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ITC Press Releases

Second Annual InsurTech Scholarship Open for Applications
The second annual InsurTech Scholarship is open for applications. Deadline to apply is September 15, 2017.

POSTED JULY 17, 2017 9:00 AM
ITC Named a Top Technology Provider in Insurance Business America for Second Year
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of websites, marketing, comparative rating and management software and services, announced today that readers of Insurance Business America have named ITC a top technology provider for the second year in a row.

POSTED JUNE 26, 2017 9:00 AM
ITC Launches GAINSCO Buy Now in TurboRater for Websites in Texas
ITC launches GAINSCO Auto Insurance® Buy Now in Texas in its online consumer rater TurboRater for Websites to help independent agents compete effectively online.

POSTED MARCH 20, 2017 9:00 AM
Albert Appouh Wins the Inaugural InsurTech Scholarship
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today Albert Appouh as the inaugural recipient of the InsurTech Scholarship.

POSTED NOVEMBER 09, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Launches Homeowner Rating API for Online Agencies and Lead Providers
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, made homeowner insurance rates available via its web service-based rating API today.

POSTED NOVEMBER 02, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Integrates TurboRater with Compass Driving Records
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today the integration of TurboRater, its comparative rating system, with Compass Driving Records to provide its users with access to motor vehicle reports (MVRs).

POSTED AUGUST 24, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Debuts Inaugural InsurTech Scholarship
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of agency marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today the debut of an annual scholarship program to support the future of the insurance industry.

POSTED AUGUST 17, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Adds First Chicago to Binding Online with TurboRater for Websites in Illinois and Indiana
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today it has added First Chicago Insurance to the binding online technology in Illinois and Indiana in its online consumer rater TurboRater for Websites.

POSTED AUGUST 10, 2016 9:00 AM
TurboRater Becomes First Comparative Rater to Provide Two-Factor Authentication
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today it is adding a second layer of security to its comparative rating and sales system TurboRater with two-factor authentication, making it the first comparative rater to offer this extra security.

POSTED AUGUST 03, 2016 9:00 AM
ITC Integrates with Compare.com and Empowers Market Growth
Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), a provider of marketing, rating and management software and services, announced today its integration with Compare.com to help provide more auto insurance quotes to online insurance shoppers.

POSTED JULY 27, 2016 9:00 AM

ITC Blog

How to Create Financial Projections for Your Agency's Business Plan

Perhaps the most intimidating part of any business plan is the financial projections. Financial statements are filled with terms and concepts that can be unfamiliar and overwhelming.

If this is you, know you’re not alone. It is possible to put together financial projections for your business plan without a background in finance. 

Purpose of Financial Projections

There are two main reasons for including financial projections in your business plan.

First, the revenue potential of your agency is going to be one of the first questions investors or lenders are going to ask. They will want to see projections that your agency will grow. They want to know they will see a return on their investment or that you will be able to repay the loan.

Carriers will also be interested in knowing high level financial details of your business plan as they provide appointments.

But, the most important reason is for your benefit. This is your budget. How you know what you’ll need, when you’ll start to make a profit, etc. And, like the business plan as a whole, it’s also your guide to running your agency.

Things to Remember

Before you get started, there are a few things to keep in mind as you work on these financial statements.

First, projections are not accounting statements. They are an educated guess. So, don’t get bogged down in specifics. Summarize and gather information so you can give it your best guess. Which leads to the next point.

Be realistic. A sales forecast that starts off relatively flat and then drastically jumps up is exciting. And unlikely. To create a credible financial section of your business plan, provide realistic estimates for sales, revenue and expenses.

Get help if you need it. If you have experience in the insurance industry, you may not need help. You can use what you already know to create your financial projections.

If you’re new to the industry, find other agents you can talk to who will share their knowledge. Or, ask your local or state association if they have anything that can help you. You can also ask an accountant who has insurance industry experience.

How to Write Financial Projections

1. Sales Forecast

You will need to project your sales over the next three years. Do the first year’s forecast by month. You can do quarterly for years two and three. Break your projected sales into sections by line of business.

It can be difficult to forecast sales because policies are priced differently according to the person and the assumed risk. Which means your commissions will differ sale to sale.

But remember... Financial projections are an estimate. Your best guess. So, use the average policy premium for your target market and average commission per policy.

You’ll also need to calculate your cost of goods sold (COGS). For service-based businesses, COGS may be referred to as cost of revenue. By either name, this number will help you find the gross margin you expect per policy.

COGS are all the direct costs involved with selling and delivering the product or service that your new agency sells. This can include any sales commissions and postage costs, like if you mail or ship policy paperwork. Divide the total of these costs by the number of policies you expect to sell that month. That’s your COGS per policy.

Here’s a template you can use to build your sales forecast.

LOBs Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
LOB 1      
Policies Sold      
Total Sales      
Total COGS      
Total Margin      
       
LOB 2      
Policies Sold      
Total Sales      
Total COGS      
Total Margin      
       
Total Policies Sold      
Total Sales      
Total COGS      
Total Margin      

 

2. Expenses Budget

After the sales forecast, you know your gross margin. There’s still some work to do to find your net profit, what your agency will actually have at the end of each month or year. Starting with your expenses.

When projecting your expenses, you’ll want to separate your startup expenses from your operating expenses. Startup expenses are what you need to get your agency started. This can include licensing fees and costs to register your business. Operating expenses are the costs to continue running your agency. Your expenses budget is where you put items like rent, comparative rater, agency management system, insurance, salaries, advertising, etc.

 

3. Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement shows how much cash is available as the dollars move in and out of your business. You base this statement on your sales forecasts, balance sheet and other projections.

Here’s a template you can use for your cash flow statement.

  Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
Cash Revenue from Sales      
       
Cash Disbursements      
Owners Distribution      
Payroll      
Operating Expenses      
Line of Credit Interest      
Line of Credit Repayments      
Dividends Paid      
Total Cash Disbursements      
       
Beginning Cash Balance      
ADD: Total Cash Revenues      
DEDUCT: Total Cash Disbursements      

 

Remember, you’re going to be living off your startup capital or borrowed money until your revenue increases. Starting in your second year, you will have renewal income. This is why retention is important.

Retention drives the long term value (the total financial value) of your customers for your agency. But, a blanket retention rate is not the best way to understand that long term value. There are other metrics that can help you understand this better.

Back to cash flow in the first few years of your new agency. In years two and three, you might have some months where you break even and some months with a positive cash flow. Be prepared for those first years of your agency while you work to get your revenues greater than your expenses.

 

4. Profit and Loss Statement

This is also called an income statement or earnings statement. Your profit and loss statement uses numbers from your sales forecast, expenses budget and cash flow statement to get your net profit. It shows how profitable you expect your agency to be.

Like your sales forecast, you should break up your income statement by month for the first year. Year two can be quarterly. Years three and on can be an annual statement.

Here’s a sample profit and loss statement.

  Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Annual Total
Revenue        
     LOB 1        
     LOB 2        
Total Revenue        
COGS        
     LOB 1        
     LOB 2        
Total COGS        
Gross Margin        
Operating Expenses        
     Advertising        
     Insurance        
     Legal/Professional Services        
     Technology (e.g., rater or management system)        
     Licenses        
     Office Expenses        
     Payroll        
     Rent        
     Supplies        
     Travel, Meals, Entertainment        
     Utilities        
     Miscellaneous        
Total Operating Expenses        
Other Expenses        
     Depreciation        
     Interest - Loan        
     Interest - Credit Card        
     Interest - Line of Credit        
Total Other Expenses        
Net Income Before Income Tax        
Income Tax        
Net Profit/Loss        

 

5. Balance Sheet

The income statement shows what you earn. The balance shows what you’re worth. On the balance sheet are assets and liabilities that aren’t in the income statement.

What are assets and liabilities? Simply put, assets are the tangible objects of value that you own. Liabilities are the debts you owe to others. Equity is the difference when you subtract liabilities from assets.

Here’s a sample balance sheet.

ASSETS Year 1
Current Assets  
     Cash  
     Accounts Receivable  
Total Current Assets  
   
Fixed Assets  
     Real Estate - Land  
     Real Estate - Buildings  
     Equipment  
     Furniture and Fixtures  
Total Fixed Assets  
(Less Accumulated Depreciation)  
TOTAL ASSETS  
   
LIABILITIES & EQUITY  
Liabilities  
     Accounts Payable  
     Loan Balance  
     Credit Card Debt Balance  
     Line of Credit Balance  
TOTAL LIABILITIES  
Equity  
     Retained Earnings  
     Dividends Dispersed  
TOTAL EQUITY  
TOTAL LIABILITIES & EQUITY  
   
In or out of balance (Subtract assets from liabilities and equity. They should be equal.)  

 

6. Breakeven Analysis

Investors will want to know at what point you expect to break even. The breakeven point is when your total expenses matches your sales volume. Investors will also want to see that your revenue will not just match but exceed your expenses.

 

Like with your business plan, financial projections are not something you do once and forget about it. It is most useful when you look at it regularly to see how you’re actually doing versus what you projected.

At the end of each month, take your actual profit and loss statement and compare it to your projections. You can use this comparison to revise your projections.

 

Got a question about starting an agency you’d like us to answer in a future post? Leave it in the comments below.



POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 9:00 AM
What's in Release 6.0.39.27 of InsurancePro

These are the enhancements that are included in the next release of agency management system InsurancePro (Release 6.0.39.27).

  • Added the ability to restore deleted policies. You can find this option under Agency Tools.
  • Added the ability to change locations without closing the program. You can find this under Agency Tools > Change Locations.
  • Corrected issues with processing some AL3 files.
  • Corrected an issue on the payment screen where the split payment window was not coming up on Money Order+Card.
  • Corrected an issue when running a summarized custom report.


POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 4:00 AM
3 Tips to Boost Your Email Marketing Confidence

Man sitting at computer

 

I talk to my customers every week about their email marketing goals. I’ve got to give it to them: They know what they want to accomplish.

Yet, somehow, many find themselves getting behind on emails they wanted out last week. Sometimes, even last month. What I’ve learned from those conversations is, more often than not, email marketing is still intimidating to a lot of marketers.

I know someone telling you “Don’t be intimidated” is not going to turn you into a confident email marketer. But, from my own experience, I have three big tips that will boost your confidence in no time.

 

  1. Be a Copycat. Kind Of.

    This is actually a fun idea, especially for anyone who hasn’t done as much design work.

First, go into your personal email and find emails you like the most. Then, use your email marketing program to recreate those emails. This is a fun way to find workarounds for design and test how they work in practice.

Send your copycat emails to yourself to see how they look in your inbox. This is great practice for working in your email marketing program. And, it is sure to boost your email confidence.

Note: Make sure not to send any images to your audience you don’t have the rights to.
 

  1. Appoint a Committee.

    We often change our minds about our emails while we create them. Do I include this line? Should I use this picture?

An intimidated email marketer is prone to over-editing and under-editing their emails. An easy way to round out your editing process is to create a committee.

Send them the emails first, and ask for edits. Then, incorporate their feedback. Try to appoint people who work outside of your industry. They’ll be the best to help edit your emails to send out to prospects and customers.

 

  1. Test. A Lot.

    Caught between two different subject lines? A button or text link? Pictures or text?

Customers often ask me for my opinion about which decision they should make for their emails. I’m happy to share my opinion, but your audience is going to be unique.

That’s why here at AgencyBuzz we’re big fans of the A/B Test. Testing your audience with different options helps you understand what they like. And, even more importantly, what gets the desired response from your audience. The more you test, the more confident you will feel about sending out your emails.

 

The best thing about these tips is they’re evergreen. You can use them no matter how experienced you are with marketing. You can go back and do them again and again at any time!

 


We’d love to show you how easy it is to automate your agency’s marketing with AgencyBuzz. Contact us today for a free consultation. 



POSTED SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 9:33 AM
ICYMI: Are You Missing the Mark? Email Marketing Opportunities You're Missing Out On

In the August 2017 edition of Masters of Marketing, AgencyBuzz Coordinator Malika James discussed email marketing opportunities agents may be missing out on, and how to seize those opportunities. If you missed it, view the slides below or watch a recording here

 

 

If you enjoyed Malika's topic, join us in October for the next edition of Masters of Marketing. On Thursday, September 19th, SEO Consultant John Dessommes will host Backlinks: Your Key to SEO Success. 

 



POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 12:44 PM
Anatomy of a Search Engine Results Page


You probably see it at least five times a day. If not, you are familiar enough with it. But, do you know exactly what each part means?

I am talking about a search engine results page, or SERP.

Today I will go over Google's results page, what it all means, and how you can use it to your advantage.

I will refer to the color-coded image below to make things easier.

 

Google SERP for Insurance Technologies Corp


Red Section

This is the area where paid ads appear. Notice the green Ad icons. These make the advertisements extra clear.

If you want traffic and leads fast, and have the disposable income, set up an Adwords campaign. You will be able to bid on certain keywords. If your bid is high enough, and you have a high quality ad and landing page, Google will display your ad in this section.

It is relative easy to appear in this section, because all you need is money.

To appear in the organic results, the purple section below, you need to jump through many SEO hoops.
 

Purple Section

This section shows organic search results, or snippets. This is what most insurance agents are concerned with. Organic results, although more difficult to get, have more longevity.

Note the numbers I’ve added to this section. Let me explain what each of those numbers mean.

  1. The purple link (blue if you haven't clicked on it) is the title of your website. This is the most important aspect in SEO. This line of text draws a user's eye and tells them what your website is about. You can include keywords here. But, make sure you are adequately describing your website's products or purpose.
     
  2. The website address. Clicking on the little green down arrow next to gives the option to view a cached version of the website.
     
  3. The description of the website. You have more real estate here than the title. Describe what makes you unique. Communicate why someone should click on your website rather than anyone else's.
     
  4. These link to internal pages of the website. Unfortunately, we don't have any control over number four. Google decides which links to display based on popularity.
     
  5. You'll notice the search result for Glassdoor.com has a star rating as part of their snippet. This is done by adding certain code, called schema, to your website, which Google picks up and displays.

Green Section

The green section is the knowledge graph. This section is particularly important for insurance agents interested in local SEO.

Most of this information comes from your Google My Business page. That includes your address, phone number, pictures, reviews and Posts.

The first rounded square gives the most important information at a glance. How to navigate to your office, what your customers think about you, what your business hours are, and your company culture are all displayed.

The second rounded square showcases one of Google’s newest features called Google Posts.

Finally, the third rounded square displays reviews. Positive reviews from all over the web are imperative for insurance agents. Reviews give a good impression to prospective customers.
 

Black Section

Google likes to give everyone a fair chance, which is why it displays competitor links. Hopefully, by this point you've already made a great impression with insightful reviews, bright pictures and enticing information.
 

Yellow Box

Lastly, the small yellow box at the top of the page shows the number of results for the keyword you searched for. This is a good indication of the competition you have for certain keywords or even an agency name.

Try adding different qualifiers with your keywords, like geo-targets, or quote, coverage or online. While this method isn't a foolproof way of keyword research. But, it does give you a very rough estimation of search volume. Further keyword research is essential.

Now you know what is in a SERP, so make sure you are using every part of it to your advantage.

 


Does your insurance website appear in online search results? ITC can help boost your website’s visibility to reach online customers. Contact us today for a free consultation.

 



POSTED SEPTEMBER 20, 2017 9:35 AM
Why Insurance Marketing And Yelp Don’t Mix

Insurance marketing and agencies don't mix


Are you building an internet marketing strategy for your insurance agency? If so, incorporating an online reputation management strategy is essential.

Why? Because your agency’s online reputation is your biggest asset. It’s also your biggest liability.

Earning consumer trust is critical to business success. Thanks to online review sites, it’s easier than ever to build trust at scale. But be careful! Consumers are in control of the review process. So one slip up can be costly.

With that in mind, track your agency’s review profiles on Google and Facebook. Respond to feedback you get there, good or bad. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews. These initiatives can boost your agency’s trustworthiness.

But what about Yelp? Should you build review strategy there too?

I don’t think so.

Let’s take a closer look at why Yelp and insurance agencies don’t mix.

 

Why Yelp Doesn’t Work For Insurance

First, let me be clear: Yelp is a great review platform. Consumers know it, trust it and respect it. So Yelp has considerable power.

Too much power, in my opinion.

Yelp used its influence to make a statement on review etiquette. The company expressly forbids review solicitation. And it will filter any unnatural reviews from view.

The problem is, Yelp all too often gets this wrong.

The company doesn’t release the factors in its review algorithm. But, it’s possible review velocity is one. If your agency gets a bunch of Yelp reviews in a short period of time, those reviews may not see the light of day.

Review authority is another likely Yelp ranking factor. This can hurt consumers without established Yelp review histories. Their initial contributions on Yelp will likely be filtered.

Yelp’s strict policies make it difficult to get reviews to stick. This is a serious problem for businesses in any industry. But, it’s especially dire for insurance agencies.

It’s no secret it’s difficult for anyone in the insurance industry to get online reviews. Consumers will write reviews for restaurants by the bushel. But, they’re less likely to review their insurance agency without a nudge.

Yelp prohibits agencies from giving this nudge. And Yelp’s issues with filtering out legitimate reviews rubs salt in the wound. So, it’s difficult to make Yelp a cornerstone of your review strategy.

 

What You Should Do

Yelp might not be part of your agency’s core review strategy. But, you shouldn’t forget about it either. Your agency still might get a Yelp review from time to time. How you react to those reviews can either build or burn consumer trust.

So keep your ducks in a row. Make sure you do the following.
 

  1. Claim Your Yelp Listing: Make sure there’s an active Yelp listing for each of your office locations. Then claim and verify each listing through your Yelp for Business Owners account. You will need to answer an automated phone call at each office to do this. If that doesn’t work, contact Yelp support online.
     
  2. Complete Your Yelp Profile: Make sure your listing is up to date. Your NAP+W (name, address, phone number, and website) should be correct for each location. Also include your logo, photos, business hours, and a business description. Yelp users might browse these features when leaving reviews.
     
  3. Keep Tabs On Yelp Reviews: Check your Yelp for Business Owners account weekly. Or daily, if possible. See if any reviews came in for any of your locations.
     
  4. Respond To Yelp Reviews: Make sure you publicly respond to all Yelp reviews. You can do this through your Yelp for Business Owners account. Everything from a 1-star review to a 5-star review should get a reply. Thank the reviewer for their feedback in your response. If you get a poor review, apologize to the reviewer and work to make it right.
     

These tips will help control your agency’s narrative on Yelp. But until Yelp changes its policies, this is as far as your efforts should go.

 

What Yelp Should Do

It’s no secret Yelp wants to dominate the online review realm. The company has worked hard to be a local resource in many cities. Its CEO has also sparred with Google repeatedly for alleged antitrust violations.

But if Yelp wants to reach its goals, it needs to dial back its restrictions. There are plenty of businesses that consumers don’t leave online reviews for. I've noticed insurance agents, plumbers and lawyers struggle to get reviews. The same goes for mechanics and real estate agents.

Yelp should allow business owners in these industries to ask customers for reviews. This would benefit both the businesses and Yelp itself.

Yelp should also fix its algorithm so legitimate reviews don’t get filtered. The current system hurts Yelp’s product and threatens its growth. Why would anyone want to write their first review on Yelp if they know it won’t get posted?

Until Yelp makes these changes, it doesn’t make sense for your agency to build a review strategy there. There’s too much risk, and not enough reward.

 

In Summary

Your insurance agency’s online reputation is a critical asset. And, cultivating consumer trust is a must. Yelp has the clout to help you build this trust online. But, its review policies can strangle well-meaning agencies. For the time being, it’s not worth building out a full review strategy there.

Your move, Yelp.

Have you seen success with a Yelp strategy for your agency? Let us know in the comments.

 



POSTED SEPTEMBER 18, 2017 9:32 AM
What An Outdated Insurance Website Says

Team at desk

 

Would you purchase groceries at a store with expired food? Would you ignore the oil change light in your vehicle?

If you answered yes, then we need to have a serious chat! The correct answer is no. Of course you would not venture to a grocery store that always has expired food. And, you would not ignore the check oil light in your vehicle.

The same applies for your insurance website. If a prospect visits your website and the graphics are old, or the most recent blog post is from 2014, they will leave.

Your website is part of your brand, and your brand is a direct representation of your agency.

If you allow your website to become outdated, think about what that says about you and your agency.

Here’s what goes through my mind when I see an outdated business website.

“Business must be slow for these people. It doesn’t look like they’ve touched their site in awhile.”

“Is this company even still in business?”

“Oh well. They probably can’t help me. Next.”

Websites are important to today’s consumers. When you neglect something as important as your website, visitors may think you neglect other areas of your business.

If prospects don’t feel good about your company’s quality, they are not going to trust you with their business.

Russell Frazier of Visigility.com details nine points as to how an outdated website is hurting your business. Even though these assumptions may not be true, they will still shape perceptions of value and quality you offer.

  1. People may think you just don’t care.
  2. The quality of goods or services is questionable.
  3. Your credibility is diminished.
  4. You don’t look like you’re with it.
  5. You make your competition look great.
  6. Outdated websites are embarrassing.
  7. It’s hurting customer service and morale.
  8. Your Google rankings are dropping.
  9. It looks like you’re out of business.

As an insurance agent, you know first impressions are key. Viewers judge you by the look and feel of your website before deciding to take a chance on you. Make sure your website's design is up to date by refreshing it every few years. A series of small updates can keep it looking modern.

 


 

Does your insurance website need a refresh? We can help. Contact us today.  

 



POSTED SEPTEMBER 13, 2017 9:48 AM
This is the Way: Rob McCarthy from GRBM Insurance

This is the Way: Rob McCarthy from GRBM Insurance

Rob McCarthy grew up around his family’s insurance agency GRBM Insurance so it was always something he thought about.

But when it came time to choose a college major, his childhood interest in computers and technology drew him to graphic design, which he thought would be more exciting. Then a few years later, Rob saw friends graduate and struggle with freelance work, and he changed his mind about the family business. It didn’t seem so bad after all.

One of the best moments in Rob’s career happened in October 2013 when the agency got their first client from their website. “This was huge for me and really focused my energy on developing the GRBM website.”

Like many in the industry, Rob enjoys helping clients understand why insurance is so important. “When a client gets the reasons why they need insurance and stop seeing it as just a cost, it helps elevate the industry from the poor reputation we often get.”

This is the way Rob McCarthy works.

<><><>

Location:

Office is in Brewster, NY and home in New Fairfield, CT.

Current gig:

Vice president. Or according to LinkedIn: Contractor’s Insurance Professional

One word that describes how you like to work.

Silence. A quiet, distraction free work place is my favorite.

Current mobile device:

iPhone 6s Plus. But that might change soon, the Pixel XL2 looks like a strong option.

Current computer:

Dell Latitude 14. It is portable but powerful for graphics and video editing.

Project(s) you’re currently working on:

Currently, I am focused on improving our website and specifically our conversion rate.

Accomplishments you’re proud of:

Ranking number one for contractors insurance New York. This is a direct result of following the formula Joey Giangola has provided in the GrowProgram.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Growth. Not just my book of business, but the overall agency growing.

What are your biggest professional challenges?

I struggle with tool fragmentation. I wish my website would connect to my management system, my CRM, and my marketing automation tool. It pains me to no end that we can’t have two-way communication between these different systems.

What do you like most about your job?

Every day is a challenge, whether it’s helping a client get fully reimbursed for a claim, or winning a new client. The challenge is what keeps it interesting and exciting.

What technology, apps or tools can’t you live without?

A laptop and Evernote. It’s a great catch-all for ideas and even longer form notes.

What are the top three apps you use on your phone?

Email, Evernote, YouTube and Spotify

Describe your workspace.

My office is generic: a desk and work essentials. But, my favorite workspace is my comfy recliner at home.

How do you manage your to-do list?

Depends on the day, sometimes I enjoy going old school and writing out a paper to-do list, but also am a big fan of Wunderlist.

What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?

Keep it simple. I tend to overcomplicate things. (Read my list of tools that I want to communicate with each other). Simple and efficient saves so much time.

What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office?

Make coffee.

What do you listen to while working?

Let me put it this way. If Spotify ever reached out to me and accused me of sharing my account with someone, I wouldn’t be surprised. My playlists are all over the place, from country to AC/DC and hip-hop. It really all depends on the day.

What are you currently reading?

Currently working on “Originals” by Adam Grant and “Business Adventures” by John Brooks. But, I also read a ton of David Baldacci crime/thriller books.  

What’s your favorite blog and/or podcast?

Big fan of Joey Giangola’s podcast “Insurance in Your words.”  Also, I’m a big fan of the “Signal vs Noise” blog.

Favorite social network?

Instagram

Coffee or tea?

Coffee

What are you watching on Netflix right now?

Last Man Standing

How do you decompress?

YouTube or reading

What’s your sleep routine like?

Old man style. Bed by 10-10:30 p.m. up by 7 a.m.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Grab bagels on the way into the office, work/appointments all day with a quick lunch at my desk. Then head home for dinner with the wife, usually a little quality time with her and then back to work on the laptop from home. Then maybe some TV or reading before bed.

Who are your business idols and why?

My father, without him I probably would have never considered a career in insurance. He gave me responsibility, which showed me from a young age hard work is what it takes to succeed.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO VaynerMedia

Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?

Terry Grier and Miles Merwin

 

The This is the Way blog series asks ITC employees, agents, carriers and other people in the industry how they work and to share their tips. Is there someone you want to see featured or questions we should ask? Tweet us or leave it in the comments below.



POSTED SEPTEMBER 12, 2017
It's Fun to Stay at the CMYK: Design Terms to Know

CMYK

 

As insurance agents know, jargon can be useful when talking to other people in the industry. It allows you to talk shop with ease and get your point across fast. But what happens when someone from a different business sector uses their jargon with you?

Designers have an uncanny ability to do this. They’ll use jargon when commonplace words will do. Sometimes it’s intentional to help them look smart or better at their job. But mostly, it’s habit. (Designers don’t get out much).

So, I compiled a list of design jargon to help decode your next interaction with a designer. Whether you are redesigning your website or your agency’s logo, this guide should come in handy.

 

Serif, Sans Serif, Script

We start off with what some consider the hardest design challenge, and others the most fun. You be the judge. There are three types of fonts. Once you learn the differences, they’re hard to forget.
 

Serif – Letters with little feet
 

serif alphabet


The origin of the word is highly debated. All you need to know is if  letters have feet or little extensions, you’re working with a serif type. Serifs are the most formal of the three categories. They are usually used in law offices, doctor’s offices, and term papers.
 

Sans-Serif – Letters, sans feet
 

sans serif alphabet


Sans comes from the French word meaning without. Sans-serif fonts don’t have feet. Sans-serif types are more modern and have been more popular than serif fonts for some time now.
 

Script – Emulates handwriting
 

script alphabet


This type gained popularity recently because many designers see it as an even friendlier and more modern option than sans-serif. Script types also have a formal side. Formal script is often used in wedding invitation headings and in letterheads.

 

Color

There are two categories of colors your designer can confuse you with: Modes and schemes. We’ll start with modes. A designer should never really bring up modes. Just in case you need a reference, here you go.
 

CMYK – Cyan, magenta, yellow, black
 

This is used for printing purposes. The K in CMYK stands for key. Key comes from printing press days when the key plate was the plate that printed the details in black ink. Now, we just use black.
 

RGB – Red, green, blue
 

This is the mode our computer monitors and TV screens run on. This is also how our eyes perceive the world. Think of a rainbow (ROYGBV) which is a visible light spectrum. The RGB mode is modeled after adding light spectrums together to make different colors.
 

PMS – Pantone matching system
 

This is a man-made standard color reproduction system so designers and printers can use the exact same color.

Now, for something your designer will and should ask your input for.

 

Color Schemes

Each of these terms can be explained in common English, but what’s the fun in that? The easiest way for me to explain these is to use a color wheel, so let’s begin!
 

Monochromatic
 

monochromatic scale


Mono means one. The word comes from the Greek monochromes which means having one color. Pick a color, then add white or black to get different shades. That creates a monochromatic look.
 

Analogous
 

color wheel


Using the color wheel, choose a color and put your middle finger on it. Place your pointer and ring fingers on the colors on either side of your middle finger. Those are analogous colors!
 

Complementary
 

complementary color wheel


Put your finger on a color. Now draw a line straight across the center of the wheel to the opposite color. The two colors are very different, but complimentary.
 

Triadic or Tertiary
 

tertiary color wheel


Make a triangle with your two pointer fingers and thumbs. Put that triangle over the color wheel. The points of your triangle mark tertiary colors.

That was fun! Now, on to the most impressive jargon I could ever teach you. Your designer will be amazed that you know these terms.

 

Images

There are two types of images that designers use: Raster and vector.
 

Raster
 

puppy raster image


Raster images are made of pixels, or tiny squares of measurement. Raster images cannot be resized because they will lose quality. As you enlarge or shrink them, they will eventually become blurry. Any image you’ve taken with your camera is a raster image.
 

Vector
 

vector image

These are images made up of points, lines, and curves. Vector images are scalable because they use a mathematic equation to condense or expand the points, lines, and curves. They won’t get blurry no matter the size. For example, your agency logo is likely a vector image.

 

Last, But Not Least

And finally, the commonly used (and sometimes misused) jargon in the design industry.
 

Opacity

The easiest way to explain opacity is with transparency.

  • More opaque = Less transparent
  • Less opaque = More transparent            


White Space

I personally like to think of this as a design’s breathing room. It’s also known as negative space because white space isn’t always white. It’s almost always lacking content, though. White space can also give more impact to design elements, if used correctly.

 

Learning a new language can be daunting. But, top agencies know how important good design is to customer experience. And hopefully I’ve helped you decipher your designer’s next email.
 


 

If you’re tired of deciphering, let us do the work for you. We’d love to put our knowledge (jargon and all) to help you expand your business.



POSTED SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 9:27 AM
Are You Missing the Mark? Email Marketing Opportunities You're Missing Out On

Email marketing is a powerful tool with great ROI: $38 for every $1 spent. We know email marketing works, but have you made it work yet for your agency?

You may be missing out on certain opportunities that email marketing can help you seize.

Join me for the next edition of Masters of Marketing on Thursday, September 21 at 12:00 p.m. I will discuss the various email marketing opportunities you may be missing out on. Here's a quick preview of what I'll be discussing.
 

Prospect Opportunities

The emphasis of your marketing plan may be on prospecting or marketing to prospective customers. But, you may be missing the mark. We’ll discuss some of the best opportunities inside the sales process to utilize email marketing.
 

Cross Sell/Retention

Businesses tend to back off once prospects become customers. But, existing customers are an important segment of your mailing list. I'll discuss how delivering relevant, organized and genuine marketing content to existing customers can grow your business and improve retention.

 

Lost Customers

Most lost customer campaigns are based on the same idea: Asking them to come back. The truth is, lost customers left for a reason. Win them back by creating a personal, nuanced campaign. Targeting customers you’ve lost will do wonders for your retention and help boost your reputation. 

 

You won't want to miss this free agency marketing webinar. Sign up and register to attend today



POSTED SEPTEMBER 08, 2017 9:33 AM

News – Insurance Journal

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POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 3:49 PM
Ironshore’s New Iron-Excess MGA Is Based on Iron-Starr Excess Agency Model
Using a Bermuda joint venture between Ironshore and C.V. Starr & Co. as a model, Ironshore announced the launch of Iron-Excess on Monday. Ironshore, a Liberty Mutual company, describes Iron-Excess as an expansion of the Iron-Starr Excess underwriting agency business …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 3:28 PM
Fire in Utah City Isn’t Expected to Drive up Insurance Rates
Insurance rates aren’t expected to go up in Ogden neighborhood where a wildfire destroyed three homes and caused the evacuations of hundreds. But authorities are warning the residents to be on high alert for landslides because the land is now …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 3:03 PM
Damage From Rare Utah Tornado Still Being Felt a Year Later
Damage from a rare tornado that ripped through a Utah county a year ago still lingers in the homes and minds of people who live in its path. The twister gutted 12 homes and damaged dozens more in Weber County, …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 3:01 PM
California Worker’s Family Gets $1.8M Settlement
The family of a California man who was killed when a bridge he was working on collapsed has received a $1.8 million settlement. The Press-Enterprise reported an investigation by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health found fault with …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 2:56 PM
S&P Says Latest Republican Health Plan’s Flexibility for States Comes at Cost to Economy
A report by Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings said on Monday that the Senate Republicans’ latest proposed healthcare bill designed to replace Obamacare would lead to less federal funding and more flexibility for states but would cost the economy and …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 2:28 PM
Ex-Water Corporation Boss in New Jersey Gets 8 Years for $1M Fraud
The former head of a not-for-profit corporation formed to oversee the water services for Newark, N.J., was sentenced on Friday to more than eight years in prison for accepting nearly $1 million in kickbacks. Linda Watkins Brashear pleaded guilty in …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 2:13 PM
Maine’s The MEMIC Group Appoints Payne as Senior Vice President of External Affairs
Workers’ compensation specialist The MEMIC Group, based in Portland, Maine, has appointed Anthony Payne as senior vice president of external affairs. In this role, Payne will oversee corporate communications and marketing, advertising, public relations, community relations, as well as legislative …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 1:47 PM
Assured Guaranty to Offer Hartford Refinancing Plan to Avoid Bankruptcy
Securities insurer Assured Guaranty Ltd. said on Monday it would grant Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, a municipal bond that offers financial support, a move that could help the city avoid filing for bankruptcy. Hartford would likely seek to file …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 1:42 PM
Massachusetts’ AG Healey Announces Data Breach Bill Following Equifax Hack
After bringing the nation’s first enforcement action against Equifax for its failure to protect the personal information of nearly three million Massachusetts residents, Attorney General Maura Healey announced updated legislation that will better protect consumers from data breaches. The new …

POSTED SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 1:29 PM

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