Improving Insurance Agency Organization
We often talk about the benefits of using technology to enhance and streamline your agency’s operations.
These include the use of workflow automation, efficient and effective commissions processing, and improved customer service. However, none of this would be possible if your agency’s policies weren’t organized and manageable.
This is why it matters which technology you choose to partner with.
When it comes to selecting an agency management system (AMS) for your agency, you’re going to come across two styles of systems:
The major difference between these two is how things are organized. As you could guess, a policy-based system’s core organization is centered around policies whereas a contact-based one is centered around contacts. Let’s look at this a bit closer.
A contact-based system is a system that tracks information based on the contact. This means everything within the system is tracked around and stems from that specific contact. This includes policies, agent, commissions, group, carriers, relationships, etc.
The individual client is tracked first and foremost, then everything is tied to them. So, for example, if Tom Smith has four separate policies with you, you can see all of those policies linked directly to him. Even when it’s different policies from different carriers, everything is connected.
Basically, the basis and core of the contact-based system is your client or prospect.
A policy-based system centers everything around the policy. The policy is tied to the carrier, the agent, the individual who owns it, and the commission related to that policy.
Let’s look at our example of Tom Smith again. Since each policy is tied to its owner independently, Tom Smith and his 4 policies would be 4 separate entries/records.
Many spreadsheet- or paper-based systems are policy-based systems, as are some homegrown solutions and generic CRMs.
Pros & Cons
The major benefit of using a contact-based system over a policy-based one is simplicity. In your book of business, the common denominator is your client. Everything is built around them and tied back to them. So it makes sense to use a contact-based system that’s organized based on your clients.
This creates a cohesiveness to your data that makes communication easier to track, information easier to locate, and helps your book stay much, much cleaner.
If you choose to use a policy-based system, note that these systems often:
- Create messy data
- Roadblock marketing efforts
- Impede cross-selling attempts
Clean data is data that is “formatted in an orderly unit and requires continual upkeep and a team effort to maintain the organization.” Messy data is the opposite; it’s data that does not follow an orderly format and likely isn’t continuously updated.
If you’re entering contacts multiple times to tie to each individual policy, entry errors can start to occur. If you don’t have the process and steps in place, then each time you enter a contact, your data could quickly resemble the image below:
Besides just making things harder to track, messy data can also severely inhibit other efforts for your agency, like marketing, client communication, and cross-selling.
Marketing & Client Communication
Marketing, in general, is how you present yourself to your prospects and show why you’re the right choice. If your data isn’t clean, you run the risk of it impeding your marketing efforts and even basic client communication.
Messy data can be a definite detractor, especially when it comes to email marketing and workflow automation—it can even impede snail mail marketing.
Let’s look back at Tom Smith.
Say you want to email all of your clients and say “Happy Holidays!” This is easily done with any basic email program; but if you import your entire list and have it automatically insert the first name of the recipient, your messy data will show.
Remember this image from earlier?
It’s important to personalize your messages as much as possible. This is crucial for engagement and retention as your clients will feel like you truly are addressing them. However, if your agency doesn’t follow an organized process for entering data, you could come off unprofessional.
You would be emailing Tom Smith four different times while also addressing him as Thomas, Tom, T, and Smith. It’ll be confusing for Thomas, and it could come off as unprofessional and incompetent.
Having clean data in a contact-based system can help alleviate this issue. All of your data will follow the same formatting guidelines, so whenever you do decide to do a mail merge, set up workflows, or send personalized mass emails, you’ll come off as professional and prepared.
Cross-selling is one of two ways an insurance agency can grow (the other is prospecting). Identifying cross-sell opportunities doesn’t have to be difficult, but messy data and a policy-based system can hinder your efforts.
Say you want to target all of your health-only policyholders to cross-sell dental. You would have to print off spreadsheet after spreadsheet of your health clients—with a generic CRM or homegrown solution, you may have to create the spreadsheets first then start the process. Then, when you’re done with that, you’d have to print off the spreadsheets of all of you dental clients. After all the printing is done, you have to then comb through both highlighting those who are health-only.
Talk about tedious.
You’re almost 4x more likely to sell to an existing client than a new one, so this is a process you want to be efficient. The more efficient the process, the more you can use it and benefit from it.
With a contact-based system like AgencyBloc, this report is simple to run. You just choose the two groups—those who have X insurance but don’t have Y. Then, it’ll pull a real-time report for you to use instantly.
Cross-sell report | AgencyBloc
P.S. You can also pull this same report in email marketing to create a mass email that goes out only to that list to help you save time and work smarter!
Contact-Based vs. Policy-Based
The biggest difference is organization, policy-based systems center on policies whereas contact-based ones center on the contacts (clients or prospects). The three major hurdles you’ll find with a policy-based system is that it creates messy data, roadblocks marketing efforts, and impedes cross-selling attempts.
Not to mention, it significantly increases the time spent inputting data and records as each policy is individually entered.
For many agencies, their goals include growth of some kind, or simply working smarter, not harder. It’s important to find a system that supports your agency’s goals and actively helps you work towards achieving them.
It comes down to these questions:
- Where is your company going?
- What do you want to achieve in the next 5/10/15 years?
- Is the system you’re using today going to support those goals for the future?
Ready to make the move from spreadsheets to an industry-specific AMS?
This eBook will help you prepare you for the migration by giving you an in-depth look into the migration process from spreadsheets to software and providing you with the questions you should be asking your provider before you migrate.
This blog was originally published on August 1, 2017 and updated on April 30th, 2019.
By Allison Babberl on April 30, 2019 in Technology
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