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IN THIS ISSUE ________________ Learning the ropes of flood sales How climate change is changing insurance NFIP digest: the latest updates


Donegal supports the independent agent system exclusively and we are always looking for professional agents to assist in growing our market.

Call Rick Kelley, Senior Vice President

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Contents

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PRIMARY AGENT MAGAZINE

Learning the ropes of flood sales Selling flood insurance is not easy when the economy is floundering. But industry expert Bruce Bender shares how agents can utilize the FloodSmart Campaign to create a sales splash.

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NFIP digest: the latest changes The National Flood Insurance Program last fall unveiled changes to deductibles, limits and rates. Read on for a recap.

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How climate change is changing insurance Climate change is a hot topic. Here, IA&B looks at how it has changed, and stands to change, the insurance industry.

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In every issue Mission Statement Primary Agent delivers ideas to help Insurance Agents & Brokers’ members negotiate their unique position as guardians of trust between insurance consumers and companies while facing the challenges of maintaining a small business. Primary Agent also supports IA&B’s mission to preserve and advocate the American Agency System.

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Chair of the Board’s Message Member FAQ State News New Members Preventing Errors & Omissions Coverage Corner

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IA&B Partners Glance at Events Technology Update Advertisers Index Classified Ads Last & Least

Subscriptions: Non-member price: $2.25 per copy or $15 per year. All communications for publications, including news, features, advertising copy, cuts, etc., must reach the editor by 1st of month two months prior to publication. Advertising rates furnished upon request. Address inquiries to: Primary Agent Editor PO Box 2023 Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-0763 Phone (800) 998-9644 or (717) 795-9100 Fax (717) 795-8347 Periodical postage paid at Mechanicsburg, Pa. and additional entry post office. Postmaster: Send address changes to above address. Primary Agent (ISSN 1543-3110), Permit # 638-620, Issue # 2010-3) is published monthly by IA&B Service Group Inc., a subsidiary of IA&B.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. No material may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent of the publisher. The information in this publication is general in nature and is not intended to serve as legal, accounting, financial, insurance, investment advisory or other professional advice as to any reader’s particular situation. Users are encouraged to consult with competent legal, financial, insurance, investment advisory and or other professional advisors concerning specific matters before making any decisions and we disclaim any responsibility for any decisions or actions by readers. Statements of fact and opinion in Primary Agent are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the officers or the members of the IA&B. Participation in IA&B events, activities and/or publications is available on a non-discriminatory basis and does not reflect IA&B endorsement of the products and/or services.


Board of Directors Officers Kathleen M. Glattly, ChFC, CLU, CPCU Chair of the Board Factoryville, Pa. David Rosenkilde, CIC Vice Chair of the Board Reisterstown, Md. Robert J. “Buc” Cawley, AAI Immediate Past Chair of the Board Wexford, Pa.

Members Norman F. Basso, CPCU York, Pa. Vincent D. “Chip” Boylan Jr., CPCU Rockville, Md. Henry “Butch” Bradley, Jr. Crofton, Md. Timothy P. Burris Thompsontown, Pa. M. Scott Clemens, CIC, CPCU, CLU, ChFC Souderton, Pa. John T. “Chip” Colwell Jr., CIC Corry, Pa. G. Greg Gunn, CIC Lemoyne, Pa. Robert B. Hall, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, ARM, ARM-P West Chester, Pa. Diana M. Hornung-Momot, ACSR Wilmington, Del. Linda A. McCann, AAI, CPCU, CPIW Salisbury, Md. Michael F. McGroarty Sr. Pittsburgh, Pa. Scott C. Rogers, CPIA York, Pa. Susan A. Sallada, CIC** Ft. Washington, Pa. William D. Schneider, CPCU, ARM* Pittsburgh, Pa.

Kathleen Glattly CPCU, CLU, ChFC, AIM

Chair of the Board’s M

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How not to leave clients high and dry Ah, March. By now, we’ve had our fill of winter and set our sights on spring. And we’ve almost made it there according to the tell-tale signs — sprouting daffodils, returning robins, warming days and, yes, flooding homes and businesses. While floods can occur anywhere at any time, the combination of spring rains and melting snow is a common culprit. And many of our clients mistakenly believe their homeowners’ and business owners’ policies will cover their flood loss. March 15-19 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week. In recognition, IA&B has dedicated this issue of Primary Agent magazine to flood insurance. Nationally recognized flood-insurance expert Bruce Bender collaborated with the folks at FloodSmart for a feature article on selling flood insurance. Those just dipping their toes in the flood-insurance waters and experienced salespersons alike will benefit from his tips. This issue also includes a recap of the October 2009 National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) changes and a look at how climate change and resulting floods are affecting the insurance industry. And for those who want to learn more, I recommend IA&B’s Understanding Flood Insurance webinar, next offered Thursday, May 20. Instructor M. Rita Hollada will provide an introduction to the NFIP and flood risk assessment.

Robert A. Walbeck, CIC Homer City, Pa.

Until next time,

David B. Wasson Sr., CIC State College, Pa.

Kathleen

James M. Watkins* Dover, Del. King W. “Kip” White, LUTCF Fallston, Md. John S. Yasik, CIC Newark, Del. * IIABA National Director ** PIA National Director

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Member FAQ QUESTION: When a new ACORD form is published, are we required to use the new forms or can we still use the older editions?

ANSWER: This simple enough question can actually highlight some contractual, E&O and compliance issues, and brings to light a procedure that is often lacking in insurance agencies.

?

Issues No. 3 and 4 — Is the form available? If not, why isn’t it available? Very often, producers will indicate that they can’t find the new form on their agency management system, and that’s why they don’t use it. That’s the Achilles’ heel in many agency procedures. The problem of inaccessibility of the new forms on the agency management system stems from the fact that the agency did not apply all updates to the system.

1. Are we dealing with policy forms that must be filed with the Insurance Department or not?

It is essential for agencies to keep up with the agency management system updates. In addition to other features included in the upgrade, this will ensure the use of the most current editions of ACORD forms and compliance with the licensing agreement discussed in issue No. 1.

2. What are the changes to the new ACORD forms and how critical is their use either to the insured or to the producer/company?

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?

First, we need to look at several things:

3. Are the forms available on the agency management system? 4. Last but not least, did the agency perform all updates to the agency management system?

E-mail it to us at iab@iabgroup.com. Please use “Primary Agent FAQ” in the subject line of your message. You can also fax your question to (717) 795-8347. We look forward to answering your questions!

Issue No. 1 - Filed or not? If we are dealing with policy forms that must be filed with the state regulator, the date filed by the carriers will have to be followed. Use of an older version would be a violation of the law, and producers should be cautious that they need to comply. If we are dealing with forms that do not have to be filed with the state regulator (e.g. certificates, evidence of insurance, etc.), there is no deadline imposed by the Insurance Department; however, this doesn’t mean you should continue to use the old forms. Under the licensing agreement between ACORD and the agency management system vendors that provide the forms to you, an older version of a form cannot be used one year after the date of publication of the new form. After one year, you have a problem on your hands. Issue No. 2 - Why the change? Some changes can be critical in correcting prior errors or clarifying areas of the form that have been debated or even litigated. The certificates forms are an excellent example of recent changes that ultimately benefit the producer and the company and limit the rampant abuse of the form that had been taking place. Increasingly, certificates were being used to attempt to extend policy rights to third parties, contradicted certain disclaimers or removed them altogether. In this case, the sooner you use the new form, the better.

Make Our Experience, Your Advantage.

Join our team today. Contact us to learn more:

www.harfordmutual.com 800-638-3669 200 North Main Street

Bel Air, Maryland

21014-3544


Primary Agent | March 2010

State News Earlier storm warnings affect deductibles Maryland requires weather-related moratoriums to be filed in advance with the Maryland Insurance Administration. The law also restricts hurricane deductibles that are expressed as a percentage of Coverage A to be applicable only in connection with U.S. National Hurricane Center warnings. Starting with the 2010 hurricane season, the U.S. National Hurricane Center will release storm watches and warnings 12 hours earlier. Tropical storm watches will be issued within 48 hours when conditions are possible and warnings within 36 hours when conditions are expected. Hurricane watches and warnings will follow a similar lead-time. Because the warnings will be issued earlier, carriers will have an additional 12-hour window to apply hurricane deductibles.

MIA rescinds announcement on credit-card payments Flip flop. Over the winter, the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) issued and rescinded a notice on credit-card payments. The original notice (Bulletin 98-15) dated back to 1998 and forbade insurers and producers from recouping [4]

merchandiser fees from credit-card payments. In December 2009, the MIA released Bulletin 09-31, which reiterated that producers could not charge a separate fee — other than to recoup the actual merchandiser fee. This was a welcome improvement. However, January 2010’s Bulletin 10-01 rescinded the December notice and reverted Maryland’s regulations on credit-card payments of insurance premiums to the 1998 guidelines. Additional information is available by visiting the MIA Web site: www.mdinsurance.state.md.us. Choose the Producer tab at the top of the screen, and then click the Bulletins links on the left-hand navigation menu, followed by the General Compliance link.

Training and CE requirements Maryland passed a new producer licensing law in the spring of 2008. The implementation has been gradual but is now complete. Here’s a recap of what changed: Q Increased the number of required CE credits from 16 hours to 24 hours. (The increased CE requirement went into effect Oct. 1, 2009.) Q Provided that three of the 24 credit hours be directly related to ethics. Q Froze the grandfathering clause as of Oct. 1, 2008. (The grandfathering clause states that producers holding a license for 25 years or longer will not be affected by the increase in required credits.)


Q Waived the pre-licensing education requirement – but not the examination – for individuals holding certain designations (such as CIC). More information:

www.iabgroup.com Events Education

Education &

Non-resident filing requirements Reminder: Just because a non-resident producer license is renewed does not mean that other state requirements, such as annual filings and taxes, are up to date. And states are cracking down. When producers apply for a non-resident license, they often register their agency with the other state’s Department of State. That comes with requirements … that may or may not be clear.

To further complicate the issue, reporting requirements and obligations rarely match from one state to the next. Some states send requests to businesses registered in their state and systematically ask for reports. Others expect to receive those reports annually and post notifications on their Web site. As the number of non-resident licenses held by an insurance agency increases, so does the need to monitor each state’s requirements, forms and deadlines — from the Department of Insurance and the Department of State. Advice:

Implement a system — perhaps a chart — that will remind you of the reports and deadlines for each state where you hold a license and are registered as a business entity. Then keep an eye on those states’ Web sites for updates on the requirements.

Sending Social Security numbers over e-mail Here’s a quick reminder about what’s allowed and prohibited when transmitting Social Security numbers. Generally, it is prohibited to e-mail or otherwise transmit Social Security numbers over the Internet, unless the connection is secure or the data encrypted. Documents that display Social Security numbers also cannot be faxed. An important exception for producers: The prohibition does not apply to documents sent as part of an application or enrollment process, to establish or amend a contract or policy, or to verify the accuracy of a Social Security number. This exception will protect most of an agency’s transmissions. However, make sure everyone in the agency understands that, in all other cases, the prohibition is in effect.

YOUR SUPPORT MATTERS. CONTRIBUTE TO AGENTPAC. Through AgentPAC, IA&B can work to elect legislators who understand you. IA&B is a strong advocate for you, but even the strongest advocate cannot succeed unless there are legislators who understand the issues faced by independent agents — that is where your support matters! Help IA&B support legislators who understand independent agents. Contribute to your state AgentPAC.

Affiliated with

VISIT IABGROUP.COM OR CALL THE IA&B MEMBER SERVICE CENTER TOLL FREE AT (800) 998-9644 OR LOCALLY AT (717) 795-9100, OPTION 0 FOR MORE INFORMATION.

In Delaware & Pennsylvania

Driving members to distinction [5]


Primary Agent | March 2010

Preventing ERRORS AND OMISSIONS

AVOIDING THE E&O PITFALLS OF PERSONAL AUTO CURTIS M. PEARSALL, CPCU, AIAF, CPIA Curtis M. Pearsall contributed this article on behalf of Utica Mutual Insurance Company in Utica, N.Y. Insurance Agents & Brokers Service Group Inc. is the exclusive agent for the Utica E&O program in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. For questions regarding this article or your Errors & Omissions coverage, contact IA&B at (800) 998-9644 or by e-mail at iab@iabgroup.com.

It’s no real surprise that E&O claims arising from personal auto continued to occur with some degree of frequency in 2009. However, it is interesting to note that the percentage of E&O claims resulting from this segment has dropped over the last couple of years and is down to around 12 percent. This is no doubt due to the positive actions that many agents are taking. Let’s examine this in greater detail. What could an agency do wrong that could result in an E&O claim? Overall, roughly 40 percent of the claims involve the liability coverage, 40 percent involve physical damage and 20 percent are in the uninsured/underinsured motorist area. Failing to recommend the proper liability limits was at the center of the allegations against an agency in this following claim example. Mr. Jones, somewhat wealthy, had purchased liability limits

of only $25,000 on his automobile policy and then, after an accident, claimed the agency should have made sure he had higher liability limits. The accident was severe, involving the death of another driver (a 23-year-old, married man with a child), and Jones was determined liable for his death with a potential claim of in excess of $1.5 million. The estate refused to accept the policy limit in settlement and decided to go after the assets of Mr. Jones. On its face, this appeared to be a defensible case. The agency argued that they told Mr. Jones to increase his limits. However Mr. Jones, in addition to being wealthy, was a simpleton with a drinking problem. He indicated that he did not remember these discussions. The agent was aware of Mr. Jones’ shortcomings and financial position. The case was made that the agency, in view of his client’s considerable wealth,

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should have insisted he have higher limits. Due to the absence of a solid paper trail, the case against the agent settled for $325,000. One could only wonder what would have happened with better documentation. Here are five of the more common mistakes that agencies are alleged to have made that caused an E&O claim in 2009. As you read them, ask yourself: What could the agency have done better? Could they happen in your agency? Q Issuing an ID card or some type of evidence of coverage for a cancelled risk Q Failing to adequately document discussions regarding limits (Either the client alleged that he thought he secured the higher limits or the agent had recommended that higher limits be secured.)


Q Failure to obtain proper waivers for UM/UIM Q Failure to identify all drivers in a household Q Failure to maintain limits that satisfy the minimum required by an umbrella carrier (thus causing a gap in coverage) Some tips worth considering: Completion of the application — Did you review each question with the customer, and did you have him review the application completely before signing? Did you explain all of the coverages in detail? For you, personal auto is probably old hat; for your clients, this may be more complex (see above story about Mr. Jones!). Educating your clients is a very positive way to reduce E&O claim activity. Account review/analysis — Ask the customer if she has a personal umbrella policy. If she does, it would be appropriate (if it is not through your agency) to get a copy to determine what underlying limits are needed. If she doesn’t have an umbrella, this presents a great sales opportunity. Receipt of the policy — Advise clients, verbally and in writing, that when they receive their policy, they need to review it to make sure that everything is in order. The agency should also review the policy to make sure that it matches what was requested. Billing — With the understanding that most personal auto is now done on a direct-bill basis, advise the customer that he will receive premium notices directly from the carrier and that he needs to respond to these, as the agency will not be reminding him of any pending cancellations. There have been situations where the customer will stop in the agent’s office to pay the premium, typically around the due date. Many agencies simply

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advise the customer they cannot accept these premiums and provide the customer with a company envelope requesting that he sends the premium himself. If you do want to accept these premium payments, I suggest that you first check the payment/account status to be certain that it has not already been cancelled for non-pay. Education and training — Both your staff and your customers can benefit. The goal is to be certain that the staff understands all of the coverages and how they apply. If they are asked by a customer how their personal auto policy responds when renting a car while on vacation, are you confident that the correct information is being communicated? Also, while personal auto may appear to be fairly standard, there are potential differences that you want to be sure to communicate. For example, if your insured has pets, does the auto insurance provide coverage if

they are harmed in an accident? This distinction could be the reason why a customer would choose one company over another. Developing a newsletter that covers a multitude of topics is a great way to educate your customers. This can be sent in paper form or via e-mail blasts. In addition, a Web site that helps your customers understand what they have will pay tremendous dividends (in protection as well increased sales). Discuss E&O with your personal auto staff. Talk through the issues and what measures can be put into place to protect the agency. Develop procedures that are applied consistently. Good luck!


Primary Agent | March 2010

Coverage CORNER

REBUILDING “GREEN”

JERRY MILTON, CIC Jerry M. Milton teaches and consults on industry issues. The legal profession recognizes him as an expert on insurance coverages. He is also the education consultant for IA&B, working with CISR, CIC and continuing education programs.

A new term that has entered into and become a part of our vocabularies in the past few years is “green building.” I think most of us know what that means. It is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are friendly to the environment and efficient in their use of resources. Green buildings are designed to reduce their overall impact on human health and the natural environment by efficiently using energy, water and other resources, protecting occupant health, and reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation.

and low-interest loans. In addition, a few states and cities have passed “green building” ordinances regulating construction. What is “LEED”? In 1998 the U.S. Green Building Council developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, which provides a comprehensive system of standards covering all aspects of the development and construction process. LEED is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. and was created to accomplish the following: Q Define “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurement;

The green building movement arose out of the need and desire for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly building practices. This movement has been spurred by the actions of various governmental agencies at all levels — federal, state, county and city. Many states, counties and local governments have implemented incentives for LEED-certified buildings which include tax exemptions or tax credits, expedited permitting, technical assistance, grants

Q Promote building design practices; Q Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry; Q Stimulate competition in the green building industry; Q Increase consumer awareness of green building benefits; and [8]

Q Transform the building market. Green Globes is another organization that provides an environmental assessment, education and rating system. Green Globes is a program of the Green Building Initiative, a non-profit organization based in Portland, Ore. Their system is an online interactive software program and competes with LEED. Green Globes helps with the new construction of commercial buildings and with the maintenance and improvement of existing buildings. ENERGY STAR was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 in an attempt to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission by power plants. It since has become the international standard for identifying and promoting energy-efficient products. Today more than 40,000 ENERGY STAR products are available in a wide range of items including major appliances, heating and cooling equipment, office equipment, lighting and home electronics.


When increased costs can be incurred following a covered loss, enter the insurance industry. The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has introduced the Increased Cost Of Loss And Related Expenses For Green Upgrades endorsement (CP 04 02) for attachment to the Commercial Property Coverage Forms. This endorsement provides coverage for all costs, subject to the amount shown in the Schedule, attributable to Green Upgrades following a covered direct physical loss. Green Upgrades means enhanced energy efficiency or use of environmentally preferable, sustainable materials, products or methods in design, construction, manufacture or operation, as recognized by a Green Standards-setter.

The Green Upgrades endorsement will pay the least of the following amounts:

Q Waste Reduction And Recycling; Q Design And Engineering Professional Fees; Q Certification Fees And Related Equipment Testing; and

The Green Upgrades endorsement is far more extensive than this brief overview. It is four pages (including the Schedule) in length. Get a copy. Review it. Be prepared to discuss this coverage with your clients. Y’all take care!

Q Building Air-Out And Related Air Testing.

STRONG RELATIONSHIPS PRODUCE RESULTS There is no better time to become part of The Cumberland Insurance Group Team. We are now appointing agents in Central Pennsylvania.

Commercial and Personal Lines Competitive Commissions Exceptional Customer Service Financial Strength Experienced Underwriters Marketing Support

Contact Cheryl Oswald at: 610-857-9900, ext. 3117 or coswald@cumberlandgroup.com

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Green Standards-setters include LEED, ENERGY STAR and Green Globes. Do those names sound familiar?

Related Expenses, the following expenses are also covered:

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Constructing a green building and pursuing a LEED certification increases the cost of design and construction of the building. These increased costs result from the additional research and design required, as well as the use of special building components which meet LEED standards.

OUP

1. The actual cost of Green Upgrades; 2. Amount payable for the covered direct physical loss plus the applicable Deductible times the Increased Cost Of Loss percentage shown in the Schedule; or 3. The amount shown for Green Upgrades in the Schedule. Green Upgrades coverage does not apply to personal property of others, leased personal property or stock. If an amount is entered in the Schedule for

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Celebrating 165 years of service

â—†

1844 - 2009


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Learning the ropes of flood sales FloodSmart Campaign gives rise to sales opportunities

Selling flood insurance is not easy when the economy is floundering. But, on the following pages, industry expert Bruce Bender shares how agents can utilize the FloodSmart Campaign to create a sales splash.


Primary Agent | March 2010

T

he Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware region is no stranger to flooding. These areas experience flooding from major weather events such as Nor’easters, snow melt, severe spring storms and tropical systems.

Unfortunately, the recent trend in these three states shows a lack of growth in properties protected by flood insurance. In the past two years, Maryland and Pennsylvania have experienced a drop in policy count, while Delaware has seen only a handful of new properties (37) added. Selling flood insurance is not easy during a down economy; however, the risk of flooding still exists, regardless of the economic climate. Whether a flood occurs in a high-risk area, moderate- or low-risk area or is declared a federal disaster, it can have a catastrophic effect on unprotected homeowners, business owners and renters. This is why offering flood insurance to every new prospect and client and on every property renewal should be part of every agency’s standard practice. ____________________________________________________________ Offering flood insurance to every new prospect and client and on every property renewal should be part of every agency’s standard practice. ____________________________________________________________

This area is not the only region experiencing a drop in flood insurance policies, and agents nationwide are looking for ways to better communicate flood risks and the need for flood insurance to their customers. The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) FloodSmart Campaign can help agents reach out to customers with the information they need — expertise about flood risk and how to protect their homes. The FloodSmart Campaign is an integrated marketing effort that alerts consumers to their flood risk and encourages them to contact their insurance agent to protect their property with flood insurance. This is done through the Web, TV commercials, direct mail, print ads and media outreach. At www.FloodSmart.gov, consumers can see how much damage flooding can cause, assess their individual flood risk and learn more about the claims process. Most importantly, consumers can use the “Find an Agent” tool on the Web site, call a local agent listed on a direct mail piece or call a 1-800 phone number to locate an agent in their area to purchase a flood insurance policy.

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Flood CE requirements DELAWARE For those licensed to sell homeowners’ or personal lines insurance, 2 hours of flood credit are required during each renewal period.

MARYLAND For those licensed in P&C and who sell flood insurance, 2 hours of flood CE are required during each renewal period. If someone does not sell flood insurance but is licensed to sell homeowners’, then a one-time requirement of 2 hours of flood credit is required.

PENNSYLVANIA For those licensed to sell flood insurance, approved “flood education training” is needed. Training should meet federal guidelines of 3 credits and is set and monitored by the specific WYO companies. Note: These requirements are subject to change and were the most recent at the time this magazine went to print.


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What FloodSmart offers Agents who become active with the FloodSmart Campaign can easily get connected to consumers and FloodSmart resources. By registering with the NFIP’s agent site, www.Agents.FloodSmart.gov, agents receive direct access to tools and resources to maximize their flood insurance policy sales. Some of the resources FloodSmartregistered agents have access to include: Agent Co-op Program The Agent Co-op Program provides advertising tools and templates and offers up to 75 percent reimbursement for

Understanding Flood Insurance webinar IA&B’s popular Understanding Flood Insurance webinar, taught by nationally recognized flood expert Rita Hollada, returns on Thursday, May 20. The two-hour, live online course highlights recent NFIP changes, including the conversion to digital maps, a new elevation certificate and deductible and rate increases. The webinar has been approved for 2 Gen/FL credits in Delaware, 2 PC/FL credits in Maryland and 3 FL credits in Pennsylvania. For more information or to register, visit iabgroup.com or contact the Member Service Center at (800) 998-9644, option 0.

advertising costs. Agents can choose from different categories of flood messaging (e.g., general flood, Preferred Risk Policy, etc.) and are reimbursed accordingly. There are a variety of ad types to choose from, including Yellow Pages, magazine, newspaper and radio ads. Once they’ve selected an ad, agents simply download and customize it. Agent Referral Program The Agent Referral Program is a way to obtain free qualified leads. In a given year, more than 700,000 agent listings are provided to consumers via www.FloodSmart.gov. The referral program connects enrolled agents directly to consumers who want to speak to an agent about their flood insurance needs. Registered agencies are referenced on www.FloodSmart.gov and at the NFIP referral center, which answers calls from consumers who see FloodSmart ads on TV or in publications and direct mail. Mail-on-demand Program Mail-on-demand is the latest addition to www.Agents.FloodSmart.gov and provides participating agents with pre-built, directmail templates. Agents select and modify direct mail templates to address various situations and needs, such as seasonal flood risks, local map changes, policy renewal reminders, cross-sell existing homeowner clients and more.

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Agents use their own customer list or develop and purchase a list of potential customers. They can choose to mail it themselves or have a professional mail house do the work. Mapping Status Report and other services At www.Agents.FloodSmart.gov, agents can find additional services and resources, such as how to develop a marketing plan, how to overcome flood insurance sales barriers and access to a Mapping Status Report. With FEMA’s nationwide updating of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), the Mapping Status Report provides a snapshot of what communities are being updated and where they are in the mapping lifecycle. This helps better prepare agents to explain the options available (e.g., grandfathering, conversion, etc.) and their timing.

How to begin These programs and resources are available to all insurance agents, and registration is free. Note that to use the Co-Op and Referral Programs, agents must complete a state-approved continuing education (CE) course for at least three hours on flood insurance within the past 24 months. IA&B’s Understanding Flood Insurance webinar — next offered on Thursday, May 20 — is approved for 2 Gen/FL credits in Delaware, 2 PC/FL credits in Maryland and 3 FL credits in Pennsylvania.


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SALES

Delaware convention to cover flood

After receiving the necessary credits, agents must submit a copy of the certificate to the FloodSmart Administrator by faxing it to (404) 365-7333 or e-mailing it to training@agentsfloodsmart.com. Once the initial training requirement has been met, agents are required to update their training once every two years to continue to participate in these two programs.

The Delaware Association of Insurance Agents & Brokersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 53rd annual convention will feature a flood insurance seminar. Melanie Graham, territory training manager for the NFIP, will teach the course. Mark your calendars for June 810, 2010 in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Learn more and get started at www.Agents.FloodSmart.gov.

________________________ Bruce Bender, along with members of the FloodSmart team, collaborated on this article. FloodSmart is the NFIPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s marketing campaign to help property owners learn about their flood risk and how to take action (i.e., call their agent!). Bruce is a marketing and outreach consultant who previously managed a large national WYO program as well as a Florida-based insurance agency. He can be reached at (480) 368-1223 or babender@cox.net.

Stability Security Sensibility Formerly LG Insurance

(source by www.ambest.com)

Business Owners Program Commercial Package LIG Umbrella Policy

Leading Insurance Group Insurance Co., Ltd. is a licensed commercial insurance carrier providing competitive rates on property and casualty insurance to business owners in NY, NJ, CA, IL and PA. We spare no effort in providing our utmost products and prompt service for any and all of your insurance needs. Building and Building Owners Business Personal Property Dry Cleaners Retail Stores Pharmacies Pizzerias / Takeout Apartments Convenience Store Risks Liquor Stores LRO Buildings

LIG offers up to $ 5,000,000 above LIG BOP and Package

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[ 14 ]

CA

505 N. Brand Blvd. Ste 1025 Glendale, CA 91203 T. (818)254-1040 F. (818)254-1039

marketing@ligmsi.com

www.ligicus.com


Tri-State General Insurance Agency 1-800-556-7894

Vacant Property Property / Casualty Underwriter

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No restriction on length of vacancy Property limits up to $3,000,000 Buildings under renovation Independent contractors All types of buildings considered Package or monoline policies 3, 6, 9, or 12 month policies Replacement cost and Special Cause of Loss Available

Quick quote turnaround time Low minimum premiums

Property / Casualty Underwriter

Jen Straw x231 JStraw@tsgia.com

We write more than just “Trucking” - Visit us at www.tsgia.com

Maryland * Pennsylvania * Delaware * DC * Virginia * New Jersey

A-Rated Carrier Now Appointing New Producers in Pennsylvania, Maryland & Delaware! (More states to be added in the near future.)        

Business Insurance— CPP, BOP Monoline Fire, GL Competitive pricing—All Lines MSO rates and policy forms Personal lines roll overs will be considered Commercial auto for artisan contractors, retailers and wholesalers Contractor’s policy rated on number of employees, not payroll Internet rating system No minimum premium requirement for our producers Fast and friendly service for our customers from company staff

To get started, please contact Dick Riddle, CPCU Knightbrook Insurance Company P.O. Box 686, 927 West Main Street Valley View, PA 17983 Office: Cell: Fax: E-mail:

[ 15 ]

215-249-1394 215-272-1442 215-249-1395 richard.riddle1@comcast.net


Platinum Profile Insurance Agents & Brokers proudly recognizes Millers Mutual Group as one of its Platinum Partners. IA&B Platinum Partners dedicate the highest level of sponsorship to our organization.

FEATURED PARTNER: Millers Mutual Group CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Robert L. Lyon, Chairman, President/CEO

COMPANY LOCATION: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania A.M. BEST RATING: A- (Excellent)

rmed with an A- Excellent from AM Best and an ambitious technology upgrade, Millers Capital Insurance Co. is uniquely positioned to serve the business insurance market in these challenging times.

A

AM Best likes our strong riskadjusted capitalization, favorable operating earnings, and improved loss development trends in recent years, as well as our long-standing regional presence. Millers also rates among the top 10 commercial firms in IAB’s Customer Satisfaction Index Survey in Products, Pricing and Underwriting; Policy Service and Claims; and Agency/Company Relationship. Our technology will be of top 10 quality too upon completion of the upgrade.

We are a niche-oriented company that concentrates solely on the areas we know best. We offer leading-edge technology that simplifies your job, as well as a unique level of flexibility that leads to creative solutions that will satisfy your most demanding clientele. Meanwhile, we continue to offer a consistent, stable, competitive market for commercial business and, more than ever, remain committed to “underwriting your success.” Bottom line? It has never made more sense to protect your clients with Millers.


Listed below are those companies that strongly support the independent agency system and Insurance Agents & Brokers. Thank you for your continued sponsorship.

WHAT IS IA&B PARTNERS? The IA&B Partners program gives company and allied businesses the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment of support to independent agents and receive maximum market exposure. As an IA&B Partner, you will also realize the benefits of IA&B membership to help you succeed in the insurance industry.

DO YOU SEE YOUR NAME? To become an IA&B Partner, choose the sponsorship package that matches your commitment of support. Contact the Member Sales Center at (800) 998-9644, (717) 795-9100 or visit us online at www.iabgroup.com to get started.

PLATINUM LEVEL

BRONZE LEVEL

Berkley Mid-Atlantic Group Erie Insurance Group Harleysville Insurance Insurance Agents & Brokers Service Group Inc Millers Mutual Group Millville Mutual Insurance Co Mutual Benefit Group Penn National Insurance Selective Swiss Re The Main Street America Group Travelers Utica National Insurance Group

AAA Insurance

GOLD LEVEL

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Ohio Casualty Progressive

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SILVER LEVEL Aegis Security Insurance Co American Mining Insurance Co Cumberland Insurance Group Donegal Insurance Group Frederick Mutual Insurance Co Harford Mutual Insurance Co Juniata Mutual Insurance Co MMG Insurance Company Private Client Group PSBA Insurance Trust The Motorists Insurance Group Westfield Insurance Zenith Insurance

Agency Insurance Company Allied Insurance Briar Creek Mutual Insurance Company Builders Insurance Group Capitol Insurance Company Chubb Group of Insurance Companies Companion Property & Casualty Group Countryway Insurance Company Encompass Insurance Foremost Insurance Group Friends Cove Mutual Ins Company Goodville Mutual Casualty Company Grange Insurance Companies Hanover Fire & Casualty Insurance Company Insurance Placement Facility of PA Lebanon Mutual Insurance Company Mercer Insurance Group Merchants Insurance Group Mercury Casualty Penn Millers Insurance Company Penn Prime Municipal Insurance PMSLIC Insurance Company Reamstown Mutual Insurance Company Rhoads & Sinon LLP Rockwood Casualty Insurance State Auto Mutual Insurance Company TAPCO Underwriters Inc The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company The Mutual Service Office Inc The Philadelphia Insurance Companies Tuscarora Wayne Mutual Insurance Company UPAC Insurance Finance Primary Agent March 2010


INDUSTRY NEWS

NFIP digest: the latest changes Spring to bring more change FEMA announced changes to the National Flood Insurance Program to bolster its viability. The program, $19.2 billion in debt, had not adjusted deductibles in nearly a decade. Furthermore, a recent erosion zone study shed light on rates that underestimated increasingly hazardous coastlines. The following changes affect policies written or renewed after Oct. 1, 2009. Deductibles The standard deductible of $500 was discontinued for all properties. New standard deductibles: Post-Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) properties â&#x20AC;&#x201D; $1,000 Pre-FIRM properties â&#x20AC;&#x201D; $2,000 Owners of pre-FIRM properties have the option to buy back the $1,000 deductible within 60 days of the renewal of their flood insurance policy. Otherwise, deductibles cannot be reduced midterm unless required by the mortgagee. Limits The basic insurance limits increased for all categories of buildings and contents: Q The basic limit for 1-4 Family Dwelling Coverage increased from $50,000 to $60,000. Additional insurance limits are $190,000 for a total limit of $250,000.

Q Other Residential Building Coverage basic limit increased from $150,000 to $175,000 with additional insurance limits of $75,000 for a total limit of $250,000.

X Zones (outside Special Flood Hazard Area) and Miscellaneous: X Zones increased 8 percent for a Standard Risk Policy; however, there was no premium increase for a Preferred Risk Policy.

Q Non-Residential Building Coverage increased from $150,000 to $175,000 for the basic limit. Additional insurance limits are $325,000 for a total of $500,000.

The Mortgage Portfolio Protection Program increased premiums by 10 percent.

Q Residential Contents Coverage basic limit increased from $20,000 to $25,000. Additional limits are $75,000 for a total insurance limit of $100,000. Q Non-Residential Contents Coverage basic limit increased from $130,000 to $150,000. Additional insurance limits are $350,000 for a total insurance limit of $500,000. The Emergency Program Building Coverage remained unchanged. Premiums The premium increases vary by zone. V Zones (high velocity): V Zone premiums increased 10 percent. A Zones (non-velocity; primarily riverine): A Zones increased by 8 to 10 percent.

[ 18 ]

Flood maps FEMA discontinued the distribution of paper maps and replaced them with Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Source: FEMA

Spring to bring more change FEMA announced that the following, additional changes to the National Flood Insurance Program will take effect May 1, 2010.

Q An increase to the Federal Policy Fee from $35 to $40

Q An increase to the Federal Policy Fee from $13 to $20 for Preferred Risk Policies

Q A decrease in building rates to comply with the statutory annual limitation on premium increases

Q An update to the Community Rating System listing Details were not available as this issue of Primary Agent went to print, but IA&B will update members via Agent Headlines as more is known.


PROVIDING

Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how we deliver distinction.

RESOURCES TO KEEP YOU AHEAD.

Providing solutions that go beyond your clients expectations is what makes your agency distinct. Count on IA&B to deliver resources, programs, products and services that support you and drive your agency to distinction. IA&B gives back your time and saves you the expense of finding other business solutions that help you serve your clients and run a small business. Your IA&B member benefits set your agency apart from the competition. Renew your IA&B membership and take advantage of all that helps you overcome agency challenges and pull ahead. If you already renewed your membership, thank you! For questions about membership dues, please contact the IA&B Member Service Center at (717)795-9100 / (800) 998-9644, option 0 or e-mail iab@iabgroup.com.

Driving members to distinction.


INDUSTRY NEWS

How climate change is changing insurance Climate change is a hot topic. Here, IA&B looks at how it has changed, and stands to change, the insurance industry.


Primary Agent | March 2010

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mericans’ environmentalism is as old as the country itself. Throughout U.S. history, a motley crew of activists (including Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson and Al Gore, to name a few) brought national attention to conservation. And so, as the decades passed, the issue crept in and out of the public’s consciousness. These days, of course, climate change is a hot topic in the United States and abroad. The White House and Congressional Democrats have listed limits on greenhouse gases as a legislative priority for 2010. And in December 2009, a failed United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen prompted thousands of simultaneous protests around the world.

Researchers make a case for ending debate No doubt there are non believers, those who chalk up artic blasts and cool summer breezes alike as evidence against climate change. But scientists look at long-term patterns and continue to bring proof of global warming — and humankind’s contribution — to the table. In January 2007, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dished out the latest: a report confirming that global warming is “unequivocal” and noting the already seen “likely” and “very likely” impacts, including decreased frosts, more intense droughts and decreased precipitation. The panel also noted evidence of more intense hurricanes since 1970 and projected the trend will continue.

The anticipated rise of sea levels by 2050 will increase the asset exposure of Baltimore, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Providence from $1.359 billion to $7.425 billion.

Following the report’s release, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the argument against global warming “over.”

Insurers brace to feel the heat The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects average temperatures to increase by three to seven degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels to rise between seven and 23 inches by 2100. So where does that leave the insurance industry? In murky waters, at best. A November 2009 report by Allianz and the World Wide Fund for Nature analyzed the impact of projected climate change on insurers. The research found that the anticipated rise of sea levels by 2050 will increase the asset exposure of Baltimore, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Providence from $1.359 billion to $7.425 billion. The report also noted that the expected shift to “very arid climatology” (likened to the 1930s Dust Bowl) in Southwest North America could increase wildfire risk, disrupt the labor market and deteriorate public finances.

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FEMA initiated a climate change study to look at the anticipated effects of warming waters and temperatures, such as higher seawater surges and more damaging riverbed flooding…. [The] findings, due in March 2010, could have drastic repercussions, such as repositioning the National Flood Insurance Program’s 100-year floodplains.


INDUSTRY NEWS

Another fall 2009 study, this one released by the Association of British Insurers, looked at the financial risks of climate change in Britain and China for the next 50 years. According to the report, U.K. river and flash floods could cause a 14 percent increase in average annual insured losses, and the flood and wind components of premiums in China could rise by nearly 50 percent. And then there are the tropical storms, typhoons and hurricanes that are projected to increase in number and intensity. Near and not-so-dear to the industry, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita demonstrated severe weather’s far-reaching effects on insurers and left them vigilant of the repercussions of climate change. An example of their caution was found in Munich Re’s December 2009 plea for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. The reinsurer noted the near tripling of weatherrelated natural disasters since 1950 while other geophysical events, like earthquakes, have seen no change in risk. Despite a lack of major hurricanes, severe weather-related events attributed to nearly half of the reinsurer’s global insured losses in 2009.

National Flood Insurance Program considers effects The National Flood Insurance Program has long taken flak from environmental groups. They criticize the FEMA-run

program for failing to protect endangered species and allowing development in floodplains, among other alleged indiscretions. But recently – perhaps in an effort to prevent the program from falling deeper in debt — environmentalists’ cry for the National Flood Insurance Program to account for global warming gained traction. FEMA initiated a climate change study to look at the anticipated effects of warming waters and temperatures, such as higher seawater surges and more damaging riverbed flooding. Floodplain experts anticipate that higher sea levels will push storm surges farther inland and that drier inland conditions will prevent flash-flood containment. FEMA researchers are relying on data from the International Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Their findings, due in March 2010, could have drastic repercussions, such as repositioning the National Flood Insurance Program’s 100-year floodplains – the floodplains that environmentalists claim are outdated and at fault for high-risk development and repetitive loss. According to a 1998 National Wildlife Federation study, between 1978 and 1995, the 2 percent of National Flood Insurance Program insureds with repetitive losses accounted for over $2.8 billion in claims — or 40 percent of payments.

[ 22 ]

Furthermore, the research showed that 20 percent of those with repeat losses during a 10-year period were in 100-year floodplains, meaning FEMA calculated their annual risk of flooding at 1 percent. Many fault these and similar issues for the program’s $19.2 billion debt. And it is that hefty number that has turned so much attention on the forthcoming report on climate change and the National Flood Insurance Program. The geologist overseeing the study calls it “one of the most important” FEMA research projects of this time.

Climate change stands to affect industry The industry’s stake in the environment is high. From insurers’ and reinsurers’ ability to cover losses, to developers’ ability to build in coastal and riverbed territories. From insureds’ ability to pay increased premiums, to the federal government’s ability to address greenhouse-gas emissions. The philosopher Heraclitus said, “Nothing is permanent but change.” Approximately 2,500 years later, his words continue to ring true. And in the very near future, global warming stands to bring significant change to myriad areas beyond the climate.


Thursday, April 22, 2010 Hilton Pittsburgh Doors Open 8:00 a.m.

Coverage extensions available are: Aggregate per project Blanket additional insured Waiver of Subrogation Primary Wording

    

CE Credits will be Available 80+ Exhibitors Grand Prizes Cocktail Reception And Much More!

Contact the Insurance Club of Pittsburgh for More Information or to Register Home Office Contacts: Nick Croce, ext. 130 nickc@iiigroup.com Fran Reh, ext. 135 fran@iiigroup.com 800-523-6422, 215-885-7300, 215-886-2482 Fax

www.iiigroup.com

Phone: (412) 489-5626 Email: icp@insclubpgh.com Web: www.insclubpgh.com

84th Annual

Residential, Commercial or Industrial Coverage Lines of Business include: General Liability, Inland Marine and Property

Insurance Industry of Champions

Pittsburgh I Day

INSURANCE INNOVATORS Contractors Program

YOU MUST REGISTER TO ATTEND!

Glance at Events M A R C H

C A L E N D A R

Date

Topic

Location

2

CISR—Personal Auto

State College, Pa.

3

Best Practices of E&O Loss Control

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

3-6

CIC—Commercial Casualty

Newark, Del.

4

CISR—Personal Auto

Reading, Pa.

8-11

CIC—Personal Lines

Erie, Pa.

9

CISR—Commercial Casualty

Scranton, Pa.

10

William T. Hold Seminar

Erie, Pa.

16

CISR—Personal Auto

Frederick, Md.

E&O Coverage Standards seminar

Philadelphia, Pa.

17

CISR—Commercial Property

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

17-19

James K. Ruble Graduate Seminar

Ellicott City, Md.

22

CISR—Personal Residential

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

CISR—Personal Residential

Philadelphia, Pa.

23

CISR—Personal Auto

Philadelphia, Pa.

24

Dynamics of Service

Baltimore, Md.

CISR—Agency Operations

Philadelphia, Pa.

CISR—Commercial Property

Pittsburgh, Pa.

25

CISR—Commercial Property

Philadelphia, Pa.

26

CISR—Commercial Casualty

Philadelphia, Pa.

30

Mistakes That Lead to E&O Claims seminar

Baltimore, Md.

31

CISR—Personal Auto

Lancaster, Pa.


Primary Agent | March 2010

Technology U P DATE

TEN TECHNOLOGY TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR AGENCY’S PRODUCTIVITY STEVE ANDERSON 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 steve@steveanderson.com. Steve prepared this article for ACT. For more information about ACT, contact Jeff Yates, ACT Executive Director at jeff.yates@iiaba.net. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.

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 10 ten cool tools in 2010 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 percent. And as you use the software to correct recognition mistakes, it learns from the mistakes, and recognition accuracy improves. The software works seamlessly with Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and Outlook. It is available at many retail stores and through www.nuance.com. 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

[ 24 ]

Outlook inbox is a good thing. Eyejot is a Web-based service that allows you to quickly and easily send Video e-mail (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 ) 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 Web site 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 ) Understand your e-mail A free plug-in module for Outlook called Xobni (pronounced “ZOB-nee” which is inbox spelled backwards) adds some social networking and data-mining 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 e-mails 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 Web site Are your clients able to communicate with you any way they want — [ 25 ]

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 Web site. 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. The price depends on how many users you add. One user costs $99 annually, three users is $198 annually, and 10 operators is $396 annually. The software provides a transcript of each conversation after the call 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


TECHNOLOGY UPDATE

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); and 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 Web site passwords Managing multiple Web site 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 Web site, 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 Web site name in the passcard list. The program automatically navigates to the Web site’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.

[ 26 ]

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 (steve@steveanderson.com) 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. 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 10 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. 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 [ 27 ]

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 e-mailed newsletter, “TechTips,” by

visiting www.steveanderson.com/act. Tech Tips is a quick read and highlights one new “thing” that will help your organization increase its productivity and effectiveness.


Classified ADVERTISEMENTS AGENCY MANAGER Manage and grow mid-size agency, primarily personal lines, located in Southeast PA. Equity position with eventual purchase opportunity. Send resume in confidence to: Editor #202, PO Box 2023 Mechanicsburg, PA 17055.

Alien encounter SOUTHEAST PA PRODUCERS & AGENCIES Professional agency since 1926 located in Feasterville, Bucks County, Pa. Call for confidential information and a review of our services. Contact Ray Reinard at (215) 375-8600, Ext. 119. If you would like to place a Classified Advertisement, simply fax your ad on company letterhead to (717) 795-8347, and we will take care of the rest.

Ad Index Cumberland Insurance Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Donegal Insurance Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IFC Harford Mutual Ins Co . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 IA&B Partners Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 IA&B Series Ads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5, IBC Insurance Club of Pittsburgh . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Insurance Innvoators Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Interstate Insurance Mngmnt. . . . . . . . . . . . .OBC Knightbrook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 LIG Insurance Co Ltd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Penn National Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Preferred Property Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 TAPCO Underwriters Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Tri-State General Ins Ag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 [ 28 ]

Because not every alien is as harmless as E.T., a London-based brokerage offers alien-abduction policies. And over 20,000 people have signed on the dotted line, paying about $150 a year for $1.5 million in coverage. Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson (GRIP), which is managed by former Lloyd’s of London underwriter Simon Burgess, also offers separate coverage against being eaten by an alien. After all, not every abduction ends in disaster. Just ask the Londoner who actually prompted GRIP to pay an alienabduction claim. The Sunday Times reported that the insured said he was looking for UFOs when aliens took him aboard their ship. He said the abduction lasted approximately 40 minutes. Burgess later told The Times that the abductee was a business partner but continued to proclaim the story’s truth. Source: Kiplinger’s ----------------------------------------------------------------------The Last & Least column is dedicated to the industry’s oddities — from creative claims and kooky coverages, to (tasteful) jokes and strange stories. Submit yours to iab@iabgroup.com, subject line: Last & Least. The editor will happily protect sources’ anonymity upon request.


Ripe For the Picking Let Interstate help you reap the abundance of summer opportunities. Your clients with outdoor businesses need extra protection for the unique risks that the summer season brings. Interstate can cover: • Amusement Parks, Batting Cages, Kiddie Rides, Go-Karts & Bumper Boats • Festivals, Special Events, Parades and Carnivals • Hole-in-One and Fishing Contests and Bowling Tournaments • Sports Camps and Instructors • Horse Clubs, Boarding, Shows and Races • Pet Groomers, Kennels and Trainers • Outdoor Guides and Outfitters Interstate also offers coverages for a variety of other seasonal and non-seasonal businesses with special coverage needs including: • Flea Markets and Vendors • Driving Ranges • Beauty and Barber Shops • Health and Fitness Clubs • Bars, Taverns and Restaurants • Lawn Care and Landscaping Contractors • Janitorial and Window Cleaning Services • Power Washers • Garbage and Refuse Haulers

Call Interstate for the best coverages for all your hard-to-place risks.

In Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia & Virginia 2307 Menoher Boulevard • Johnstown, PA 15905 814-255-7878 • 1-800-452-0297 • Fax: 814-255-6010 In Ohio, Indiana & Kentucky 663 Park Meadow Road • Suite E • Westerville, OH 43081 614-794-0800 • 1-800-701-5587 • Fax: 614-794-0840 interstate-insurance.com


Primary Agent - March 2010 - MD Edition