In addition to a lot of rain, those who did not attend IIAG’s annual convention this past weekend on Hilton Head Island missed a great presentation on traffic safety, important information about new services available to members, some good tips on how to protect your agency from cyber attack, and an informative and lively speech by Herschel Walker.
Friday’s session began with a very funny and also very sobering presentation by Sergeant Brian Mixon about the dangers of distracted driving. In addition to many amusing photos of drivers doing things that defy common sense, Sergeant Mixon provided those in attendance with some facts that contradicted conventional wisdom. The most dangerous roads to drive on in Georgia are not its interstate highways. They are its two lane state highways. Over twice as many people die in traffic accidents on two lane state highways as on interstates. The great majority of those who die in traffic accidents are not young or old drivers. They are between the ages of 25 and 55. Not so surprising was the fact that 94% of traffic accidents resulting in death are due to driver error, with speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving accounting for 74% of all traffic accident deaths. As Sergeant Mixon noted, these facts mean that deaths from traffic accidents can be significantly reduced by better driving habits.
We then learned of two new services that are available to IIAG members. The first is provided by IIABA and is a resource for finding producers and other employees. Known as Big I Hires, it offers job postings that are immediately disseminated to all the major job posting sites and among other things, allows an agency to give prospective employees tests to assess their personality traits, technical knowledge, and sales call reluctance. Through the website, an agency can also obtain a comprehensive DIY Hiring Toolkit that will give the agency everything they need from sample job descriptions to hiring and onboarding documents. This service just became available earlier this year and already has resulted in the hiring of over 150 people nationwide and 15 in Georgia.
The other new service is one created by the Ohio independent agents association. It is known as IntellAgents and provides business consulting services, including agency valuations and assistance with the sale of your agency. These services are mainly intended for agencies with less than $1 million in annual revenue and/or less than 12 employees, which the Ohio association discovered was a very underserved market. IntellAgents will provide an agency valuation for a flat fee of $3,000 for agencies with less than $2.5 million in annual revenue and will quote a price for larger agencies.
On Saturday morning, Cash Miller of Titan Web Marketing Solutions offered his thoughts on the cyber threats faced by insurance agencies and how to combat them. It will be no surprise to hear that hackers looking to make money are targeting small businesses, including insurance agencies, more and more because they are seen as “low hanging fruit.” But it may be surprising to hear that the biggest weakness exploited by hackers are such businesses employees, not their lack of hardware protection. Employees are exploited using various types of phishing tactics. New employees and those who are less comfortable with technology use are at greatest risk of being compromised by such tactics. Mr. Miller encouraged those in attendance to train all their employees on how to spot such tactics and what to do if they make a mistake in dealing with them. He also advised not to use any of the free e-mail services (gmail, Hotmail) for business purposes, as they can be easily hacked. Instead, agencies should use their domain names for their email service. He suggested using the email hunter program to determine if domain names used in suspect emails are legitimate. That program will also allow an agency to obtain the email addresses of anyone at a potential customer, as long as you know the customer’s email domain name.