Official Publication of the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association
Featured DIAMOND Partner EMC INSURANCE COMPANIES Page 9
Inside this Issue:
ACT UPDATE: Ten Technology Tips to Enhance Your Agency’s Productivity Everyone Likes to Buy Things, But Nobody Likes to Be Sold Want Success in the New Year? Give Up the Bad Habits for Good! Technically Speaking...Car Rental Contracts 5 Ways to Turn Angry Clients Into Happy Ones
February 2010 • The Minnesota News
Na�onwide Strength. Midwest Values.
2oYears in Business Richard Johnson, President and CEO
We, at RAS, are currently celebra�ng our 20th anniversary and would like to thank all of our agents and loyal insureds for their support. Due to this support RAS has grown to one of the largest work comp insurers in the Upper Midwest wri�ng over $42M in premium. Proud of our local roots, together, we all support the Minnesota business community. Because of RAS’s local presence, we provide the very best in resources helping employers manage their workers’ compensa�on risk while protec�ng proﬁtability. We would like the opportunity to grow our business locally through our independent agency partners. Please contact us on-line at www.rascompanies.com.
You’re local, we’re local; let’s work together.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION. Our Focus. Your Opportunity.SM
The Minnesota News • February 2010
OFFICES IN MINNESOTA AND SOUTH DAKOTA P. 800.732.1486 www.rascompanies.com www.rascompanies.com
Official Publication of the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association
MIIAB BOARD OF DIRECTORS Shawn Wensel, CIC President
SMA Insurance, St. Cloud, MN
Walter K. Ohl, Jr., CIC President-Elect
Pioneer Heritage Insurance, LLC, Spicer, MN
Mark Z. Moores. CPCU, ARM, AAI Vice President
Moores Insurance Management, Inc., St. Paul, MN
David J. Szczepanski
IIABA State National Director
Garry Insurancenter, North St. Paul, MN
Roberta Gibbons, CISR, CIC
Inside this Issue:
Dyste Williams Agency, Minneapolis, MN
ACT UPDATE: Ten Technology Tips to Enhance Your Agency’s Productivity Everyone Likes to Buy Things, But Nobody Likes to Be Sold Want Success in the New Year? Give Up the Bad Habits for Good! Technically Speaking...Car Rental Contracts 5 Ways to Turn Angry Clients Into Happy Ones
Travis Hansen, CIC
Reliable Agency, Inc., Cloquet, MN
Lindfors Insurance Agency, Fosston, MN
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 1
Larson Insurance of Fergus Falls, Fergus Falls, MN
T.C. Field Company, St. Paul, MN
Mary A. McClure, CIC, LUTCF
McClure Agency, Inc., North Mankato, MN
Richard F. McKenny, CIC Past President
Advance Insurance Agency, Edina, MN
Atlas Insurance Brokers, Rochester, MN
Bruce L. Sogn
Inside this Issue
Oakwood Insurance Agency, Inc., Coon Rapids, MN
Mark White, CIC, CPCU
Foster Carlson White Agency, Monticello, MN
Wunderlich Insurance Agency, Winona, MN
Richfield State Insurance, Richfield , MN
MIIAB STAFF Daniel D. Riley
Executive Vice President
Director of Insurance Operations 952.253.6089
Government Affairs Director 952-253-6075
Chief Financial Officer 952-253-6076
Director of Education 952-253-6074
President’s Message 7 Executive VP Message 9 DIAMOND PARTNER: EMC INSURANCE COMPANIES 11 5 Ways to Turn Angry Clients Into Happy Ones 17 ACT UPDATE: Ten Technology Tips to Enhance Your Agency’s Productivity 25 Technically Speaking…Car Rental Contracts 28 Everybody Likes to Buy Things, But No One Likes to Be Sold 33 2010 MIIAB/trusted Choice Convention 38 In The News... 43 Capital Notes: Certificate of Insurance - Once Again 44 Want Success in the New Year? Give Up the Bad Habits for Good! 49 Education 52 Power in Partners
Administrative Assistant 952-253-6070
Technical Advice 952-253-6073
Director of Work Comp Insurance 952-253-6239
Insurance Coordinator 952-253-6237
Keith B. Knapp
Director of Marketing 952-253-6243
Reach MIIAB At: 7500 Flying Cloud Drive Suite 900 Eden Prairie, MN 55344 Telephone: 952-835-4180 Tollfree: 800-864-3846 Fax: 952-835-4774 www.miia.org February 2010 • The Minnesota News
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The Minnesota News • February 2010
Shawn M.Wensel, CIC email@example.com
My Year as President is Going by Faster Than I Thought!
For the first time I can feel that my term as MIIAB President is coming to an end. It is getting more difficult to come up with ideas for the monthly newsletter. I am amazed today that my term is nearly three quarters over and the year has definitely flown by. When I took over the job as President of the Association in April, I knew that there would be some long hours and many decisions to be made on behalf of our members. At first I was somewhat nervous about the time commitment and the challenges that I might face throughout the year. I thought that I would not have enough time for my agency business and family, but with help from everyone it has gone extremely well. I recently attended a national IIAB meeting in Florida with 50 other states participating. It was the opinion of many that 2010 will continue to be a soft insurance market for many lines of business. The soft insurance market is greatly influenced by the reinsurance market. The United States reinsurance market is made up of three geographical regions: the East Coast region which used to only include Florida but now continues up the coast to New York and Boston areas, the California region which has the earthquake exposure and, finally, the Midwest region which used to be the most desired, but has had the poorest loss experience the last few years. The southern most states in the Midwest region have influenced pricing and, more specifically, property insurance pricing. There are two kinds of reinsurance that our insurance companies purchase. The first is the catastrophe reinsurance, which was referenced above, and the second is the more regular property and casualty reinsurance. The catastrophe reinsurance is more exposure rated and the property and casualty reinsurance is experience rated. It is the opinion of many that loss costs are as low as it can get for reinsurers.
Certificates of Insurance Moves Forward to Help Agencies
Over the past two years, MIIAB is the only association that has taken on the task of trying to streamline how agencies deal with Certificates of Insurance. I know in our agency, this issue has been a major problem for us, and in fact, we have one CSR dedicated solely to Certificates of Insurance on our insured’s behalf. MIIAB and its leadership have been working with insurance companies and the regulators of many industries, trying to convince them that standardization and streamlining of Certificates is a must. In particular, I want to thank Dave Szczepanski who has worked daily with our lobbyist, Dominic Sposeto, in moving this issue through the many avenues in St. Paul. Dave and Dominic have testified at the legislature and have constantly met with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to help find a reasonable answer to our dilemmas. We knew that opening this issue up would bring more issues to the table, but I think you will be happy as members of MIIAB when we start making inroads on streamlining this procedure. Last month, Dominic and Dave made major strides in convincing the Department of Commerce and other regulators that this needs to be dealt with immediately. Dominic is working with many of the regulators that need these certificates and he is drafting legislation to accomplish what we all set out to do. As the legislative session nears, we will be calling on member agents to contact their local legislators in educating them on why we need to President’s Message continued on page 47
February 2010 • The Minnesota News
When it comes to protecting your reputation, you may ﬁnd us surprisingly ﬁerce. With over 30 years of serving the U.S. insurance agents market, we’re the most experienced provider of professional liability coverage. Yet it’s not just our longevity in the market that may surprise you; it’s our commitment. As more than 20,000 insurance agencies across North America have discovered, we’re ﬁercely committed to protecting what matters most – your business, your ﬁnancial assets and your reputation. At Swiss Re, we always work with the same raw material: risk. And what we work to create for our clients is always the same product: opportunity. See for yourself at www.swissre.com/insurance
© 2009 Swiss Re For more information on our Insurance Agency professional liability program, please contact your state association. Shelley Waldhauser, Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association 7500 Flying Cloud Drive, #900, Eden Prairie, MN 55344 P) 800-864-3846/X-6086, F) 952-835-4774, D) 952-253-6086, C) 612-812-6437 firstname.lastname@example.org Insurance products underwritten by Westport Insurance Corporation, Overland Park, Kansas, a member of the Swiss Re group. Westport is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Minnesota News • February 2010
Executive VP Message
Dan Riley email@example.com
Building a Strong Relationship with Our Insurance Company Partners
One of the goals of your association’s Strategic Long Range Plan was to build stronger relationships with the companies that do business with our membership. Over the past several years, your Board of Directors and the Executive Committee have made this a priority on their agendas. In 2009, the association put together a “Power in Partners Program”, in which companies and vendors could join at different levels of support for the association. Each level affords these companies the ability to promote their companies and the products and services that they offer. Over the last two years, we have visited the vast majority of these companies to talk to them not only about joining the Power in Partners Program and support of the association, but to discuss insurance industry issues facing us all. Dick McKenny, Dave Szczepanski, Shawn Wensel, Ken Ohl, Jim Stein, and Mark Moores were instrumental in scheduling meetings with these companies. The feedback that we received from these companies about our industry and the independent agency system is very critical for the future of our membership and the association. It was a consensus from all of these meetings that the independent agency is strong, but we have to build the brand of our industry in promoting our products and services as a strength versus the price of insurance as a sole factor in purchasing insurance. Many of our insurance agencies and insurance companies have realized that branding of our product is extremely important if they want to compete in today’s world. We also discussed in detail that companies are concerned with their marketing force and its ability to bring in young producers into the agency business. They also are concerned about mergers and acquisitions of agencies, and more importantly, that agencies have a perpetuation plan for the future. Statistics tell us that the average age of an independent agency owner throughout the country is at approximately 57 years old. The question is who will be taking over these agencies as these agents reach retirement age? Many agents have hired agency consultants and accountants to put together an agency perpetuation plan and fund it with life insurance. More importantly, companies are concerned that changes that may come in the tax laws of 2010, will drastically affect those agents who have planned out their perpetuation programs. For those who have not made plans for perpetuation, the potential tax law changes could have a devastating effect on the future of the independent agency force. We discussed with one major insurance company executive that insurance companies should be educating their agency force on perpetuation planning and the potential changes in the tax law affecting small businesses. We hope that this company along with other companies begins the educational process to help guide agencies in this process. Our 2010 Power in Partners Program is growing and it is a huge success in bringing together our association with insurance companies and insurance related businesses. Today, we have over 31 companies participating in the Power in Partners Program as indicated on the back cover of this publication and our website. We hope that our member agencies will support these companies who support the independent agency system and the association that you belong to. On behalf of the Board of Directors of the association, I would like to thank all of these companies for their support and input that they have provided to us over the years. All of these Power in Partner companies will be at the convention on April 21-22, 2010, at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Plymouth, to network with our member agents. We hope that you will join us at the convention and exhibit hall and thank them for their support of our industry. We all look forward to seeing you and your staff at the convention. February 2010 • The Minnesota News
When one is helping another, both are strong.
Workersâ€™ Compensation Specialists, LLC
For more information contact: Cormac Dunning Director of Insurance firstname.lastname@example.org P: 952.253.6239 F: 952.253.6242
Terri Norum Insurance Coordinator email@example.com P: 952.253.6237 F: 952.253.6242
Protecting Your Customers MIIAB, 7500 Flying Cloud Drive, Suite 900 Eden Prairie, MN 55344 The Minnesota News â€˘ February 2010
Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association
ower in Partners
DIAMOND PARTNER EMC INSURANCE COMPANIES In 2011, EMC Insurance Companies will celebrate its 100th year of serving independent insurance agents and policyholders. With approximately $3 billion in assets, and $1 billion in written premium, EMC ranks among the top 60 insurance organizations nationally.
Minneapolis Branch History: The first EMC branch office in Minnesota opened in Red Wing in 1942. In the 1950s, the branch moved to downtown Minneapolis in the Northwestern Bank building. Two more locations in the downtown area and one in the suburb of Bloomington housed branch employees before relocating to our current building in Minnetonka in 1976.
More than 25% of the current 45 Minneapolis branch employees have 20 or more years of service, with the longest tenure being 46 years. When Minnesota agents or insureds call the Minneapolis Branch, they deal with experienced insurance professionals, who make helping their priority. Many of our employees have attained insurance designations such as CPCU, AIC and more.
February 2010 â€˘ The Minnesota News
process allows both parties to view the operations and successes of the other. The goal is to use each other’s strengths to plan future growth and to improve upon any specific situations that may hinder production.
Our Independent Agents: The Minneapolis Branch strives for long-term relationships with its agents. Currently in Minnesota, we have 109 fully contracted agencies and 72 limited contract agencies. We offer our full contract agencies an attractive profit share plan along with co-op advertising and recognition trip incentives. Our goal is to grow profitably with Jerry Harlow joined EMC in 1978 in the Bismarck these agencies and develop a lasting relationship Branch. He was promoted to branch manager of the mutually beneficial to both. Minneapolis Branch in 1992. Jim Matthees started with EMC in 1992 as a multi-Line underwriter. Risk Improvement/Loss He left EMC for a short period, returning in the Control: fall of 1996, and was promoted to underwriting manager in 2004. Denise Best started with the Managing risk is imperative to reducing losses branch in 1977 as a copy typist. After several moves and controlling costs. Since 1926, EMC Insurance within clerical departments, she was promoted to Companies has provided policyholders with administrative services manager in January of 2006. expert evaluation, technical expertise and effective Michael Huttner joined the branch in July 2000 as loss control solutions. Today, with the support of an outside claims adjuster and was promoted to leading-edge technologies, we have one of the most sophisticated loss control teams in the insurance claims manager in August 2006. industry.
Count on EMC®
The Minneapolis Branch has a great reputation as a stable and enduring market for insurance products and services. Our marketing plan highlights the production of a diversified book of commercial business, along with the promotion of personal lines in our territory. In addition to general business, our target or niche markets include:
Working together, we can provide comprehensive coverage, local market knowledge and exceptional service to our valued customers. You can Count on EMC!
Petroleum Marketers—EMC is one of the largest writers of petroleum marketers in the state of Minnesota. Policyholder dividends have averaged 16.1% over the last three years.
Minnesota Manufactured Housing
Minnesota School Districts
The Minneapolis Branch engages in joint agency/ company planning with several agencies. This 10 The Minnesota News • February 2010
5 Ways to Turn Angry Clients Into Happy Ones by Maribeth Kuzmeski
It happens to the best of us. An upset client calls to complain about a product or service, and you’re completely caught off guard. How do you react? Do you fly off the handle right along with him? Or do you respond in a calm, thoughtful way that salvages and even strengthens your relationship? Author Maribeth Kuzmeski says that a high-pressure scenario doesn’t have to blow your client relationship sky-high—in fact, you can use it as an opportunity to truly connect with your client and keep him around for the long haul. “Conflict is a normal part of business, and we all need to learn how to deal with it in the right way,” says Kuzmeski, author of The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life (Wiley, September 2009, ISBN: 978-0-470-48818-8, $22.95). “Some clients are just plain difficult. And yes, ‘easy’ clients can also become dissatisfied for a variety of reasons. The good news is that there are effective ways to handle conflict and resolve issues—and these methods will actually strengthen your relationship.
that will help you keep your business relationships from going bad...and rescue those that have started to sour.
Extend a peace offering. It’s easy to reach out to
clients when things are going well. However, it’s all too easy to avoid them when hard feelings are present. Don’t “Remember that quite often, unhappy clients will not succumb to the temptation. Proactively reaching out to even tell you that they have a problem,” she adds. “They your clients can squash any negativity they may feel for simply move their business elsewhere. So, if a client you. Even the simplest of gestures can be effective: Offer thinks enough of you to give you the chance to repair a an apology when you’ve made a mistake. Then, make bad situation, take it. Play an active role in making your things right by extending a peace offering. It doesn’t customer happy so that you can be sure to keep him or need to be anything extravagant. It can be as simple as a hand-written note, a refund, or a coupon. her on board with you.” Creating clients for life is all about building relationships “I know the peace offering works on clients, because based on real human connections, and that’s the message it has worked on me,” says Kuzmeski. “At one point found in Kuzmeski’s book. The Connectors describes the relationship my firm and I had with a technology how some of the world’s most successful professionals consulting group had turned sour. They had missed develop better, more profitable connections. And a big numerous project deadlines and just weren’t satisfying part of the way they do it is changing the way they think my expectations. I stuck with them, though, in hopes of repairing the relationship. Then one day, my contact about conflict. Jeremy and I discovered we had something in common— As much as we all hope for smooth sailing in our a love for hockey! In fact, one day I mentioned that my interactions with clients, conflicts are bound to occur. If son’s favorite team was the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that they never happened, anyone could be a great connector. he and I would be watching them play in the Stanley It’s what you do when there’s a problem that separates Cup later that evening. the (proverbial) men from the boys. Here are a few tips continued on page 12
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 11
continued from page 11
“Well, the Penguins ended up winning, and much to my surprise, Jeremy sent my son copies of magazines featuring their big win, a copy of the actual Pittsburgh newspaper from the day they won, and a few other items,” she adds. “None of what he sent cost very much, but the impact of his gesture was significant. My son was beyond thrilled. He couldn’t believe that one of my contacts had sent something for him! As for me, it immediately changed the way I felt about the company. My feeling was, ‘Really, they can’t be all that bad. I mean, they are hockey fans, and they were nice to my son.’ Jeremy may not have known it, but he extended a peace offering that helped preserve my company’s relationship with his.”
settling a complaint,” the clerk answered. “No, you’re not,” said Field. “Give the lady what she wants.” We can all learn a thing or two from that.
Get them to listen to you by…listening to them. Customers will listen to what you have to say
if you respectfully listen to what they have to say first. Knowing that you are truly listening to their concerns can cause your customers to agree to your suggestions much more quickly.
“Very few people in this world take the time to practice ‘Curious Listening,’” says Kuzmeski. “We instead partially listen, get ready to respond, and let our minds drift. But if you can practice Curious Listening, which is a form of active listening, you will differentiate yourself Don’t follow your “strike back” instincts. If as someone who really cares.” an angry client calls you fuming mad, your knee-jerk reaction might be to argue. Remember, though, fighting Here are the four steps of Curious Listening: anger with anger seldom works. No matter how tough 1. Hear the essence of what your customer is saying by it is, do the opposite of what you feel like doing. Take a repeating back what you heard. deep breath and remain calm. And most of all, diffuse 2. Ask questions so that your customer knows that you your client’s anger by immediately assuring her that you are actively seeking to understand why something is will make it right. important him. “When faced with difficult situations with clients, 3. Make sure you aren’t acting on unsubstantiated instead of giving a reactionary, defensive response, assumptions. Confirm with the client that you have offer solutions,” says Kuzmeski. “Your first reaction correctly understood what he is saying. may be to explain why you are right, why the client is overreacting, or to give her additional information so 4. Listen for the “remarkable.” In every conversation you have with a client, he will say something unique she can better see the situation from your point of view. and remarkable. If you listen for his “remarkable,” However, if you check those reactions and instead start you will be able to come back to that later (even working toward a resolution, your chances of keeping in a subsequent conversation) and connect with that customer are much greater.” him on a different level. The “remarkable” may be When confronted with an angry client, say something something as simple as, “I’m thinking about taking like, “I know we did not satisfy your needs, and I assure an October vacation to Paris,” or, “I’m a Packers you that we will do better in the future. Can I offer you a fan,” or, “We just landed our largest client!” The key free gift the next time you stop in, or a discount off your is remembering it. It shows you are really curious next service?” Your client may still want to fight, but you about what happened, how the other person feels, are dispelling her anger by staying calm and offering a and what resolution was reached. helpful response. Just smile, take responsibility (even if you feel you haven’t done anything wrong), and offer Have a standard service protocol at the ready. solutions. You can’t control the way your client is going Creating standards, procedures, and methods of to act, but you can control your own actions. If you are dealing with clients and servicing their needs can really help when it comes to resolving conflicts or handling reasonable, your client will eventually come around. a dissatisfied customer. By creating a service protocol The solutions you offer may not be exactly what the in advance, you provide a way to “enforce” how client client wants, but you are trying to smooth things over conflict situations are handled. This allows you and instead of arguing; therefore, the results will no doubt your employees to more easily resolve issues and deal be better. The legendary retailing genius Marshall Field with those impossibly and consistently difficult clients. once overheard a clerk in his store having a discussion with a customer. “What are you doing?” he asked. “I’m 12 The Minnesota News • February 2010
“When developing a service protocol, start by recalling past situations,” says Kuzmeski. “Consider how and when a difficult client became difficult. Was a resolution reached? If so, when and how? By examining how difficult clients were handled in the past, taking into account both good and bad examples, you and your staff can begin to set boundaries regarding what is and isn’t a proper way to react. Creating a protocol allows you to chart your path to resolution and figure out what you’re going to say before a problem arises. “Your service protocol empowers your employees to become connectors,” she adds. “Often, they might think offering a discount or a coupon is the right way to handle a situation, but they may be worried that you, their leader, won’t approve. With the protocol, they know exactly what they can immediately offer to the client. You’ll find that effectively resolving problems with clients actually makes them more loyal to you because they see that you care about their business.”
worse is that those dissatisfied clients will each tell an average of five other people about their displeasure with you. That means for every complaint, you could have up to 60 people who are walking around with a negative image of you and your company—and are talking about it! “By actively and sincerely playing a part in resolving conflicts with your clients, you’re showing them that you are willing to do what it takes to make them happy,” she concludes. “You are not just fixing a problem for them. You are also turning those dissatisfied clients into delighted ones who may even become evangelists for your company! And we all know there is no marketing force more powerful than a customer who shares her delight with others. ” About the Author:
Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. Maribeth has personally consulted with some of the world’s most successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and professionals. An internationally recognized speaker, she shares the tactics that businesspeople use today to create more sustainable Ask for feedback. Obviously, you don’t have to business relationships, sales, and marketing successes. sit around, anxiously wondering when a problem is going to arise. There is a way for you to avoid some Maribeth is the author of four books, including (unfortunately, not all!) client conflicts. You can do it by The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful ensuring that customers aren’t suppressing problems. Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for And you do that by constantly asking for feedback. (It’s Life. She has frequently appeared on TV and radio, and amazing how rarely businesspeople do this—they’re has written articles on marketing strategies for hundreds usually just keeping their fingers crossed that all is of publications including BusinessWeek and Entrepreneur. well—but a sincere inquiry about a client’s satisfaction She regularly speaks to audiences on topics relating to business development, marketing, and sales strategies. is a true pathway to making a connection.) “Don’t be afraid to engage your clients,” says Kuzmeski. Maribeth graduated with a degree in journalism from “Ask them what you can do better, how you can improve. Syracuse University and has an MBA from George Supply them with feedback surveys so that they can Washington University. She lives in the Chicago, Illinois, anonymously share their thoughts, ensuring that they area with her husband and two teenagers. are as honest as possible. And when a problem has been About the Book: solved, ask them if you handled it to their satisfaction The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful and find out if there is anything they would like for you Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for to have done differently. Asking for feedback is a great Life (Wiley, September 2009, ISBN: 978-0-470-48818way for you to rectify any possible or growing problems 8, $22.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, major before they become so great that they sour a client online booksellers, or directly from the publisher by calling relationship.” 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. “Clients who feel a connection with you are loyal and For more information, please visit will stay with you—sometimes forever. Dissatisfied www.redzonemarketing.com and clients not only go elsewhere, but they also tell others www.theconnectorsbook.com. of their dissatisfaction,” says Kuzmeski. “What’s even
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 13
Protect your customers with the simple solution: Encompass.
Encompass has been around for a while, but it has a new look and a new commitment: to be the top choice for independent agents. By giving you a simple approach to selling total protection. Unique product. The Encompass Universal Security Policy—one policy for both home and auto—helps simplify your customers’ lives. And the depth and breadth of its coverage helps protect them better. Superior claims service. A 94% overall customer satisfaction rating* means your Encompass customers are more likely to refer their friends and family to you. Strong sales support. Competitive compensation, profit sharing and a nationwide network of sales and education teams give you simple ways to help your agency grow. Financial stability. Encompass is one of the largest personal insurance brands sold exclusively through independent agents. Superior claimspaying ability and excellent A.M. Best ratings make Encompass a company you can trust.
Come grow with us! Along with our new look, Encompass has new offerings coming soon. To find out more, please contact us at encompassinsurance.com *2008 Encompass customer satisfaction survey. Insurance subject to terms, conditions and availability.
14 The Minnesota News • February 2010
Thank Your Customers.
age ver es 50% a The y los mers o The pan ust com its c ears. ng of y 5 y eplaci 7 r r e 6eve t of b cos em can more th imes ve. t ensi exp
A 5% increase in customer loyalty will add 20% - 80% to your bottom line profit…It is much wiser to spend money on customer retention than acquisition.
For e v that y ery month ou do n’t co or co m n your municate tact cl w 10% o ients, you ith lose f you r influ ence.
Just saying thank you to your clients…particularly new clients, can increase your business by 7%.
Only 3% o personal. f our mail is How do yo you walk ouutfeel when box & see to the mail ersonal card addreasp sed to you? Your clients & prospects are no diffe rent.
Logon for complete details and easy ordering
www.miia.org Click on TouchCardz 866-664-4770 ext 707
“With TouchCardz, you thank them when they receive it, & you thank them again when they get the check!” -Frank Whitcomb, Education Consultant at Encompass Insurance © 2009 Meridian Media Group, Inc.
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 15
Thank you to all our Independent Agents. Together, we make Progressive great. Not a Progressive agent? Go to progressiveagent.com and click on the “About Us” tab for details about how to become a valued Progressive agent. Progressive is a proud supporter of the MIIAB and Trusted Choice campaign.
©2009 Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and its affiliates, Mayfield Village, OH. 09A00206 (03/09)
16 The09A00206_MN_Big.I_7.5x10.v3.indd Minnesota News • February 2010
3/27/09 9:51:20 AM
ACT UPDATE: Ten Technology Tips to Enhance Your Agency’s Productivity By Steve Anderson
software works seamlessly with Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. It is available at many retail stores and through www.nuance.com. In today’s environment, getting the most out of an agency’s technology investment is critical to maximizing staff productivity and bottom line profit. While training your staff to fully use the functionality in your agency document and policy management systems is certainly important, I have found that the effective implementation of small, innovative tools can also produce significant productivity gains. In this article, I discuss my candidates for the top ten cool tools in 2009 that deserve your attention.
Voice Recognition People have always talked to their computers — using four-letter words in many cases — and until recently, computers didn’t listen very well. Affordable, usable, and reliable voice recognition software has been an “any day now” technology for at least a decade. This technology has finally become a useful tool. If you tried it in the past and gave up you should give it a fresh look. I use and recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking (version 10 preferred). After installing the software, you will need to spend about 15 or 20 minutes to train it to your voice. After that, accuracy should be about 95%. And as you use the software to correct recognition mistakes, it learns from the mistakes and recognition accuracy improves. The
Easy Video E-mail Getting your message through to existing clients and prospects takes creativity. Everyone experiences e-mail overload. Anything you can do to make your E-mail message stand out in an Outlook inbox is a good thing. Eyejot is a web based service that allows you to quickly and easily send Video email (v-mail) to anyone. All you need is an inexpensive web cam and an Eyejot account. The best part is that the basic service is free (at least for now). With a web cam and an Eyejot account, it really is as easy as clicking record and speaking to the camera to create and then send a v-mail. The actual video is stored on the Eyejot servers and an e-mail is sent to the recipient. The recipient clicks on a link and your video message is played. You can use Eyejot to communicate with clients. If you do, then the PRO Plus version is worth the $100 per year cost. Messages can be a maximum of five minutes in length; you can upload pre-recorded video; you have extended message storage time; it is advertising free; and you have the ability to attach and send documents. You can brand several Eyejot notification elements with your agency logo and color scheme. The service also will alert you when your video messages have been viewed. (www.eyejot.com ) continued on page 19
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 17
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18 The Minnesota News • February 2010
continued from page 17
Manage Unstructured Information I read lots of information from many different sources. The problem I have is deciding where to store all of this information so I can find it again when I need it. I’ve tried several methods; none that worked very well. Evernote is a program that allows me to capture information easily in any environment using whatever device or platform I happen to be using, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. There are three parts to the Evernote system: a program (for Windows or Mac), a website where all data is synchronized and stored, and a mobile phone application. Here is how it works. First, you capture the things you want to remember using any platform you are using at the time—your Windows laptop, the Web, or your mobile phone. If you are reading an article on the Web, you can select the text of the article and trigger the Evernote hotkey (Windows-A). The captured text is stored in the Evernote program database that resides on your computer. That information is synched with your Web account when you are connected to the Internet. You also can use your mobile phone to take a note or a snapshot. This information is uploaded to the Web account and then synched with your computer the next time you connect to the Internet. For example, I have taken a snapshot of a bottle of wine that I wanted to remember. That picture went to my Web account and then to my desktop—seamlessly. Best of all, the information is run through a recognition technology and indexed for fast searching and retrieval. (www.evernote.com )
backwards) adds some social networking and datamining features to your existing Outlook e-mail. Once installed, it lives as a vertical panel on the right side of your Outlook screen and doesn’t block or intrude upon Outlook’s own panes or functions. Xobni indexes all of your stored e-mail, starting with the most recent messages. Once your e-mail is indexed, the Xobni sidebar shows a profile of the sender for any e-mail you have selected in the message list in your inbox or other folders. Each profile is divided into different sections, including a search box that is much faster than Outlook’s search function. Other sections include the name of the sender for any e-mail you have selected, with a photo (if available), a phone number, and a bar chart showing how many emails you’ve received from that person, as well as times of day when that person appears to be most or least active on e-mail. Also included is the sender’s e-mail network—other people included in e-mails to you, “Conversations” which display e-mail threads (other e-mails you’ve exchanged with the sender), and a section which lists all the files that are attachments on received e-mails. (www.xobni.com )
Adding Instant Message Capability to your Website Are your clients able to communicate with you any way they want—whether by phone, e-mail, Web, call center, or live access? Instant Messaging (IM) is an option that is becoming easier to implement. Understandably, agencies are often concerned about the practical aspects of IM. How will the conversation be documented? Is it worth the time? One service worth considering is Provide Support, a software and Web process that provides a “Live Chat” option on your website. You are given code that enables you to add a button on your site that a client can click to start a live chat with someone in your office. You select individuals who become part of a chat rotation. When someone clicks on the Web button, a box pops up on the computer of the next person in the rotation. That person is responsible for the instant message conversation.
Understand Your E-mail A free plug-in module for Outlook called Xobni (pronounced “ZOB-nee” which is inbox spelled
The price depends on how many users you add. One user costs $99 annually, three users is $198 annually, and ten operators is $396 annually. The software provides a transcript of each conversation after the call continued on page 21
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 19
Some good things make other good things even better.
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Western National is proud to be a Trusted Choice® company partner
20 The Minnesota News • February 2010
continued from page 19
is finished, along with a management recap at night. (www.providesupport.com )
Automatic Web Searching Google offers a host of tools that will help streamline your online experience. One of those services is Google Alerts. Google Alerts performs predefined searches automatically daily. New results are E-mailed to you when new items are found for the specific search terms you want to track on an ongoing basis. What kinds of topics make for interesting Google Alerts? Well, if it’s interesting to you, it’s a good subject for a Google Alert. You could set up an alert to monitor news items for your largest 25 clients. Or, you could use them to keep current on a competitor. They are also useful for keeping up-to-date on what’s happening in a particular industry. We use it to automatically track information about major insurance technology vendors. To create customized alerts, simply visit the Google Alerts home page, create a Google account (it’s free), enter your search, the type of alert you’d like (News, Web, etc.), how often you’d like to receive results, and your e-mail address. When you’re done, click the “Create Alert” button. You will receive a confirmation e-mail. Clicking the link in the e-mail will activate your Alert. (http://www.google.com/alerts )
Send & Receive Large Files Being able to attach large files to an e-mail to send to someone else is becoming more difficult as organizations place limits on the size of received e-mails. This problem can arise when trying to send a submission to an underwriter or with a client who needs to send you a picture or large spreadsheet. SendThisFile.com and YouSendIt.com are Web-based services that streamline the process of sending and receiving large files. Using either service is as easy as entering the recipient’s e-mail address into a form, selecting the file you want to send, and clicking the Send button. The recipient receives a link to his or her file via an e-mail message and then clicks on the link to download the file to his or her computer. There are no e-mail attachments and no software to install. There are no file size limits so any file up to 2 gigabytes (a browser limit) can be sent. A free account is available to test the service and for sending a small number of files. (www.sendthisfile.com or www.yousendit.com)
Easily Manage Website Passwords Managing multiple website passwords is one of the more difficult tasks for agency personnel. While tools like Transformation Station and TransactNOW help with this process, there continues to be many sites that your staff goes to daily where they have to manually enter User ID and password information each time. RoboForm is a tool that can help. I’ve been using it for a while and don’t know how I got along without it! The program installs as part of your Web browser (either Internet Explorer or Firefox) and manages login and passwords for you. When you log into a website, RoboForm offers to save the online login information into a Passcard after you click the Login/Submit button. The Passcard is saved into a fully encrypted file that requires a master password to access. Once the login information page is saved, a true one-click login is available by clicking on the website name in the Passcard list. The program automatically navigates to the website’s login page, fills the stored login information into the form, and clicks the submit button. You are logged in with one click. (www. roboform.com )
Reduce Keystrokes I hate keystrokes. I am always looking for ways to eliminate or at least minimize the number of keys that have to be typed during a day. A program I rely on extensively is called ActiveWords. Simply described, ActiveWords turns words into actions. What I like about the program is that these actions are highly customizable. ActiveWords allows you to leverage your vocabulary and innate naming ability using words you enter or select in any context to substitute text. It’s Word’s “Auto-Correct” on steroids. For the first time you can use text substitutions in any program that accepts text input. For example, I type my e-mail address into different forms and programs a lot. Now I type “sa,” hit the spacebar twice (the ActiveWords action key) and our full e-mail address continued on page 23
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 21
ÂŠ 2009 SECURA Insurance
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22 The Minnesota News â€˘ February 2010
continued from page 21
(firstname.lastname@example.org) is inserted into the field. Three keystrokes verses 23 keystrokes. A savings of 20 keystrokes. So what? Multiply that by the number of times it is typed in a day and it adds up, not to mention the increase in accuracy. And these text substitutions can be used across your entire computing environment. Think about your agency management system and the number of times the same information is entered over and over again. These entries can be assigned to a code or short phrase and be inserted automatically. (www.activewords.com)
Outlook Rules & Alerts “E-mail is one of the biggest productivity drains in an insurance agency today.” When I make this comment during presentations, most people in the audience nod their heads in agreement. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine running a successful agency without being able to use e-mail as a communication tool. The problem with e-mail is not the e-mail. The problem is us. As the use of e-mail has exploded over the last several years, we have not stopped to figure out how to effectively manage our Outlook inboxes. The first step to begin to learn how to manage E-mail is to master Outlook Rules and Alerts.
Outlook Alerts Most people use Outlook alerts to notify them when new e-mails arrive. The problem with alerts is that they interrupt your train of thought when you’re working on something else. The alert pops up and you naturally look at the e-mail to see if it’s something you need to respond to right away. If the e-mail doesn’t require your immediate attention, it takes you a few minutes to get back into the project you were working on prior to being interrupted. Turning off alerts will help.
You can learn how to use both of these tools by going to Outlook help and entering “Rules and Alerts.” Each of these tips may not be appropriate for every agency, but I encourage you to try them out. Many agencies have seen significant productivity gains by employing these tools in their organizations. Editor’s Note: You can subscribe to Steve Anderson’s free weekly emailed newsletter, “TechTips”, by going to www.steveanderson.com/act and subscribing. Tech Tips is a quick read and highlights one new “thing” that will help your organization increase its productivity and effectiveness. Steve Anderson has been involved with the insurance industry for over 30 years and is an active participant in ACT. He is a frequent speaker before agent and industry groups, consults with insurance agencies and publishes numerous reports, as well as the monthly “The Anderson Agency Report.” Steve can be reached at email@example.com. Steve prepared this article for ACT. For more information about ACT, contact Jeff Yates, ACT Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.
Just for Fun...
Outlook Rules For e-mails that do deserve immediate attention, create an Outlook rule. Outlook rules will help you flag a particular e-mail so that you can respond appropriately. For example, you might want to set up a rule that whenever an e-mail is received from one of your top ten clients, Outlook will notify you of the received e-mail. There is a tremendous amount of functionality available in Outlook rules. Fortunately, Outlook provides a stepby-step process that allows you to create a rule easily. Once you get more familiar with the process of creating rules, you can use more advanced options to fine-tune how the rule will function for you. February 2010 • The Minnesota News 23
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24 The Minnesota News â€˘ February 2010
Technically Speaking… Bernie Neff, CIC, CPCU email@example.com
Car Rental Contracts In today’s’ society, one of the great pleasures in life is the ability to rent just about any motor vehicle that our hearts desire. One of the problems, however, is that the typical rental car agreement is a very one-sided agreement and can cause all kinds of financial and emotional headaches should there be a loss to the car. Let’s look first of all at what these rental agreements will require. I thought an in-depth update was called for, due to recent rental car developments and the numerous questions I get about this subject. “Should I buy the coverage?” How many times have our customers, friends and family members asked us that question when they are considering a trip or vacation that will involve a car rental? Usually they are asking about the physical damage coverage the car rental agencies will strive to sell to them. This is a question that should be approached with caution. If you subscribe to any of the associations that exist in our insurance world, you know that they all recommend that you answer “yes” to the above question. However, I would like to take you through a few scenarios that make it clear that answer is not so easy. Let’s assume that I (your client) have asked you the above question. At this point, we will ignore what our personal insurance might provide and assume that I have decided to buy “the coverage” from the rental car agency, just as you recommended. What would I get for my $12 to $28 per day purchase? The rates for this “coverage” vary all over the place, depending on such factors as the car itself that you are renting, the licensee who is renting it to you, the location around this country, and if there is a deductible of $500, $1,000 or even $2,500 per loss (the $28 fee mentioned above is based on my latest rental at Boston Logan airport for a 4door midsize Ford Taurus type of vehicle in the summer of 2009). The answers might surprise you despite what you see at the rental counter promising “peace of mind,” “no-worry coverage,” “can life get any better?”, etc. I have had the pleasure of reading every car rental contract I could get my hands on the past 25 years. I
have looked at the big three (Hertz, Avis, National), the mid-sized companies like Economy and Alamo, and the bottom-end (price-wise) companies like “Bud’s RentA-Wreck,” “Ugly Duckling” and “McCheap” (they no longer exist). While there are some differences, they are all very similar in what they will do for their customers as to liability and physical damage exposures generated by the rental car. For liability, they all will provide no more coverage than they have to. When I rent that car, the liability limits provided will be basic bodily injury and property damage limits required by the state that I am in when I rent the vehicle. In most states that would be $25/50,000 for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage. In my home state of Minnesota, it would be $30/60,000 and $10,000. If I rent in Florida, the limits are $10/20,000 and $10,000. Also, all of the rental companies have made this coverage excess in most of the states. (This puts all smaller losses squarely on the shoulders of my personal or business insurance – the topic of the next issue). If I wish, the rental company will increase the limits to $1,000,000 CSL for about $12 to $15 per day (prices will vary by licensee and by areas of the country). They will also sometimes make this coverage primary when you buy the $1,000,000. For physical damage, they will provide full dollar protection for the rental including loss of use, claim expenses, costs, attorney’s fees, “administrative expenses,” towing and labor, diminution of value, etc. This is the so-called “collision” coverage or “collision damage waiver” (CDW) that rental agencies will get downright pushy to sell. Remember, this will cost us anywhere from $12 to $28 per day for an average, standard rental car (typically a Ford Taurus type vehicle; average value around $20,000 - $25,000). OK, I paid my $20 a day (let’s average out the rates around the country). On my upcoming two-week vacation, that would be $280. But at least I now have peace of mind. No need to worry, right? continued on page 27
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 25
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26 The Minnesota News • February 2010
continued from page 25
Consider these “Prohibited Uses of the Vehicle”: 1. The vehicle will be used only by authorized drivers. That means the one who signed the rental agreement. Anyone else has to be listed. Going back to my twoweek vacation, I am going with my wife and another couple. What about them? I can add them to the rental for about $6-8 per person per day. Let’s take $6 X 3 persons X 14 days and now we add $256 to the coverage that you told me to buy. Otherwise I will have to do all the driving myself – and with four people that is not very likely. Someone is going to want to go shopping, golfing, etc., and the others will want to do something else. (One final thought here – if the renter belongs to the rental company’s “frequent renter program,” they may add the spouse, family members and fellow employees for no charge). 2. A rental used by a driver “under the influence of intoxicants, drugs or any other substance known to impair driving ability.” That is a direct quote from one of the rental agreements. Also, notice it does not say “legally intoxicated.” ”Under the influence” means one beer or one glass of wine. This is standard language in all the agreements that I have ever read. This would also include taking certain medicines for sinus problems, colds, the flu, etc. This is the most troublesome exclusions in car rental contracts, as most people are going to enjoy themselves while on vacation. Again, notice it does not reference legal intoxication (0.08 just about everywhere in the United States). The point is – I am not going to drive while intoxicated on my vacation, but I would like a glass of beer or wine, perhaps. 3. “…abusive or reckless manner, or if convicted of careless driving.” Some rental companies will exclude “violation of any traffic law.” Do I really know where to turn in a strange city?
There may be other “prohibited uses” in any car rental company contract. It is important to remember that all rental car contracts emphasize that what they are providing is not insurance. Therefore, they are not regulated, and they can exclude just about anything they want. Also, keep in mind that when I sign the rental agreement, I agree to be legally bound by all this language. If anything happens to the rental vehicle, whether it is my fault (speeding) or not (a hail storm), I am totally responsible. The contracts are written to make this very clear. Let’s take an actual scenario. You, my agent, advised me to “buy the coverage” so I “won’t have to worry.” After spending the dollars mentioned above ($280 for the CDW and $256 for the additional drivers), and after having a glorious two-week vacation with my spouse and two friends, we find that we have some time to kill before our plane leaves, so I suggest we go to this really nice Italian restaurant for lunch. We have plenty of time. All four of us enjoy a nice lunch, we all have a complimentary glass of wine with the special lunch, and we then head for the airport. A few miles from our destination, a driver swerves into my rental, smashes in the back end of the car, and takes off. We manage to limp into the rental car lot, turn in the damaged car, and find that we now have to make a report on what happened. When asked if I had anything to drink, I answer in an honest manner, “Yes, but just one glass of wine”. No way am I in trouble with the law over that! I soon discover, however, that I have violated the rental agreement terms with that one glass of wine, that all the money I have spent ($280 + $256) will now do me no good, and that I have to take care of the damage myself. The damage to the car is estimated at around $7,500 and this is put on my (thankfully) very large limit credit card. I am advised that I can probably find coverage under my auto insurance or credit card, and that I will have to do that myself when I get home.
4. Driving on un-paved roads. This is another prohibited use in every rental contract. I just lost Since you are the one who told me to “buy the coverage,” I think there will be an interesting one-sided conversation the use of roads in probably 1/3 of the country. when I get home! 5. Leaving the keys in the car, and the car is stolen. (Next issue – where can I find coverage for this loss, so 6. Going into Mexico. (And some companies forbid I can get it off my high-limit, but also high-interestyou to leave certain states without prior written rate credit card as soon as possible)? permission). I just rented a car in the eastern part of the country, and the rental company’s coverage ended along the Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri state lines. Any state west of there was forbidden territory.
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 27
Everybody Likes to Buy Things, But No One Likes to Be Sold By Nathan Jamail
1. Ask questions to understand a customer versus sell a customer
“Everybody likes to buy things but no one likes to be sold” is not a new expression, but what does it really mean? Does it mean that people don’t likes sales professionals or that they don’t want a sales professional selling them something they cannot afford or do not want? People want to feel like they are making their own decisions, yet at the same time, people like having an expert who will help them make an educated decision rather than sell them. So, how do you do that? The answer is not to use your grandfather’s selling skills of persuasion, which uses tricky steps and questions that can make customers feel like they are being trapped. At the same time, it is not a passive “information dump” that gives a customer a lot of information but removes control from the sales professional. The key is using “influential selling skills,” a well-planned strategy that allows sales professionals to truly understand the customer by creating likeability, trust and influence. It should have the feel of a comfortable and casual conversation. This is a very simple concept in theory, but make no mistake, it’s not that easy to pull off! There are three things that every sales professional must know and do to keep customers from feeling like they are being sold: 28 The Minnesota News • February 2010
If a sales professional has attended any selling skills training, he or she knows to ask open-ended questions, however that’s just the beginning. The reason most people feel like they are being sold has little to do with the words in a sales professionals’ response, rather it is the intent of the question itself. Most sales professionals are asking questions to sell the customer something rather than to understand them – or worse, just to ask questions. One example is when a sales professional asks, “Would it be beneficial to increase your profits or improve your ROI?” That question can be insulting to a prospective customer or makes the customer think, “Oh no, here comes the sales pitch.” A sales professional may also just tell the customer about the product or service before ever understanding anything about the customer or his or her current situation, which is another red flag. This tells the customer the sales professional is selling not understanding. Just remember the old phrase, “No one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care.” Just like a book or story, there is a beginning, middle and an end to the question and understand process. This does not mean a sales professional should ask a prospect a hundred questions because that would just be annoying; it does mean that questions must be purposeful and in the correct order.
The first few questions should be about the prospect’s company, who they are, what they do, how are they different than their competition. The next few questions should be about their current relationship with the person or company that provides them with the product or service you are selling. Questions like, “Tell me what you like (or dislike) about your current provider?” “Who do you currently use?” “How long have you been with them?” The last set of questions should be about their actual usage of the product or service. Use questions like, “Tell me how you use your current service?” and “What does the perfect product look like?” In understanding the customer there are not any trick questions, but there should be questions based on known industry weaknesses or a company’s strengths.
2. It not just what you say or how you say it, but when you say it This is where most sales professionals lose it. Even when a sales professional knows what to do, many times he or she just can’t stop it. A sales professional will ask the prospect a question and the prospect gives just the answer the sales professional was hoping for. So, the sales professional immediately explains how their company does it better, then another question is asked, and once again the sales professional offers another great solution immediately. The problem is the prospect starts to see a pattern and thinks, “Oh, I get it; every one of my answers is another reason to buy this product,” When this happens, the prospect will start to put up a wall because he doesn’t want to be sold. So, fight the urge to offer solutions or say anything about your company until you are completely done asking them all three sets of questions. By not giving a solution after every response, the prospect will feel more comfortable and relaxed, and will feel as if the sales professional is really trying to understand him or her. A prospect (or customer) will tell a sales professional everything they need to know if asked.
3. Selling is a skill
it for a number of years that they know it all and have no need to practice. A sales professional is never too good or can never have enough experience that they don’t need to practice. If a professional athlete ever said he or she was not going to practice anymore because he or she has been playing the game for more than 10 years, we would think he or she was crazy or just lazy. Just like there are advances in medicine or techniques in sports, there are advances in selling skills.
4. Bonus Tip: Be proud Being a sales professional should be something a person is proud of and should not try to disguise it with names like “consultant” or “problem solver.” A consultant gets paid for their advice regardless if the customer makes a purchase, and a problem solver gets paid for solving problems regardless of whether a prospect buys anything. A sales professional may consult with a prospective customer and solve their problems, but they get paid when the prospect buys their service or product. In fact being a great sales professional is an honorable job that truly helps people. Just like a doctor is critical to a person’s health, a sales person must establish a relationship built on trust and influence, and is responsible for helping people make the right decisions. My name is Nathan Jamail and I am a sales professional. Are you a sales professional? ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group and author of “The Sales Leaders Playbook,” is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director for Sprint, and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. His clients include US Army Reserves, Nationwide Insurance, Metro PCS, State Farm Insurance, Century 21, Jackson National Insurance Company and ThyssenKrupp Elevators. To book Nathan, visit www.NathanJamail.com or contact 972-377-0030.
Make no mistake; selling is a skill and just like any skill to get better is to practice. Selling is one of the most difficult skills of any profession because you must deal with non-tangibles such as egos, attitudes, personalities, emotions, and situations you have no control over. The greatest mistake most experienced sales professionals make is thinking that just because they have been doing February 2010 • The Minnesota News 29
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30 The Minnesota News • February 2010
© Copyright Employers Mutual Casualty Company 2009 All rights reserved
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www.independentagent.com/EOHappens February 2010 • The Minnesota News 31
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Discover the Integrity difference, contact Cathy Beaudin at 800-348-1741 ext. 8326. 32 The Minnesota News • February 2010
2010 MIIAB/trusted Choice Convention
Doing Business in a Crazy World!
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February 2010 â€˘ The Minnesota News 33
Convention Highlights Wednesday April 21, 2010 Opening Luncheon / Awards • 11am -1pm
Keynote Speaker: Ken Ohl, CIC Incoming MIIAB President Pick Only One!
Afternoon Sessions • 1pm - 3pm
2 Non-Company Sponsored CE Credits Pending
“Top Ten Coverage Countdown”
Chris Amrhein, AAI, Amrhein & Associates
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the seminar! We’ll be “countin’ em down” with the IIABA’s Virtual University Top 10 Coverage Issues! Join VU wonk Rock and Rolling Chris Amrhein, AAI, for the musical insurance event of the year. Jazzy scenarios, spiritual coverages and downright honky tonk tales of the insurance world, recorded LIVE before your eyes and ears.
“Risk Management in the Workplace”
Lori Berdahl and Stan Kulzer, Risk Administration Services, Inc.
The 76 million American babies born from 1946 to 1960 are known as the baby boomers. This generation represents the largest population over the age of 50 in our history and has changed our view of “how one ages”. More active in every regard and continuing to work longer than previous generations, this group is prone to fewer workplace injuries but has greater severity and lost time when injuries occur. This presentation will focus on the 3 most common work place injuries among baby boomers, work and age related risk factors, and what employers can do to help their aging work force be productive longer by reducing the most common trio of injuries. Learn how to promote positive injury outcomes through stay-at-work (SAW) and early return-to-work (RTW) that impact your Workers’ Compensation’s profitability. The response of the employer and medical community following an employee injury can promote recovery, function, and well-being or can lead to needless disability and disruption of social and economic lifestyle. This session will review the medical, physical and psychosocial benefits of having an employee return to work early or stay at work following a workplace injury. The session will go on to review the financial implications of time off for both employee and employer. Various medical groups positions statements including the Medical Disability Advisor, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine will be discussed. Finally, employer strategies for implementing a solid stay-at-work/ early return-to-work program will be discussed.
Matt Lehman, Progressive Insurance
Did you know that more than 235 million unique visitors visited Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube in October, 2009? They did. Social Networking is the largest growth area on the Internet, and we’ll help you: • Understand exactly what social networking is and how it is evolving over time • Learn best practices across multiple industries for servicing and acquiring customers • What are the coming trends in social networks
The Exhibit Hall • 3pm – 7pm See over 80 exhibitors displaying the latest products and technologies of interest to independent agencies and agents. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres provided. ROCK ‘N ROLL / SING-A-LONG / DUELING PIANOS • 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Sponsored by the Young Insurance Professionals Dueling Pianos are two piano players/singers performing at two, face to face grand pianos performing the classic rock ‘n roll hits from the 1950s to the present. It’s request driven by the audience and it’s the great music hits of all time combined with great showmanship, energy and comedy. WE SELL ONE THING . . . . FUN! 34 The Minnesota News • February 2010
Thursday April 22, 2010 Annual Busines Meeting Breakfast • 7:30am - 9am State & National Issues Facing Independent Agents
Keynote Speakers: J. David Daniel, 2010 IIABA Chairman, Shawn Wensel, CIC Outgoing MIIAB President and Dominic Sposeto, MIIAB Lobbyist
E&O Seminar • 9am – 3:30pm “Best Practices of Errors and Omissions – 2010”
Lisa Burnside, CIC, CPCU, Burnside Dynamics, Forest Lake, MN
This course will encourage the attendee to become familiar with specific policies, procedures, and practices from E&O carriers, agency management consultants, state executives and education directors, and agency owners and principals. In addition, by the end of this course, the student will be able to focus on the positive side of agency management and emphasize that providing outstanding customer service will benefit the agency in a number of ways, including increasing revenue and decreasing E&O claims, and to learn that good E&O loss control makes good business sense (Box Lunch Provided). (6 Non-Company Sponsored CE Credits Approved)
Pick Only One!
Morning Sessions • 9am - Noon
3 Non-Company Sponsored CE Credits Pending
“Street Level Ethics”
Chris Amrhein, AAI, Amrhein & Associates
It often appears that the majority of what passes for “ethics training” is having little or no effect on individual or corporate behaviors. Case in point: Enron, which has become the poster child for lack of ethical behavior, had an extensive ethics program in place, evidently to little effect. Perhaps this is due to the fact that majority of ethics courses fall into two basic camps: those that are primarily morality essays, and those that are basically an academic exercise. Both have key flaws. “Street Level Ethics” takes a different approach. The main objective is to lead the workshop participants to start “wading into the pool” of what constitutes an ethical dilemma. Realistic case studies are included for analysis. The course objectives are for each participant to confront the complexity of the issues, recognize the possibilities of multiple solutions, and then begin formulating a personal approach to choosing a valid ethical solution when confronted by such situations in their own daily activities.
Al Diamond, Agency Consulting Group
If you are an agency owner or manager, have you ever thought about changing how you compensate your employees? Are you still giving monetary increases based on how long someone has been with your organization, instead of their enhanced productivity? Are salaries growing at a faster pace than agency revenue? That can happen easily in a soft market. What if you could learn how to start rewarding your employees for achieving agency goals? Everyone works hard and most employees want to do a good job, but the most productive employees deserve the greatest compensation. Al Diamond, member of the Independent Insurance Agents and Broker’s Virtual University, president of Agency Consulting Group, and past president of AAIMCO (American Association of Insurance Management Consultants), will teach you how to transition your agency and your employees into 21st Century compensation practices. Leaving the old “Merit” rating practices and cost of living adjustments behind, and adopting new payroll reward programs, will positively affect your bottom line!
“Strategies to Enhance Agency Productivity“
Angelyn Treutel, CPA, Treutel Insurance Agency, Inc.
Living in today’s fast-paced world may leave you feeling as though you are “drinking from a fire hose”. You may find it difficult to continuously evaluate all of the available technology and how your agency might operate more effectively. This session will take you through agency technology developments from the Past and Present and will help you position your agency to succeed in the Future
Afternoon Session • 12:30pm - 3:30pm 3 Non-Company Sponsored CE Credits Pending
Al Diamond, Agency Consulting Group
Have you ever thought of buying an agency? How about a book of business within an agency? Do you own an agency and wonder sometimes how much it is worth? Are you counting on the proceeds to fund your retirement or to pass on to your heirs? Many people think that the value of an agency is 1.5 times commission. Some agencies are worth much more and others are worth much less. Come and learn exactly how to determine the value agencies and books of business. Al Diamond, member of the Independent Insurance Agents and Broker’s Virtual University, president of Agency Consulting Group, and past president of AAIMCO (American Association of Insurance Management Consultants), will explain the ins and outs of valuing books and agencies in simple and distinct terms. With over 30 years of experience, he will give you tips on how to maximize the value of your agency and what key information must be known in order to determine the appropriate value of an agency you might want to buy. It is more than EBITDA! (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization.). This class is a perpetuation planning must. (Box Lunch Provided) February 2010 • The Minnesota News 35
MIIAB/Trusted Choice Annual Convention Schedule at a Glance Tuesday, April 20
Thursday, April 22
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Trusted Choice Company Luncheon (closed)
7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Registration
5:30 p.m. –9:00 p.m. Past Presidents/Board of Directors Reception and Dinner (closed) Sponsored by Progressive
7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Annual Business Meeting Breakfast State & National Issues Facing Independent Agents Keynote: J. David Daniel, 2010 IIABA Chairman; Shawn Wensel, CIC, Outgoing MIIAB President; and Dominic Sposeto, MIIAB Lobbyist
Wednesday, April 21
9:00 a.m. – Noon Morning Break out Sessions (Pick only one)
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Registration
“Street Level Ethics” Chris Amrhein, AAI, Amrhein & Associates “Incentive Compensation” Al Diamond, Agency Consulting Group
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Opening Luncheon and Awards Presentation Keynote: Ken Ohl, CIC, Incoming MIIAB President
“Strategies to Enhance Agency Productivity“ Angelyn Treutel, CPA, Treutel Insurance Agency, Inc.
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Afternoon Break Out Sessions (Pick only one) “Top Ten Coverage Countdown” - Chris Amrhein, AAI, Amrhein & Associates “Risk Management in the Workplace” - Lori Berdahl and Stan Kulzer, Risk Administration Services, Inc. “Social Networking” Matt Lehman, Progressive Insurance
9:00 a.m. – Noon & 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. “Best Practices of Errors and Omissions – 2010” Lisa Burnside, CIC, CPCU, MOUS, Burnside Dynamics (must attend all six hours to receive CE credits and Westport E&O 10% loss control credit) 6 Non-Company Sponsored CE Credits Approved (Box Lunch Provided) 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. “Agency Valuation” Al Diamond, Agency Consulting Group (Box Lunch Provided)
3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The Exhibit Hall
NOTE: Must preregister for Best Practices of Error and Omissions or Agency Valuation to receive a complementary box lunch
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Rock n’ Roll/Sing-a-Long/Dueling Pianoes/Cash Bar Sponsored by the Young Insurance Professionals
2010 Power in Partners Program As of 1/19/10
Burns & Wilcox EMC Insurance Companies Encompass Insurance Progressive Insurance SECURA Insurance Company West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. Western National Insurance
36 The Minnesota News • February 2010
Austin Mutual Insurance Company Integrity Insurance Risk Administration Services, Inc. SFM-The Work Comp Experts Swiss Re
AAA Insurance Allied Insurance General Casualty Companies Indiana Insurance Midwest Family Mutual Northstar Mutual Companies The Hanover Group Zurich North America Small Business
FirstComp Insurance AM Trust North America ICC Restoration & Cleaning Services Newman Long-Term Care Robert A. Schneider Agency, Inc. S.H. Smith & Company State Auto Companies Travelers Companies.Inc Westfield Insurance Wilson Mutual Insurance Company Workers Compensation Specialists
2010 MIIAB/Trusted Choice Convention April 21 - 22, 2010 Pre-Registration Form Please complete one form per participant. Photocopy for your associates. Pre-registration deadline is April 12th, 2010
Registration Check which applies:
Registration Type (circle amount)
Full Convention Registration
Opening Luncheon Only
Full Convention Registration Young Insurance Professional Rate
Insurance Company & Exhibit Hall
Please indicate which seminar(s) you plan on attending. Courses have been filed for CE in MN and are pending approval except for E&O which is approved for 6 CE.
Wednesday, 1-3pm (pick only one) Top Ten Coverage Countdown Risk Management in the Workplace Social Networking Thursday, 9am-3:30pm (all day) 1/2 hr lunch break Best Practices E&O (Box lunch provided)
Thursday, 9am-Noon (pick only one) Ethics Total Due: _______________ Incentive Compensation Strategies to Enhance Agency Productivity *Registration received after April 12th will incur an Thursday, 12:30pm-3:30pm Agency Valuation (Box lunch provided) additional 10% fee NOTE: Box lunches only provided for individuals registered for Agency Valuation and Best Practices E&O Name:_____________________________________________________________________________ MN Insurance License #:______________________________Designation(s):____________________ Agency/Company:___________________________________________________________________ Address:___________________________________________________________________________ City:_________________________________________State:_______Zip_______________________ Telephone:_________________________________FAX:____________________________________ Email:_________________________________Spouse/Guest Name:________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ Credit Card Payment:
Card Number:______________________________________Expiration Date:____________________ Cardholder Name:__________________________________Security Code:______________________ Billing Address of Cardholder___________________________________________________________ Signature:_______________________________ (952)835-4180 - (800) 864-3846 - Fax: (952)835-4774 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Make check payable to MIIAB and return to 7500 Flying Cloud Dr, Suite 900, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 37
In The News... Preminum Financing Specialists, Inc. aquires Universal Premium Acceptance Corporation We are pleased to announce effective January 4, 2010, Premium Financing Specialists, Inc. (PFS) has acquired the premium finance business of Universal Premium Acceptance Corporation (UPAC). UPAC will continue to bill and service its existing business originated prior to the above effective date. PFS is one of the largest independent premium finance providers in the nation. We originate more premium finance loans and serve more independent insurance agencies than any other premium finance company. Our independence and financial strength enable us to provide exceptional solutions to agents with premiums of all sizes. PFS is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri and operates twenty branch offices nationwide. PFS is proud to add UPAC’s agents and clients to our portfolio. UPAC’s philosophy of Old Fashioned Service with Leading Edge Technology complements our own promise of Nationwide Expertise, Local Service. In addition, UPAC’s technological expertise will supplement our own and support our continual focus on providing the best solutions possible. PFS has retained many of the UPAC personnel you have come to rely on for exceptional and knowledgeable service. They will continue to work in Lenexa, KS. You will also continue to use the UPAC web site for online services during the upcoming transition period. The combined business of PFS and UPAC will provide you with an even greater selection of products, technology and services. PFS also offers integration with many leading agency management systems and local offices throughout the country to meet your premium finance needs in any region. We look forward to continuing our mutually beneficial relationship. Please feel free to contact 38 The Minnesota News • February 2010
Randy Hickman at (800) 877-7848 or John Binaggio at (800) 255-6316 with any questions or requests for additional information on this exciting development.
Austin Mutual Position Announcements The Austin Mutual Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Dale Kopel as its Treasurer. Dale is in charge of all financial operations. His employment began December 22, 2009. The Board also named James Vettel its Assistant Vice President of IT, effective January 1, 2010. Congratulations!
Operational Efficiency Tops the Agenda for Insurance Carriers in 2010 Faced with the continuation of a soft market in 2010, 93% of insurance carriers surveyed are increasing their investment in automation technologies to improve operational efficiency, according to a recent survey conducted by IVANS, Inc. Adoption of technologies that streamline transactions between insurance carriers and agents will continue to grow in 2010, as carriers look for ways to maintain profitability in a sluggish economy. “Insurance carriers are shoring up operations and focusing on investments that help them do more with less,” said Clare DeNicola, president and CEO of IVANS, Inc. “In large part, property and casualty insurance carriers reasonably weathered the economic turmoil of 2009 because they stuck to their core businesses. The industry will continue to be under intense financial scrutiny, and most likely, greater regulatory scrutiny, so the markets will look to carriers to make strategic investments that build on existing strengths versus breaking completely new ground.” Property and casualty insurance carriers plan to invest more resources within existing lines of business (cited by 82% of survey respondents) versus diversifying their product portfolio across
lines of business (41% of respondents) in 2010. In addition, respondents are focusing on keeping their existing customers satisfied. Seventy-four percent of carriers are investing in tools that help them better understand and respond to their customers. While 41% of carriers who participated in IVANS survey are expecting to increase their technology budget for 2010, carriers also noted the following top three challenges to achieving their business objectives: •
Competing priorities (91% of respondents)
Lack of staff (78%)
Need to update technology infrastructure (67%)
DeNicola said, “Like most organizations, carriers are working with finite resources and want to invest in projects that will have the greatest impact on their business. Carriers realize they need to make technology investments to generate operational leverage and efficiency.” IVANS will be hosting a one-hour webinar for carriers on January 21, 2010 at 2 pm EDT to discuss Carrier Automation Trends for 2010 and additional results from our carrier survey. Those interested in attending may register through the Events section on IVANS website at www.ivans.com/events.
Anderson Issues Report Protecting Agencies from Data Breaches “Information is the most radioactive element in today’s businesses,” says Steve Anderson of The Anderson Agency Report in his most recent business guide for independent insurance agencies, called Client Information Security. Anderson’s report highlights that more than 88% of client data breach cases last year involved employee negligence and that 84% of cases involved organizations with more than one incident. The average, total, per-incident cost of a breach was nearly $6.7 million, including civil and regulatory penalties, administrative expenses and legal defense costs. Insurance agencies of all sizes are treasure troves of personal client data, and they need to establish effective protective barriers and appropriate
responses in case there is a breach. Client Information Security provides agency leaders with the information they need to identify and prioritize their vulnerabilities. The report provides a walk through the agency’s “weak links,” including employee malpractices and negligence, theft of equipment, and external attacks, such as hacking. It aids the agency in categorizing what data to protect and gives more than 20 detailed steps on how to get a data-breach security plan up and running. Anderson provides a convenient, at-a-glance method for classifying risks and incidents in a graphic depiction that can be used to track, analyze and document compliance with a security plan. Anderson gives insights into surprising areas of vulnerability, such as the problem of “reverse shredding” of documents, and how to foil hardcopy data thieves. He also goes into substantial detail on dealing with an incident from original, internal discovery to notification of authorities, gathering of evidence, damage control and corrective action. Client Information Security goes beyond treatment of personal data, addressing corporate data held at agencies as well. It not only helps the agency with its data but makes agency members smarter about risk management and insurance resources for their own clients. Security breach laws are covered in their own section, and a state-by-state summary and “further resources” section round out the comprehensive report. To find out more or order a copy, visit http://www.ClientInformationSecurity.com/.
Real Time ‘21 Day Challenge’ Launched Nationally The all-industry Real Time/Download Campaign today is rolling out a major new nationwide initiative—the 21 Day Challenge—for independent insurance agencies that have not yet adopted Real Time rating and inquiry workflow or that want to broaden Real Time usage to all of their employees. The Challenge is built on the broadly accepted premise that it takes 21 days to break old habits and form new ones. In the case of insurance agencies, even if a new workflow saves time and reduces February 2010 • The Minnesota News 39
keystrokes—as Real Time has been found to do— it takes some time for employees to become fully comfortable with new processes and to learn how to use them most efficiently.
contact Dave Willis at dave@Aartrijk.com or (603) 444-2225.
Real Time is the ability to click on a button from a client file in the agency management system or comparative rater for immediate access to carrier information on that client. This approach provides a single workflow for servicing or quoting.
About the Real Time/Download Campaign
The Real Time 21 Day Challenge gives agencies step-by-step guidance in how to implement Real Time and broaden its usage through a Web site— www.getrealtime.org/21dc. Agents will have options in taking the Challenge, depending upon where the agency currently stands with the functionality. A “Champions Challenge” allows selected employees go through the Challenge first and then bring it to the full agency in an “Agency Challenge,” where all employees take the Challenge together. If the agencies need to install Real Time functionality, they can click the button “New to Real Time” for a preliminary walk-through on getting started. As agencies begin one of the challenges, they should register on the site so campaign supporters can reach out to them to provide support if needed, say campaign officials. Carriers and vendors are ready to answer questions that may arise as individuals and agencies take the challenge. The initiative was designed to recognize successful completion of the challenge, which occurs when: 1. Real Time has become the predominant workflow for the agency (for those carriers and transactions where it is offered); and 2. The new workflow is having a positive impact in the agency. Agencies will receive a certificate acknowledging their successful completion when they finish the full Agency Challenge. A Webinar is scheduled for January 27, 1:30-2:30 p.m. EST, to showcase real-time functionality and to demo the new 21 Day Challenge Web functionality. Anyone can register in advance for the Webinar at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/596616128. National, state and local agent associations and user groups that want to drive broader 21 Day Challenge participation among members may
40 The Minnesota News • February 2010
The 21 Day Challenge was piloted last year by independent agents in Iowa and New York. Launched in April 2007, the Real Time/Download Campaign (www.getrealtime.org) is dedicated to improving the competitiveness of the independent agency distribution channel. The campaign—supported by independent agents, trade associations, carriers and technology providers—isn’t advocating a specific technology, but a workflow approach that frees up more time for agencies to sell, process and service business. Most agents can leverage tools already contained in their agency management systems or comparative raters. Real Time is the ability to click on a button from a client file in the agency management system or comparative rater for immediate access to carrier information on that client. The transaction may be a quote, billing inquiry, claim inquiry/loss run, policy view, endorsement or a request for information. Most-recent numbers show more than 20,000 real-time transactions are performed industry-wide each business day through agency management systems; this figure excludes realtime rating transactions processed by comparative raters. The campaign’s goal is to double the number of real-time transactions each year. Campaign participants include agents, brokers, carriers, technology providers, user groups, and agent and industry associations. The campaign is led by industry groups and sponsored financially by: ACORD User Groups Information Exchange (AUGIE)/ACORD; Agents Council for Technology (ACT)/Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America; Allied Property & Casualty Insurance/ Nationwide; AMS Users’ Group (AMSUG); Applied Systems; Applied Systems Client Network (ASCnet); Artizan Internet Services; EMC Insurance Companies; Grange Insurance; Harleysville; IVANS; Liberty Mutual Agency Markets; MetLife Auto & Home; PIA of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut & New Hampshire; Strategic Insurance Software (SIS); The Hartford; Vertafore; and Westfield Insurance.
CRAWFORD NAMED AS GRINNELL MUTUAL PRESIDENT AND CEO Steve Crawford has been named President and Chief Executive Officer at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company located in Grinnell, Iowa. For the past two years, Crawford has served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. During Crawford’s 34-year career at Grinnell Mutual he has served in a variety of roles: West Central Illinois marketing representative, assistant marketing director, assistant vice president of reinsurance underwriting, regional vice president, and senior vice president of the Reinsurance Division. He holds a Business Administration degree from Iowa State University. He also holds the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation from the American Institute for Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters and the Associate in Reinsurance (ARe) designation from the Insurance Institute of America. Crawford belongs to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Society of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, and is a charter member of the Grinnell CPCU sub-chapter. He
served as NAMIC Underwriting Committee chair from 1999-2003 and received the NAMIC Merit Society Award in 2000. Crawford replaces Dan Agnew, who retired after 19 years as Grinnell Mutual’s president and CEO. A native of Ames, Iowa, Crawford and his wife, Pat, live in Grinnell, Iowa and are the parents of three children, Matt, Joe, and Steffanie.
Cooperative Mutual Joins the Austin Group Austin Mutual announced today that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Cooperative Mutual of Omaha Nebraska. Under the terms of the agreement, Austin Mutual will provide capital support to Cooperative Mutual. In addition, Austin Mutual will assume governance and management authority of Cooperative subject to regulatory and policyholder approval. “We are excited to add such a quality company to the Austin Group. I am confident that the similar, service oriented, cultures within each company will allow for an easy transition. Cooperative will add diversification and resources that will serve to further strengthen the Austin Group,” stated Jeffrey Kusch, Chairman, President and CEO of Austin Mutual.
CLASSIFIED ADS POSITIONS AVAILABLE CSR Commercial Lines position available. Full time, competitive salary, with benefits, located in western suburbs. Send Resume in confidence to: email@example.com
AGENCY FOR SALE
Large metro agency seeking agents to join agency. Lucrative commission splits; outstanding work environment; and competitive companies to choose from. Send inquiries in confidence to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am interested in purchasing a small to medium size P/C agency in Central Minnesota. If interested I can be contacted at email@example.com
WANTED TO BUY No listing this month
No listing this month LOOKING FOR AGENCY
To post a classified ad please email ad to firstname.lastname@example.org
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 41
Trusted ChoiceÂŽ National Ad Campaign Schedule September The Weather Channel October USA November CNN December Food Network & USA
January TNT February The Weather Channel March Fox News April TNT
May Fox News June Food Network July CNN August The Weather Channel
For more info contact: Jenner Gohr at Jenner.email@example.com or 800-221-7917
MIIAB would LIke to Thank Our Gold and Silver Partners Real people, bringing you real value.
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Talk to us about how we can partner with youâ€“and provide the right ingredients to grow and succeed.
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42 The Minnesota News â€˘ February 2010
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The LegisLaTive and PoLiTicaL newsLeTTer of The Mn indePendenT insurance agenTs & Brokers assocaTion
By Domonic Sposeto firstname.lastname@example.org
Certificates of Insurance – Once Again Passage of last year’s MIIAB’s certificate of insurance statute has created a great deal of discussion about the use of certificates around the state both within the insurance world as well as with those that frequently request certificates. The MIIAB knew it would take more than a change in law to solve this ongoing problem. However, the statute has proven to be a good start and has captured the attention of the right people.
company initiated mid-term cancellation and 10 days notice of cancellation for non-payment of premium. This is consistent with policy notice requirements under Minnesota Statutes 60A.36. It is the intent of the department to seek legislation to amend any Minnesota statute that is inconsistent with this notice requirement. Agreement on this notice requirement will be a major improvement over the status quo.
The Department of Commerce led by Deputy Commissioner, Manny-Munson Regala, has conducted two meetings of various affected parties in an attempt to reach some consensus on the appropriate timing for notices of cancellation. The meetings have been attended by representatives from the state departments of labor and industry, commerce and administration, the League of Cities, insurance companies, the Insurance Federation of Minnesota and the MIIAB. I am pleased to report that we have apparently reached a consensus on a standard cancellation requirement that is consistent with state insurance law. This will require a 60 day notice of cancellation for any insurance
Further discussion about this will occur at the group’s next meeting in February.
The group also discussed frequent request for elimination of language in the ACORD form that states any insurer A provision of new certificate law tied notices of “will endeavor to” provide notice to the certificate cancellation to the statutory notice of cancellation holder. This issue should be cleared up with the use of provided to the policyholder. The goal here was to stop the new ACORD 25 (2009/09) form which has removed requests for amendment of ACORD forms and other that offending language from its certificate. The new certificates to provide a notice of cancellation different ACORD form states that “should any of the above than that stated in the policy. Working with MIIAB legal described policies be cancelled before the expiration counsel and the state department of commerce staff, we date thereof, notice will be delivered in accordance with discovered nearly a dozen places in Minnesota statutes the policy provisions”. which require differing notices of cancellation. These The parties in attendance at these meetings seemed include licensing statutes for electrical contractors, comfortable with this new language. They even opined roofers, private detectives, plumbing contractors, money that the new ACORD form would be acceptable for transmitters, motor carriers and others. We have also their purposes. The Department suggested that all identified statutes and local government ordinances parties consider making the ACORD form the only that relate to notices of cancellation for liquor liability. certificate form authorized for use in Minnesota.
One of the major issues remaining to be addressed is who is responsible for providing notice of cancellation to certificate holders. While this has not yet been agreed to, I was very pleased by the insurer’s willingness to accept certificates and further review the process for notice of cancellation to third parties not entitled to notice under the terms of the policy. In the case of some state license requirements, a state licensee’s policy that is cancelled because of non-payment of premium cannot be legally cancelled until the carrier provides notice to the state of CAPITAL NOTES continued on page 47
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 43
Want Success in the New Year? Give Up the Bad Habits for Good! By Max Izenberg
“The unfortunate thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to give up than bad ones.” Somerset Maugham Being human, we are all creatures of habit. Of course not all habits are bad; we know that successful people generally have good habits. We all recognize and perhaps even envy the office receptionist with her impeccable time management and multi-tasking skills, or the manager who not only handles a busy workload but also lends a helping hand to her team – and makes it all look easy. We may even look up to these successful role models as we form our own New Year’s resolutions for the workplace. So we begin to visualize a new person – one who will somehow be an improved model better than the one of the last year. However, while we have all the best intentions, how can we motivate ourselves to keep these promises and throw away the bad habits? The key is to make the promises more of a possibility instead of a onetime pledge. As Mark Twain said, “Giving up smoking is easy – I’ve done it hundreds of times.” If you’re guilty of committing the following “bad” workplace habits, help is here! Follow these tips and guidelines to get back on the path to personal and professional success:
Are you guilty of showing up to the office or meetings just a few minutes late? This kind of habit can put the 44 The Minnesota News • February 2010
brakes on your career climb, so it’s time to put an end to it. But how? Little changes here and there can make it less of a challenge! For example, move the time on your clocks forward by five or 10 minutes, or place a note on your mirror that says, “I will show up on time!” These tips will mentally prepare you to arrive on time and serve as daily motivators. Ready to add more? Make your morning routine easier and more efficient. Eat a quick breakfast at home instead of heading for the drivethru or set your coffeemaker instead of stopping by the coffee shop. You can even pick out your clothes the night before to shave a few minutes from your morning routine. If overcoming tardiness seems overwhelming, just try one change first and master it. Then gradually add a few others and soon enough you’ll be known for showing up early instead of late!
Are you guilty of snacking on bad-for-you foods, especially when stuck in a cubicle? Unfortunately, this kind of unhealthy habit can lead to some sneaky pounds on your frame. It can be even worse if you have to travel for work and eat out. However, if you want to drop those love handles, start by visualizing yourself a few pounds lighter. Buy yourself an amazing work outfit – but buy it a size or two smaller. Then, hang it next to your mirror so you see it each day as you get ready for work. Imagine how great you will look and how your colleagues, friends and relatives will see you in a different and slimmer light. Then put it into action by bringing lunch to work a few days each week, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Bringing a pedometer to work
can help keep you on the right track to achieving that image. Soon enough you’ll work off those few pounds and become the vision you’ve been thinking about.
Being Discourteous to Others
Are you guilty of talking on the phone too loudly or wearing too much cologne – to the point where you irritate your co-workers? If your bad habit is being discourteous to others in the workplace, stop it so you will be able to continue your climb in the workplace. The first step is being aware of your colleague’s thoughts and respecting how they feel about you. If you are known as the guy who plays his radio too loudly or the manager who wears too much perfume, it’s time to establish a new reputation. Step out of your “world” and get to know your officemates so you can understand how they see you. Then, take the steps to repair your image, whether it’s taking your personal calls outside during a break or easing up on the perfume/cologne. It’s hard to recognize our own bad habits, much less realize the effect they can have on others, but once you do congratulate yourself. Taking these courteous steps can go a long way in the workplace and you deserve a reward!
appointment book to focus on one project, and only that one project. You can even ask a trusted officemate to hold you accountable for your deadlines. Whatever you do, utilize a system that works for you and eventually your procrastination habit will “disappear.”
Being a “Yes” Man/Woman
Are you the colleague everyone turns to when they need help? While this can be a good thing, it can also suggest that people are taking advantage of your “just-can’t-sayno” nature. In fact, you may be overwhelmed by all the projects and committees you’ve taken on. Now is the time to break that habit and create a goal that works. If you feel guilty about saying “no” try this exercise: look into the mirror and practice saying it. Really! Get comfortable with saying the word. Then, prioritize your goals. If you say “yes” to every project, you won’t have time for your own job responsibilities. Make a list of the projects and activities that are necessities for your career, then prioritize the rest. Start saying “no” to those that do not make it into your top five or 10 list. Soon enough, you’ll be back in control of your career.
Psychologists agree that breaking bad habits usually take about thirty days, so be resolute for that time period in Smoking Is your bad habit unhealthy AND unpopular with your order to give yourself a chance to change. Realize that colleagues? If you’re the only smoker in your office, then although New Year’s is just around the corner, it’s up to you probably know how it feels. Make this your year us to stay accountable for our own actions no matter to quit, and share your decision with your officemates what time of year we make our promises. In that eternal for increased success. Give them the actual date you quest for self-improvement, stick to your guns, and plan to quit, and chances are they will help hold you ensure that your bad habits do not stand in the way of accountable. In fact, their support may help you create your success! a successful and clean break from smoking! Sharing your goals with a supportive community (including ABOUT THE AUTHOR friends and family) is a very effective way to end those Max Izenberg is an author, lecturer and nutrition expert toxic habits. who helps organizations, businesses, families, and Procrastination individuals establish healthier lifestyles. Her new book, Are you the person who waits until the last possible “Reaching for 100,” provides insights on the correlation minute to finish your projects? Do you make everyone between good nutrition habits and good health, based on wait on pins and needles to see if your work will arrive Max’s own transformation and lifestyle change 10 years on time? Unfortunately, procrastinating will not lead ago. Today, she is slim, fit and energized – without the you far on your career path. So, replace that bad habit help of prescription pills and medications. To buy her new with a good one! Manage your time instead of letting it book or to hire her for speaking, visit: www.MaxLiving.ms manage you. Use both electronic calendars/reminders or call: 888-240-4495. and paper calendars to keep you on track. Do you need to look at one day at a time, a week at a time or a whole month to stay focused? Choose what works for you. If you are easily distracted by other projects, e-mails and conference calls, schedule a block of time in your February 2010 • The Minnesota News 45
46 The Minnesota News â€˘ February 2010
President’s Message continued from page
CAPITAL NOTES continued from page 43
streamline these procedures. I hope that when you are contacted by Dominic, you will help us in our grassroots educational campaign.
Mark Your Calendars for April 21-22 for the 2010 Convention!
I am expecting another large turnout from member agencies, insurance companies, and vendors at our upcoming Convention in April. I hope that you will take the time to review the information on the Convention in this newsletter. We made a special effort to increase the number of educational opportunities for all of your agency staff. There are seminars on all aspects of our industry, from agency owners, producers, CSRs, and young agents who are trying to figure out how technology can be a marketing tool for them in this business.
the cancellation. The state believes that this leaves the insurer exposed to liability until cancellation notice has been delivered. I have been appointed to a drafting committee to work with the Department of Commerce in preparing language on uniform notice. The goal is to have something ready for passage during the upcoming legislative session. While this will not solve all the issues related to the use of insurance certificates in Minnesota, we are definitely moving in the right direction.
Virtual University Online Courses: The VU offers a wide variety of online classes to enhance and expand insurance technical and business skills. When taking an online class through the VU, you can be confident you or your staff is learning the highest quality education available online. You do NOT have to be a member or subscriber to take an online course since a separate fee is charged. Research Library: For those who seek a smarter way to research, the VU provides access to hundreds of insurance, business and technology articles written by volunteer faculty and other contributors. Technical insurance articles often include links to full sample ISO forms. You’ll also find white papers and articles on many issues affecting today’s insurance marketplace. Expert Advice: Sometimes you need answers to questions that can’t be found in the research library. To help with these “just in time” issues, we have assembled a faculty of leading experts from around the country. Big “I” Members can submit questions to our “Ask an Expert” service and a response is usually sent within 3-5 business days, but often sooner. All of this can be accessed on the web at www.independentagent.com/vu
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 47
to our company partners in Minnesota
Are you walking the E&O tightrope by not offering personal umbrella protection to your clients?
In today’s crowded field of personal umbrella options, one carrier stands out; RLI, with its “stand alone” personal umbrella policy. Why RLI? 20% of agency E&O claims are from failure to procure coverage. 100/300 auto limits available for most customers. Flexibility to take advantage of RLI's personal umbrella and still get auto or home Liberty Mutual Agency Markets
iiicoverage from any carrier. Competitive, low premiums for increased limits of liability, up to $5 million on A+ iiirated paper. Friendly, broad underwriting so most people easily qualify for the program. iA simple, self-underwriting application that lets you know immediately if the insured iiiis accepted and offers automatic, direct billed renewals. Support your association by accessing the RLI personal umbrella.
For more information on this program, please visit
www.independentagent.com/RLI For assistance please call: Terri Norum ph: 952-253-6237 email@example.com
48 The Minnesota News • February 2010
2010 MIIAB CIC Program Schedule It’s easy to register - by fax, phone, mail or on-line! All courses begin Wednesday’s at 8:00 a.m., Thursday’s from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and Friday’s from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Please select Seminar date 1/13 - 1/16/10 Eden Prairie Commercial Property 2/3 - 2/5/10 Plymouth *Ruble Graduate Seminar 3/10- 3/13/10 Eden Prairie Personal Lines 4/14 - 4/17/10 Eden Prairie Life & Health 5/5 - 5/8/10 Eden Prairie Commercial Casualty 6/16 - 6/19/10 Alexandria Commercial Property 7/14 - 7/17/10 Eden Prairie Agency Management 8/4 - 8/7/10 Eden Prairie Commercial Casualty 9/15 - 9/17/10 Plymouth *Ruble Graduate Seminar 10/6 - 10/9/10 Eden Prairie Life & Health 11/10 - 11/13/10 Eden Prairie Personal Lines * Must be a dues paid member of CIC or CRM to attend a Ruble Graduate Seminar Dates and locations are subject to change. Before making any travel arrangements, call to verify the dates, location, start time and availablility when registering for a program.
Important Information All participants must present photo identification to the on-site registrar at the institute. Cancellations received within 7 calendar days of a program will incur a $75 nonrefundable fee. If you do not cancel and do not attend the program, you will incur a $125 fee. The balance of the registration fee may be refunded or transferred to another course. You may substitute an eligible person for the same event anytime at no charge with notification prior to the course. Cost
Method of Payment Check Enclosed (Payable to MIIAB) or Charge to:
In accordance with Title III of the American with Disabilities Act, we invite all registrants to advise us of any disability and any request for accommodation to that disabily. Please submit your request as far as possible in advance of the program you wish to attend
Seminar CIC Institutes Ruble Graduate Seminar
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Card Number Expiration Date Signature _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name on Card Security Code (3 digits) Billing Address _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name MN Insurance License # DOB Designations _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Agency/Company Phone Email _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip Return to: MIIAB, 7500 Flying Cloud Dr, Suite 900, Eden Prairie, MN 55344 P: 952.835.4180 F: 952.835.4774 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.miia.org
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 49
2010 MIIAB CISR Program Schedule
It’s easy to register - by fax, phone, mail or on-line! Please select Seminar date - Each course is 8 MN CE credits, sponsored
1/21/10 - St. Cloud Commercial Property 1/27/10 - Eden Prairie Agency Operations 2/9/10 - Eden Prairie Commercial Casualty 2/11/10 - Rochester Personal Auto 2/17/10 - Shoreview Commercial Casualty 3/9/10 - St. Cloud Personal Residential 3/17/10 - Eden Prairie *WTH Commercial Lines 3/18/10 - Duluth Personal Auto 3/23/10 - Eden Prairie Personal Auto 4/1/10 - Eden Prairie Personal Residential 4/6/10 - Rochester Commercial Casualty 4/8/10 - Fergus Falls Commercial Casualty 4/27/10 - St. Cloud Personal Auto 5/4/10 - Duluth *WTH Commercial Lines 5/12/10 - Willmar Agency Operations 5/13/10 - Shoreview *WTH Personal Lines 5/18/10 - Thief River Falls Commercial Property 5/19/10 - Eden Prairie Commercial Property 6/2/10 - Rochester **Dynamics of Service 6/8/10 - Mankato Personal Auto 6/9/10 - Eden Prairie Agency Operations
6/15/10 - Alexandria **Dynamics of Service 6/23/10 - St. Cloud Agency Operations 6/24/10 - Shoreview Commercial Property 7/8/10 - Rochester Personal Residential 7/20/10 - Brainerd Agency Operations 7/22/10 - Eden Prairie Dynamics of Service 8/10/10 - Duluth Commercial Casualty 8/12/10 - Eden Prairie Commercial Casualty 8/18/10 - Worthington Personal Residential 8/25/10 - Bemidji Agency Operations 9/9/10 - Rochester Commercial Property 9/14/10 - St. Cloud *WTH Personal Lines 9/21/10 - Shoreview Personal Auto 9/23/10 - Eden Prairie Personal Auto 10/5/10 - Hibbing Commercial Property 10/12/10 - Detroit Lakes Agency Operations 10/13/10 - Eden Prairie Personal Residential 10/21/10 - Mankato Commercial Casualty 11/2/10 - Duluth Personal Residential 11/3/10 - Eden Prairie Commercial Property 12/7/10 - Eden Prairie Agency Operations
Method of Payment Check Enclosed (Payable to MIIAB) or Charge to:
CANCELLATION POLICY: Registration fee is fully refundable if cancellation is received seven days prior to class. A $30.00 fee will be charged for cancellations less than seven days before the scheduled class. NO SHOWS will NOT receive a refund. In accordance with Title III of the American with Disabilities Act, we invite all registrants to advise us of any disability and any request for accommodation to that disabily. Please submit your request as far as possible in advance of the program you wish to attend
* REQUIREMENT FOR WILLIAM T. HOLD SEMINAR (WTH) You must be a CISR, ACSR or CPSR designee and a dues paying member of the National Alliance to attend and get credit for WTH. For inquiries on dues, please call the National Alliance at 1-800-531-5197.
** REQUIREMENT FOR DYNAMICS OF SERVICE The Dynamics of Service program satisfies the update requirement for all dues paying members of the National Alliance. However, you do not need to hold the CISR designation to attend. For inquiries on dues, please call the National Alliance at 1-800-531-5197.
William T. Hold Seminar (WTH)
Dynamics of Service
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Card Number Expiration Date Signature _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name on Card Security Code (3 digits) Billing Address _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name MN Insurance License # DOB Designations _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Agency/Company Phone Email _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip Return to: MIIAB, 7500 Flying Cloud Dr, Suite 900, Eden Prairie, MN 55344 P:952.835.4180 F: 952.835.4774 E: email@example.com www.miia.org
50 The Minnesota News • February 2010
2010 MIIAB Errors & omissions Seminars 6 MN CE Credits - general, non-company sponsored
AgEnCy StAFF SIzE
totAL AttEnDEES REquIRED At A (6 houR) SEMInAR
PoSItIon In AgEnCy
PLuS ADDItIonAL REquIREMEntS
ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL, OWNER, PARtNER OR OFFICER
ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL, OWNER, PARtNER OR OFFICER
ONE PRODuCER OR CSR
ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL, OWNER, PARtNER, OFFICER AnD ONE ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL, OWNER, PARtNER, OFFICER, OPERAtIONS MANAgER OR PRODuCER
tWO PRODuCER’S OR CSR’S
ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL, OWNER, PARtNER, OFFICER AnD ONE ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL, OWNER, PARtNER, OFFICER, OPERAtIONS MANAgER OR PRODuCER AnD ONE CSR
tHREE PRODuCER’S OR CSR’S
ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL, OWNER, PARtNER, OFFICER AnD tWO ACtIvE AgENCY PRINCIPAL’S, OWNER’S, PARtNER’S, OFFICER’S, OPERAtIONS MANAgER’S OR PRODuCER’S AnD tWO CSR’S
FIvE PRODuCER’S OR CSR’S
Cost per person
$151.00 MIIAB Member Price $166.00 Non-Member Price
Agencies that attend this seminar will receive a 10% loss control credit on their Westport E&O Premium. Once an agency attends the seminar the 10% credit will apply for 3 years if the agency remains claim free during the 3 year period.
Method of Payment Check Enclosed (Payable to MIIAB) or Charge to:
CAnCELLAtIon PoLICy: Registration fee is fully refundable if cancellation is received seven days prior to class. A $30.00 fee will be charged for cancellations less than seven days before the scheduled class. no ShoWS will not receive a refund.
In accordance with Title III of the American with Disabilities Act, we invite all registrants to advise us of any disability and any request for accommodation to that disabily. Please submit your request as far as possible in advance of the program you wish to attend
Please Check Location 1/20/10 - Eden Prairie 8:30am-3:30pm Prairie Conference Center 7500 Flying Cloud Dr Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952.835.4180 3/10/10 - St. Cloud 8:30am-3:30pm Best Western Kelly Inn Hwy 23 & 4th Ave St. Cloud, MN 56301 320.253.0606
4/22/10 - MIIAB Convention
9:00am -12:00pm & 12:30pm - 3:30pm Radisson Hotel and Conference Center 3131 Campus Drive Plymouth, MN 55441 763.559.6600 5/18/10 - Fergus Falls 8:30am-3:30pm Best Western/Bigwoods Event Center 925 Western Ave Fergus Falls, MN 56537 800.293.2216 6/22/10 - Morton 8:30am-3:30pm Jackpot Junction 39375 County Hwy 24 Morton, MN 56270 507.644.3000 7/28/10 - Walker 8:30am-3:30pm Northern Lights Event Center 6800 Y Frontage Rd. NW Walker, MN 56484 218.335.3151 8/26/10 - Rochester 8:30am-3:30pm Ramada Hotel 1517 16th St. SW Rochester, MN 55902 507.289.8866 9/22/10 - Duluth 8:30am-3:30pm Canal Park Lodge 250 Canal Park Drive Duluth, MN 55802 218.279.6000 10/20/10 - Eden Prairie 8:30am-3:30pm Prairie Conference Center 7500 Flying Cloud Dr Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952.835.4180
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Card Number Expiration Date Signature _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name on Card Security Code (3 digits) Billing Address _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name MN Insurance License # DOB Designations _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Agency/Company Phone Email _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip Return to: MIIAB, 7500 Flying Cloud Dr, Suite 900, Eden Prairie, Mn 55344 P: 952.835.4180 F: 952.835.4774 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.miia.org
February 2010 • The Minnesota News 51
Power in Partners
2010 ower in Partners Program
Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association
Listed below are the companies who strongly support the Indepenent Agency System and the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association
52 The Minnesota News â€˘ February 2010
aaa insurance allied insurance General Casualty Companies indiana insurnace Midwest Family Mutual north star Mutual insurance Company the Hanover Group Zurich north america small Business AMTrust North America FirstComp Insurance ICC Restoration & Cleaning Services Newman Long Term Care Robert A. Schneider Agency, Inc. S.H. Smith & Company, Inc.
State Auto Companies Travelers Companies, Inc. Westfield Insurnace Wilson Mutual Insurance Company Workers Compensation Specialist
Published on Jan 25, 2010