Case Study

A.L. Insurance Group, a Vancouver company, got started in 1985 selling health and life insurance. Today A.L. Insurance Group can provide nearly all kinds of insurance that a family or business would need. This expansion has come about in two ways. The first is continually critiquing and adding services their customers may need. The second is through mergers and acquisitions.  A merger occurred in 1995 with Boatright Insurance Agency, then in 2007 A.L. Insurance bought out the offices of General Insurance and in 2008 they added Gribbin Insurance Agency. These expansions resulted in A.L. being able to offer their services from offices in Vancouver, Port Townsend, Silverdale and Long Beach. With several offices came several different ways of communication both within the company and with their customers.

The burgeoning company now had three different phone systems with a mix of quality and speed among their phone and internet providers. The different offices also brought in different systems of handling company data and financials. An integrated solution needed to be developed for the company to be able to function as a single agency and to trim down the costs of maintaining remotely located offices.

The first step was getting the proper infrastructure. The T-1 lines were replaced with cable internet service. Next a SIP-enabled VoIP server was installed at the Vancouver office. All phone extensions, including remote offices, are routed through the Vancouver server to give a unified phone system with a full suite of features. Long Beach was added as a virtual office to the phone server. Because of the large amount of bandwidth flowing through the central office at Vancouver, a secondary broadband service was added to handle their internet needs. Long distance is almost a thing of the past, now costing just a little over a cent a minute for calls outside Washington. The total savings per month for phone and internet services has come to about $700.

The next hurdle was integrating the company’s information. Port Townsend’s and Silverdale’s former data was brought down to the central office. Servers were added to the central Vancouver site that could handle all of the new A.L. Insurance’s data, email, proprietary databases, backup and archival needs.  Satellite offices connect to the company’s information through Remote Desktop connections. This centralization and protection of data was made possible because of the beefy design of the infrastructure.

A.L. now has an integrated communication and information system with high flexibility. By utilizing remote desktop and creating a mobile extension on the phone system, an agent can work from practically anywhere in the States. When the severe weather last winter closed the office at Vancouver, agents were still able to access data and Vancouver calls were routed to the satellite offices. Most importantly, the formula has been designed that allows A.L. Insurance Group to continue to grow and increase their customer base.