Insurance

Insurance Agent’s Future and the Connectivity Challenge

Insurance Agent’s Future and the Connectivity Challenge

Connecting the insurance ecosystem through the power of technology could answer the decades-old problem of duplicate entry for agents. Agents still must navigate through multiple carrier portals to complete a single quote, despite the promise of integrated solutions. Or agents hit barriers trying to utilize agency data when one technology platform simply can’t “speak to” or connect to another platform.

When systems do not connect, the agency is stuck with the burdensome process of manually keeping up with the same information in two places. Brendan Mulcahy, vice president, technology & innovation partnerships at SIAA, believes connectivity remains the biggest barrier for agencies when it comes to implementing and adopting innovative agency technology.

“Platform connectivity is a problem,” Mulcahy adds. “I think it’ll get better at some point, but it is still one of the biggest pain points in the industry right now.”

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Through connection, artificial intelligence (AI) shows potential in increasing efficiency across the insurance value chain.

At the same time, some doubt the focus and urgency of connectedness, pointing out that autonomous agencies are doing quite well.

IRYS CEO Margeaux Giles agrees with Mulcahy that connection is a priority and has opted to try to address the lack of connectivity with agency management systems.

As the chief operating officer of OIG Insurance, an independent agency in Tampa Bay, Florida, Giles oversaw all IT operations and saw firsthand the limitations of her business’s management system, which couldn’t interact with other platforms.

“At every turn I would try to do something and realized, well we’re limited by that, or I would try to run a report, or get analytics on something, and I was told, ‘No, you can’t do that,'” she told me.

She would also try to combine the agency’s management system with a new insurtech platform on occasion. “I was told, ‘No, we don’t want to integrate.’… “I became so irritated that I left.”

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As a result, she and her agency team decided to create their own method. Soon after, she received calls from other organizations seeking her help.

“That morphed into a consulting role because I started getting calls from my carrier partners and other agents asking what we did,” she told me. “So, I opened up a small consulting firm on the side while I was running the agency and we blew up.”

Giles established GoGiles, a technology-focused consulting business for the insurance market, in 2017. Within two years, Giles’ consulting business had exploded, bringing in more than $3 million in sales only from agency consulting.

She said that the same questions were routinely asked. “We kept getting asked for connectivity and we kept getting asked to build agency and carrier APIs.” [An API, or application programming interface, is a set of rules that allows various apps to communicate with one another.]

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According to Giles, “these big insurtechs kept missing the mark” when it came to networking. As a result, she and her team set out to develop a new agency management system to address this hole. That is how IRYS, a cloud-based open API software platform for insurance distribution that focuses on connection between agency divisions, locations, and insurance sector verticals, was developed. Giles estimates that IRYS will have raised close to $10 million in investment by the end of the year.

According to Giles, there is space for development in the realm of agency management. According to Giles, what many existing systems do not give is open connection to fully exploit one of an agency’s most precious assets – its client data.

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