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The Connected Business of Insurance

3 Technology Best Practices for Agency Business Continuity Planning

June 06, 2013

by Greg Shiple
Business continuity plan

Michael McMahon, CISR, Claims & Advertising,
The McMahon Agency, Ocean City NJ

The 2013 hurricane season is expected to produce “more and stronger hurricanes” than even the active 2012 season, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The increased prevalence of natural disasters such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy and the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma carries with it potentially devastating effects on insurance agencies that aren’t prepared for them. It’s an agency’s job, after all, to provide connectivity, continuous service and the quick dispatch of information when its customers experience a natural or man-made crisis.

How Your Agency Can Prepare
Agencies can prepare themselves for a crisis event or natural disaster by creating a business continuity plan (BCP). A BCP lays out planning considerations, protocols and procedures for potentially crippling events to help ensure a business, such as an agency, can continue to run smoothly, protect its revenue stream and respond to customers, most importantly.

Having the right technology in place is key to ensuring an agency stays viable after a disaster. Here are three best practices for incorporating technology into a BCP and protecting some of your most valuable assets: reputation, customer loyalty and data.

1. Leverage Cloud Computing
Cloud computing, running applications through the Internet rather than on-premise company servers or computer, allows an agency and agents to quickly and easily access applications and business data using Internet-enabled devices. This ultimately enables an agent to interact and serve customers regardless of time and place, ensuring better customer support, including during and after a crisis.

2. Integrate Social Media into Disaster-Related Communications
Using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook allows organizations to provide information and updates to employees and customers faster than traditional channels. Studies have found that social media usage rises during and immediately after disasters as people seek timely information. Insurance agencies should take advantage of the efficiency, collaborative nature, and the unparalleled reach of social media to effectively communicate during a disruptive event.

3. Utilize Mobility to Broaden Reach
Combining mobile with cloud-based solutions creates an optimal platform for quick data access and provides agencies with increased operational flexibility. Mobility offers a communication channel when others may not be accessible, allowing agents to conduct business from anywhere and it provides customers with greater access to resources when they need it most. According to a recent American Red Cross survey, mobile apps and social media are popular sources for information during a disaster.

How is your agency leveraging technology to prepare for the unexpected, protect valuable company assets, and ensure your agency is available when your customers need you most?

Greg Shiple, AIS, is vice president of Customer Support for Applied Systems. Shiple began his Applied career as a programmer in 1986. In the early ’90s, he was among the developers responsible for products including fax@vantage®, ConneXion®, PocketTAM® and Vision Custom Forms. Shiple helped develop and promote brokerage-carrier communication through WARP technologies, which formed the basis for IVANS® Transformation Station. 

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