BY TOM AVERY
This year was unlike any other for brokers.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 went into effect last December, requiring brokers to disclose their expected commissions related to all group health plans and individual health insurance policies. Meanwhile, employers leaned on their brokers to help them navigate the post-pandemic landscape. From the Great Resignation and stiff competition for employees to fears over inflation, recession, and financial wellness, brokers have played a crucial role as their clients’ strategic advisors.
Yes, 2022 was overwhelming. So, how can we make 2023 better?
While we can’t know what the next year will bring, we can focus on making our businesses run more efficiently so that we are better positioned to respond to client needs.
Here’s why insurance agency
efficiency is the secret to a killer 2023 and how you can achieve more by doing less. Manual processes are a waste of time
and money. If you’re relying on manual processes to manage agency processes, what you’re actually committing to is a lot of cut and paste.
By having a manual process across multiple documents and platforms, insurance agencies not only waste time but also increase the likelihood of error. If documents are updated in one place but not another, that mistake could end up costing you a client.
Let’s say you want to create benefit books for each of your clients. You have to pull each of their policies up on one screen, then paste the info into your benefit book template line by line in Microsoft Word. Who has time for that?
And if there are carrier updates, let’s hope that your team remembers to manually adjust the information for all relevant clients. Otherwise, that’s even more time spent having to hunt for each document every time a rule or section is changed.
You need more time to meet client expectations
Manual processes also make it harder to add new services for your clients (and you know how important going above and beyond for your clients is, especially with the new compensation disclosure requirements).
If you’re relying on your relationships and services to be the reason why clients give you their business, think of what you could do to actually set yourself apart from the competition with more time.
Case study: how one insurance agency increased efficiency
Let’s explore a brief case study of an agency that found greater efficiency.
This agency was using non-connected solutions like Microsoft Word to complete benefit books. When they connected their solutions with an agency management system, the office recovered two hours of time per client during the critical fourth quarter.
Now, two hours may not seem like a lot of time, but there are only 510 hours of time available per employee during each quarter. Since the agency has 50 clients, that’s 100 hours of time (or 20%) that was recaptured.
That extra time allowed the agency to bring on more clients and also have more time to perform proactive services to protect their book of business. What would you do with the extra time?
Improve your insurance agency’s efficiency for 2023
Now that you know the importance of investing in systems that will make your insurance agency more efficient, here’s how you can spend less time copying and pasting and more time actually caring for your clients.
First, take inventory of every routine service you perform related to servicing each client, such as:
- Benefit books
- New commission disclosures
- ERISA compliance documents
- Wrap documents
- Eligibility systems
- Tracking service issues
- Commission tracking
Then, note next to each task which platforms are required to complete these functions, for example:
- Document creation platforms (Microsoft Office, Adobe)
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Benadmin systems
Pay particular attention to which of these functions are in non-connected solutions (i.e. not tied to a database). Next, determine which of these services can be made more efficient by eliminating duplicate data entry. If you enter one piece of data once, how many other processes does it need to be translated to? The goal of this exercise is to eliminate as much duplicate data entry as possible (like having to tell your ERISA third-party administrator the client’s address, which plans they have, their EIN, etc.).
An insurance agency gains efficiency by utilizing solutions that allow you to update data once and deploy it across several processes.
Make agency efficiency your New Year’s resolution
Duplicate data entry across non- connected systems is bad for the agency. Instead of winning new business and wowing clients, you’re hitting Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V all day long. Consider how technology like an agency management solution can help you modernize your firm and provide better service.
TOM AVERY is the founder of Innovative Broker Services, a boutique brokerage company and a Top-10 Employee Benefits Agency for 12 consecutive years (Sacramento Business Journal). Tom is also the founder & president of Signal Sync, an insurance industry SaaS and agency automation solution designed for the independent agency. Tom continually writes regarding the many challenges faced by today’s agencies and has developed Signal Sync to overcome these challenges.