Lax Compliance with Industry Standards is Hurting our Industry

For those of you who know me or have talked to me personally, you know this has been one of my industry pet peeves for quite a while.  For those of you who don’t know me, here is a little background on this subject.

EZLynx was initially designed to work in real-time with carrier quoting systems and bring back a plurality of rates from multiple carriers within five minutes. By now it is a well-accepted fact that, without our efforts to push independent agents towards real-time rating, our industry would have probably suffered a lot more attrition to direct and captive writers. We quickly realized that in order for us to make an impact in this industry, it was absolutely essential for us to effect the customer lifecycle management by agencies.  Some of the problems our agents are struggling with, such as low productivity, data duplication, and legacy management systems, are well known and documented. As a result, we decided to create a forward thinking management system that would solve some of these basic agency problems and improve the agency’s bottom line while doing so.

We started selling EZLynx Management System in January 2012, and have already made a considerable impact in the marketplace by offering a viable and affordable alternative to outdated management system products. Today our management system supports more than 200 carriers, and it has been an educating experience for our team, and me personally, on the poor compliance of industry standards by the carriers. It is unfortunate that other management system vendors have decided to use the lack of compliance as a way to monopolize the market by building proprietary solutions, and thus lock agents into proprietary systems. I have come to the conclusion that carriers’ lack of compliance with industry standards has, and will, cause long term damage to the survivability of our industry. It will result in agents spending more time doing mundane and repetitive agency tasks, and falling further behind in offering the leading edge service customers are receiving from direct and captive writers.

For example, one of the solutions we offer is a customer-facing policy self-servicing feature incorporated into the agency’s website. EZLynx Client Center, which is available to agents who subscribe to EZLynx Management System, enables an agency’s customers to review policy information, print policy documents like ID cards, request policy changes, and more. One of the core requirements for this is data integrity and accuracy. We recently discovered that one of our download carriers is sending an incorrect AL3 code for uninsured motorist coverage, which when translated as per the AL3 specification, turns out to be underinsured coverage. Now imagine our Client Center displaying this data incorrectly to the customer and the E&O consequences that would follow! We have many examples like this that give us pause about exposing carrier downloaded AL3 data to consumers. If you are wondering, this particular carrier refused to fix the problem when approached by us!

In the long run, our industry and the agents will suffer if we cannot provide customer self-servicing features to their customers. Carriers interested in the issues we have identified for your company should feel free to contact your EZLynx Carrier Representative for details. I hope I have made a strong case as to why it is important for our industry to follow the standards. Our industry bodies like ACORD have done a tremendous amount of good work in defining these standards, but it is unfortunate that carriers have not also done a good job of complying with these standards. It is not too late, so I strongly urge you to work with us in solving this problem. When one of our employees approach you with download data issues, please work with us to fix the problem, so we can enable our agents to succeed in the marketplace.