You Need To Get On Board With The New Technology
The information is anecdotal: around 90 percent of insurance agencies use some kind of agency management system (AMS). For a growing agency, this is a necessity, but it is also crucial for every agency that wants to stay on top of their business in a time when insurance industry experiences disruption and innovation in so many areas.
Agency owners also have a burden of keeping their employees productive, motivated and enjoying the benefits of technological advances and streamlined processes. They also have a responsibility to provide the best and fastest possible service to their customers.
What Do Customers Want
More than 90% of consumers said (this was back in 2013 and we have no reason not to think that in 2018 customers have even higher expectations) they’d consider taking their business elsewhere rather than work with a company that uses outdated technology. We’re now living in the Age of a Customer and this is important to keep in mind when thinking about the future of your agency.
Another thing to consider is reporting and relevant data that a good agency management system can provide – there’s nothing more important than identifying where your agency stands on growth and charting out a plan for future development.
Now that we agreed that a good agency management system is a thing of a necessity, let’s see why you should think about trading your legacy system for something new and dare we say – more effective. Technology went a long way in the last twenty years and Insurtechs (some in partnerships with incumbents) are racing to the market wanting to offer better solutions.
What Should An Effective AMS Look Like and Why You Should Care?
In one sentence: a well-designed agency management system is a place where all your agency’s data lives, organized and ready for use and/or automation. Sounds like a big feat and a nightmare to decide on when you think about which AMS to implement in your agency. Not necessarily, if you know what you’re looking for. Specific things to look at might be automation capabilities (quoting, submissions, customer communication, marketing + sales), document management, CRM or/and insurance accounting.
On-premise, Cloud? How To Choose?
Both options have their set of advantages and disadvantages.
The on-premise solution brings about a larger upfront investment and costs connected to hardware and IT. A thing to consider carefully is that you will be solely in charge of your data and you’ll want to take additional steps to make sure your data is actually safe. The on-premise solutions are usually highly customizable and your agency will exercise more control over the whole implementation process.
The popularity of cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, grows exponentially. They are easier to deploy, take less time to adapt to and you’ll deal with predictable costs on a monthly basis. Not to mention that you won’t require an additional investment for hardware or personnel.
The important issue of data though, is that the vendor is responsible for safeguarding your data and while today the data security standards are on a high level and cloud-based solutions do tend to gain on popularity, the fact remains that all that data lives outside the four walls of your agency.
Is Your Agency Ready For The Change?
Choosing the right AMS that suits your needs starts with a question whether you and your agency are ready for a change and then defining a set of needs specific to your team. Once you have this defined, talk to your fellow Agents first. Sometimes word of mouth leads to best solutions. Search online, go to relevant forums where your peers might be in search of the same thing as you. Websites like Insurance Journal Forum, relevant LinkedIn groups are always a good bet to find out about new technologies and what others are using.
Many, if not all, vendors have demos on their website, or better yet – a possibility of scheduling a live one. Also, don’t be afraid to take free trials. This is probably the best way to see whether a solution fits your needs.
What Are You Looking For In An Agency Management System? (The Ultimate Checklist)
- How easy is it to adopt this new AMS/technology?
- What does the pricing structure look like? Are there any hidden costs?
- What does the onboarding process look like?
- Is it on-premise or hosted (in a cloud, Saas – there are advantages and disadvantages linked to both)?
- How is the support structured (chat, support tickets, calls)
- Is there a comprehensive knowledge base? (help menus, videos, demos)
- Is there any social proof for the service (trusted partners, customer reviews)
- Will the AMS play well with your existing solutions?
- Are all (or most) features compatible with my needs (ACORD forms, reporting, application management, accounting features)
- The possibility of import/export data?
- Data ownership – is this well defined in a contract?
What Solutions Are Out There – An Overview
- Keeps all your customer information on one page
- Policy alerts that notify you when premiums go up
- Let’s you create appointments and import/export schedule changes
- On-click access to quoting, endorsements and renewals
- Reporting capabilities
- P&C and benefits management
- Customer relationship and sales automation
- Document management
- Integrated SMS texting
- Policy checking and contract review
- Producer license tracking
- Single Sign-On
- Intuitive User interface based on CRM
- Allows you to manage clients, vendors, and employees
- Modules for policies, ACORD Forms, claims and transactions
- Marketing tools: newsletters, surveys, drip marketing, social media marketing for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook
- Mobile device access
- Integration with Comparative raters
- Task management
- Commissions tracking
- Automatically updates policy data
- Reconciles payment transactions
- Client notes and follow-up reminders
- Online cloud storage
- Accounting features
- Quote Management
- Customizable policy types and fields
*Initial setup: Starter $300 I Professional $450 I Enterprise $6000 I See Pricing
- Agency management platform
- Sales and marketing campaigns
- Streamlined policy servicing for all tasks
- Service automation
- Complete insurance accounting
- Claim: EZLynx’s experts will import your old data into the system
- All notes, documents, emails, and tasks are linked to client’s file automatically
- Customer service: sticky notes, tasks, reminders
- Pre-filled forms
- Insurance accounting that tracks premiums and commissions
- Interactive reporting
- Insurance accounting
- Forms and Submission Management
- Third party integrations (Outlook, Comparative rating, Client portal)
- Accessibility: local installation, cloud hosting, local or virtual server
- Communications/Document Management
- Comprehensive reporting
- Customer and policy tracking
- DB Commission Statement & Claims download available
- Integrated General ledger
- Real-Time feature: the direct interface between Eclipse and the Insurance Company websites
- Comprehensive reporting
- Integration with Comparative rater
- Specifically for health and life insurance agencies
- Industry-specific CRM
- Processing commissions
- Business automation (follow-up emails)
- Lead form builder
- Marketing automation
- Saved searches
*Plan starts at $59/month I See Pricing
- Integrates with existing back-end systems (on-premise or in the cloud)
- ACORD and CSIO data model implemented
- Automate quotes, submissions, policy sales and renewals
- Document management
- Automated alerts, reminders, emails, call logs
- Insights from any device
- Personalized and scheduled reports
- Client Portal accessible from any device
*Side note: we wanted to include information on pricing for every solution on the list, unfortunately, most of the vendors do not provide that information on their website – with the exception of AgencyBloc and ITC’s InsurancePro.
Choosing the right AMS is a process and you shouldn’t make a decision in a hurry, there are all too many solutions out there and there’s bound to be a fit for your agency. The right agency management system is meant to be a safe place for all your data and a pipeline that increases your productivity and brings an ultimate value to the ones that matter in the end – your customers.