Switching to the Right Agency Management System for Good: the MHJ Insurance Story

Switching to the Right Agency Management System for Good: the MHJ Insurance Story

When Lara Moffitt began as CEO of MHJ Insurance, her first order of business was to find a new agency management system. She knew their old system was complicated, expensive, and had poor customer service. It was clearly time for MHJ to make a change.

So, Lara rallied her team to start their search for a new agency management system provider. The three-month-long project included a series of interviews, demos, and plenty of internal discussions about what was working and what wasn’t.

In the end, Lara’s team saw SIS and Partner Platform as the best choice for their agency. Since signing on, they haven’t looked back.

In our conversation, we covered:

  • What Lara and her team looked for in an agency management system
  • How they conducted their agency management system search
  • What made Partner Platform and the SIS team stand out
  • How their transition experience went
  • And more!

You can see MHJ’s story and our other Partner Platform agency stories on our Client Stories page here. Discover more about the Partner Platform agency management system suite, our technology partners, and our community on our website at sispartnerplatform.com.

Our Digital Insurance Tech Partnerships

Our Digital Insurance Tech Partnerships

Innovation is key to longevity in any industry, and the insurance industry is no different. Insurance revolves around people and relationships, making it an inherently dynamic field.

Digital insurance demands seem to change by the day to keep up with evolving customer and agency needs. That’s why we at Partner Platform partner with various tech partners to stay up to date with changing conditions. We as an organization can only be experts in so many areas, so we recognize the need to partner with outside specialists to fill our gaps.

We work with industry groups and tech companies to cover areas like digital document processing and cyber security, among others. Below are a few of our recent posts highlighting these valuable tech partnerships.

Our Digital Insurance Partner Posts

  1. Remote Work and Agency Cyber Security: During the COVID-19 lockdowns, all our agencies and their customers needed to move to remote work rapidly. We leaned on our tech partnership with Archway Computer and the workflow expertise of consultant Mary Belka to equip our Partner Platform agencies – fast. In this post, we recap an impactful webinar focused on how to keep agency data safe during remote work and best practices for external and internal communications during that time.
  1. Top Tech Industry Groups: One of the best ways to stay up to date on what’s happening in digital insurance is through joining and participating in relevant industry groups. Partner Platform and SIS have been involved with leading groups like the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) and The Associations and User Group Information Exchange (AUGIE) for years to stay on top of what’s happening in insurance tech.  
  1. Business Insights Partner Exago BI: The value of data and analytics has skyrocketed over the past few years, causing the Partner Platform team to seek a business insights partner to help our agencies stay well-equipped. Exago BI offers both canned and custom reporting for our agencies, allowing them to gain, manipulate, and analyze agency data easily.
  1. Encrypted Email and eSignature Partner RPost: We’ve worked with digital document processing partner RPost for years, giving our Partner Platform agencies access to seamless and secure document sending, signing, and processing. What began as a HIPPA-compliant secure email service has grown into a fully digital, encrypted document processing system.
  1. IT and Cyber Security Partner Archway Computer: Our partnership with Archway Computing is one of our longest and most valuable. The IT professionals at Archway have specialized in helping insurance agencies install, run, and update essential software for decades. The cyber security services Archway provides for our Partner Platform agencies are invaluable.
  1. VoIP Partner Lightspeed Voice: One of our most recent partnerships is Lightspeed Voice, a VoIP provider that seamlessly integrates with our Partner Platform agency management system. Lightspeed brings a live switchboard, call recording, and real-time performance metrics, among other benefits.
  1. Marketing Partner BlueJay Reviews: Online reputations are extremely important to any business or organization today. Every agency has an online reputation, regardless of whether they investigate or manage it. Our partner BlueJay Reviews focuses on online reputation management and makes it easy for our Partner Platform agencies to solicit and manage their online reviews, bolstering their reputation.  

Find Out More About Our Tech Partnerships

These partners have been invaluable as we strive to improve our Partner Platform agency management suite every day. Especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns, we relied heavily on these partners to help us quickly adapt and provide secure, remote access for our agencies and their customers alike.

Find out more about our partnerships on our Partner Allies and Tech Partnerships page. And, as always, you can get in touch with us at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6.

What is Your Insurance Tech Cyber Security Plan? – The Top Elements to Include

What is Your Insurance Tech Cyber Security Plan? – The Top Elements to Include

Cyber security has been a concern across industries for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated risk. With more businesses moving to online operations, more data became vulnerable. This is especially true in insurance, where the use of insurance tech skyrocketed in 2020, along with incidents of cyberattacks.

Insurance is second only to legal firms as cyber criminals’ preferred industry to attack. The average agency is targeted over 100 times per year, with more than 30% of attacks succeeding. And according to PwC’s Digital Trust Insights Pulse Survey, cybercrime is expected to cost companies $10.5 trillion annually over the next four years.

These stats should be more than enough to get you asking the question, “What’s our agency cyber security plan?” Whether you’re starting from scratch or updating an outdated strategy, the following elements are must-haves for your agency’s cyber protection.

Add These Basic Security Measures

There are a handful of actions you need to set up baseline cyber protection. Those include:

  • Use modern hardware: Outdated desktops and laptops are more vulnerable to modern cyber-attacks. Make sure you’re using tech that’s less than five years old to ensure it has the most recent safeguards.
  • Add or update anti-virus software: Similarly, you need the most up-to-date virus protection software to act as the first layer of protection. Don’t ignore that “your software has expired” pop-up!
  • Implement multi-factor authentication: Add a layer of protection to your data storage systems with multi-factor authentication. The more complex passwords and additional layers of entry you have, the more you protect your data.
  • Work with a security expert: You can only do so much in-house – your team knows insurance, not cyber security! It’s worth the investment to hire a trusted partner to get you the best software, training, and cyber security management.

Train Your Team

Even the best cyber security software can’t spot all potential threats. As cybercriminals have evolved, they’ve begun implementing tactics that hit people’s vulnerabilities rather than machines.

One type of attack is called “social engineering,” in which a cybercriminal gains information on the names, titles, and small personal details about a person or persons at a company and uses that to impersonate them. Cybercriminals will then convince a team member to transfer funds, give up passwords, or reveal other valuable information they can use to attack the company.

With such people-centric attacks evolving, you need to keep your team at the ready by training them on:

  • How to identify common threats, including specific details to watch for and common tells.
  • How to determine if correspondence is legitimate, such as calling, texting, or sending a separate email contacting the person a message is supposed to be from to confirm their identity before taking action.
  • Who to contact if they suspect a threat, whether through a reporting system or contacting a specific team member.
  • How to set up a secure work from home station, including using a VPN, enabling a password on their computer, and never sharing their work devices with anyone.

Training on these elements and others should be continual, and you should frequently test your team with fake attacks. The more practice they get, the better they’ll be at responding to a real threat.

Choose Security-Conscious Partners

No matter how safe your agency is, if you’re working with a vendor that’s vulnerable, you are, too. Only work with providers who take cyber security seriously, as we do at Partner Platform.

Our team uses all the above cyber prevention tactics and employs elements like a redundant, cloud-based backup system for secure data storage. We also carefully vet all our Partner Ally integrations, ensuring they meet our high cyber security standards.

Discover more about our commitment to data security here, and get in touch to find out how we can help your agency stay better protected. Reach us at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6.

Year in Review: Our Top Agency Software Posts of 2021

Year in Review: Our Top Agency Software Posts of 2021

This year continued a trend of technology’s growing influence in the insurance market and all industries at large. We saw a shift where more clients embraced agency software and integrated it into their regular systems and processes. This growing interest and influence prompted our Partner Platform and SIS teams to ramp up our tech focus, including several blog posts on this highly relevant topic.


Leveraging technology to gain and analyze data was one of the hottest topics of the last few years. As competition in the insurance market increases, agencies need ways to set themselves apart. Our industry partners and clients alike told us that data is the key to differentiation. It improves lead targeting to increase close rates, streamlines claims processes, and is essential to service personalization, a must-have for all industries today.

Some of our top data posts of the year include:

Cyber Security

With more data sent and stored, your agency is open to more risk. Malware attacks increased by 358% in 2020 alone. Agencies need to pay attention to how they’re handling and storing data, ensuring they have the best measures in place to protect it. Our experts spent time on this critical topic in posts like:

Customer Service

Customer service expectations took a massive leap in 2020 and 2021. Customers now expect more personalization, quicker transactions, and more ways to get answers and implement changes independently. We looked at the many ways expectations changed through our posts this past year. A few of the top ones include:

Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing are always a challenge for growing agencies, but new customer expectations and the explosion of digital service in the past few years have added a new level. Depending on the agency, these changes could increase or decrease the sales and marketing challenge. We hope to make these customer expectations and tech advances an asset to your outreach with these posts:

Get More Agency Resources Here

These are just a few of the many agency resources available for free on our website. You can see all our educational posts on our blog. And, dive into our online guides and other resources covering topics like how to hire great producers and leaders and how to get effective digital marketing on a budget.

We look forward to sharing more in 2022 and beyond!

The Agency Management System Fresh Start Checklist

The Agency Management System Fresh Start Checklist

There is no perfect time for a fresh start – the time is always right to take stock, re-evaluate your processes and goals, and make some changes. This applies to all aspects of your agency, including your agency management system.

Quality management systems and providers evolve with the changing market. Are your system and provider keeping up? Or are you seeing prices go up with little to no changes in your management system experience? Take a critical look at your agency management system and provider, analyzing if you have everything you need to serve your customers and grow your business today and tomorrow with this “fresh start” checklist.

Digital Customer Service Tools

Digital service is the new normal, and your agency management system needs to get on board. That means an integrated Client Portal, Agency App, texting, and chat options. Take it from Partner Platform client Britt Linder of Ephlin Insurance Group:

The Client Portal is going to solve (our customer service overload). Giving customers the ability to access their auto ID card, make a payment, and do their certificates will be huge for us on the small commercial business.

Data Analytics and Reporting

Digital sales, service, and marketing are the norm, and each is driven by data. Your agency management systems needs to be able to organize and report on data quickly and easily. As a data-based industry, you take in a large amount of information daily and need to process it fast. Data today will be different tomorrow, so you need systems that can keep up with storage and reporting. That quick processing means a lot to agency COO’s like Veronica Edwards of Hugh F. Miller Insurance Agency:

Another small thing that makes a big difference are the reports – they’re so easy! That was something that was a huge pain point with our old provider. Getting reports and trying to run year-end reports would take me almost a month in our old system. I can literally do my year-end reports in about 30 minutes now. It’s crazy the difference.

System Integrations

The last thing you need in your agency is additional process steps. What you do need are integrated capabilities including accounting as well as seamless integrations with third party tools including email flowing into your management system so that client communication is centralized in one place. Integrated systems cut down on errors from moving data from one place to another and eliminate bothersome duplication. Cliff Miller of Tri-County Agency, Inc. certainly saw the benefit with his Partner Platform accounting integration:

Agency accounting is complex, and what works for a “normal” business just doesn’t fit for (insurance). With the integration, we can download policies, split commissions, and reconcile with carriers all in one system. Overall, the fact that accounting is supported within the management system is a vital component to our efficiency and confidence in accuracy. It’s a real game-changer that kicks us up a notch.

Solid Training and Support

Beyond the management system itself, you want a provider that will back you up and has your interest in mind. No matter how great a system is, it’s useless if your team doesn’t understand how to operate it. Invest in a system and team that focus on making life easier for your agency: personalized training, access to regular refresher courses, and customer service that responds in hours rather than days or weeks. Agency owner Cindi Gresham of Boyle Insurance Agency, Inc. recognizes the value of quality service and support:

Hands down the service (makes the most impact). We definitely got the savings we were looking for, but it’s the service that stands out. As soon as we email the Partner Platform team about something, we get a call back in less than a day – often in just a few hours. And it’s not just for emergencies; it’s anything we need help with, they respond quickly.

Regular Technology Updates

As mentioned at the top, your agency management systems shouldn’t be stagnant. You want a system that adapts to the changing market, adding and updating technology to serve you and your customer’s needs better. And, you want those updates to be things you need, not just something your provider came up with out of the blue. Partner Platform user Kevin Butz of Crawford-Butz Insurance values that dynamic innovation in his agency management system experience:

(If a) platform is evolving to meet our needs, why would we go somewhere else? It’s like we get a better system each update. There’s a huge downfall in a system that’s not willing to change. I like to position us with software that’s evolving and people that are innovators. That’s the Partner Platform team.

Data Security

As an insurance agency, you have a lot of highly-sensitive information flowing into your management system each day. Gaining and processing data quickly is important, and so is keeping that data safe. Find a system and provider that take steps to keep that data secure, including regular stress tests to ensure they have the highest level of protection for you and your customers. Principal Matt Derrenberger of Ann Arbor Insurance said it best:

As a principal, security is my number one concern. A great system means nothing if you’re data’s not safe.

Check all Your Boxes with the Partner Platform Team

We know this checklist well because we apply it to our Partner Platform system and team daily. Our robust system’s goal is to work for our agencies, making each click go faster and each process move easier.

If you see something missing from your management system and provider, it’s time to connect with us. Get in touch here, or contact us at [email protected] or 800.747.7005, Option 6.