Internet security is a major concern for independent agents, with 80% saying they're most worried about viruses and worms, and 42% saying it's their second-biggest worry. That's according to a new survey released by IVANS Inc., Old Greenwich, Conn.

"Financial losses from viruses were expected to reach a five-year high in 2004, and smaller businesses, like independent agencies, can be more vulnerable because they often have smaller IT staffs," says Clare DeNicola, president and CEO, IVANS. "With one in 16 e-mails carrying a virus and 70 percent of security risks stemming from insiders, agencies need to be sure they are protected."

The survey also revealed the increasing importance of agency management systems to independent agents, with 100% of respondents indicating they currently use an agency management system. In a similar survey conducted by IVANS in November 2003, 86% used an agency management system. In addition, 76% of this year's respondents prefer to retrieve carrier information through their agency management systems, versus 52% in 2003.

In this year's survey, only 10% of agents said they prefer to retrieve data through carrier Web sites, and 8% prefer to receive information via paper. With regard to what is most important when exchanging data with their carriers, 57% of agents reported integration with their agency management systems is most important. On average, respondents conduct business with 14 carriers and perform downloads with seven.

"These results indicate the importance of industry-standard solutions to the independent insurance agent," says DeNicola. "The communications and interface solutions available through agency management systems simplify workflows and improve efficiencies for agencies."

Source: IVANS

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