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.