10 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Agency Management Systems

Frequently Asked Questions about Agency Management Systems

Common Questions about Agency Management Systems

Deciding to adopt a new agency management system (AMS) comes with a lot of questions. Questions about general functionality, security, data migration, onboarding, and more. Below are 10 common questions we hear.

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[eBook] The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Agency Management Systems...Answered!

This download includes the 10 questions below plus 8 more that are important for your agency to consider when shopping around for a new AMS.

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1. What is the main difference between an AMS and CRM?

The main difference between the two is who they are built for. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is generic and often not built for a specific audience. They specialize in helping you manage your relationships and communication with prospects and clients.

An agency management system (AMS) is specific to the insurance industry and often built for a niche, like life and health or property & casualty. An AMS is a CRM with additional capabilities to help better serve insurance agencies, like policy management and commissions processing. AgencyBloc, an AMS built specifically for life and health agencies, also allows users to differentiate records as individual or group prospects and clients.

Read more on the difference between an AMS and a CRM.

2. What can be tracked within an AMS?

An agency management system is built with insurance agencies in mind, so you can track prospects, clients (both individual and group), policies, carriers, agents, commissions, and much more.

Also, because an AMS is industry specific, records often already have industry-related fields on the screen, like policy number, carrier, coverage type, and group policy information (if applicable). What’s not there that might be unique to your agency can be created and tracked with custom fields.

Watch a 5-minute overview video of AgencyBloc, an AMS built for life & health insurance agencies.

3. What is an Automated Workflow?

An Automated Workflow is a series of tasks created automatically when a specific event occurs. Tasks can be emails to prospects, activities assigned to agents, and much more. Automated Workflows increase efficiency and accuracy in each business process.

AgencyBloc Automated Workflow

Automation allows your agency to transition from manual processes that are inefficient to automated processes that keep people on track and prevent important activities from falling through the cracks.

Learn more in our eBook: Automation for Life & Health Insurance Agencies: Using automated workflow to create efficiency & consistency.

4. What are examples of Automated Workflows for insurance agencies?

Common Automated Workflow scenarios include:

  • Happy Birthday - send “Happy Birthday” emails to your clients
  • New Individual Prospect - assign agents to follow-up with new prospects
  • Lead Form Submitted - send an email to new leads who come in from your website’s lead form, plus assign an agent for follow-up
  • Policy Application Submitted - keep clients up-to-speed on the status of their policy application
  • Group Policy Renewal - send notices to clients regarding upcoming policy renewals
  • Agent License Expiration - help agents stay ahead of upcoming license and E&O expiration/renewal dates

These are just a few examples of ways to utilize Automated Workflows. To learn more, listen in to this recorded webinar: Set It & Forget It: The Magic of Automation.

5. How does an AMS, like AgencyBloc, process commissions?

With AgencyBloc, some initial setup is necessary for processing commissions. Once steps 1-3 are complete, you don’t need to repeat them (except for any new data going forward).

Step 1: Set Up Policies

The first step is to set up your clients and their policies. This can be done via our import process or manually.

Step 2: Set Up Rate Tables

The next step is to set up rate tables that can be referenced by multiple policies. Rate tables can be configured using percent of premium, percent of commission received, per life, or as a flat amount. They can also specify payouts based on carrier, coverage type, or plan code. If compensation adjustments need to be made, rate schedules offer a convenient way to quickly adjust payouts for hundreds of policies.

Step 3: Tie Payees to Policies

Policies may have an unlimited number of agents assigned for commissions. Typical scenarios include paying a referral fee, trainer fee, manager override, or agency override. Each of these agents can be paid differently. Typically, a rate schedule will be utilized for each payee. However, a manual amount can be specified if a unique payout is required.

Payee schedules allow you to add more than one payee to a policy. Add payees to a hierarchy, each with their respective commission rates/amounts, and then add them to a group. Finally, add whole groups to policies.

Steps 4-6 are what happen every time you actually process commissions with AgencyBloc.

Step 4: Import Carrier File

AgencyBloc was built to save time and improve accuracy in commissions processing. With these two goals in mind, the most appreciated aspect of our system hinges on Carrier Imports.

If your agency is receiving electronic commission statements, we can build import maps for directly importing that information into AgencyBloc. When these files are uploaded, AgencyBloc will match the information to the policies you have set up and automatically calculate commissions. This import process significantly reduces the amount of time spent manually inputting data.

*Note: Once your account has been configured, the import and payment calculation will take only seconds. Our clients have carrier imports containing tens of thousands of records; it takes less than 2 minutes to process these files.

If some carriers aren’t providing you with electronic statements, AgencyBloc has a “Standard Import” that can still assist.

AgencyBloc Commissions Processing

Step 5: Calculate/Reconcile Commissions

Reconciliation is a simple process. When commissions are imported, you’ll see which policies were linked to the carrier’s statement. You'll see each payment that was calculated and any policies that didn’t match. AgencyBloc highlights any exceptions that require further investigation. Lastly, a quick snapshot of total premiums, total commissions payable, and net commissions is shown.

Step 6: Generate Commission Statements

Once all your carrier commissions are reconciled for the payment period, you’re ready to generate commission statements. Statements can be run in spreadsheet or PDF format. You can run statements monthly, bi-weekly or daily, if you choose. Statements can be organized by sub-agency in order to facilitate paying multiple companies under your agency.

Agent statements show the premium paid and the amount owed for each policy. You can organize your statements by carrier or policyholder.

Statements include:

  • Basic policy information (number, name, coverage type, etc)
  • Premium paid (if the carrier file provided that information)
  • Dollar amount owed to the agent for each policy

Dive deeper with our eBook: The Agency's Guide to Commissions: Efficient Processing, Uncovering Misses, & Analyzing Performance.

6. How does an AMS, like AgencyBloc, identify missed commission payments from carriers?

As long as you have all of your commissions data correctly entered, the missed commission payments from carriers will become apparent in a couple ways:

  • On a policy level, commission payments not received by statement date or by bill from date will appear on the policy screen
  • Within the Commissions Not Received Report (shown below)

For more on identifying missed commissions from carriers, read: What You Don’t Know: How to uncover your agency’s missed and inaccurate commissions to protect your bottom-line.

7. How is data backed up on an AMS?

It depends on how the AMS is hosted. Cloud-based data is backed-up to several locations in real-time, meaning your data is always saved to the latest version even if something happens to the computer, tablet, or phone you access it from. That’s in contrast to on-site hosting where backup is manual, and typically only done, on average, once per day.

To learn more, read this blog: Is It Secure? The Questions You Should Ask Insurtech Vendors.

8. How long does it take to be up and running?

Every situation is unique, and, again, varies system to system. What you can likely expect is to go through data migration first and then to be trained. Depending on the amount of data you have and what your training schedule will look like, both of these things can take a number of weeks. At AgencyBloc, many clients have historically been fully up and running within anywhere from 2-8 weeks.

9. What happens during onboarding?

Every company will have a unique process, but you should expect to be initially trained on the system and ask questions as you follow along. After that, you’ll probably meet on a regular basis with homework for you and your team in between training sessions. 

To see an outline of what onboarding may look like, grab our checklist: New Agency Management System Onboarding Checklist.

10. What’s the standard for customer support with an AMS provider?

There is no “standard”, but there are definitely aspects to look for from any AMS vendor you’re thinking of doing business with. For instance, find out how many different avenues are available to speak with customer service (phone call, email, live chat, etc.). Also, how quickly is someone from customer support able to help you out?

The level of ongoing support you’ll receive will be vital to your success with the system. Make sure you ask about it upfront! Read about other things you should ask about upfront in this downloadable tool: Beyond the Product Vendor Research Tool.

Have more questions?

There are more questions where these came from. To see more, get the eBook: The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Agency Management Systems...Answered!

[eBook] The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Agency Management Systems...Answered!

In this eBook, we answer the most frequently asked questions about agency management systems regarding general functionality, security, data migration, and more!

Get the eBook

Kelsey Rosauer

By Kelsey Rosauer on January 3, 2020 in Technology

Kelsey is the Marketing Brand Specialist at AgencyBloc. She plans and creates educational resources to help our customers organize, automate & grow their insurance agency. Favorite quote: "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it." —Charles R. Swindoll  More articles

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