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ATLANTA — The lack of standardized technologies is a primary source of inefficiency in excess and surplus lines, according to speakers at the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices Ltd.'s annual conference in Atlanta.
Speaking Tuesday during a panel discussion, Greg Ricker, Goldsboro, North Carolina-based partner at Sombra Technologies, said the 15 years as a chief information officer at an insurance company convinced him that there were inherent inefficiencies in the way insurers interact with wholesale brokers in the E&S market.
“One thing is for sure — the way we are doing business must change,” Mr. Ricker said. “There's too much expense water in the towel that still needs wringing out. We need to stop duplicate data entry.”
Mr. Ricker touted data standardization efforts underway at Pearl River, New York-based insurance industry standards organization ACORD as the best way for insurers, wholesalers and technology firms to find common ground on policy and claims forms.
“We are all talking about furthering the standards-based exchange of information, but let's start implementing it,” he said. “Put proof of concepts and demos together and put them on your website. There's a huge capability in the ACORD standard to support a uniform data exchange for the E&S business.”
Fellow panelist Tammie Miller, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-based director of automation for Risk Placement Services Inc., said the practice of brokers emailing policy submissions to underwriters in the London market via spreadsheet must end.
“We need to bridge a communication gap and streamline the reporting process,” she said. “Our vision is to achieve straight-through processing in real time.”
Eight of the 10 largest U.S. surplus lines insurers gained ground in direct premiums written in 2013, according to the latest Business Insurance ranking.