EZLynx Reporting Gets Supercharged, New Tools for Deeper Analysis

EZLynx, an industry-leading Agency Management System and Comparative Rating vendor for the independent insurance industry, announces new reporting tools to increase the usability of information provided within their ONE PLATFORM™ suite. These enhancements include optimizations and new features that will benefit agencies who want to take full advantage of their system to make intelligent, data-driven business decisions.

“Our primary goal in this update is to make the reports in EZLynx more intuitive. Agents should be able to get actionable information quickly and easily. These updates put EZLynx yet another step beyond our competition.” says John McKay, Director of Sales at EZLynx. “Think of it as management system reporting on steroids, now with the ability to schedule custom reports out to users or teams. This not only brings significant enhancements to the Reporting area in EZLynx, but the underlying technology will also allow us to bring the full force of our reporting capabilities directly into other areas of the product, including Retention Center® and Accounting.”

While the latest enhancements have placed an increased focus on usability, there are also several new important features. “We are very excited about the report scheduling tool,” McKay continues. “With this feature, agents can have reports scheduled to automatically run on a recurring basis. This should save a lot of time for people who run a specific report on a regular basis. In addition, being able to slice and dice the data is a request EZLynx has now fulfilled by way of a Master Report. This will give agents full control of almost every field inside of EZLynx and allow users to apply filters, sorting, charts, paging, and groupings to create custom reports which users can save and run as needed for future use.”

Let’s Take a Closer Look at EZLynx Reporting

The Applicant Summary Report shows agents demographic information on their current policy holders. This report includes valuable information like Active Policies and Average Premium per Customer as well as summary statistics on gender, education level, and marital status.

EZLynx Reporting - Applicant Summary Report

Coming Soon to EZLynx Reporting

The ability to Email a report to your colleagues without leaving the reports page is coming soon and will help with large files that take a long time to export. With this feature you can have the report emailed to you and your coworkers so that you can continue working while the export process runs.

EZLynx Reporting - Email a Report

Scheduled Reports is a new feature that will enable a report to run on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You will no longer have to log in to the reports page to run the same report each month; simply have it scheduled to be delivered to your inbox!

EZLynx Reporting - Schedule a Report

These changes are only the beginning. As a company, we are committed to continually improving our product based on the needs of our customers, and that commitment extends to Reporting where we have a grand vision that spans far past 2016. From new reports that show unsold business, to visualizations showing policy trends over time, Reporting has an exciting future at EZLynx!


Facebook Marketing Tips for Insurance Agents

ezlynx_facebook_marketing_insurance_agents

 

In the day and age of instant gratification, clicks, likes, and shares, marketing for insurance agencies has shifted drastically over the past few years. There is no question about it, either – you need a presence on social media, especially Facebook.

With more than 1.44 billion active monthly users, Facebook is the largest social media network online today. You’d be doing your business a disservice by not being a part of this network. Facebook marketing is not a difficult objective, but it does require plenty of time and attention. The tips below should be able to help you get a broader idea of some tips to help you successfully market your insurance agency on Facebook.

Engagement is Key

Insurance policies are products that don’t tremendously differ from one company to another – the difference is the customer service and experience provided. People will buy insurance from you because they like you; the product is secondary to your character.

Facebook allows you to measure your page’s engagement, which is a valuable tool. You can monitor it from a week-to-week snapshot, showing your Page Like progress, as well as post reach and engagement. This information will tell you how your followers respond to different media posts. If blog articles don’t draw large engagement, maybe try videos or unique photos.

The purpose of Facebook marketing is to ensure your business remains top-of-mind for your potential client base. The goal is that when they go to buy a new home or car, they’ll think of their friend who sells insurance.

Know the Rules

Before going too far out on a limb with your engagement ideas, knowing the rules of this platform is certainly a best-practice. First, you must be familiar with your state’s regulations for insurance marketing. You should never give out false information when saying something online because there is a permanent record of everything online.

Besides meeting your state’s regulations, you must abide by Facebook’s policies as well. In addition to all of that, you should use Facebook as a gold mine and not a dumping ground for every single article you think is cool. The truth is, it’s not about the amount of content being produced (although consistency is important). The importance has quality content flow through your channels on a consistent basis.

Use Facebook Ads

Using Facebook Ads is a critical tool to use to grow your following online. You can customize your ad’s to target certain demographics, locations, and interests. You can also set how long an ad will run and chose your budget. You can start using Facebook ads for as little as $1 a day – however much money you want to spend.

As an EZLynx Gold Agency Website customer, you are enlisted in Facebook ads. The campaign is on-going through the life of your Agency Website and is tailored to your location and business needs.

Be Social

Social media marketing entails a commitment to being social. Your prospective customers want to interact with you on social media to get to know you as a persona, not a company. This is an important thing to remember within independent insurance agencies.

The idea behind social media is not to make an immediate sales or results, but to build relationships. The purpose behind Facebook is to form a connection with your potential clients.

Realistically, not many people will search for an insurance agent on Facebook and try to message them for a quote. Instead by seeing a local, independent insurance agent in their News Feed, your business is on the top of the prospective clients mind. Some clients may search for you once they become a policy holder as a quick way to access your website or to find your phone number and other business information.

 


What’s In YOUR Agency Management System?

So if I were to ask you, “What is your agency’s rate of retention?” (in general, not specifically by line of business), what would your answer be? 80%? 90%? Higher, or lower? Chances are, and I would be willing to wager on this, that your answer would be the same that I hear from most agencies: “Oh, we have a fantastic retention rate, I am sure it is over 90%!”

Well, that is fantastic, except that:

a) There is an excellent chance that your response is incorrect as it is most likely lower than you assumeb) How come you cannot tell me exactly what it is, for each line of business?

b) How come you cannot tell me exactly what it is, for each line of business?

Well, the answer to both of my statements above is very simple, but before we discuss the answers and why, let us chat a bit about retention, and its impact on your business and its employees.

Assuming your agency has a high rate of retention, let’s say 90%. That appears to be an excellent rate, considering all of the outside influences that the independent agents face these days with direct writers, online marketers, and what have you. However, even though 90% appears on the surface to be something to brag about on the golf course with your fellow agents and brokers, a 90% rate of retention very simply means that you now have to work 10% harder than you did last year, just to break even! In addition, let’s also assume that you have been in business for ten years, and each year your agency is operating at a 90% retention level, so when you extrapolate that figure out in reverse, you are constantly having to work harder and harder than the year before, just so that you do not lose what you and your staff worked so diligently for previously!

Let’s now complicate this calculation even further: have your carriers all called you this year and told you that they are going to raise your commission rates, increase profit sharing, and expect you to do less service work? I don’t think so…if anything, your commissions (if they haven’t been reduced), have most likely remained the same. Granted, premiums have increased so you will make up some of the revenue that way, but that is the equivalent of a supermarket raising the price of milk to offset the cost of bread. Furthermore, your agency expenses have been on the rise with labor costs, health care and other insurance costs, rent, utilities, etc., so an increase in premiums does not necessarily offset the 10% loss of clientele.

There are a few different ways to manage this loss of business and revenue. However, you cannot address the issue until you are fully aware of exactly what the issue is, and can definitively determine exactly what the agency’s rate of retention is. So how do you do that? Well, to begin with, you need an automated tool that will help you to measure exactly how you keep your existing business. For instance, as a business owner, you should have at your fingertips the ability to go into your management system, request a report on business retained and have the ability to manage the renewal process. You should also be able to not only see this information when you request it but also be alerted to indicators throughout the policy year on factors that may cause the policy to not renew. If you have this information automatically provided to you and your appropriate staff on a regular basis, you may then implement a process and schedule tasks to address these areas of concern, before you receive the call requesting a BOR (broker of record), or copy of their existing declarations page, or even worse: an LPR (lost policy release) which indicates that the coverage has been replaced.

Don’t work harder to generate less income…let automation do this for you. EZLynx has patented tools to automate these processes for you. For additional information on how EZLynx can help you and your business, please contact us today!

 


Top 5 Social Media Myths Busted for Property & Casualty Insurance Agents

Social Media Marketing

Take a look around. If you’re in a room occupied by people, more than likely at least one person is on their phone right now and probably using a social media app of some sort. It may be you, right now, reading this article. The fact is, social media marketing is an extremely powerful tool, and you need to know how to control and manage your brand online.

With such opportunity comes myths and someone waiting to tell you “but, this is how we’ve always done it.” Social media marketing is an ever evolving market and to be successful, you must stay at the forefront of your industry trends and news. Conquer the naysayers with our helpful myth-busting tips.

My customers are not on social media

Fact: More than 73% of Americans have a social media profile of some sort, some even have multiple. That number is up six percent from the year prior. Therefore, the majority of your customer base being on social media is extremely likely.

People look to social media outlets for local and national news, local goings on, and to keep up with companies, products, and people that they admire.

Social Media Marketing is too time-consuming

Fact: With a proper plan in place, an automated social media strategy can be maintained without depleting your time.

A quality social media marketing strategy in itself is a time-consuming process; we do not want to lead you to believe that as soon as you’re active on Twitter you’ll have a plethora of followers and leads in no time. However, with an automation platform, a calendar, and a constant stream of quality content, you can increase the amount of activity while reducing the amount of time invested.

Marketing automation tools, such as HootSuite, allow you to schedule articles and posts to generate in the future, under your command. You can choose which platform you want to share on, what content you want to share, and when you want to share it. Checkmate!

You need to be on every social media platform

Fact: Not all social media platforms are appropriate for your business. No one needs to see your insurance agency on SnapChat. However you may be well perceived on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook alike.

Facebook has more than 1.5 billion active users on a monthly basis and is by far the world’s largest social media network. Insurance agents have the opportunity to expose their brand to a vastly wide audience.

Similar to Facebook, Twitter is a popular social media vehicle. You have the ability to share relevant content, reach out to other users, and connect with clients in real time. Many major business organizations have people dedicated to responding to users on social media outlets. For instance, if you tweet to @SpotifyCares, you’ll most likely get a response within an hour or less.

P&C Insurance Agents should follow big business social media models.

Fact: Each business is unique, including your own personal, small business. This myth is possibly the farthest away from the truth. With any business, your goal is to customize your social media strategy to your audience and your specialties.

As an independent insurance agent, your small business is representing a community. You need to think local. You do not need to follow in the ways of big box insurance companies like Geico or Allstate. You are trying to get through to your state – maybe even a couple of states – but most importantly, you’re trying to make an impression on your community. You need to focus locally; the goal is not to cast a wide net so much as the correct one.

Try to get as many followers, fans, and likes as possible

Fact: Social media should aim to create meaningful connections. Use social media as a listening tool. Follow your customers. Become in tune with their needs and what they are doing to make your business more successful.


How Much Closer Are We To A “Driverless” Future?

Driverless

Although the technology prophecy in Back to the Future: II, much like its World Series prognosis, was wrongly predicted – autonomous vehicles may actually be here before we know it. This time last year we discussed how driverless car technology was progressing and what it would mean to those in the insurance industry. Experiments have been conducted on automating cars since at least the 1920’s.  So, have there been any significant advancements in 2015?

What is an AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE?

An Autonomous Vehicle is capable of fulfilling the main transportation capabilities of a traditional car and is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. Autonomous vehicles sense their surroundings with such techniques as radar, lidar, GPS, and computer vision. Advanced control systems interpret sensory information to identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant signage.

AV Technology Leaders

This year, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO Elon Musks said “autonomous vehicle technology is advancing to where self-driving cars will be taken for granted soon.”  CBS news reports that just last month (October 2015) Tesla rolled out its new autopilot system in its Model S, calling it a step on the path to a self-driving car.  The results have been interesting – with Youtube search results ranging from “scary”, “amazing” and even “Tesla Autopilot saves the day.”

Where is the liability if this technology fails? When interviewed by CBS news, Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who specializes in autonomous vehicles says “by marketing a system that does some but not all of the driving, Tesla could be setting itself up for liability first if the vehicle malfunctions, but second if the driver of the vehicle misuses or abuses the system”.

Be “In the Know” and Keep strategizing

As technology changes, the insurance industry will have to adapt along with it.  Last year we talked about how driverless technology could eventually lead to lower premiums and insurance company profits.  Where do you think liability lies when it comes to “driverless” vehicles?  How do you think this will affect the insurance industry?


Lowest Quote DOES NOT EQUAL Policies Sold (Part 2)

Earlier this year, we shared our research on how the purchase of a personal lines auto policy only had about a 50/50 chance of resulting from the lowest quote.  It is great to know that agents understand the value of a particular product and can sell the value as often as the price.

When it comes to homeowners policies, the ratio of selling the higher cost, more valuable product is even more dramatic.  With respects to homeowners policies written, only 43% resulted from the carrier with the lowest quote!

Here are the same two charts from the previous post, but with home data:

Which Home Quotes Get Written

Besides more value, there is also more elasticity in homeowners quotes.  For example, on average the price differential between the lowest and second lowest quote was an increase of 19%.  In contrast, homeowners policies  saw an 11% increase in the price of the second lowest quote for a total of 21% over the lowest price.

How Much More for Home Policies

Statistically the data demonstrates that agents are clearly more concerned about value than they are about price.   Please do misunderstand, having a competitive price is important.  However, you do not have to be the lowest price to win the business.


Lowest Quote DOES NOT EQUAL Policies Sold (Part 1)

If you ask most carrier marketing representatives or agents, they will tell you that only the lowest quote presented in the comparative rater can be sold.  In other words, the lowest price always wins.

In actuality, we have found that the correlation of number of policies sold and lowest quotes is around 50/50.  In almost half the cases (49%) of new business policy sales, the carrier that wrote the policy did not have the lowest quote.

In reviewing tens of thousands of new business policy sales by nearly a thousand agencies during the first half of 2014, we were able to see a few key patterns emerge with respect to writing personal automobile policies:

Which Quotes Get Written?

Which Quotes Get Written

We learned there is more price elasticity than many carriers may believe when it comes to personal automobile polices.  For example, more than 1 in 5 policies written (22%) resulted from the second lowest quote.

How Much More?

How Much More?

Clearly, there are a lot of factors that go into picking the best policy for a customer.  However, our findings show that the odds of selling a new policy when you have the lowest quote is still no better than the odds of a coin flip.  So which do you pick, heads or tails?

If you are curious about our findings or are interested in learning more about EZLynx data, please contact Brady Polansky by email at [email protected] or call (972) 410-3856.


Why Your Agency Needs to Embrace eSignatures Now

Why Your Agency Needs to Embrace eSignatures NowSelling insurance can be very rewarding, knowing you’re providing men and women with the peace of mind they need to live their lives with greater confidence and security.

But it does pose challenges, especially with regard to productivity. Insurance sales require a significant amount of data entry, both for gathering rates and for finalizing policy agreements. That’s why agencies, carriers and agents are on a seemingly endless quest for ways to do business better, smarter and faster — in short, more productively.

Fortunately, technology has provided several solutions. There are many examples — some good, some not-so-good, and some that are so helpful, they can significantly increase your agency’s productivity and, ultimately, its bottom line. One great and simple solution is eSignature.

eSignature: The “next big thing” is here

One of the most recent innovative and potentially industry-changing developments is the adoption of eSignature. Why? There are lots of reasons; topping the list: eSignature reduces paperwork, significantly cuts down on turnaround time, streamlines agencies’ practices and workloads, and — and this is a big one — it is beloved by clients.

If you’ve been considering adopting eSignatures in your agency but you’re not sure if it’s the right choice for you, here are four primary benefits you should be considering:

  • It saves resources. Obviously, virtual documents cut down on paper waste, and they even reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on the amount of mail that needs to be delivered by fuel-consuming vehicles. But beyond those physical resources, eSignatures save a considerable amount of time; some agencies have reported reductions of as much as two weeks in turnaround time simply by adopting eSignatures as part of their regular routine.
  • It increases productivity. Case studies indicate eSignatures can save millions of dollars in paper-related expenses, boost productivity by more than 60 percent and significantly reduce errors as well. Plus, because the process saves time, it also leaves more time for connecting with new customers and learning about new products that can suit your customers’ needs.
  • It offers added security. There are no paper forms to get lost in the mail, no faxes that can be misfiled or wind up in the wrong hands. Plus, by automatically importing signatures to customer files, eSignatures provide a verifiable audit trail to decrease the risk of errors and omissions and provide extra security for you and your customers.
  • It makes your customers happy. Let’s face it: Customers crave convenience. If they have to remember to sign a document and send it back by mail, they’re more likely to procrastinate — maybe even have second thoughts. Waiting for customers to sign and return documents is one of the primary bottlenecks in insurance sales, causing delays that affect your revenue as well as your customers’ security and peace of mind. eSignatures allow customers to sign right away using their computer or mobile device as soon as a document is emailed to them, so they can send it back to your office immediately. That’s a boon to your agency and your customers — and there’s an added bonus: More convenience means greater customer satisfaction, and that can even result in more referrals coming your way.

But is it legal?

The short and definitive answer is absolutely. In fact, federal law says eSignatures are just as valid and legally enforceable as traditional written signatures, and there are dozens of state laws that concur. In fact, Congress considers eSignatures so important, it actually memorialized the day the federal law was signed: June 30 is now known as National ESIGN Day (yes, it’s a thing – PDF).

The insurance industry is always evolving; new challenges are constantly cropping up. Adopting and adapting to new efficiency-enhancing technology is one of the smartest things your agency can do to make sure it stays competitive, both now and in the future.

As part of its ongoing commitment to helping agents and agencies increase productivity and boost efficiency, insurance solutions provider EZLynx is leading the way in adaptive eSignature solutions by providing an integrated system that enables agents to send off action items with just a few clicks. EZLynx’s eSignature system uses a two-part authentication process that conforms to both the Electronic Signatures in Global & National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).

If you’re interested in learning more about how eSignature can help your agency do business better, give EZLynx a call toll-free at 877-932-2382 or sign up for a free 10-day trial of EZLynx Rating Engine and see how an all-in-one platform for Rating, Management System, and more can help streamline your agency.


Driverless Cars and the Future of Auto Insurance

Driverless Cars and Auto Insurance

Automobile experts eye driverless cars as a means to reducing congestion and accidents. However, driverless cars are currently in a gray area as far as legality is concerned, and as a result, they pose difficult questions for the insurance industry. But what truly defines a “driverless car” and how will the industry as a whole react to cars whose drivers are actually only passengers?

Automation and Insurance

Currently, assisted driving features are available on mass-market automobile models. They can read road signs, and inform their drivers to stay within posted speed limits. Autonomous (Driverless) vehicles will be different. They offer driving without distractions and will drive with an eye to the current road and weather conditions. They can see 360 degrees around them, and are believed to have the capacity to potentially cut the number of accidents which result in death, injury, and property damage.

Autonomous (driverless) vehicles present a new area for insurers. Since they operate with sophisticated computer algorithms, what happens if a car is hacked? If a car’s software is determined to be at fault for an accident, rather than the driver, this means that insurance companies may well be introducing new products to automakers to protect against that possibility.

Since premiums are inherently tied to likelihood of damage and the costs to repair it, driverless technology could eventually lead to lower premiums and insurance company profits. Some insiders feel that the outlook for insurers is brighter, stating that the software and equipment needed for driverless cars is expensive and could lead to comprehensive policy increases.

For a different perspective, some insurers look to home insurance. Like homeowner’s insurance, automobile claims will be rare, but quite high in price. Auto insurance premiums may – and probably will – go down, but other operating costs and claims will as well. Insurance may be even more profitable for the insurers that survive.

Looking to the Future

Even a 25% drop in collisions in crowded urban areas will reduce the number of accidents related to congestion. This may lead to insurers feeling the effects of assisted driving long before they have to face true driverless cars.

Since there is no actuarial data for the new technology, insurers face important, strategic choices. Some may delay price reductions for greater profits in the short term. In our opinion, other insurers (who are more focused on the actual transition) will use claim drops to implement aggressive pricing to gain market share. These changes may be seen within the next several years.

Begin Strategizing

As today’s insurers collide with driverless cars, they may possibly thrive depending on how well they manage this transition, as disruptive as it may be. There are possible pitfalls ahead for insurers, but there are monumental opportunities as well. How do you think the insurance industry should respond? Comment with your thoughts!