The relationship between insurance agencies and technology has never been more important than it is in 2021. For a long time, insurance agencies have had access to back-office systems like Epic, Applied, AMS360, etc. In today’s marketplace, that simply isn’t enough to remain competitive. Here are the eight technology trends that insurance agencies must embrace to continue to be successful in 2021 and beyond.
1. Embrace working from home in a safe, secure and compliant way
Arming your staff with the technology needed to be as productive when working remotely while also keeping your network and systems secure can be a challenge for insurance companies. Consider tools such as:
- Voice Over IP phone system
- A video conferencing solution such as Zoom Rooms or Microsoft Teams for remote workers
- An internal and auditable intercompany messaging platform such as Team or Slack
Have a computer usage policy and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place. Also, you should create a work from home policy that ties into these policies and addresses equipment, procedures and expectations for when users are working remotely. Examples are antivirus, internet, wireless, etc.
2. Be ready to pass a third-party security audit
Did you know that 75 percent of insurance agencies did not think it was “very likely” that they would be able to detect a sophisticated cybersecurity attack and 59 percent of agencies reported that they have discovered “significant” security incidents within their organizations? It’s advisable to begin your HIPAA compliancy journey before your agency is faced with an audit. Initial steps to get started include:
- Perform an annual vulnerability assessment
- Train your staff on HIPAA at least annually
- Perform an annual disaster recovery test
- Use email encryption
- Use multi-factor authentication on EVERYTHING (systems and all applications)
- Limit access to key systems by IP address
- Configure security logs so that, in the event of a cyber incident, you have logs that can be reviewed
- Make sure your email is configured for compliance. This means blocking certain kinds of emails containing sensitive data as well as ensuring that you have configured all of the compliance policies on your email platform.
3. Adopt Cloud Computing
- Cloud computing is one of the easiest ways to become HIPAA compliant from a physical and technical perspective. It does not cover your administrative controls (policies and procedures), but it does take care of some of the more technical aspects of your technology environment.
- Hosted desktops can remove the geography from your business. Whether employees are working from home or are in the office they will enjoy the same consistent desktop experience – all while remaining secure and auditable.
- Cloud computing has become a cost-effective way of providing technology to your staff without having to worry about installing applications, VPNs, security, etc.
4. Adopt a Customer-Centric Service Approach
Put your customers and how your agency services them at the center of your universe. Laser-focused personalization capabilities are the new competitive edge when it comes to acquiring and keeping new customers. Some technology tools to assist with that might include:
- An automated marketing platform
- Customer portals
- Digital conference rooms
- Agent-to-customer Zoom and Teams meetings
5. Bring Personalization to the User Experience
Did you know that according to Ernest and Young, 44 percent of customers have had no interaction with their insurance agency over the last 18 months? Customers want more frequent, meaningful and personalized communications. Agencies need to be asking themselves, “Which are the best first steps to close the communications gap and strengthen relationships with unique customer segments?”
- Utilize your CRM database to aid in customer engagement. Agency management systems are great for the business of working with and quoting insurance needs but many lack the engagement tools so that you can effectively interact with customers and prospects in a meaningful and impactful way.
- Engage with your clients and prospects on social media. Be accessible and relevant by providing value to them. A good rule to follow is provide education and answer questions 80 percent of the time while selling products and services 20 percent of the time.
6. Use Appointment Scheduling Software
The days of back-and-forth calling and emailing to set an appointment are going by the wayside. Now, calendar and appointment scheduling tools make it simple for your clients to book a time on your schedule. Look for scheduling software that integrates with your calendars so you can seamlessly schedule. Some options include Calendly, Acuity, and ScheduleOnce. Some CRMs have this functionality built in.
7. Use a secure companywide password manager
Most agencies have a plethora of passwords and these passwords change often. As a result, users write them down or have a companywide “password book” that is passed around the office. Sometimes users will even email them to remote staff who need to log in. These behaviors are obviously very dangerous and could leave your agency open to exposure. To resolve this common issue, agencies are installing web-based password portals that allow your CSRs and producers to look up passwords in a secure, loggable and usable manner.
8. Use an internal wiki to create and document policies and procedures
Using a wiki or company intranet is one of the best ways to ensure that your agency has a documented, auditable, reviewable company “way” of servicing and supporting your clients. Gone are the days of physical company handbooks and notebooks full of outdated policies and procedures.