Two years ago, if you had asked Houchens Insurance Group (HIG) President Andy Barker if the organization could handle 85 percent of its staff working from home, he would have said no.
“If the coronavirus restrictions had happened to us even 18 months ago, we would have been in an unbelievable amount of trouble,” Barker said.
HIG’s account service representatives spend much of their workday on the phone with clients. Traditionally, this meant sitting at their desks in one of HIG’s eight offices across Kentucky and Tennessee. There they logged in to the corporate network and accessed company records.
“We take a lot of pride in being able to answer clients’ requests accurately and efficiently, and most importantly, to get back to the client quickly,” Barker said. “Ideally, we want to be able to answer their calls every time they call us.”
Based in Bowling Green, Ky., HIG is one of the top 50 largest insurance agencies in the U.S. It has 318 employees serving more than 8,000 clients. Most of its clients are large, “very sophisticated” commercial clients buying HIG’s health benefits and property-casualty insurance products, Barker said.
These clients call HIG’s account representatives for needs such as adding and removing covered employees, getting certificates of insurance, policy endorsements, bonding, coverage for new business lines, policy renewals, policy check-ins, and adding ancillary products such as cancer coverage.
But what if those representatives couldn’t get to the office? Could they handle their work from home?
Two years ago, Barker said, the answer was no. But through working with ImageQuest, which migrated HIG to Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Desktop-as-a-Service, the company transformed that answer to yes. Infrastructure-as-a-Service is a form of Managed IT. Desktop-as-a-Service is a Cloud-based service that allows teams to work securely anywhere and remain compliant.
“Today, we are right at functioning 98 percent remotely” because of that transition, Barker said. “I’m embarrassed to say some would tell you they’re even more efficient at home.
“We have the (remote) computer systems, the network, and the phone systems, so when you ring my desk phone, I can answer it from anywhere,” Barker said.
Although nearly all of the HIG team is working from home, “I don’t think you’d ever know there was a difference – unless you came to our offices and discovered the front doors were locked,” Barker said.
“But we are 100 percent open for business, thanks to ImageQuest.”