Guarding Your Agency Against Employee Theft

July 29, 2011

There is no feeling worse than when you find out that an employee has stolen from you. After hiring, paying and mentoring an employee, finding out that they've betrayed your trust is not only emotionally upsetting but can be financially draining as well. However, employee theft isn't just about stealing cash and office supplies. It also can involve the theft of client files, prospect lists, proprietary planning information and so forth. This type of employee theft can be much more detrimental to your agency then just having someone with sticky fingers.

There are ways to guard your insurance agency against employee theft without making your employees feel guilty before proven innocent.

1. Secure access to all software programs: Comparative raters, customer relationship management databases and all other agency management system software should be accessible only by utilizing user-specific passwords. You should assign different passwords for each system to ensure that the right employees have access to only those systems that are appropriate for their job duties.

2. Use a software product that stores your client data on the vendor's servers: This decreases the ability of employees to make a quick backup of the agency computer. Watch for employees using thumb drives, floppy disks and CDs to make sure they aren't trying to copy data onto them.

3. Lock employees out of certain areas of the system: You can configure many software systems, like your agency management system, to allow limited access to employees. Strategically doing so can ensure that employees are not able to run reports that generate lists of client and prospect data.

4. Prevent remote or after hours access to the system: It's impossible to monitor what employees are doing when they have after hours or offsite access to computer systems. Restrict the number of employees who have access to the systems remotely or when the office is closed.

5. Change employee passwords immediately after discharging them: Once you let an employee go, you should immediately change their password so that they cannot gain entry into the office, and the system, again.

6. Sign non-compete agreements: According to the Trading Secrets blog by attorneys Seyfarth and Shaw, not every state will uphold a non-compete agreement, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have one. Have an attorney look at your non-compete to make sure it's going to be upheld, and ask them to explain any circumstances in which it wouldn't-don't just print a template off from the web and expect it to be enforceable.

Using these methods will help you comply with many privacy requirements while also guarding your office against theft. Whether working to protect yourself from employee or non-employee theft, you'll be implementing consistent policies that keep your office, and your clients, safe.

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