ID Federation – Your Help Needed to Improve Agency Security

Managing User Passwords – also known as Credential Management – is the number one pain point for independent insurance agencies, as revealed by an ID Federation survey of 400 agents. It takes an agency 30–60-plus minutes to add or delete a user.

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Password Management has been a prior topic in this newsletter: Why Your Office Needs a Password Management Solution.

For their part, insurance carriers spend significant money on systems security, usually with a siloed approach that doesn’t recognize the reality that agencies work with dozens of carriers.

Passwords aren’t so safe anymore. Some agencies still store usernames and passwords on Excel worksheets or shared documents or write them down on sticky notes kept in plain view. Passwords cause slowness and inefficiency in a business that serves customers who demand speed and efficiency. Carriers see inefficiency, too, when answering numerous low-value “password reset” calls. Cybersecurity laws will increase time and cost demands on all insurance firms.

Now, there’s new progress: An independent agency and a regional carrier have broken through — to show that things can be different.

Should You Use Google Meet Instead of Zoom?

We have all had a crash course in how to use video conferencing tools to get things done.

Google Meet

This week I participated in a 4-hour board of directors meeting because we could not meet in person. Everyone is experiencing the benefits and drawbacks of video.

Zoom is one of the most downloaded video conferencing programs right now and for a good reason. I have been using Zoom for a few years because it is easy to use and the video and audio quality is excellent, even when using a laptop webcam and microphone. They have an Outlook plugin and Chrome browser extension to make it easier to launch the program or invite people to your meeting without having to type in a web address or close one program to launch an app.

Google is promoting its platform – Google Meet – as an alternative to other video programs. It does not want to be left out!

ActiveWords: Auto Correct on Steroids — and Much More

Keystrokes cost money. When you reduce the number of times you need to type a word or phrase, you will increase your productivity and save money.


I’m always looking for tools that help you get back the only thing you cannot buy: Time.

There are countless daily activities that you repeatedly do. Writing the same email to different clients, logging into the same sites, opening the same folders, even just typing your email address.

ActiveWords is one of the tools I could not function without.

What I like about ActiveWords is that it allows these actions to be easily repeatable. ActiveWords enables you to leverage your vocabulary and innate naming ability using words you enter or select in any context to accomplish a variety of actions.

Microsoft Adds AI-Powered Editor to Word

I seldom write anything — article, LinkedIn post, or a comment — that I don’t first run through a grammar checker. I’ve been writing almost my entire career and learned early on that a good editor is worth their weight in gold. If something doesn’t make sense to the editor, it certainly won’t make sense to the reader. I’ve always felt a good editor enhances what I write.

microsoft editor

I’ve written previously about Grammarly – my current preferred automated Editor tool. I have paid to use this tool for several years and find it to be a great help.

Microsoft Editor

Microsoft has included limited editing capabilities in its Microsoft Word product for some time. In the past, I have considered it to be more of a quick spelling and simple grammar checker. It works fine, but I find Grammarly provides a deeper depth and evaluation.

Is Your Insurance Agency an Association Freeloader?

I’ve been working with insurance associations for most of my career.

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Early in my career – the mid-80s – I was asked to join the Board of Directors of the EBS Users Group for the management system the agency was using. This was my first experience with the benefit and power of bringing a group of people together with a common goal and mindset. That volunteer board worked diligently on behalf of all the other agencies that were using the same agency management system to work with the vendor on making improvements.

In the late 90s, I wrote a white paper for insurance agencies about the technical and coverage issues surrounding the Y2K problem. The Independent Insurance Agents of America distributed that white paper to every member. I was also asked to be the first agent representative for the then newly formed Agents Council for Technology (ACT) and have been involved with ACT in some way ever since.

For the last 20 years, I’ve worked with virtually every state insurance association providing educational programs through workshops and convention keynotes.

Last year I was asked to join the Board of Directors for the Big I of New York as an at-large member. One of their strategic objectives is helping agents with technology, and my knowledge and experience could be a benefit to the board.