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More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at

Texas Connection

What about Wal-Mart? The title of a recent article in the National Underwriter read “Walmart Begins Selling Auto Insurance Online”. You may read the entire article at 30/327853.htm

It looks like they think pointing their customers to is the best model. Wal-Mart does not own the agency or book of business but rather gets monthly fees for marketing the service in its stores and on its website. I tried it out last week pretending to live in Texas since it is not yet available in Georgia. It quickly gave me an estimate but was several hours until a representative called me.

The title is wrong. Wal-Mart is “marketing” not “selling” auto insurance in eight states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas directing inquiries to

Is your agency concerned about Wal-Mart marketing auto insurance?

They currently quote through 5 carriers – st Progressive, Esurance, Safeco, Travelers, and 21 Century with plans to add more carriers as they expand nationwide.

Please allow me to put your mind as ease. Velocify recently conducted a secret shopper study to determine how effectively direct writers, captive agents and independent insurance agents responded to online quote requests.

Does Wal-Mart’s participation require them to hold producer licenses (that is, agent or broker licenses) under most existing state laws?

Velocify completed online quote forms including telephone & e-mail fields and gave the companies 22 days to respond.

No. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ “Producer Licensing Model Act” requires people to be licensed if they “sell, solicit, or negotiate” insurance. [i] “Negotiate” is defined as offering advice about a particular contract of insurance by someone who “sells insurance or obtains insurance from insurers for purchasers.” People who provide general information about insurance but are not paid commissions are not required to be licensed, under the NAIC model.

The results: 44% received both calls and e-mails 22% received only e-mails 17% received only calls 17% received neither calls nor e-mails Speed-to-call: Of the 61% online leads that received a callback, the average wait time for the first call from the insurers was two days and 8 hours. Previous research by Velocify shows that attempting to contact a lead within one minute of a web inquiry submission raises the likelihood of converting the lead into a paying customer by 391%.

[i] National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Producer Licensing Model Act (Kansas City, MO: National Association of Insurance Commissioners, January 2005). Wal-Mart has been experimenting with different distribution models – single carriers in Georgia & South Carolina, aggregator with multiple carriers in Pennsylvania and they even provided kiosk space for Esurance to hand out special auto insurance discount cards in 150 locations in Illinois.

Texas Connection

How long does it take your agency to respond? Continued on page 2

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May 2014

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at  Leads convert 50% more often if you use a lead management system over email

What about Wal-Mart? Continued from page 1

 40% of leads close eventually, with consistent long term follow-up

Speed-to-e-mail: Of the 66% of inquiring buyers that received an e-mail response from the insurer, the average wait time was 22 hours – compared with Velocify’s recommended best practice of 20 minutes after receipt of the lead.

90% of leads have no activity after 30 day

 On average it takes between 5 and 6 attempts to contact a lead

Do you have a formal e-mail response? Number of calls: Velocify estimates that the optimal number of call attempts is six. However, only 3% of inquiring buyers received between 5 and 7 calls before the insurer gave up – with 93% of insurance shoppers either under-called or not called at all.

So … what’s the best way to sell in the Digital Age? Have a state-of-art website that is mobile-friendly. The best way to see if your website is “mobilefriendly” is to check it out with a Smartphone.

How many times do you try calling?

Embed an online comparative rater that notifies the agency immediately upon giving a quote.

Number of e-mails: Velocify finds the optimal number of e-mails to send before placing leads into nurturing campaigns is five. But only 6% of the inquiring insurance buyers received between 4 and 6 e-mails; only 5% were over-e-mailed, and 89% were either under-e-mailed or not e-mailed at all.

Or, if an online comparative rater is not available, make it simple and suggest the prospect send their phone number and / or e-mail address to you for a “Quick Quote”. Whatever you do, don’t have a fillable form that no one ever fills out completely and correctly.

When do you give up? Difference in response by type of insurer Velocify computed a score for each insurer on a 100point scale, based on how each performed in each of the four key performance indicators (KPIs). The average score among all companies was 32.

Claim your free online listings completely with videos, pictures and current contact information.

In a breakdown between direct, captive and independent agencies, none achieved a score of 60 or higher, showing that all insurers, even the best, need improvement. The top three companies in the study were direct carriers, with captives consistently average or slightly above. Independent agencies performances were varied, but generally below average.

Create an introductory agency video for posting on your website and social media. It’s easy to do. Here’s one that took me less than 5 minutes to create and went to the #1 position on page #1 in Google Search in less than one hour: “Tips for finding renter’s insurance in Dallas, TX” at

Stuart Ganis, director of insurance industry consulting at Velocify summed it up … “Independent agents should embrace technology and learn how digital customers want to be sold to”.

Lastly, don’t worry about being perfect. You just need to be a little better and proactive than your competitors. I’ll show you how to do all of the above at the San Antonio convention.

More facts:  78% of prospects convert with the company that contacted them first  Leads convert 22 times more often when you make contact in under 5 minutes 

50% of leads are never called a 2nd time.

 Leads generated on the weekend are 26% more likely to convert  Converting a lead is 57% lead quality and 43% sales process  Texas Connection

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May 2014

TEXAS PIA CONNECTIONS 2014 June 4 – 7, 2014 Special Room Rate for Texas PIA Conventioneers Only $99.00 per night! Room Block ends on May 18th Pay for only the events you wish to attend Online registration at Texas PIA Connections 2014 Invitation

more info at

2014 Convention Agenda E-Z Registration Register Online at Or mark on Page 5 the events you wish to attend, include your business card and mail with your check to: Joe Tipton, Texas PIA Membership Director P.O. Box 700877, Dallas, TX 75287

Thursday, June 5th

Attention: Golfers Wednesday, June 4th 1:00 p.m. Scramble at Brackenridge Park Golf Course

8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. “The Turning Point” … non-CE Join Merger & Acquisition Services for a preview of our Turning Point seminar. This workshop is for owners of agencies and, MGAs/MGUs who are currently considering buying or selling an agency or MGA/MGU, or would like to learn more about M&A transactions for strategic development, capital financing, and navigating the legal waters in M&A transactions. Industry professionals from the M&A, legal, and banking fields will be on hand to share their experiences and expertise with you. 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: 3 hours Association CE Going Viral: Growing Awareness Through Media Get heard in this noisy world. Learn the fundamentals of branding and ways to promote your message online, through social media, and through traditional media channels. Emily Adams: Branding & promoting your business, cause, message, or group online and through social

$75 per player

Carol Hargis: Generating publicity through traditional media, including writing and submitting press releases to newspapers and magazines, contacting local TV and radio outlets,

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Free admission to everyone except company reps of non-participating vendors. 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. "Agents' Choice for Excellence" (A.C.E.) Awards Luncheon

Texas PIA Connections 2014 Invitation

more info at

1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. “Jerry Maguire- Show Me The Money” (1 hour C.E. Credit Available) Berwick Insurance Group presents: “Show Me The Money” in Medicare. Find out why Medicare is a must have addition to your portfolio. With lifetime renewals and 78 million ‘Baby Boomers’ becoming eligible in the next 20 years, you can’t afford to pass up this opportunity.

Free CE 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. “Sneakers” … Everything you need to know on how to protect your agency and commercial clients from cyber hacking

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. "Fundamentals of Flood Insurance Level I" (3 hours CE Credit) -NFIP Overview -Key Elements for Writing Flood Insurance -Elevation Certificate -Flood Application -Coverages -Renewals, Endorsements, and Cancellations -Claims Sponsored by: Mendota & American Bankers Insurance 2:00 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Exhibitor Move-In 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Friday, June 6th 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Jon Archer of Great American Insurance Company explains the key differences between workers’ compensation and nonsubscription in a way that makes attendees comfortable communicating the option with their clients. Attendees will learn the primary concerns of employers considering non-subscription and how to respond to those concerns. Attendees will learn how to evaluate different non-subscriber programs and insurance offerings. And who makes a good nonsubscriber candidate, and how to present the option to potential clients. Upon completion of the class every attendee will be able to knowledgably discuss the option with a client. 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. “The Art of Arbitration” … 1 hour CE Class This Arbitration presentation will provide the audience with a detailed synopsis of the current case law affecting various causes of actions and claims of employees, consumer and companies. It will also offer information over how the Arbitration process operates and what it covers. Presented by Jerry Fazio of Owen & Fazio

Free CE 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. “Ethical Insurance Dilemmas” 2 hours Ethics CE "Hollywood Nights" Trade Show Free admission to everyone except company reps of nonparticipating vendors. Dress as your favorite Movie Star & be eligible for cash drawing at Trade Show and Hospitality Suite.

What would YOU do in these situations sponsored & presented by Aggressive Insurance?

Free CE 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Hospitality Suite Hosted By Berwick Insurance Group - Details will be given at the presentation

“The Invisible Agency” – 1 hour Association CE Everything you need to know about Web Marketing & Social Media 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. "Officer Installation & Awards" Luncheon


1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Hartford Flood: New Flood Insurance Changes – What you need to know (non-CE) Biggert – Waters 2012 overview Most Recent updates Flood rating changes

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. "Hollywood Nights" Trade Show Free admission to everyone except company reps of non-participating vendors. 6:00 p.m. Exhibitor Tear-Down 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Riverwalk Cocktail Cruises

Q&A "What's the harm in a little water?" flyer Sponsored by Hartford Flood and taught by Tom Langmead

7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Hospitality Suites open to everyone except company reps of non-participating vendors.

Regional Sales Director

Free CE 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. “I’ll Make You a Star!” (1 hour Association CE) Want to know how to create a promotional / instructional video for your agency? Eddie K. Emmett shows you how easy it is to do it!

Saturday, June 7th 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. “And Justice for All” … This mock trial has many twists and turns as it reaches for a verdict on how much homeowner’s insurance was requested by the applicant. Presented by Tom O’Connell Gauntt, Earl & Binney, LLP

Free CE 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. “The Hunger Games” … CSRs are welcome to attend for free and learn the latest techniques in finding and capturing clients. Earn Association CE


Pay for only the events you wish to attend Mark Your Choices



Time Slot

Wednesday, June 4th Activity



1:00 p.m. Scramble

Attention: Golfers



7:00 – 9:00 p.m

Hospitality Suite Hosted By Berwick Insurance Group



7:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Young Insurance Professionals' Hospitality Suite open to everyone except company reps of non-participating vendors

1:00 p.m. Scramble at Brackenridge Park Golf Course

Thursday, June 5th Activity $17.00


8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

“The Turning Point” – non-CE



8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.



11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.



1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m

Going Viral: Growing Awareness Through Media – 3 hours Association CE "Agents' Choice for Excellence" Luncheon – 1 hour Association CE Jerry Maguire- Show Me The Money” - 1 hour CE

Free CE

Free CE

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.



1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m



4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m



7:00 – 9:00 p.m

Hospitality Suite Hosted By Berwick Insurance Group



7:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.:

Young Insurance Professionals' Hospitality Suite open to everyone except company reps of non-participating vendors

“Sneakers” … Everything you need to know on how to protect your agency and commercial clients from cyber hacking - 1 hour Association CE "Fundamentals of Flood Insurance Level I" - 3 hours CE "Hollywood Nights" Trade Show Dress as your favorite Movie Star & be eligible for cash drawing at Trade Show and Hospitality Suite.

Friday, June 6th Activity $17.00 $17.00 Free CE Free CE $25.00

$20.00 $20.00 Free CE Free CE $30.00

8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m- 11:30 a.m. 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m- 11:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

$17.00 $17.00 Free CE

$20.00 $20.00 Free CE

1:00 - 4:00 p.m 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.



4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m



7:00 p.m. 7:00 – 9:00 p.m

Free CE

Free CE

8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

“The Color of Money” … (2 hours CE Class) “The Art of Arbitration” - 1 hour CE Class “Ethical Insurance Dilemmas”– 2 hours Ethics CE “The Invisible Agency” – 1 hour Association CE "Officer Installation & Awards" Luncheon"– 1 hour Association CE “And Justice for All” – 3 hours CE “New Flood Insurance Changes” – 2 hours CE “You Otta Be in Pictures!” … Everything you need to know on how to create a promotional / instructional video for your agency - 1 hour Association CE "Hollywood Nights" Trade Show Riverwalk Cocktail Cruises Hospitality Suites Hosted By Berwick Insurance Group & Young Insurance Professionals'

Saturday, June 7th “The Hunger Games” … Everyone in the Insurance Industry is welcome to attend for free and learn the latest techniques in finding and capturing clients. Earn Association CE Credits

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at For example, a producer with $150,000 commissions would generate the following expenses in an average agency:

River Rocks By Chris Burand

Revenues = $150,000

Good salespeople have great qualities. Most are likeable, probably among the most likeable people on God’s green earth. To be so likeable, they often resemble river rock. Solid cores and rounded off edges. Edges cut and salespeople, being likeable and wanting to be liked, do not want to cut anyone the wrong way. They make sales by winning people over, living the life by the motto, “It’s easier to get a bear with honey than with vinegar”

Producer commissions at 40% = $60,000 CSR compensation = $30,000 Benefits and employment taxes for CSR and producer (6% of commissions) = $9,000 Administrative expense at 20% = $30,000 Selling expense at 5% = $7,500 Total expense = $145,500

If everyone was a customer such a life philosophy would be wonderfully successful!

The remaining $4,500 falls significantly short of covering the producer’s share of compensation for the receptionist, bookkeeper, claims person, marketing person, owner(s), or anyone else in the agency. On the other hand, a producer with $250,000 in commission would generate $207,500 in expenses which leaves enough revenue ($42,500 vs. $4,500) to contribute to the agency’s overhead and profits.

Unfortunately, not all people are customers. Some people are instead associates, partners, and employees. The difference is huge. Though we need customers to pay the bills, they come and go. Associates, partners, and employees can stick around for a long, long time (especially, it seems, when we don’t necessarily want them to) and honey only makes them stickier.

Poor producers waste time and energy. Agency owners across the country spend time and energy trying to motivate, cajole, and persuade poor producers to produce. Agency owners are perpetually frustrated that these producers will not improve but they never tell the producers they are not cutting it.

What happens when a salesperson encounters a situation requiring vinegar rather than honey? Usually nothing. Salespeople are river rocks and often would rather endure pain themselves rather than inflict it upon even a deserving soul. Not addressing the situation though is equivalent to telling a lie. By ignoring the situation, we are imparting that something is true when it is not.

Poor producers waste capital too. Many agencies are short of capital and if they were not wasting money on poor producers, they would be better able to invest in good producers, training, and growing their agencies. Trying to grow with poor producers is like trying to win the Kentucky Derby riding a Shetland pony.

This can cause severe problems, especially when the salesperson is an agency owner. Problems arise, for example, when an agency owner has poor producers. This is a situation that often requires some vinegar, some rough edges. Most agency owners though are salespeople first and owners/managers second. They hate to deliver bad news. As a result, many producers go through life thinking they are great salespeople when in reality they are not and sometimes they are downright awful. But no one will tell them the truth. Everyone just waits for these producers to figure it out for themselves but they never do.

Poor producers cause many other problems too. Poor producers can overwork the staff with incomplete, inaccurate applications and too many unqualified quotes. Poor producers are often the prime reason many good staff people leave agencies. Poor producers can put a strain on company relationships because they do not submit enough applications and/or the applications they do submit are poor. Poor producers with inflated egos can be a management nightmare.

By acting as if someone is capable when they are not, we impart something as true when it is not.

They are often totally unmanageable. Enabling a poor producer to think they are a good producer, sets that person up for a bigger fall later. As time passes, poor producers will find it harder to improve their habits and skills. They will have more obligations and facing reality later will be very painful. Consider the producer who has been working for an agency for 15 years. He has a mortgage and a kid in college. The producer has built only a small book but as far as he is concerned, he has been doing a great job.

By not telling these producers they are failures, agency owners/managers are telling lies. They are leading the producers to believe they are good producers when they are not. Telling these big silent lies has a huge negative impact on agencies. As a result, our industry is full of poor producers hat do not know they are poor. Any producer with ten years’ experience and still less than $200,000 commission is probably a failure. These producers are huge cash drains on agencies. Texas Connection

Continued on page 10 Page 8

May 2014

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River Rocks Continued from page 8

In This Issue

Then, just as his second kid enters college, his agency is sold. The new management decides to cut compensation for producers with small books. Or, maybe the new owners recognize they do not need producers with small books and just lets them go. Perhaps that producer would have been a lot better off if someone had advised them ten years ago that they might be better suited for a different career.

The editorial content in Texas Connection is valuable information but as always you should do your own due diligence and evaluation. The content is meant to be for informational purposes only and does NOT warrant an endorsement by the Texas Professional Insurance Agents in any form or fashion

Most agency owners’ personalities make them better salespeople than managers. That sales personality never wants to rub anyone the wrong way. Sometimes though, we mistakenly confuse rubbing people wrong with steering them in the right direction. Steering them in the right direction might cause some immediate irritation but eventually, you will have made another sale.

2014 CONVENTION AGENDA.............................................. 3

Chris Burand is president of Burand & Associates, LLC, an insurance agency consulting firm.

WHEN IS IT LEGAL TO FORCE A PERSON TO RETIRE? Q&A ...................................................................................... 24

Readers may contact Chris at (719) 485-3868 or by e-mail at

WHAT ABOUT W AL-M ART? ............................................... 1

RIVER ROCKS ................................................................... 7 17 TERRIFIC TELEPHONE TIPS ......................................... 12 ADAPT AND ADOPT OR BE LEFT BEHIND .......................... 18 HELP CLIENTS PREPARE FOR SPRING STORMS ................ 20

3 Questions for Insurance Agents...

NOTE: None of the materials in this article should be construed as offering legal advice, and the specific advice of legal counsel is recommended before acting on any matter discussed in this article. Regulated individuals/entities should also ensure that they comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

Carlos Penate is a regular contributor to our newsletter. He shares a few more articles on the topic of “What About Wal-Mart?”: Are you tired of car insurance advertisements yet? A quick show of hands: Who is ready to stomp on a gecko? Another great article for the independent agent!

Question # 1: How much does a 2,200 sq. Ft., 3 bedrooms, and 2 bath house with a 2 car garage weigh?

Allstate's Esurance two-step: Jacking up rates, touting savings

Question # 2: How much weight can a rural 2-lane bridge hold?

So agents don't think the direct writers are doing so great, now is the opportunity with having so many choices for consumer to choose from thru an agent for better prices.

And Question # 3: WOULD THIS BE COVERED BY HOME INSURANCE, CAR INSURANCE, OR, DOES IT COME UNDER ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE? EWS07/140509832/allstates-esurance-switcheroojacking-up-rates-while-touting-savings

Submitted by Adam Kotter of The Kotter Group (

Startup helps independent agents take on insurance giants like Geico and Progressive 4/05/01/consumer-agent-portal-chip-baccioco.html Texas Connection

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May 2014

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To learn more about AmTrust, visit us at or call 877.528.7878.

Connect with us A.M. Best rating of “A” (Excellent) FSC “XI”

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at 10. Identify yourself confidently. If you’ve ever been greeted by someone who sounded as if they weren’t quite sure who they were, you know what I mean. Using first and last name is the most professional way to distinguish yourself.

17 Terrific Telephone Tips

11. Eliminate distractions immediately. Don’t try to finish something on the computer or read a report while you’re on the telephone. Half listening is rude and can create misunderstandings and extra work.

by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC The telephone remains the most effective communication means following faceto-face conversation. Through voice, we sense attitude, emotion, and interest. Here are some tips to help teach or remind us how to make the most of this tried and true communication tool.

13. Personalize the call. “What can I do to help you, Sally?” Calling people by name shows you are listening and makes them feel important.

1. Never e-mail negative news. Pick up the phone and call. 2. Utilize a frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers document to assure accuracy and consistency in responding to routine inquiries.

14. Listen well. Take notes, repeat back what you’ve heard, ask questions, and summarize the conversation. Avoid confusion and errors with good listening skills.

3. Respect customers’ time by preparing for outgoing calls. Create a list of questions or issues to discuss. Anticipate their questions or objections to be ready to respond knowledgeably and quickly.

15. Never leave the phone off the hook. You have no control over what your caller may hear. Always put a call on hold when you need to step away.

4. Use “I” instead of “you” when requesting information. “I need this information” sounds better than “You need to give me this information.”

16. Let the caller end the conversation. A simple, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” allows the caller to close the call. Doing that prevents the caller from feeling dismissed.

5. Take ownership of the call. Customers do not like to be transferred. If you do need to transfer a call, introduce the caller to your colleague. Do not place callers in voice mail without their knowledge.

17. Thank them for their business. People who do business with you want to know you appreciate their patronage. Tell them.

6. Use phone conversations to build and personalize relationships. Inquire about the weather, family, vacations, or hobbies. Look to find common interests. 7. Be warm and cheerful in energy, words, and tone. “I’m so glad you called!” “We really appreciate your business.” 8. Pick up the line quickly. The phone should ring no more than three times. If you are going to be away from your desk, program the phone to roll into voice mail or to an associate’s line.

12. Outgoing voice mail messages need to be current. Callers want to hear an upbeat, informative, and brief message that expresses accountability. "This is Emily Huling. Today is __________. I'm in the office and will return your call shortly." "This is Emily Huling. Today is ________. I'm away from the office and will (will not) be checking messages. I'll return your call ________." For immediate assistance, dial _______ to reach _________." (Include coverage disclaimer as appropriate.)

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales and service organizations. She can be contacted at She’s a frequent presenter at industry conferences, on the national faculty of the Society of CIC, and is the author of “Great Service Sells”, “Selling from the Inside”, and “Kick Your ‘But.’” For information on her products and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc.

9. Don’t sound like a recorded message. I called a person recently who answered the phone and identified herself. I hesitated a minute and said, “Oh, you’re alive!” She laughed and said many people mistakenly think she’s her voice mail message. That’s not a good thing! Answer the phone with enthusiasm. Texas Connection

P.O. Box 200, Terrell, NC 28682 Phone: 888-309-8802 Mobile: 704-516-5114 Page 12

May 2014

Texas PIA Membership has More Advantages! Here’s what you get for only $300.00 per year: Free Online CE Free Classroom CE Discount registration to Annual Convention Free Report complete with improvement tips on Your Agency’s Online Visibility If your website looks like this on a Smartphone

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Free Micro-Mobile Site & QR Code Marketing Strategy. Scan this QR Code for a current example. This could be your agency! $349.00 Value!

Free 30 second Agency Promotional Video. Click here to enjoy the one I created for Texas PIA Connections 2013. This could be your agency! Free Customizable Business Forms: These documents are free to download and customize for your own professional use. Free Mentoring: Whether you are a start-up or an existing business, our mentors will help you reach customers and achieve your goals with confidential, valuable advice. Free Small Business Handbook: Everything you need to know to run your business, from equity to employees. Free Marketing Templates: Sets of templates with a coordinated design including letterhead, envelopes, business cards, brochures, etc. Free Office Poster Software: Templates to create your own custom office posters, all without any knowledge of design or graphical skills needed.

Free “How To” Booklets on Agency Management, Buy / Sell / Evaluate an Independent Agency, Internet Marketing & Social Media

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More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at

10 Ways to get rid of Non-Standard Auto Business 4. We just posted a sign our office no longer accepts monthly payments. We also had them sign a disclosure with the application informing the Insured we did not accept monthly payments. We had very few complaints and lost very little business.

Letters to the Editor Editor’s note: I belong to many blogs. Here’s an interesting thread on the topic of reducing non-standard auto insurance. I almost encouraged them to “Send It to Me!”

5. I always encourage EFT payments. I show the discounts offered to those customers who choose the EFT option and I definitely promote peace of mind and convenience to each and every customer. It's simple and it works. It may take some customers longer than others to cross over, but keeping pushing EFT it works. I also offer online payments to all customers. I even offer online payment to those without bank accounts because they usually have a cash card and it can be used online. Before they leave the office, I simply help the customer set up the account online. They absolutely LOVE IT....Walk-In Business is still there but walk-In payments are almost non-existent. Educating your customers is the key.

Question: We are trying to reduce the amount of non-standard auto business we write. We have a lot of people paying cash in our office each month. How have some of you eliminated this part of your business!? 1. We had the following strategies: 1.) Removed large sign. 2.) Charge a handling fee for each monetary transaction as allowable by law. 3.) Open office to the public at 9:30am after people have to be at work. 4.) Close the office during lunch. 5.) Close the office at 4:30pm before most people leave work. 6.) No quotes over the phone, you have to appear in person to get a quote. We now have virtually no walk-in business. 2. The average amount of time it takes, all things considered, to take a payment in the office is about 20 minutes. It also creates an E&O exposure and is an invitation to robbery. For those reasons, we decided to stop accepting them, and advised everyone in 30 days that decision would go into effect. That got rid of our payment problem.

In regards to the reduction of non-standard policies; I simply offer the standard carrier first, then I introduce the non-standard carrier. I explain the difference, the limits and the rate. Educating my customers in "Standard vs NonStandard" allows the customer to make their own educated choice. I can honestly say I have more standard customers than non-standard customers. The non-standard customers usually convert to a standard policy upon their renewal. My customers appreciate the insight and the knowledge and they leave our agency with confidence in a policy they truly understand.

We also decided we would no longer write anybody that failed to have prior insurance, we found someone else that wanted to write them, and sent them to them for a referral fee on each one. By doing that we helped the prospect find someone professional, other than us to deal with, and in the end were actually making more profit on those folks from the referral fees than we ever did in net commissions.

I hope this was helpful. (by the way....I don't encourage or promote removing signage, inconvenient business hours, charging unnecessary fees or refusing quotes over the phone) Paul is right, You will virtually have WalkIn Business resulting in "NO BUSINESS".

Just be sure you check out the agency to which you send them. If they are not a quality agency, and as a result of that agents lack of professionalism they sustain an uncovered loss, they could sue you for referring them. That is why you should probably employ at least a couple of agencies for that purpose.

6. We stop taking cash some years ago, we accept check, money orders and credit card payments. The agency has a socio economic scale of wealthy to farm field workers and they all pay non-cash. We have transitioned our clients that showed responsibility to preferred companies, but with that said the personal auto business is very service intensive and your basically paying the insurance carrier to do their business due to low commissions they pay.

We still did phone quotes for those folks needing full coverage on at least one car as long as they had prior insurance...but that is just a matter of preference. 3. Put everyone on EFT or Reoccurring CC

Continued on page 16 Texas Connection

Page 14

May 2014

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at

PIA Agency Marketing Guide Available Online

Advertise in the Texas Connection Attention: Insurance Companies, MGA’s, Premium Finance Companies & Insurance Industry Vendors:

Association publication now available to all agents WASHINGTON – The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) has made its 2013 PIA National Agency Marketing Guide available to insurance professionals across America through its website at

Check out the rates for the most cost effective method of keeping your message in front of your customers …

The PIA National Agency Marketing Guide contains hands-on marketing advice from some of the insurance industry’s premier experts and practicing professionals. The 2013 edition focuses on how agency owners can get the most out of their people, processes and systems, so that they can increase sales and improve their bottom line. It was originally published in print and online in June 2013 and made available exclusively to PIA members. PIA has now made the digital version of the publication available without restriction, so that all independent agents and other insurance professionals can benefit from the publication. “Across America, PIA is the leader in association education,” said PIA National President John G. Lee. “Agents rely on their local PIA associations for continuing education, designation classes, ethics classes, flood insurance classes, risk reduction classes and other insurance education. Providing the Agency Marketing Guide to agents and other insurance professionals is consistent with PIA’s goal of providing quality, practical education to those working in the insurance industry.” PIA wishes to thank the sponsors of the 2013 PIA National Agency Marketing Guide: Astonish, Bankers Financial Corporation, Rough Notes and Seaworthy Insurance Company. With today’s announcement, each of the first four editions of the publication is now freely available to all insurance professionals at PIA is now preparing to publish the fifth annual PIA National Agency Marketing Guide.

The Independent Insurance Agent. Ad Size


Pre-Pay 6 Issues

Full Page (7.5” x 10”)



Half - Page (7.5” x 5”)



Quarter-Page (3.75” x 5”)



1/8 - Page (3.75” x 2.5”)



Questions? Contact Eddie K. Emmett at or (770) 312-2342.

The PIA National Agency Marketing Guide is just one tool available through PIA’s award-winning PIA Branding SM Program, Local Agents Serving Main Street America ( Through the PIA Branding Program, PIA provides its members with marketing tools and services, including internet marketing services as well as print and radio advertisements, in both English and Spanish.

“The 2014 PIA National Agency Marketing Guide is shaping up to be the best one yet,” said Alexi Papandon, vice president of marketing and affiliate relations for PIA. “We sifted through the accolades we have received from agents who have read the previous editions and determined that — more than anything else — they appreciate hearing about what their peers are doing successfully in their agencies. With that in mind, this year’s publication will feature dozens of agent case studies detailing real strategies and tactics independent insurance agents are using to win business.” Texas Connection

Page 15

May 2014

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at We've heavier on the commercial lines side in general and market across our state so our storefront presence is no longer necessary or compatible with our direction. If money were not an object, I would love to relocate our agency into a non-storefront office. Several of the larger agencies in my area are located in high rise office buildings downtown and get no walk-in traffic.

10 Ways to get rid of non-Standard Auto Clients Continued from page 14 Some competitors state that they do not charge brokers fees but what they do not say is that they charge payment fees which can add up for the client. The auto insurance business has gotten so competitive, The lizard, Flo, and all the others claiming their the best. What was the question?

I would also say for all intents and purposes that after fifteen years in business, I can personally count on one hand the number of "good" accounts we've written from people who have walked in to our agency versus accounts we've pursued or marketed to.

7. We stopped cash payments from clients some years ago. Our office is 100% direct billing - EFT/ or recurring credit card - no cash payments. We are very selective writing new business that falls into non-standard markets (high maintenance / low returns)/ -

I've seen a few agents over time here that have said they love non-standard, do well with it, etc. Great if it's working for them. I firmly believe for our agency that non-standard is a detriment to our agency on several levels (low commission, low retention, time spent on non-standard is time spent away from servicing and selling to standard business, etc.).

8. Only take check or money order, that’s what we did and it got rid of some the real problems, blame it on the companies policies 9. We do not quote "no prior" cases and sent them to Safe Auto and we do not quote minimums, We quit taking cash payments 4 years ago then quit taking any payments 2 years ago, When we sell a non EFT policy we make it clear that we do not take payments and that they will need to mail it or pay it online, It’s a culture change in the beginning but you will find your staff spending less time handling payments and payment problems and more time selling to quality clients. Nonstandard will refer you more nonstandard, quality refers quality. 10. Excellent question. Like others I see here, we stopped taking cash payments over five years ago and have no till or cash box. We still have a very small number of walk-in payers, but they must pay by check or go down the street to get a money order. I realize this is different than a full on refusal of accepting payment of any kind in the agency, but we didn't want to go there over concern that our carriers would balk. Our explanation to those who want to pay by cash is that we're not a cash business and we have no cash on premises. It's been over a year since we've allowed quoting/writing non-continuous insurance. We turn it away on the phone or at the door. We've removed ads from the yellow pages. For existing clients, we have escalating reinstatement fees if their policy cancels. First time $25, then $50, then $75, then $100 and a large dose of wonderment on our part as to why a few have the misperception that we're the only agency in town... Texas Connection

Letters to the Editor Do you have an opinion of this or some other topic? Send it to Do you want it to be anonymous? Just ask. I have yet to betray the confidence others place in me.

Our Newest Member Benefit Do you write Commercial Lines Insurance? How would you like to have an Excel spreadsheet of Company Names, Addresses, websites, Social Media, and e-mail addresses (if available) for any specific type of risk you can name? Current members can get the information on up to 200 of these risks within a 30 mile radius. Want to try? Send your type of commercial risk and zip code to I’ll create and send the Excel spreadsheet ASAP. BTW … I’ll show you how to do it at the convention. Page 16

May 2014

Texas PIA is pleased to announce that we are partnering with Berwick Insurance Group to bring members some new products that should increase your average commission per sale. Berwick is one of the leading Medicare brokers in the United States, and will assist members training and marketing Medicare products. They will also be joining us in June 2014 “Hollywood Nights” Convention and Industry Trade Show. WHY SELL MEDICARE PRODUCTS? Medicare is a “must have” product 3.1 million Texans are Medicare eligible Another 208,000 people turn 65 this year Incredible cross-selling opportunity to your current book of business Medicare is a door-opener product & can bring in new clients for your other business lines High Commissions with lifetime renewals on many plans



“Hard to Certify”

Requires less than 8 hours per year!

“Lots of Maintenance”

Requires VERY LITTLE customer service once plan is in place! NOT the ACA!

“Hard to Market”

Marketing to your current book of business gives you an advantage & alleviates initial marketing costs!

“Too Many Agents Already Selling Medicare”

Not enough contracted agents to help the millions of Americans who need/want Medicare plans.

“Can Only Sell One Time Per Year”

Medicare is a year-round product

GET MORE INFO TODAY: Call: Michael Lang at Berwick Insurance Group: 888-745-2320 x 7138 Email: and say “I am with Texas PIA” Contact: Joe Tipton at TPIA: 972-862-3333 or

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at Then there is social media. There are over 243 million active

The Evolution of Customer Service:

users on Twitter and over 1.23 billion on Facebook. Many of them are using these social channels to communicate with the companies they do business with. If you aren’t interacting with your customers on multiple channels, you can bet your competition is.

Adapt and Adopt or be Left Behind

And now we are entering an era that takes us even further than social media. There are mobile apps on our smart phones that connect us to our customers. GPS tracking tells us when our customers walk in our stores. Some businesses have apps that enable customers to pay for their merchandise with their smart phones. If you aren’t developing an app or some other technology to enhance your customer’s experience, there’s a pretty good chance your competition is. The idea behind customer support isn’t changing. It’s how we go about it that’s changing. And, it’s changing faster than ever. It’s not that each year there is something new in the world of customer service and experience. It’s each month. So, what does all this mean? Adapt and adopt – or be left behind. QUESTION FOR YOU: What is the coolest, latest and greatest technology you’re using to enhance your customer service and the overall customer’s experience? When I was a kid, there were five TV Channels; ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and a local channel. I remember it was a big deal when another independent channel was added – and it needed an additional antenna that attached to the back of the TV. Now there are hundreds of channels. And, we have choices of the type of system or company we want to do business with. We can get our TV via the phone lines, cable, satellite dish and devices that allow you to watch TV via your computer using the Internet. I always smile when my kids say to me they can’t find anything to watch on TV.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken (Copyright ©MMXIV, Shep Hyken)

Well, it appears that business, and specifically customer service and support, is going through a transformation that is not unlike the traditional television of yesteryear. There used to be only two or three ways to communicate with a company when you had a customer service issue; the phone, in-person and written correspondence. Now, like TV, there are many channels the customer can use to communicate with the company, get customer service, purchase merchandise and more. So back to the concept of the evolution of customer service. Most clients I work with recognize that customer service and support has changed. Phone, while still viable, is falling to newer technology. Email and instant-chat are almost oldschool. Who would have thought that “self-help” customer service would be acceptable? Well, it is. Companies have developed websites that make it easy for a customer to find answers to their questions. Taken to another level, some companies have set up “support forums” that are run by their customers to support other customers. Customers helping other customers, what a concept!

Texas Connection

That's a moron..... Dean Martin had a hit song many years ago called "That's Amore". Someone adapted it to scary things done by stupid people. Some these stunts had to hurt...

Page 18

May 2014

Not standard.

Uncommon Capabilities in Auto Insurance New Texas Product Offering Now Available! Contact us today to get appointed: Marketing Department Phone: 619-702-7022, Option 5 Fax: 619-800-7015 Email:

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at

Help Clients Prepare for Spring Storms Although it may not feel like it in some parts of the country quite yet, spring is here or just around the corner. The change in seasons from winter to spring can bring with it the dangers of unpredictable and severe weather. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hailstorms, and high wind can have damaging effects on people and property.

4. Create or update your Go Bag. If you have to leave your home in a hurry, would you have the essential items you needed ready to go at a moment’s notice? You can purchase a Go Bag at popular websites like Amazon and eBay. Or you can simply make a list of the items that you need to include and purchase them locally. 5. Have a communication plan. Family members may not be in the same place when a disaster strikes so think through beforehand how you will communicate with each other. Cell phones may not work well after a disaster if cell towers are damaged. Text messaging may have a higher likelihood of getting through. You can also designate a family member who is not in your local area to be your contact person. For those clients within tornado prone areas, Zurich Insurance created a white paper called Five Tips for Every Business to Become Tornado-Aware that is a good resource and provides some good tips on protecting life and property.

One of the ways you can help protect your clients is to remind them of the simple steps they can take to help make sure their property is protected as much as possible. Your organization should also take the steps to make sure your own offices are protected and your staff is ready to help your clients at perhaps their biggest time of need. The following are some steps you can suggest your clients take to help them be ready for spring storms: 1. Review your insurance policy. Update any necessary information such as location addresses, size of the deductible, and the current insured value of both your contents and home. 2. Evaluate your need for flood insurance. Many areas of the country saw an unusually large amount of snowfall this winter and as that snow starts melting, the water has to go somewhere. If it’s your basement, understand that your homeowner’s policy will not pay for that water damage.

Agility Recovery’s has created a Tornado Checklist that will help prepare your organization for the storms. They also created a white paper called 9 Ways to Prepare for Spring Weather with things you can do right now to ensure that your employees and your organization are ready for spring. The insurance policies agents sell provide protection against catastrophic losses. Prevention is the best protection because no one wants to go through the heartache of having to rebuild after a major loss. What have you done to prepare yourself, your clients, and your organization for the upcoming spring storms? Please share your experiences. Thanks so much for reading this issue of TechTips. I look forward to touching base next issue! And remember, always feel free to email me with comments, new ideas or products that have worked for you. I will check them out and spread the word! Steve Anderson, Editor

3. Maintain home repairs. Make sure your home is in tiptop shape by having a local contractor inspect your roof, gutters, and HVAC system for damage or clogging. Make any necessary repairs, and clean air ducts and replace filters. Texas Connection

Page 20

May 2014

“What’s the harm in a little water?” Real facts about flood protection

You’ve worked hard to live the dream of owning a home or business. Most of the time, hard work, property insurance and a little luck are enough to keep both safe from harm. Then along comes a flood through a hurricane, rapid snow melt, new development in your area, or rain that just won’t go away. It happens more often than you might think: If your property is in what is called a “100-year floodplain”, for instance, you have a one in four chance of a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage.1 Greater odds than many other risks, including fire.

Let the facts be your guide A flair for flood protection: The Hartford has been a leading carrier for federal flood insurance for nearly three decades. All policies are written subject to the National Flood Insurance Program, administered by FEMA.

Some common misconceptions about floods and flood insurance: “I’m protected. I have property insurance.” Normally, homeowners insurance or your commercial/Business Owner’s Policy exclude flooding. “Fire is my number one fear.” Understandable. But in reality, flood is the number one natural disaster in the U.S.2 “A little water couldn’t result in that much damage.” Think again. And see the chart on the next page.


One inch of water can add up to thousands3

Put a wall of protection around what’s yours

It doesn’t take a foot of water to ruin property and goods. Consider a 1,000-square-foot home and the damage that can result from just one inch of water:

With federal flood insurance, you can protect your buildings and contents from damage caused by rising water from a flood. You can purchase a policy to protect the following:

Personal items (clothing, television, stereo)


Accent furniture (floor lamps)




Computer accessories


Living room furniture


Kitchenware & food


Bedroom furniture




Kitchen & bathroom cabinets


Finished floor/wood/carpet Electrical & plumbing

$7,900 $150

Doors & base trim & windows




Grand Total


Without flood protection, you could bear responsibility for all of the above. Why leave yourself vulnerable, when policies start as low as $129 a year for a preferred risk policy?

The standard policy provides separate coverage options to protect against damage to: • The building itself

• Its contents

• Or both

Depending on your need, you may decide to purchase both to protect against damage to: •S  tructural elements, such as walls, floors, equipment and fixtures •T  he property’s contents, such as furniture, appliances, wall and floor coverings •P  ersonal items, such as clothing, audio equipment and televisions

Don’t wait until water is at your door Consider purchasing flood insurance sooner rather than later. Keep in mind that there’s often a 30-day wait after purchase for the policy to take effect. So call your independent agent today about flood insurance through The Hartford. It’s rainy day protection that could help save your most valuable investment: your home or business.

Map your risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers flood insurance, works with local communities and experts to revise aging flood maps in communities across the country. You can get a detailed, digital flood hazard map of your area by visiting: flood_maps.jsp. Let your Hartford agent help you interpret it. 1,2,3


All policies are written subject to the National Flood Insurance Program. Please note that this product is available in most states. Features and credits may vary by state. For simplicity, this brochure does not include all the features, exclusions and limitations of the policy. For full information, The Hartford suggests that you read your policy or consult with your independent agent. On all losses and claims, policy terms apply. All information and representations herein are as of October 2013. 13-0287 Printed in U.S.A. © October 2013 The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at When Is It Legal to Force a Person to Retire? Q&A By Robin Thomas, Managing Editor Is it ever legal to require an employee to retire at a certain age? Find out the limited circumstances when the ADEA allows mandatory retirement. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Q: Can we require employees to retire at a certain age? We have two upper level managers who are approaching 70, and they have become less productive in the last few years. A: As a general rule, employers may not impose a mandatory retirement age on most employees. A mandatory retirement age usually is considered age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). When the ADEA was first passed in 1967, it did limit the age discrimination protections to employees who were between the ages of 40 and 65. Subsequent amendments to the Act increased the upper age limit to 70 and then eliminated it, except for certain employees, discussed below. (Download free Retirement model policy including HR best practices and legal background.) The ADEA makes two exceptions. One allows a mandatory retirement age for certain executives and high-level policymakers when particular criteria are met. Since this provision is an exemption from the ADEA’s requirements, it is narrowly interpreted and the burden is on you to prove that all of the elements of the exemption have been met. The exemption applies to any employee who is: (1) At least 65 years of age; (2) Employed in a bona fide executive or high policymaking position for the two-year period immediately before retirement; and (3) Entitled to an immediate, nonforfeitable annual retirement benefit from an employer pension, profitsharing, savings, or deferred compensation plan, or any combination of those plans, which equals in the aggregate at least $44,000 per year. According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations, the exemption for executives does not apply to middle management employees, no matter how great their retirement income. It applies only to top-level employees who exercise substantial executive authority over a significant number of employees and a large volume of business. Similarly, the phrase “high policymaking position” is limited to certain top level employees who have little or no line authority but whose position and responsibility are such that they play a significant role in the development and implementation of corporate policy. Texas Connection

The second ADEA exemption allows you to require employees to retire at a certain age if you can show that age is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) “reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the particular business.” Like the exemption for certain highly compensated executives, the age BFOQ is limited in scope and application and must be narrowly applied. The EEOC regulations implementing the ADEA indicate that any employer using the BFOQ exemption must prove that: (1) the age limit is reasonably necessary to the essence of the business; and either (2) all or substantially all individuals excluded from the particular job are in fact disqualified; or (3) some of the excluded individuals possess a disqualifying trait that cannot be ascertained except by reference to age. Mandatory retirement at a specified age rarely has been upheld under the BFOQ exemption, though the courts have recognized the BFOQ defense when safety issues are involved. However, you have the burden of proving that age materially affects an employee’s job performance. In addition, you must show that substantially all older employees are similarly affected or that there is no way, other than basing the decision on age, to determine the capabilities of individual older employees. If you cannot meet either one of these exceptions to the ADEA, you should not impose a retirement age on your employees. Of course, you can take action based on any performance problems as long as you treat your older employees consistently under your policies and procedures. So, for example, if you have a progressive disciplinary policy, you should use it to address older employee performance problems. Normally, you would alert the employee to the specific problem, give an opportunity to improve, warn of the consequences of failing to improve, and then follow up with any appropriate disciplinary action. Just make sure you are not treating your older employees more harshly than younger employees with similar performance problems, or you could face ADEA claims. © 2014 Personnel Policy Service, Inc. All Rights Reserved. HR Matters is a registered trademark of: Personnel Policy Service, Inc. 4965 US Highway 42, Suite 1000, Louisville, KY 40222 Tel: 1-800-437-3735 - Fax: 1-800-755-7011 - - Twitter @ppshrpolicies Connect on Linkedin:

Page 24

May 2014

2014 PIA National Guide to

Member Benefits

PIA: Local Agents Serving Main Street America


For online access to the PIA National member benefits

Business-building tools

Insurance products

> PIA Branding Program. Write more business and demonstrate that you’re a Local Agent Serving Main Street AmericaSM by using our print and radio ads, available in English and Spanish. Look for new marketing tools in 2014.

> PIAPRO E&O. The PIA Professional Liability Insurance Company is a Risk Retention Group (RRG) formed to offer errors and omissions coverage exclusively to PIA members. To see if PIAPRO is available in your state, please go to or contact your local PIA state association’s E&O producer.

They end at competitive rates.

We begin there.

As your local Professional Insurance Agents, we provide competitive rates and a whole lot more: > A choice of companies to better fit your unique needs. Where single company agents, 800 numbers, and websites fit a policy to you, we represent a number of quality companies that offer different policies and optional endorsements.

> Hartford Flood Insurance. Easy enrollment, dedicated local sales directors and book transfer/rollover team, training/CE, free certified zone determinations, 24/7 claims reporting and great commissions. Not comfortable with flood insurance? Try the “Flood Solutions” option, which uses Hartford CSRs.

> E &O insurance. Professional liability, errors and omissions insurance. With access to multiple markets with differing appetites, including admitted and non-admitted markets, chances are we can find the coverage and price that’s right for you, even if you have a more unusual risk. Visit

> Rough Notes Producer Online. Helps identify risk exposures and provides detailed coverage analysis. Save up to $1,195 in your first year alone when compared to the regular list price!

> P  IA agents umbrella program. Excess insurance protection includes E&O and business liability coverage, with available endorsements for EPL and personal coverage. Coverage not available in all states.

> DocIT from Drivers History. DocIT’s online database of driver violation data helps agents align applicants with the right carrier so they order fewer MVRs.


> Enhance Insurance by Agoragate. Internet marketing firm Agoragate (pronounced Agra-gate) enables independent insurance agents to dramatically increase their visibility online when people in their communities search the web for insurance.

> I ndividual and group insurance products. Basic, voluntary, and dependent term life; long/short term disability; AD&D; business overhead expense; and hospital income protection for you, your employees, and families. Visit

> Agency Revenue Tools. Boost personal lines sales by engaging in employee worksite marketing using your appointed markets at regular commission rates.

Cutting-edge communications

> Agency websites from Emerald. Cutting-edge website technology tailored specifically for insurance agents. Now it’s easy to have a good looking, user-friendly agency website.

> PIA Connection print newsletter. Award-winning publication packed with news and analysis of national issues, published ten times per year.

> Using the PIA logo. Put the PIA logo on your business card, website, stationery and signage. Order items with the PIA logo in our online store.

> PIA National’s website,

> Consumer brochures. Answer your customers’ questions about insurance with PIA’s attractive brochures.

> PIA National Agency Marketing Guide. Hands-on marketing tips from industry experts. Published annually each summer.

PIA Responds to the McKinsey Report


pages 9-13

2013 National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

Buying Insurance Is Not Like Buying a Song on iTune s page 3

Special Report:

Maximize Your People, Processes and Systems to Increase Sales

PIA National


> Personal support and service. Whether you have a question about coverage or need to submit a claim, we’re here for you— over the phone or face-to-face.

Agency Marketing Guide Brought to you by these


A Berkshire Hathaway Company

Learn more about these PIA National member benefits at

A product of the PIA Branding


PIA: Local Agents Serving Main Street America


s listed here, please visit

Carrier relations

Tools from The PIA Partnership The PIA Partnership — a joint effort of leading insurance carriers and PIA — develops hands-on tools for PIA member agencies such as: > Closing the Gap — Growth NEW & Profit. The PIA Partnership’s newest tool provides PIA members with calculators so they can project and plan for new business growth and profitability. Agencies are then offered three proven, turnkey approaches for improving retention, sales and account-rounding in their agencies. > Agency Touch Points — The Voice of the Customer. Learn how to capitalize on Partnership research to give personal lines customers what they really want, instead of relying on commonly held misconceptions.

Because good relationships with the carriers you represent are vital to your success, PIA National keeps an open line of communication with insurance companies—and uses it on your behalf. PIA members can constructively voice their concerns, so carriers understand how their decisions affect their agency partners. Our Agency Agreement Review Service, available to both PIA members and carriers, provides an opportunity for PIA to advocate for agents when carriers consider changes to their agreements. Staff highlights concerns for members to consider so they can make informed decisions about the agency agreements that govern their business relationships.

> Practical Guide to Successful Planning. This valuable resource helps agents plan for success within their own agencies and coordinate their plans with those of the carriers they represent.

Through our ongoing activities with The PIA Partnership, PIA agent and insurance company leaders work together to identify areas of opportunity for PIA member agencies. The PIA Partnership then develops handson tools specifically designed for use by agents to help them achieve maximum success. Recent PIA member benefits from The PIA Partnership include Closing the Gap — Growth & Profit, Agency Touch Points — The Voice of the Customer, Reaching Gen Y, the Practical Guide to Successful Planning and Perpetuation Central. These programs are described at left.

Agency management tools

Industry & business affairs

> Reaching Gen Y. This online tool helps agents understand and reach Gen Y age group insurance consumers and convert them into loyal agency customers. > Perpetuation Central. This hands-on, interactive tool guides agencies through the decision-making, planning and implementation steps of agency perpetuation or ownership transfer.

> Agency Agreement Review Service. Free to members and carriers, PIA recommends changes to carriers and highlights concerns for members so they can make informed decisions about the agreements they sign. > Agency Preparedness and Recovery Plan. The PIA guide to creating an agency-specific business contingency plan. > Discounted producer licensing services. Available from Sircon and Central Licensing Bureau. > Prescription discounts. Save money on prescriptions not covered by insurance. Available to PIA members and their clients.


> Employee profiling. Hire the right people with skills and personality testing from OMNIA. > Discounts on shipping with UPS, calendar products from Mines Press, and car rentals from Alamo. > Free subscriptions to industry publications.

PIA National works with industry groups such as the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD) and the Insurance Services Office (ISO) to improve processes and address challenges facing the insurance industry. In doing so, PIA works to ensure that changes are in the best interest of agents. PIA also provides our members with practical guidance to help them keep their agency practices in compliance with insurance and general business regulations and more aligned to the way other agencies do business. Guidance is also provided to assist PIA members with protecting their ownership and control of agency expirations.

Learn more about these PIA National member benefits at

PIA: Local Agents Serving Main Street America


Legislative & regulatory outreach Whether we like it or not, federal politics greatly affects our industry. That’s why PIA National represents members’ interests on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Our lobbyists ensure that lawmakers understand insurance agents’ positions and how legislation will affect voters back home. PIA National works closely with regulatory and legislative entities across the country, including the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), to ensure that the concerns of independent agents are addressed. PIA holds a seat on the board of the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR). PIA is a fixture in countless working groups aimed at modernizing and improving insurance regulation, healthcare reform, producer licensing, flood insurance, crop insurance, and natural disaster planning. PIA fights to protect agents’ interests and ensure they have a seat at the table. Here are some ways you can get involved: > Grassroots alerts. To ensure legislators feel the heat from their constituents, PIA occasionally organizes grassroots campaigns in which PIA members can easily send pre-written, fully-editable letters directly to their elected officials. Send one now by visiting > PIA Federal Legislative Summit. The annual spring PIA Federal Legislative Summit (FLS) is a gathering of PIA members who come together in the nation’s capital to meet with their elected representatives. It is an opportunity to meet/reacquaint yourself with your Members of Congress and to discuss issues that are of importance to independent insurance agents. Learn more by visiting > District Lobbying Day…Capitol Hill in Your Backyard. Every August, while Congress is in recess and our elected officials are back home in their district offices, PIA members have a special opportunity to positively impact the politics that shape their lives. They do this by meeting with their elected officials and promoting the points of view of Professional Insurance Agents. Resources for these meetings can be found on

> PIA Political Action Committee (PIAPAC). PIAPAC is the Professional Insurance Agents Political Action Committee. The PAC contributes to the campaigns of candidates to federal office who share our pro-insurance, pro-business perspective and who support our issues. PIAPAC is funded by the contributions of individual PIA members. To learn more visit

PIA Insurance Foundation The Professional Insurance Agents Insurance Foundation (c-3) strives to further the insurance knowledge and education of those engaged in the independent insurance agency system. Its most recent work product, entitled Future of the Business Disciplines, Regulation and Oversight of the U.S. Insurance Marketplace, is a white paper intended to assess the current status of insurance regulation and evaluate the range of potential reforms being discussed in Congress and throughout the insurance industry.

More information For more information about the PIA National member benefits described in this brochure, please visit

Contact Us Have a question? Not sure how to access a particular program? Want to vent about something? That’s what your staff at PIA is for. Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email. To find specific PIA National staff members who can assist you, visit our online Contact Us web page: Or call us at (703) 836-9340 or email and we’ll put you in touch with the proper person.

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents 400 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-2353 (703) 836-9340 1/14

More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at

remedy inconsistencies, simply go to that particular directory or site and edit your data. If we do not find your listing in a business directory, it may be that we could not find your NAP data or that we could not identify NAP data as belonging to you because of NAP inaccuracies. There are circumstances where a site might only post your name and URL, without your address or phone number. This is not considered a true citation. In this case, the report indicates a red X for "not present" even though a partial NAP exists. Competition Walkthrough The Competition Report looks at how visible your company is, compared to your most optimized competition online. The competitors shown here are based on a Google query using the primary keyword used in Google+Local (Google Places). This keyword is typically the most competitive for ranking. By understanding what your competition is doing, you can better determine what needs to be done to catch and outrank them. We analyze the presence of each competitor on the Big 3 search engines and identify which citations are highly related to your area and industry. We identify the most important local directories for your business. We will show you exactly how well each business is optimized, as well as provide additional citation sources where it would benefit you to add your NAP data (Name, Address and Phone #). This report provides a nice snapshot of everything you need to do to start to build an online marketing campaign designed to outrank your competitors.

Run Your Agency’s Free Visibility Report at Local Walkthrough The Local Report analyzes your local listings on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Based on the phone number, we are able to scan and identify listings in Google+Local (Google Places), Yahoo LocaI and Bing Local. Any duplicate listing can affect this score. In addition, we have identified factors that seem to influence rankings. These influences are based on analysis of over 4,000 Local Business Listings in order to understand how to achieve higher rankings for them in the Search Engine Report Pages (SERPS). Using these key factors, we assign a score to each individual section of your report. For example: Is your listing claimed? Do you have 5 categories? Do you have an adequate number of positive reviews to determine whether your listing meets the criteria proven to be important by our expert analysis?

Reputation Walkthrough

***PLUS: we are able to monitor your Google+Local. This is a big plus, because Google+Local is recognized in the industry as being notoriously buggy. Directories Walkthrough The Directories Report shows where your business is listed, how it is listed, and also where you are not listed. The purpose of this report is to identify citation acquisition problems, allowing them to be fixed successfully. Google looks at the consistency of your NAP (Name, Address and Phone #). The more consistent it is, the more trust Google has in your business, and this will typically result in a higher ranking. Creating consistencies across all directories has proven to be difficult, given all the different data aggregators and data entry points in use these days. It is important that your NAP matches exactly across all directories. We have identified any inconsistencies in your NAP by highlighting them in the name column, address column, or phone column. To Texas Connection

The Reputation Report scans several review sites and reports back on those reviews. We look for your business on various search engines, local directories, and review sites; analyze your 5-star reviews on each; display the 10 most recent reviews; report on the overall sentiment from each review site; and then display the average. You can quickly glean important data from this report, which allows you to discover possible reputation management issues and take immediate action to correct them. In addition, this report finds and displays online mentions of your business. These mentions are assigned a "sentiment score." The overall sentiment is displayed in the top section as a summary of all sentiment scores combined. Keyword Ranking Walkthrough The Keyword Ranking tool shows you where your keywords rank on Google, Google+ Local, Yahoo, Yahoo Local, Bing, and Bing Local.

Run Your Agency’s Free Visibility Report at Page 30

May 2014

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2014 CONVENTION AGENDA.............................................. 3

In This Issue

RIVER ROCKS ................................................................... 7

The editorial content in Texas Connection is valuable information but as always you should do your own due diligence and evaluation. The content is meant to be for informational purposes only and does NOT warrant an endorsement by the Texas Professional Insurance Agents in any form or fashion

17 TERRIFIC TELEPHONE TIPS ......................................... 12 ADAPT AND ADOPT OR BE LEFT BEHIND .......................... 18 HELP CLIENTS PREPARE FOR SPRING STORMS ................ 20

WHAT ABOUT W AL-M ART?................................................ 1

Texas Connection

WHEN IS IT LEGAL TO FORCE A PERSON TO RETIRE? Q&A ...................................................................................... 24

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May 2014

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Attention Walmart Shoppers: Professional Insurance Agents Are a Better Choice for Auto Insurance

Membership & General Information

WASHINGTON — Buying auto insurance through a local, independent insurance agent is better than doing it through Walmart, according to the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA). The group expressed skepticism regarding a claim that customers in a pilot program experienced average savings of more than $1,100 a year on auto insurance purchased through an online service promoted in Walmart stores.

Joe Tipton Membership Director PO Box 700877, Dallas, TX 75370 FAX: 972-307-7888

Cell: 972-965-2025

PIA National

“As an average saving, that figure sounds unrealistic,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Walmart says that the system it is using compares rates on an existing policy with rates on policies with the same coverage. If that is the case, we are skeptical that the average price difference for the same level of coverage can be that large.”

E&O Solutions Renewing your E&O every year isn’t much fun, is it? Don’t you want to make sure that you’re getting the best price for the best coverage you can get on your renewal?

Walmart says it is bringing one-stop shopping to the insurance industry. But consumers can already shop for auto insurance in one stop – by consulting a Main Street professional insurance agent, whose only business is insurance. Independent insurance agents can shop many different insurance companies and provide consumers with advice on obtaining their choice of coverage and price.

Why not compare with another company for your peace of mind? It costs you nothing and you don’t have to be a member of PIA of Texas to move your coverage. Go to the E&O Program link at and print the applicable application and e-mail or fax it to us.

Prices on all kinds of insurance policies can vary from company to company, so it does pay to shop around. However, consumers should remember that when it comes to insurance, price is just one factor. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) advises that consumers should select an insurance company that has a good reputation for settling claims promptly, has good customer service and is financially stable. Independent insurance agents who are members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) can offer advice and choices, empowering consumers to make decisions on their own behalf.

Do you want higher E&O limits but your carrier won’t quote what you want? That’s not a problem. Go to the E&O Program at and print the umbrella application from the link shown. Fill out the application and send it to us.

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving SM Main Street America . PIA’s web address is

Texas Connection

TEL: 972-862-3333

E&O Contacts

E&O Contacts

Houston area

Dallas area

Bob Dixon

Ray Reyes




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May 2014

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Friday, June 6 at San Antonio Convention Elevation Certificates – Know The Facts provides attendees with a more in depth understanding of Elevation Certificates and how they relate to the National Flood Insurance Program. The course opens with a review of the Elevation Certificate, breaking the document down section by section. Discussion then moves on to interpret the information provided on an Elevation Certificate. By the course end participants will be able to answer:

Jeff Chesky, CEO of Insuritas, which is handling agency and policy details for Overstock, was quoted as saying “Consumers don’t want a relationship with an agent or even a carrier.” “Insurance is not a cheap commodity that can be stocked on the shelves of any discount retailer,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Insurance is a contract to protect people and their property in the event of a loss. Insurance is serious business.”

3. Where Elevation Certificates are obtained

“Our research found that customers, in fact, do want a relationship with their insurance provider,” Becker said. “They are looking for a lot more than the lowest price. What they want is value – not only in the price they pay, but also in the benefits they receive. Customers said clearly that they don’t see insurance as merely a commodity and that price is not their only concern.”

The course is designed for those individuals who have a working knowledge of the National Flood Insurance Program.

The survey included not only independent agency insurance customers but also those purchasing through online, direct and captive channels.

1. When Elevation Certificates are required 2. Why Elevation Certificates are required

The objectives of this seminar are to provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and understanding to: Read Elevation Certificates Understand why Elevation Certificates are required by the NFIP Be able to interpret information provided on Elevation Certificates and how this information relates to rating of flood insurance policies Tom Langmead Hartford Flood Regional Sales Director

PIA Research Shows Consumers Value Professional Insurance Agents Nationwide Survey Counters Claims Made During Roll-out WASHINGTON — Nationwide consumer research conducted by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) clearly shows that professional insurance agents have what insurance customers are looking for: expert advice and counsel, personalized attention and interaction, the ability to offer comprehensive protection to meet individual needs and excellent “relationship-based” customer service. The research conducted by PIA’s agency-company council, The PIA Partnership, refutes assertions made in the roll-out of a new insurance buying service announced by Texas Connection

Other key findings: If the price of two insurance policies is nearly the same, customers would most likely choose one over the other based on better coverage or a lower deductible. The survey also found that customers want a relationship with an insurance professional who looks out for them: 67% of customers would like to receive contact from their insurance company, agent or agency every 6 months or less, to inquire if there are any changes in their life or circumstances, which could create the need for change or adjustment in their insurance. 63% of customers would like to receive contact from their insurance company, agent or agency every 6 months or less to conduct a general review of their insurance coverages and costs, to find out if they are paying too much or lacking coverage they may need. 73% of customers want to hear from their current insurance provider more often than just at renewal. Methodology: Two online surveys collecting 1,819 surveys were conducted utilizing the “General Marketing Survey Panel” provided by SSI (Survey Sampling International, LLC). The demographic distribution of survey respondents tracks well with the general demographics of the U.S. population. The size of the sample and its geographic and demographic distribution yield a maximum margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points, the same level of accuracy typically cited by Gallup for its surveys. In addition, it is representative of the total national universe of personal auto policyholders set at 187 million+.

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Create a QR Code for clients to scan while sittng at your desk. I’ll show you how to do it for free at the conference.

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More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at Mr. Thompson: He told me that the insurance company will only pay $150,000 for the contents since that was the limit of the policy. I was furious with him and reminded him of our conversation and that he said I was fully covered. Plaintiff's Attorney: And what was Mr. Smith's response? Mr. Thompson: He denied that the discussions ever took place. He said the policy is very specific that the limits on the contents are only $150,000 and that is that wasn't enough, I should have said something. Plaintiff's Attorney: Your honor, both sides have stipulated as to the invoices for the contents at $250,000 are reasonable and necessary, so I request the Court take note of the same.


Friday, June 6 at San Antonio Convention 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.: 3 hours CE

Court: So noted.

“And Justice for All” … This mock trial has many twists and turns as it reaches for a verdict on how much homeowner’s insurance was requested by the applicant.

Plaintiff's Attorney: I pass the witness. Defendant's Attorney: Mr. Thompson, I did have a few questions for you. Did you review the policy at any time?

By Tom O’Connell of Gauntt, Earl & Binney, LLP Examination and Cross Examination of the Plaintiff

Mr. Thompson: Not until Mr. Smith told me the insurance company only covered $150,000.

Plaintiff's Attorney: So Mr. Thompson, tell me what you told Bob Smith as far as what you needed regarding your homeowners insurance.

Defendant's Attorney: What did you do with it before that?

Mr. Thompson: Well, I told him that we were buying a house and we needed the house and the contents covered.

Mr. Thompson: When I received it in the mail, I stuck it in my drawer without reading it. Defendant's Attorney: Let's go over that policy (shows it to Thompson). From looking at it, the policy clearly states that the limit on the coverage for contents is $150,000, correct?

Plaintiff's Attorney: Tell the members of the jury what you specifically discussed regarding coverage of the contents. Mr. Thompson: Well, I told him that we had very expensive furniture that we recently purchased for right at $100,000 in addition to the rest of the contents that we had. Plaintiff's Attorney: And what was his response? Mr. Thompson: He said not to worry. He said he had already reviewed the inventory of the contents and that with the replacement coverage we had it, it would fully cover any loss in the events anything ever happened. He said he would set the amount of coverage high enough to fully replace any loss for the contents. I believe he said words to the effect of "I guarantee you will not be out a nickel to replace anything if anything happens. You're fully covered" Plaintiff's Attorney: So is that what happened? Mr. Thompson: No. Because of the fire the contents were a complete loss. We submitted the inventory of the contents and the receipts and they came out to $250.000. After I submitted everything, that's when I got the bad news from Bob Smith.

Mr. Thompson: Yes Defendant's Attorney: And if you had bothered to read the policy when you first received it, you would have known right then and there that the limits on the contents were $150,000, correct? Mr. Thompson: Yes, but I didn't read it because I trusted Mr. Smith. Defendant's Attorney: Objection, your honor. Unresponsive following the statement "Yes" Court: Objection granted. Strike from the record Mr. Thompson's response following "Yes". Defendant's Attorney: And Mr. Thompson, would you agree with me that had you bothered to read the policy back then, we wouldn't even have this lawsuit filed because you would have picked up the phone and told Mr. Smith that the contents limit of $150,000 was insufficient? Mr. Thompson: I suppose so. Continued on page 38

Plaintiff's Attorney: What was discussed? Texas Connection

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May 2014

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More Information about Texas Professional Insurance Agents Membership at Defendant's Attorney: Mr. Thompson, you realized then that this policy is a legally binding document that binds both you and the insurance company to the terms. Mr. Thompson: Yes. Defendant's Attorney: And do you normally read legal documents that bind you, such as for car loans, and mortgages? Mr. Thompson: Yes. Defendant's Attorney: Did you read the documents for your car loan, for example? Mr. Thompson: Yes. Defendant's Attorney: Why? Mr. Thompson: Because I want to make sure everything in it is correct Defendant's Attorney: Good point, Mr. Thompson. Now let's talk about the alleged discussion you had with Mr. Smith when you were initially discussing the policy and what you needed. Do you remember when I took your deposition 6 months ago when you were under oath? Mr. Thompson: Yes. Defendant's Attorney: And at no time during that deposition did you ever mention that Mr. Smith said "I guarantee that you will not be out a nickel to replace anything if anything happens" did you? Mr. Thompson: No, I guess I forgot about it then. Defendant's Attorney: But you would agree with me that you have given conflicting testimony under oath at your deposition versus the trial her today? Mr. Thompson: Yes, but again I guess I forgot about it then. Defendant's Attorney: But Mr. Thompson, when we took your deposition, it was only a year beforehand that you had the initial discussion with Mr. Smith and now it's a year and a half later. Wouldn't you agree with me that your memory should have been more clear during the deposition than now since an additional 6 months had passed? Mr. Thompson: I don't know what to say. I guess so. Defendant's Attorney: Pass the witness. Examination and Cross Examination of the Defendant (the agent) Defendant's Attorney: Mr. Smith, will you tell the members of the jury specifically what was discussed between you and Mr. Thompson at this initial meeting between the two of you? Mr. Smith: Well, he told me that he needed a homeowner's policy for both the structure and replacement for the contents. Texas Connection

Defendant's Attorney: And what was discussed next? Mr. Smith: I wrote it up to cover the structure at $800,000 and the contents at $150,000. He told me that he needed a homeowner's policy for both the structure and replacement for the contents. Defendant's Attorney: And what was discussed next? Mr. Smith: I wrote it up to cover the structure at $800,000 and the contents at $150,000. He told me that sounded great and that I should go ahead and go forward. Defendant's Attorney: Well, you have heard Mr. Thompson's testimony. What discussions did you have regarding the purchase price of his furniture? Mr. Smith: We had no discussions whatsoever regarding that. As I stated, we specifically went over the amount of the contents coverage at $150,000 and he said that would be fine. Defendant's Attorney: Did you ever tell him he was fully covered or that you guaranteed that he would not be out a nickel to replace his contents if anything happened or words to that effect? Mr. Smith: Absolutely not. Who in their right mind would ever guarantee such a thing? Defendant's Attorney: Before you were first contacted by Mr. Thompson concerning this policy, had you ever had any dealings before with Mr. Thompson? Mr. Smith: No, this was the first time we met. He was referred to me by another client. Defendant's Attorney: Pass the witness. Plaintiff's Attorney: Mr. Smith, did you ever ask Mr. Thompson how much he paid for his furniture or any other contents he had? Mr. Smith: No. Plaintiff's Attorney: Why not? Mr. Smith: As I said, we discussed that the limit on the contents would be $150,000 and he said that would be fine. I assume that the insured knows himself how much his replacement of his contents would be and if not, he will tell me. Plaintiff's Attorney: You didn't do an appraisal on the contents or otherwise conduct your own investigation of the value of the contents? Mr. Smith: No, I don't know of any agent that does that. The insured usually knows what it would cost to replace since he is the one that normally purchases it. Who will the jury believe? Find out while you enjoy the rest of this mock trial at San Antonio Convention. Register today at Page 38

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