by Jeff Kite, President, Kite Technology Group
Since starting Kite Technology more than 28 years ago, I’ve spoken with many insurance agency owners. Over the past years, people have increasingly asked questions about security, data and how to make their teams more efficient. The conversations were productive, and I wanted to bring those insights to a wider audience. Here are some of the most common questions and themes from those discussions.
Q: What Trends Should Independent Insurance Agencies Watch in 2020?
There are several to monitor, and each will affect security and productivity.
1. Ransomware’s new chapter
Cybercriminal behavior has shifted in the past few months, and it’s changed how we think about ransomware. In the past, hackers encrypted files but left them in place. You either restored from a backup or paid to get your data back. Now, files are stolen. Cybercriminals publish the breach event on a public website and threaten to expose the data.
2. Increased regulations around security and compliance
Certain steps you take to secure your environment will be prescribed by state governments and regulatory bodies. Some states, like New York, already have their own requirements for which security controls need to be in place. Others are adopting the model laws published by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
3. Third-party vendors emerge as a mainstream threat
Third-party vendors – especially ones with admin access – are highly attractive targets for cybercriminals because the payoff is bigger. When a cybercriminal successfully targets a vendor, they don’t access one company’s system and data; they can infiltrate every organization working with the vendor.
4. Cloud everything
The cloud really is the best solution for most insurance agencies. Line-of-business applications all have cloud-based offerings. With Office 365, you can access email, file storage, collaboration and Microsoft applications any time, anywhere.
5. Workforce mobility
Younger workforces want to work from any place at any time. 100% remote work is becoming the norm and employers need to secure the hardware, software and data their team uses in and out of the office.
6. InsurTech Innovations
InsurTech uses applications and add-ons to solve problems and create new approaches to standard processes. For instance, before car insurers had monitors you plug into your car, drivers were deemed “good” or “bad” based on traffic tickets and accidents. Now, data from vehicles is collected, saving money for people who really are good drivers.
Q: How Can My Insurance Agency Capitalize on New Technologies and Stay Secure?
Ask for help. 10 years ago, you might have been able to manage your own updates or get help from a family friend, but today’s systems are more complex. Compliance, security and the cloud all require continual monitoring to confirm everything is running smoothly and each endpoint is protected.
When systems aren’t maintained, your team encounters issues and productivity drops because an app isn’t working. Or, you’re exposed to threats because an update wasn’t installed. Managed service providers work proactively to minimize the possibility that something goes wrong.
Q: What do I need to know before Implementing Innovative Apps, Like Those Emerging from InsurTech?
Don’t be tempted by an app or plug-in because it’s flashy and new. Before you integrate it into your workflow, do your research. Ask if it’s tried and true or a flash in the pan. Validate the product you’re considering. Read reviews or reach out to peers at industry events or online communities to see if anyone you know has used the tool.
If you’re unsure, ask your IT expert and adopt proven technologies. Tried and tested solutions keep data and systems secure. Use tools that make your employees more agile and your business will be more profitable.
Q: How Can I Increase Productivity and Efficiency?
The cloud is one option. When you move from on-premise to the cloud, you’re not dependent on your building’s power and internet to work. Cloud based systems are almost always more robust and secure than an on-premise system. You experience less downtime and employees can work from wherever. It allows your team to work how and when they want and makes them more effective at their jobs.
Q: What Should I Look For in an IT Provider?
Find a partner who understands your industry. Many of our staff have insurance backgrounds. They’re seasoned professionals who understand the lingo and concerns. This makes it easier to work with clients on everything from day-to-day business activities to strategic initiatives.
Kite Technology can help you better serve your clients.
Contact us today to learn how we regularly leverage technology for our clients to maximize productivity, reduce costly downtime, prepare for future growth and drive strategic initiatives.