ACT is dedicated to promoting the use of the most effective workflows and technologies within the Independent Agency System. In order to accomplish this, we bring independent insurance agencies together with their carriers, vendors, associations and user groups to discuss the best approaches to take as an industry, to advocate for these improvements and to produce reports, articles and webinars to help independent agencies and our industry implement the recommended approaches.
How to use the ACT website
Select one of four key sections of the site to visit:
• Latest ACT Articles & Reports
• Upcoming events, webinars and recorded webinars
• “Quick Links” to all ACT website information organized by each ACT subject area
• Information on ACT, its members and its current committees and work groups
Be More Efficient
-Real Time -Download -Agency Workflows -Going Paperless -Systems Purchases
-Websites & Social Media -Sales & Marketing
Planning and Security
-Strategic Future Trends -Security and Privacy -Disaster Planning
Carriers, E&S Markets
- Interface & Communications - Ease of Doing Business - Agency-Carrier Technology Agreements - E&S Joint Working Group's Website - ACT's E&S Page
Latest ACT Articles & Reports
Building Engagement and Reach on Facebook
Kevin Ament, Progressive Insurance, provides agents with valuable insights and practical tips as to how they can build the number of their business page fans who see the agency’s posts. Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to choose which status updates to display in agency fans’ news feeds. As a result, typically 84 percent of business page fans do not see the page’s posts in their Facebook news feeds! Kevin shows how agencies can beat these averages and points out some great tools and resources for agencies to use to monitor the reach of their posts and to keep up with changes in Facebook’s algorithm.
Grow Your Agency & Improve Your Marketing by Tracking Key Metrics
Chuck Blondino, Safeco Insurance, conducted research as to what differentiates high growth agencies from those growing minimally if at all, and found a key differentiator is that high growth agencies track and act upon key metrics relating to the origins of their business, close ratios, revenue and policies per client, retention and average client tenure. Based upon his research, the author outlines the twelve key metrics agencies should track to maximize their marketing and sales efforts, as well as how to generate these metrics. Chuck makes a very convincing case that an agency can’t optimize its growth, if it doesn’t have the facts as to where its business is coming from and which marketing efforts and referral sources are generating the highest return.
An Agency Case Study in Implementing Real Time
Ed Higgins details the steps he went through in implementing Real Time after he completed a conversion to his new agency management system. He gleaned several insights that will be very helpful to agents in getting started with Real Time and accomplishing a successful implementation. Ed also finds that it is often difficult to ascertain the "go to person" at carrers for implementation assistance and provides useful recommendations for both carriers and vendors. Ed notes the critical role agency management plays in successful implementations by both making sure the functionality works for employees and tracking employee usage to assure that the workflow is consistently adopted. He then describes the efficiency boost his agency has gained from Real Time.
Agency Strategies to Send & Receive Personal Data Securely
This article recommends ways agencies can secure their email and their websites when their clients' personal data is being transmitted. It defines the major types of “personal data” that should be "encrypted" when traveling over the Internet, as well as outlines the resources that are available from ACT to assist agencies in protecting their clients' and employees' personal data.
Free, Public Wi-Fi Can Be Dangerous to Your Health
(From Steve Anderson's "techtips", linked to with permission)
Steve Anderson provides a great overview of the risks when connecting at public Wi-Fi sites and then outlines steps you can take to protect your computer. This article appeared in his weekly "techtips" blog, which is free and well worth subscribing to.
“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) Opportunities & Risks
This ACT article by Danielle Johnson of InsurBanc discusses the risks involved when employees access the agency's systems with their personal smart phones, tablets and PCs, and it then provides practical guidance to help businesses formulate their policies and security strategies when they authorize employees to use their own devices to access company systems.
2012 Key Technology & Consumer Trends & Industry "Must Do" Issues Report
This report reflects the latest thinking of ACT's Strategic Future Issues Work Group as to five key "hard" technology and consumer trends that it believes are permanent and will most impact independent agencies and the industry. The report then outlines the seven industry "must do" issues which are those that the work group recommends that industry agree upon and set out to accomplish, working both at the industry and individual organization levels. This report was presented at the May, 2012 ACT meeting and there was a consensus that both the trends and the industry "must do" issues were on target.
Reality of Texting for Insurance Agencies
Agency consultant Pat Alexander provides some very helpful guidance to insurance agencies on how to best handle client text communications given the current state of technology--how to bring these communications into regular agency workflows and capture them within the agency management system.
A Millennial's Take on Social Media
Lauren Foy, a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island, provides a great window into the millennial generation's views and uses social media, by critiquing a recent Independent Agent article, "Marketing to Millennials." Foy makes a great case for why independent agencies should get involved with social media and enhance the experiences they provide to their clients by combining the strong personal relationships they offer with online tools, such as a functional website, social media and mobile apps.
How Consumers, Businesses and Agencies will Change
This report was developed by ACT's Agencies of the Future Work Group PDF
Attributes of Successful Independent Agencies of the Future
This report was developed by ACT's Agencies of the Future Work Group PDF
Mobile Strategies for Independent Agencies & Their Clients
This discussion document was developed by ACT's Mobile Strategies Work Group PDF
Replacing the Password Morass with Federated Identities
Learn more about the industry's new ID Federation, Inc. that is striving to put a Trust Framework in place to enable federated identities in the Independent Agency System. This would allow agents to logon once to an Identity Provider and then access multiple carriers using a federated identity rather than separate Ids and passwords for each carrier. Click here for the ID Federation's presentation at the ACT meeting on February 16, 2012.
Social Media & Online Marketing Survey Results
This survey, conducted in late 2011 by the agency consulting firm B.H. Burke & Co., provides excellent data on the mix of independent agency traditional and nontraditional marketing approaches, including the extent to which they are using particular types of social media, have coordinated marketing plans and are measuring their marketing R.0.I..
This report, developed by the Agency Real-Time Experience Work Group of the Real Time/Download Campaign, will provide a very useful roadmap for carriers and vendors whether they are implementing real-time transactions for the first time or enhancing and expanding their current real-time capabilities. This implementation tool spells out the "best practice" real-time workflows which agencies would like to have and which some carriers are already delivering. For real-time implementation to continue to grow among agencies, we need to achieve more consistency in the real-time transactions that are offered to agencies across carriers and lines of business coupled with better performance from those transactions.
ACT Prototype Agency Information Security Plan
ACT developed this prototype security plan for agencies to use in developing their own written security plans customized to their own operations. This prototype plan also serves as a great checklist for agents to use in formulating their security program.
Click here for the PDF version of the ACT Prototype Agency Information Security Plan
Click here for the word version of the ACT Prototype Agency Information Security Plan (Best to "save" this Word document to your desktop to avoid prompt for a password. If you "open" the document, click "cancel" when you get the password prompt to open it.)
Click here for a webinar recording on setting up an effective information security program in your agency.
A Balanced Approach to Agency Marketing
Steve Anderson provides a compelling vision and the key elements for a successful agency marketing strategy built on processes that are both high-touch and high-tech. He provides a great framework for agents to use in designing their own marketing plans for the long haul.
Also see "Quick Links" in gray shaded area at left for a full listing of ACT articles & reports by subject area
Upcoming Events & Recorded Webinars
October 22-23, 2012 ACT, AUGIE & E&S Joint Working Group Meetings (in conjunction with ACORD Implementation Forum)
Marriott Harbor Beach, Fort Lauderdale, FL
12:00-1:00 PM ACT Lunch
1:00-5:30 PM ACT Meeting
6:00-7:00 PM ACT & AUGIE Reception
10:30 AM-12:45 PM AUGIE Meeting
2:15 PM-4:30 PM E&S Joint Working Group
5:30 PM AIF Networking Reception
ACORD Implementation Forum continues until October 25
to secure your hotel reservation.
to register for the ACT and E&S Joint Working Group meetings & the ACORD Implementation Forum
Measuring your Social Networking Success
Recorded webinar (July 31 2012)
In this recorded webinar, Chris Paradiso, an agent who has had great success with social media, was joined by four prominent agency consultants known for their social media expertise-- Steve Anderson, Rick Morgan, Mike Peterson and Mike Wise-- to discuss why you should measure your social media activity; the importance of having goals; the most appropriate metric(s) to use; and how to use some of the available measurement tools.
To view the recorded webinar, please click here.
HIPAA-HITECH Requirements for Independent Agent "Business Associates"
To download a PDF of the webinar slides, click here.
(May 11 2012)
This recorded webinar and the accompanying slides provide a great roadmap for independent agents as to how to comply with HIPAA & HITECH, if they are acting as "business associates" under HIPAA, handling individually identifiable "Protected Health Information" while producing and servicing life or health insurance. This briefing was provided to ACT's HIPAA Work Group by Bob Chaput of Clearwater Compliance.
for webinar recording
for PDF of presentation slides
Creating a Successful Agency Web Site
This webinar gives independent agencies a great roadmap and practical "how to" tips on creating successful agency web sites both for their current clients and to attract new business. This webinar was hosted by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas as part of its "Moving Your Agency Online" series and the session is presented by agency consultant Steve Anderson. The agency's web sites provide the anchor for an effective online presence and every agent will find this recording well worth his or her time.
Facebook for Insurance Professionals
(August 9, 2011)
Cindy Donaldson, Director of Marketing & Personal & Commercial Lines Sales at Founders Insurance Group, and consultant Rick Morgan, present the ins and outs of using Facebook effectively as an independent agent. The session covered how to set up a Fan Page, utilize Facebook to increase your brand awareness and market share, understand how Facebook Ads work, and connect with clients and prospects.
to view the recorded webinar.
to view PDF of presentation.
Related Web sites of Interest
Established in January 1999, ACT is a part of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA) and provides a candid, action-oriented forum to address the critical workflow and technology issues facing the Independent Agency System. ACT helps participants understand the perspectives of the other stakeholders in the process and provides excellent networking opportunities with the participants who are shaping the future for the industry on these issues.
The Agents Council for Technology (ACT) Website is designed to provide practical technology information for independent agents, brokers and the industry. ACT is a partnership of independent agents, companies, technology vendors, user groups and associations dedicated to enhancing the use of technology and improved work flows within the Independent Agency System. Its major areas of focus are agent and agent-carrier productivity, Internet marketing and agency security. Click here for more information on the programs and benefits of ACT.