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Two active groups in the industry have and continue to push technology for the benefit of the independent agency system.

The first of these is ACT (Agents Council for Technology) which is part of the Independent Agents and Brokers Association.   While the organization is under the flag of the Big I, the volunteers that put the time into the work groups are from across all associations, vendors and carriers.

There are several Work Groups within ACT.  They include STRATEGIC FUTURE ISSUES; CHANGING NATURE OF RISK; THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE; eSIGNATURE; SMALL COMMERCIAL RATING; COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENTS.  I would encourage all in our industry to go to:  to see what is going on in our industry and what these volunteers are working on to make our businesses more efficient and continue to keep pace with consumer demands.

A few notes from the last meeting I attended that are of interest:

  1. Cybersecurity issues. Those in New York are well aware of the new regulations regarding this but the rest of the country needs to be aware as many states are looking to adopt similar regulations to protect the privacy of our clients with the data we collect.
  2. Disaster Planning Kit. Has come to the forefront after the recent disasters in Houston, Florida, Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico.
  3. A lot of discussion on providing a bridging component for small commercial rating.
  4. Driving young talent into our industry.
  5. Very interesting topic regarding the Home Connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT). Watch for these wireless devices (Echo, Siri, Alexa, etc.) to become the way people will conduct their insurance transactions and ask for agent search.  Will YOU be relevant in the near future?  IIABA and PIA have Cybersecurity guidelines and help kits, as well as disaster planning kits. Go to your associations who are there to help us and use the resources they have available to you.

The second of the two groups is AUGIE (Associations & User Groups Information Exchange).  AUGIE is a non-incorporated group of nonprofit agent and broker organizations sharing information on digitization to advance the independent distribution channel. AUGIE is not affiliated with any other organization but is completely run by volunteers and supported by the industry, which includes the carriers, agents and vendors.

AUGIE’s mission is to bring together industry leaders and create a focus on insurance industry efforts that assist independent agents and brokers in providing their clients with excellent service and the digital experience they expect.

Their Focus Groups include:  eDOCS and MESSAGES; CLAIMS DOWNLOAD; COMMERCIAL DOWNLOAD, COMMERCIAL DATA IN MOTION AND THE “BUY BUTTON”.  As with ACT, I would encourage all to visit the AUGIE website; to get a better and deeper understanding of the priorities AUGIE is taking on for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

Some notes of interest from their last meeting I recently attended:

  1. Use of the IVANS Connections tool is increasing but many do not use its full value to determine what downloads you are missing and to provide feedback if issues. Are you one of the many?
  2. eDocs and Messages is just up and going. Check with your carriers to see if they are using it.
  3. Claims Download is also up and going. Both eDocs and Claims Download continue to be tweaked to be sure that as much info comes down with the download as possible.
  4. AUGIE continues to look for ways for data to be exchanged between carriers and agents. ACT has an ongoing work group for this project and AUGIE continues to support that effort.
  5. The AUGIE website is new and new posts will be added as to progress with each focus group.
  6. A great presentation by Keith Savino regarding the BUY BUTTON initiative and what this would mean to agents. You will see more on this in the near future as the independent agency system seeks to give back to the agents the ability to bind business and be in control of the sales process from beginning to end.

It is also my pleasure to tell you that HawkSoft and HawkSoft User Group were presented the first Andy Fogarty Industry Impact Award.  Together they achieved a 93% increase in number of users that begin to use the IVANS CONNECTIONS report and over 150% increase in agencies that customized that report to maximize their download activity!

It is my pleasure to represent HawkSoft and the HawkSoft User Group (HUG) at these meetings.  HawkSoft and HUG will continue to be a voice at the table and to advocate for technology that makes our jobs easier and keeps us relevant in the eyes of our clients.