The Madness of Paper Checks & Insurance Payments

The Madness of Paper Checks & Insurance Payments

I’ve always loved a good analogy, as it makes concepts concrete and relatable.  With March Madness underway I couldn’t help but turn to that annual phenomenon — the office pool — to help put what we do here at ePayPolicy into perspective.

With an estimated $9 billion bet on these games, participation obviously starts with an entry fee. Now I’ve been in pools with hundreds of people and in pools with only 10 people. Regardless of the pool size, the rules are simple now: digital payments only. Why? It’s only logical. Digital payment is instantaneous and it makes the pool easier to manage.

Using tech to provide simplicity

Imagine you’re the office pool  commissioner. Imagine trying to work with a steady line of people dropping off checks and cash throughout the day. In addition to creating, distributing, collecting and scoring the bracket sheets, you’ve added a whole other layer of headache to contend with: money. It takes time  for you to endorse and deposit and make sure those checks clear before you officially accept the payer into the pool. That causes a time delay neither of you can afford. Oh yes, and don’t forget about dealing with those people who inevitably wait till the last minute to pay their fee before tip off. What if their check bounces? Do you bounce them out of the pool, too?

Paying by check for a March Madness pool just slows the action to a crawl. Meanwhile, the games are scheduled and the Big Dance is in full swing. People are on high alert, boning up on stats and itching to make their picks. They  don’t want to have to remember to cut a check (like, who keeps their checkbook with them at work in the first place?), sign it and drop it off at your desk. If you’re not there, they have to follow up to make sure you got the check.

Old methods work but are they the best option?

And even paying by cash is a drag. Having the exact entry fee in cash is not impossible, but it’s pretty rare for people to walk around with that kind of green in their wallet.  In these days of credit cards and Apple Pay, you’re basically requiring participants to go the ATM. An added step for them.

And what if someone forgets (several days in a row) or is traveling and can’t get you a physical payment in  time? You either have to cover their fee initially or not allow them to participate. If you choose the latter, that’s a smaller pool and a smaller payout to the winners.

You can quickly see how cash or check payments can make your commissioner job much harder  than it needs to be. And the added pressure on everyone to pay in an an inconvenient way creates a barrier to participation. Here you are, inviting them to the biggest sports betting event of the year, but making it harder instead of easier to get their bracket in.

Where ePayPolicy’s digital payment service fits in

Now here comes the analogy part. In this scenario the office pool commissioner is you, a busy insurance agent or broker. The  participants are your clients. You have something they want. They’re ready and eager to pay to play. So why are you putting up barriers? Because that’s exactly what’s happening when the only methods of payment you accept from  your clients is a check or cash.

Now here’s the thing. Yours may be  the only March Madness pool in the office. But out here in the business world, your clients have their choice of insurance agents and brokers.  Paying by check is as much of a time-wasting hassle for them as it is for you. Your clients are used to paying for virtually everything else in their lives electronically.

Moral of the story? If you want to make it as easy for your clients to pay their premiums as it is to buy into the office pool, give us a call at ePayPolicy.  We guarantee they’ll be excited about doing business with you — long after their March Madness bracket has busted.

Virtual checks and desire to fight change

Virtual checks and desire to fight change

It’s funny how much we all fight change. It’s a normal human tendency. But there’s one instance I run across recently that illustrates that clearer than ever – the use of virtual checks.

Follow me on this one…

As a preferred payment method, paper checks hit their peak in 1995 (22 years ago at the time of this writing). As of 2013, a report by the Federal Reserve listed paper checks as the payment method of choice by only 3% of the American population. Meanwhile, there are several European countries that have completely eliminated paper checks.

I’m sure none of this comes as a surprise. Think about the last time you were asked to write a check. I bet your response was “But, but – can I pay you online?”

It was out of that desire to pay electronically that the virtual check was born. With a virtual check your clients no longer need to write a check; they simply fill out an online form and…ahem…you print the check.

Hold on a second.

If you, your clients, and 97% of America doesn’t want to pay by check, why offer a solution to your clients to “pay online” just so you can print a check to run to the bank? I thought we were trying to get rid of those things.

It’s not all bad. Checks are a cheap option to accept a payment if you only look at the hard costs.
But think about the drawbacks including the fact that someone in your office has to manually handle these payments. Not to mention that you open up your office to security risks by physically handling routing and account numbers.

Is it worth the E&O exposure and manual effort to save a few bucks a year?

There is a better way. There is a way to end the paper check for good. By taking payments online, your clients enter in their banking information in a secure form, ePayPolicy processes the payment, and the funds arrive in your account without one iota of manual intervention. And if that payment bounces, our system will notify you and your client automatically.

It’s like magic.

So come join the revolution and make payments easier for your customer AND your agency. Because we think that your customer shouldn’t be the only one that wins with online payments.