The integral role of automation in improving agent experience

Effective technology doesn’t replace a talented insurance agent, but it does ease their workload. 

Automation improves the agent experience with Vertafore products

Automation is transformational to the process-heavy insurance world because it can save agents from paperwork disasters and help them focus on the part of the work that truly matters: serving end-insured clients. 

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As the insurance industry continues to evolve to match the pace of modern business, smarter automation technology becomes necessary for expediting and simplifying back-office operations for a better agent experience. But it's not just a matter of having a polished website or app—carriers depend on a comprehensive technology foundation to streamline routine processes for agents (as well as customers) across well-integrated systems. 

What agent experience used to be like 

In the not-so-distant past, traditional insurance agents felt perpetually behind on paperwork (physical paperwork, that is) as they tried to manage dozens of regulatory and customer service tasks simultaneously—all the while hoping not to make the kind of mistake that could instigate a market conduct exam. 

Remember, before the age of the internet insurance was entirely a paperwork industry, but the work changed once technology enabled faster, digitized processes. Online portals for carriers and states became the norm. What used to take days or weeks could be accomplished in seconds and hours, all without added postage. 

How today’s technology impacts agent experience 

Now, with so much buzz surrounding generative artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs), it’s enticing to imagine the day-to-day work of insurance agents reduced to a perfunctory review of submissions details for accuracy, where the effort of gathering form data and policy decision-making is largely offloaded to an invisible algorithm. There’s more than a kernel of truth in this fantasy, but insurers must carefully assess what agent-driven tasks they can realistically delegate to AI without compromising compliance.  

What is true in this scenario is the remarkable power of automation to improve agent experience—not replace the agent with some all-powerful LLM. Think of automation as a core subtext to these trending conversations about generative AI: greater automation is one of AI’s key promises, and it’s already well underway. What’s more, efforts to increase automation in insurance processes have proven successful toward a strategy of enhancing the agent value proposition. 

As an example of automation in action, many insurers have embraced the practice of straight-through processing. This allows agents to better serve as advocates and advisers for their clients, offering them the personalized human support that is irreplaceable by any technology. 

Intuitive automation, amplified by machine learning and intelligent workflow, does make it simpler and faster for agents to conduct their daily work. That’s happening today. In time, artificial intelligence will further transform the industry, much like the field of predictive analytics has already, but it won’t replace the need for person-to-person expertise, or the need for agents to manage new, productivity-enhancing tools.  

Read also: Discussing data culture in insurance

Technology improves agent experience, and new entrants are staying in the industry 

During the pandemic, as companies were forced to rapidly accelerate their digital capabilities, there was also a spike in the number of new producer licenses, which is not unusual during periods of economic unrest. Many people turn to the relative stability of the insurance industry—especially in the independent distribution channel—when other sectors of the economy face major challenges. However, despite the return of a stronger, more competitive job market, the number of licensed agents earning commissions remains relatively high.  

There’s a looming talent gap in the insurance industry, so this comes as welcome news to anyone concerned about backfill and business process coverage. Another way of looking at this phenomenon is to consider that carriers’ meaningful efforts in recent years to improve their agent experience practices have helped change what was once seen as a stop-gap option into a long-term strategy. 

By making daily work simpler through purpose-built technology that empowers new agents to skillfully navigate the highly regulated insurance sector, innovative carriers have delivered a demonstrably better agent experience—and helped cultivate a new generation of expert insurance agents. 

What else the future holds 

Positive agent experience hinges on faster, more intuitive application functionality. That’s why automation should be a fundamental consideration in the far-reaching decisions every insurer makes when it comes to designing an optimal tech stack tailored to support their business. 

Carriers can leverage increased automation as part of their strategy to improve their agent experience, all while ensuring greater accuracy in compliance operations. 


Four Data-Proven Approaches to Prioritizing Agent Experience

For many carriers, providing an exceptional digital experience for agents is a key business objective. It’s the way to stand out as a carrier of choice. Our summarizing analysis of recent survey data collected from property and casualty insurance carriers in North America is designed to help carriers leverage agent experience as a competitive advantage.

Tim Owen, VP Product Management at Vertafore

Tim Owen

VP, Product Management

Tim leads product management for Sircon, Vertafore's suite of distribution channel and compliance management solutions. For more than 20 years, he has leveraged his deep understanding of the industry to help Sircon and Vertafore identify problems the markets face, define product solutions, and maximize customer success. Additionally, Tim serves as the current President Elect on the SILA Board of Directors. .