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5 things agents should look for in comparative raters

January 22, 2024

The faster an insurance agent can get a quote into the hands of a potential client, the more likely they are to beat the competition and win the client’s business. Enter comparative raters, which are used to speed up and simplify the insurance policy quoting process.

Access to comparative rater software allows you to offer clients access to self-serve quoting, such as for home and auto policies, from your website and enter a prospective client’s information into the rater to generate real-time quotes for various lines of coverage from various carriers. Within minutes and from a single entry, you are able to aggregate and deliver coverage options to a prospect based on pricing and coverage features, help the customer determine what provider is best to place the business, illuminate additional lines of coverage to cross-sell and deliver a superior customer experience.

In addition to convenience and time savings, using a comparative rater extends a host of benefits to agents and their prospects. If you are interested in getting started, here are five key factors to look for when shopping around for comparative rater technology.

  1. System integrations—First, it’s important to find out if the comparative rater platform you’re considering is compatible with your agency’s third-party software and systems, such as your AMS or CRM technology. The goal is to work smarter, and system integration capabilities eliminate having to do duplicate data entry and ensure data doesn’t get siloed in separate systems. If the system integrations you need aren’t a good fit with a rater, keep shopping. Additionally, other useful rating features might include the ability to import and export data via your system of record; policy download or upload via ACORD forms; data pre-fills for home and auto applications to speed up the application process; and IVANS download, giving you the ability to access policy data for ongoing client and policy management activities after you close the business.
  2. Carrier access—Using a rater is all about efficiency gain, so you’ll want to determine how many of the carriers you write business with are available from the rater; the more carriers available, the more time you’ll save in the quoting process and the more options you can offer your prospects. If you have access to fewer than three carriers you write with, ask if you are able to request additional carriers to be added. If not, you may not be able to achieve the efficiency gains you’re after. It’s also helpful to know if it’s possible to get quotes from carriers you are not yet appointed with.
  3. Cross-selling opportunities—Being able to identify cross-selling opportunities when quoting personal auto and home policies, such as life insurance, is key to delivering more customer value and increasing your earning potential. You’ll want to evaluate if the rater easily allows you to receive quotes for other lines of business that can be presented alongside these policies. If not, it may diminish your ability to cross-sell when presenting initial coverage options.
  4. Direct-to-consumer quote capabilities—In this always-on world, consumers have come to expect they can do business online anytime. For personal lines agents looking to compete with direct writers and offer ease in doing business, it’s essential to consider self-service and direct-to-consumer quoting for personal lines capabilities for personal lines when shopping for a comparative rater. With the ability to put an easily accessible quoting engine directly on your website, you can meet the customer when and where they need you. By offering prospects access to a rating engine at your digital doorstep, you’re positioned to turn leads into customers and grow your book of business.
  5. Hidden fee and cost considerations—Comparative rater software is typically cloud-based, with varying costs. For custom integrations with nonstandard carriers and products or unique workflows, additional setup fees can be expected.

When weighing the return on investment, the monthly cost of the rating platform and any additional fees should be offset by the benefits it offers. To estimate the comparison between cost and benefits, consider the following:

  • Time saved—Estimate how much time agents and back-office support staff are spending on comparative quoting activities today without the rater. As a general rule of thumb, the cost per month will be offset if you increase premiums by $2,500 per month per user as a result of freeing up one staff member from doing back-office support to quoting and selling policies.
  • Submission volume—By offering online quoting access to personal lines clients plus gaining access to the right carriers for your commercial business appetite, you can dramatically increase your submission volume with comparative rater software. To get an idea of the potential benefit to you, ask your vendor what a typical increase in submissions over the first six months of use is for a typical user of their software. This will also give you a good idea of what you can expect.
  • Policies sold—More submissions means more opportunities to write more business. As with submission volume, ask your vendor for policy-sold metrics before and after implementing a rater solution.1
  • Retention rates—With ease of use for you and your customers, raters should have a positive impact on driving up retention rates year over year. Ask the rater vendor for estimates of retention rates for typical users of their system and compare that to your current book of business.

How Nationwide technology helps agents’ quoting efficiency

It’s important to feel confident in choosing any new technology, and confident purchases start with insight. From system compatibility to carrier access, the five key factors highlighted should help you in your quest to choose a comparative rater platform that will improve your quoting efficiency and close more business. Most of all, increasing quoting efficiency using comparative rater technology frees your agency to focus on what you do best: writing policies that help clients feel protected.

Staying in step with agency needs, Nationwide offers agents the ability to connect with comparative raters, such as EZLynx, PL Rating, IBQ and ITC’s TurboRater, via Nationwide Express. Designed to be simple and intuitive, you can start a quote through a comparative rater, then bridge directly to Nationwide to finish the quote and close the sale within minutes. We invite you to learn more about how we streamline quoting and selling.