More and more life carriers are automating their distribution systems, and while they’re doing their best to accommodate their agencies, they’re reaching a point where they’ll only want to deal with agencies that have taken steps toward going digital.

We estimate that, when it comes to contracting with carriers, 70% of independent life agencies are still used to doing things on paper. While that’s by far the majority, no-one wants to be the agency that’s left behind.

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Carriers have a certain way they want to receive information. The problem for the independent broker is that you may be dealing with 30 to 200 different carriers, each of whom has their own unique requirements. This seeming lack of uniformity can paralyze an independent agency from the outset, and may create a false sense of security that if other agencies are equally paralyzed, then no-one is going to go digital, and you can just keep using paper. Not so.

That said, although each carrier’s system is unique, there are more similarities than differences between them. Focusing the beginning of your journey toward going digital on some basic administrative automation goals will help you get up to speed.

Here, we present five simple ways life insurance agents can start digitizing their world:

  1. Have the ability to produce contracts in the carriers’ format that are forms-filled PDFs, readable at data level so that person receiving it by email can parse out the data

  2. Create spreadsheet files of your producers’ demographic information, so that the carrier has enough information on file to identify who is representing their products, this is how the IMO’s provide the data

  3. Keep a data file of sales hierarchy information that denotes commission and producer levels

  4. Keep a digital file of any training or background checks done – providing a spreadsheet of this information enables almost any carrier to handle most contracting and onboarding needs

  5. Keep a spreadsheet of agents to terminate and send it promptly, so that that carrier doesn’t inadvertently keep paying for appointments for those agents

If the independent broker takes these five easy steps, most carriers will be able to get what they need done. Instead of hoping that paper remains the universal language, you’ll have these information objects that will help you make the leap to your carriers’ digital forms and files.

In the absence of taking these steps, carriers will increasingly turn to doing business with those agencies with whom they can more easily connect digitally. And because there will be more and more consolidation, your agency may become somebody else’s, leaving your business and your autonomy behind.

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