A quality agency management system is vital to improving an independent insurance agency’s efficiency. However, with more than 70 systems of varying levels of sophistication on the market, choosing one can be daunting.
The biggest names in agency management systems are owned by large conglomerates. One of the two most widely used systems is owned by a company valued at $46 billion. The other is partly owned by another larger tech conglomerate. While there are advantages to having that kind of backing, in general large corporations are less nimble than their smaller competitors.
As Chalmers Brown of payment processing software firm Due wrote, “Smaller businesses don’t have to clear every microscopic dot through multiple departments.” In addition, the smaller competitors can offer the latest technology and do everything a small agency may need, while the bigger systems are set up for very larger agencies. For example, the larger agency management system may break things down by branch and a number of other functions to meet the needs of a multiple location agency. This would be of no use to a small agency and this is why these larger system may be an unnecessary additional expense for the small or even midsize agency.
There is also the issue of cost. A small agency needs a good management system as much as does a large one, but it has fewer resources. Implementing a new system involves startup costs, possibly data migration costs, monthly subscription fees, licensing costs, and more. Startup costs alone can run up to $5,000, with monthly fees of up to $600. The bigger names command prices at the high end, while their less well known competitors may be relatively inexpensive for smaller agencies. A customer of one of these systems said, “We were able to cut our management system costs in half, and increase the speed at which we operate.”
The other systems may also offer more cutting edge features. Some of the features you may find are:
● Instant premium comparison between expiring and renewal policies
● Automated reports on key performance indicators such as retention and closing ratios by line of business, carrier and producer
● Integrated text messaging
● Automated notifications of clients needing immediate attention
● Submissions generators
● Speech-to-text note conversion
Ease of data conversion and technical support are major considerations. A user of one of the smaller systems reported that he spent less than 10 hours on the data conversion of a $3 million paperless agency.
Here are examples of features some of these systems have added this year.
EZLynx. A revamped customer self-service online portal is a major addition to the EZLynx system. “Insureds can access policies, submit change requests, view their ID Cards and generate certificates from anywhere — even on the side of the road,” says Director of Product Management Brenna Johnson. EZLynx Virtual Agent, nicknamed Eva, integrates with their text messaging service to automate responses to common customer requests and schedule follow-up tasks for staff. A virtual marketplace, EZLynx Connect, helps agencies to access vendors that can improve their workflows.
HawkSoft. HawkSoft is also integrating with third party vendors, with 10 vendors live, 12 more planned for the coming months, and another 40 under review for the future. They’ve also added text messaging that complies with federal regulations, self-service for clients who need certificates of insurance, and a browser-based agency portal that gives producers access to client details, coverages and policy information from anywhere. An extension that can be added on to the Google Chrome browser is planned for later this year, and a fully web-based version of the system is planned for 2021.
ITC. ITC’s browser-based Agency Matrix system offers integrated communication tools such as phone, texting and email; a new premium finance center; a time clock for tracking employee hours; integration with TurboRater, their comparative rating system; and one-page views of customer records. Optional features include Speech-to-Text Notes and Tasks and Texting.
The good news for agencies is that a good system is available for every level of need and budget. With so many good systems competing with each other on features and price, the winners are the agencies who use them.