Adopting new technology can make it easier for your agents to do their jobs, provide 24/7 self-service to your clients, and differentiate your agency from the rest of the field. That said, it’s important to first evaluate whether or not using third-party tech vendors could put your client’s data at risk.
Today’s insurance buyers are used to having answers and options literally at their fingertips. Implementing technology solutions can help customers get service when they want it how they want it. It’s easy to be enticed by the “next best thing” offered by vendors at insurance industry tech events. The right tech partners are able to help clients pay their bills, download proof of insurance, get requotes, and review their policies without leaving the house or making a phone call. While investing in technology demonstrates that you value the customer experience, the solution must meet your needs without exposing client data.
A 2019 survey by Parks Associates revealed that 79% of consumers are concerned about data security and privacy issues. Before you sign a contract with a new tech partner, make sure you understand how the company will safeguard data—and your agency’s reputation.
Here are twelve questions you should ask a tech vendor before signing a contract.
1. How is your data flow structured?
Will the vendor use an application programming interface (API), cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) interface, or will the solution be fully integrated? Be sure you (and your IT staff, if you have one) understand how the information will flow between your internal system and the vendors. If it’s not clear how the solution communicates and shares data, it may be challenging to protect that data.
2. What data will you store?
Confirm that your agency is only sharing the precise information that each vendor needs to do its work. Don’t share non-essential data with vendors, especially personally identifiable, financial, and proprietary information.
3. Where and how will our data be stored?
You can’t keep something safe if you don’t know where it is. Will there be redundancies and frequent backups?
4. How do you monitor the system for potential threats?
Like monitoring your credit or home security, monitoring customer data helps stay ahead of potential threats.
5. What would you do if the system is hacked?
The vendor should regularly test its cybersecurity, conducting spot checks and full mock attacks to assess how its system and support staff respond.
6. What verifications and reviews have your applications gone through?
Trustworthy, third-party security audits of the specific application (such as an SOC 2 audit) can provide you with important peace of mind.
7. How many full-time security workers does your company employ?
The tech vendor you partner with should have full-time workers solely dedicated to security. The more people who work on security full-time, the safer your data is likely to be.
8. Who will have access to our agency’s data?
There should be explicit limits to who has access to your agency and client data.
9. Who owns my data?
Both parties must be clear about—and comfortable with—who owns the data you share (now and in the future).
10. What experience do you have with the unique compliance issues of our industry?
The insurance industry is highly regulated, so any vendor should have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the specific compliance issues your agency regularly faces.
11. Is there information about your data security measures that we can share with our clients?
Clients value transparency. They want to know how their data is being collected, used, and protected. If appropriate, clients should receive regular security updates and a method for opting out.
12. What are my options if things don’t work out?
If you must pull out of a contract, make sure you understand how (and in which format) you’ll receive your data. Can they provide an API or an export so you can quickly receive your data? Always have an exit strategy available.
Technology can make your job easier and improve your ability to serve your clients when and where they choose. But partnering with an outside vendor and sharing confidential data with a third party carries risk. Understanding what happens to your data is critical for your insurance agency and your clients.
Thanks for reading our educational resource! Any above reference to a specific company, method, or product is meant for educational purposes only and is not specifically endorsed by Pie.