3 Things You’re Doing Wrong with Your Insurance Documents

3 Things You’re Doing Wrong with
Your Insurance Documents

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In the insurance industry, there are countless different forms that must be properly filled out, filed, and managed. But what if we told you that you were doing it wrong? Or, more specifically, that there was simply a better way to do all of it? The truth is, many insurance agencies just aren’t handling their documents in the best way possible, and they’re making themselves susceptible to wasted time, lost documents, and even fines for non-compliance.

This guide will outline the 3 things that you’re probably doing wrong with your insurance documents, the risks and problems associated with those habits, and better alternatives for document management.

Step 1: Keeping Documents in Physical Format

If you’re keeping documents in their paper format, then you’re making the biggest mistake that any insurance company could make. Doing this makes your agency susceptible to a number of major issues and keeps you from being as productive and profitable as you could be.

The Risks and Drawbacks

Here are just a few of the risks and the potential drawbacks associated with keeping insurance documents in physical format:

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  • Wasted Time | To put it simply, paper wastes time. All of the manual tasks associated with keeping documents in physical format take a lot of time and effort—gathering forms, filing them, finding them when they’re needed, printing updated versions, etc. This is all time that could be spend working with clients or getting new clients for your agency.
  • High Costs | Not only do you have to deal with the cost of paper, but you have to pay for everything associated with having those physical documents. This includes filing cabinets, printer toner and ink, postage and envelopes for sending out paperwork to clients, and storage space for all of that documentation.
  • Security Issues | Even if your agency has a strong security system, physical documents are easily compromised. Anyone with access to your filing room can copy, steal, or alter documents for any of your clients. This is a serious liability issue.
  • Loss from Disasters | Additionally, if your office has a sudden fire or a burst pipe, you could lose every single document you’re keeping. Paper is far from being disaster-proof, and in just a few seconds, your agency’s entire livelihood could quite literally go up in smoke.

The Alternative

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There is a very simple alternative to storing your documents in physical format—electronic storage. Technology makes it possible to safely and securely store all of your clients’ insurance documents in a cloud-based document management system, which eliminates all of the risks and drawbacks described above. This form of document storage also gives you the added benefit of being able to access files from remote locations, making you more productive even when you are away from the office.

Step 2: Sharing Files by Email

Now, you’re probably thinking, “But if storing documents electronically is the best option, shouldn’t I be sending them electronically too?” The simple answer to that is yes, you should send them electronically—just not by email. There’s a much better option available, and we’ll get to that momentarily.

The Risks and Drawbacks

Email is generally considered a safe and efficient way to communicate electronically—and for personal communications, it is exactly that. However, if you’re sending documents that contain sensitive client information (like personal information, financial data, or health history), then it is not as secure as it should be.

Here are a few of the risks associated with sharing files over email:

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  • Susceptibility to Hackers | Even an amateur hacker can break into most email accounts, and the majority of email messages are not encrypted. This means it is easy for cyber thieves to steal information off of the documents that you are sharing with your clients.
  • Multiple File Versions | If you’re sharing a document that is going through revisions, you’re going to be sending and receiving several variations of the same file over and over again. You could just save over the previous version on your computer, but what if you forget to do that? You could end up with an outdated version of the paperwork. Or, you’ll end up with a dozen different copies of the same file, and just have to hope that you’re using the right one in the end. This is especially difficult when you have multiple people making revisions to the same document, as people may make changes to different versions of the file.
  • Paperwork Bottlenecks | Email inboxes get full, and sometimes messages end up somewhere other than where they should be. This can cause communication issues and bottlenecks in getting paperwork completed. Additionally, when it comes to needing a final signature, you may have to resort to “snail mail,” as email typically does not integrate with electronic signature software.

The Alternative

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As we mentioned earlier, there is another form of electronic file sharing that is much easier and more effective than email communication—using secure client portals. These programs allow you to share documents with clients instantly, but in a way that is encrypted and protected from hackers and other cyber threats. Client portals such as SecureDrawer also integrate with electronic signature software, allowing you to electronically collect legal signatures and preventing bottlenecks associated with this process.

Step 3: Using a Manual Workflow

Every document you handle has to go through a process, passed from one member of your agency to another until all necessary steps have been completed. Depending on the specific item, the process may be a fairly lengthy one. Unfortunately, the longer the process is, the more opportunities there are for hang-ups, slowdowns, and outright errors. And if you don’t have an electronic workflow, the chances for having such issues increases significantly.

The Risks and Drawbacks

Many of the risks and drawbacks associated with manual workflows are closely related to those associated with storing your documents in physical format—after all, one will generally lead to the other.

Here are a few additional risks and drawbacks associated with handling your documents in this way:

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  • Compliance Issues | Depending on what branches of insurance you deal in, you will answer to different compliance standards; however, there are always standards that any insurance agency needs to adhere to, and manual workflows can often make compliance more difficult. This is because there is less security and more room for error (drawbacks associated with having physical paperwork). If you want to avoid compliance issues, then avoid manual workflows.
  • Slower Workflow | Just like paper will slow you down, so will the manual workflows associated with it. Dropping files on people’s desks is not only less efficient, but it increases your odds of lost or misplaced documents, and it is a serious security risk. Passing paperwork along by hand simply is the worst way to move your clients’ insurance documents along the process.
  • Outdated Paperwork | Many times, clients may have to provide you with updated paperwork in order to keep their account in proper order. With a manual workflow, you would have to either write down which files need to be replaced and when, or set up some other form of reminder to ensure that documents are always properly updated and policies are renewed on time.

The Alternative

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The alternative to a manual workflow is pretty obvious—an electronic workflow. This should go hand-in-hand with switching from physical documents to electronic document management, but that’s not always the case. Some people simply will store their files electronically, but will continue using cumbersome manual processes to move paperwork along in the workflow.

What you need is a true document management system that allows you to forward documents instantly on to the next step in the process, as well as set reminders for when outdated documents need to be updated. This saves you a lot of hassle and makes sure your clients’ insurance documents are handled safely, securely, and in a timely manner.

Conclusion

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You may not be doing all of these things in your agency, but making just 1 of these 3 errors can seriously impede your company’s growth and prevent you from being as successful as you could be. Wasting money and time, compromising data security, and putting yourself at risk of compliance-related issues are never things that an insurance agency wants to deal with.

If you’re making just 1 of these errors, then you need to make changes quickly. Contact eFileCabinet to learn more about electronic document storage and management, secure file sharing, and electronic workflows. We can help you avoid these errors so that your company is more efficient, secure, and profitable.

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