Buyer's Guideby Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: January 4, 2018
Despite a slew of challenges in recent years—government regulations being constantly in flux, homeownership rates declining, direct insurers threatening to eliminate their existence all together—insurance agencies and brokerages continue to survive in an increasingly competitive and complex industry. In some cases, they're even thriving: The global insurance industry is expected to grow 4.5 percent in 2017 and 2018.
Does that mean it's time to be complacent if you're an insurance agency or brokerage? No way.
Your business won't last long in this day and age without being able to manage a growing policy volume, while still meeting the increasing demands of digital-savvy customers. In a recent report, global consultancy Ernst & Young said having the right technology in place is vital to gaining a competitive advantage in the insurance industry moving forward:
“To meet changing expectations, insurers need to digitize interactions with customers, employees and suppliers. Building new distribution channels and working closely with existing distribution partners to enhance the customer experience is a strategic imperative."
This is why you should consider investing in insurance software—systems designed with the specific needs of insurance agencies and brokerages in mind.
In this Buyer's Guide, we'll explain what insurance software is, what common functionality to look out for, how much it costs and everything else your insurance business needs to know before making a purchase decision.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is Insurance Software?
Insurance software is designed to help insurance agencies and brokerages manage their day-to-day operations. On the administrative side, these systems can help you keep track of policy and claims information, manage your teams and more. There's a client side to this software as well, which allows your customers to log in and do things such as check their policy information, fill out forms and make online payments.
Combining business process management (BPM) and customer relationship management (CRM) functionality, insurance software can act as the digital hub to facilitate all of your company's primary insurance processes.
Claims management in Insly
Benefits of Insurance Software
Dedicated insurance software can provide numerous benefits to your insurance company over more manual methods such pen and paper or spreadsheets. With an insurance software system in place, you can expect:
- Improved operational efficiency. Being able to house all of your information in one easily searchable database and automate tedious processes related to billing or reporting can save your business a ton of time.
- Increased data security. Sensitive customer or carrier information shouldn't be held in easily crackable spreadsheets. Encryption and user authentication capabilities found in insurance software can keep your data safe.
- Better regulatory compliance. Staying on top of ever-shifting regulations through manual methods can be an incredible time suck and result in costly errors. Insurance software can automatically highlight any areas that need your attention.
- Fewer breakdowns in communication. Features such as task management, automatic notifications and communication tracking can ensure that nothing falls through the cracks working with customers, carriers or otherwise.
- The ability to provide superior customer service. Insurance buyers rely on you to provide quick, accurate assessments of their situations, and the ability to perform self-service requests on their own time. Insurance software can allow for this.
Common Insurance Software Functionality
When researching different insurance software systems, you'll find a lot of variance in functionality. Some systems focus on breadth of functionality, acting as comprehensive software suites that can do everything your insurance business needs, while others focus on depth of functionality and being able to do one thing really well.
With that in mind, here is some of the most common functionality you can expect to find:
|Policy management||Create, administer and manage insurance policies for various customers and insurance lines.|
|Claims management||Manage customer claims information and track the status of claims that are being processed.|
|Billing||Create and send invoices, process insurance payments and manage customer billing information.|
|Rating||Enter customer information and receive quotes from partnered insurance carriers in real time.|
|Underwriting||Define formal rules for insurance coverage company-wide. Enter prospective client information to determine risk of insuring.|
|Analytics and reporting||Analyze trends to discover instances of fraud, risk prevention or revenue opportunity. Generate standardized reports.|
How Much Does Insurance Software Cost?
Another trend you'll notice when researching insurance software is that many vendors aren't completely transparent about pricing on their websites. This happens for a number of reasons—the vendor might be trying to get you on the phone to sell you on their product, or their system might have so many customizable options that the cost varies wildly from customer to customer—but it's frustrating nonetheless.
Most insurance software vendors charge a per-user subscription fee. This means you pay a recurring fee (usually monthly) that changes depending on how many people in your company are using the system. The monthly fee can range from around $30 on the low end to $150+ for more advanced systems.
The license cost isn't the only one to consider either. Vendors may also have recurring support costs or one-time upfront fees for services such as implementation, data migration or training. Be sure to understand all of the various costs, pricing models and payment schedules associated with a specific insurance software system before finalizing the purchase.
Key Considerations When Purchasing Insurance Software
Here are some final key factors you should consider when deciding on the right insurance software system for your agency or brokerage:
- Cloud-based or on-premise? Insurance software deployments are either on-premise (where the software is maintained on company servers) or cloud-based (where the software is maintained on vendor servers and accessed by companies via the internet). There are benefits to each option—on-premise software is more customizable to your needs, while cloud-based software requires fewer IT resources—so weigh your options carefully.
- Do you need to integrate? It's likely that your business already has other vital software systems in place, be it CRM software, accounting software or otherwise. Let vendors know which systems you're currently using to ensure a seamless integration between different business processes (e.g., migrating invoice information into the company ledger).
- Do you need segment-specific software? Most insurance software vendors can tailor their system to work with multiple insurance segments, be it health, life and annuities (L&A), property and casualty (P&C) or otherwise. That's great news if you want to evaluate a wide variety of options, or if you're a multiline insurance business. If you desire a vendor that specializes in your segment though, they definitely exist. Silvervine, for example, only serves P&C insurance businesses.
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