Keeping Agency Data Secure

This article, written by Kate Gluck and Paul Fuller of SIS and published by ACT, offers nine practical tips for agencies to follow to protect against data breaches, that can destroy an agency’s reputation and cost a lot of money to remedy. Some of the tips, like avoiding public wi-fi when possible and changing passwords often are very easy to implement. Others, like setting up VPN security measures or TLS email encryption, will require a bit more work to implement. Regardless, if you haven’t taken steps to protect your data, there is no better time than the present.

Benjamin Franklin once said that distrust and caution are the parents of security. The expression seems remarkably fresh and relevant in today’s world, especially when it comes to protecting sensitive client data.

In fact, this caution is becoming more and more necessary. In an age of highly portable data (and of increasing identity theft), independent agents have an ever-increasing responsibility to keep a lock on their client data. State and federal privacy and data breach notification laws and regulations (e.g., Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)) put pressure on you to keep your clients’ sensitive personal data safe. Even more important, if a data breach were to occur, your company’s reputation would take a nosedive.

In an attempt to simplify a complex area, this article will touch on nine things – some basic and some not-so-basic – that an agency can do to mitigate risk of a data security breach.

Read the full article

Take Your Agency Everywhere

Partner XE Mobile is here!

Take advantage of early adopter discount.

You asked. We listened. Last month we released the first-ever version of Partner XE Mobile. Agency members can now have even quicker access to their data while on the go.

This read-only version is easy to set up and provides quick access to Client Summary information, Contacts, Individuals, Claims and Documents. Future versions of Partner XE Mobile will give access to policy summary information, note logging and more.

If you haven’t signed up already, there is still time left to take advantage of our “Early Adopter” discount.  We are waiving the initial Implementation fee of $50.00 for agencies that sign-up prior to February 1.

To get started, please contact our Partner XE Mobile hotline at 614-219-6067.   Partner XE Mobile must be enabled for your agency by contacting SIS. Although you can download the Partner XE App from Google Play or iTunes it will not give you access to your Partner XE implementation.

Starting the New Year off Right

Practical Resolutions – and tips on how to keep them.

As we turn the corner into the New Year, everyone seems to be making a resolution of one sort or another. Some want to lose weight, others want to cut out sugar,quit smoking, exercise more, spend more time with the family, … you name it. Ironically or not, many make the same resolution year in and year out and never keep them past February or March. Instead of same old, same old (or maybe in addition to same old, same old) in 2013 think about streamlining business processes and get your office organized for the year ahead.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started…

Improve your renewal processes.

  • Create custom reports to bring the information to the forefront.
  • Look internally. Get your team together and collectively figure out if there is a better way to handing the large amounts of policies that are downloading or being manually renewed.

Get your house in order

  • Update workstations and old equipment
  • Set new goals for going paperless and, if you haven’t already, document your plan to do so.  (For suggestions on how to move to a more paperless work environment, read Best Practices: Go Paperless )

Beef up agency security

  • Keep data in a password-protected, encrypted space
  • Create “strong” passwords and keep them secure
  • Keep User Permissions Tightly Controlled
  • For more practical suggestions on how to improve the security of your agency data read Keeping Agency Data Secure

Invest in the future

  • Take the time to review, document and share internal Best Practices
  • Make continual improvement and training of all staff members a priority. (For additional insight, read Steve Anderson’s Training Pays Big Dividends

Focus on Marketing Strategy and on Setting and Meeting aggressive sales goals.

  • Identify the marketing channels that your customers and prospects will respond to.  There are numerous ways to attract new business.  As Steve Anderson wrote in Create A Balanced Approach to Marketing, “go where your prospects and customers already gather.”
  • Set a plan and stick with it.

2012 Conference Recap

2012 Conference Recap

Alex Deak | President + CEO

The National Association of SIS Partner Agents (NASPA) Partner XE Today and Tomorrow conference held earlier this month was a great success. Many thanks to the NASPA board for helping to plan and organize this important event and to all those who made the trip to Columbus to join us.

The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to interact personally with NASPA members and share information about Partner XE and SIS.  Attendees were treated to informative sessions from various members of the SIS Product Development and Client Support Team, industry experts, and fellow NASPA members.

All of the presentations given over the course of the two days can be accessed on PartnerNet.

The best part was the opportunity to meet and talk with Partner XE users. The input and feedback we received was tremendous and is extremely important to our planning. It’s clear from our discussions that NASPA members want more of these types of interactions and SIS supports that wholeheartedly!  We are making plans for the next national conference in 2014 and in the meantime working with NASPA to organize regional user group meetings. If you have interest in helping to coordinate a meeting in your area, let your NASPA board know.

SIS is pleased and proud to be your partner in success. We look forward to continuing our long term relationship with you and delivering information systems and services to help you grow & manage your business. SIS is focused on serving the independent insurance agency and investing in people, relationships, and technology to continually improve the value we bring to our partnership. Look for the latest releases of Partner XE, our industry leading Outlook Plug-in and the introduction of Partner XE Mobile over the coming months.

I look forward to seeing you at the next NASPA user conference.

Growth Agencies Track Metrics

If we all had an infinite amount of money we could throw our marketing dollars to the wind – putting money into the fad of the moment or whatever happened to suit our fancy at the time. But if that were the case, would we really be working the business or would we be off lounging on the beach somewhere? Since it is safe to assume that money is not infinite and that decisions need to be made as to where to best spend your marketing dollars (any dollars really) the logical next step is to determine where and how to get the best return on your investment.

In a recent article published by ACT, Grow Your Agency & Improve Your Marketing by Tracking Key Metrics, Chuck Blondino, Northwest Region Marketing Director for Safeco Insurance makes a strong case for using metrics to track what is and isn’t working, where your best business is coming from and adjusting your tactics accordingly.

High growth agencies, he says, track metrics.metrics for insurance agents to track

“While most agencies change little in size of their personal lines books, there are a select few high growth agencies consistently increasing their total personal lines books by 10 to 24%. (Safeco NW Region top 25 personal lines high growth agencies study in 2011) Comparing the commonalities of these agencies, it’s clear that they stand out in their sales methods, training, and support. One thing really was truly unique – these agencies tracked their marketing efforts and knew what was effective and what was not.”

Every effort needs to start somewhere. When it comes to tracking the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, that start is as basic as they come. The first question that must be asked of every new client is “How did you hear about us.” The caveat is, don’t just ask it, track it.  With this information at your fingertips, it all flows from there.

What makes this article really valuable is that Blondino not only tells you that you need to start tracking metrics… he gives solid examples of what to track and how to track it.

Some of the metrics he discusses are:

  • Where each new policy comes from
  • Close ratio by category
  • Monthly close ratio by producer
  • Average revenue per client
  • Retention