Technology Life and Health Insurance Agencies Use
For the past 4 years, we've surveyed life and health insurance agencies of all sizes to learn how they use technology to manage their books of business, process commissions, and utilize workflow and marketing automation.
One of the key findings from our 2020 survey is that 41% of agents/agencies plan to make the move to a new agency management system (AMS). To better under why this move is happening, we’ll cover these two main topics:
- The technology agencies use to manage their book of business today
- The 5 reasons agencies are making the move to an AMS
The Current Technology Insurance Agencies Use
The main types of technology agencies use are
- An industry-specific agency management system (AMS)
- A generic CRM
- A custom-built homegrown solution
However, there are agencies that still use paper files and spreadsheets even though those aren't the most efficient or effective means to run a business.
“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.”
While there is nothing wrong with using spreadsheets or paper files within your processes, you should be aware of the drawbacks that come with relying solely on them. Here are some problems you may run into when you manage your book via spreadsheets or paper files:
- They’re vulnerable to fraud and require manual backup
- They tend to be error-prone (88% of spreadsheets contain errors)
- They’re rarely compliant with insurance regulations
- They don’t foster team collaboration (44% of people grapple with multiple and inconsistent spreadsheets)
- They’re not scalable
- They require a large time commitment (12 hours are spent each month consolidating, modifying, and correcting spreadsheets)
- They don’t create strong client-agent relationships
When it comes to CRMs, the systems are often generic software like Salesforce, GoldMine, and SugarCRM.
Generic CRMs are not built for specific industry needs and need customization to work for your agency. Depending on your needs, these customizations may require hiring a web developer which could amount to hefty costs and a significant time commitment.
It should also be noted that some health and life insurance agencies use a homegrown solution. Although it’s not represented in these numbers, homegrown solutions are present in the industry and are susceptible to the same problems as generic CRMS and spreadsheets: they can be costly to maintain and cause inefficiencies at your agency.
An industry-specific AMS is often 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
Earlier we shared that our survey found that 41% of health and life insurance agencies are making the move to an industry-specific agency management system. From industry knowledge and discussions we’ve had with our clients, we’ve found these to be the five main reasons why agencies move to an AMS.
Efficiency & Growth
Efficiency and growth can go hand-in-hand for insurance agencies.
With an AMS, you can find significantly improved efficiencies throughout your agency that allow you more time to spend focusing on sales, building retention, and concentrating on other goal-driven initiatives. For some agencies, one of their main goals is growth and creating internal efficiencies can be a real game-changer for this.
“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.”
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.
An AMS like AgencyBloc offers you workflow automation that can:
- Drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on annual client communications, like policy renewal reminders
- 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 list of to-do’s each day
In fact, one agency found that by using Automated Workflow in AgencyBloc, they were able to save 6 hours every Annual Election Period on lead distribution and over 100 hours every renewal period in sending renewal notices to clients.
“Since starting using Automated Workflows less than 2 months ago, I've written 6 new clients and I have received 6 referrals for new business.”
Better communication with both your prospects and clients is essential for growth in your book of business. In fact, the #1 reason clients leave is due to the lack of regular and meaningful communication.
Workflow automation helps you stay on top of communication with prospects and clients, ensures you never miss a follow-up or meeting, and helps to make sure nothing falls through the cracks while you juggle all of your other responsibilities.
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 key to mobility is cloud-based access. Take your office anywhere you need with a cloud-based AMS that allows you to log in from any device in any location securely 24/7. Work from the coffee shop, the car repair shop, or your client’s office.
To learn more about on-premise vs. cloud-based software, check out our blog: On-Premise Software vs. Hosted Software: What You Need to Know.
The other 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 one centralized location, you’ll be able to access everything quicker and easier. You’ll be able to service your clients faster and drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on everyday manual tasks.
Learn more about how to make your insurance agency a mobile agency in our 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 that data and gives you peace of mind.
A cloud-based, encrypted, and protected AMS like AgencyBloc is dedicated to keeping security top of the line. Their business is you. Therefore, they quadruple ensure that you’re receiving 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."
Varney & Company Benefits Advisors
- When vetting your AMS options, ensure you ask the vendors these security questions:
- Who has access to my data?
- Who owns my data?
- Can I export my data from the AMS without charge?
- Is the AMS cloud-based?
- Which hosting service do you use?
- How often is my data backed up?
- Where are my backups hosted?
- What is your historical uptime?
- How and when do you do updates?
- How long is the downtime for those aforementioned updates?
“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?”
CTO of AgencyBloc
To learn more about AMS security standards and what to be on the lookout for, tune in to our on-demand webinar: The Nitty Gritty Security Questions You Need to Ask Insurtech Vendors.
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, they want to get the most bang for their buck when they go to sell their book of business.
By having your data in an organized, manageable agency management system, you’re able to make your book more valuable to prospective buyers.
Are you prepared for retirement?
If you aren’t dedicated to the upkeep and organization of your data, then it won’t be top quality. Would you pay top dollar for something that isn’t top quality? Probably not.
Not only is data within an AMS simple to read and understand, but it allows for your successor to quickly grasp the information, learn who your clients are, and see the value. This also means the transition should be smoother for your buyer with the data already in a ready-to-use format.
The better the outlook you can create for both your successor and your clients, the more valuable your book of business will be.
Rounding out the list, one of the most common reasons we hear for why agencies are moving to an AMS is commissions processing. Most generic CRMs do not provide you with a commissions module, and homegrown solutions face the same problem. Some agencies choose the route or processing them manually or managing them via spreadsheets instead.
Manually calculating commission splits can be frustrating and a drain on resources. 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.
“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.”
AgencyBloc’s Commissions Processing module uses these 6 steps to make agencies more efficient:
Commissions processing is a big job and one that can be significantly time-consuming without the right tools. Simplifying commissions processing allows your commissions team the opportunity to focus on other goal-oriented initiatives (like growth!).
Taking the Next Step in Moving Your Agency to an Agency Management System
If you’re in the position that you’ve realized your current solution isn’t working for you, then you may need to start considering switching to a system that is 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:
“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!”
Comprehensive Benefits Planning, Inc.
This blog was originally published on August 15, 2017, and updated on January 21, 2020.