Independent Agents and Brokers Rely on the Internet But Are They Prepared in the Event They Lose Their Connection?

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio – June 17, 2003 � A majority of independent insurance agencies access the Internet with a business-grade high speed (broadband) Internet connection, but many are not equipped with a backup connection should their primary provider go down. These are the results of a recent, online survey of about 1,300 independent agencies by Progressive, the country�s number one writer of private passenger auto insurance through independent agents and brokers.

The survey results show that two-thirds of all agencies are using a business-grade Internet connection, while only about nine (9) percent are using consumer-grade. The remaining 25 percent were unsure. Business-grade broadband offers faster, more reliable service than residential-grade.

In the area of redundancy, however, more than a third of the agencies with broadband Internet access said they do not have any kind of back up service, while about half rely on a dial-up modem. Only 11 percent have a secondary high-speed connection to use if an interruption occurs with their primary provider.

�The Internet has become integral to the way agencies do business, so it�s really critical for them to make sure they have the right kind of access, and a back-up � even if it�s just a dial up modem – to ensure their business won�t be adversely impacted if there�s a problem with their primary vendor,� said Chris Garson, Progressive�s Agent Business IT director.

When shopping for a broadband connection, Garson suggests agents ask a number of questions:

  • Is the service business grade or residential grade (business grade generally provides a higher level of quality and service)?
  • What speeds can I expect?
  • How long will it take to install?
  • What type of equipment does the provider need to install in your office?
  • Does the provider offer a firewall to protect from hackers?
  • How often does the service go down?
  • What is the average length of the down time?
  • Will the provider come to my office to provide service?
  • Does the provider offer 24/7 technical support?

Agents and brokers can access a number of online resources for information about broadband, such as the Web sites and Progressive�s agent-dedicated Web site, (FAO), also provides information and links to useful Web sites.

The Progressive group of insurance companies, in business since 1937, comprises the nation�s third largest auto insurance group. The more than 30,000 independent agencies that represent Progressive combine the power of personalized service and counsel with Progressive�s trusted brand, superior 24/7 service, innovative technology and competitive rates. Authorized agents can logon to FAO to access customer policies, state and countrywide news, and other interactive features.