In 2015, Microsoft began encouraging companies that use its Silverlight media format on their web pages to dump the tech in favor of newer, HTML5-based media playback systems. Microsoft and others now recommend that web developers handle video and other media playback via a number of new protocols introduced in the ongoing HTML5 standardization effort.
The Microsoft Silverlight plug-in promoted proprietary technology rather than open standards. You had to develop on Windows. For our customers it means the Microsoft Silverlight version of AccuAgency can only be used on Internet Explorer.
Last October we released the HTML5 version of AccuAgency that we’re calling AccuAgency5. We’ve posted some blogs about some of the great new features. We’d love to share more about the features and benefits you get with AccuAgency5. Here’s a recent Q&A session we had with Roger Walker, Vice President of AccuAgency, who can tell you even more.
What is AccuAgency5?
This latest version of AccuAgency uses the latest HTML5 web technologies to deliver the same great AccuAgency experience with increased speed and flexibility.
What does this mean for me as an agent?
Faster and more flexible means that AccuAgency is designed to run on any modern browser including Chrome and Edge. The system has been optimized to adjust to any size screen and we've tried to streamline the interface to make using AccuAgency as easy as possible.
Can I use my preferred browser, tablet, or phone?
Yes. Call us to discuss in more detail. While we can't support every option and haven't tested every device and browser out there, the cutting edge technology of AccuAgency5 is designed to work on mobile devices and modern browsers regardless of the type of device. Let us know what your needs are and we will check the compatibility.
Will I have to update or change anything?
No! Provided your PC is up to date your AccuAgency5 experience should be fairly similar to what you’re currently used to.
When you say “fairly” what do you mean?
While most things should be in the same place you’re used to finding them, we’ve simplified some of the menus and the dashboard.
The Utility, Home, Admin, and Account menus have been reshuffled to allow greater ease of access and use.
What are some of the general changes and improvements from Silverlight to HTML5?
Overall the new platform is easier to navigate than Silverlight. It’s touch screen friendly for devices that allow users to interact with a computer by using their finger. Users can save login credentials in their browser so they don’t have to login with their username and password every time.
In addition to the “under the hood” optimizations, there are a lot of improvements to the user experience. Improved search options, dashboard improvements, drag and drop capabilities, utilization of browser tabs and stored form fields, simplified rate display and bridging, and much more. There are a lot of new features on the horizon too including integrating ability to send and receive text messages, enhanced certificate of insurance management, and more carriers available for quoting and downloads.
What management feature are you most excited about?
Management Plus and Management Premium customers can drag and drop attachments. It’s a nice time saving feature that agents have been asking for and we’re excited to have.
What are agents saying about the new AccuAgency5?
Our technical support team is getting a great response. Agents like that it works on multiple browsers and operating systems Modern, popular browsers all support HTML5 (Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera).
It’s mobile and responsive. Responsive means AccuAgency5 can detect the user’s screen size and orientation and change the layout to accommodate the device making use of cascading style pages, flexible layouts and flexible images.
Any other new features?
Yes. When you are ready we will walk you through the improvements so you can be comfortable with them. Remember you can run AccuAgency5 and the current version at the same time. There is no conversion process so you can try it out and switch back and forth until you are comfortable.
Who is using AccuAgency5?
New customers are getting the latest AccuAgency5 version of AccuAgency. We’re ready to switch our Louisiana customers over now. Our inside Sales team is available to train our current customers so they can start taking advantage of the great new features.
HTML5 is faster, more flexible and it’s the future. You don’t want to get left behind. HTML5 is here to stay as more and more elements get adopted more and more companies will start to develop in HTML5.
Give us a call and get switched over to our new system or for a free trial as soon as today. You’ll discover a world of difference with the many features the new system employs. Plus, it’s the same great price!
Contact us to learn more. We think you are going to love it!
PDF Form Flattening
The acronym PDF definition (as related to Adobe Acrobat) is Portable Document Format. A PDF is a file format that makes it possible to display text and graphics in the same fixed layout on any computer screen.
PDF files might have interactive fields the user can edit. These fields include checkboxes, text boxes, radio buttons and lists. Users are able to click on these fields and make edits. For example, open ACORD form 36 in your agency management system. The Agent/Broker of Record Change form includes text fields and radio buttons. If you save the form, you can go back and re-open it and edit the fields.
The data for these forms (checkboxes, text boxes, radio buttons, etc.) is stored in a separate area from the text on the page. PDF Form Flattening is the process of marrying the text and the data. You might compare it to the data on one plane and the text of the form on another. PDF Form Flattening combines the two on one plane. The PDF will look the same but the user cannot make changes to the form once it has been flattened.
There are several advantages to this:
PDF Form Flattening is an added benefit to your E&O risk management. Your file documentation is secure and creates a culture where your staff understands their attention to detail and forms accuracy can prevent (or cause) the agency from being sued.
The new HTML5 version of our agency management system AccuAgency, AccuAgency5, offers a considerable number of new features including PDF Form Flattening. Once a user has completed the form, the PDF fields can be flattened converting the contents of the fields from the original into a permanent, read-only part of the client‘s information.
Goodbye Silverlight and Hello More Flexible and Faster AccuAgency5 (HTML5)
Back in 2007 Microsoft introduced Silverlight, a development tool for creating interactive user experiences for web and mobile applications. AccuAgency’s first web-based iteration comparative rater and agency management system was developed using Microsoft Silverlight. In order to use our web-based rating and management system, the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in had to be installed on each user’s computer.
In 2012, Microsoft announced the end of life for Silverlight. In 2013, Microsoft announced they had ceased development of Silverlight except for patches and bug fixes. Silverlight has now been given a support end of life date of October 2021.
What is HTML5
HTML5 is the fifth major revision of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). It’s used for structuring and presenting content on the worldwide web.
It was published in October 2014 to improve the language with support for the latest multimedia, while keeping it easily readable by humans and consistently understood by computers and services such as web browsers. It improves the markup available for documents and introduces markup and application programming interfaces (APIs) for complete web applications. It is also a candidate for cross-platform mobile applications, because it includes features designed with low-powered devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Many new syntactic features are included. To natively include and handle multimedia and graphical content, the new elements were added and support for scalable vector graphics (SVG) content and MathML for mathematical formulas.
Enough with the technical talk…
For several years AccuAgency and our development team have known the Silverlight demise was on the horizon and we’ve been preparing for this with something even better. Our new AccuAgency5 HTML5 comparative rater and management system is now available to new and current users. Users get a better, more flexible and faster version that no longer requires installing a plug-in. Give us a call and get switched over to our new system as soon as today. You’ll discover a world of difference with the many features the new system employs.
“Hurricane” is a Native American word meaning “Evil Spirit of the Wind”.
The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season officially started on June 1 and ends November 1 but most storms occur during peak hurricane season between August and October.
2017 Prediction: Above Average Activity
Hurricane season begins when the waters of the Atlantic become warmer. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released its outlook on May 25th predicting a 45% chance of an above normal season. 35% chance of a normal season and only a 20% chance of a below normal season of activity. The NOAA’s above normal prediction means the east coast can expect to see 11-17 named storms.
Whether the predictions call for above normal or below normal activity, always be prepared and have a plan. People living on the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coasts or Caribbean should have a disaster plan laid out. Benjamin Friedman, acting administrator of the NOAA, said “the most dangerous part is not the wind and the rain, it’s the flooding and the storm surge that occurs afterward. We need to be prepared for all of that”.
Think ahead and plan for:
Your Agency’s Data & Disaster Recover Plan
Most insurance agencies use data files throughout the workday. Data backup and recovery should be an integral part of the business plan and information technology disaster recovery plan. Your agency should conduct frequent data and security backups if you use on site files. Backups like cartridges, tapes and large capacity USB drives. Backups and the security of off-site storage should be in the agency’s business plan. Most vendors like agency management system software companies offer data backup services including storage in the “cloud”.
Have recovery strategies for:
Assuming your data is backed up offsite or in the “cloud”, the data can be accessed at an alternate site and your business can continue operating.
Your agency should develop a disaster recovery plan taking into account the recovery strategies listed above. The plan should ensure all your agency’s critical information is protected and backed up.
Your Agency’s Central Nervous System
An agency management system could be considered your agency’s central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Your agency management system is made up of all of your policies, quotes and documentation which is essential for running your agency.
Here are 3 reasons why your agency needs an Agency Management System
1. Disaster Preparedness
An agency management system allows you peace of mind in case of a disaster. All of your files are stored in a single web-based central location. No paper files and stacks of files and folders waiting to be filled. With a web-based system you and your employees can access the same customer information from any location.
2. Reduce Your E&O Exposure
An agency management system minimizes your chances of E&O litigation. If your agency’s central nervous system is running smoothly then you have anything and everything you need as the management system creates a permanent audit trail. Your agency management system allows you to store your notes, scanned documents, saved documents, saved ACORD forms, prospect information, quotes, policies, vendors, employees and client documentation.
3. Track Performance
Your agency management system allows you to run multiple reports on your agency’s health including policy reports on your book of business, sales reports, sales growth reports, employee productivity reports and more.
There are many additional benefits to an agency management system. These are 3 that are critical to the health of your agency.
Agency Management System Audits
Ensure all of your employees are using the same standards when working in your agency’s management system. Notes should be professional and very detailed. You want to make sure your management system is used consistently among your staff. Create a manual outlining and describing how entries should be made within all the various features of your management system. Consider auditing your management system periodically to ensure everyone is meeting the standards and make corrections where necessary.
Vikki Thomas has been working in the insurance industry since 1995. Vikki has worked for several carriers in customer service, quality assurance, underwriting, product management and marketing. Vikki has worked at AccuAgency since 2008.