Cloud-Based Insurance Applications Put Agents on Cloud Nine

Cloud-Based Insurance Applications Put Agents on Cloud Nine
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

Gone are the days when insurance agents had to invest in expensive hardware and software to quote, issue, and place policies. Updating software was tiresome and time-consuming. And when a computer went down, your production ground to a halt.

Cloud-Based Tools Are Cost-Effective & Efficient

Fortunately, those days are now behind us. Today, the best quoting and policy placement tools are all online. Instead of buying software, you buy monthly subscriptions to cloud-based applications. A single subscription can allow all of your agency’s producers to access the application. This saves you money in software and hardware in the long run.

It also makes your agency more efficient. You can access cloud-based tools anywhere and anytime as long as you have an internet connection. Log in from your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone, whether you’re in a meeting with a client or enjoying some time at the cabin.

My Favorite Cloud-Based Insurance Agency Applications

There are many online tools out there for insurance agencies, from comparative raters to agency management systems. One of my favorite raters is Applied Rater, formerly SEMCAT. Applied Rater lets agents compare quotes from more than 500 insurance carriers. It can integrate with your agency management system and your website so you don’t waste time duplicating data.

My top two choices for agency management systems are EZLynx® QQ Catalyst®. Both of these cloud-based agency management systems allow you to access all of your agency data from a single dashboard. Manage your prospects and clients and keep tabs on how your producers and CSRs are doing.

When you become a member of Smart Choice®, you receive significant discounts on my favorite agency applications. Quote, issue, and place policies from anywhere with no additional investment in hardware. To discover why a partnership is the smart choice, connect with Smart Choice® today!

5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016

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5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

‘Tis the season for resolutions, and many insurance agents are setting goals for how much they’d like to grow their agencies in 2016. Nationally, independent agents generate an average of $5 to 6 million in annual premiums, but earn less than $1 million in commission.

What’s your goal for growth in 2016? Here are five steps you can take to grow your independent insurance agency next year.

  1. Hire the Right Staff

Not only the right number of staff members, but the right people for the job. The duties of a CSR are very different than those of a producer—make sure you hire people with the appropriate strengths and skillsets.

If you’re a one-person agency and hoping to hire your first staff member in 2016, consider hiring someone whose skills complement yours. If you’re excellent at underwriting but struggle with sales, hire someone with excellent sales skills.

  1. Start Selling Commercial

Selling commercial lines takes more investment on your part—both financially and in time—but there’s a greater pay-off in the long run. Research your commercial carrier options and create a plan for how you would recruit and maintain commercial lines clients. Commercial insurance clients are often more hands-on than personal lines clients. If you’re able to meet their needs, selling commercial could be a big money-maker for you.

  1. Upgrade Your Agency Technology

There are many back-office tools that make running your agency more efficient and profitable. If you haven’t updated or upgraded your technology recently, consider doing so. Same goes for any marketing tech you haven’t adopted, such as a mobile-responsive website or email marketing tool.

  1. Take the Leap into Social Media

It’s just a fact: Your clients and prospects are online. Personal lines clients hang out on Facebook and Twitter and commercial clients are on LinkedIn. Commit to creating social media accounts for you and your agency and to being active on those accounts at least a few times a week. Social media marketing takes a little time, but it’s a powerful way to stay top-of-mind with your clients and prospects.

  1. Join a Cluster Group

Adding more carriers is difficult, especially when you’re adding a new line. Joining an insurance cluster group allows you to work with carriers and lines that you could never access otherwise. However, many cluster groups make you roll your current book to them when you sign up. They want to take control of your new policies as well as the ones you have already worked hard to build, so do your research.

Sources:
Property Casualty 360
Insurance Journal