When you’re starting a new insurance agency, it’s tempting to keep costs low by skipping some technology.
Sure, not all technology is critical to a new agency. But, some technology definitely is. And, not just because it’s more efficient (though that’s also a big reason).
Why Technology is Important
A study we co-sponsored on technology usage by insurance agencies showed that agencies that are heavy users of technology are two times more likely to have better sales processes. And, those that rely heavily on sales and marketing technology have greater revenue growth and sell more policies per producer and per household.
Technology has a big impact on your business. It can lead to good first impressions or bad first impressions. It can help you provide great client service or leave clients thinking you don’t care. With short attention spans and patience, a bad impression can cost you a new sale or recurring revenue.
Beyond service, technology improves your agency’s efficiency and productivity. It can save you time and money. It can help you better communicate with your prospects and clients as well as with your staff.
Technology can also help secure your agency’s data. In our online, connected world, every business, no matter size, is at risk of a data breach. And, it can be difficult to continue operating after a breach. Having the right technology to protect your agency is important.
So, what are the technology must-haves for a new insurance agency? Here are 10 you need to research before opening your new insurance agency.
Must-Have Technology for New Insurance Agencies
1. Agency Management System
Don’t make the mistake of starting your agency without an agency management system. It will become a hard habit to break and a tough transition to work through when you do get a management system. You are far better off starting with good habits and good technology. Your agency will be more efficient and productive.
2. Comparative Rater
If you’re selling personal lines and have more than a handful of carrier appointments, you will need a comparative rater. Look for a rating system that does more than just rating. It should at least integrate with your management system. Even better if you get extensive reporting so you can track your producer’s and agency’s performance.
A full digital marketing plan may not be at the top of your priority list as a new insurance agency. One thing you must have though… a good website.
It will be the hub of all your marketing efforts, whether that is online or offline. Prospects will want to google you. Clients will want a place to go for information like how to file a claim or make a payment.
Plus, the sooner you secure your domain name, the sooner your website starts building authority with the search engines. This will become important when you are ready to start that full digital marketing plan.
In 2018 computers are an obvious technology needed. But, a good Windows-based tablet might be a better option than a desktop or laptop for your new agency. Especially if you’re going to be at events or working remotely.
Tablets are portable and lighter than laptops so it’s really easy to work from wherever, whenever. A good tablet is often as powerful as a desktop. And, with a docking station, you’re able to work in the office as if you had a desktop computer.
Whether you get a tablet or desktop, get multiple monitors for each work station. They help with productivity and can make processes easier like having your management system up on one screen and your comparative rater on the other.
For your agency’s phones, don’t use a landline. Get a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. With VoIP you can make calls using the internet instead of the old, analog phone lines.
There are a several benefits to using VoIP. Long-distance calls are cheaper. You’ll already have internet. With VoIP you don’t have to pay two bills, one for phone and one for internet.
Plus, you’ll get features included in your VoIP system that you would have to pay extra for with a landline. Features like call waiting, call forwarding, conference calls, and call recording. And, if you want reports on how long your staff spends on the phones or how many calls they make in a time period, a VoIP phone system can give you that.
Since so much of what we use in business needs the internet, having a good internet connection is crucial. You want a connection that is fast and reliable. Making a client on the phone wait while you try to download something does not leave a good impression. Consider download and upload speeds as well as a provider’s uptime.
While the world goes increasingly digital, sometimes there is still paper. But, you don’t have to keep that paper. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Scan it into your agency management system, and then shred and throw it out. Even better if you get a scanner that can also serve as your agency’s printer and copier.
Your goal as a new insurance agency is to remove as much friction from the insurance buying process as you can. You need to make it easy for a consumer to choose you. Requiring a prospect to print, sign, and fax (or scan and then email) a document is friction. Using e-signature removes that friction.
You’ll be using the internet to connect to a lot of services and programs. A strong firewall is critical to securing your agency’s data. It keeps unauthorized external users like hackers from accessing your data. A firewall can also block viruses, spam and malicious applications.
Bottom line? The potential exposure and damage to your agency without a firewall is enormous. This technology is essential for your new agency.
10. Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is where you store your agency’s data on remote servers you access using the internet. There are a few key reasons why your agency should use cloud storage.
First, you save money because you don’t need to buy and maintain a local server. Second, if your office gets vandalized or destroyed in a natural disaster, you’ll still have all your data. Finally, cloud storage gives you greater flexibility with access to data from anywhere.
How to Determine the Right Technology Vendor
Looking for a technology vendor can be intimidating. There are a lot of choices available. How do you know which one is right for you?
Before you start talking to vendors, decide what you need in each system. The features and functionalities that you have to have. The ones that aren’t critical but are important to productivity and making decisions. The ones that would be nice to have.
Determine your budget. What can you afford starting out? Start researching vendors. Compare vendors to your features list as well as budget requirements. Look for vendors that meet your needs as a new agency but that can also scale with you as you grow.
Narrow down the list as much as you can before talking to vendors. This way you only have to talk to a few instead of a long list. When you are ready to talk to vendors, ask a lot of questions.
Technology is critical to your operations even from the beginning of your insurance agency. The right technology can make a difference in your productivity and growth. Don’t let your new agency start with bad habits. Get the necessary technology from the beginning. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache and extra work.
Got a question about starting a new insurance agency you’d like us to answer in a future post? Leave it in the comments below.
About the Author
As senior vice president of sales and marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s sales and marketing departments. Her specialties include creating and documenting processes; establishing metrics for managing those processes; developing content strategy and generating leads; and driving the overall company sales and marketing strategy. Becky was named an Elite Woman in Insurance by Insurance Business America in 2016. She has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their three daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder