Learn why insurance agencies are opting for an agency management system and if you should make the switch.
Most life and health insurance agencies today use some sort of technology to manage their books of business, process commissions, manage workflows, and marketing automation tactics.
Many agencies are either making the switch to an agency management system (AMS) for the first time, or are looking for one that better suits their needs.
To understand why this move is happening (and if you should make the switch), we’ll cover these two main topics:
- The technology agencies use to manage their book of business today
- The five main reasons agencies are making the move to an AMS
First Things First: What Is an Insurance Agency Management System?
An AMS is software as a service (SaaS) technology that insurance agencies can use to organize and manage their book of business more effectively. An AMS gives you access to certain features that can make many aspects of your day-to-day operations easier, like workflow management, marketing automation, commission processing, and more.
Choosing an industry-specific AMS, like AgencyBloc, ensures you and your team can hit the ground running with your new system. Plus, since our platform is customizable, you can easily tailor it to your unique agency’s needs.
The Current Technology and Tools Insurance Agencies Use
The main types of technology and tools that life and health insurance agencies use today include:
- An industry-specific AMS
- A generic customer relationship management (CRM) tool
- A custom-built, homegrown solution
- Digital or paper spreadsheets
While paper files and spreadsheets aren't the most efficient or effective means to run a business, many agencies still use them. There is nothing wrong with using spreadsheets or paper files, however, there are some drawbacks that come with relying on them:
- They’re vulnerable to fraud and require manual backup
- They tend to be error-prone
- They’re rarely compliant with insurance regulations
- They don’t foster team collaboration–inconsistencies and multiple spreadsheets can create friction and waste time
- They’re not scalable
- They require a large time commitment
- They don’t create strong client-agent relationships
“Before AgencyBloc, our office used a separate spreadsheet for every activity–tracking phone calls, files for quotes, and another for current business. One question from a client could take 5 minutes to answer simply because we had to locate in WHICH spreadsheet the info was hidden.” – SaraMarie B., Insurance Advocates
When it comes to CRMs, the software systems that many agencies use are often generic platforms like Salesforce, Zoho, and SugarCRM.
Generic CRMs are not built for insurance-specific needs. Because of this, they need to be customized to work for your agency. Depending on your needs, these customizations may require hiring a web developer, which could lead to hefty costs and a significant time commitment.
Some health and life insurance agencies use a homegrown solution, which is susceptible to the same problems as generic CRMS and spreadsheets: they can be costly to maintain and create inefficiencies. If you choose to build a homegrown solution, you’re also choosing to manage the system, security, and any possible enhancements all in-house.
An industry-specific AMS is the most popular option. Many agency management systems are built for the insurance industry and some are tailored to a certain insurance niche like P&C or L&H—AgencyBloc is built specifically for the life and health insurance industry.
To learn more about how an industry-specific agency management system differs from a generic CRM, check out The Agency’s Guide to Understanding an Agency Management System vs. a CRM.
The 5 Reasons Agencies are Making the Move to an AMS
From our own industry knowledge and the discussions we’ve had with our clients, we’ve found these five main reasons why agencies choose to move to an industry-specific AMS:
1. Efficiency & Growth
Efficiency and growth can go hand-in-hand for insurance agencies.
For many agencies, one of their main goals is growth–and streamlining internal processes can be a real game-changer for this. An insurance-specific agency management system can help you gain significant efficiencies throughout your agency that allow you more time to focus on sales, client retention, and other goal-driven initiatives.
“AgencyBloc has made a huge difference for me in the area of production, efficiency, and convenience. It is very simple to use, functional, and it operates very clean. By that I mean it works. So much stress has been lifted by being able to locate clients, policies, set follow-up activities, make notes, and store important documents.” – Randy S., One Life America
By leveraging the capabilities and ease of an industry-specific AMS, agencies can put more focus on their growth goals by working smarter, not harder. Here are some specific examples of how the right AMS can streamline your agency’s processes:
Data Centralization and Organization
Keeping all of your data in one place prevents data silos that can hinder your productivity long-term. Plus, having a place to track every detail ensures nothing gets missed and keeps everyone on the same page.
Instead of customizing an AMS to fit your needs, an industry-specific AMS gives you a platform that already has many of the features you’re looking for. For the life and health space, these features can include agent management, policy management, insurance automation (more on that next), and more. Take a tour of all of AgencyBloc’s life and health insurance-specific features.
Workflow automation helps you stay on top of communication with prospects and clients, ensures you never miss a follow-up or meeting, and helps prevent things from falling through the cracks while you juggle all of your other responsibilities.
AgencyBloc’s Automated Worklow functionality can:
- Drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on annual client communications, like policy renewal reminders–while also ensuring you don’t miss those important dates
- Increase how efficiently you work and nurture leads
- Improve in-office communication
- Help you remember to consistently court your clients to improve retention
- Allow you to better manage your daily to-do’s
- Increase your team’s productivity
In fact, one agency found that by using AgencyBloc’s Automated Workflow software, they were able to save six hours every Annual Election Period on lead distribution and over 100 hours every renewal period in sending renewal notices to clients.
"Automated Workflow has helped our team stay organized and operate in the most efficient manner; it's helped us build out our client service model and stay organized." — Ned H., Havern Benefits Strategies
Since the number one reason clients leave is due to the lack of regular and meaningful communication, better communication with both your prospects and clients is essential for growth in your book of business.
Working in the insurance industry affords you two major luxuries: profitability and flexibility. Using an AMS that gives you the mobility to further enjoy both of those luxuries is top-of-mind for some agencies.
One critical part of mobility is cloud-based access. A cloud-based AMS that allows you to log in anytime, from any device, and in any location securely enables you to take your office anywhere you need to–work at home, from the coffee shop, the car repair shop, or your client’s office.
To learn more about on-premise compared to cloud-based software, check out our blog: On-Premise Software vs. Hosted Software: What You Need to Know.
Another key to mobility is centralizing your information. An AMS organizes all of your information in one, easy-to-access database. By having all of your clients’ and prospects’ information in a centralized location, you’ll be able to access everything quicker and easier. Hence, you’ll be able to service your clients faster and drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on daily manual tasks.
Learn more about making your insurance agency mobile on this blog: How to Become a Mobile Life & Health Insurance Agency.
Security is another main reason insurance agencies make the move to an AMS. Your agency and your book of business are your livelihood, so it’s essential to have a system that protects your data and gives you peace of mind.
A cloud-based, encrypted, and protected AMS like AgencyBloc is dedicated to security. Our business is you. Therefore, we work to provide you nothing less than the optimal level of protection.
"AgencyBloc's level of security gives us peace of mind that our data and our clients' data is heavily protected, while still allowing our employees to easily access it on-the-go to best serve our clients." – Renee D., Varney & Company Benefits Advisors
When vetting your AMS options, ensure you ask the vendors these security-related questions:
- Who owns my data? How can I retrieve my data if I choose to switch systems in the future?
- What security protocols and measurements are in place (HIPAA, HITECH, SOC-2, etc.)?
- How often do you release updates to your system?
- Which hosting service do you use?
- How often is my data backed up?
- Where are my backups hosted?
- What is your historical uptime?
What it boils down to is that you need to be upfront and ask your provider the serious questions. What is your procedure for backing up data? How often will my data be backed up? Where is it stored? What’s your fall-out plan if something happens?” – Cory Schmidt, CTO of AgencyBloc
To learn more about AMS security standards and what to look out for, watch this webinar recording: The Nitty Gritty Security Questions You Must Ask + Security Best Practices.
4. Retirement/Selling Preparation
Some agents are ready to get out of the game but want to ensure they, and their family, are set for retirement. With this mindset, getting the most bang for their buck is important when selling their book of business.
This is where an agency management system can help. Having your data in an organized, manageable AMS makes your book more valuable to prospective buyers. How?
Data within an AMS is organized and easy to understand. This is valuable because it helps your successor quickly grasp important information and learn who your clients are. Since the data is in a ready-to-use format, this also helps ease the transition for your buyer. In short, the better the outlook you can create for both your successor and your clients, the more valuable your book of business will be, and in turn, the more you’ll be able to sell it for.
Even if you aren’t retiring any time soon, you’ll thank yourself later for keeping your data up to date and organized from the get-go since this will help maintain its quality when it’s time to retire.
5. Commissions Processing
Rounding out our list, one of the most common reasons we hear as to why agencies are moving to an AMS is commissions processing. Most generic CRMs and homegrown solutions do not have a commissions capabilities.
Some agencies choose to process commissions manually or manage them with spreadsheets instead–but this can be frustrating and time-consuming. Check out our blog: 4 Reasons You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets to Process Commissions to learn more.
By simplifying commissions processing with an AMS, agencies find they can significantly reduce their time spent on commissions. Plus, it’s important that commissions are processed accurately–and an AMS can help you find and collect missed commissions.
AgencyBloc’s Commissions Module uses these six steps to make agencies more efficient:
“We've been able to cut our time processing commissions by 75%, saved nearly $33,000 every year in employee time, and have gained 90 hours back every month. Switching to AgencyBloc was the best decision I made as a commissions manager.” – Leslye G., JTS Financial
Simplifying commissions processing allows your commissions team the opportunity to focus on other goal-oriented initiatives, like growth!
Taking the Next Step: Moving Your Agency to an Agency Management System
If you’ve realized your current AMS solution isn’t working for you, consider switching to a system that’s built for your needs.
You may fall into one of the reasons above, or maybe you’re facing something else, like:
- You don’t like the customer service you’re receiving
- The look or navigation of your program doesn’t work for you
- You don’t see the value for the price you’re paying
Whatever your reason is, the idea of changing can be scary, but we’re here to help. As you make the transition, here are some resources that may prove useful for you:
If you’re interested in using the #1 Recommended Management System for life and health insurance agencies, then look no further than AgencyBloc. We’re proud to provide a platform that can help your insurance agency thrive–but don’t just take our word for it:
“Our transition to AgencyBloc was extremely smooth and their support along the way was invaluable. We feel like we finally have a database from the 21st century!” – Caroline D., Comprehensive Benefits Planning, Inc.
Learn What AgencyBloc Can Do for You
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This blog was originally published on August 15, 2017, updated on January 21, 2020, and updated again on January 24, 2023.
By Allison Babberl on January 24, 2023 in Database Management
Allison is the Content Lead at AgencyBloc. She manages the creation and schedule of all educational content for our BlocTalk and Member communities. Favorite quote: “Conversation is the bedrock of relationships. Without it, our relationships are devoid of substance.” -Maribeth Kuzmeski More articles