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Oklahoma’s Magazine



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POLICY is the official publication of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma. POLICY is published quarterly and distributed to all member agencies and other interested parties in Oklahoma. Manuscripts and contributions are welcome and will be considered for publication at the discretion of the IIAO Publications Committee. Correspondence and advertising inquiries may be addressed to IIAO, P.O. Box 13490, Oklahoma City, OK 73113. Ph: (405) 840-4426 or 1-800-324-4426


FALL 2018






Super Hero; Cape Optional

Do you make a difference in the lives of your clients?

Chris Floyd, CRM CIC



his is a question I often ask myself. Several years ago, it dawned on me – like an epiphany from the heavens of the insurance world – how important our work in this business is to those around us. And not only in the personal lives of our clients in front of us. Insurance and risk management stabilizes the economy of the world and how it allows individuals and businesses to stretch themselves to take risk that

I am humbled and honored to now serve as chairman of IIAOK, composed of 400 agency members with nearly 4,000 employees in this state alone, allowing for many opportunities to collaborate on the issues of importance in the lives of our members and their clients. otherwise they would be unable. Our work allows our clients to pursue excellence within their field and push the envelope that often stagnates from fear: the fear of financial loss, the fear of property loss or the fear of having to close the doors on something they worked so many years to build. After having had this epiphany, I hung my super-hero cape on my back and took off into the wild blue insurance


yonder to save the day, only to find that not everyone seemed to understand my excitement. There were objections and concerns of my having ill-conceived motives to help clients find insurance utopia by improving their protection, increasing their limits and filling in the gaps, which often results in increased premium cost. My exuberance was sometimes met with challenge by the financially conservative client who often still had the first dollar they ever made. Even after years of trying to consult with clients regarding their financial protection and structuring insurance programs to help them prepare for the worst, it appears that sometimes you care more about their financial future than they do. Maybe that is what we are supposed to do? Care more! If we don't care enough about securing their financial future, who will? I am a firm believer that if you give enough of yourself, you will get back more than you have given. The Golden Rule. You may even have to put yourself out there dozens of time before your efforts are recognized, but I do believe if your motives are genuine and sincere, they will eventually be recognized. The IIAOK mission statement begins with “working in the public’s best interest”. This has always

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impressed me about the culture of this organization. The IIAOK acknowledges that, if not for the good of the public – your clients and neighbors – your efforts are pointless. IIAOK has been in existence for 111 years. It has provided tools and support to the independent insurance agent to excel at working in the client’s best interest. I am humbled and honored to now serve as chairman of IIAOK, composed of 400 agency members with nearly 4,000 employees in this state alone, allowing for many opportunities to collaborate on the issues of importance in the lives of our members and their clients. The support you receive from this association allows you to go out and make a difference in the lives of others by providing the best advice through top-notch education and training; by leading the front on important legislative issues that impact your clients and their businesses; and by bridging the gap with products you need to run your business effectively. Your association is here to serve you! We want to make a difference in your lives and your business. n

FALL 2018

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erspective is interesting… As I sit writing this, Oklahoma is experiencing some of the hottest temperatures in recent years. Other than Facebook messages, it doesn’t affect me because I’m sitting in Alaska with a jacket and blanket. We can all agree that it’s summertime; however, we have different points of view. Denise Johnson, CIC Every summer I attend a conference with my fellow PRESIDENT/CHIEF execs to discuss what we’re all doing in the IA community. EXECUTIVE OFFICER We all have very different perspectives of what needs to be done, but we can all agree that every state’s “The products and services that main purpose is to support the independent agents in our state and enable them to build and grow their were a staple 10 years ago are the businesses. not the staples of today. We have We’ve had a lot of changes in the past five years – my new ways to communicate and favorite statement to the staff is, “This is not my father’s assist YOU in your agency.” association.” The products and services that were a staple 10 years ago are the not the staples of today. We have new ways to communicate and assist YOU in your agency. — Attend our conferences at a discount We have been running a survey for the past couple of — Take advantage of our many classes, which not weeks to find out what you think. Believe it or not, we are only give you CE but many offer Designation having a great response to these, and are finding a lot of Programs that benefit you and all those that you vital information. One thing that is particularly interesting work with. Did I mention there’s a discount for to me is how many are not aware of the many of the members on certain classes? products and services that we offer. As an IIAOK member, — Access to Big “I” Markets. One of the many you get a lot of bang for your buck. Our IIAO Partners calls I get is looking for market access. This is a also give back to the association to also assist you in your member benefit! business. We are constantly promoting the many attributes and services of our Partners. — Our company Partners WANT to do business A few things that I would encourage you to be aware of: with you, our members. They understand that their business is more profitable with IIAOK members! • Be sure to follow us on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!) If you want to know what’s As with all things, change is inevitable. You’ll notice going on, this is the quickest source of information! that Chris Floyd is featured in this edition as your new chairman. I’ve known Chris for many years and have • Legislation is always on our forefront. This past enjoyed working with him, not only as a fellow volunteer year, we passed SB1249 – the Affidavit of Exempt but also on the board. Chris is a visionary and understands Status form. I recently attended the final hearing the future of this industry. You should feel very fortunate (and approval) of the form with the Workers Comp to have him at our helm. As you know, it takes all of us to Commission that went into effect on Aug. 2. This work together. As noted leadership expert, speaker, coach is a success that has been coming; however, we have and author John Maxwell said, “The best problem solvers many more to go. As you may be aware, IIAOK is don’t work alone.” a well-respected organization and is looked to for a Always feel free to contact me with thoughts or source for our industry. questions – I love hearing your insight! n • Your membership dues do more than enable you to purchase E&O – SO much more! FALL 2018


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OkPAC CONTRIBUTORS OkPAC is IIAO’s political action committee. It provides financial support for state elected officials who will provide support for or have shown support of issues affecting the insurance industry and to those who share our business philosophies. Only individuals or partnerships can make contributions to OkPAC. Under Oklahoma law, OkPAC can accept no contributions from corporations.

2018 Wes Becknell

Vaughn Graham

Robert McDown

Promotions LLC

Stewart Berrong

Vaughn Graham Jr.

Todd Moon

T J Riley

Mark Burger

Rene Hernandez

Patrick Moran

Michael Ross

Mark Carlin

Latisha Hornbeck

Larry Neal

Rex Stachmus

Malinda Day

Thad Leonard

Maria Nease

Ryan Teubner

Phil Eitzen

Pat Mandeville

Stephen M. Poleman Contributors as of 7/22/2018

InsurPac CONTRIBUTORS InsurPac is IIABA’s political action committee. It pools the voluntary and individual financial contributions of thousands of independent insurance agents to help elect candidates to Congress who share IIABA’s business philosophies. InsurPac is the largest property-casualty insurance industry PAC in the country.

2018 Wes Becknell

Chris Floyd

Patrick Mandeville

Jane Seals

Nanette Bramlett

David Gammill

Mark McPherson

William Smith Jr.

Robert Bramlett Jr.

Vaughn Graham Jr.

Kelly Miller

Daniel Somers

Jeff Burton

Vaughn Graham

Michael Mosley

Mike Spaan

Paul Thomas Caraway

Charles Harris

Larry Neal

Joe Strunk

Mark Carlin Cole

Denise Johnson

David Allen Paine

Belynda Tayar

Dave Deardeuff

Gerald Keeton

Nancy Pugh

Richard Teubner

Jenny Dotter

Guy Landes

Kathy Reeser

Ed Young

David Eaton

Thad Leonard

Kyle Reser

Philip Eitzen

Mark Long

Michael Ross Contributors as of 7/22/2018

Is your name not on the list? Use the contributor’s statement on the back of this page to donate.

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Insure Your Future! InsurPac


Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America c/o IIAO, PO Box 13490, OKC, OK 73113 P: 202/863-7000, F: 405/840-4450

Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma IIAO, PO Box 13490, OKC, OK 73113 P: 405/840-4426; F: 405/840-4450


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IIAO LEADERSHIP CHAIRMAN Chris S. Floyd, CRM, CIC Brown & Brown Insurance Professionals, Pryor


TREASURER Christopher K. Mosley, CIC Mosley Agency Inc., Chickasha

SECRETARY Stewart L. Berrong, CIC, CRM Ed Berrong Insurance Agency Inc., Weatherford

STATE DIRECTOR Gerald W. Keeton Cole, Paine & Carlin, Oklahoma City

IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN Joe L. Strunk, CIC, CAPI Alexander & Strunk Inc., Oklahoma City

DIRECTOR Heidi Nease-Walker, CISR Nease Insurance Agency LLC, Okeene

DIRECTOR Vaughn Graham Jr., CIC Rich & Cartmill Inc., Tulsa

DIRECTOR Jerrad Coots Burrows Agency, Claremore

YAC CHAIRMAN Avery Moore, CISR ECI Agency, Piedmont

IIAO MISSION STATEMENT The mission of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, working in the public’s best interests, through active member participation, is to be the unrelenting advocate of independent insurance agents and to fulfill the education, political and business needs of its members.

ABOUT IIAO The Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma is the largest insurance trade association in Oklahoma. With more than 475 independent insurance agencies, we represent nearly 3,000 independent insurance agents and their employees and more than 100 company members. IIAO member agencies range in size from one person to some of the largest agencies in the region. Founded in 1906 as the Oklahoma Association of Local Fire Insurance Agents, IIAO is a result of the consolidation of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, Inc. (IIAO) and the Oklahoma Association of Professional Insurance Agents (OAPIA) on Jan. 1, 1992. IIAO policy is set by a board of directors elected at the annual conference. Policy is implemented by a professional

staff located in Oklahoma City. IIAO’s mission is carried out through a variety of programs designed to enhance the business of independent insurance agencies. IIAO is an active advocate on behalf of independent agents before legislative, regulatory and judicial groups in Oklahoma and at the federal level. IIAO is affiliated at the national level with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America with offices in Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. IIAO is an excellent source of information through POLICY magazine, published quarterly, and the Oklahoma Agent, a monthly newsletter of time-sensitive material for its members.


Tom Cooper, Attorney at Law PIGNATO, COOPER, KOLKER & ROBERSON, P.C.


s you may have noticed, the theme for these quarterly articles is typically born from the types of cases I am working on at the moment or trends I am seeing in litigated cases. This article is no different. And, although I have not looked closely at past articles, I would be surprised if this article does not contain some degree of repetition. That said, some of the more basic E&O avoidance advice is so fundamental that it certainly bears repeating. I am currently litigating a few cases that stand out due to the ease with which the claims could have been avoided. And, they all involve a lack of a simple written confirmation on the part of the producer to the customer. One lawsuit involves a commercial customer’s decision to forego excess or umbrella liability coverage. There is no dispute that the producer and the customer talked about the possibility of excess liability coverage, and a few quotes were obtained in that regard. The customer chose to go with primary CGL coverage only and financed the premium. A few months into the policy period, one of the employees of the customer caused extensive damages to a third party, easily in excess of the $1 million primary limit. Whether through the suggestion of his attorney, or perhaps through wishful thinking, the customer, of course, claimed that he wanted excess coverage all along. Absent

from the producer’s file was any semblance of written confirmation that the customer did not want excess coverage. This does not mean that we will lose the lawsuit. Rather, it means that there is no easy way out of the case and that a jury will have the unenviable task of deciding who is telling the truth. Another case currently in litigation also has to do with actions/inactions during the procurement stage. A husband and wife are claiming, among other things, that the producer misled them as to the scope of coverage of a particular type of homeowner’s policy. The homeowners’ attorney is claiming the homeowners were relieved of any obligation to read their policy due to certain statements made by the producer at the time of procurement. The producer disputes making any statements that would have misled the homeowners. What is missing from the file, however, is any type of written communication to the homeowners which encourages them to read their policy and to call if they have any questions. The defense of contributory fault can be effective in certain situations, but this defense rarely has teeth if the producer has not encouraged the customer, in writing, to make an effort to read the policy. Normally, such a suggestion comes in the form of a transmittal letter with the policy itself. If the customer admits to receiving the policy, then the customer must have also received continued on page 14


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continued from page 12

the cover letter. No one truly expects a customer to be a coverage expert and to understand every nuance of an insurance policy, but, at the very least, it is reasonable to expect a customer to put forth a basic effort to understand what has been purchased, and to ask questions. In the present case, however, there is nothing in the file I can point to which helps our defense of contributory fault. Finally, another claim I am defending involves the failure to confirm, in writing, an insured’s desire to forego making a claim on a pollution policy. As many of you are undoubtedly aware, insurers have very short and strict requirements with pollution coverage. It is not uncommon for insureds to first want to get a flavor for what the remediation costs are going to be before making a claim. And, if an insured makes a conscious and knowing decision to delay or even forego making a claim, that is fine. However, if an insured wants to roll the dice in that regard, confirmation must be made in writing, not only as to the customer’s decision to refrain from making a claim, but also the consequences of waiting too long. All three of these scenarios could have been avoided with a simple, 30-second email. And, the email does not

have to be overly formal or have a “CYA” tenor to it. Neither does it have to imply that the producer is giving risk management advice. Accordingly, using the first case as an example, I would discourage this confirming email: This will confirm that despite my recommendation that you purchase excess liability coverage, you are declining to do so. That particular language not only has a “CYA” feel to it, but it also implies that the producer is giving risk management advice. Compare the above example with the following alternative suggestion: I appreciate you taking the time to discuss your renewal. The CGL policy you ordered will be forwarded to you as soon as we receive it. If you change your mind and wish to purchase excess liability coverage, please do not hesitate to call me. This type of language subtly confirms not only that the customer is foregoing excess liability coverage, but also avoids any implication that the producer is providing risk management advice. n

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Five seconds of guts. Have you ever asked a client why they CHOOSE to work with you? You’ve gone through their renewal/proposal for new business and, as you’re wrapping up, you say eight words that can be daunting and lead you down a tunnel of self-questioning and angst: “Why do you choose to work with us?”


love to ask other agents or company people why they Avery Moore, CISR think agents or their clients choose to work with YOUNG AGENTS them. You wanna know what I hear, I kid you not, COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN 99 percent of the time? “Our clients choose us because our customer service is so great.” I also love to ask those and love the brand for – but it’s also expected. Chick-fil-A same people another similar question. “What makes you has set the expectation that it’s much more than customer different from other agents/XYZ company?” You wanna service; it’s an experience. know what I hear again 99 percent of the time? “Our It was last November when I began asking my clients customer service makes us stand out from the crowd?” why they choose to work with me. The very first time So, let me get this straight. the majority of people I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. As I played believe that their customer service is the golden ticket? through scenarios in my head, I pictured some client’s face I HAVE to know then what is so great about it. This is as they realized they had no idea why they worked with us the point I’ll follow up by asking what’s so great about and fired me on my way out. Obviously, I had some head their customer service. I should warn you when I get to this question, I’m usually pretty amped up. “In an age with so many disruptors... I am sitting on pins and needles. I’m waiting in the one super power that we still anticipation to hear what the “secret sauce” to our have is the relationship.” industry is because I probably want to copy and implement it. You know what I usually hear back? “We just, ya know … provide them with great customer trash, but I had to know why. If I didn’t service.” know why my clients were choosing me I get so confused by this answer. I get confused because time and time again, then I couldn’t do a majority of the time, this is agents and company people more of what they liked. If I didn’t know what they liked, answering these questions. Agents and company people then I couldn’t give them the experience that was personal whose job is to develop relationships and find new clients to them. If I couldn’t give them that experience, there’s a and run agencies. Most have a CSR to handle customer chance that someone would do it and I’d lose the account. service requests – that’s literally what CSR stands for So, I did it, and I loved what I found out. – Customer Service Representative. Our job as agents, In an age with so many disruptors – Lemonade, the marketing reps and owners is to give an experience. rumors of Google and Amazon entering the insurance Let’s talk about Chick-fil-A. This girl can get down age, the one super power that we still have is the with nuggets and waffle fries, but I can also get down with relationship. A relationship is about finding out what people telling me “My pleasure” and the judgment-free makes the other tick, and to do that you have to know zone when I ask for double Chick-fil-A sauce. Chick-fil-A why and what it is that your customers are thinking – has sold their brand based on extremely positive customer specifically about you! Your customer service is like clean experience. Being told my pleasure and the attention to air – it’s just expected, but a customer experience tailored your time consideration whilst moving through the never- to the individual is something we all want. Just ask ending lunch line are all things that we’ve come to know Chick-fil-A. n FALL 2018


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s I’m sure you have noticed, the theme or thrust of my quarterly articles is to enumerate Gerald Keeton and emphasize the many benefits of your STATE DIRECTOR membership in IIAO/IIABA. From TrustedChoice. com to legislative advocacy and everything in between, your Association is constantly striving to fulfill Tools such as a responsive agency the IIABA mission statement of “providing website, online reviews, eSignature, our members with a sustainable, competitive online chat and mobile account advantage.” management all have a role to play I have decided for this issue to reprint an email as consumers move from being aware I just received from Bob Rusbuldt, which tells of they need insurance all the way the launching of a Customer Experience Website through their in-policy experience. by ACT, an acronym for the Agents Council for Technology. I believe you may find this website helpful and useful as we navigate our businesses website, online reviews, eSignature, online chat and through this ever-evolving digital age. Following is mobile account management all have a role to play as the announcement of the website: consumers move from being aware they need insurance all the way through their in-policy experience. The ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, June 28, 2018— The site provides clear descriptions for each phase and Agents Council for Technology has launched a touchpoint, along with resources for agents to use to get new Customer Experience Planning Website. This started improving their agency’s customer experience. interactive online resource is designed to help agents “Based on your core customer needs, your understand the customer experience lifecycle and agency may not want or need to implement every leverage technology to achieve the ease of doing recommendation,” says Ron Berg, ACT executive business consumers expect. director. “However, ACT’s Customer Experience Planning Website will help your agency identify the top The site explains the six phases of the consumer one, two or three things you can do to set your agency’s buying experience — Discover, Evaluate, Purchase, ease of doing business apart in this rapidly accelerating Experience, Renew and Refer — and breaks down digital age.” n the technology touchpoints agents should focus on during each phase. Tools such as a responsive agency

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or Justin Arledge, the road to a career as an independent insurance agent was a short one, but not without its challenges. Growing up, Arledge says insurance was the topic of conversations at the dinner table every night. “My stepdad purchased the Sullivan Insurance Agency in 1974 from his mother and my mom has been in the insurance business since 1984,” he explains. He’s referring to John Sullivan, owner of the John Sullivan Insurance Agency, and Stacy Sullivan, a producer at the agency. Lena Sullivan, John’s daughter, is co-owner of the agency. Growing up in southern Oklahoma, primarily in Ardmore, he enjoyed fishing and hunting. He graduated from Ardmore High in 2002, then earned a degree in business finance in 2006 from Westminster College. Arledge, who is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, earned a master of legal studies degree with a specialization in Indigenous Peoples Law this year. His first job in the industry was with the John F. Sullivan Agency. “I was hired to help out with seasoned producer book of business and learn the ropes,” he says. “The insurance field is vast and continuing to learn every day was my aspiration.” At 34, Arledge continues to pursue that initial aspiration. He explains that the industry “can be complex and overwhelming at times, but that what makes it exciting.” His other goals were to earn his CIC designation, which he has done, and to “be active in the community and our agency and help in any way I could.” He currently serves as vice president of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma City.

He is working toward earning his CRM. “Continuing education is so important in this field because new exposures are created daily and insuring them correctly is our not only our job, but our mission,” he explains. Arledge also is a graduate of Future Insurance Leaders of Oklahoma and a member of the Young Agents of IIAOK. Arledge says he was fortunate to find great mentors in his parents. He lauded his mother for her sound work ethic and ability to form and maintain great relationships with her customers. “She is always available and has been a role model for me my whole life,” he says, adding that his stepfather also has always been a role model “because of his intellect and knowledge in the field.” He also credits Union Standard with helping him learn the ropes. “They have been a great company to be an agent for. Wes Becknell and the team in OKC have been extremely helpful in placing coverages and explaining any coverages that may cause a gap in coverage. They are a joy to work with,” he states. Going into his second decade as an independent insurance agent, Arledge says his greatest challenges are achieving “a high retention rate and getting to meet and have meaningful conversations with insureds. “I try not to measure my success in dollars but by the successful completion of writing a policy for an insured and explaining coverages that they may not know,” he adds. “Also, making sure I am available and there for an insured when a claim occurs and making sure it is paid and the process goes smoothly.” continued on page 20

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continued from page 19

In the short term, Arledge’s goal is to maintain a 90 percent retention rate and over the next five years to write $2 million to $3 million in additional premium. He also is using his people and organizational skills for a new purpose: he’s entered the race for a State Senate seat. Pursuing that goal has kept him busy meeting with his prospective constituents to learn their needs. “Applying risk management practices to a state level would be beneficial for Oklahoma,” he says. Arledge believes he made the right choice following the “short road” to a career in the insurance industry because it offers him the best of both worlds: “You get to work in an office, but you also get to be in the field doing loss control on business, meeting insureds and inspecting claims, and having the ability to set your own hours at times is extremely advantageous.” Outside the office, Arledge enjoys spending time with his family – wife, Haley, and their two girls, Jillian, 12, and Carter, 5. The extended household also includes two dogs: “Cusco, a puppy German

The Arledge family Shepherd, who is a handful, and Daisy, who is 12 and is calm and sweet.” Pool and golf are his favorite hobbies. Arledge is a state BCA Scotch doubles champion in 8 ball. n

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John Doak



n my final months as Oklahoma’s Insurance Commissioner, I am pushing forward to guide this state, this industry and this market toward a thriving future. I’ve served eight years in this office, and I’m honored that Oklahomans chose to elect me to represent them, both in terms of insurance company solvency and ensuring fair claims handling. I’ve been privileged to witness the courage and resilience

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as commissioner is this: Government must be ready to accept new and innovative ideas and products. It is also our responsibility, not only to protect consumers, but to allow the free market process to bring new quality products to consumers.”

of Oklahomans in the face of difficult natural disasters. It’s also been a pleasure to work with our state Legislature and governor and to travel to every one of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, meeting and working with the people who live there. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as commissioner is this:


Government must be ready to accept new and innovative ideas and products. It is also our responsibility, not only to protect consumers, but to allow the free market process to bring new quality products to consumers. I believe the Oklahoma Insurance Department is doing that right now. We view ourselves as an emerging market in Oklahoma and a leader in appropriate regulatory responsibility. To expand on that idea and share it with those in the industry, I hosted two events in Tulsa last month – the Corporate Governance Conference and the Insurance Business Transfer Forum. The IBT Forum was held to explain the new law that goes into effect in November and discuss the opportunities it can bring to our state. There are four other states in the nation with some sort of business transfer laws, but none that have enacted the very successful model, first developed in the United Kingdom. Oklahoma’s IBT law is unique to the United States, and I believe that this law will put us on the map as part of the global insurance industry. The law is a simple way for an insurance company to transfer a group of policies to an Oklahoma-based insurer after obtaining approval from both the Insurance Commissioner and the

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Gov. Mary Fallin speaks at the IBT Forum. She signed the Insurance Business Transfer Bill into law in May.

Commissioner Doak introduces a panel during the 2018 Corporate Governance Conference. The panel included (from left) Jimmy Kinder, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Co.; Lance LaGere, National American Insurance Co.; Angela Ables, Kerr, Irvine, Rhodes & Ables; Tim Bolden, American Fidelity Assurance Co.; and Chris Kenney, American Fidelity Assurance Co.

Oklahoma County District Court. The IBT law applies to all lines of business, and it includes strong protections for policyholders and claimants. With the IBT law about to go into effect, the State of Oklahoma holds a unique opportunity to lead this new facet in the industry. We feel confident that IBT will bring benefits like formation of new Oklahoma insurance companies, management firms and accounting and compliance jobs. The office of Insurance Commissioner is committed to providing the leadership, the expertise, the talent and the resources to help companies manage through the IBT process. Another important issue we addressed during last month’s conference was the importance of corporate governance in successful and profitable management of any business enterprise. By definition, corporate governance is the structure and the relationships which determine corporate direction and performance by which a business is directed and controlled. But this issue is more than the obvious corporate structure like the owners, board and officers. It also includes the company’s organizational culture of values and ethics, strategies and

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controls as well as the company’s guiding principles and mandates. At our conference, we discussed how having the right relationship between the shareholders, board and management can markedly increase profits and decrease the risks inherent in any business. We also heard about lessons learned from examinations and insolvencies. The take home from these conferences and my time as the insurance commissioner is this: Protecting and enhancing the financial security of Oklahoma and Oklahomans is the No. 1 priority of the commissioner. Our OID staff works diligently to make sure this mission is accomplished. It takes open dialogue, sometimes difficult discussions and a willingness to act. It’s something I look forward to seeing in the future of the insurance industry here in this state, and it’s something I am proud to have been a part of during my eight-year tenure. Thank you for letting me serve you as Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner. n





by Robert Pettinicchi


any agency owners come to a crossroads at some point in their career: they are approached by an acquirer who offers them a good price for their business, or they’re ready to leave the industry and are looking for the best way to pass on the agency to the next generation of owners. For some, leaving the business completely might be the best path. “If they are dead set on selling, getting out of the business and not doing anything else, and not having any more income, then sell because they can reap a large financial reward by selling their agency, and then you hope that what you got is going to sustain you for the rest of your life,” said Robert Pettinicchi (pictured), executive vice president and chief lending officer at InsurBanc, which specializes in insurance agency perpetuation, acquisition and debt consolidation transactions. Nonetheless, there can be drawbacks to a sale. When a large acquirer buys an agency, the owner doesn’t necessarily get the money up front. A down payment could be all they see today, and the rest of the funds could follow after a period of time or based on certain


conditions, such as the attainment of a business plan or specific metrics. According to Pettinicchi, before the sale goes through, an acquirer might also require that people are fired, expenses are reduced, or producers are put on a different compensation model. “The post-acquisition life when agencies are purchased by large acquirers is not to everybody’s taste,” he said. If an owner is not ready to walk away, giving up a piece of the pie might make the most sense. By keeping some ownership, other parties can keep growing the business, which in turns grows an owner’s piece and allows them to keep reaping the rewards of cash flow. After all, owning 70% of a $10 million agency is better than owning 100% of a $5 million agency. While the InsurBanc executive underscores that one choice isn’t better than another, and each situation is unique, he adds that there’s a compelling case to be made for not selling an agency. “Reduce your ownership, promote, or bring in, or partner with other people who can widen the ownership of your agency and grow your agency with you, and you

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REDUCE YOUR OWNERSHIP, PROMOTE, OR BRING IN, OR PARTNER WITH OTHER PEOPLE WHO CAN WIDEN THE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR AGENCY... get the benefit of that cash flow that continues and you have that larger valued agency.” As many professionals in the insurance sector know from experience, the other option is to keep the agency in the family - but that option disappears if the business is sold. “Your legacy does not live on, you do not have the ability to pass that on,” said Pettinicchi. “Your exit plan is just that – you exit. Whereby that structured sort of perpetuation, so that you can still over time run your business, so that you can increase the value by grooming the next people who are going to buy that agency from you and adding to your business, you can potentially make more over time.” Whatever road the owner goes down, Pettinicchi recommends running an agency as though it’s the only one you’ll have.

“There’s as many structures as there are agencies and no one structure is best for all,” said Pettinicchi. “Get some advice and get it early and think about your options. Run your business every day, not so that you’re going to sell. Run your business so that you’re going to invest in it and grow it and build value over time, and then you have options. You have either a very valuable agency that you can sell or a very valuable agency that you can perpetuate.” n Robert J. Pettinicchi is chief lending officer of InsurBanc, a division of Connecticut Community Bank, N.A., a community-focused commercial bank with a specialty in providing banking products and services to independent insurance agencies. He can be reached at /

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How New IIAO Chairman Learned

TENACITY, FORTITUDE While Driving a Tractor By Jerri Culpepper


hile hauling hay or loading livestock feed during many a hot Oklahoma summer day, Chris Floyd often daydreamed about being a businessman carrying a leather briefcase down Main Street. Some two decades later, after pursuing computer programing in college and various careers or jobs with what he calls “no real direction,” Floyd finally fulfilled that dream, albeit sans briefcase. More about that in a minute. First, let’s take a quick look at Floyd’s early years and the experiences that helped shape him into the insurance leader he is today. “Growing up in a rural farming and ranching community in northeast Oklahoma taught me many things about life early on,” he recalls. “Work was never discussed as an option; it was just part of life. Even in my earliest years as a child, I fondly remember long hours spent in the fields, taking care of livestock or repairing equipment because my father never thought of paying someone else to fix things. This certainly ingrained in me (or cursed me) with some level of self-sufficiency.” In retrospect, he believes those were important years – years when he learned about tenacity and fortitude. “My parents always encouraged me to use what I had to make it work, even when what I had may have been limited. There were no boundaries set in front of me,” Floyd says. “Farming teaches you about the importance of patience and good stewardship. These are critical factors that lead to the ability to profit from your work, albeit months or years down the road – much like our work in the insurance business.” 26 POLICY

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The Floyds with their granddaughters

Farming teaches you about the importance of patience and good stewardship. These are critical factors that lead to the ability to profit from your work, albeit months or years down the road – much like our work in the insurance business. Floyd’s first introduction to the career in which he would find his purpose and passion occurred when a friend from church introduced him to his contacts at a small rural insurance company. “He felt that I would be good fit,” Floyd recalls. “I kindly accepted the position and began working with rural customers, providing insurance for their farms, homes and other assets. The lightbulb came on in my head, and I quickly started to take a serious interest in pursuing this as a real career.” His next goal was to “join the ‘Big Boys,’ as I thought best described a nationally known direct writer who was looking for agents in nearby Miami, Oklahoma,” Floyd said. “After banging on doors, calling all my friends and spending more time quoting than selling, I was provided an opportunity to join a very established independent agency in town,” he says. It wasn’t long before he was able to see the opportunities this business, and line of work, afforded him. “I could actually help my clients find solutions, I had multiple carriers to work with and, most importantly, I had great mentors in the agency who wanted me to succeed,” he says. “Within a few years I became partner and senior vice president of the 100-year-old firm known by many as Bomford, Couch and Wilson.” When he moved to Brown & Brown of Oklahoma in 2011, he had already been active FALL 2018

Chris Floyd with granddaughter

CHRIS FLOYD: A MORE PERSONAL LOOK Most people would not argue that one of the keys to a successful career, as well as a well-balanced life, is a supportive and loving spouse. Chris Floyd shares that, 24 years ago, he met and married his “extraordinary” wife, Kathy, who shares a similar background with him, though their paths did not fully intersect until after high school – that is, other than for one brief, but memorable encounter. He recalls: “Our small high schools were rivals located only 5 miles apart, but we never knew one another at the time, other than her recollection of me being pounded into the grass field on a Friday night by her high school’s state championship football team. Little did I know I would meet and marry the girl cheering from the sidelines against me and my team. We enjoy life together, which now includes four children and two beautiful granddaughters.” Outside his career, involvement in the IIAO and family life, Floyd enjoys serving as a “colonel.” No, not the military kind. Floyd grew up around auctioneering, attended school to learn it, and continues to volunteer as an auctioneer. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, auctioneers are called colonels – a tradition that reaches back to the Civil War. POLICY 27


Kathy and Chris Floyd take a moment out for a photo during a recent Brown and Brown awards banquet in Las Vegas.

Chris Floyd and his wife, Kathy, visit with former Sooners football coach Barry Switzer at a Special Olympics of Oklahoma charity gala, where he served as auctioneer.

in the independent agency system for nearly a decade. Though he says it was hard leaving the previous agency, where he had many friends and supporters, Floyd could not pass up the opportunity to take the proffered position as vice president of the Indian Nations Program, the agency’s flagship program. “This niche program was of special interest to me, as I had worked within the same space for some years but at a much smaller scale,” Floyd says. “The Tribal insurance space was a unique and challenging area that offered many opportunities that fit well with my personal background as a Shawnee tribal member and a passionate insurance professional. I am very proud and honored to serve and help protect the Native American communities. “Today, tribes in Oklahoma have developed very diverse operations and are amongst the largest employers and a major driver in the state’s economy. I am also very fortunate to have such great clients and exquisite team members who help me serve the tribal communities’ risk and insurance needs,” added Floyd, who additionally serves as the chairman to the Tribal Gaming Regulatory Authority for the Shawnee Tribe. Floyd realized early in his insurance career the importance of networking and pursuing continuing professional education. His first encounter with Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma took place at a Young Agents conference at Shangri-La. He eventually became the YA chair. As chair, he recalls leading discussions on an idea he had to launch a leadership program for YAs. “My dear

late friend Susan Titus (the YA liaison at the time) and I worked on the details, which become known as FILO (Future Insurance Leaders of Oklahoma),” he says. “That was 10 years ago, in 2008, when the first FILO class debuted and still exists today, with other states taking interest in the producing something similar.” The foundation of this five-part Certificate Program, Floyd says, was to provide a broader perspective of the industry in areas of Government Affairs, Sales, Regulation, Underwriting and Community Service. [Ed. Note: FILO has since transitioned into a six-part program that includes a Leadership component.] “I believe this program still provides a great deal of value to YAs. I am proud that our YA committee continues to promote and sponsor this leadership program.” Now a veteran insurance professional with many years of involvement in IIAO, Floyd (who holds both CIC and CRM designations) this year was elected to the association’s top elected post. “Recognizing the many successful insurance professionals before me who have filled this seat is quite humbling,” Floyd says. “In fact, we have had four of our own state chairs become national chairs over the years, including our current IIABA chairman, Vaughn Graham Sr. With the bar set high already, I will aspire to serve the 400-member agencies that comprise our 4,000 individual members honorably and in a way that will bring more value to the association and ultimately its members. “As your chairman of the board, my first goal is to assess the needs of the members more thoroughly and


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Current IIAOK Chairman Chris Floyd visits with Immediate Past Chairman Joe Strunk.


Chris Floyd and his wife, Kathy, pose for a photo while visiting the nation’s capital for a legislative meeting representing IIAOK.

to respond,” he continued. “The board has agreed to meet in October for a very strategic planning meeting. We plan to come out with action items to perpetuate a greater value to you as a member. “We need to reach those who may have the same passion as some of us do about this association. Their perceived value may be different, and we need to recognize that, too. Although I believe our association is doing a great job of doing what it’s supposed to be doing, meeting the needs of our members is the reason this association exists. Reassessing these needs will help us align ourselves with better purpose and focus on what’s important to you in today’s world.” Drawing upon the tenacity and fortitude developed all those years ago while working on the farm during those hot Oklahoma summers, Floyd is well-poised to lead the IIAO as it continues to meet the challenges of the quickly evolving and complex independent insurance field as we near the second decade of the 21st century. n FALL 2018

What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing independent insurance agents are today? New IIAO Chairman Chris Floyd shares his thoughts with Policy readers. Although I could thrill you with scary thoughts of robots taking over your business and the latest disrupter knocking at your back door (all of which are occurring, by the way), I will leave that to the more sophisticated writers for a different magazine article. I do believe, regardless of the latest challenges, attacks or war on our business, the very most important and difficult arena to manage is our intellectual capital, human capital. More specifically, Your Team. Your greatest challenge today is not the latest alternative to traditional insurance such as Lemonade taking your business because they are some savvy new kind of insurance that millennials are all flocking to. Your biggest challenge is recruiting and retaining talent – the kind of talent that keeps your clients from looking to others for solutions because your team is providing them all of what they need. The kind of talent that produces results and not excuses. So, how is IIAO poised to help in this area? Here’s how: • Education – We have the greatest resources for insurance education, whether for CE or designations. • Online Training – Onboarding or Remote Training; check out our website or call the office. • Career Bank – Need help finding candidates or needing to make a change? Check out our career bank. • Virtual University – A wealth of knowledge and answers to almost any insurance question. • InVest – We are thinking about your future: InVest plays a vital role in reaching those who will be part of your team tomorrow. • HR Resource Tool Kit – Need help managing your humans? Check out our resources.



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ave you ever thought about why someone chooses to call one insurance agency over another? We all worry about ranking high in Google search. Should we buy Google Adwords? Should we hire someone to optimize our website for keywords? What will make the biggest difference in getting actual quotes? But guess what?! There is one thing you probably haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that is greatly affecting your agency online! Imagine this. You’re a customer and know nothing about any of the local agencies. You just want to get a quote with as little trouble as possible. So you go to Google, type in “insurance” and see three agencies at the top of the local search continued on page 34

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continued from page 33

results. The first has 5-star reviews, the second has no reviews and the third has 2-star reviews. Which one would you call? For most of us, it’s the one with the best reviews. Think about it. You read reviews before you purchase something on Amazon. You read reviews before you call a plumber. You read reviews before you order a new pair of shoes! We are conditioned to read reviews when we make online choices. In fact, studies show that 72 percent of people say that they trust an online review as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member. So the question is … what are your clients saying about you online? Go take a look at your agency’s Google and Facebook pages first. This will give you a great


picture of what your current online reputation looks like. You can then do the same for your top competitors! Once you see how you compare, you can begin to take steps to gain new positive reviews and increase your inbound calls fast. n Robyn Sharp is a former agent and the owner of Mega Agency Marketing. She specializes in social media lead generation and online marketing. Get more free insurance marketing tips at www.agencyupdates. com.

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Get to Know AmTrust. Visit or call 866.932.0029 AmTrust is AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., located at 59 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038. Coverages are provided by its property and AmTrust is AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., located at 59 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038. Coverages are provided by its property and casualty insurance company affiliates. Consult the applicable policy for specific terms, conditions, limits and exclusions to coverage. casualty insurance company affiliates. Consult the applicable policy for specific terms, conditions, limits and exclusions to coverage.

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NEWSMAKERS Parker, LLP Provides Direction With a Focus on Clients With a focus on providing legal direction to their clients from coast to coast, the legal team of Parker, LLP Attorneys at Law recently unveiled a new logo and name. Formerly known as Parker Straus, LLP, the attorneys of Parker, LLP remain dedicated to providing cost-conscious legal counsel to their valued clients. “With an added focus on client and industry needs, we are expanding our practice areas through primarily organic growth,” said Michael Parker, managing partner of Parker, LLP. “With our history serving clients in multiple states over the past 17 years, I am excited about the prospects of our future as an even greater national presence.” Founded in 2001, the firm now known as Parker, LLP Attorneys at Law, is primarily an insurance defense and SIU firm, representing the nation’s leading insurance carriers, individuals and businesses. The attorneys of Parker, LLP have

provided legal representation in insurance fraud, civil litigation and complex coverage matters to a wide range of clients throughout the United States. With trusted attorneys from coast to coast, they offer the unique advantage of multiple locations across the nation while maintaining a close relationship with their clients. Parker, LLP partners and attorneys have extensive experience in UM, PIP third-party defense, and subrogation cases, as well as product liability, real estate and construction, trucking and transportation, labor and employment, workers’ compensation matters, Qui Tam Actions, and probates and wills. The Parker, LLP roster of attorneys are licensed to practice in Texas, California, Oklahoma, Georgia, Indiana, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Florida. Additional information may be found at

Be a Newsmaker | What’s happening in your organization? Celebrating an anniversary, opening a new branch, or have a staff member who has received an outstanding award? Send us your 36 POLICY

2018-19 IIABA Committee/Board Appointments The following have been appointed to serve on an IIABA committee or board during the 2018-19 fiscal year. Congratulations to all these outstanding individuals! 1 Denise Johnson to the Big I Advantage Inc. Board of Directors 1 Rene Hernandez to the Diversity Council 1 Gerald Keeton to the Big I Advantage Inc. Board of Directors and as chair, IIAA Membership Services Inc. 1 Bill Evans to the Large Agents & Brokers Council

Brian Lopata Named President, CEO for Farmers Alliance Cos. Brian D. Lopata has been named president and chief executive officer for the Farmers Alliance Cos. Lopata has day-to-day responsibility for all functional areas of the companies, working directly with members of the Executive Management Team.

news, along with a photo and your logo, so we can recognize those achievements in our POLICY magazine. Please contact Laura Wolf at if you have questions. FALL 2018

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INSURICA Recaps 6 Months of Acquisition Activity W– INSURICA, one of the nation’s largest privately owned independent insurance agencies, recently released details of an active acquisition year, all effective during the first half of 2018. • J.T. Neal Insurance (Lawton) • FD&S Insurance (Tyler, Texas) • Lord & Osborn (Dallas) • Zodrow & Neighbors Insurance (Tulsa) • Employer Solutions Group (Austin, Texas) “Our most recent acquisitions are in cities where INSURICA already has offices,” said John Hester, senior vice president of mergers and partnerships. “Merging these fine agencies into our existing operations allows us to expand our sales and service teams, providing greater assistance to the businesses and families in the communities we serve.” Managing nearly $1 billion in annual premium placements for their clients, INSURICA is among the 50 largest insurance brokers in the United States. INSURICA has 30 offices located throughout Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado and California. FALL 2018

In Memoriam In recognition of these individuals who recently passed away but left their legacies in our industry. E. Harry Gilbert Jr. (retired), Gilbert & Gilbert Independent Insurance Agency of Oklahoma City (sold in 1984 to Campbell-Kaufman Inc. and now part of the Insurance Center Agency), on July 28, 2018. Gilbert served as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma in 1969-70 and of the Oklahoma Association of Insurance Agents. James Leak (retired), James Leak Insurance, on July 26, 2018 Ron Carter, The Arrow Group of Broken Arrow, on Aug. 2, 2018 LaNell Ruth Osmond, Oklahoma Hospital Association (where she was an active member of Insurance Professionals of Central Oklahoma for more than 50 years), on Aug. 16, 2018 POLICY 37

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Policy Magazine - Fall 2018  
Policy Magazine - Fall 2018