Agency Networks, Agency Alliances, Agency Aggregators, and Agency Clusters, no matter the name, these groups have unique needs.
By Craig Fuher, Customer Experience Executive
Agency partnerships have existed for decades and, over time, have transformed into unique offerings with distinct value propositions. These partners are called many names in the industry such as Agency Network, Agency Alliance, Agency Aggregator, and Agency Cluster. No matter the name, these partnerships have unique needs.
Recently, I was fortunate to attend the fifth annual Insurance Networks Alliance (INA) meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. The focus of the event was to facilitate discussion about the opportunities and challenges facing this important sector of the independent agent distribution channel. At the meeting, INA presented a summary from the 2022 Insurance Networks Study conducted by INA with research and analysis performed by Advisen, Ltd. In the study, over 70% identified with the term Networks, so that’s what I’ll use here. What is clear from the key findings of the study is that Networks continue to thrive and are operationally different from traditional retail agencies and brokerages. Networks have a unique value proposition and are required to provide distinctive relationship management skills and processes as they continue to create value for their member agencies. Sitting between several carrier partners and multiple member agencies can be complex for these Networks.
Serving both sides of the distribution channel – insurance carriers on one side and member agencies on the other – means that Networks assume many of the administrative tasks that are normally performed by carriers in the more traditional relationship between retail agencies and insurance companies. Details like Errors and Omissions (E&O) tracking, monitoring state insurance license renewals, commission calculation, disbursement, and product education are just a few. At the same time, Networks also perform many of the tasks associated with more traditional agency and broker operations. Services such as central market placement, field underwriting, wholesale and brokerage support, policy service processing, and carrier appetite management are a small sample of these tasks. Balancing both sides is the reason 85% of Networks are managed by a dedicated professional team responsible for all Network operations, according to the study.
Insurance technology was identified as a top emerging trend for Networks over the next five years which is directly in line with the insurance industry as a whole. However, the technology offered to Networks must encompass a unique set of functionalities that allow them to manage all facets of their business. Networks need a single platform that can seamlessly integrate with other process-specific technologies to address all the unique elements associated with the placement and member management side of the relationship with carriers coupled with all the tools needed to empower member agencies to submit, quote, and bind more business in an extremely efficient way and have deep visibility into their book of business for servicing in real-time, all the time.
The traditional insurance value chain faces an incredibly challenging business environment and finds it difficult to differentiate and compete aggressively despite the enormous global investment in “Insurtech” solutions over the last several years. XDimensional Technologies (XDTI) understands that four important drivers remain the focus of genuinely measurable innovation efforts in this value chain. The four areas are additional revenue drivers, improved customer retention and organic growth, the reduction of new business model execution risk, and containing the cost of operations.
XDTI believes that the expertise to reach these goals revolves around delivering a differentiated “experience” for ALL stakeholders in the insurance ecosystem, delivered by a single platform. We have been providing that “single integrated platform” to some of the largest Networks for years. And we will continue to do so to help drive the technological evolution of the Network ecosystem.
Craig Fuher is a Customer Experience Executive with XDimensional Technologies and one of the founders of the company. With over 25 years of experience in technology and insurance leadership, Craig has deep expertise in managing operations and technology initiatives.