The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America: BIG I Client Spotlight

Customer Spotlight:

The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America

Executive Summary: 

The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America is a national alliance of more than a quarter million business owners and their employees who offer all types of insurance and financial services products.

The Goals: 

Reduce paper checks,  streamline payment processing and bind policies faster.

The Results:

 No one understands the importance of expediency in the insurance industry quite like accounting employees. The ability to quickly track and reconcile payments effectively speeds up receivables and bind policies faster, things that typically improve an agency’s overall bottom line. For Annette Mertz, the VP of Accounting for IIABA, the biggest issue she was experiencing before signing up with ePayPolicy was timing. “We don’t have binding authority until we receive a payment,” said Mertz. “Typically it takes anywhere between three to seven days to get a paper check in the mail, which creates issues when you’re trying to bind quickly,” she said. After IIABA signed up with ePayPolicy, a lot of those issues faded. Not only do ePayPolicy customers like IIABA receive their funds in one to two business days (up to three times as fast as a paper check), they can rest easy knowing their payment is being routed to the correct place.


“ePayPolicy is one of those products that is so easy you expect it to be more complicated but it’s not. You have to pinch yourself to realize there’s really a product like this.” – Annette Mertz,  VP of Accounting, IIABA

There are a lot of potential errors with manually sending in a payment, for instance, sending a check to the wrong address or issuing it to the wrong person. “These things are eliminated now that we use ePayPolicy,” said Mertz. The ease of using ePayPolicy as one of the payment processor’s biggest draws. By focusing strictly on the insurance space, ePayPolicy is able to keep its product and services incredibly simple and straightforward. And for insurance professionals like Mertz, simple is King. “ePayPolicy makes day to day operations incredibly easy,” said Mertz. “You know right away if customers make a payment and we’re getting receivables much faster. We don’t have to wait on paper checks anymore.”


Higginbotham Insurance Makes The Switch To Digital Payments

ePayPolicy Case Study: Higginbotham Insurance

Executive Summary
Tony Haas, Controller at Higginbotham Insurance, noticed that customers were frequently asking for electronic payment options to pay their insurance policies. While Higginbotham did accept credit cards, it did not offer the choice to pay via ACH. Haas began searching for a more robust processor and finally stumbled upon ePayPolicy. Signing up, he said, was a must.

“We were getting requests from clients to pay electronically, and after seeing ePayPolicy’s demo, the ACH solution was a much better solution than a wire solution,” said Haas. “A client could either set up a wire account and send money to us, or they could just pull up ePayPolicy and pay us right there. It’s a much easier process,” he said.
“The simplicity of it made it a no-brainer.”

The Goals
Offer clients electronic payments
Integrate with management system, Sagitta
Speed up receivables
Bind policy faster
Streamline reconciliation process

The Results
ePayPolicy Co-Founder Todd Sorrel met Hass for the first time at NetVU 2017, and shortly after, the Higginbotham payment page was live.

After Higginbotham was up and running, it was immediately able to offer clients the option to make electronic payments. Now, the insurance company is able to accept both credit cards and ACH, with payments seamlessly integrating into its management system Sagitta (powered by Vertafore). The technology has allowed them to bind business much faster.

“As soon as customers make payments, we’re getting email notifications to let us know that a transaction is in process,” said Haas. “We can bind things immediately and move onto the next project, instead of waiting a few days.”

Haas said the processor has cut down the reconciliation process by two business days and that ePayPolicy & its ability to integrate with Sagitta has streamlined Higginbotham’s overall process.


“Anytime you can do electronic payments, versus sending an actual check, it makes the whole process easier,” said Hass. “Handling checks is old school.”

The Extras – Hig Helps Page
After Hurricane Harvey tore through Houston last year, Higginbotham reached out to ePayPolicy for help in setting up a donation page for those affected by the storm. Harvey had completely devastated the homes of several Higginbotham team members, and the organization wanted a way to help them through the rebuilding process.

“It was fantastic what ePayPolicy did to help us get that page up and running. We raised about $150,000,” said Haas. “It was a big help to get money and help out to our employees that were hurting.”


Higginbotham Insurance offers risk management and financial services, providing access to commercial and personal property/casualty coverage, employee benefits, retirement plans, life insurance, and executive compensation plans through more than 250 regional and national carriers. As of 2017, the company is ranked #18 on Insurance Journal’s annual list of Top 100 Property / Casualty Agencies. There are over 25 Higginbotham offices in the state of Texas.

Paradiso Insurance, a Yardstick of Quality

The value of good marketing cannot be overstated. If your marketing plan isn’t working (or worse, if you have no marketing plan at all), your organization won’t last long.

You can count on that.

The Internet and social media have made marketing more accessible. But they’ve also created a massive cloud of competition and a hailstorm of noise.

We live in a world of sensory overload. Every company is fighting for consumer attention. With millions of organizations vying for eyes and business 24/7, how do you make yourself stand out?
“Be a yardstick of quality.”

The advice comes from someone who knows a thing or two about marketing, the iconic CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs.

When I think about the insurance space and who makes a good “yardstick” of quality, one name in particular stands out – Chris Paradiso.

Paradiso started his own insurance business in 1998 with just three employees. Today there are over 15 team members and counting, and Paradiso has grown his company and brand into an insurance powerhouse.

Paradiso Presents, LLC is at the forefront of that powerhouse. It began as an endeavor Chris started in order to “teach small agencies how to survive in today’s complex online marketing world.” Since the LLC’s inception, it has grown into one of the most reputable resources for small agency survival.

One facet of Paradiso Presents is the popular industry magazine Be the Last Agent Standing. The publication is one of those tools that belongs in any agency’s survival kit. New and experienced insurance professionals alike will benefit from Last Agent. Readers can expect insight like marketing tips, tricks, and tools designed specifically to help insurance folks grow their business.
Everything from building a brand to search engine optimization to Google Analytics is discussed. Nothing is off the table. Nothing is overlooked. With so much information on the Interwebs these days, it’s difficult to sift through what’s valuable and what’s just fluff. Fortunately, Last Agent is chalk full of rich, valuable, pearls of wisdom from the man himself.

“What Chris does with Paradiso Presents and Last Agent is truly a testament to how well he knows the insurance landscape,” said Milan Malkani, my partner and fellow ePayPolicy co-founder.
“He’s been in this business a long time and still finds all these ways to keep things fresh and fun and current. I think a lot of agencies can learn from him.”


Digital marketing is undoubtedly a frontier that is overwhelming for many. There are a lot of new tricks to learn and insurance is an old business. One that has historically used more “traditional” methods.

For example, using print ads (instead of digital ones), and paper checks (instead of electronic payment processors). However, insurance has gradually been shifting towards a more tech-based industry. And while some are happy with this shift, many are not.

Luckily, there are organizations like Chris Paradiso’s that are dedicated to helping those who do feel overwhelmed. The goal is to elevate the industry and level the playing field. With Paradiso, even the little guys and underdogs have a fighting chance.

What the magazine represents is so much more than articles printed on paper. Be the Last Agent Standing is an integral part of a larger puzzle — a good marketing foundation for budding insurance agencies.

“Any agency worth their salt will pick up Chris’ magazine,” said Malkani. “Everyone can learn something from Last Agent.”