Who Owns Your Insurance Data?

This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.

When you implement a new tech solution, you assume you own, and can easily access, your data from within said system. This isn’t necessarily the case. Read the fine print and you may learn your data isn’t accessible, or even yours at all!

Sure, you probably legally own your data. You likely have it in writing, that if you walk away from whatever software services you contract with, you can export a massive CSV file or what have you. But do you own your data? Can you use it to better understand your business, your customers, your producers, your process? Because that’s really owning your data.

Insurance runs on data

ROI, NPS, CBA… Turn times, lagging indicators, leading indicators… Data drives decisions – nowhere is this more concrete than in insurance, where the fundamental idea of the business is grounded in actuarial tables.

Yet, when it comes to internal processes, data is often unstructured, and thus, captured in a black box of operations. Sometimes it’s information that lives in manually maintained systems such as spreadsheets, client relationship management (CRM) software, faxes, and actual paperwork. Other times, it’s information your team has migrated to digital software, such as contracting or insurance producer compliance systems.

Good companies use data to understand their customers, producers, and staff. This applies just as thoroughly to internal processes as it does to claims-paying and customer service. Unlocking your data means better understanding answers to questions like:

  • Where are the bottlenecks in your process?
  • Are you adequately staffed for your operations, or are there overstaffing/understaffing complications?
  • Is there a dropoff point at which your business is most inclined to lose producers or customers?

If you’re looking to use data-driven decision making, accessing your data isn’t just important, it’s imperative.

Unfortunately, when it comes to internal operations, too many organizations are relying on gut instinct and an in-the-trenches mentality to drive their decisions. And many organizations don’t even know how or where to get the information they need to make good choices.

Lacking this kind of visibility is about more than just avoiding silos (although that’s objectively awesome). It’s also about data privacy, owning your business insights, and avoiding regulatory missteps by protecting personal information.

So, who owns your data? The answers to these questions could reveal a lot more about your access to your own information.

Where does your data live?

This may seem like a very simple or very complex question depending on whether you use a series of manual entry processes or have a single source of truth.

For carrier contract data this may live in a combination of:

  1. A contract management app like Docusign
  2. Your legal team’s emails
  3. Your operations team’s spreadsheets and
  4. Your carrier- and agency-partners’ systems

For compliance data,your information might live in a state database, your client management system, your emails, a pile of papers by a fax machine, or (for the love of Mike we hope this isn’t happening but you know it is) sticky notes on someone’s desktop.

If you’ve been doing things manually, finding where your data lives at any given moment is an arduous task. If you have a database, such as a compliance management solution or a contracting software, the data should be better organized.

Where and how your data is organized is imperative when it comes to knowing who owns your data. If it would take your team a matter of hours or even days of labor collecting and analyzing your producer data to understand onboarding bottlenecks or contracting stuttersteps, then you don’t own your data, your data owns you (even if you have legal ownership of it).

Does your team maintain the data?

This question may be presumptuous – it seems evident that any data collection will require some degree of maintenance to keep the information current. However, whether you own your data may depend on where that maintenance comes from.

If you have to manually go out and seek data updates from producers, state governments, or other entities, you may not own your data.

If you have a third party handle all of your data maintenance, whether you “own” your data or not depends on how accessible it is after that point. If you have to jump through hoops to get reports or alerts about important information, then arguably your ownership is nominal. Like how you “own” the stationary bike at your sister’s house.

If you have a source of truth that automatically updates your information regardless of whether the update comes from producers, carriers, or state governments (like a compliance software that integrates with the National Insurance Producer Registry, as a purely hypothetical example), then you may be getting very close to owning your data. In this case, even though your team isn’t having to do a bunch of work to keep information up-to-date, you have the most current available data at your fingertips! That’s, ultimately, the ideal in terms of data ownership and accessibility.

What does it cost to access your data?

Accessibility arguably is ownership.

This is really the stickiest of sticking points in terms of who owns your data. If you have a software that organizes your data and collects it in easily-compared standardized data fields but then that service provider then gatekeeps that data – data you entered and maintain and pay the SaaS to organize – then who owns it, really?

Often, software companies promise to organize data and give you more insights to make informed decisions. Yet, it pays to ask questions about how you’ll be able to access said insights.

Do you use software that gives you a set of standardized reports out of the box, but then nickel-and-dimes you for more nuanced information down the road? Even that may be tolerable depending on how transparent your SaaS partner is about costs, and the level of data they can parse in one go. However, if you have a software provider that offers each report for a fee, you might not “own” your data.

How hard is it to get a custom report?

Similar to the previous question, even carriers, agencies, and MGAs that use a third party software as a service may have different experiences and expectations depending on their vendor.

Some software vendors have a grab-bag of generic reports users can easily generate at the touch of a button, while they gatekeep reports that require more qualification points or nuance. Others charge you per report regardless of how detailed, specific, or custom the report needs to be.

Who uses your data, and how?

Facebook is mining your data for advertisers and engagement. Google uses your data to improve products and influence your decision making on everything from restaurants to fashion choices. We’ve all guessed at the downsides of those unlimited data points. So it stands to reason, if you can’t access your own organization’s data to analyze it, then who can? And how do they intend to use it?

If you have to pay through the nose to understand basic behavior about your producers, or generic timelines to complete internal processes, yet your compliance SaaS provider has industry-wide data insights to provide, it poses the question: Who really owns your data?

Process data: Once you have it, what can you do with it?

If your answers to the preceding questions gave you confidence that you own your data, then you should ask yourself whether you’re putting it to use effectively. For producer compliance data, we’ve seen effective use cases for carriers, MGAs, and agencies to use data to expose:

  • Paths of least resistance for distribution growth into both vertical and horizontal businesses by analyzing producer LOAs
  • Which onboarding processes are contributing to producer churn and can be targeted for improvement
  • Backlogs and ways to address them via process or team changes
  • Compliance gaps
  • Areas to increase efficiency for fee-based services (think unused licenses or appointments for unproductive producers)

Bottom line, if it’s your data, it should work for you. And if you’re an AgentSync customer, it does.

At AgentSync, we have basic reporting built in, including a Scorecard that shows at-a-glance compliance of your whole insurance producer force, out of the box with our Manage product. And additional reporting doesn’t cost a thing. Not only do you own your data in a literal sense, with AgentSync you OWN your data: You get to decide how you slice and dice it for the best insights to make data-driven business decisions.To see how AgentSync’s product suite can help you better manage your internal processes and give you insight into your own data, check out our solutions.

Data Driven