Episode 064 — The Digital Broker Podcast

IT Support: Common Issues Affecting Insurance Agencies


In this episode of The Digital Broker, Brad Ruben, founder of Archway, talks to Ryan Deeds about IT issues that affect insurance agency operations. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • Why so many agencies don’t get the most out of their agency management system
  • How to guard against ransomware and other threats by choosing the right technology and coupling it with Security Awareness Training (SAT)
  • How to optimize compliance by getting data out of your office

The Digital Broker is a podcast about operational excellence, but you can only be as operationally proficient as you want, in theory. In practice, a single technical hangup can grind everything down to a halt. Therefore, it is important to have a solid IT department, but not every agency can afford one—which is where Archway comes in to help.

Archway manages IT services for independent insurance agencies. There’s no limit to the number of IT issues that can affect insurance agency operations, but a few key issues attract most of Archway’s attention. In this conversation with Ryan Deeds, Archway’s founder Brad Ruben tells us what those issues are and which remedies are available.

Many agencies don’t use their agency management system correctly, if at all. (5:10) Ruben has seen agencies paying big bucks for a particular AMS and then using something else entirely, like QuickBooks. Obviously, this is a waste of money, but there’s more to it than that. Asked about the disconnect, many principals will blame the AMS and vow to switch over to another one. They are surprised when Ruben routinely advises against doing so.

Switching AMS is an expensive and laborious process, and if the problem was never with the AMS, to begin with, it achieves nothing. This has been a recurring motif of the Digital Broker: the best technology in the world is useless if your employees don’t know how to use it. Maybe they were never taught, or maybe they lack the right process for that AMS—either way, it’s the agency’s responsibility to figure it out and determine what the low usage is due to.

Ransomware is still a big deal, and agencies must always be on guard against it. (8:49) Here, again, there is technology and then there’s knowing what to do with it. Ruben likens it to physically fit, which is frequently described as being partly due to exercise and partly due to diet. Guarding against ransomware and other cybersecurity threats is maybe 40% technology and 60% user awareness.

You’d be surprised at who continues to succumb to ransomware—large agencies and insurtech companies that can afford, and do acquire, powerful protections against ransomware. Even with those measures in place, all it takes sometimes is one employee clicking one wrong link. Fortunately, Security Awareness Training (SAT) programs are available to help engender user awareness among employees. Some programs will go so far as to send out phony phishing emails to see who clicks on them and how often. (You can learn more about email security by listening to our previous episode on the subject.)

Get the data out of your office. (16:56) Concern over compliance issues—what to keep on record, what to purge, etc.—pressures many agencies into hoarding data on physical, in-house servers. But according to Ruben, data is actually more secure and compliant when it’s not sitting inside your office.

An increasing number of agencies is moving data to the cloud. There is no shortage of services to help with that, although debate persists over which are HIPAA-compliant; be sure to do your due diligence. But if you can move your data and your email server to the cloud, Ruben says you will have taken care of many security and compliance issues that might have otherwise given you a headache later. You might not be able to upload all of your data: some of it will linger in your employees’ phones, laptops, and other portable devices. But you can deal with that by learning more about Mobile Device Managementwhich we discussed on a previous episode.

Still, feel like shoving IT aside? Perhaps you’ve wised up to the seriousness of the issues Ruben identified. Or you understand how they relate to the bottom line. That seems to be where IT is headed: employees are increasingly relied on to solve business problems with technology. That might scare you if you think you know nothing about technology. But you do already know how to solve problems because that’s what an insurance agency does: connect a customer’s problem (risk) to the best solution (policy) out of a pool of options. If you want to become more familiar with technology in particular, or you’d like to acquaint yourself with a specialist in case an IT problem comes up, that’s what the Digital Broker LinkedIn group is for. Request to join, meet the people in the group, and tell us what’s on your mind. What did you think of this episode? What kind of IT help do you need? Do you have a question for Ryan Deeds or Brad Ruben? We’re listening.

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