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Digital capabilities make selling commercial insurance easier and quicker

For Joe Callister, speed matters, now more than ever. Callister is the chief operating officer of Leavitt Group, one of the nation's largest private insurance brokers. For his business, the process of evaluating a potential commercial client's needs can require significant expertise and data gathering to account for associated risks. So, when a customer is ready to do business, velocity is the key to closing the deal.

“Small commercial customers require swift turnaround and competent advice, so the ability for an agent to quickly compare coverage and pricing options between policies is a must,” he said. “Logging in and out of different carrier websites to rate the same risk causes significant inefficiencies which can be frustrating for both the agent and the client.”

Traditionally, the process of evaluating a business owner’s insurance needs, not to mention actually selling and binding the policies, can be lengthy and tedious. Historically, that process included using multiple systems and manually entering data to gauge carriers’ underwriting appetites and compare different solutions and pricing.

“Independent agents, much like the customers they protect, have heightened expectations with regard to the pace and simplicity of doing business with partners. COVID-19’s impacts and evolving customer demands have only accelerated those expectations,” said Kasey Ketcham, Nationwide’s Associate Vice President of Product and Underwriting Enablement. “As a mutual company, Nationwide has been able to take a long-term view, and these significant technology investments continue to empower us to deliver faster and better products and services that drive value for our agency partners.”

In 2015, Nationwide began simplifying the process for commercial agents with a multiyear, multimillion-dollar transformation of its underlying platforms. In 2020, the company completed a major transition to a fully independent agent distribution model. Today, these decisions have enabled the carrier to completely digitize its commercial product portfolio and double down on bringing best-in-class, agent-centric solutions to market that offer digitally enabled growth opportunities and ease of doing business for agency partners.

Delivering Speed and Ease for Agents

  • Nationwide began rolling out its new commercial lines quoting system, ClearQuote, in 2017 to offer automated underwriting for many small business insurance accounts and enable agents to deliver quotes in minutes.
  • In October 2019, Nationwide announced a new partnership with IVANS Markets to instantly communicate small commercial appetite and identify new business opportunities with a network of more than 33,000 independent insurance agencies.
  • Throughout 2020, Nationwide engaged in integrations with multiple commercial lines acquisition platforms, including IBQ Systems, Semsee, Tarmika and Bold Penguin, to help independent agents quickly generate, compare and deliver quotes for commercial customers.
  • This March, Nationwide announced a collaboration with Vertafore, a leader in the insurtech space, to offer its commercial products through Vertafore's Commercial Submissions platform, as well as influence the platform’s design to optimize the agent experience and workflow.

Callister said his agency depends on information flow, and as such, it’s important that they work with carriers that offer digital solutions to facilitate the exchange of information between the insured, the carrier, and the agent.

“Digital solutions help us ensure we’re efficiently matching small commercial clients with the right coverages and carriers. Partnering with carriers who offer these digital solutions to increase efficiencies for agents is vital to this segment of our operations,” said Callister.

Nationwide plans to continue providing value for its 11,000+ independent agent force by meeting them where they wish to do business and offering the innovative solutions their customers need – now and in the future.

"Our company has a rich history of innovation, and that remains unchanged,” said Ketcham. “We continue to seek out opportunities to deliver increased value for our agent partners through the digitization of our product suite, the implementation of commercial telematics, straight through processing, and new product offerings such as cyber.”

Nationwide’s Agent Informational Resources

In addition to delivering speed and ease, Nationwide is also concentrated on helping agents demonstrate their expertise with customers to drive new business, build customer confidence and prevent losses with effective risk management.

These resources, such as the Commercial Insight Center, were designed based on agent feedback and offer timely, concise and industry-specific content to elevate their expertise and help them stay up-to-date on trends and emerging risks as they serve commercial clients.

“Carriers who make the insurance transaction simpler for the agency will be the winners amongst their peers,” Callister added. “Nationwide has made a tremendous investment into API libraries and technology stacks, all of which position it as a strong player in the digital marketplace for agents.”