Technology that just makes sense

Technology that just makes sense

Premium finance companies are already familiar with FinancePro. It’s a powerful, web-based solution that helps with loan management, carrier and rate tables. What takes it to the next level is its easy integration within the Vertafore agency management ecosystem.

If you’re serious about growing your agency or premium finance business, then we encourage you to become familiar with Vertafore. Here’s a link to a demo page that’s loaded with content. One huge benefit of using ePayPolicy, Vertafore, or even FinancePro is that they are all web-based solutions. There’s no software to install. That just makes sense. These are intuitive new technology solutions for the insurance industry.

As many of you know, FinancePro simplifies premium finance loan management and agent quoting. It gives you all the tools you need to manage your business, accept one—the ability to accept online payments. Until now you could only manage reports, notices, payment processing, quoting and account status, and compliance in all 50 states.

ePayPolicy and FinancePro integration provides seamless payment processing within Vertafore’s web-based platform. That’s two powerful tools to move your premium finance company to another level. Already a FinancePro user? We’re ready to help you marry these two powerful financial tools. Contact us to find out how.

Payments On the Fly

Payments On the Fly
It’s 4.45pm on a Friday and one of your insured’s renewal is due today.  How do you collect a down payment to bind coverage?  In this all-to-familiar scenario, it’s virtually impossible to renew this client before the weekend arrives.  You have 15 minutes until the close of business and the short list of options available are:  a hand-delivered paper check, wired funds from a bank, or a faxed check.  All are limited in making it on time and are very labor intensive.

Delivery of a paper check is limited by the traffic, finding the check book, and having the right personnel handy to sign it.  If your client is in another state, forget about it.  Wired funds are tough to accommodate too.  Most banks’ deadlines are either 3pm or 4pm and they’re expensive.  On top of the $25 wiring fee, there has to be a bank representative available to execute the wire.  A faxed check requires the agent or recipient has to convert this into a paper check for deposit.  Again it’s very labor intensive and there’s more important tasks personnel can be doing. The faxed check also invites a layer of liability into your office.  The sensitive client data, account and routing numbers, are exposed.

Now before you go into your weekend with a high level of anxiety of a possible claim happening without a bound renewal, consider this.  ePayPolicy can facilitate this payment with a couple clicks of a mouse or a swipe of a smartphone.  How does your insured do this?  It’s easy.  Just email them your payment page and they can upload either a credit card or eCheck payment.  Here’s our demo payment page.   Once they make payment and hit ‘Send’ all parties instantly have an e-receipt emailed to them.  Your online dashboard will also reflect this incoming payment too.  Crisis averted!

In our society today, mobile and online payments are key.  Some of our clients took this a step further by adding our ‘PayNow’ button to their homepage.  Winstar Insurance in Austin, TX is one example.  The ePayPolicy ‘PayNow’ button is downloadable for free at the bottom of our homepage.  Call us for more details on how we can speed up your receivables and make your weekend more relaxing.

Just The Way You Like It

Just The Way You Like It

No two smartphone are set up exactly the same – the widget and app choices are countless.  Today there are over 2.2 million Android apps and over 2 million Apple apps available for download.  According to Nielson, on average, smartphone users access 26 apps per month.  The customization of apps around our lifestyle, activities, interests, etc. demands the need for a crazy level of customization.  Is it a little too much?  That’s in the eye of the beholder.

Payment processing has not reached the fever pitch of customization like apps, but the demand is percolating.  So what could be customized in payment processing?  The information collected during the payment process is the biggie.  Logos, branding, and messaging are very important; however, client id, phone number, uploaded attachments, unique language, and payer’s state are vital to tracking and reconciling payments.  Just ask any office manager or controller.  And the best part is that all of the inputted data ports directly into the online dashboard.  Can you recall this information at a later time?  You bet!

ePayPolicy payment pages now offer this level of customization.  The standard payment (see demo here) page is only $20 per month.  If you want customized fields, it’s only $40 per month.  And we don’t limit you to any amount of fields.  Reach out to us to learn more about what payment page options work best for you.  And I promise we won’t overwhelm you with 2 million choices.  All the best, Your ePayPolicy Team.

The Rise of e-Payments and the Paper Check Decline

Checks cause a number of problems and we’ve experienced all of them at one point in time.  Slow-pays, made out to the wrong entity, not signed, checks that are never sent, or even fingers pointed at the USPS.   Checks are just excuses to never mail it… the reasons goes on and on.  And we’ve lived with those problems for years, all the while making company policies and rules on how to handle these problem payments.  And to create and implement such internal rules and regulations sucks a ton of human and financial resources to do so.  But checks weren’t all bad.  For many years there were only two ways to send a large sum of money – bodyguards with kevlar carrying your funds in a briefcase or a written check sent with the pony express.

But today is a different story.

The internet is the disruptor to paper checks. Based on research from The 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study on payment trends among Americans, it found that the number of paper checks Americans have written since 2000 has declined by more than 50 percent, while electronic and card payments have tripled over the same time frame. That trajectory won’t slow down anytime soon.

So what’s the future? eChecks and credit card payments will dominate the immediate future for payments. Most millennials have never experienced the woes of the paper check and I don’t blame them; I wouldn’t buy them either.  Sell a millennial anything and they’ll ask to use their debit or credit card. How many reward credit cards do you own? I have two in my pocket and I love it when I can rack up points for any purchase.

Checks are on life support and will likely give up the ghost someday soon. If the millennials have anything to say about it, they would’ve pull the plug yesterday and I would applaud that!

Tips: Take your agency to the next level

Tips: Take your agency to the next level

Sometimes those of us in the insurance industry struggle to embrace new technology. Gone are the days of software installation, complicated licensing, and time-consuming training sessions. Using web-based applications to take your agency to the next level is how we separate ourselves from the competition.

We will be leading a valuable breakout session–Game Changers–at the IIAT Small Agency Conference in San Marcos on Monday, Sept. 19th at 9:30 am. Let’s turbocharge your agency toolkit so you can leverage ePayPolicy to grow and retain business.

Come find out how easy it is to implement technology changes at your company without an IT department.

We look forward to seeing you in San Marcos where we will answer your most challenging questions about accepting electronic payments by ACH or credit card online, 24/7.

Speed up your ACH Payments

Faster Than a Speeding ACH

Usain Bolt is fast and his stunning performances at his third Olympics proved it. Fiber optic internet is really fast too and once you’ve tried it, there’s no going back. My six year old son so is fast I can’t catch him. ACH or eCheck payments…well, they’re slower than molasses uphill in the winter compared to any electronic payment contemporary. And they’ve proven that since their origination in 1974. But, as Dylan said, “the times they are a chang’n.”

How does same day ACH (eCheck) delivery of funds sound? Exactly, it’s awesome! Currently, it’s on the immediate horizon and it’s exciting to all banks and credit unions nationwide. Here’s the roll-out plan. Phase one of the Same Day ACH initiative goes live on Sept. 23. It will be for credit transactions only.  This will include three daily settlement windows five days per week. Debit transactions will follow suit in phase two in 2017. Individual and business transactions will improve in efficiency literally overnight. Both phases will affect all 14,000 plus banks in the US on day one.
This is huge for the insurance industry when most renewals come down to the last minute to bind coverage. 70% of all electronic payments are ACH’d funds. The faster these receivables can be delivered the more insureds are bound at the time of renewal without risk of lapse of coverage or heaven-forbid a claim over the weekend.

ePayPolicy has it’s eyes set on adopting this technology asap. As soon as payment processors are green-lighted for this technology, we’ll be the first in line to adopt, implement, and roll-out to our clients.

And I promise you this. It will be faster than my darting six year old with an Oreo cookie!

Leverage ePayPolicy for faster receivables

Leverage ePayPolicy for faster receivables

There are a handful of ways you can put this powerful tool to use for your business today.

Get the word out

  1. Place your ePayPolicy link on all your invoices
  2. Add your ePayPolicy link to your company’s email footers
  3. Add a Pay Now button to your corporate website (Download icons)
  4. Send an email to your current customers announcing this exciting new payment option

Don’t forget your team
One of the best ways to implement ePayPolicy at your company is to add your team to application. The platform gives you entire organization the ability to track payments. Getting your team excited about the many benefits of ePayPolicy will only serve to help engage your customers.

Top 3 reasons to stop accepting checks

Top 3 reasons to stop accepting checks

Checks became common practice in the late 17th century and have somehow survived hundreds of years of financial evolution, but that run could be coming to an end. We’ve come up with three reasons why you should shift to digital payment solutions. 

Consumers use checks, because we’ve always used checks. We often overlook the numbers of steps it takes to pay a bill by check. From finding the checkbook to finding stamps, envelopes the mailing address, to the outgoing mail box. When a consumer starts paying with electronic checks or credit cards they never turn back.

Long Wait Time
Merchants that receive payments by check get paid slower. Whereas credit card payments are processed and hit a business bank account in one to three days, the average time it takes to receive and process a check is 15 days. If you want to speed up your receivables, stop taking checks.

Checks Bounce
Credit card payments are denied immediately, but checks can bounce. Not only does this lead to longer wait times (see above), the resulting fees and administrative time needed to track down payments costs businesses valuable resources. 

We know that many businesses can’t stop taking checks, but offering digital payment alternatives is a step in the right direction. Migrate customers to digital payment solutions and you’ll be glad you did.

Sign up in five minutes. With ePayPolicy you’ll start accepting payments online in under 24 hours. Learn more…

3 reasons why every independent insurance agency should accept payments online

3 reasons why every independent insurance agency should accept payments online
Online payments have been on a meteoric rise since…well…a long time. And just about every major industry accepts credit card payments online except insurance. If you talk to any producer, they’ll tell you exactly why – they don’t want to lose a dime out of their commission; including a transaction fee to Visa, MasterCard, Amex or any of the other card brands.

But did you know that it’s possible to pass on the credit card fee to your insureds?

Even though some states regulate these fees, what’s commonly referred to as a surcharge, there are still ways to make it legally work.

Now that we got a reason NOT to accept online payments out of the way, let’s cover why you SHOULD.

Reason #1: You Bind Policies Faster

Have you ever had a client tell you that the check is in the mail only for you to wait a week and not have it arrive? That’s right, you’re getting slow paid. Or maybe not paid at all.

But take yourself back to the moment when you were standing in his office. What if you could pull out your phone and accept a payment right there via check or credit card? Just think of it. No special software. No fancy dongle. It’s as simple as punching in a few numbers and clicking a button.

Just like that you’ve captured a payment and you can bind the policy. You’ve done the hard work in getting the quote together, why stumble on capturing the payment? After all, that’s supposed to be the easy part.

Reason #2: No More Paper Checks

Most of the time when online payments are discussed credit cards come to mind, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For insurance agencies, it’s incredibly important to be able to accept checks online. In fact, our clients typically run 3 times more eChecks than credit cards. That makes sense given the fact that the fees for processing eCheck transactions are MUCH lower than credit card transactions.

And when your insured has cash in the bank and he is footing the bill on the transaction fee, which one do you think they’ll choose – $3 for a eCheck transaction or a percentage for a credit card transaction?

Let’s not forget a major benefit to your agency. The current process of handling a paper check is cumbersome at best. Once the check finally arrives you have to open that envelope, scan the check, and upload or drive it to the bank.

Even if you valued every employee’s time at a flat $15 an hour, what does it cost your agency to process checks? And how much would it save your agency if you could process a check payment online without scanners or faxes?

So say good-bye to paper checks and let your insured pay online via eCheck. It’s just easier.

Reason #3: Your Insureds Will Thank You

Now think of what it’s like in their shoes. Imagine you’re a business owner and your wonderful insurance agent calls to remind you that your payment is due and if payment is not remitted immediately, the policy will expire. So, naturally you ask how you can quickly make the payment. That’s when your agent asks you to write a check and drive it across town in rush hour traffic.
Let that sink in.

In an age where every business is trying to find simple technologies to make it easier for their customers, wouldn’t it make sense to let insureds pay from their office or field or home? Trust me, your insureds will love you for giving them the option.

The role of stamping offices in surplus lines insurance

The role of stamping offices in surplus lines insurance

For many businesses, the concept of surplus lines insurance can be complex and confusing. The role of stamping offices in this industry can be even more difficult to navigate. Among the most important recent changes in surplus lines insurance is the creation of stamping offices. Such offices serve as a voluntary partnership between state regulators and the surplus lines insurance industry.

The role of these offices is to facilitate consistency and encourage compliance even though the surplus lines insurance industry exists outside the typical regulatory structure. While stamping offices might seem like a new concept, the idea actually dates back to the 1930s when the first surplus lines association was formed in California. Along with educating the public regarding this insurance market, stamping offices offer help to buyers and assist in evaluating the eligibility of surplus companies.

There has been some debate regarding the importance of the role that stamping offices play in regards to the regulation of the surplus lines insurance industry. Stamping offices certainly make it easier for consumers to locate eligible carriers. Additionally, stamping officers allow for a much smoother flow of information between licensed surplus lines brokers and the insurance office. In an industry that can be quite complex, communication can be essential. Furthermore, stamping offices assist surplus brokers with making certain they comply with local stamping requirements.
All surplus lines policies are required to be stamped. This means that the policy is stamped to clearly indicate that the policy is, in fact, a surplus lines policy rather than a regular insurance policy, which would be subject to state regulations.

Requirements may vary from one state to another, but agents are typically required to submit a copy of every surplus lines insurance policy sold to their state stamping office. That office will then be responsible for reviewing the policy to make certain it was placed properly with an eligible surplus lines insurer.

The consequences for failing to submit the policy to the state stamping office may vary. In most states, compliance in regards to the stamping office is strict and significant penalties may be incurred should a broker fail to comply.

While surplus lines carriers remain relatively free from regulation on a state level, particularly in regards to rates, this does not mean that they are completely free from all regulation. Surplus lines carriers are still able to act as free agents while responding to the coverage needs of consumers and changing market conditions, but adherence to stamping office regulations and requirements is necessary in many states.