal notices, advisories and contract term updates.
Agent interface considerations: Given industry growth rates and agent mobility, it’s important to make a good first impression on agents. The onboarding process is often the first interaction agents have with an insurance company, so a simplified, streamlined process is a great way to project a professional image.
An onboarding solution that minimizes agent touch-points by requiring verification only is preferable to directing agents to a website that requires them to fill out multiple forms. With a fully integrated solution, agents should only be required to enter one agent ID number, which also minimizes data entry errors and eliminates bottlenecks.
Cloud-based functionality: One major decision involved in choosing an onboarding solution is whether to select a cloud-based or self-hosted option. A cloud-based solution has numerous advantages, including the ability to access feature enhancements, integrate the solution with other vendor products and tap into support networks as needed.
There may also be modules available as add-ons that can enhance data management and reporting capabilities. Typically, cloud-based options provide access to additional functions that companies can activate on an as-needed basis, which is a key consideration as business needs and regulations change.
Finding the right onboarding solution requires research, since it’s vitally important to make sure the investment pays off. To generate ROI, the solution should be scalable and customizable. It should minimize the hassle for agents by streamlining submission requirements and support integrated processes for the business operations team. But most of all, it should expedite the validation of information to put agents out in the field and earning revenue more quickly.
Insurers who find a solution that can accomplish this can gain a real and sustainable advantage over competitors in new business and agent retention.