Trimble took the time to speak with Insurance Business about his brainchild, how it has helped Torus’s independent agent community and how software will influence the day-to-day business of producers working with small and medium enterprises.
Q. Can you explain ESCAPE and how you got the idea for it?
A. As an MGA/ wholesale broker, I had to transact a high level of transactions, which, if you handle it manually, is very labor intensive to the point of having the potential of becoming unprofitable…because of the expense of transacting it. By putting these processes online—the process being everything from clearance and data input to underwriting questionnaires and rating algorithms and policy documents—the greater extent to which you can audit those processes, the more attractive it is to retailers, MGAs, and brokers.
Q. What kind of success have you seen so far?
A. It’s resonated really well with distribution. I guess [one] measure would be distributor loyalty to our product. Our goal is for our system to be so good, our users become our cheerleaders and our best salespeople, and I think we’ve achieved that.
Q. What are the key things Torus and ESCAPE provides that agents need now?
A. There are the obvious ones, like the speed of the system, the competitiveness of the price, the breadth of the underwriting appetites—these people have willingness to accept risk.
The one that’s not obvious and the one that distinguishes us is the back-end human experience. What I mean is, the goal for an online system is to have it be no- or low-touch from our customers’ standpoint. But invariably, there’s going to be a certain percentage of accounts that need to be looked at by human eyes, and the paradox of online insurance is that it doesn’t matter how sexy your technology is, it’s the human experience behind it that matters. It’s important to be experienced and to be staffed by knowledgeable employees.
Q. What are the most pressing technology/software needs of agents/brokers today and in the coming quarters? What do you think are the big changes coming?
For brokers, the biggest issue from a tech standpoint is data capture, data integration, and key stroke efficiency, especially in the small business sector. The extent to which brokers can accept data from third-party sources and deliver that data to insurance companies in an efficient way is really going to be a differentiating factor for brokers. People who can get speedier responses to customers with greater efficiency are going to be the winners.
The extent to which online systems or data push technology is used to reduce the amount of times and minutes employees have to spend at a computer inputting it themselves will determine who succeeds in the future.
The small business market is highly competitive for producers, but Torus Insurance’s Linc Trimble helped create a broker portal that has helped numerous agents get ahead.