Page 1

MARYLAND

INTHISISSUE: ____________ Earthquake insurance shakes up sales How one coastal agency weathered Hurricane Irene IA&B offers business continuity tool


I’m celebrating our 100th year by planning for our next 100 years. Jason Bogart, CPCU, ARM, Vice President of Branch Operations Our future will be marked by the relationships we forge with you—the independent insurance agents who represent us. You’re the reason we’ll continue to investigate new market opportunities. Why we’ll develop competitive products. Why we’ll maximize the use of new technologies. Why we’ll emphasize ongoing professional development for our staff. By helping you profitably and efficiently grow your agency, EMC Insurance Companies will continue to serve you and your customers today and well into the future.

Valley Forge Service Branch: 800.333.3622 | Home Office: Des Moines, IA

www.emcins.com © Copyright Employers Mutual Casualty Company 2011 All rights reserved


12

Contents PRIMARY AGENT MAGAZINE

Shaking up sales with earthquake insurance

18

It was Aug. 23, 2011 when many of us on the East Coast, for the first time, felt the earth move under our feet. But more than the physical, this earthquake impacted the psychological.

Page 12 How one coastal agency weathered Hurricane Irene When disasters strike, clients look to their insurance agency for assistance and reassurance … which makes an agency’s own disaster preparation paramount. This article chronicles an independent agency’s experience with — and lessons learned from — Hurricane Irene.

Page 18

22

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst Members should think about the unthinkable — and prepare with IA&B’s Emergency and Business Continuity Planning Manual.

Page 22 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.

Get social with IA&B

In every issue 2 3 4 6 8 10

Chair of the Board’s Message Member FAQ State News Preventing E&O Coverage Corner Tools You Can Use

11 17 26 28 28 28

Glance at Events IA&B Partners 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 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 # 2012-2) is published monthly by IA&B Service Group Inc., a subsidiary of IA&B.

Copyright 2012. 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

Robert B. Hall, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, ARM, ARM-P

Officers Robert B. Hall, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, ARM, ARM-P Chair of the Board West Chester, Pa. Norman F. Basso, CPCU Vice Chair of the Board York, Pa.

Chair of the Board’s M

E

S

S

A

G

David Rosenkilde, CIC Immediate Past Chair of the Board Reisterstown, Md.

A recipe for disaster preparation

Members Joyce M. Bailey, CIC, CRM, CPIW Newark, Del. Henry “Butch” Bradley, Jr. Forest Hill, Md.

What may (finally!) turn the market hard may first test the strength of independent agencies: natural disasters. 2011 broke records across the board — and across the globe — for Mother Nature’s wrath. Don’t believe me? Then turn to page 8 and peruse the “highlights” of the past year in Mr. Milton’s column.

Timothy P. Burris Mifflintown, Pa. N. Lee Dotson, CIC, AAI Wilmington, Del.

Record-breaking wildfires? Check.

John L. Frankenfield Telford, Pa.

Costliest tornado in U.S. history? Check.

G. Greg Gunn, CIC Lemoyne, Pa.

Historic flooding along the Mississippi River? Check.

John B. Hollister Milford, Pa. Diana M. Hornung Hanby, ACSR Wilmington, Del. Jocelyn R. Howard-Sinopoli, CIC, CISR Butler, Pa.

And certainly our home states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware didn’t come through unscathed. We survived an earthquake, hurricane, tropical storm and “freak” Halloween snowstorm, to name just a few.

+

Robert S. Klinger, LUTCF, CPIA Germantown, Md. Douglas A. Loesel, CPCU Erie, Pa. Michael F. McGroarty Sr. Pittsburgh, Pa. Ann Gallen Moll, CIC Reading, Pa. April E. Ressler, CIC Altoona, Pa. Scott C. Rogers, CPIA* York, Pa. David B. Wasson Sr., CIC State College, Pa.

Lawrence A. Wilson, CIC, CPIA, CPCU, ARM** New Castle, Del.

So here we are, already teetering on the cusp of springtime and the severe storms, snowmelts and flooding it typically brings. I encourage you to seize the calm before the storm and utilize IA&B’s Emergency and Business Continuity Planning Manual. It’s free to members. And it, alone, is worth the cost of membership. After all, what value do you offer customers if your agency flounders when they need you the most? My best to you — no matter what tomorrow brings. Bob Editor’s note: Learn more about the emergency planning manual at www.iabgroup.com/epm.

* Pa. IIABA National Director ** Del. IIABA National Director + Md. PIA National Director

[2]

E


Member FAQ QUESTION:

One of our insureds is wondering if he would be covered if his neighbor’s above-ground pool leaked and flooded his property. My homeowners’ (HO) carriers state that the loss would be excluded under “runoff of water” and the neighbor’s policy would not respond under liability unless negligence was shown. The NFIP advised me that unless two or more properties are affected, a flood policy also would not respond. Any thoughts?

ANSWER: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy The issue of “two or more properties” has been discussed on numerous occasions, and the answer has been that in this case, property refers to land, meaning the flood water from any source has spread over two parcels of land (properties). Consequently, it does not require that two buildings be affected, but only that the water involve two separate parcels of land. With that interpretation, the damage by water from the neighbor’s pool would most likely affect the pool owner’s and the neighbor’s property (land) and therefore be considered a general condition of flooding, even if only one building was actually affected. Let’s refer back to the language: Under the National Flood Insurance Program, the definition of flood is: “(1) a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of (a) two or more acres of normally dry land area, or (b) two or more properties (one of which is your (the policyholder’s parcel of land that is the location of the insured building and/or contents) property) from: i) overflow of inland or tidal waters; ii) unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or iii) mudflow.”

If your insured has a flood policy, coverage would likely be triggered by the accumulation or runoff of water on both properties. The Homeowners’ policy You are correct: To trigger the neighbor’s HO policy, negligence must be proven. If your insured does not have a flood policy, he will have to prove negligence to be indemnified by the pool owner’s HO policy. IA&B’s flood expert, M. Rita Hollada, who contributed the answer to this FAQ, commented that she has seen this type of claim on three occasions, and only once was the flooded neighbor able to find relief from the pool owner’s HO Section II – Liability.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? Email 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!


State News Primary Agent | February 2012

Court case on lead paint rules landlord immunity unconstitutional

policyholder were to cancel early in the loan term, this practice would allow premium finance companies to collect more interest than permitted (1.15 percent) for a 30-day period. The court decision affirmed the 2008 Maryland Insurance Administration ruling.

Landlords whose liability was limited to $17,000 under the Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act are no longer immune from claims above that amount from tenants suffering injury due to lead ingestion. On Oct. 24, 2011, the Court of Appeals of Maryland ruled in Jackson v. Dackman Co., et al. that the limit provided by law for landlords who had complied with specific requirements was unconstitutional and no longer applicable.

Small businesses targets for cyber crime, prospects for specialty coverage

Market response is still unknown. A number of landlords were self-insured up to the $17,000. Other properties likely had found coverage under traditional policies. Members are encouraged to contact their carriers and inquire if the company intends to provide coverage and up to what limit. Access the decision: http://www.courts.state.md.us/opinions/ coa/2011/131a08.pdf

MAIF policyholders escape "front-loaded" interest Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF) policyholders remain protected from excessive financing charges. The Maryland Court of Appeals held that "front loading" interest by Maryland's premium finance companies is illegal. If a [4]

Off-the-shelf anti-virus and data-encryption software are far from foolproof, and computer hackers know it. Citing a Verizon study of cyber attacks, The Washington Post recently reported that cyber criminals are increasingly looking for softer targets like small- and medium-sized businesses that may be less protected. The data risk management experts cited in the Post's report recommend that smallbusiness owners consider cyber liability coverage in addition to beefed-up security. Members can better understand the risks and related coverages of this rapidly developing market by attending IA&B's upcoming seminar, Cyber Liability Exposures and Solutions. Learn more or register: www.iabgroup.com/cyberliability


2011 rains raised confusion over sinkhole coverage

Disaster preparation tips for clients

A lesson learned from fall 2011? The Average Joe doesn’t know jack about insurance.

Show your value as an independent agent by helping customers prepare for and prevent disasters. IA&B’s partnership with Foresight Publishing provides members with discounted access to professionally written consumer-safety articles that can be shared via print and electronic newsletters.

Maryland suffered the wettest two-month period on record, thanks to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and that opened up the floodgates for related chaos, including sinkholes forming in the saturated ground. One, on Patuxent River Road in Davidsonville, actually swallowed a few cars. Of course sinkholes left those without specific sinkhole coverage high and dry. And, as commonly occurs with uncommon perils, affected homeowners assumed that their standard homeowners' policies would cover the damage. Producers can avoid the E&O nightmares that these scenarios often cause by offering riders and using checklists, such as those included in the Virtual Risk Consultant — Powered by Rough Notes. The Web-based sales and risk-management tool, available at a discount to IA&B members, includes: ◗ risk-exposure analyses ◗ reference and proposal materials to ensure staff understand the products they sell ◗ marketing and prospecting tools for client retention and new business

Learn more: www.iabgroup.com/enews

New on-demand seminar tackles most violated insurance rules Remaining compliant with Maryland insurance laws and regulations just got easier for IA&B members with the launch of a new on-demand seminar, Compliance Pitfalls and Ethical Responsibilities. This course highlights the eight most frequent violations in Maryland, and shows agencies how to remain compliant. IA&B General Counsel Jason Ernest, Esq. and Industry Affairs Director Claire Pantaloni, CIC, CISR lead this comprehensive seminar. Learn more and register at iabgroup.com/on-demand.

Learn more about Producer Online: www.iabgroup.com/md/discount/ rough_notes

[5]

In memoriam Mike Mayers, former owner of Mayers Insurance Agency in Portage, Pa., passed away Dec. 31. Chairman of the PIA of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware from 1993-1994, Mike will be remembered for his contributions to the association — and to the industry.


Preventing Primary Agent | February 2012

ERRORS AND OMISSIONS

CONSIDERATIONS FOR AGENCY SOCIAL MEDIA USE best to start with a cautious, conservative approach. Jumping in with both feet might sound exciting but may not be as effective as you hope. Proper thought and planning also could help you to avoid potential legal issues.

CURTIS M. PEARSALL CPCU, AIAF, CPIA Curtis M. Pearsall, CPCU, AIAF, CPIA, president of Pearsall Associates Inc. and special consultant to the Utica National Errors & Omissions Program, supplied this article.

While social media has become a way of life on a personal level, businesses are now turning to this approach to get their message out and to tell their story. In many respects, it is redefining how businesses can market themselves. Whether your agency currently is using social media or is toying with the idea, there are some things to consider:

in social media and many different approaches to take. If you are considering social media for a significant part of your marketing strategy, first secure useful resources from the Web or your favorite book store. Look for resources that go into the details and benefits of each of the possible approaches. A solid first step is to write down what you hope to gain from using social media and what you are trying to accomplish. It is probably

Define your social media goals There is tremendous power

[6]

As you strategize, include thoughts and plans on your use of the social Web. Your presence should not be static, looking today like it did 6 months ago. While it should demonstrate your agency’s personality, you also want to provide content that is valuable to your different target audiences. Education is often one of the main goals businesses strive for when using social media. Let the guide be your guide Develop a social media guide to ensure you have the proper procedures/controls in place. This guide should include all media your staff may use (email, face-to-face, online forums, chat rooms, blogs, etc.) and should be


developed with input from human resources, marketing and other departments. Employees should be advised of what they can and cannot do – on behalf of the agency and on their own time. Make certain that they can’t – and don’t – reveal secrets or speak ill of the competition. Plus, make sure they realize they cannot post private consumer information. Strongly communicate this to all employees and monitor it to the greatest degree possible. Education – a great objective Social media provides a truly powerful means of delivering compelling content and providing ideas and advice on a wide variety of topics. This will strongly brand your agency as a reliable resource in that industry. This approach can drive clients and prospects to some type of action: buying, subscribing, applying, etc. This educational information needs to be constructed carefully and proofed for content, accuracy, professionalism and legality. Identify a focal person in your agency and require that all content be run by him or her for approval. This will help ensure that incorrect advice or incorrect statements are not inadvertently published. Avoid posting inappropriate or defamatory comments involving specific people or specific organizations, as these could be exceptionally damaging to your agency’s reputation. It is important to understand that like email, correspondence via social media exists forever.

Advise your customers of social media’s role in the agency Notify potential customers upfront in your dialogue with them about the do’s and don’ts of using social media to communicate with the agency. Among the items to address: ◗ Customers should not make any policy-change requests or provide key information via social media. Oftentimes, this information is very sensitive and extremely private. Data breach and privacy laws need to be adhered to. ◗ Customers should be advised that they cannot bind, modify or delete coverage via social media and must speak with an authorized agency representative to do so. Posting articles from others on your site If you post or share articles on the Internet, make sure the material is from reputable sources. Whether you are viewed as an information provider or a content provider could determine any potential liability. Determine when to bring the conversation to the office You will have some potential customers that want to do business with you because of your education and expertise. Develop a procedure in your agency that identifies the point where the interaction between the prospect and the agency should be moved in-house and become part of the normal agency process. Issues with the various social media approaches ◗ Blog – Many organizations blog to market themselves and communicate their knowledge.

[7]

Blogging can be a great way to reach your target audience … but proceed cautiously to start. Strongly consider it if you have something to say and are good at saying it. There also are numerous forums available if you are looking for a more interactive approach. Again, proceed cautiously. Advise your employees not to blog about something disclosed to them. Plus, while stretching the truth may make for good content, don’t even consider it. Once again, comments made on the blog need to be accurate and proofread before they are posted. ◗ Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn – Which one(s) works for you? Understand who the audience is and how they use the social medium. Furthermore, does it meet with your organizational goals? With most of them, the key is to make valuable information available. There is tremendous power to social media. This can be of great benefit to your agency and to your customers. But improper use can make it your biggest headache. Yet through a well thought out strategy and guide, it will be the tool that results in solid growth and a professional reputation for your agency.


Coverage Primary Agent | February 2012

CORNER

2011: A YEAR OF DISASTERS FOR INSURERS

JERRY M. MILTON, CIC Jerry M. Milton, CIC 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.

Delaware. Five of the six declarations were for the damages caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The sixth declaration was for the flooding that occurred in the Pennsylvania counties of Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Tioga and Wyoming in April 2011.

2011 will go down as a record-breaking year for disasters – both in the United States and worldwide. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued 99 major disaster declarations in 2011 for losses incurred due to tornadoes, floods, tropical storms and Hurricane Irene. The 99 declarations are nearly triple the average of 34 per year dating back to 1953. A major disaster declaration makes federal funding available to individuals and businesses in the affected area.

In January the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 12 separate weather/climate disasters occurred in the United States in 2011, each of which caused at least $1 billion in damages amounting to a total of $52 billion in both insured and uninsured losses.

In addition, FEMA issued another 29 emergency declarations for these natural disasters as well as 114 fire management assistance declarations for the forest fires that occurred throughout the country, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma.

Some of these natural disasters were:

Six of the FEMA major disaster declarations affected Pennsylvania, Maryland and

[8]

Alabama and Virginia in late April, causing 321 fatalities (240 in Alabama) ◗ 199 tornadoes that struck the Southeast on April 27, a record for a single day ◗ Texas wildfires that burned a recordbreaking 1 million acres in Texas ◗ 19 tropical storms that formed in the Atlantic, the third busiest season on record ◗ The costliest tornado in U.S. history that struck Joplin, Mo. on May 22, killing 158 and causing $3 billion in damages

◗ An unseasonably early (Oct. 29-31) nor’easter that caused 3 million residents to lose power

◗ Triple the normal precipitation plus melting snow in the Ohio Valley that caused historic flooding along the Mississippi River

◗ 343 tornadoes that struck between

◗ Hurricane Irene that made landfall in North


Carolina and moved up the MidAtlantic Coast, causing 45 fatalities and more than $7 billion in damages According to an estimate by the Insurance Information Institute (III), direct insured losses could exceed $35 billion for the damages caused by the natural disasters of 2011. Obviously these disasters have had an impact on our insurance companies’ bottom lines.

United States have begun to rise for the first time since 2003.

pricing will be the only way for them to support their bottom line.

The stage is set for further increases in pricing as low investment yields, increased property reinsurance costs and stabilizing capital positions will make it difficult for the insurers to continue pricing their business below cost. It appears that firming up their

Will the market stay “soft,” or are we looking at the beginning of a “hard” market? Only time will tell. Y’all take care!

Data from the III shows that the U.S. property and casualty insurance industry recorded $10.4 billion in underwriting losses in 2010. Available data shows that for the first nine months of 2011 underwriting losses were $34.9 billion, more than five times the losses incurred during the same time period in 2010. Moreover, for the first nine months of 2011, the combined ratio – a key measure of losses and other underwriting expenses per dollar of premium – deteriorated to 109.9 percent from 101.2 percent for the same period in 2010.

If you thought our Five-Minute Phone Call was fast,

try our NEW

The losses experienced in 2011 have left many insurers with lower capital levels. Policyholders’ surplus totaled $538.6 billion as of Sept. 30, 2011, down 4 percent from $564.7 billion as of March 31, 2011. This creates an environment that possibly could affect rate increases. Recent data from the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers shows that commercial property and casualty pricing increased 1 percent on average in the third quarter of 2011, versus flat prices in the second quarter of 2011 and a 3 percent reduction in the first quarter of 2011. The Risk Management Society reported that prices for most lines of commercial insurance in the

Online Rater! œÜ]Ê̅iÀi½Ãʜ˜iʓœÀiÊÀi>ܘÊ/* "ʈÃÊThe Logical ChoiceÊvœÀÊfast, easy and accurateÊ E-Ê«œˆVÞʈÃÃÕ>˜Vi°Ê"ÕÀÊ 7Ê"˜ˆ˜iÊ,>ÌiÀʈÃÊ i>ÃÞÊ̜ÊÕÃiÊ>˜`ÊVœ˜Ûi˜ˆi˜Ì]Ê>œÜˆ˜}ÊޜÕÊ̜Êquote and request binders for your insured’s instantly, >˜Þ̈“i]Ê>˜Þ܅iÀiÊ܈̅Ê>Êȓ«iÊ VˆVŽÊœvÊޜÕÀʓœÕÃi° UÊ +՜ÌiÃÊ>˜`ÊLˆ˜`iÀÊÀiµÕiÃÌÃÊ>Û>ˆ>LiÊ Ê œ˜ˆ˜iÊÓ{ÉÇÊ UÊ >ÃÞÊ̜ÊÕÃipœ˜Þʜ˜iÊÃVÀii˜Ê UÊ ,iViˆÛiʵ՜ÌiÃʈ˜ÃÌ>˜ÌÞÊvœÀ\ Ê Ê ‡Ê6>V>˜ÌÊ ‡Ê Ո`iÀ½ÃÊ,ˆÃŽÊ UÊ Ê Ê Ê

BONUS:Ê >À˜Ê>˜Ê>``ˆÌˆœ˜>Ê$5 credit on ޜÕÀÊ/* "Ê <Ê ÕVŽÃÊ6ˆÃ>Ê`iLˆÌÊV>À`ÊvœÀÊ >Ê̜Ì>ÊœvÊf£xÊ«iÀÊ«œˆVÞÊÕ«œ˜ÊÀiViˆ«ÌʜvÊ >««ˆV>̈œ˜Ê>˜`Ê«Ài“ˆÕ“Ê«>ޓi˜Ì

Try it today! Visit gotapco.com and sign in to the broker web services gateway to get started.

[9]

nää‡ÎÎ{‡xxǙ www.gotapco.com


Tools

YOU CAN USE

FREE HOME INVENTORY APP nsurance agents and carriers long have sung the praises of home inventories. But nearly half of consumers don’t inventory their possessions.

I

Find the free app in the iTunes App Store and Android Market.

Welcome to 2012, where there’s an iPhone — and Android — app for that: myHOME Scr.APP.bk, developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Give it a try and consider sharing it with your clients. Truly, it’s never been easier to create an inventory.

Select a room, then take photos of items and scan bar codes. Type in purchase dates and prices to correspond with items.

Email or create an iBook backup.

Learn more at www.InsureUonline.org.

Still living smart phone free? The NAIC also offers a home inventory checklist as a PDF — for “old school” downloading and printing.

[ 10 ]


Glance at Events FEBRUARY CALENDAR Date

Topic

Location

FEBRUARY 2012 1

CISR—William T. Hold Seminar

Salisbury, Md.

2

Understanding Cyber Liability Exposures and Solutions Seminar

Pittsburgh, Pa.

7

CISR—Personal Auto Course

Philadelphia, Pa.

7-9

P&C Licensing Study Course

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

14

CISR—William T. Hold Seminar

Allentown, Pa.

CISR—Personal Auto Course

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

CISR—William T. Hold Seminar

York, Pa.

CISR—Personal Auto Course

Reading, Pa.

16

CISR—Personal Auto Course

Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

20-23

CIC—Personal Lines Institute

Harrisburg, Pa.

21-23

L&H Licensing Study Course

Philadelphia, Pa.

21

Understanding Cyber Liability Exposures and Solutions Seminar

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

21

CISR—Personal Auto Course

Allentown, Pa.

22

Understanding Cyber Liability Exposures and Solutions Seminar

Allentown, Pa.

CISR—Personal Auto Course

York, Pa.

28

CISR—Personal Auto Course

Frederick, Md.

29

CISR—Personal Auto Course

Wilmington, Del.

CISR—William T. Hold Seminar

Pittsburgh, Pa.

15

I

February is perfect for some TLC—Truly Local Courses IA&B’s On-Demand CE options give you a quality learning experience without leaving your office, home, or wherever you can cozy up to a Web connection. It will be love at first login when you register for any of these courses: ◗ Understanding NFIP with Rita Hollada, CIC, CPCU, CPIA, AAI, CPIW ◗ Ethical Behavior and E&O with Jerry Milton, CIC ◗ Compliance Pitfalls and Ethical Responsibilities with Jason Ernest, Esq. and Claire Pantaloni, CIC, CISR—Md.-specific (Pa. edition coming soon) Start your on-demand relationship at iabgroup.com/on-demand.

[ 11 ]


COVERAGES

Shaking up sales with earthquake insurance

It was Aug. 23, 2011 when many of us on the East Coast, for the first time, felt the earth move under our feet. But more than the physical, this earthquake impacted the psychological.


Primary Agent | February 2012

T

he 5.8 magnitude earthquake branched out from its rural Virginia epicenter and shook the ground as far away as Georgia, Illinois and even Quebec. Damage was minimal, particularly compared to recent disasters in Japan and Haiti, but widespread — even affecting buildings in New York City.

But more than the physical, this earthquake impacted the psychological. Mid-Atlantic residents who often considered themselves immune from the West Coast concerns of fault lines and aftershocks suddenly had a brush with a natural disaster that, literally, could turn their world upside down. ____________________________________________________________

Mid-Atlantic residents who often considered themselves immune from the West Coast concerns of fault lines and aftershocks suddenly had a brush with a natural disaster that, literally, could turn their world upside down. ____________________________________________________________

Crash course in earthquake insurance Even in California, where the U.S. risk remains the highest, only about 12 percent of residents hold earthquake insurance. Along the East Coast, of course, policyholders are significantly less common, with many making the incorrect assumption that coverage is included in their standard homeowners’, renters’ or business owners’ policies. There’s no time like the present — especially with the fall 2011 East Coast earthquake top of mind — to remind clients that an endorsement or separate policy is necessary to insure coverage. And perhaps most importantly, offering coverage can prevent future errors and omissions claims from uneducated clients.

Understanding policies Earthquake endorsement and policy premiums vary by the building’s construction type, as various materials (brick versus wood, for example) react differently to earth

TIP!

Include a quote when offering earthquake coverage to increase your sales odds and your E&O protection. Continued on page 15

[ 13 ]

Sinkholes raise concerns Ground movement beyond ‘quakes An emerging concern among the public, regulators and, apparently, legislators is sinkholes. Which translates into an emerging market for producers. Thanks in part to last year’s record rainfall, a rash of sinkholes formed across the Mid-Atlantic Region – swallowing cars, collapsing homes and raising the public’s consciousness. And, as commonly occurs with uncommon perils, many affected insurance policyholders incorrectly assumed that their standard homeowners’ and business owners’ policies would cover the damage. Word of coverage confusion spread. In December 2011 U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) even penned an open letter (which received extensive media coverage, of course) to Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine, imploring the Insurance Department to educate consumers on the risk and the necessity of securing coverage outside of a standard homeowners’ or business owners’ policy. Look for more on this topic in the coming months — from clients, state regulators and IA&B.


COVERAGES

TIP!

Share this fact, fresh from a University of Miami study: Hurricanes can help to trigger earthquakes.

Disaster Central 2011 was a catastrophe â&#x20AC;Ś natural-disaster wise. In response, IA&B combined its related member resources in one online repository: Disaster Central. From one Web page, members can access a proprietary emergency planning guide, client communication tips, FEMA links and peril-specific resources. Disaster Central in action During the months following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, IA&B members visited Disaster Central for NFIP claim-handling instructions, the latest FEMA disaster declarations and Insurance Department notices, among other vital documents. Resources to assist members during future catastrophes will be added as needed. Access to Disaster Central is an exclusive, complimentary a member benefit. View the resources online: www.iabgroup.com/disaster.

[ 14 ]


Primary Agent | February 2012

Continued from page 13 movement. Deductibles are percentages, rather than a set dollar amount, and typically range from 5 to 40 percent for commercial risks and 2 to 20 percent for residential.

Assessing risk The U.S. Geological Survey provides state-specific seismic hazard maps, most recently updated in 2008. A visual can help clients determine their risk tolerance … and serve as documentation in the event of a lawsuit against the agency.

Regional historic ‘quakes Take a stroll down memory lane: Where were you (or your clients) when the ground shook? DATE April 23, 1984 Jan. 16, 1994 Sept. 25, 1998

EPICENTER Lancaster, Pa. Reading, Pa. 15 miles SW of Meadville, Pa.

Access seismic hazard maps online: www.iabgroup.com/de/earthquake www.iabgroup.com/md/earthquake www.iabgroup.com/pa/earthquake

Offering coverage Education is crucial to sales — and errors and omissions protection. Client conversations should include: ◗ Explanation of covered perils under standard homeowners’, renters’ or business owners’ policies ◗ Quote for an endorsement or separate policy for earthquake and aftershock coverage ◗ Reminder that once an earthquake hits, a 168-hour moratorium begins during which coverage cannot be bound Along with a quote, it never hurts to leave behind a brochure or flyer explaining earthquake exposures.

From the friendly voices of our customer service staff to the personal visits by our territory managers and underwriters to the promptness of our claims adjusters, we are told time and again …

Our people set us apart. That’s why our agents trust our experience, strength and service. Visit our website to find out about becoming an agent with us. Business t Surety t Auto t Home

www.PennNationalInsurance.com [ 15 ]

MAGNITUDE 4.4 4.6 5.2


Platinum Profile Insurance Agents & Brokers proudly recognizes Harleysville Insurance as one of its Platinum Partners. IA&B Platinum Partners dedicate the highest level of sponsorship to our organization. FEATURED PARTNER Harleysville Insurance CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Michael L. Browne President and CEO COMPANY LOCATIONS Home office in Harleysville, Pa., with four regional and 16 branch offices A.M. BEST RATING A (Excellent) Stable outlook WEBSITE www.harleysvillegroup.com

H

arleysville Insurance is a leading regional provider of insurance products and services for small and mid-sized businesses, as well as for individuals — ranking among the top 60 U.S. property/ casualty insurance groups with $1.1 billion in annual net written premiums. Harleysville also is ranked nationally as one of the 20 largest commercial multi-peril insurers and as one of the top 10 “Write Your Own” flood insurance carriers. Commercial lines generate 75 percent of the company’s property and casualty risk portfolio, while personal lines sales account for the remaining 25 percent. In addition, Harleysville’s agents have the unique capability of rounding out customer accounts through a full line of life and flood insurance products. At the heart of Harleysville’s success are the lasting partnerships the company has developed with its more

than 1,300 independent agencies. Harleysville distributes its products exclusively through independent insurance agencies and reflects that commitment to its agency force by being a Trusted Choice® company partner. To perpetuate its longstanding agency relationships, Harleysville provides decision-makers close to the point of sale — field underwriters dedicated to specific business segments and customer service representatives licensed to assist agents with their account management responsibilities. Having “Good people to know” at all levels of the organization serves to define Harleysville in the marketplace by delivering on its brand promise every day — making it easy for agents and policyholders to do business with the company through advanced technology and customer-friendly services.

“Our independent insurance agents are trusted advisors who offer their customers freedom of choice through the companies they represent. As a Platinum-level supporter of the IA&B Partners Program, Harleysville is investing in the futures of both our company and our sole distribution outlet — the independent agency system.” —Michael L. Browne, President and CEO

BUSINESS | HUMAN SERVICES | INLAND MARINE | PERSONAL | LIFE/EMPLOYEE BENEFITS | FLOOD


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?

PLATINUM LEVEL

BRONZE LEVEL

ACUITY Berkley Mid-Atlantic Group Donegal Insurance Group Erie Insurance Group Harleysville Insurance Highmark Casualty Insurance Co Insurance Agents & Brokers Service Group Inc

Aegis Security Insurance Co

MMG Insurance Company Millers Mutual Group Millville Mutual Insurance Co Mutual Benefit Group Ohio Casualty Penn National Insurance Selective Swiss Re The Main Street America Group Utica National Insurance Group

Encompass Insurance

GOLD LEVEL

choose the sponsorship

Progressive

package that matches your

Contact the Member Sales Center at 800-998-9644, 717-795-9100 or visit us online at www.iabgroup.com to get started.

AmWINS Program Underwriters Inc Auto-Owners Insurance Company Briar Creek Mutual Insurance Company Builders Insurance Group Chubb Group of Insurance Companies Countryway Insurance Company First General Services Foremost Insurance Group Goodville Mutual Casualty Company Guard Insurance Group Harford Mutual Insurance Co Hanover Fire & Casualty Insurance Company Insurance Alliance of Central PA Inc Insurance Placement Facility of PA Keystone Insurers Group Inc Lebanon Valley Insurance Company

To become an IA&B Partner,

commitment of support.

Agency Insurance Company

Mercer Insurance Group Merchants Insurance Group Mercury Casualty

SILVER LEVEL

Penn PRIME Municipal Insurance

Access Insurance Company Allied Insurance American Mining Insurance Co Cumberland Insurance Group Frederick Mutual Insurance Co Juniata Mutual Insurance Co PSBA Insurance Trust The Philadelphia Contributionship Westfield Insurance

Rockwood Casualty Insurance

Reamstown Mutual Insurance Company State Auto Mutual Insurance Company TAPCO Underwriters Inc The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company The Motorists Insurance Group The Mutual Service Office Inc Travelers Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company Zenith Insurance Primary Agent February 2012


AGENCY MANAGEMENT

Weathering the storm One Jersey agency’s experience in the wake of Hurricane Irene

When disasters strike, clients look to their insurance agency for assistance and reassurance … which makes an agency’s own disaster preparation paramount. The following pages chronicle an independent agency’s experience with – and lessons learned from – Hurricane Irene.


Primary Agent | February 2012

At some point in either our personal lives or business lives we have had to ride out a storm. Countless articles have documented how an individual, family, business, government entity, city or town has had to step up and handle a crisis. Luckily, assistance is available to help you in weathering your storm, whether it be a minister, counselor, accountant, attorney, Red Cross, FEMA or, in the case of a specific weather-related storm, your insurance agent. Most people would not necessarily place an insurance agent in this category until they experience the aftermath of a tornado, earthquake, hailstorm, lightning storm, flood or hurricane. Unfortunately for all of us and for the loss ratios of most insurance companies, these type of events occurred all too often in 2011. The storm many of us along the East Coast and in New Jersey had to weather was Hurricane Irene, which decided to pay us a visit on the weekend before Labor Day in the height of the summer season. The actual time frame Irene took to “check into” the Jersey Shore was Aug. 27 and 28. I thought I would share with you the chain of events that occurred before, during and after these dates within our agency — Van Dyk Group — and the challenges we faced as a multi-faceted insurance and real estate agency.

Having a disaster plan in place to help your insurance customers when they need you most is critical…. This is the main message we put out

TIP!

Take heed of the author’s advice and prepare your agency with IA&B’s Emergency and Business Continuity Planning Manual. Learn how on page 22.

to all of our fellow agents: Without these plans in place, we could not have assisted so many people.

The probability that Irene was going to directly affect the Jersey Shore and Long Beach Island (a barrier island), where one of our offices is located, became reality on Tuesday, Aug. 23 and Wednesday, Aug. 24. Our real estate division handles several thousand renters in a summer season, and we insure most of the properties they occupy. We had to prepare all of the tenants already here, the tenants checking in on Saturday, and all of the landlords

[ 19 ]


AGENCY MANAGEMENT

HURRICANE IRENE by the numbers

40 people died 26 rivers’ flood-records broken 10,000 flights canceled 2.3 million people evacuated (315,000 in Maryland, 100,000 in Delaware)

9 million people lost power $7 billion losses Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Associated Press

to start making plans to evacuate the island and secure their properties. Likewise, we had to set in motion a plan to secure our office and set up the contingency plan in place to service our customers when they need us most. Fortunately, we have two other offices in the surrounding mainland communities with computer access to our customer base, so communication did not have to be interrupted. We also had the peace of mind of having disaster planning in place with Agility Recovery Solutions in case we lost our facilities, power or both. Our computer system can also be accessed from any PC with coded access. Our insurance staff spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday calling, emailing and fielding phone calls from our insurance customers, landlords and business owners about securing their properties and verifying coverage. We averaged 100 to 200 calls a day from customers looking to raise limits on their policies, lower deductibles and buy flood insurance. It is still surprising how many homeowners and business owners do not carry flood insurance for their properties located on a barrier island, despite the notices and disclaimers they receive. But in this case, it

[ 20 ]

was too late to get flood coverage with the mandatory 30-day waiting period in place for NFIP policies. Because most of our homeowners’ policies are written through excess and surplus lines markets, they are all agency billed. We took special care to call each customer who had not yet submitted payments for their renewals and ensure that money was received and a policy bound before Irene hit. _____________________________

Just by having the staff available to answer the calls and give some reassurance goes a long way to allaying people’s concern. _____________________________

Our real estate division visited the properties occupied by summer tenants and prepared them for possible evacuation of the island – something that is never well received when people are on vacation. We had to discuss plans about leaving the premises, returning when permitted, and what amount of rent would be reimbursed. The evacuation was indeed mandated on Friday, Aug. 26, and everyone, including us, had to leave by early


IF YOU HAVE THE TOOLS, WE HAVE THE INSURANCE. afternoon. We spent the rest of Thursday and Friday helping tenants evacuate and helping our homeowners secure their properties. It is very helpful to have an up-to-date list of contractors and handyman services to perform these tasks. We had contacted several during the week to make sure we could help the homeowners.

Residential Contractors with up to five employees can find great deals on liability and tools insurance at Brokers Surplus Agency! We represent UTICA First Insurance, one of the largest writers of small contracting firms in the Northeast!

Blanket Additional Insured coverage and UTICA’s own “Toolbox Endorsement” which includes 7 bundled additional coverages saves your customers hundreds of dollars! Call or e-mail us today for a quick quote.

Irene did not actually come ashore until Saturday evening, but our insureds did not stop calling us to help them weather the storm. Having a disaster plan in place to help your insurance customers when they need you most is critical.

Artisan program available in DE, MD, NJ & PA

Brokers Surplus Agency, P.O. Box 2849, Warminster, PA 18974  Call (215) 443-9900

Contact: Dennis Marsaglia, Ext. 230 dennis@brokerssurplusagency.com Evelyn Frisch, Ext. 227 evelyn@brokerssurplusagency.com

This is the main message we put out to all of our fellow agents: Without these plans in place, we could not have assisted so many people in a two- to three-day period. Unlike the tornados Continued on page 24

Your wish is granted!

GUARD Plus

Comp • Businessowner’s • Auto • Umbrella

You want/we offer: 1- Ease of doing business ! Same-day (often same hour) responses ! Sophisticated technology (including a nationally recognized agency portal) PLUS personalized attention 2- Competitive price 3-Broad underwriting appetite targeting small- to mid-sized risks ! Metropolitan areas don’t scare us. ! Coastal exposures are considered! 4- Unique product ! A strong Workers’ Comp lead line ! Special BOP Stretch endorsements 5- Superior claims handling that promotes customer retention 6- Favorable compensation

A limited number of appointments are available. Contact us to learn more: www.guard.com/apply

[ 21 ]

®

Your Business Is Our Business!


AGENCY MANAGEMENT

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst IA&B’s Emergency and Business Continuity Planning Manual

From frozen pipes to fires, hazmat incidents to hurricanes, common accidents and natural disasters cause thousands of businesses to close each year. And at least 25 percent never reopen. An insurance agency, in particular, cannot afford to be out of commission. The pun is intended because insureds — and an agency’s viability — depend on accessibility.


Primary Agent | February 2012

Members should think about the unthinkable — and prepare with IA&B’s Emergency and Business Continuity Planning Manual. How it works The manual contains two sections: an input, where members catalogue their business relationships, inventory their equipment and identify back-up locations; and an output, which incorporates members’ information from the input and serves as a finalized plan of action. The personalized output outlines the various scenarios that can disrupt an agency’s operation and then delves into the implementation of the plan, which is broken down into timeframes – the first 12-24 hours, day one through end of the emergency, and termination of the plan and restoration of normal operations.

TIP!

Divvy up the input work, such as cataloging business relationships, inventorying office equipment and identifying back-up locations.

What makes it unique The planning manual is Web-based. The input process is completed online, and the output (a.k.a. finalized plan) is available online or as a Microsoft Word document. Besides ease of personalizing the plan, the benefit of housing it online is availability. Members are encouraged to store their plan in multiple locations (onsite and offsite) and in various formats (in print and on an electronic storage device), but thanks to the Web-based structure of IA&B’s planning manual, members’ plan is available anywhere at any time via the Internet.

How to access it The manual is an exclusive, complimentary member benefit.

Access it online: www.iabgroup.com/epm.

“[The manual] is organized and well thought out. This is another example of IA&B bringing value to its membership.” ~ Tod Aronson, E.R. Munro and Company [ 23 ]

How one member agency coped with disaster It was Friday, Sept. 17, 2004, and Hurricane Ivan had dumped inches upon inches of rain in downtown Pittsburgh. Tod Aronson’s agency, E.R. Munro and Company, was housed on the ninth and tenth floors of an office building located along the Monongahela River. Eight feet of water flooded the basement, where Aronson rented storage space and where controls for the building’s phone lines, electrical circuits and elevators were kept. The office building was closed for 10 days, six of them workdays. During that time, Aronson funneled phone calls and e-mails into his home, where he operated an exhausting temporary operation. It was a spur-of-the-moment plan of action — one that kept him afloat but required him to scramble. Aronson vowed to be better prepared for a future disruption of his agency’s operations. He secured alternate office space, hired a recovery-management firm and, most recently, utilized IA&B’s planning manual to formulate a strategy.


TIP!

AGENCY MANAGEMENT

Prepare your agency now for spring storms, snowmelts and floods. Learn how on page 22. Continued from page 21 and earthquakes that so many experienced over the summer where there is not any warning to prepare, we had a plan in place and the time needed to execute the plan. Of course, the numbers of phone calls and issues to be handled do not end when the storm passes. This is when the real fun begins and is the critical time for an agency to be ready. Communication is the key, and having open phone lines and Internet access is paramount. The first wave of requests on Sunday and Monday were along the lines of, “Did the island survive?,” “Please check my property,” “Call me back ASAP,” and “Can we gain access to the island?” Just by having the staff available to answer the calls and give some reassurance goes a long way to allaying people’s concern. As soon as the authorities allowed us to re-enter the island, some of the staff moved to check properties for damage while others fielded calls, or updated homeowners. We emphasized to our staff to be empathetic with all callers as they feel helpless not knowing what happened to their properties. While we did have hundreds of claims reported over a three- to four-day span, there were not any catastrophic losses in our

immediate area. Because the area impacted by Irene did cover a five-state area and a lot of the claims ended up being flood related, there was and continues to be a shortage of FEMA-certified inspectors. Whether an insured’s claim is large or small, he or she wants an immediate response and a timely settlement of his or her loss. Here is where a briefing to all available personnel plays a major role. We try to give the same message across the board to all of our homeowner and business owner clients: 1. Secure your property. 2. Clean up what you can. 3. Document all action taken. 4. Take as many pictures as possible. 5. Contact repair/ restoration contractors. 6. Get estimates from two or three contractors. Overall, the response from all of our insurance companies has been outstanding. There always will be outstanding claims lingering when a storm affects such a large area, but it goes a long way to communicate often with all claimants to keep them up to date. It’s better that you’re calling them rather than them calling you. We have an agency policy to contact every claimant weekly to give them an update

[ 24 ]

even if there is nothing new to report. The customer really appreciates this. Most problems and unusual situations we have faced since Irene have to do with loss of rent/loss of business income, not from damage of property from a covered peril, but as a result of civil action – the mandatory evacuation of the area. A lot of these problems still remain unresolved. A lot of this may seem like Insurance 101, but we can all learn from every storm we have to weather. From our point of view, it is the preparation for these types of events before they occur and the amount of communication you give that will help you and your customers in weathering a storm. Editor’s note: This article was reprinted, with permission, from the December 2011 issue of American Agent & Broker.

________________________________

Jeffrey R. Wyrsch wrote this article. He has been employed with the Van Dyk Group since 1996. Starting with an IT background, he moved into personal insurance in 2000 and became manager of the personal insurance department in 2005.


Our Apartment Program offers a great combination of

competitive pricing and coverage for

your customers!

Five or more units are eligible for this great program. An optional Apartmentizer Coverage Endorsement is also available which includes 34 additional coverages such as: Landlord/Owner Furnishings Loss of Earnings Lock Replacement Utility Interruption Water Back-Up of Sewers & Drains and much more! Apartment program available in DE, MD, NJ and PA Brokers Surplus Agency, P.O. Box 2849, Warminster, PA 18974  Call (215) 443-9900

Contact: Dennis Marsaglia, Ext. 230 dennis@brokerssurplusagency.com Evelyn Frisch, Ext. 227 evelyn@brokerssurplusagency.com

& ! 4m   #   7LUU7904,PZ[OLT\UPJPWHSLU[P[`ZWLJPHSPZ[[OH[JHUJSLHYS`PSS\Z[YH[L ^H`Z[VYLK\JLYPZR-VYTLKV^ULKHUKNV]LYULKI`V\YTLTILYZ 7LUU7904,VMMLYZHUHYYH`VMWYVK\J[ZHUKZLY]PJLZ[OH[HYLJ\Z[VT [HPSVYLKMVY7LUUZ`S]HUPH»ZJP[PLZ[V^UZOPWZIVYV\NOZHUKH\[OVYP[PLZ *VTWVZLKVM[^VPUZ\YHUJL;Y\Z[Z7LUU7904,WYV]PKLZ JVTWYLOLUZP]LWYVWLY[`SPHIPSP[`HUK^VYRLYZ»JVTWLUZH[PVUJV]LYHNL HZ^LSSHZ\UPX\LZLY]PJLWYVNYHTZSPRLNYHU[Z[YHPUPUNVWWVY[\UP[PLZ HUKZHTWSLSVZZJVU[YVSWVSPJPLZ 0THNPULHYLSH[PVUZOPW^P[OHUVYNHUPaH[PVU[OH[OHZ[OLSLHKLYZOPW HK]VJHJ`HUK7LUUZ`S]HUPHZWLJPÃ&#x201E;JL_WLY[PZL[V[HRL[OLI\YKLUVMYPZR THUHNLTLU[VMM`V\YZOV\SKLYZ,UZ\YL[OH[`V\»YLWYV[LJ[LK0THNPUL `V\YZLSMHTLTILYVM7LUU7904,¯JHSS[VKH`

Â&#x2039;  Â&#x2039;^^^WLUUWYPTLJVT 7LUU7904,PZHZLY]PJLWYVNYHTVM[OL7LUUZ`S]HUPH3LHN\LVM*P[PLZHUK4\UPJPWHSP[PLZ [ 25 ]


Primary Agent | February 2012

Technology U P DATE

EXPAND YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY ONLINE Three digital parallels to traditional tactics search. ComScore estimates that in March 2011 there were nearly 17 billion searches on all major search engines. With Google having released estimates that local search represents 20 percent of their search volume and Bing reporting 53 percent of its mobile searches have local intent, the opportunity for small businesses is immense.

MATTHEW MARKO Matthew Marko is marketing manager for Progressive Insurance. He works to provide local marketing strategies, tools and co-branded collateral to help independent agencies grow their businesses. Email him at matthew_marko@progressive.c om. Matt 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.

Understand the connection, and you can use what you already know to master these new online tactics.

For agencies that have spent years, decades, even generations building a local footprint with traditional marketing tools, it can be understandably daunting to hear so many in the media assert that success in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s marketplace now requires extensive e-marketing expertise and a dynamic online presence. The good news: Many of the techniques agents have long used to thrive in their communities are still relevant. They also have clear parallels in the digital space and, in many cases, their online counterparts are easy to implement and measure.

This article outlines some important strategies you can employ to add powerful digital marketing components to your traditional marketing plan and navigate easily from what you already know to these digital tools. Yellow Pages and local search The Yellow Pages Association reports that there are 900 million Yellow Page print references every month. The online equivalent? Local

[ 26 ]

When a consumer searches online for insurance, how your agency ranks in the local results makes all the difference. According to Chikita research, if you make the top three listings, your agency shares 63 percent of the traffic. Land in the bottom seven and that number drops to 32 percent (and only 5 percent of searchers continue to the second page of results). Yet only a fraction of independent agents have taken the first step to benefiting from this free service. That first and most important step is proactively claiming and verifying your online


listings. Progressive offers a listing management program, called ListAgent, to help claim and keep your listings relevant, maintained and optimized for less than $100/year. There are also free do-it-yourself options like getlisted.org that audit how effectively your agency has claimed its local search listings and allow you to create listings with each of the primary search engines from one website. Just as a variety of factors (ad size, color, content) influence the success of your Yellow Page print ad, several elements affect your local search ranking. Keep your listings consistent across search engines by using your official business name and avoiding abbreviations, generate as many consistent citations (online references to your business) as you can among search engines, eliminate duplicate listings, and be sure to include as much relevant content as possible, including your agency address, phone number, email, website, photos and business details. Finally, create a strategy for getting your customers to review your business online. Word-of-mouth and online review It’s no secret that a leading driver of new business is a happy customer. For agencies that have nurtured word-of-mouth referrals from their customers (and for agencies that simply see the results walking through the door), encouraging your customers to share their feedback online is an easy way to amplify their voice. Asking Facebook fans and LinkedIn connections to recommend your agency to their social networks is the clearest bridge between traditional and digital referral tactics, but online reviews on sites like Google Places, Citysearch, Yelp and Insider Pages have additional advantages – not only can they boost your local search visibility, they can sway strangers as well.

In fact, according to BrightLocal, 70 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This is especially true in the insurance industry, where 57 percent of consumers said their insurance purchase was influenced by reviews – more than websites, TV or radio advertising. Search engines like Google and Yahoo prominently display reviews in their query results, yet Progressive’s research on online referrals found that our independent agents have, on average, just .3 reviews on their online listings. If you’re not currently soliciting online reviews from your customers, try adding requests to your customer communications. Develop email templates that you can easily customize and send with links to review sites. Again, your carriers may be able to help you here by having email templates for you to use, as Progressive has done. You can also add links to your website and customer newsletters. Don’t worry if a couple of negative reviews turn up with the positive. A 2011 Lightspeed Research study found that only four percent of shoppers change their mind about a service after reading one bad review, and only 25 percent of consumers change their mind after reading two. Plus, you can frequently turn bad reviews around by simply responding. A January 2011 Harris survey discovered that 33 percent of customers who received a response from a company after posting a negative review followed it up with a positive review, and 34 percent deleted their original post. Print ad and tile ad Finally, as newspaper readership declines and more consumers get their news from the Web and social media, online advertising may offer your agency additional bang for the marketing buck. While banner ads on your local paper’s website are an

[ 27 ]

alternative worth exploring, sites like Facebook give you pinpoint targeting options that print and online publications cannot. Using Facebook, you can create and publish an ad yourself in minutes, and unlike traditional media, you can hand-select an audience most likely to respond to your message using the information Facebook users list about themselves, including zip code, age, gender, marital status, even hobbies, interests, and associations. A hyper-targeted ad means less waste, and Facebook provides detailed metrics that enable you to quickly test executions and adjust as needed during the campaign. Best of all, you can pay per click or impression, and set budgets by day or campaign. To make the process even easier, your carriers may provide you with resources to help you with online advertising. Progressive, for example, offers illustrated how-to guides on creating Facebook ads and contests on its agent marketing website. It’s true that the market and the customer are evolving, but there are easy ways to apply what you already know to succeed in online marketing. You don’t need special skills or an expensive consultant to take the first steps forward; just a basic understanding of what’s out there, a willingness to explore, and a few trusted resources to help you along the way. Editor’s note: For more on social media and online marketing, visit www.iabgroup.com, select “Technology” from the left-hand menu bar and then choose “Other Resources.”


Classified ADVERTISEMENTS

DISCOVER THE BENEFITS OF A PARTNERSHIP WITH FAYETTE INSURANCE ASSOCIATES Uniontown, PA 15401 Website: www.fayins.com Email: info@fayins.com

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

Watch your step when insuring television shows Reality-television shows may challenge the insurance industry like no other genre, but it’s good-old game shows that still cause the most claims.

to 717-795-8347, and we will take care of the rest.

Ad Index Brokers Surplus Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21, 25 EMC Insurance Companies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IFC

From the self-destructive antics on Jackass (think: Steve-O stapling his private parts to his leg), to the gutwrenching stunts on Fear Factor (think: contestants climbing around a car that helicopters elevate 100 feet), entertainment insurance brokers find plenty of risks to keep them in business. But, according to broker Lorrie McNaught, simply walking up and down a staircase — as contestants and television personalities often do on game shows — results in the most entertainment-industry claims.

Guard Insurance Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Hanover Fire & Casualty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IBC

Source: “Insuring reality show risks from stapling body parts to staircases,” NU Online News Service, Dec. 21, 2011

IA&B Partners Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Insurance Club of Pittsburgh . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Interstate Insurance Mngmnt. . . . . . . . . . . . .OBC Mutual Benefit Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Penn National Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 PennPRIME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Preferred Property Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IBC TAPCO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 [ 28 ]

----------------------------------------------------------------———————------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.


The Secret Is Out! Hanover Agents Love To Tell Their Customers Why They Are Happy To Be Associated With Us. HANOVER FIRE & CASUALTY serves the working families of our region by offering the insurance they need. No games. No tricks. Just good, solid insurance available to those who really need it. We settle claims promptly and fairly, and we manage to hold our rates. And the fact is, for nearly 100 years, our customers return and renew with us; well, that just drives the point home, doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it? Would you like to be a Hanover agent? For more information call 800-919-FIRE or visit www. hanoverfire.com. Learn more about our portfolio of products, our easy-to-use agent portal, and our competitive commission structure. Call today!

7

s ,ANDLORD)NSURANCE s 2ENTERS)NSURANCE s (OMEOWNERS)NSURANCE s 6ACANT$WELLING)NSURANCE s !RTISANS,IABILITY s $IRECT &AST/NLINE 1UOTING"INDING s ./#2%$)43#/2%3 s $IRECT 0ERSONAL #USTOMER3ERVICE s 3IMPLIlED5NDERWRITING s %&4!UTOMATIC #REDIT#ARD/PTIONS s )N (OUSE#LAIMS(ANDLING

/NE7EST&IRST!VENUE 3UITE #ONSHOHOCKEN 0!s\&AX

Our Umbrella Programs Have Just Gotten Better Preferred Property Program has partnered with XL Insurance as a carrier for our umbrella products Our umbrella liability policies are now written by XL Insurance, with Chubb Insurance Group for the Excess Layer. We offer four umbrella limits, and flexible, broad coverage: â&#x20AC;˘ $5 to $25 Million in umbrella coverage with up to $50 Million in total limits. â&#x20AC;˘ Hi-Rise apartments up to 35 stories eligible, with higher eligible by referral. â&#x20AC;˘ Excess of D&O, General Liability, Auto, Employers Liability, Employee Benefits and more. â&#x20AC;˘ Developer-sponsored boards eligible.

Contact us for a quote:

888.548.2465 A subsidiary of

JGS INSURANCE

info@umbrellaprogram.com www.umbrellaprogram.com

ÂŽ

Service is our specialty; protecting you is our mission ÂŽ

960 Holmdel Road, Holmdel, NJ 07733 XL Insurance is the global brand used by XL Group plc's insurance companies. Preferred Property Programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s XL policies are underwritten by Greenwich Insurance Company.


Vacant Property Program For Dwellings, Apartments, Condos, Estates, Manufacturing and Commercial Buildings, Rehab and Renovations, Builder’s Risk • Package Policy Available • Residential, Commercial, Industrial • Commercial Liability Coverage Limits Up to $1M • 3 to 12-Month Policy Terms Available • High Commissions • Available in Pennsylvania, Maryland & Delaware • Immediate Rate Indications thru Agent EZ Rater • Go to interstate-insurance.com and click on Vacant Property Program - Agent EZ Rater In Pennsylvania:

800-452-0297 Jeff Thomas Ext. 142 Connie Kennedy Ext. 156 Melanie Norland Ext. 173

In Maryland Dale Shirey & Janice Street & Delaware: 800-759-7779

www.interstate-insurance.com

Primary Agent - February 2012 - MD Edition  

Primary Agent - February 2012 - MD Edition