What’s In YOUR Agency Management System?

So if I were to ask you, “What is your agency’s rate of retention?” (in general, not specifically by line of business), what would your answer be? 80%? 90%? Higher, or lower? Chances are, and I would be willing to wager on this, that your answer would be the same that I hear from most agencies: “Oh, we have a fantastic retention rate, I am sure it is over 90%!”

Well, that is fantastic, except that:

a) There is an excellent chance that your response is incorrect as it is most likely lower than you assumeb) How come you cannot tell me exactly what it is, for each line of business?

b) How come you cannot tell me exactly what it is, for each line of business?

Well, the answer to both of my statements above is very simple, but before we discuss the answers and why, let us chat a bit about retention, and its impact on your business and its employees.

Assuming your agency has a high rate of retention, let’s say 90%. That appears to be an excellent rate, considering all of the outside influences that the independent agents face these days with direct writers, online marketers, and what have you. However, even though 90% appears on the surface to be something to brag about on the golf course with your fellow agents and brokers, a 90% rate of retention very simply means that you now have to work 10% harder than you did last year, just to break even! In addition, let’s also assume that you have been in business for ten years, and each year your agency is operating at a 90% retention level, so when you extrapolate that figure out in reverse, you are constantly having to work harder and harder than the year before, just so that you do not lose what you and your staff worked so diligently for previously!

Let’s now complicate this calculation even further: have your carriers all called you this year and told you that they are going to raise your commission rates, increase profit sharing, and expect you to do less service work? I don’t think so…if anything, your commissions (if they haven’t been reduced), have most likely remained the same. Granted, premiums have increased so you will make up some of the revenue that way, but that is the equivalent of a supermarket raising the price of milk to offset the cost of bread. Furthermore, your agency expenses have been on the rise with labor costs, health care and other insurance costs, rent, utilities, etc., so an increase in premiums does not necessarily offset the 10% loss of clientele.

There are a few different ways to manage this loss of business and revenue. However, you cannot address the issue until you are fully aware of exactly what the issue is, and can definitively determine exactly what the agency’s rate of retention is. So how do you do that? Well, to begin with, you need an automated tool that will help you to measure exactly how you keep your existing business. For instance, as a business owner, you should have at your fingertips the ability to go into your management system, request a report on business retained and have the ability to manage the renewal process. You should also be able to not only see this information when you request it but also be alerted to indicators throughout the policy year on factors that may cause the policy to not renew. If you have this information automatically provided to you and your appropriate staff on a regular basis, you may then implement a process and schedule tasks to address these areas of concern, before you receive the call requesting a BOR (broker of record), or copy of their existing declarations page, or even worse: an LPR (lost policy release) which indicates that the coverage has been replaced.

Don’t work harder to generate less income…let automation do this for you. EZLynx has patented tools to automate these processes for you. For additional information on how EZLynx can help you and your business, please contact us today!

 


The True Meaning of Real Time

EZLynx provides 100 percent real time quotingI’ve had the opportunity to work with many of our subscribers and carriers over the last four years in the shaping and evolution of theEZLynx real-time tool. On a couple of occasions over the last two months I have heard an interesting question: “What is real-time?” For the nearly five years in which EZLynx has existed, I have rarely heard the question raised.Some background, if you will bear with me please, before I answer the question.

If you were on the Personal Lines side of business ten years ago, you would have very happily and willingly made use of a (maybe Windows®, maybe MS-DOS®) desktop comparative quoting system. With few exceptions, you received accurate premiums from your carriers. Your quoting system used manufactured rates,
which only means the rates were calculated right on your desktop through formulas that your rating system vendor had devised. Nine years ago, you began to notice holes in your manufactured-rate system. As your quoting system was moving to the brave new world of Windows, some of your major carriers were moving to the brave new world of credit-score based pricing. Your manufactured rate quoting system, try as it might, could not match these carriers’ premiums accurately. Some carriers were quickly deploying their web-based quoting systems as part of credit-scored pricing to gain a speed-to-market advantage with this model.

2001 through 2003 saw the move to credit score-based pricing becoming a flood. You as an agent quickly found yourself giving up on the old manufactured rater with no viable alternative at hand. Manufactured rate quoting systems rightfully became considered a total waste of time and money.For accurate premiums now,
quoting your carriers one by one on their internet-based systems was the only way. As a result, quoting one risk through four carriers, you’ll remember, was a 45 minute process without a single phone call interruption. When the phones did ring, you may have given up after quoting only one or two of your carriers. The value that you deliver through your representation of multiple carriers was lost in your inability to efficiently and accurately shop the risk through your markets. In 2004, the remarkable tool EZLynx® was launched. You discovered that at your fingertips, entering the risk info once, communicated the risk info to multiple carriers simultaneously in real-time and returned the premiums directly from the horse’s mouth. You clicked from EZLynx® to the carrier’s site and the quote was awaiting your next steps. No bridging, no data re-entry, no recalculation, no manufactured rates. Viola!!! It just worked.

So let us get back to the original question – what is “real-time”? Real-time quoting is defined as taking risk information that you enter once, passing it securely over the web to your carrier’s system(s), and receiving back from the carrier’s systems themselves the premium for the risk – the same carrier systems that you used to go to one by one because they are the only source of accurate information. As you already know, “real-time” is the only kind of quoting that EZLynx® delivers to you. There are two kinds of technology available today in delivering real-time comparative quoting to your fingertips. More than half of the hundred-odd carriers deployed in real-time on EZLynx® are communicated via a technology called “webscripting”. The remaining carriers are deployed using a technology called XML.

EZLynx® Web-scripting literally drives a carrier’s web-based quoting system (the same one that you utilize if you log into the carrier’s system and quote there directly). EZLynx® just drives the carrier’s system a lot faster than you can when you are typing on the carrier’s system yourself. Web-scripting returns the same premium that you will receive when you quote directly on the carrier’s site because it uses the same site that the carrier has invested heavily in for you to use. The premium returned is as up to date as the latest rates that the carrier has deployed behind its website. The remaining carriers deployed on EZLynx return their premiums using XML technology. Unlike web-scripting, XML does not make use of the carrier’s web-based system. Your data hits the carrier’s quoting engine through a back door. More times than not, when managed well by the carrier, the premium returned to you is the same as that which comes to you from the carrier’s web-site. While you will tend to see fewer errors (especially VIN related errors) returned by carriers that use webs-cripting, the point of each technology is the same – returning the premium for a risk to you that is accurate. Each technology is real-time, and each when well managed, gives you what you desire – accurate and speedy handling of the shopping needs of your prospects.