Optimizing Your Agency Tech Stack For Your New Remote Workforce

There’s one lesson we’ll all take away from the coronavirus pandemic: remote work is here to stay. It’s a viable and even preferable way of conducting business. Why? Because it expands our productivity outside the physical office. Even with your agents and staff engaging from home during this time, your operations didn’t grind to a halt. 

Going forward, it makes smart business sense to plan for more, not less remote work. With or without social distancing, there are many good reasons to enable remote work. For example, team members inevitably get stuck at home with a sick child or spouse. Rather than lose those work days (or weeks), why not let them access their office files and bind policies using auto-sign? Why shouldn’t agents Zoom into meetings or launch an email campaign from their hotel room or backyard? 

Tools for Remote Success

The key to a successful remote agency is having the right tools that let your team work from anywhere. Note these same tools improve team productivity inside the agency, too.

When we say the “right tools” we mean InsurTech solutions because remote work is by nature technology-driven.You simply can’t support a remote staff with manual procedures or low-tech half measures. In fact, you could end up causing more harm than good. 

Ramping Up to Remote: Where does your agency stand?
We’re here to help you plan your strategy and move into full remote agency mode. Let’s start by looking at what technologies your peers are using now by analyzing data from the InsurTech Award. We’ve extracted some key findings from the application survey related to “remote work readiness.” 

 

Using Technology to Improve Organizational Efficiency

Almost one-quarter of agencies identified team/company organization as the top problem they want to address with technology. Specifically, respondents cited project and task management as the top concern in this area, followed by team communication. 

Task and Project Management
We found mixed adoption rates for keeping track of company tasks and projects. Almost three-quarters of respondents are using calendar tools (Google Calendar, Outlook). Yet only 22% use task management tools like Trello or Asana. Not everyone is good at prioritizing or managing their to-dos, and the potential for missed meetings, deadlines and business increases with remote work. We can tell you from our own experience: project management software makes a huge difference. ePayPolicy was already using Trello when the pandemic hit, and our team members were grateful as they began to work from home.

Instant Messaging
Instant messaging is another “must-have” to keep remote workers connected. Our survey found mixed results in this area. The majority (63%) are using instant messaging. However, 17% said it “doesn’t work” or “it’s not used often.” What’s the point of having a tool that you can’t or don’t use? If you are not already one of the 63%, you owe it to your team (and your business) to migrate to instant messaging. Trust us, it’s faster and more accurate than searching through email threads.

Virtual Meetings
The ability to meet with team members virtually is a pillar of today’s remote agencies. 

And now that we’re all pro “Zoomers,” it’s hard to imagine going back to all in-person meetings or conference calls without video. We found that only 12% of agencies polled are not using virtual meeting tools like GoToMeeting, Zoom or Google Hangouts. Over half said they use virtual meetings often, and 22% said they started using them due to the coronavirus situation. During this time, personal use has skyrocketed, as people seek to connect safely with family and friends. So there should be little to no learning curve for using virtual meetings for agency business. 

Next Steps for Your Independent Agency

We share this information for only one reason: to help you focus, prioritize and equip your team for ongoing remote work—or to take your agency to the next level of virtual teamwork.

Which technologies are you using now, and which areas offer the biggest opportunities for a seamless remote team? Note that 75% of respondents told us they’ve increased their budget for technology solutions since the beginning of 2020. Technology is an investment that helps teams work smarter—wherever they’re working!
The  2020 InsurTech Award is still accepting entries. Check out the judging criteria, submit your application and get a customized report of your agency’s tech adoption progress. You may even win a grand prize worth over $7,500!

Automating Your Agency Management

Article 6 in a 6-part series

Agency Management is the last InsurTech category in our six-part series. We hope you have enjoyed learning about the strategies for investing in InsurTech and are getting ready to enter the 2020 InsurTech Award.

WHAT IS AGENCY MANAGEMENT?
An insurance agency management system (AMS) organizes all aspects of your agency’s book of business and increases operational efficiency. AMS automates the back office, carrier-facing and client-facing functions that agencies need to succeed.  

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO USE THESE TOOLS
As independent insurance agencies embrace InsurTech solutions, it makes sense to start with the most primary functions first. AMS typically perform insurance-specific functions that drive and support sales. These include:

— Policy management
— Claims management
— Payment processing
— Accounting
— Commissions
— Invoicing 

Once you get comfortable with your AMS, you can integrate function-specific apps and portals to manage allied functions such as team collaboration, customer support, payment processing, and more.  

As one AMS provider explains it, “Your AMS is the best employee you’ll ever hire.” This star “employee” gets work done faster and more accurately, freeing your agents and staff for more high-ROI activities, such as interacting with clients.

AGENCY MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Following are some of the tasks you can automate. We’ve also included some solution vendors as examples. Our list is not intended to be exhaustive of all the options out there, nor does ePayPolicy endorse or prefer one vendor over another.

Automate Key Agency Functions
These multifaceted systems are designed to make agencies look good because they’re built for efficiency. AMS companies Applied Systems and Vertafore are perhaps the most widely  known AMS solution providers. Both offer a variety of system options and features. Innovators like Hawksoft, Veruna, and NowCerts are carving out their own niches and earning accolades, as they build in more functionality and run on popular platforms like Salesforce.

Integrations
An AMS provides a central hub for specialized integration tools that increase sales and marketing, team collaboration, client support, and engagement with both clients and carriers. As you explore which capabilities you want to add to your technology stack (e.g., sales, chatbox, CRM, payment processing) start with your existing AMS provider or the provider(s) you’re evaluating. Different agency management systems integrate with particular vendors’ apps, and they’re usually featured on the AMS company’s website. That’s your assurance that:

— You’re seeing a pre-vetted list of preferred integrations partners
— The partner vendors listed will easily integrate with their AMS

THINKING AHEAD
The right AMS for your agency is out there, whether you write P&C or life and health policies, are large or small, InsurTech-savvy or just starting your automation journey. Agency Management Systems are foundational, customizable, and easy to set up and use. With or without any add-on to automation tools, the AMS enables your whole team to work smarter, not harder. 

WHERE DOES YOUR AGENCY STAND?
Find out! ePayPolicy’s annual 2020 InsurTech Award is now open for entries. Top scorers will get cash and other awesome prizes. All entrants receive their InsurTech adoption score, along with valuable feedback. Enter today and find out how your agency stacks up against others (and how you’ve improved over time, if you’ve entered before). Judges even offer tips on specific ways to leverage automation for:

 1. Sales
 2. Marketing
 3. Team Collaboration
 4. Client Experience
 5. Customer Support
 6. Agency Management Systems

Our 6-part series covers all of these InsurTech solution categories. We invite you to explore them all.

Automating Your Customer Support

Article 5 in a 6-part series

Customer support automation is one of six primary categories we recommend independent insurance agencies invest in to build out their InsurTech strategy in 2020.

What is Customer Support?

Customer support tools engage clients and prospects through virtual assistance, enhanced personal interaction and multi-channel communication.

Why It’s Important to Use These Tools

Insurance is a service business. You want to help prospects and clients efficiently, while not burdening your staff needlessly.  Enter, automated customer support (ACX). ACX tools do two important things:

  1. They facilitate client communication, AND
  2. Allow you to help prospects and clients at scale without increasing staff count.

The New Model of Customer Support

Gone are the days when client support meant fielding calls or in-person visits during business hours. Clients have questions at all hours and expect instant answers. They access your agency via your website, text, mobile phone, even social media.
Today, customer support means engaging with your clients when, where and how they choose. The results are happier, empowered clients and happier, less stressed agents and staff.

Customer Support Tools

Here are some of the major work tasks you can automate. We’ve included representative solutions vendors as well. These are just examples. Our list is not intended to be exhaustive of all the options out there, nor does ePayPolicy endorse or prefer one vendor over another.

Live Chat 
Live chat is like having a fully staffed customer service department. One live chat agent can handle multiple inquiries, while other employees attend to other business. And research shows customers are more satisfied with live chat than phone or email support. Companies like Zendesk,  Podium,  and Intercom help your agency:

— Engage people via websites, mobile, or social media — even before they ask a question
— Build credibility and trust with clients and prospects through personalized and non-intrusive interaction
— Track who’s using the service and how, including who’s asking to chat with “Sales” or “Support”

Self-Service
Save staff from answering the same questions over and over. A good first step is to add a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to your website. FAQs:
— Encourage prospects and clients to find their own answers
— Cut down on the number of inquiries staff must handle

AI-powered chatbots are also a useful tool for self-service customer support. Chatbots use sophisticated natural language processing to simulate a human interaction. Vendors such as ChatBot, LivePerson, ada, and Bold360 make it easy to:
— Tailor a ready-to-go bot template to industry-specific use cases
— Assure that each inquiry triggers the right bot response
— Engage your visitors with a seamless, conversational experience

Phone Service
Today’s virtual (internet-based) platforms bring multiple communication channels together. VoIp phone service providers such as RingCentral, Grasshopper, Nextiva, and Ooma amp up your business interactions. You and your staff can present a consistent business brand as you:
— Conduct business via phone call, text message, or high-quality video session
— Serve clients with greater ease and reliability
— Do it all from your preferred device, anywhere you happen to be

Thinking Ahead

Your clients are quickly becoming used to automated support from other vendors and service providers. Adopting customer support solutions such as Live Chat, Self-Service and VoIP Phone Service shows clients you’re modern, highly responsive, and communication savvy for their convenience.

Where Does Your Agency Stand?

Find out! The InsurTech Award presented by ePayPolicy is now open for entries. Top scorers will get cash and other awesome prizes. All entrants receive their InsurTech adoption score, along with valuable feedback. Enter today and find out how your agency stacks up against others (and how you’ve improved over time, if you’ve entered before). Judges even offer tips on specific ways to leverage automation for:

1. Sales
2. Marketing
3. Team Collaboration
4. Client Experience
5. Customer Support
6. Agency Management Systems

Our 6-part series covers all of these InsurTech solution categories. We invite you to explore them all.

Automating the Client Experience

Article 4 in a 6-part series

Client Experience is one of six primary categories we recommend independent insurance agencies invest in to build out their InsurTech strategy in 2020.

What Is Client Experience?

Client experience is anything that gives your clients ease and comfort when doing business with you. 

Why It’s Important to Use These Tools

You’ve worked hard to build an agency your clients trust.  But in today’s digital world, more business is conducted virtually for buyer convenience. This presents opportunities for you to “up your game” and delight clients in new, tech-enhanced ways. 

The Importance of Client Experience

The agent/client relationship can never be replaced. However, today that relationship extends beyond personal interactions. It encompasses every single touchpoint a prospect or client has with your agency.
InsurTech both guides and reflects this trend. Technology that supports responsive service and puts clients at ease is a good thing. It also gives you greater control of your brand. 

Client Experience Automation Tools

Here are some of the major work tasks you can automate, and we’ve included representative solutions vendors as well. These are just examples. Our list is not intended to be exhaustive of all the options out there, nor does ePayPolicy endorse or prefer one vendor over another.*

Payment Gateways 

Today’s shoppers expect convenient, cashless payment options.  Most payment gateways, PayPal and Apple Pay, for example, are industry agnostic. These services let consumers:
 – Make purchases via mobile device or computer
 – Be assured of payment security
 – Send or receive money instantly
 Other portals (e.g., ePayPolicy)* are designed specifically for the insurance industry. They:
 – Offer check-free payment convenience while speeding up agency receivables
 – Handle the unique fiduciary and compliance requirements of the insurance industry
 – Integrate into your Account Management System

Website

People access websites on computers, laptops, tablets, and phones. They use browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. You:
 – Do want to provide a seamless experience on your website across all devices
 – Don’t want anyone to have to switch devices to visit your site
Likewise, you want your website to offer fresh, accurate and useful information. Web building platforms like Wix and WordPress:
 – Let you be your own web designer (no coding needed)
 – Make updating content a breeze
 – Give you control over the user experience (UX) of your site

Data Security 

Security threats are getting more aggressive. Give everyone peace of mind that all of their PII (Personally Identifiable Information), financial records, passwords, devices and applications are safe and secure. 
McAfee, Duo Security, LastPass, and IBM Security are just a few of the powerful data security platforms you can choose to:
 – Protect your agency
 – Protect your staff
 – Protect your clients

Client Onboarding

Once you bring on a new client it’s now time to create a successful onboarding strategy. This can be anything from a dedicated landing page highlighting how to “Get Started” to setting up automated email drips to keep your new clients engaged. Remember at the end of any good onboarding strategy is the request for a review. Although this seems slightly awkward it’s the most beneficial thing a new client can offer your agency. There are services out there like Rocket Referrals that have this down to a science. Those referral platforms help you:
 – Simplify and automate client communications (e.g., personalized notes)
– Stand out online (rank higher with search engines, get more reviews)
 – Track your performance and act on client insights

Integration Portals (client-facing)

This six-part series covers both agency-facing and client-facing integration portals. These are a few examples related to Client Experience. 
Customer support integrations enhance:
 – Client communication
 – Client engagement
 – Client satisfaction
And Sales and Marketing don’t stop when you ink a contract. You have ongoing opportunities to stay connected, keep learning about your clients, and build loyalty (including client referrals).

Thinking Ahead

There are many functions that individually and collectively work to create the client experience. Whether that experience is good or bad is determined by the tech solutions you have in place. The Client Experience tools mentioned above are designed to enhance client satisfaction. Enhancing internal satisfaction is just another InsurTech bonus!

Where Does Your Agency Stand?

Find out! The InsurTech Award presented by ePayPolicy is now open for entries. Top scorers will get cash and other awesome prizes. All entrants receive their InsurTech adoption score, along with valuable feedback. Enter today and find out how your agency stacks up against others (and how you’ve improved over time, if you’ve entered before). Judges even offer tips on specific ways to leverage automation for:
 1. Sales
 2. Marketing
 3. Team Collaboration
 4. Client Experience
 5. Customer Support
 6. Agency Management Systems
Our 6-part series covers all of these InsurTech solution categories. We invite you to explore them all

Automating Your Team Collaboration

Article 3 in a 6-part series

Team Collaboration  is one of six primary categories we recommend independent insurance agencies invest in to build out their InsurTech strategy in 2020.

What Is Team Collaboration?

Technology to keep your team organized and productive, using tools that allow you to message, meet virtually, share projects, and more. It’s often billed as a subcategory under the general heading “project management software.”

Why It’s Important to Use These Tools

Collaboration is essential for agencies of any size. You cannot do your job without the cooperation of multiple parties insideand even outsidethe agency.
Team collaboration software improves speed, efficiency and accuracy of teamwork. Sure, agencies will continue to use email and in-person communication, but why not take advantage of new tools that make it even easier to work together?

The New Importance of  Virtual Work

As we have all learned from the Coronavirus crisis, virtual and remote work heightens the need for collaborative technology. Even before the current situation, the trend toward technology-enhanced teamwork was clear. With mobile technology, agents and staff can log in and perform their work remotely. Imagine how efficient and effective your entire  team could be with a full suite of collaboration tools in place! And honestly, we don’t need a crisis to make these changes; better collaboration means better business, every day. 

Team Collaboration Tools

What follows are some of the major work tasks you can automate, including some solution vendors as examples. Our list is not intended to be exhaustive of all the options out there, nor does ePayPolicy endorse or prefer one vendor over another. 

Messaging

Communication is key to working effectively with your team. If you’re primarily using email, you might encounter some challenges that tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Skype for Business could solve. These tools allow you to:
 – Save time by communicating instantly with coworkers
 – Stay harmonized by sharing files and ideas in a centralized location
 – Be in-the-know about teammates with status updates (“out for lunch,” “in a meeting,”,“at home sick”)

Virtual Work / Video Meetings

It was not uncommon to work from home prior to the pandemic. Some days it’s a necessity—maybe you have a sick child at home, or you’re waiting on a maintenance fix—but meetings still need to take place. Having tools like GoToMeeting, Zoom, or Google Hangouts can allow you to:
 – Meet with multiple people in an organized manner
 – Simplify meetings with people outside of the office
 – Share screens with participants to show current progress on projects

Task Management

You might have your own way of keeping track of individual projects, but there are situations where your whole team is working together on one project. How do you keep track of everyone’s responsibilities? Task management tools like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp help teams:
 – Keep track of projects in a centralized place
 – Send reminders to themselves as well as other team members
 – Assign tasks and create checklists to stay organized

Thinking Ahead

Having team collaboration solutions in place is vital for a flexible, cohesive and powerful team. Technology developed for Messaging, Virtual Meetings and Task Management will make your team feel connected and empowered both inside and outside the office.

Where Does Your Agency Stand?

Find out! The InsurTech Award presented by ePayPolicy is now open for entries. Top scorers will get cash and other awesome prizes. All entrants receive their InsurTech adoption score, along with valuable feedback. Enter today and find out how your agency stacks up against others (and how you’ve improved over time, if you’ve entered before). Judges even offer tips on specific ways to leverage automation for:
 1. Sales
 2. Marketing
 3. Team Collaboration
 4. Client Experience
 5. Customer Support
6. Agency Management Systems
Our 6-part series covers all of these InsurTech solution categories. We invite you to explore them all.

Automating Your Marketing & Branding

Article 2 in a 6-part series

Marketing Automation is one of six primary categories we recommend independent insurance agencies invest in to build out their InsurTech strategy in 2020.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Generate qualified leads, craft personalized buying journeys, and interact with contacts from top to bottom of the funnel with powerful marketing tools that allow your team to work smarter not harder.

Why It’s Important to Use These Tools

Marketing is critical to feeding your sales team and keeping loyal clients in the fold. But that means connecting with prospects and clients where they live— increasingly, online.

Marketing in the Digital Age

Online is where the action is—and if you’re not engaging there, your competition is.
If you are doing some digital marketing already, that’s great. Now think about what you could do even better—or finally start doing—with these labor-saving tools.

Marketing Automation Tools

Here are some of the major tasks and functions you can automate. We’ve included representative solutions vendors as well. These are just examples. Our list is not intended to be exhaustive of all the options out there, nor does ePayPolicy endorse or prefer one vendor over another.

Email Automation

Email is a versatile way to stay engaged with prospects and clients alike. But it requires time and skills you may not have on staff. Today, managing email campaigns has never been easier or more affordable, with software from  HubSpot, MailChimp and Marketo, to name a few.

Email automation tools enable you to:

– Customize templates to your brand and target campaigns by audience segment or their actions
– Schedule and deploy your campaign during prime time and track essential metrics and KPIs
– Split test different elements to continue improving your campaign outcomes

Social Media Presence

Yes! Businesses do need to be on social media. People expect to find you there. Each site has its own niche, but it’s important to have a presence on all of them:
 – LinkedIn is a professional (business) networking site
 – Twitter centers around real-time global conversations and timely trends
 – Facebook is a multifaceted social networking site with the emphasis on “social”
 – Instagram is a popular photo and video sharing site owned by Facebook
 – Pinterest is a photo sharing site dedicated to visual inspiration

Social Media Management

Your social media visibility is only as good as your last post. Luckily, Social Media Management (SMM) tools do the heavy lifting for you. SMM software from  Sprout Social, HubSpot, Hootsuite and the like allow you to:
– Schedule social posts when the right people will see them
– Save valuable time by posting for you across all the platforms
– See every interaction with your mentions – Connect with prospects and clients to grow your brand

Digital Advertising

Digital, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising complements your other online marketing (especially social). You can display brief advertisements, service offerings, video content and more on Google and social media platforms and only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Management software and platforms such as AdHawk, Google Ads, and,AdRoll can:
– Manage your digital advertising across all platforms
– Aggregate your data into one dashboard for real-time updates
– Suggest optimization tips based on viewer response

Thinking Ahead

If this seems like a lot to absorb, you can phase in these Marketing Automation Technologies at your own pace.
Email Marketing,  Social Media Presence, Social Media Management, and  Digital Advertising tools are designed to turbocharge your marketing. With their powerful analytics, you’ll see instantly how each channel is working for your agency.

Where Does Your Agency Stand?

Find out! The InsurTech Award presented by ePayPolicy is now open for entries. Top scorers will get cash and other awesome prizes. All entrants receive their InsurTech adoption score, along with valuable feedback. Enter today and find out how your agency stacks up against others (and how you’ve improved over time, if you’ve entered before). Judges even offer tips on specific ways to leverage automation for:
1. Sales
2. Marketing
3. Team Collaboration
4. Client Experience
5. Customer Support
6. Agency Management Systems

Automating Your Sales Process

Article 1 in a 6-part series

Sales automation is one of six primary categories we recommend independent insurance agencies invest in to build out their InsurTech strategy in 2020.

What Is Sales Automation?

Boost your sales by managing and utilizing relevant information on prospects, leads, and clients. Centralize information and streamline your workflow to increase sales efficiency and productivity.

Why It’s Important to Use These Tools

Sales are about contacts, numbers, and nurturing. Now, more than ever, technology provides you with actionable intelligence about your prospects and clients so you can tailor your engagement, convert more business, and keep happy policyholders coming back for new coverage, as well as renewals.

The Always Essential Role of Sales

There will always be market dips and other times when you’ll need to ramp up quickly or even rebuild your business. Sales automation tools accelerate the sales process, so you can do more in less time. 
As you prepare for the US economy to reopen, these tools can make a big difference right now. Not only can you laser focus your prospecting, you can spot opportunities within your own data, and take your client nurturing to new heights.

Sales Automation Solutions To Consider Implementing

Here are some of the functions you can automate. We’ve included representative solutions vendors as well. These are just examples. Our list is not intended to be exhaustive of all the options out there, nor does ePayPolicy endorse or prefer one vendor over another.

CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), also known as Sales Force Automation (SFA), captures every prospect/client interaction in a live record. This includes everything from emails and calls to quotes and renewal notices. Major platforms like Salesforce, Pipedrive and HubSpot let you:
 – Replace multiple tools (or manual tasks) with a convenient, one-stop solution
See where to focus efforts and receive alerts when action is needed
 – Sell smarter, close faster, and grow your agency

Meeting Software

You might think of meeting software as a digital “time management assistant” that coordinates your schedule, organizes meetings, and keeps your team on track, wherever they’re working today. Apps (some free!) like Calendly, GoToMeeting and Google Calendar:
 – Alert you about upcoming tasks and appointments
 – Schedule team meetings without the back-and-forth emails
 – Make it easy to attend video meetings remotely via any mobile device (or computer)

Tracking & Analytics

Business Intelligence (BI) solutions let you manage and support business data with analytics, easy-to-understand visuals, and reporting. BI software providers include Tableau, Sisense, Domo, and many more. For insurance agencies, advantages include:
 – Securely connect, combine and manipulate data from multiple sources
 – See key data in real-time across agency functions (sales, marketing, customer support, etc.) to track and plan
 – Get trusted insights to make decisions faster and more confidently

Thinking Ahead

Who wouldn’t want easy-to-use tools that help you focus, organize, track, and ultimately, boost your sales? With powerful automation technology like CRM Solutions, Meeting Software and Tracking & Analytics (BI), your sales team becomes super productive—and nothing falls through the cracks. 

Where Does Your Agency Stand?

Find out! The InsurTech Award presented by ePayPolicy is now open for entries. Top scorers will get cash and other awesome prizes. All entrants receive their InsurTech adoption score, along with valuable feedback. Enter today and find out how your agency stacks up against others (and how you’ve improved over time, if you’ve entered before). Judges even offer tips on specific ways to leverage automation for:
 1. Sales
2.
Marketing
 3. Team Collaboration
 4. Client Experience
 5. Customer Support
 6. Agency Management Systems
Our 6-part series covers all of these InsurTech solution categories. We invite you to explore them all.

The Top 5 Insurance Podcasts for Agents in 2020

 

 

Podcasts are changing the digital, on-demand media game and transforming the way we consume information. Concepts and strategies that were once being presented at large summits and conferences are now being converted into condensed podcasts that do more than just educate but inspire. 

As an insurance agent, you’re always looking for ways to stay ahead of the competition from tips on how to improve your skills in areas of sales, branding, management, and marketing to looking outside the insurance industry for inspiration. Here are our top five insurance podcasts that every insurance agent needs to add to their playlist for 2020 to keep up with the grind. Of course, you don’t have to listen to every single one, unless you want to.

1. The Insurance Guys Podcast

This podcast is “dedicated to agents by agents”. The show hosts, Scott Howell, agency owner of Scott Howell & Associates, Inc. and Bradley Flowers of Portal Insurance, ignite motivation by discussing all aspects of becoming a successful insurance agent as they interview game-changers and visionaries (Check out their episode when Gary Vaynerchuk does insurance!) that are changing the way agencies operate from chatbots to targeted advertising, to digital payments. The guests vary week to week but the goal stays the same, create actionable steps.

2. Insurance Happy Hour

If it’s in the news, odds are it’s being discussed in the show! This podcast owned their spot on our “must watch (and listen to) list” with topics like how innovation is important from all corners of the industry, not just carriers, the InsureTech movement and independent insurance agents and many more. The show hosts, senior VP of sales and marketing at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), Becky Schroeder and ITC’s CEO, Laird Rixford bring a mix of marketing expertise, entrepreneurship and technology that caught our attention. The podcast name is not the only catchy title, the show’s episodes also have intriguing names like “Tesla is Looking to Steal Insurance Carriers’ Fritos” and “The Great Cornholio +Alice Cooper”, the titles will draw you in but the content will get you to stay. Check out their latest episode! 

3. Agency Intelligence

Host, Jason Cass brings his passion for innovation and education to life in this one-of-a-kind podcast. Additionally, Cass has developed a BrainShare group of independent agents that are changing the way insurance agents do business. Cass is a major influencer in bringing the independent insurance industry current. In one hour, learn how to make things happen with guests from all over the industry like Steve Anderson, Randy Schwantz, and other business influencers. Check out the latest episode here!

4. The Ryan Hanley Show

One of the newest podcasts to launch! Show host, Ryan Hanley, helps individuals and organizations find meaning in their work in order to increase the value in their products and services and ultimately grow their business.  Hanley is also the founder and chief strategist at Hanley Media, a boutique business strategy firm focused on the implementation of leadership, marketing, and sales initiatives within abundance-minded organizations. With his work as a creator, strategist, and speaker Ryan brings a fresh perspective to an industry that is transforming daily.

5. The Insurance Scramble with Joe Hollier

Host, Joe Hollier, has developed an amazing program that cuts through the fluff and generates an amazing dialog with his guests. This podcast is perfect for those who may not have a lot of time during their morning commute. Joe spends 15 minutes talking with influencers who are doing great things in the independent insurance space and discusses their up and coming projects. Joe also covers how agents try to manage the future of the industry, technology and the battle for your client’s attention. Get your coffee brewing and take a quick listen here! 

ePayPolicy Integrates with Vertafore’s AMS360

AUSTIN, TX July 23, 2019 –  ePayPolicy, a Vertafore Orange Partner, today announced it is adding payment processing capabilities to Vertafore’s AMS360 agency management system and extending its integrations into five Vertafore management systems.

ePayPolicy supports independent insurance agency efficiency and superior customer experiences by enabling agencies to accept payment via credit card or ACH instead of check.
“It makes paying for insurance like paying for most any other purchase in today’s digital environment — instant and easy,” explained Milan Malkani, ePayPolicy co-founder.

AMS360 is Vertafore’s foundational agency management system, designed to help independent agencies to streamline workflows , improve renewals and retention , and drive new business, resulting in improved employee productivity and a superior customer experience.

“ePayPolicy has proven to be an indispensable solution partner. Its team is as avidly customer-centric in its thinking and product delivery as we are at Vertafore,” said Doug Mohr, VP of Industry Relations & Partnerships, Vertafore. “The 6,000+ agency users of our best-in-class AMS360 system now have best-in-class payment processing capabilities. This partnership is truly customer service at its technology-driven best.”

ePayPolicy shows the exact balances due. Once payments are made, activities and suspenses are created automatically within AMS360. Users will also benefit from easy on-boarding, quick setup, clean accounting and a fast, one-to-two-day go-live timeline.

“Our valued relationship with Vertafore just got deeper and stronger,” added Malkani. “Integration with such a powerhouse system as AMS360 exponentially increases our exposure within the independent agency market.  More important, it offers thousands more independent agents and brokers the ability to modernize the way they accept insurance payments.”

About Vertafore
For over 50 years, Vertafore, the leader in modern insurance technology, has built and supported superior InsurTech solutions to connect every point of the distribution channel. Vertafore agency management, ratings, regulation, compliance, and connectivity products streamline workflows, improve efficiency and drive productivity for more North American insurance professionals than any other provider—including more than 20,000 agencies, over 1,000 carriers and 23 state governments. Through a continual focus on operational excellence, development of innovative solutions, and alignment with key industry partners, Vertafore is leading the way for customers of all sizes by delivering results that make a difference.

For more information about Vertafore visit https://www.vertafore.com

To learn specifically about AMS360 visit  https://www.vertafore.com/products/ams360

About ePayPolicy
ePayPolicy is the simplest way to collect digital insurance payments. Austin, Texas-based ePayPolicy is the nation’s foremost provider of payment processing developed exclusively for independent agencies, brokers/MGAs and premium finance agencies.  The company’s  innovative electronic payment processing portal enables clients to accept credit card or ACH without messy merchant accounts or hidden fees.  ePayPolicy sets up quickly, integrates seamlessly with leading management systems, and is endorsed by independent insurance associations nationwide. To find out more visit https://epaypolicy.com

The company’s annual InsurTech Agency Award recognizes independent insurance agencies/brokerages for leveraging technology to enhance their sales, marketing, and customer service. Details and call for entry are at https://www.insurtechaward.com/

Media Contact:
Seth Nagle, Director of Marketing, ePayPolicy | 512-643-9015 | Seth@epay3.com
Alexea Candreva, SSPR | 719-475-0370 | vertafore@sspr.com

Gary Vee Does Insurance

Gary V Insurance
We recently ventured to the Big Apple for an incredible podcast session at Vayner Media world headquarters with the one and only Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee). Bradley Flowers and Scott Howell, aka The Insurance Guys, led the interview, and Andy Priesman of Cover Desk and Todd Sorrel of ePayPolicy added some commentary around the impact of InsurTech across the industry.

With the focus around personal branding, innovation, and strategy, this 40-minute podcast is a must for all the independent agents out there. Here are just some of our takeaways from the in-depth discussion.

The insurance agent of the future (not to mention every day, right now) should be high tech and high touch. That combination is a win/win strategy.

What do we mean by high touch? High touch means engaging in human to human interaction that builds trust. Since you’re selling a product that protects people, it’s important to genuinely like people. (Of course you do, but if you have anyone in your agency who doesn’t like people, perhaps this is not the field for them.)

You should give without strings/expectations. Gary Vee pointed out the difference between authentic selflessness vs. selfish selflessness. Selfish selflessness is verboten in Gary’s world, and ought to be in yours.

A practical application of high touch is to follow up after binding a policy. Not with any agenda – just to check in. Mention something personal you remember about your customer: ask about a pet, a hobby, a family member. Show you’re not just there to make the sale and move on.

I think of branding as residing in both realms. It is the linchpin between high touch and high tech. And it is essential. Note that branding is a key theme in my post about seeking inspiration outside of the industry. When you are marketing something you’re not in control of, you are not in control. While this part of the discussion centered mainly on captive agents, it’s still a truism of all branding. If you don’t control your brand, it will be controlled for you.

Now here’s something I suspect many of you have either never considered –or have spent hours worrying about. Or, you may already be doing it. If so, that’s awesome. Per branding maestro Gary Vee, one way everyone should be putting themselves out there is by creating content. For those who are not comfortable doing a vlog, do a podcast, or write articles for LinkedIn. This is not optional. If you’re not differentiating your brand through content, you’re becoming irrelevant.

Inevitably, the conversation turned to high tech and its profound influence on our industry.  Gary Vee pointed out that Amazon is entering the insurance market in a big way. They’ve hired more insurance actuaries than any other company. Should you be afraid? Gary says no. He said Amazon entering the industry should not be scary — unless you’re not willing to put in the work.
What else? Imagine customers asking Alexa or Siri for an insurance agent. Will Alexa or Siri pick you?

Next, the subject of buying insurance online came up. Just like we at ePayPolicy advocate that customers should be able to pay for insurance however it’s most convenient for them, Gary Vee says we should let consumers buy insurance online if they want to. It’s all about being customer centric.

Finally, the topic turned to outsourcing. Gary’s all in favor of outsourcing functions that are not your core competencies. This goes for administrative functions like payroll and virtual support (nod to here to Cover Desk). It goes for payment processing. It could also involve seeking outside expertise and tech channels to build your brand through social media.  If these are not core competencies that you possess within your agency, by all means seek out experts to help you build and manage your brand.

In summary: Insurtech is exploding. We’re witnessing a true revolution. These tools are there to make your life easier and your office more efficient. But never forget you’re  selling to people. When you put your customers’ needs first, when you seek to delight them and spread love instead of fear, everyone wins.

These are the highlights that jumped out at us. Be sure to tune in to the podcast for the full interview. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the spirited discussion and valuable business insights.