As PWC notes in its report, Top Insurance Industry Issues 2021: “More change has occurred in the industry in the past year than in the previous several years combined and its pace is only accelerating.” These changes are necessary for insurance agencies to scale, add new risk products, and provide a modern, digital-first customer experience.

However, the digitalization of the insurance distribution cycle has strained legacy systems. Many of these systems are decades old and never truly delivered on their promises in the first place. As a result, more insurers than ever are considering replacing core systems with tech platforms that support the digital age requirements. Automation is well-positioned as a maturing technology that facilitates digital transformation without jeopardizing customer service.

While the insurance sector has historically been slow to adapt to change, we’ve now reached a point of no return when it comes to digital transformation. What was once a way to differentiate your business from the agency across town has become a means of survival against a new crop of insurtechs. To remain relevant and profitable, agencies must scale quickly and be responsive to customers’ needs, all while boosting productivity and reducing operational costs. None of that is possible without investing in modern technology and tools.

Automation tops the list
If you are one of the insurers on the hunt for a modern agency management system, the ability to implement automation should be at the top of your list of technology investments in 2022. At this stage in the game, any agency that opts to solve operational problems by throwing more people at them instead of using technology will be at a disadvantage.

As an agency leader, do you know how much of your employees’ time is spent on tasks that could be done better through automation? What is the value of reducing time and frustration for your workers and customers? Automation is the engine of the modern insurance agency. And don’t buy into the “automation will replace the agent” myth. It’s about making your agency and workforce more valuable, not obsolete. When technology can take over the repetitive, mundane tasks, your agents will have the freedom to provide the personalized, revenue-driving human interactions and services that set the independent agent apart.

Automation can bring value to the entire insurance distribution lifecycle by eliminating manual data extraction and data entry and providing the streamlined, fast, and error-free experience customers expect. Here are just a few examples of where automation can make an immediate, positive impact:

New client onboarding. Automation tools make the onboarding process faster and more efficient so that customers will have shorter wait times, and employees will spend less time chasing down responses.

Reducing human error. When employees are tasked with repetitive processes such as filling out forms, there is always a chance they will make a mistake. It’s just human nature. However, automation eliminates these errors by extracting information from carrier quotes and moving that data directly into broker administration systems, quote comparisons, and proposals. It can complete and issue certificates, reconcile accounts, auto-populate forms and remove redundancy across departments and offices.

Making renewals a breeze. At renewal time, automation moves the previous year’s customer information up to the current year, so your customers need only to verify the data. Auto-reminders triggered by the date of a policy’s renewal automatically sent via SMS/text messaging mean your agents won’t have to spend hours on the phone or sending out emails.

Executing documents anytime, anywhere. Automated smart forms with e-signatures allow for efficient execution without printing, scanning, or mailing, even when multiple signatories at multiple locations are involved. Plus, the e-signatures are secure and legally binding.

With automation removing the burden, the agency of the future will have the ability to sell virtually any type of risk product and add value by helping clients manage their portfolios of coverage across experiences: health, life, mobility, personal property, commercial, and residential. Automation will help agents support a substantially larger client base, making scalability possible while making customer interactions more satisfying for everyone involved. And with the right technology that provides analysis of your agency’s data, each interaction can be personalized to meet each client’s current and future needs.

Automation across the insurance policy lifecycle
To attract and retain clients, agents are focusing a lot of attention on the front end of the insurance distribution cycle, improving customer experience. It comes down to achieving a single, accurate view of the customer and their transaction history.

However, applying automation to your operations on the back-end is important, as well. The potential business benefits of automation across the entire insurance policy journey go far beyond signing up new customers and getting them to renew. A system that applies automation across the insurance policy journey can result in faster actions and decisions, better customer outcomes, greater efficiencies for your people and processes, lower costs, greater scale, more product and service innovation and client data protection.

It’s true that change can be scary, especially in an industry that has remained largely the same for decades. Business continuity is paramount, and the idea of ripping out antiquated systems can seem daunting. But consider this: the insurance industry has always relied on data to assess risk, bring new products to the market, and determine the worth of these products as accurately as possible. That hasn’t changed, but the ways we extract and respond to that data must change for the industry to thrive.

Modern data analytics tools and actionable intelligence can enable many more factors and many more data points to be incorporated into risk calculation than was possible before. Instead of viewing change with fear, think of it as an opportunity to fully realize your agency’s potential.

Remember, data analytics with the power of artificial intelligence and automation will amplify the productivity and efficiency of your human workforce. And in turn, they will have the tools to provide the best customer experience possible.