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Insurance Industry Undertakes Initiative for Password Management, Increased Security

Featuring Ron Berg, ACT Executive Director


Posted on 19 Nov 14 by Neilson

Think about the number of username/password credentials you have for every on-line account you access and bills you pay, your social media platforms, and the apps you access. It becomes one big headache to remember each credential, especially when you begin changing some of them and not others. Now think about your agency and your staff and the plethora of credentials that exist to access your agency management system and the carriers with which you partner. Think of all the passwords to keep track of, to change, to add for new employees and deactivate once an employee leaves – it’s quite daunting and time consuming.

Text Box: The goal of the ID Federation is to have a framework in place for password management between participating agents and their vendors and carriers. The idea is that when an agency producer or employee signs into their agency management system, with SignOn Once, there will be automatic authentication of your identity to all participating carriers. 

The insurance industry has taken the initiative to change all of this through the formation of the ID Federation, a non-profit coalition, and its ‘SignOn Once’ product. ID Federation is industry organization represented by insurance carriers, primary technology partners/vendors and associations, and several agents. The goal of the ID Federation is to have a framework in place for password management between participating agents and their vendors and carriers. The idea is that when an agency producer or employee signs into their agency management system, with SignOn Once, there will be automatic authentication of your identity to all participating carriers.

We spoke to Ron Berg, Executive Director of Agents Council for Technology (ACT), about the ID Federation coalition and SignOn Once. Ron works with independent insurance agents, insurance carriers, software vendors, and other insurance industry vendors to advance the use of the most effective business processes, practices and technologies, in order to enhance productivity, service, marketing, sales and security. He previously worked with MetLife Auto & Home for almost 20 years, advising on technology strategies and advocating for effective Real Time agent workflows. He has long been involved with industry work groups and associations such as ACT, AUGIE, the Real Time/Download Campaign and numerous other user group conferences.

“With SignOn Once, the goal is to greatly cut down on the massive amount of IDs and password settings for agents,” explained Ron. “Its objective is to also significantly minimize the issues carriers and vendors have to deal with as a result of the many different credentials that exist by cutting down on the number of calls to their technology help desks from agents.” It’s estimated that up to 75% of help desk calls are password related, with password resets costing up to $150 per incident in labor due to lost productivity. In fact, every month, 25% of employees forget three or more passwords.

Text Box: “The carriers and vendors will benefit from a support-call reduction and agents will focus more of their time on their core competencies – with all three stakeholders having greater peace of mind when it comes to security issues.” 

There are other issues as well. “Right now, agents are constantly having to change their passwords for security reasons, interrupting workflow and taking time away from revenue-generating activities,” said Ron. “What’s more, the password expiration timeframes among the carriers vary. Some carriers have a 30, 60, or 90-day password expiration or even longer. Imagine an agency that is working with multiple carriers – 10, 15, or more – having to constantly modify its credentials. It’s time-consuming, to say the least. In addition, from a security standpoint, when a producer or other employee leaves an agency, an administrative rep is tasked with disabling accounts and cutting off access to each carrier’s system. This takes time and there may be delays or oversights causing security exposures as well.”

With SignOn Once, an agency not only can readily add a new employee or producer to work with its vendor and carriers, but also quickly remove a user who is no longer with the firm.

SignOn Once uses token technology to authenticate each user’s identity. The token passes from an individual user’s account with an agency management system to the agency management system vendor to the insurance carrier partners with which the agency does business. You no long have different passwords for each carrier system. “SignOn Once eliminates the plethora of passwords an agency has, which may include its management system, comparative rater, and each individual carrier,” underscored Ron.

The framework for the ID Federation has been created and was announced in May. Currently, there are a few entities on board, with agents over the last few months becoming aware of the initiative and talking to their carriers about participating as members. There is significant work involved on behalf of each carrier to get its backend systems to handle the digital token and to implement the functionality with each vendor. “Carriers are now assessing the ID Federation framework and making it part of their strategic roadmap,” explained Ron.

Participating carriers and vendors of the ID Federation are shouldering the cost and development of the initiative, with everyone standing to benefit from this technology solution. “The carriers and vendors will benefit from support-call reduction and agents will focus more of their time on their core competencies – with all three stakeholders having greater peace of mind when it comes to security issues,” said Ron.

For more information about the ID Federation and SignOn Once, please visit http://idfederation.org/. As an agent, if you’d like to encourage your carriers to become members of the ID Federation and help roll out this initiative, please visit: http://idfederation.org/agents/. Carriers and vendors interested in becoming members can find out more information at: http://idfederation.org/getting-started/.


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