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Advertiser Index Official publication of Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Washington 11911 NE 1st St., Suite B103, Bellevue, WA 98005 Ph. (425) 649-0102 Fax: (425) 649-8573 Web: www.wainsurance.org Officers of IIABW President: Darren McEuin, CIC, Conover Insurance, Pasco President-elect: Mary Stien, CIC, Parker, Smith & Feek, Bellevue Secretary-Treasurer: Pat Otter, Otter Insurance, Lynnwood IIABA Director: Sue Knobeloch, CIC, CPIW, Lovsted Worthington, Bothell Executive V.P.: Daniel Holst, IIABW, Bellevue
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Board of Directors Chris Ballard, AIP (At Large), Ballard Agency, Bellevue Mike Button, AIP (Benton), Western States Insurance, Richland Brian Blount, CIC (Yakima), Argus Insurance, Yakima Craig Field (Chelan/Douglas), Mitchell, Reed & Associates, Cashmere Garth Hamilton, AIP (At Large) ISU Insurance Services, Spokane Lynette Grandy (King), McDonald Insurance, Kirkland Duane Henson, LUTCF (Skagit/Island), First Insurance, Mt. Vernon Daniel Hoffman, CLU (Spokane), Dan Hoffman Insurance, Spokane Kim Krogh, ARM (At Large), Fidelity Insurance, Spokane John McDonald (Snohomish), Past President, McDonald McGarry, Edmonds Dave Merrill (At Large), DeFranco-Merrill Insurance, Seattle Pat Otter (At Large), Otter Insurance, Lynnwood Michael Rydbom, CIC (SE WA) Associated Independent Agencies, Pullman Nick Stay (Pierce) American Underwriters Insurance, Tacoma Robert Trask, Jr. (Grant), Robert Trask Agency, Moses Lake Chris White, CIC, CRIS (At Large) Bell-Anderson, Anacortes
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A Message from Darren McEuin, IIABW President
Healthcare Law Moving Forward
5 Tips for Powerful Prospecting
How to Maximize Your LinkedIn Presence
“Bring Your Own Device” Opportunities and Risks
The Reality of Texting for Insurance Agencies
14 - 17
WA Joint Conference
IIABW Associate Members List
15 Schedule of Events
16 Look Who’s Coming
17 Conference Registration
Table of Contents
For more information on advertising, contact Jim Aitkins, Blue Water Publishers, LLC 22727 - 161st Avenue SE, Monroe, Washington 98272 360-805-6474, fax: 360-805-6475, firstname.lastname@example.org Big I Washington is the official magazine of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Washington and is published quarterly. News items from IIABW members are requested. IIABW does not necessarily endorse any of the companies advertising in this publication or the views of its writers.
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e are quickly approaching the end of our fiscal year, which is also the end of my term as your association’s President. Following are IIABW’s recent successes, of which we are most proud: • We held the first joint annual conference with the PIA in our 100+ history. It was the largest known insurance event in our state’s history and went off without a hitch. Make sure you register for the ‘second annual’ Joint Conference this fall. (See the brochure on pages 14-17 in this magazine.) • We collaborated with our Insurance Commissioner to change the WAC, to protect agents from being pressured to falsify certificates of insurance. IIABW brought this issue to the OIC last year in hopes of creating a solution to agents being pressured to illegally modify a certificate so their customer could win a bid and/or get paid for a job. • We launched Project CAP nationally to help independent agents win back market share through effective use of social media. A variety of tools are available now and the consumer portal, which will be driving business to you, will be online early next year. • We were recognized as a leader in education nationally by winning another IIABA Excellence in Education award. IIABW recently launched new E & O and ethics live seminars and are providing many online/self study solutions. • We successfully lobbied Congress to pass a 5 year extension of the national flood program. We have made progress on our other federal legislative priorities: streamlining non-resident licensing and ensuring agents continue to be part of the distribution of medical insurance with proper reimbursement. • We worked with our Insurance Commissioner on a model fee disclosure statement that complies with state law. The OIC learned in 2011 that only half of insurance agencies were properly following the disclosure requirements in the law when they charged a fee. • We made membership in your association even more valuable by adding new insurance products you can sell to your customer. Washington state was one of the top sellers 6
of Big I Markets products last month. The most used markets include: affluent homeowner program, travelers commercial, habitational, non-standard Homeowners and bonds. It is going to be a challenging couple years in Olympia as our legislators try to raise taxes and dig all of us out of a financial hole. We continue to have success keeping the agency B & O tax rate at its current level and separate from the rest of the professional services tax level, which is three times higher than the current rate. A state panel is now recommending that our special rate gets reviewed by the legislature. IIABW is also concerned about the introduction of a sales tax on professional services. You can help your industry fight these tax initiatives by supporting your association’s political action committee, Big I Pac. Support from agents help IIABW get access to legislative leaders so we can make our case against raising taxes. I encourage you to support Big I Pac! Independent agents are getting outspent by our competition so the Big I is fighting back with a strong consumer brand and a new consumer portal which will be available this Spring in our state. GEICO spends $1 billion each year on advertising which has helped them quadruple their market share over the last 20 years. Currently, independent agents have only 38% of personal lines customers in Washington State. How are we going to gain this market share back? Statistics show that 75% of people who are in the market for auto insurance begin that search online. Are they finding your agency in this search? The Big I is building a new web presence for independent agents: Consumer Agent Portal (CAP). The CAP project will provide a single online portal for comparative quotes from all participating independent agents. The portal can optimize search engine ranking without spending millions of dollars on advertising. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your association President. It is an honor and a privilege to represent such an excellent group of people. Darren McEuin, President email@example.com
Tips For Powerful Prospecting
by John Chapin
hen you are prospecting, the people you are calling want to put you into one of two categories quickly: one, someone they should listen to or two, someone they want to get rid of as quickly as possible. People are busy and the reality is, unless they sent in for information or you happen to call them exactly when they’re looking for what you have, most are determined to put you into category number two and get rid of you ASAP. After all, the last thing they need is one more to-do item on a list that is already more than they can possibly get done. That being the case, how can you catch their attention and get them to at least consider what you have to offer? 1) Make the call about them. With the high number of people calling and e-mailing prospects these days, you have to stand out. The best way to stand out is to make your call about them, not you. When most people call they immediately start talking about themselves, their company, and the wonderful products and services they offer. In this “sales” mode, prospects immediately put a wall up and blurt out responses such as “I’m all set” or “I’m not interested” and hang up. Instead of making the prospecting call about you, focus on the benefits the prospect receives or, what’s in it for them. 2) Be short, sweet, and to-the-point. As a general rule, you want to keep the opening of your prospecting calls as short as possible. When prospecting many people feel the need to open with a ton of information to justify the call and as a result, they end up saying way too much. When a prospect answers the phone, they have two questions: Who are you, and what do you want? Simply answer those questions, give the prospect your number one benefit, and then close on the appointment. For example, your call might look like this: “Hi, this is John Chapin with ABC Insurance. We’re known for saving companies like yours an average of 21.6% on Workers Comp Insurance. Same level of coverage, better service. All I need is ten minutes to ask you a few questions, do you have time right now or can we schedule a time this afternoon?” 8
3) Warm up your cold calls. The best ways to warm up a cold call are to get a referral, find something you have in common, refer to something you read, or name drop. Obviously getting a referral is the most effective way to warm up a cold call. Remember, the average person knows 250 other people. You should be asking everyone you talk to for referrals. In addition to referrals, look for things you have in common with people. For example, did you go to the same school? Alumni Directories are a great source of warm leads. What other hobbies and interests do you have that you may share with people? Were you in the military, are you a sky diver, a golfer? You can also refer to something you read in the paper or on-line. Did someone recently get a promotion, have a 25th wedding anniversary, get a hole-in-one? Finally, you can drop the names of companies or people you’re doing business with that the person you’re calling will likely be familiar with. 4) Practice pleasant persistence. If we follow the rule that you have to touch a prospect 7 to 10 times before you get some name recognition and build some credibility, how do you reach out that many times without becoming a pest? Answer: it’s all in your approach. You want to use a combination of phone calls, mail or e-mail, and in-person visits, if feasible. You might start with a phone call followed by a letter or e-mail on the same day. If you get no response, follow up with another call and letter or e-mail about five business days later. After your third call and letter, stop by in-person. If an in-person visit isn’t feasible, make a fourth call five days after the third call and letter. Finally, finish with a “last-chance-to-get-back-to-you” phone call. Also, be pleasant and conversational in all your communication, as if you are talking to a close friend or family member. While energy and enthusiasm are good and some is recommended, too much will make peoples’ defenses go up. 5) Follow up and follow through. Once you have a prospect, you have to keep your momentum. Making a good first impression is great, now you have to follow it up by making a good second, third, fourth impression, etc. You are only as good as your last interaction so make sure you stay in touch and continue to impress each time. To keep the momentum, first, do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it and second, go above and beyond. Doing what you’ll say you’ll do is the quickest way to build trust and credibility, not doing what you say you’ll do is the quickest way to destroy trust and credibility. Also, going above and beyond and pleasantly surprising people are the fastest ways to build long-term loyalty.
John Chapin’s specialty is helping salespeople and sales teams double sales in 12 months. He is an award-winning sales speaker, trainer and coach, a number one sales rep in three industries, and the primary author of the goldmedal winning «Sales Encyclopedia». If you would like access to John›s free white paper on what it takes to be successful in sales along with a monthly newsletter, you can visit John›s website at http://www.completeselling.com or email him at email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 9
“Bring Your Own Device” Opportunities & Risks
By Danielle Johnson Director of IT, InsurBanc What Is BYOD? Many workers today expect the companies they work for to allow them to use their personal mobile devices and personal computers at the office, and/or to provide remote connectivity to the office via personal devices. Technologists dub this trend “BYOD” (bring your own device). Why is BYOD Important? Mobile devices — along with their applications and on-the-go Internet access — provide attractive options for speed, connectivity and productivity. Many people wouldn’t think of spending their workday without a Blackberry, iPhone, Android, iPad or other device to access company systems and data. Most important, senior managers want to use these devices and are using their organization’s technology more because of them. Many employees see their own personal devices as superior to those provided by their employers. Employees also tend to believe they are more productive if allowed to use their own devices for work and data syncing between office and home.
The opportunities of BYOD are present — and here to stay. As an analogy, home security is more complex for a bigger house with more entrances and windows. So too is systems security more complicated as smartphones and other remote devices present new entry points to be analyzed and protected. 10
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Thus, BYOD is significant because employee-owned devices are now accessing company systems and being used for work purposes presenting security and privacy concerns to the employer. Employers see the inherent value in a more mobile, more connected and more productive workforce. Many employees and managers have no problem connecting and addressing work issues after hours and/or on the weekends. It can be considered a motivational strategy.
unaware of whether their organizations have strategies or controls to enforce mobile security. Further, it found that only 24 percent of respondents believe that “all devices connecting to my intranet are authorized.” Only 17 percent reported that they monitor for rogue connections.
What Are the Security Risks? BYOD mobility offers access to enterprise data, systems and corporate email. Employees can store and process data and connect to networks. While BYOD may be considered necessary and convenient, this type of connectivity can raise significant data security and privacy concerns which lead to potential legal and liability risks.
Malware is on the move. Malware that targets mobile devices is increasing, reported IBM Security Solutions researchers in a fall 2011 whitepaper. Citing an IBM security research report, the whitepaper presented statistics showing that mobile operating systems vulnerabilities tripled from 60 to a projected 180+ from 2009 to 2011.
Consider: 1. The device gets lost or stolen with access to company data and systems. 2. The device contracts a virus or has malware installed that can obtain company logins and data from that device. 3. The personal device user — however good his/her intentions are — can in effect be circumventing company security standards. 4. The company cannot control the use of the personal device should the employee allow children or friends to use the device. 5. The employee may use the device to place files in personal applications in the cloud which may not be secure. 6. The employee plugs a mobile device into the USB port of his or her office computer thereby transmitting a virus to the office desktop. Here are some facts to consider when trying to balance personal device access with security: Employees don’t perceive the risk. Many employees perceive the use of their own devices at work as placing no extra burden on technical support. But dealing with any data or system security issue requires know-how and technical resources. Executives perceive the risk, but aren’t fully ready. In August of 2011, a Deloitte webcast poll of more than 1,000 U.S. information technology and business executives found that 28 percent of respondents believe there are unauthorized personal digital assistants (PDAs) and/or tablets connecting to company systems, especially to email servers. About 87 percent of respondents think their systems are at risk for a cyber attack originating from a mobile security lapse, the poll reported. The same poll found 40 percent of respondents are 12
Enterprise systems and mobile systems are catching up with each other. While many corporations have for years allowed Blackberry-based access to email and other company systems, users are now demanding that iPhone/Android-based smartphones and tablet computers be provided access to these same services. How do you proceed once BYOD is determined necessary? Since there are risks to the mingling of personal devices and work systems, companies must take the lead in assessing and managing the risks so as to safeguard their systems and data. Some simple steps include: 1. Institute a strong written BYOD Policy that is consistent with the organization’s Employee Handbook policies such as the IT Policy and Acceptable Use Policy. 2. Determine which data to protect. 3. Define what devices will be supported. 4. Determine which employees need remote access via personal devices. Do not open BYOD participation beyond those employees that have a strong business reason for mobile access. 5. Define security requirements. 6. Train and educate employees concerning policy and BYOD use. 7. Monitor employee mobile devices for compliance with your organization’s policy. 8. Secure employee’s authorization to “wipe” the employee’s mobile device remotely (restore to the original factory state), as a condition of giving access to any of the business’s systems.
9. Place controls over access to and use of the company’s wireless internet. For example: do not broadcast your wireless SSID, restrict access to employees only using MAC address filtering in the router and invoke WPA 2 on the router. Security Solutions 1. If an enterprise is allowing employees to use their own mobile devices, the following security measures should be implemented. 2. Require strong phone startup PIN which is at least 6 – 8 characters long. If not supported, use the maximum allowed. Reduce the PIN required timeout setting to no longer than 10 minutes. 3. Require specified encryption and anti-malware software on each device. 4. Require and install mobile tracking software/applications which allow online access to track the location of a lost/ stolen phone and the ability to perform a lock/scream and/ or remote data wipe. Secure employee’s authorization to take these actions on the device if the device is misplaced, lost or stolen, as a condition to giving the employee access to the business’s systems and data. 7.5 x 4.625 5. Do not allow “broken”/”rooted”/“jailbroken” devices on jgs_umbrella_7.4x4.625v1 your network. These phones have removed limitations inFor Nov. stalled2011 on the phone by the carrier allowing the user to run
apps and files not approved by carriers. This process opens the device up to security risks. 6. Large enterprises monitoring multiple devices and platforms should consider Mobile Device Management (MDM) software. MDM software centrally controls and protects the data and configuration settings for all mobile devices in the network. MDM can also provide a secure document delivery platform and end to end data transmission encryption. The opportunities of BYOD are present — and here to stay. As an analogy, home security is more complex for a bigger house with more entrances and windows. So too is systems security more complicated as smartphones and other remote devices present new entry points to be analyzed and protected. All of the security tips presented here are simply guidelines to aid agencies in diminishing security and privacy risks and managing them. However, none can be guaranteed 100% effective. Danielle Johnson is the VP, Director of Information Technology at InsurBanc, which IIABA and the W.R. Berkley Corporation established to assist independent agencies with their specific banking needs. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.
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ore than two years of legal wrangling over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) came to a conclusion when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had the power to enact the controversial law. The most significant question facing the Court was whether the minimum coverage provisions of the act—also known as the individual mandate, which requires nearly every American to obtain a minimum level of health insurance coverage—were constitutional. The 26 states (including Washington) who challenged the law argued that Congress exceeded the powers provided by the U.S. Constitution and lacked the authority to enact this individual mandate because it was a violation of the Constitution’s commerce clause. The Obama Administration argued that the individual mandate was essentially a tax law— despite proponents’ public disavowal of such a classification or description of the provision—and that its enactment was a proper use of Congress’s constitutional power to tax. Impact on Washington State Since the law was upheld, its implementation will move forward as scheduled. This will include the individual and employer mandates, guaranteed issue, rating restrictions, state/ federal exchanges and subsidies for purchasing health care for individuals up to 400% of the poverty level. Beginning in 2013 tax increases will take effect such as the 0.9% tax increase on wages and 3.8% tax increase on investment income for higher income individuals and small businesses. The so-called “Cadillac tax” is also looming in 2018. States will move forward with implementation of health care exchanges. At this point, it is unlikely that most states will make the January 2013 deadline for exchange certification and will not be online by 2014. The end result of this will likely be that the federal government will initially have at least some role in a majority of state health insurance exchanges. Washington State is about as well positioned to meet this requirement as any state in the country. In May, 2011, the Washington State legislature passed the Health Benefit Exchange enabling legislation (Senate Bill 5445) which designated the Health Care Authority as the lead organization 18
to build Washington State’s Exchange. IIABW members Bill Baldwin, a partner in The Partners Group, and Phil Dyer, Senior VP Kibble & Prentice/USI, are members of a nine member governing board of the state’s Health Benefits Exchange. Last month, Washington State received approval for $128 million in federal funding for the next phase of implementing the federal Affordable Care Act. Washington was the second state in the nation to qualify for the “Level II” funds. Previously, Washington state received a nearly $1 million planning grant and a $23 million Level I grant for exchange development. The exchange is responsible for becoming selfsustaining – no longer relying on federal funds – by 2015. The Exchange will begin enrolling consumers on October 1, 2013, for health insurance coverage beginning on January 1, 2014. Impact of Law on Agents Many agents and brokers are already feeling the adverse effects of the PPACA’s medical loss ratio requirements. The MLR mandates contained in the reform law have forced many health insurers to dramatically reduce compensation paid to producers. Additionally, many of these professionals have been compelled to reduce the range of services they provide or leave the health marketplace altogether. The PPACA mandates that at least 80% - 85% of premiums collected by the carrier must be spent on “health care quality improvement.” In other words, no more than 15% - 20% may go towards “non-claims costs” such as profits, advertising, administrative costs, etc. If a carrier does not meet these ratios, rebates are due to the consumer. U.S. health insurance companies are due to pay out $1.1 billion in rebates to employers and individuals this summer under this requirement. The Big I has lobbied for a bill that would exclude agent compensation from the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) formula in the individual and small group markets. H.R. 1206 currently has over 160 bipartisan cosponsors, including Washington State’s Congressional representatives Herrera-Beutler, McMorris Rodgers, Hastings and Reichert. The Big I will continue to lobby on behalf of agents at the state and federal level to ensure that our members continue to be part of the distribution of group medical insurance.
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How to Maximize Your LinkedIn Presence By Steve Anderson SETTING UP YOUR BASIC PROFILE LinkedIn needs to be a part of every producer’s sales toolkit. This social platform provides an easy way to learn about, and reach out to, millions of businesspeople (also called prospects). In addition, all agency staff should create a profile. Unfortunately, many producers, as well as staff, don’t take full advantage of the site’s capabilities even though most are free. The first step, if you haven’t done so already, is to create your LinkedIn profile. Your Name: Use your “known as” name. My given name is Stephen but I have gone by Steve for many years so that is what I use in my profile and on my business card. Headline: Also known as Title, this area provides you with a great branding opportunity. When another user searches the LinkedIn user database, your name and headline are the only things they’ll see before deciding whether to click on your full profile. Make this statement count. “Commercial Producer” isn’t much of a branding statement, but “Specialist in Protecting the Financial Future of Business Owners” provides more focused information. Photo: Make sure you add a photo! Upload any decent looking, digital head-and-shoulders photo. You don’t need business attire for this shot. Just use a photo that sends the message, “This is a 20
professional person,” meaning (as you may have guessed) last year’s beach vacation shots might not be your best pick. Custom URL: Make sure your LinkedIn profile bears your own stamp in the form of a personalized URL, like http:// www. linkedin.com/in/TAAReport, if it is available. You should add this customized URL to your email signature, on your business card, and anywhere else you have your information. Summary: Here’s where you can tell your own story. People buy from people, so use this freeform section to show your personality. It’s OK to have fun with your LinkedIn summary. It’s where you can speak to the reader (the person viewing your profile) in a human voice. Employment History: It takes only a few seconds to upload your text resume to LinkedIn, and it will save you time creating the Work History section of your profile. You can amplify this field with your proudest accomplishments or particular responsibilities you want readers to know about. It’s important to include the dates (and employer names) for each past assignment so LinkedIn can match you up with colleagues who have worked alongside you. Education: Including accurate dates in the Education section of your profile will make it easy for the LinkedIn database elves to
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match you up with classmates who may be on LinkedIn now, waiting for you to reach out and refresh the connection. Contact: The “Contact [Person X] for” section toward the bottom of your profile is another great field because it forces you to think about what you want from LinkedIn and from your networking in general. This is where you get to decide which types of contacts you want and don’t want. Which conversations are you willing to have, and which ones are a waste of your time? ADVANCED USER PROFILE SETTINGS Additional Information: Your profile’s Additional Information field lets you round out the “Story of You” with the URL for your website and/or blog, your Twitter account, honors and awards you’ve won, and your interests (the books you read, the sports you play or follow, or anything else you want to share). Remember, people buy from people they like. Sharing information about yourself makes you more human and provides additional networking points of contact. Specialties: The Specialties section of your LinkedIn profile is another great field. You can use terms like “Commercial Insurance Sales” and “Risk Management,” but you can also talk about your Irish wolfhounds and salsa dancing in this field. Prospective clients and employers want real, live,
entangled, interesting people on their teams. Business is personal these days, and your outside-of-work interests (the ones you care to share, anyway) are part of your professional persona. Add Sections: A powerful new LinkedIn feature is Add Sections, which lets you amplify your profile with additional information about past jobs, projects, organization memberships, and more. Click on the Add Sections link to preview the various enhancements you can make to your profile just by providing a bit more background. Personal Information: You can list as little or as much personal information as you want on your profile. It’s your choice. Applications: This is a very powerful feature that allows you to add external information to your profile and have it updated automatically. For example, if you have a WordPress website you can link the LinkedIn WordPress application to your site and have new content added automatically to your profile. There are several applications and I could write multiple articles about them, but for now I’ll just say check them all out. By following these tips you now have a LinkedIn profile that maximizes your visibility and networking prowess. BUILDING YOUR NETWORK: BASIC Now you need to begin the process of actually building your
network. Here are five tips for connecting with the people you already know and are part of your existing networking group. Many of your existing contacts may already have a LinkedIn profile. 1. Connections: Look for the green Add Connections bar on nearly every page of LinkedIn. Use this link to invite people you know to join your first-degree (people with whom you are directly connected) network. In most cases you’ll need their email addresses. If LinkedIn gives you the opportunity (some invitation channels do, and some inexplicably don’t), change the standard boilerplate invitation language to sound more like your own voice. And you might remind the person you are requesting a connection in the invitation how you know them and/or where you met them. Be careful of sending invitations to people who aren’t expecting them - you could lose your invitation privileges that way. 2. Colleagues: The Colleagues feature lets you quickly see which LinkedIn members have worked with you during your career. That’s incredibly handy because it can be easy to forget people, and you probably don’t have current email addresses for long-ago colleagues. 3. Current Clients: At a minimum you should send a request to connect with current clients. If it is a larger organization, then you will want to send a request to connect to every contact at the organization.
4. Address Book: If you have an address book on Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, or another popular email application, you can download your entire contact list into LinkedIn. Don’t panic - LinkedIn won’t send spam; it will just tell you which of these contacts already have a LinkedIn profile. 5. Classmates: Just as the Colleagues feature does, Classmates lets you reconnect with people from your past. Invite people to join your network via the Classmates channel with caution, because this is where LinkedIn invitation spam tends to congregate. As suggested above, a helpful reminder in the body of your invitation can help refresh the memory of classmates you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Taking these steps will allow you to begin building your network of people. Steve Anderson, Executive Editor of The Anderson Agency Report, regularly consults with agencies, vendors, and companies. He provides keynote addresses, lectures, seminars, workshops, conference programs and individual agency and company consultations on how to maximize productivity and profits using practical technology. To find out more about Steve’s services visit www.SteveAnderson.com
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The Reality of
For Insurance Agencies Clients are increasingly texting their agents and preferring to receive texts from their agents, creating the challenge as to how agencies manage this form of communication. In this article, the author discusses the challenges agencies face with texting, how agents can send texts to their email to document the conversation and how agents can use their email to send texts to their clients who prefer this method of communication. We are hopeful that more efficient ways to attach texts to agency management systems and to send texts from these systems will be developed in the future. by Pat Alexander
uring every meeting I have attended in the last few months, there have been questions and discussions on “should an agency allow texting by its clients and staff and if so, how do we control Errors & Omissions and documentation in our agency management system?” Empowered clients are going to communicate with agents in the manner most convenient to them, so the real issue becomes how is the agency going to manage texting if the client prefers to use it? In this article, I discuss several concerns agencies have with texting, current “best practices” for managing these communications, and the technology options for managing texts and importing them into your systems as I understand them. There may be other options and not everyone uses Microsoft Outlook. Your technology professional should be able to assist you with the details. Agency Concerns 1. If clients are texting staff members on their personal phone, a number of issues come to my mind: a. What if your staff member is on vacation where their phone is not functioning or they are just too busy to take care of the issue? b. What if your staff member is ill and not able to pay attention to incoming messages on a real-time basis? c. What if the individual is actually no longer a staff member? d. What if the individual says they will take care of the request and does, but doesn’t document in the system and something is not correct? I have heard more than one agency principal flatly state that they weren’t going to allow any texting. Others don’t see any way to stop people from texting but don’t know what to do with it and how to set parameters. 24
A number of people commented that it was seamless to attach an email, voicemail or other documentation in their agency management system, but not so texts. Since it is difficult to manage the capture of the text information, they want to ban receiving texts. We need to remember that capturing email information in an agency management system was not always easy. Once upon a time we copied the emails and pasted them into an activity or note since we couldn’t attach anything to our agency management systems. Through communication with the various agency management vendors from their user groups, the vendors enhanced their systems to handle email attachments. From this grew the ability to easily attach various other attachments and we hope vendors will create streamlined workflows for capturing texts as well, possibly as a part of their mobile apps. The initial attachment functions were “clunky”, but as time and technology have progressed, this function has become more streamlined. In today’s world, texting is a reality. It is not only your young clients that are engaging in this act. Texting eliminates telephone tag, and results in an almost instant response. This is what many of us are programmed to want. Current “Best Practices” I recommend you consider taking the following approach with regard to texting: 1. Do you want to be relevant to your client base? If so, then you must embrace this technology. 2. Set standards and best practices. These really are no different than handling face-to-face conversations, phone calls, emails, etc. Your standard should be that all conversations with the client or with others about the client’s account are to be documented in the agency management system or the system
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which you are using to collect client data. 3. Be pro-active and determine how to best receive texts at the agency level and educate your staff and clients. 4. If your client and someone in your agency are friends, inevitably there will be a text on a person phone. Define, train and implement the process to get this moved to an agency level as quickly as possible. I donâ€™t see that there is any more of an errors & omissions exposure in receiving and responding to texts than there are in phone calls, emails or face-to-face conversations. The biggest issue I believe agencies have at this time is how to make this format work for them as seamlessly as possible. Forwarding Texts to Email Here are some thoughts I have on this process that I have picked up from users who have already addressed this issue: 1. As soon as the initial text is received on a personal phone, forward it to your business email address. Text a response back to the client from your business Outlook account. The clientâ€™s text response will come back into the email which will let you accumulate the stream of the conversation which can then be attached to the agency management system. 2. Some phones will allow you to capture an entire text conversation. In this case it could be acceptable that the
conversation continue on that phone and then be captured and sent to the business email address for attachment into the agency management system. This would be the best approach when the conversation is just a question and answer session. 3. It is important for everyone in the agency to learn how their specific phone works for text forwarding: a. iPhone â€“ http://iphonefaq.org/archives/97335 ; Another approach is to take a picture of your iPhone screen when the text is showing, by pressing the on/off button on the top of the phone simultaneously with the application change button on the bottom front of the phone. This approach creates an image of the entire text message and the picture can then be emailed to your Outlook account. b. Android Phones - Each manufacturer handles this in a different way and I find even some differences within a manufacturer between their phones. It is best to check the operating information for your specific phone for this function. Sending Texts from Email Microsoft Outlook can be used as a tool to manage text messaging with your client. There are several steps to setting up and implementing the use of Microsoft Outlook. However, like anything else that you do, if you invest the time to research, implement and train a process, the rewards will be great. The best place to start the research is on the web at Ste Up text
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messaging (SMS) in Outlook. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/ outlook-help/send-and-receive-text-messages-sms-HA101823438. aspx#_Toc261416088 Microsoft has done a really good job here of explaining the options available for using Outlook and providing lots of screen shots. Implementing an Agency Text Address I also recommend that the agency implement a way to receive text messages directly. I understand from my tech friends that many VoiP phone systems can have a number set up for receipt of text messages. I am also advised that this works differently with every system and that you will need to work with your phone system provider to get this set up and implemented. Once set up, someone in your agency will need to monitor this number during business hours so that the expected immediate response can be managed. If your agency does not have a VoiP system, another option available for receiving texts at a number that you control is to set up a Google Voice number at https://www.google.com/voice . In the Settings section of your Google Voice account, you will find a place to show the email address for Text Forwarding. When you receive these text messages, they should then be forwarded to the Outlook email address of the individual in your agency who will be handling this client. Once the number is set up, you should promote it to your clients, so that those who want to communicate in this manner can do so. When agency
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employees receive text messages on their phones, they should let that individual also know there is a number that is attended during business hours and would get attention even when the employee is not available. Finally, some important points about texting to keep in mind: 1. If the client texted you, that is how they would like to communicate, so at least your initial response should be in a text. 2. If the client texted you, they expect an immediate response as that is what the common expectation is with texting. 3. Your employees should know the agency’s procedures for documenting text messages in the agency’s system, just as they would other communications from clients and business partners. Patricia Alexander, CIC is a consultant, coach and mentor with many years of experience in retail agency and MGA settings. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alexander developed this article for the Agents Council for Technology (ACT), part of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. ACT’s Web site is www.independentagent.com/act. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.
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IIABW Associate Members The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Washington would like to thank the following companies for their support of Your association. AFCO Premium Finance Kilie Porter 3400 188th St SW, #630 Lynnwood, WA 98037 (425) 778-7099/Fax (425) 672-4230 www.afco.com
Capital Premium Financing Garn Kemp 12235 South 800 East Draper, UT 84020 (801) 244-2008/Fax (800) 700-3170 www.capitalpremium.net
Hull & Co. Ben Woody 5775 Soundview Dr, Ste 202B Gig Harbor, WA 98335 (253) 857-1050/Fax (253) 857-1054 www.hullconw.com
Alaska National Insurance Co Bob Alexander 1111 Third Avenue, #2600 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 515-1835/Fax (206) 525-0311 www.alaskanational.com
Chubb Group of Ins. Cos. Bruce Thompson 701 Fifth Avenue, Ste 3700 Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 224-4788/Fax (206) 224-8856 www.Chubb.com
Imperial PFS Joe Zimmer 22102 17th Ave SE, Ste 202 Bothell, WA 98021 (425) 951-7800/Fax (800) 888-1205 www.premiumfinance.com
All Risks Ltd Corky Weber 11911 NE 1st St, Ste B-205 Bellevue, WA 98005 (425) 372-0038/Fax (425) 372-0039
Cochrane & Company Brian Carney P.O. Box 19150 Spokane, WA 99219 (509) 838-0655/Fax (509) 838-1710 www.cochraneco.com
Insurance Producers’ Service Corp. Ashley Kuaea 11911 NE 1st St, Ste B103 Bellevue, WA 98005 (425) 649-0102/Fax (425) 649-8573 www.wainsurance.org
Contractors Bonding & Ins Co. Debbie Kidd P.O. Box 9271 Seattle, WA 98125 (206) 622-7053/Fax (206) 382-9623 www.gocbic.com
Kemper 1330 N Washington St, Ste 2100 Spokane, WA 99201 (509) 323-0288/Fax (509) 323-0192 www.eKemper.com
Allied Insurance Erika Dufenhorst 7979 E Tufts Ave, Ste 1700 Denver, CO 80237 (303) 843-4715/Fax (303) 843-4920 AmWINS Brokerage of Washington Joe Constantine 600 University St, Ste 510 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 922-1801/Fax (206) 922-1819 www.amwins.com Ashbaugh Beal Tristan Swanson 701 Fifth Ave, Ste 4400 Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 386-5900/Fax (206) 344-7400 Bales Restoration DKI Bill Leak 3223 164th St SW, Ste N Lynnwood, WA 98087 (800) 492-2537/Fax (425) 745-8480 www.balesrestoration.com BCE Consulting LLC Jeff Bronaugh 12464 N Paseo Penuela Marana, AZ 85658 (520) 343-4394 www.bceconsulting.co Berkley North Pacific Group Linda Carlson 3320 E Goldstone Way Meridian, ID 83642 (208) 898-5200/Fax (208) 898-5218 www.berkleynpac.com Brown & Riding dba AMW Sam Alexander 1015 3rd Avenue, Ste 800 Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 816-6767/Fax (206) 816-6744 www.amwcorp.com
Countrywide Brokerage Services Anne Brennan P.O. Box 2011 Edmonds, WA 98020 (425) 774-2237/Fax (425) 775-1023 www.countrywidebrokerage.com Encompass Insurance Rick Staten 18911 North Creek Pkwy, Ste 200 Bothell, WA 98011 (425) 489-5583 www.encompassinsurance.com Foremost Insurance Group Robert Hoogendam PO Box 2450, LC1320 Grand Rapids, MI 49501 (800) 237-6136/Fax (616) 956-4421 www.foremost.com GMAC Insurance Pat West PO Box 3199 Winston-Salem, NC 27102-3199 (336) 435-2641/Fax (336) 435-0161 www.gmacinsurance.com Grange Insurance Group Steve Stogner PO Box 21089 Seattle, WA 98111 (206) 448-4911/Fax (206) 448-2687 www.grange.com Griffin Underwriting Services Van Griffin P.O. Box 3867 Bellevue, WA 98009 (425) 453-8599/Fax (425) 453-8696 www.gogus.com
Liberty Northwest Ins Co Guy DeCosterd PO Box 34756 Seattle, WA 98124 (206) 473-3405 MetLife Auto & Home Chris Nachtsheim 20825 SR 410 E, #122 Bonney Lake, WA 98390 (253) 447-4408/Fax (253) 447-4409 MULTICO Rating Systems, Inc Charlie Anderson 4200 Stone Way N Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 357-3928/Fax (206) 357-3939 Mutual of Enumclaw Ins. Co. Eric Nelson 1460 Wells Street Enumclaw, WA 98022 (360) 825-2591/Fax (360) 825-6885 www.mutualofenumclaw.com NW Insurance Council Karl Newman 101 Elliott Avenue W, Ste 520 Seattle, WA 98119 (206) 624-3330/Fax (206) 624-1975 www.nwinsurance.org Oregon Mutual Insurance Co. Richard Berry 18528 Newport Drive Arlington, WA 98223 (206) 419-5409/Fax (360) 403-7763 www.ormutual.com
Pacific Internat’l Underwriters, Inc Randy Blanchard P.O. Box 2007 Edmonds, WA 98020 (425) 771-8988/Fax (425) 775-9046 Pemco Insurance Company Steve Milliren P O Box 778 Seattle, WA 98111-0778 (206) 628-4080/Fax (206) 676-0383 www.pemco.com Premier Marine Insurance Troy Moreira 625 Howe Street, Ste 650 Vancouver BC V6C 2T6 Canada (604) 669-5211/Fax (604) 669-2667 www.premiermarine.com Progressive Insurance Shelley Rogers 19909 120th Ave NE, Suite 200 Bothell, WA 98011 (800) 274-4055/Fax (425) 745-9053 www.progressive.com QBE the Americas Arne Chatterton P.O. Box 90701 Bellevue, WA 98009 (425) 945-5902/Fax (425) 644-2975 www.qbeamericas.com Red Shield Insurance Company Jim Brown 1411 SW Morrison St, Ste 400 Portland, OR 97205 (503) 226-4146/Fax (503) 226-6017 Risk Placement Services, Inc. Diane Poler 8700 E Northsight Blvd, Ste 100 Scottsdale, AZ 85260 (480) 860-5572/Fax (480) 860-5561 www.rpsins.com RT Specialty LLC Ed Bukovinsky 1200 5th Ave, Ste 1910 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 708-2000/Fax (206) 708-2001 Safeco Insurance Diane Mink 1001 4th Ave, Ste 1600 Seattle, WA 98154 (206) 473-5412 ServiceMaster Ray Norton 8681 154th Avenue NE Redmond, WA 98052 (206) 794-6793/Fax (425) 558-7675 www.servicemasterredmond.com
Superior Underwriters Joe Kelly P.O. Box 97024 Redmond, WA 98073-9724 (425) 643-5200/Fax (425) 643-2337 Surplus Line Assoc. of WA Robert Hope 1710 One Union Sq. 600 University S Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 682-3409/Fax (206) 623-3326 Swett & Crawford Mike Hamby 720 Olive Way, 18th Floor Seattle, WA 98101 (206 )448-9400/Fax (206) 448-1757 www.swett.com Tepco Premium Finance Andy Hansen PO Box 19127 Spokane, WA 99219 (509) 624-5146/Fax (509) 622-4702 www.tepcofinance.com The Hartford Christine Miskin 520 Pike Tower, Ste 900 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 346-0128/Fax (866) 326-5808 www.thehartford.com Travelers Property Casualty Carrie Cheshier 1501 4th Avenue, Ste 400 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 464-3493/Fax (206) 464-3430 Ucentris Tim Kussie 7001 - 220th St SW Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043 (425) 918-4264 www.ucentris.com WA Surveying & Rating Bureau Brian Upton-Rowley 2101 4th Ave, Ste 300 Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 217-9772/Fax (206) 217-9329 www.wsrb.com Western National Assurance Co. Dick Hobbs 9706 4th Avenue NE, Ste 200 Seattle, WA 98115-2162 (206) 526-5900/Fax (206 )524-9549 www.wnins.com Worldwide Facilities, Inc. Michael Stutsman 601 Union St., Suite 1630 Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 749-9151/Fax (206) 749-9152
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