INDUSTRIES WE SERVE
The Industries We Serve
THE SERVICES WE PROVIDE
MSPs and the Insurance Vertical
The insurance industry depends on network infrastructures that need to be maintained, updated and protected, but a small- to medium-sized agency’s personnel are not trained to maintain and support that. Their core business is to sell insurance. That brings us to the question: who is going to monitor, manage, secure and repair that infrastructure? The best answer is a Managed Service Provider (MSP).
Insurance companies need MSPs to manage their IT infrastructures for the following reasons
Managing an insurance agency doesn’t = Managing a technical staff: Your career has been about building an agency and serving the insurance needs of your target market with the technical knowledge and expertise you’ve acquired. You need to-and should-focus on what you got into business for. No matter how tech savvy you are, you should be selling insurance not managing your network. To fully be successful in the world of insurance you must be diligent in getting clients, selling policies, and retaining those clients. Nowhere in the job description is there a mention for managing networks. IT personnel are paid (quite well) to make sure your client data is secure and away from prying eyes. You need to have these people as part of your team while you take care of the things you are qualified for. Find out more:
Payment portals and localized sites: Insurance companies have customer portals where customers login at any time to make payments or follow-up on claim activity. These portals need to be maintained with zero downtime. Also, each branch generally has a micro-site which needs to be maintained. All of this makes 24/7 support and monitoring a must.
Data security: Relaxed security is not an option for insurance companies. If data is lost, stolen, or compromised in any other way, it can lead to the loss of clients and reputation. Not to mention the possibility of legal ramifications. Only MSP employees are properly trained to handle all mishaps in the cloud. They already have security solutions in place, and they have the technologies to maintain and secure your data. Providers can also store and backup your data to multiple locations as necessary, so your data will always be safe and receivable, even in the case of employee disruption, theft, or natural disaster.
Monitoring: One way to avoid critical breakdowns and security breaches is 24/7 monitoring. This is the surefire way to avoid and control security breaches, virus and hacker attacks, but it isn’t something a small firm can do on its own. MSPs have the tools and the know how to monitor your site with advanced analytical tools. Monitoring is not just a way to see if something is broken. Their advanced analytics can determine weakness that may cause failures in the future. This advanced monitoring is the most effective proactive way to defend your network against attacks and breakdowns. The best part is that the MSP may find an issue and have it fixed without you ever knowing there was an issue to begin with.
Cloud Hosting: The cloud has permanently changed the way businesses store, use, and access their information. However, managing the cloud without an IT team to back you up can be stressful, time-consuming, and even destructive to your business. With managed IT, you can take the cloud to the next level and allow professionals to optimize it to your needs, all while keeping your data safe and secure.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR): We all know that disasters strike. From a simple power outage to a hardware failure, loss of data and business continuity are real concerns. A MSP can have systems restored and running quickly, minimizing disruption. BCP (Business Continuity Planning) has become a vital part of BDR, since COVID-19; and, MSPs have to factor it into their Disaster Recovery offerings.
Mergers and acquisitions: Mergers and acquisitions are very common in the insurance vertical. As a result, there’s a lot of data that flows in and out. Another offshoot of this is the opening and closing of new office locations. The IT infrastructure needs to be flexible enough to accommodate any scale back and roll out that happens as a result of these changes. Also, this kind of fluid environment makes it difficult to predict data costs.
Insurance-specific Compliance: Organizations such as your State Department of Insurance, FINRA, and the SEC have issued guidance about logging access to data, defending an agency’s network from cyber-liability, reporting on intrusion attempts, and developing plans for disaster response. Insurance-centric MSPs have carefully considered these issues and develop outsourced IT solutions for independent insurance agencies. They look beyond the technology and take into account CSR processes as well as the workflows for producers, marketing, accounting, and account managers
In-house IT management: In-house IT management is not a good option for insurance companies. For example, lack of technology updates can expose your networks to many risks. An overworked in-house IT team may not be able to keep up with those updates that are so vital for continued security of your information.
Finally, insurance companies already have a lot on their plate, including managing risk, regulatory compliance, marketing challenges, customer retention and being competitive. They can’t afford to worry about their networks breaking down. For them, outsourcing is the best option when it comes to managing technology. MSPs will update the technologies as the updates become available to provide you with the best solutions to meet new challenges.
The SLA is the contract between you and the MSP. This contract assures you how the provider will respond to your needs. Without an MSP your IT department will get to it when they get the parts ordered, or you pay extra overtime for them to work on the weekends. MSPs not only take care of the hassles of down time, but they use special analytical monitoring applications to ensure they have a jump start on possible problems before they happen. With an SLA in place, you can guarantee when a problem occurs that it will be fixed immediately. For more information:
The SLA not only makes sure your equipment stays maintained but also ensures efficiency of the entire company. There is a good chance that any problems that occur can be fixed without causing any issues for your employees. That means your business can continue as usual even if there are power outages or server crashes (depending on the circumstances).
What Insurance Companies Look for from an MSP:
Someone who is familiar with the needs of insurance companies, is HIPAA compliant, and knows how to restrict access to your client data. Someone with other insurance companies as existing clients, and what they do that makes them “insurance” friendly.
MSPs & Legal Firms
In recent years, Managed Service Providers (MSP) have become an invaluable information technology system for many different and diverse industries. And as the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, off-site IT management and support provides equal and often superior response times, knowledge-pool and technical underpinnings than small/SMB firms can provide with in-house staff.
This is no truer than in the legal industry where documentation and strict schedules are more important than anything else other than the actual skills and talents of the attorneys.
But even the best lawyer is unable to effectively handle a case when they don’t have the proper technical support behind them. In today’s advanced and the evolving legal world – where even the use of artificial intelligence in legal circles is starting to become commonplace – there are many reasons why legal firms should consider the features and benefits of moving to a dedicated IT managed service provider.
Managed IT services offer a host of benefits for law firms that need hands-on and proactive IT support. An MSP can benefit your law firm in the following ways:
1. Cybercriminals are targeting Law firms of EVERY size:
Law firms are increasingly an attractive target because of the nature of their business. In the course of corporate legal and M&A work, litigation and other legal services they perform, law firms and in-house legal teams collect tons of confidential corporate information and sensitive data like tax returns. They can suffer reputational and financial losses if they are breached, especially if data is exposed. Average ransomware payouts exceed $1 million, according to a recent report from security firm CrowdStrike.
Unfortunately, law firms tend to be more vulnerable than other types of businesses. A report released in May by security firm BlueVoyant found that 15% of a global sample of thousands of law firms showed signs of compromised networks, and all firms were subject to targeted threat activity.
An October American Bar Association report found 29% of law firms reported a security breach, with more than 1 in 5 saying they weren’t sure if there had ever been a breach and 36% reporting past malware infections in their systems. Lack of use of strong security tools could be a factor. The 2020 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, published in October, reveals that only 43% of respondents use file encryption; less than 40% use email encryption, two-factor authentication and intrusion prevention; and less than 30% use full disk encryption and intrusion detection.
Law firms have additional considerations in the event of a cyberattack that are unique to their industry — responsibilities related to ethics, legal liability and attorney-client confidentiality. Because these attacks are not new, law firms could be held liable for not taking reasonable steps to protect client data if it was impacted by a data breach. Lawyers are ethically obligated to be competent in all aspects of client representation and required to maintain confidentiality with regard to all client information and documents.
2. The Information of Constantly Changing Schedules
Legal professionals quite possibly function on the tightest and strictest timelines of any industry. Their mastery of the use of schedules, exhibits and other addendums must be overseen with incredible detail and attention. Not a minute or smallest aspect of the protocol can be lost or mismanaged.
Going between court appointments, client meetings, and office briefings means that one little change at any given point could throw their entire day’s itinerary out of order if they aren’t notified of it immediately. The tech solutions that MSPs provide make sure this kind of information gets uploaded and displayed in the proper places immediately.
3. Accessibility and Documentation
Specific paperwork, documents, and various discovery materials that are continuallybeing added to the existing files in any given case; but, are of little help if attorneys cannot instantly access them online at a moment’s notice. The ability to either pull up these items on mobile devices or even print them and have them in physical form can be the difference between a successful endeavor and a failed one.
All of this depends on reliable, fast, and secure IT services such as those specifically provided by an MSP. Here are just a few of the many critical services that these professionals provide which can help legal firms tremendously:
- Practice management
- Court and .gov website organization
- Client/Document management
These and several other services include the need for not only cloud infrastructure but also a cloud computing and storage provider. These features assist in streamlining office management and other back-end aspects of the function of a law firm and are all included with the right Managed Service Provider. They also help to increase efficiency across the board in every area of a practice which, in turn, assistsin building and maintaining your reputation, as well as maximizing profits.
4. True Technical Expertise
Do you know how to set up remote access on every laptop and company distributed mobile phones in the office?
If an employee came in one day and said that they lost their company-issued phone, would you know how to remotely wipe it so people can’t access sensitive company information?
Could you easily name 3 top-rated anti-virus programs that are also in compliance with certain industry laws?
You may know how to do some basic things on your laptop and phone, but knowing how to operate a device isn’t the same as being a tech expert.
Your job is to be an expert in law, not in technology. This is why having managed IT services can be helpful for law firms. They’ll be able to be the actual technical experts you need on staff to keep everything safe.
5. Fill Gaps
You know that you have great anti-virus software for all of your laptops, but you still don’t have reliable anti-virus software for any of your mobile phones.
Despite switching e-mail providers and finding one that employees like, there’s still a huge problem with spam and inadequate filters.
Instead of trying to find ways to fill in gaps by yourself, it’s time to find an IT service that can do it themselves.
When you’re used to doing IT internally, it can be easy to be ahead in some areas and far behind in others. If you use a managed IT service you’ll have the help you need to fill in any important gaps in service.
A managed IT service can also be a big help to any internal IT staff. They wouldn’t be taking away any jobs, they’ll be able to improve jobs and make employees even more empowered to do their work properly.
6. Improved Access to Information
Have you ever received a frantic call from an attorney before (or during) an important meeting asking about a certain file or piece of paperwork?
In the past, an intern or clerk would have to race across town to deliver important information. Now they’d have to quickly sort through files on a laptop and hope that they picked the right one.
If you had a managed IT service in this situation, there wouldn’t be any need to have a chaotic chase or go on a fact-finding mission.
Your service provider may set up remote access for your employees so they can get to files even if they aren’t at their computers. Or, they’d have a cloud network set up so that people can easily access files.
The best part of this set up is that you don’t have to worry about security issues. They’ll be able to easily set everything up, and they’ll set it up so that everything is secure.
7. Get Ahead of Regulatory Compliance Issues
HIPPA isn’t just important for medical practitioners. If you take any cases centered around medical malpractice or fraud, your law firm needs to be in compliance with HIPPA too.
HIPPA has a lot of rules around sensitive patient data. If your firm doesn’t take the right steps to comply with rules, you could be setting yourself up for legal trouble down the road.
Health care isn’t the only field that has sensitive rules around data and sharing information. There are plenty of industries that have compliance rules, and if you want to handle any cases in them, you need to make sure you’re compliant.
A trustworthy managed IT service won’t have a problem being up to date on the latest compliance laws and rules around regulation. They’ll know everything your employees need to do to ensure that important data stays safe.
8. Manage Technical Growth
When your law firm first started there may not have been a lot of technical equipment. A few stationary desktop computers, a printer or two, and a fax machine were all you needed to do work.
Now nearly every employee has a laptop that can leave the office whenever they do. They have company-issued smartphones that contain sensitive client information.
Eventually, you could find that you need to buy technology you’re not even familiar with.
As your firm grows your technology needs to grow as well. Finding a way to manage everything can get to be tricky. The right managed service can give you the guidance you need as you bring in more tech.
They can help you find sturdy laptops that can withstand being frequently moved from place to place. They can help you find a mobile provider that gives you good rates and find secure phones you won’t have to worry about.
9. Link Every Location Together
Managing the technical needs of one office may have been easy for one in-house IT specialist, but things can get tricky when you have to take other locations into account.
If you don’t use the same IT services, every location could have different rules around managing devices.
Security protocols get more difficult to manage because there’s no consistency, and that can lead to difficult situations when simple problems arise.
This is where having managed services for IT can come in handy. They’ll be able to create a cohesive plan for managing all things related to IT for every location.
10. 24/7 Help
It would be nice if IT problems only happened from 9-5, but there are going to be issues that happen around the clock.
A major server could go down during a holiday weekend. An employee that’s doing extra work over the weekend could find that they need access to important files. There could be signs of a possible data breach at 11 pm.
You never know when you’re going to need IT help, and managed services can give you the help you need whenever you need it.
There’s no need to worry about off-hours, weekends, or holidays with a managed service firm. They’ll be able to give you any kind of IT support you need around the clock.
11. Lower Operating Costs
Having multiple IT specialists on staff may seem helpful, but it isn’t very cost-effective. There are some days where they may not have any work to do, or the work that needs to be done could be easily finished by one person.
Remember, the true cost of an employee isn’t just their hourly wage. You also have to consider health insurance, benefits, and equipment costs.
Instead of hiring multiple people to do a little work, consider cutting down your staff size and relying on managed services for extra help. You can have someone in the office each day to handle small issues and work with employees, and also have round the clock help from a firm that can work on larger issues.
Client Case Study
In 2019, a leading specialty broker dedicated to the US construction industry regained their independence after a stock buyback from the F500 global re/ Insurance brokerage that had acquired them several years earlier.
To accommodate their recent expansion throughout the northeast, and into Colorado, the Client decided to migrate into a 100% Cloud architecture out of their desire for a future-proof IT foundation, strong security, business continuity and business flexibility.
A major issue appeared when the architecture they had approved was not compatible with the file structure of their archived, legacy documentation. The incompatibility also impacted replication and the ability to share key information across their offices. Because of the sheer volume of legacy files, revising them into a compatible structure was too lengthy and expensive to be considered a viable option.
Because of the inability to store, manage, retrieve and replicate files, the Client was forced to manage all information retrieval on an almost 100% manual basis…causing the entire staff to scramble throughout the entire work day…every work day. It threatened to impact their sterling reputation for providing their own clients with response times and personal service recognized to be some of the best in the construction insurance industry.
AFScott was engaged to provide an alternative architecture/solution that would provide the Client with some immediate relief from the ongoing manual ‘scramble’ and, ultimately the kind of documentation management and replication they needed, without having to revise their legacy file structure.
AFS architected a solution that replicated the client’s traditional file management/sharing/sync & backup methodology; but, served up via the AFS Private Cloud. To ensure that downtime was kept to the absolute minimum, an AFS engineer was at the client’s main office and all branch offices. This allowed simultaneous testing of the config, quality assurance and final production environments to be managed by the team in real-time.
BUSINESS RESULT OF AFS SOLUTION
“AFS architected a solution that replicated our traditional on premises file management/sharing/sync and backup; but, served up via their Proprietary Private Cloud.
With the successful implementation and rollout of this new solution, CRP has enjoyed much more IT efficiency. As a result, we are enjoying higher levels of Customer Service and Client Success than ever before. Thank you AF Scott!!!”
Bill Linney, Partner
Construction Risk Partners