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LexisNexis Insurance Exchange growing quickly

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The LexisNexis Insurance Exchange continues to grow six months after completing its early adopter program.

The exchange, launched in 2010, was established by an alliance of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, the Washington-based Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers and intellectual property development company Marketcore Inc.

It is designed to enhance the flow of application data among insurance agents, brokers and insurers. By the end of its early adopter program in June 2011, more than 5,000 applications had been entered into the system involving about 175 insurers.

By the end of 2011, about 20,000 submissions had been entered into the system in which more than 300 underwriters participate, according to LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions further bolstered the exchange in October when it acquired Marsh Berry & Co. Inc.'s sales management automation tool for an undisclosed amount. Insurance brokerages used the Willoughby, Ohio-based insurance consulting firm's sales portal to write more than $1 billion in aggregate commission income, LexisNexis said at the time of the acquisition.

The exchange also added a feature called market finder, which marries an insurer's appetite with submissions that are made, said Peter Lynch, president of the exchange.

However, some obstacles still need to be overcome as the exchange matures, say those involved with the effort. One of the biggest is simply getting people to use it, they say.

But the exchange is a success, said Mr. Lynch.

“The reaction we've gotten from the market has been very positive,” he said. “The feedback we get from the users has been very positive.”

“What allows me to sleep at night is that the people who use it like it,” he said.

“We've got a system that actually works,” said council President Ken Crerar. “We've got a substantial number of submissions going through the system. From all the different parameters, this thing is up and running.”

“It continues to grow,” he said. “It's never done.”

Mr. Lynch said the “only issue that we run into” is people taking the time to learn the new system. This involves implementing another part of the workflow process, he said.

“It's taken longer for people to adopt than I thought it would, but this is a behavior change,” said Mr. Crerar.

“This is different from anything we've done before and it changes the process,” he said. He likened the exchange to texting, which he described as “a totally different way to do something.”

One of the early adopters noted that the process of converting to the exchange is ongoing for his company.

“We are still early in the process of converting,” said David Pruett, vice chairman and chief administrative officer of Raleigh, N.C.-based BB&T Insurance Services Inc. “We just crossed the one-year anniversary.”

BB&T chose five of its offices and about 15 marketing employees to work as early adopters with LexisNexis and the exchange, said Mr. Pruett.

The process of placing an account is “pretty complex,” with different insurers having different ways of dealing with the account, said Mr. Pruett. “Now, we have one way to do it. We do it all in the exchange, and the carrier goes to the exchange to get it. We don't have to encrypt.”

It said the exchange simplifies the process. He added, though, that “it hasn't been an easy year. LexisNexis has been great to work with. The part that's been difficult is to get carriers to buy in.”

“We're expecting a bigger bump first and second quarter of 2012” in usage, said the exchange's Mr. Lynch.

Messrs. Lynch and Crerar said they believe the exchange will expand beyond its property/casualty focus to include employee benefits accounts as well, and Mr. Lynch said he's optimistic that the exchange will “be able to handle a lot of that business.”

“From all of our perspectives, we're excited about where we are, and we're pleased at overall takeup rates,” said Mr. Crerar.