(Dames Point Bridge in Jacksonville, Fla., home of The Main Street America Group. Photo by Excel23.)
The Main Street America Group prides itself on its commitment to serve its independent agent customers—and their customers—better than anyone else, according to Jeff Kusch, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based P&C insurer’s senior VP and head of field operations. We connected with Kusch and Lisa Murman, director of business technology, to discuss what Kusch calls an ambitious and productive year in service of that commitment. During 2015, Main Street America has launched a new technology application for commercial lines and enhanced capabilities for personal lines to support the launch of the insurer’s new cyber risk product, the expansion of its workers’ compensation program, and a new personal auto product, Main Street Protection Auto.
We kicked off our exchange with a discussion of Main Street America’s Commercial Lines Bridging technology that enables independent agent customers to seamlessly transfer data in real time from their agency management systems to the carrier’s commercial lines processing platform.
Insurance Innovation Reporter: Tell us a little more about Commercial Lines Bridging.
Jeff Kusch, SVP, Field Operations, Main Street America: Currently available in 15 of our states, this enhancement automates the information entry process, helping our customers save valuable time when quoting our commercial products. In fact, it takes just one click of a button to transfer general application information from an agency management system to our Main Street Station commercial lines platform.
IIR: How have agents received Commercial Lines Bridging and what’s your rollout plan?
JK: Once agents use it, they see immediate benefits. It’s an impressive tool and we expect to see activity ramp up in the near future. The bridging application supports quoting for agencies that utilize Applied TAM and Vertafore AMS360 software. The new bridging technology is currently available for our customers in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia and will be rolled out to additional states throughout the remainder of 2015 including Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.
IIR: What products is Commercial Lines Bridging supporting, and what are some ways the application helps agents write those products?
JK: We’re currently supporting our Main Line BOP, commercial auto and workers’ compensation programs. Bridging technology enables our independent agents to add efficiencies to their daily workflows, for example entering insureds’ data into their agency management systems. Once bridged, agents can enter our processing platform, Main Street Station, to complete underwriting questions and quickly have quote information returned at their fingertips. Duplicate “keying” into agency management and carrier systems is now a thing of the past thanks to our bridging application.
IIR: How is Commercial Lines Bridging and other technology enhancements helping to support your new product strategy?
JK: Through our Main Line BOP program, we now offer affordable cyber risk protection especially designed for small businesses. Coverage is currently available for our independent agent-customers with Main Line BOP writing authority in 15 states: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee , Utah and Wisconsin. Cyber attacks can be a serious issue for small businesses, which often have limited security and technical resources. This valuable coverage helps protect businesses from lost business income and data recovery expenses as a result of computer viruses and other computer attacks, which unfortunately are increasing in frequency. Coverage offered through Main Street America addresses several unique data privacy exposures, including identity recovery, data compromise and damage to data systems. During the last quarter of 2015, we plan to implement the program in three more states: Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia. Additional states are planned in multiple phases in early 2016.
We have also successfully launched an expanded workers’ compensation program in nine states, offering coverages small business customers need at a price to fit any budget. To date, the program has been implemented in Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, , Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Expanded pricing levels available through our additional writing companies enable us to more precisely match risk to rates and offer our customers more attractive rates on preferred business. These new options also open our workers’ compensation market to a broader mix of business lines beyond contractors. This includes small businesses in the retail, offices, services, manufacturing and wholesale classes.
Quoting and writing the product is easy due to enhancements we have made to our Main Street Station commercial lines policy processing system.
IIR: Let’s shift to personal lines, where you’ve introduced a new product and related technology improvements.
JK: In June we introduced Main Street Protection, our new private passenger auto insurance for the super-preferred/preferred standard marketplace in Virginia, through our statewide network of independent agents. Main Street Protection Auto is an overhaul of our current private passenger auto program.
Written by Main Street America Protection Insurance Company, the product includes 20 different types of discounts and a competitive lineup of bundled and standalone coverages that include many in-demand features such as new vehicle replacement, full glass coverage and replacement of parts using original manufactured equipment. Our new auto product features impactful changes on all fronts including an improved pricing position in our target market, enhanced coverages and improved ease of use of our Main Street Station personal lines processing platform. Main Street Protection Auto’s bundled coverage options, or elite endorsements, are available for any qualifying vehicles and features accident forgiveness, diminishing collision deductibles, loan/lease and extra medical coverages. These options can be mixed and matched based on an insured’s coverage needs.
Another distinguishing feature of Main Street Protection Auto is the myriad of discounts offered to consumers. Main Street America’s insureds will be eligible for up to 20 discounts, such as a new business discount, accident and violation free discount, loyalty, new vehicle discount and discounts for paying in full or signing up for electronic funds transfer. Other discounts include savings for insureds that package their homeowners’ policies with a Main Street America carrier or have multiple vehicles on the policy.
Regarding quoting and business submission, several processing platform enhancements enable agents to quickly bridge from their comparative rater directly to the premium summary page where additional coverages or quote changes can be quickly made. There are fewer screens to simplify data entry and faster response times which enhance the overall user experience.
IIR: So you’ve debuted the product in Virginia. What’s your longer-term plan for extending Main Street Protection Auto throughout your states and impacting the market?
JK: We continue to refine the product and plan to launch it in South Carolina before the end of 2015, with several additional states planned for next year. From a customer perspective, we wanted to develop a product that would be embraced by our independent agents by ensuring our coverage features were aligned with what our competitors are offering in the marketplace. Collectively, our discounts and pricing improvements are enhancing our level of competitiveness for the types of customers we are targeting to write in the preferred and standard markets. With our focus on using the latest technology and refinement of the product, we are confident this will give us a significant boost in the marketplace.
IIR: Lisa, tell us about the technology investments that went into launching commercial lines bridging and Main Street Protection Auto, and how they came about.
Lisa Murman, Director of Business Technology, Main Street America: The delivery of our Main Street Protection Auto to the marketplace is in direct response to our agent-customers’ feedback. We listened to the members of our regional and national agency councils, as well as our CSR (technology) council, to deliver on what they need in order to be more efficient and competitive in the marketplace. The efforts of Main Street America’s system and product design teams ensured this would happen in 2015. We now have an attractive, feature-rich product and a state-of-the art Main Street Station personal lines platform with improved performance.
IIR: What are some of the functional capabilities that you’ve added to your Main Street Station platform for your independent agents to process business for Main Street Protection Auto?
LM: In addition to offering competitive rates and a wide array of discounts and coverage options through Main Street Protection Auto, Main Street America is committed to making continuous improvements to our Main Street Station personal lines policy processing platform to make it easier for our customers to write business with us. The following are a few of the enhancements we have made to our system to support the new auto product launch and improve the user experience—and which have already generated overall faster response times:
Customers can quickly bridge from their comparative rater directly to our premium summary page where additional coverages or quote changes can be quickly made.
Intuitive user messages provide guidance and answers when customers need it.
We reduced the number of screens to simplify data entry.
IIR: Jeff, how would you summarize Main Street America’s customer experience philosophy?
JK: We pride ourselves on our commitment to serve our independent agent-customers, and their customers, better than anyone else. And we do that day in and day out. Our continued commitment to consumers and independent agents has contributed to our growth and success.
IIR: What significant technology investments does Main Street America anticipate making in order to realize that vision over the long term?
JK: We continuously invest in technology that will help us to better deliver our products and enhance our customer experience. As an industry, we have to adapt to evolving technology since it can directly impact, in a positive way, how we conduct business. It’s no secret that the demand to conduct business on digital platforms, for customers and consumers, increases every day.
IIR: That being the case, how is Main Street Looking at disruption in the industry more broadly, and how are you responding to it?
JK: We don’t see this as a market disruption, but it will be interesting to see how the continued use of telematics and other digital applications to track personal driving habits affects the industry. We will also continue to assess how increased advertising and the availability of more online quoting options play a role in how consumers shop for and purchase personal auto and homeowners’ insurance.
IIR: Are there further product and service directions at Main Street America that we should keep an eye out for?
JK: 2015 has been an ambitious and productive year for The Main Street America Group in the marketplace, with the launch of our new cyber risk coverage, expanded workers’ compensation program and our new personal auto product, as well as our implementing “ease of use” technology for our commercial customers with commercial lines bridging.
With our strategic acquisitions, affiliations and partnerships over the past few years, which has expanded our property/casualty footprint from 16 states along the Eastern Seaboard to 37 states across the country, we are consolidating our policy processing platforms and integrating them to the most efficient environment. We will continue to modernize our processing platforms to enhance our service delivery to our agent-customers over the long term.