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DELAWARE

AS THE

MA RKET

slowly TURNS

Precautions and Possibilities

ALSO INTHISISSUE: ________________ Agency-carrier technology agreements 2012 Company Satisfaction Index


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Contents PRIMARY AGENT MAGAZINE As the market slowly turns The soft market has lingered for so long that many agents don’t remember (or never witnessed) what a hardening market will mean for their business. Chris Burand offers an in-depth look at the complexities and challenges to come — and the opportunities for savvy agents.

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Agency-carrier technology agreements Those same technological advances that streamline agencies’ workflows can complicate them, sometimes limiting critical access to policy data stored on carriers’ websites. The following pages chronicle one agency exec’s experience — and her plea for others to prioritize fair technology agreements.

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2012 Company Satisfaction Index It has never been easier, or quicker, to provide feedback on your carriers’ performance. Speak now — via IA&B’s Company Satisfaction Index (CSI) — or for two years hold your peace.

Page 26 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 25 28 32 32 32

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 5050 Ritter Road 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 # 2012-5 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.

Whatever tomorrow may bring

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

We’ve been holding our collective breath for quite some time now, waiting for the always-promised yet ever-elusive next hard market. The planets appear to be aligning. Could our wait finally reach its end? And if (when) the market hardens, will it be all that we remembered and hoped for? Only time will tell. But in this month’s feature, Chris Burand offers IA&B members an exclusive look at his projections for the market and what that will mean – the good, the bad and the ugly (think: the repercussions of weakening carriers) – for independent agents.

N. Lee Dotson, CIC, AAI Wilmington, Del. John L. Frankenfield Telford, Pa. G. Greg Gunn, CIC Lemoyne, Pa. John B. Hollister Milford, Pa. Diana M. Hornung Hanby, ACSR Wilmington, Del.

I encourage you to read Mr. Burand’s article and heed his advice. Then fasten your seatbelt and, of course, lean on IA&B for resources and assistance … no matter what tomorrow brings. That’s what your association is here for.

Jocelyn R. Howard-Sinopoli, CIC, CISR Butler, Pa. +

Robert S. Klinger, LUTCF, CPIA Germantown, Md.

Best,

Douglas A. Loesel, CPCU Erie, Pa. Michael F. McGroarty Sr. Pittsburgh, Pa. Ann Gallen Moll, CIC Reading, Pa.

Robert B Hall, ChFC, CLU, CPCU, ARM, ARM-P Chairman of the Board

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.

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

Driving members to distinction. [2]

E


Member FAQ QUESTION: What aggregate limits should I indicate on the ACORD 25 for the CGL policy? The client’s aggregate limit could have been impaired by some claims.

ANSWER: In addition, and to assuage any lingering concerns over potential claims that those limits may in fact be impaired, the ACORD 25 contains a warning which specifically states: “Limits shown may have been reduced by paid claims.” This is certainly a more reasonable approach than attempting to have an accurate, day-by-day account of any reduction in limits before issuing a certificate.

There is a big debate over whether the limits shown on the certificate should be the limits provided by the policy or the limits currently available, after they have been reduced by paid claims. The best way to look at this is to check what ACORD says about it. ACORD instructions – Each ACORD form comes with an instruction guide, which provides guidance on every field to check or fill out. For the General Liability (GL) “General Aggregate $” field, the instruction guide states as follows:

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!

Enter limit: The general liability, general aggregate limit amount. Any questions about appropriate limits or applicable policy coverage(s) should be answered by the issuing insurer(s). As used here, the limit should be listed as a whole dollar amount, as found on the policy declarations page [emphasis added]. This language clearly instructs agents to indicate the limits shown on the DEC page.

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State News Primary Agent | May 2012

Next Power Hour webinar in the queue

SPEAK UP! Support AgentPAC, your voice in the state Capitol.

The next installment of DAIAB’s free Power Hour webinar series is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20. Entitled “Online Gold Mine — Unearthing Valuable Resources at iabgroup.com,” the free one-hour webinar will be available exclusively for members. Watch Agent Headlines for more details on this and future Power Hour webinars. www.iabgroup.com/PowerHour

Insuring hot fun in the summertime With Memorial Day comes the unofficial start of summer — and of customers’ outside adventures. Producers can round out accounts and reduce E&O exposure by offering to insure seasonal risks.

iabgroup.com/AgentPAC

Whether customers’ summer transportation of choice is a motor home or a Waverunner, an ATV or a golf cart, exposures abound. Jerry Milton’s “Insuring summer toys” resource shares how ISO homeowners’ and personal auto policies address coverage for warm-weather hobbies. www.iabgroup.com/de/ coverages/summer_toys

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Reaching clients with Trusted Choice® mobile app A new mobile app* is connecting Trusted Choice agents to existing and potential clients in an innovative new way. Created through a collaboration of the Project CAP, Trusted Choice and IIABA (Big “I”) teams, the new Trusted Choice Mobile App is a powerful tool for reaching and serving today's online consumers — wherever they are. Designed to work on various mobile devices, this resource allows consumers to find a local Trusted Choice agent, create their home inventory, document an accident, ask a question and read relevant headlines — all from their smart phone or tablet computer. Since real marketing is all about building relationships that build your brand, this app can be customized with an agency’s color scheme and logo. Best of all, the new Trusted Choice Mobile App is included as a component of most Project CAP agency marketing packages or available separately for a nominal monthly fee for DAIAB member agencies. * A mobile app is a computer application that runs on a smart phone or other mobile device. Most commonly, the app connects the user to an Internet service. http://projectcap.info/ program-information/#


Give kudos where it's due

It’s a wrap for DAIAB’s MAP

The search is on for Delaware’s finest. DAIAB is accepting nominations for three awards that will be presented at the association’s 55th annual convention, June 6-7 in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Member agents weighed in on the hardening market and related resource needs at DAIAB’s April 19 Member Agent Panel (MAP) meeting in Dover.

Wharton-Ranalli Leadership Award: For the contributions of a DAIAB member agent to the betterment of the association and the industry William H. Lehnert Jr. Award: In recognition of a company employee’s efforts to forge strong agency-company relationships Francis B. Gebhart Memorial Award: To recognize any individual who has been of the greatest assistance to DAIAB over the year

The MAP meeting also allowed association staff to recap recently launched DAIAB programs and services and to share legislative and regulatory updates. And, during an open forum, attendees aired individual agency struggles and brainstormed solutions. As always, participants’ feedback now will head to the DAIAB Board of Directors. Watch for updates and outcomes of the April MAP meeting in Agent Headlines and upcoming issues of Primary Agent.

New member benefit: shopping that pays It has never felt better to shop ‘til you drop. DAIAB members have access to a new member benefit: Retail Benefits. The online shopping portal allows member agency staff to purchase any of 300 million products from thousands of retailers (think: Gap, Best Buy, Target and Travelocity) … all while benefiting their agency or a charity. Merchants offer discounted prices through Retail Benefits, and participating agencies receive — or donate to their favorite charity — up to 40 percent in cash back rewards for every purchase made by their staff through the shopping portal. www.iabgroup.com/de/ retailbenefits

www.iabgroup.com/z_forms/ daiab_awards.html

AMessage

for you about the 2012 DAIAB Annual Convention

in Rehoboth Beach.

Elite Sponsors:

Read more and register at iabgroup.com/DEconvention or call the Member Service Center at 800-998-9644.

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Preventing Primary Agent | May 2012

ERRORS AND OMISSIONS

TAKE A CHUNK OUT OF YOUR E&O EXPOSURE: PERFORM THE “MIRROR TEST” CURTIS M. PEARSALL CPCU, AIAF, CPIA Curtis M. Pearsall, CPCU, AIAF, CPIA, president of Pearsall Associates Inc. and special consultant to the Utica National E&O Program, supplied this article. 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 E&O coverage, contact IA&B at 800-998-9644 or iab@iabgroup.com.

insurance proposals to address them has caused, and continues to cause, a significant number of E&O claims.

Many carriers are reporting an increase in errors and omissions claim frequency compared to 2011. One of the biggest increases deals with the cause code failure to provide the proper coverage. One carrier reports that close to 60 percent of its E&O claims are from this one cause code.

Make sure the customer knows There is, however, another significant issue resulting in a sizeable number of E&O claims. This concerns the “mirror test” or, more precisely, the failure to perform it. Over the last several years, with soft market conditions and the economy, many agencies have found it necessary to remarket their personal and

Often when this cause code is discussed, a significant part of the dialogue concerns the upfront identification of exposures a customer presents. Failure to identify these exposures and subsequently offering

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commercial accounts to additional carriers in the hope of getting a degree of premium relief. It is fairly likely if an agent remarketed an account to three additional carriers, the potential exists for differences between the incumbent carrier and these additional markets. In an effort to reduce insurance expenses, a customer might request that coverage be replaced with a new carrier due to the premium savings. While this may appear fine on the outside, what if the coverage with the new carrier is


deficient in some areas compared to the incumbent carrier? Maybe the sublimits are less in some areas or the definition of “who is an insured” is more limited.

The key, when you look to move the account to a new carrier, is to identify any coverage differences, bring them to the customer’s attention and seek the customer’s direction. For example, say you move the account to another carrier, and the insured suffers a loss that would have been covered by company A, but is not covered by the new carrier with which you placed the account. When the customer faces an uninsured loss and was not aware of the coverage differences, you may very well be questioned on why the coverage was moved. Practically speaking, if you don’t advise the customer of the differences when you move the account, what would the customer probably think? In all likelihood, the customer would believe the coverage was the same because if it was less, you would have indicated that up front. Bottom line, there is a good chance the customer will say moving the account wouldn’t have been approved if the sacrifice in coverage was mentioned. The key, when you look to move the account to a new carrier, is to identify any coverage differences, bring them to the customer’s attention and seek the customer’s direction.

Highlight the differences Differences between various proposals can be significant. This can involve sub-limits, the coverage grant, specific endorsements, definitions for areas such as “who is an insured,” what is excluded on one policy compared to another and the carrier’s rating. An E&O claim developed in recent years where the agent moved the account from a carrier where the premium was handled via an account current bill to one where the premium was paid on a direct-bill basis. The agent was unaware of the change and, thus, the customer was unaware. The account was cancelled for non-pay, a loss occurred and the carrier denied coverage because the policy had been cancelled. Guess who paid? The highly recommended approach is taking all of the carriers you are considering and putting the details on a spreadsheet, noting all of the pertinent issues – limits, sub-limits, coverage grants, etc. Share this spreadsheet with the customer and bring to their attention the detail the customer needs to be aware of. This enables your client to make an educated decision – and that’s the key: The customer sees the differences and decides. At a minimum, bring to the client’s attention the differences between the expiring policy and the other carriers you are considering.

The highly recommended approach is taking all of the carriers you are considering and putting the details on a spreadsheet…. Share this spreadsheet with the customer.

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You must get the customer’s written approval regardless of the final decision. This will be crucial if an underlying claim later occurs and the customer then learns they didn’t have the coverage they thought. If your client chooses the lower price with the lesser coverage, that’s fine – just get it in writing that they realized they were giving up some coverage. This issue may still be a concern even if you keep the account with the same carrier. This is probably more common or more of an issue with excess and surplus lines business because E&S carriers are not required to provide a conditional renewal notice if they want to add an exclusion on the renewal. In this situation, the important thing (again) is for your office to identify the differences on the renewal policy, bring them to the customer’s attention and get the customer’s sign-off. Due to the nature of E&S, it is best to do this review with the client before binding the coverage, in case the customer subsequently decides they don’t want the coverage. While this detailed comparison is important on all coverages, there are probably more things to consider if you write professional liability and/or D&O. Because no two policies are the same, an issue as subtle as an exclusion on one policy that was not on the other (the expiring) has resulted in a claim being denied, subsequently triggering an E&O claim – all because the customer alleged they were unaware of the difference. Perform the “mirror test.” Communicating this analysis and comparison of the differences to the customer and getting a sign-off are vital if your agency wants to truly minimize its potential for an E&O claim.


Coverage Primary Agent | May 2012

CORNER

CHINESE DRYWALL: IS IT COVERED?

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.

court granted the Fingers’ motion to strike Audubon’s defenses based on the policy exclusions for pollutants, inherent vice, latent defect or corrosion. The court simply stipulated that the aforementioned exclusions were not applicable to the damage caused by Chinese drywall. Therefore, the court decided in favor of the Fingers and against Audubon.

There are thousands and thousands of claims and lawsuits being filed and moving through the courts involving Chinese drywall. These claims are being made under the homeowners’ policies insuring the affected houses and against the distributors who sold the drywall plus the contractors who did the work. It has been determined that Chinese drywall releases sulfuric gases which cause corrosion of electric wiring, plumbing, HVAC coils, appliances, electronics and other household items. In many cases the only solution is to “gut” the entire interior of the house and reinstall all wiring, plumbing, etc.

However, since this initial case, court decisions have tended to go in the opposite direction. In 2006, C. Adams Construction & Design, LLC renovated a house located in Metairie, La. In January 2007, Terrence and Rhonda Ross purchased the house from C. Adams Construction. Approximately two years later the Rosses discovered the presence of Chinese drywall in the house. On June 29, 2009, the Rosses sent a formal demand to

On March 22, 2010 a trial court sitting in the Civil District Court for Orleans Parish, La. issued the first decision regarding coverage for Chinese drywall under a property policy. In Finger v. Audubon Insurance Co., the

[8]

C. Adams Construction giving them an opportunity to repair or correct the defects. However, they failed to do so, and the Rosses made the necessary repairs at their own expense.

Right now it appears that the

homeowners’ insurers are winning the argument that their homeowners’ policies don’t cover losses caused by Chinese drywall. On July 30, 2009, the Rosses file suit against C. Adams Construction and its insurer, State Farm Insurance Company, and against their own homeowners’ insurer, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Company.


On Jan. 25, 2010, the Rosses filed a motion for partial summary judgment claiming the Louisiana Citizens homeowners’ policy provided coverage. On March 19, 2010, Louisiana Citizens filed a cross motion for summary judgment asserting that coverage for the claimed losses was barred by four different exclusions in the homeowners’ policy — faulty materials, latent defect, corrosion and pollutants. On April 14, 2010, the trial court issued a judgment denying the Rosses’ motion for partial summary judgment and granting Louisiana Citizens cross motion for summary judgment. The trial court also issued an order on May 20, 2010, clarifying the ruling was a final judgment and dismissing the Rosses’ claim against Louisiana Citizens. The Rosses appealed the trial court’s ruling, and on June 14, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit of Louisiana upheld and affirmed the trial court’s decision. This decision only addresses the summary judgment motion concerning the homeowners’ policy. It does not deal with the suit by the Rosses against C. Adams Construction and State Farm. Does C. Adams Construction have coverage for this claim under its general liability policy? Maybe, maybe not. I would think that State Farm is going to deny coverage based on the pollution exclusion. About the same time as Ross v. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Company was working its way through the Louisiana courts, a similar case was being heard in Virginia. On June 3, 2010, in TRAVCO Insurance Company v. Ward, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied the Wards’ Chinese drywall claims. The court agreed with TRAVCO that the pollution, faulty

[9]

materials, corrosion and latent defect exclusions applied to the loss and therefore barred coverage. Nothing is certain in this world. But right now it appears that the homeowners’ insurers are winning the argument that their homeowners’ policies don’t cover losses caused by

Chinese drywall. The affected homeowners will have to hope for the best in their suits against the distributors and the contractors. I wonder how many of those contractors have pollution liability coverage. Y’all take care!

Lessor’s Risk coverage in a five-minute phone call.

Call. Quote. Bind. 1Ș}Ê/* "½ÃÊVœÕÀÌiœÕÃÊ>˜`Ê«Àœ“«ÌÊV>ÊVi˜ÌiÀ]ÊiÃÜÀ½ÃÊ,ˆÃŽÊ VœÛiÀ>}iÊV>˜ÊLiʵ՜Ìi`]ÊLœÕ˜`Ê>˜`Ê`iˆÛiÀi`Ê̜ÊޜÕÀÊi‡“>ˆÊˆ˜LœÝʵՈVŽÞÊ>˜`Ê>VVÕÀ>ÌiÞÊ `ÕÀˆ˜}ʜ˜iÊvˆÛi‡“ˆ˜ÕÌiÊ«…œ˜iÊV>° *Àœ«iÀÌÞÊ œÛiÀ>}iÊÛ>ˆ>Li\ UÊÊ Õˆ`ˆ˜}Ê

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* Available coverages and markets may vary dependent upon risk characteristics.

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Tools

YOU CAN USE

SBA.gov eeking an appointment? Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be surprised if the carrier seeks your business plan. Before company reps invest in you and your agency, they want to know your business structure and your marketing and sales strategies.

S

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers the step-by-step Essential Elements of a Good Business Plan at SBA.gov.

How to conduct a market analysis

What to include in a company description

How to outline your organizational structure

Why your agency makes a solid appointee

How to devise marketing and sales strategies

To access the Essential Elements of a Good Business Plan, visit SBA.gov, then select Writing a Business Plan from the Starting & Managing a Business drop-down menu. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll also find an outline of business plan elements and a resource on developing a niche, as well as related podcasts (instructional audio and/or video files that can be downloaded to your iPod, iPhone, computer, etc.). Access to all resources is provided free of charge.

[ 10 ]


Glance at Events MAY CALENDAR Date

Topic

1

Location

CPIA Seminar (Day 1)

Pittsburgh, Pa.

William T. Hold Seminar

Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

CPIA Seminar (Day 2)

Pittsburgh, Pa.

CISR—Commercial Property Course

Allentown, Pa.

3

CPIA Seminar (Day 3)

Pittsburgh, Pa.

8-10

L&H Licensing Study Course

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

15

CISR—Commercial Property Course

Scranton, Pa.

Mistakes That Lead to E&O Claims Seminar

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

16

CISR—Commercial Property Course

Lancaster, Pa.

16-17

James K. Ruble Graduate Seminar

Philadelphia, Pa.

16-19

CIC—Commercial Property Institute

Timonium, Md.

17

William T. Hold Seminar

Baltimore, Md.

22

CISR—Commercial Property Course

Pittsburgh, Pa.

22-24

P&C Licensing Study Course

Philadelphia, Pa.

23

CISR—Commercial Property Course

Hagerstown, Md.

24

Dynamics of Service Seminar

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

2

Jerry Milton Seminar Series returns this summer Covered Property—Direct Damage & Consequential Loss Mark your calendar for the return of coverages expert Jerry Milton, CIC, for another in his series of informative and engaging seminars. New this summer, Jerry shares his vast experience in a full-day program on the nuances of Covered Property. Dates/Locations July 10 Baltimore, Md. July 11 Newark, Del. August 1 Allentown, Pa.

August 2 Mechanicsburg, Pa. August 15 Philadelphia, Pa. August 21 Pittsburgh, Pa.

Read more at iabgroup.com/Milton

[ 11 ]


MARKETS

As the market slowly turns How to prepare for the hardening market

The soft market has lingered for so long that many agents donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember (or never witnessed) what a hardening market will mean for their business. On the following pages, Chris Burand offers an in-depth look at the complexities and challenges to come â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and the opportunities for savvy agents.


Primary Agent | May 2012

TT

op agents deliver market news to their clients with each renewal. Whether market expectations are hard, soft or neutral, they are always educating their clients on what pricing to expect.

In a market like the one we have today, these agents have a conundrum. In the last 60 to 90 days*, I’ve heard agents categorically state commercial renewal pricing is consistently down 10-15 percent or consistently up 10-15 percent or consistently somewhere in between. Many companies have been reporting the market was turning for the past two years, but I have yet to witness this on a broad or consistent basis.

So what message do agents deliver today? I think it is safe to say rates are more likely to increase than decrease over the next year. In 2013, rates will probably be even a little higher. However, the unbridled excitement of a hard market expressed by some company executives and some agents is misplaced. The economy is not going to boom any time soon, which will suppress the need and the ability to increase rates. Certain sectors will experience much harder rates, and certain sectors will be adequately prosperous to accept larger rate increases. Most of the economy will not have the ability to pay more without protest. These locations and industries will search for ways to minimize their increases. For example, let’s say rates go up 10 percent. The actual increase for agents though may be only 4 percent. Actual premiums will not increase as much as rates because agencies’ clients will purchase less insurance, they will shop harder, and they will make smarter buying decisions. Ten percent versus 4 percent is a huge difference, and this has significant strategic and operating implications for agents. Agents will have to work harder for their commission. More time will be required to identify methods for saving their clients’ money. Agents will have to shop markets harder. While this may just be a repeat of what happens in all hard markets, the difference is that the net result in the last hard market was a 10-20 percent increase in agency commissions. Agencies will not be so fortunate this time, and they’ll have to work even harder for whatever rate increase they get. Thoroughly document coverage reductions because coverage reductions lead to more E&O claims. Some reductions will be strategic, such as choosing a higher deductible but buying extra coverage. Some reductions will be just bad choices. Regardless, when clients reduce their

[ 13 ]

Agencies will not be so fortunate this time, and they’ll have to work even harder for whatever rate increase they get.


MARKETS

coverage, always advise them of the risks, always document that it is a client’s choice to reduce coverages and always have them sign-off on the reductions. Rate increases may not cover losses. In past hard markets, agents could sit back without writing any new accounts and still grow because rate increases were so strong. Agents could even lose accounts and still grow. Rates were increasing enough to cover the lost accounts. The same likely will not hold true during this hard market. Worse, losses will likely be higher because agencies’ clients may still be going out of

business at a faster pace and others will be acquired by larger companies purchasing their insurance elsewhere. ________________________________

Since some companies agreed to appoint every agency with a license over the last five years and some picky ones only appointed every other agency with a license, they will now use many methods for thinning ranks. ________________________________

Prepare for changes in carriers’ appetites. Many carriers quit caring about loss ratios over the last five years (I know that is not their official position, but these companies’ actions clearly spoke louder than their words), and many carriers seemed to believe large volumes were the solution to all their ills. At the same time, some agencies felt the need to obtain as many carriers as possible to make sure they always had the lowest of low rates. As a result, many agencies today have too many companies, and many companies have far too many agencies. Some carriers are beginning to recognize that a lot of volume with bad loss ratios means a lot of losses, and we’re already seeing companies thinning their ranks. Since some companies agreed to appoint every agency with a license over the last five years and some picky ones only appointed every other agency with a license, they will now use many methods for thinning ranks.

At Harford Mutual, we’re committed to being here for our independent agents and policyholders. Accessible. Experienced. Accountable. Responsive. That’s Harford Mutual. That’s what mutual success is all about. Learn more about opportunities for mutual success with Harford Mutual at harfordmutual.com.

Most likely, first and foremost will be loss ratios. Agents that joined clusters thinking they would be protected by volume probably bet wrong unless the cluster/aggregator manages loss ratios really well. A second criterion will be growth. This is why carriers want business plans. Companies will also be looking for more professionally managed agencies. This is

[ 14 ]


another reason they want business plans. Next, carriers will look at volume. $250,000 is likely inadequate for all but small regionals. The cost of managing small books is too much. But $50,000,000 with a high loss ratio is not the solution either, which is why volume in and of itself is not the first criteria. A fear seems to exist within some agencies that they need more volume than the companies really require. Carriers are not likely to tell agencies that $1 million premium growing moderately with good loss ratios is adequate. They are always hungry for more. But such a book should be adequate for every rational carrier. I hate to see good agencies chasing the wrong goals, and I do not believe those agents are the ones companies will eliminate. Some of the smartest carriers looking for truly professionally managed agencies will add another criterion. These carriers will look at agencies’ balance sheets. A professionally run agency has a quality balance sheet. People that run their agencies as hobbies for all intents and purposes are more likely to have poor balance sheets, especially larger agencies run as hobbies. A serious business always takes care of the balance sheet, and if companies truly want

[ 15 ]

professionally run agencies, they’ll eliminate agencies and brokers with bad balance sheets. Those firms can’t grow responsibly, and they may not have the wherewithal to manage loss ratios because they’ll be cutting too many corners to stay afloat. Be cautious of weak carriers. Generally when the P&C market begins turning hard, more carriers are downgraded. This was the case in 2011 as A.M. Best downgraded 1.8 carriers for every carrier it upgraded. This was the first time in many years they downgraded more carriers than they upgraded. Every time rates increase materially, which should mean higher profits, more insurance companies’ financial stability falters. Literally billions of dollars are being bet on higher profits in a hard market. Investors and companies are waiting for the right moment to add capacity in anticipation of getting more rate for the same risk. So if hard markets bring better profits, why do more companies have financial problems? These weak companies’ problems began long before the market started turning. My research strongly suggests their profitability problems are evident for years before much downgrading action is taken. The profitability problems are not isolated to these companies either. Many

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companies that are not downgraded are having problems too, but they have a stronger balance sheet enabling them to last longer. Lasting longer is a key strength in this industry.

Historically, weaker companies have often practiced aggressive reserve reductions to make themselves appear more profitable. This buys time. Some observers, including Warren Buffett, have declared these

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practices to be accounting shenanigans (to put it nicely). Stronger companies are generally less aggressive in their reserve releases and accounting. I also am seeing some business models that are often quite similar to those used by insurance companies that have historically gone insolvent. One example is the unrated carrier model. Founders of some unrated carriers do not seem to have any plans to ever build a truly sustainable company. The goal seems to be to build a company that can be sold before it crashes (i.e., the Internet bubble model). Another model is to create a vertically integrated organization whereby some parts are highly profitable and insolvency liabilities are limited so that any losses are contained within the insurance company itself. This leaves the founders with their profits and the industry, policyholders, state guaranty funds and possibly unsuspecting shareholders with their losses. I am not suggesting the founders are building these companies with malice in mind. I am only looking at the probabilities. Both models employ means by which someone other than the key insurance company executives pay the price. Their most critical goal is to build enough mass fast enough that any problems become someone elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s problem. The traditional method of achieving fast mass is to under price or under reserve

www.PennNationalInsurance.com [ 16 ]


Primary Agent | May 2012

according to A.M. Best. Of course, a buyer should do their due diligence, and if they don’t, they deserve the fallout. Of course too, regulators should regulate such companies tightly, but regulators have their hands full and often work under conflicting agendas. This makes it easier for these companies to get away with risky models. Do these companies have an unfair advantage since they are not trying to build a sustainable model? Absolutely. If agents try to explain to insureds that Company A with an A+ rating is worth 25 percent more than Company B with no rating, the agency will lose more often than not, especially in a tough economy. This is especially the case if Company B is admitted. Agents are therefore forced to do business with weak carriers. Writing with weak carriers carries a price, and agents that recognize the price can minimize risk and costs. Again, in a firming market, downgrades will increase, and it is no fun being caught on the wrong side. Here are some steps proactive agents are taking:

1. Always disclose the carrier’s rating. Always disclose whether it is admitted or nonadmitted. Explain the importance of both. Explain the guaranteed fund’s limitations if necessary. I find that many producers do not adequately understand their state’s fund limitations. Too many believe that guaranty funds pay regardless of the situation, but that is absolutely not the case.

[ 17 ]

Carrier downgrades:

LEGAL AND E&O C O N S I D E R AT I O N S While no statute specifically addresses a producer’s duty to notify clients of a carrier downgrade, E&O carriers usually recommend it, and clients often expect it. Plus, a client contract, producer’s advertisement or agency’s standard procedures could trigger a duty to alert clients. IA&B offers resources to help determine when an agent should notify clients, as well as sample letters to do so. Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ratings#considerations Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ratings#considerations Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/pa/ratings#considerations


MARKETS

5. Educate your clients now regarding the changing market place, what to expect in rates and company underwriting appetites. Build the right expectations early to minimize the effects of negative news you are likely going to deliver later as pricing and underwriting firm ever more. ________________________________ Furthermore, some funds are not known for being quick pays. So while an insured may decide to save 25 percent by buying a policy from a weak carrier and think that, worse-case scenario, any claims will be paid by the guaranty fund, that insured may not be adequately considering that the claim may not be paid for many years.

2. Always read your own E&O policy. Some agent E&O policies are clear regarding whether the agency has coverage for writing with carriers that are do not have an adequate rating. Some are explicit that the only rating they accept is A.M. Best ratings. Some are explicit the company must also be of adequate size.

3. Know which companies are weak. By this, I mean learn which companies are not adequately profitable years before they get downgraded. Learn which companies have models that are similar to insolvent ones that went before them. The

information necessary is all public. However, this is not something many agency owners have the time to do on their own. We have a service that has been extremely valuable to many agencies for years.

4. Have a plan. An agency caught unaware will spend a fortune rolling business, explaining the situation to clients, and possibly incurring E&O claims. They will lose a year of selling time moving the book. So minimize the amount of business you place with these carriers. Their pricing may be too low to avoid using them, but the potential explosion can be minimized. Include in your plan what the agency will do in the event the company goes under or severely restricts their writing. To which company will you roll the book? What deal can you negotiate upfront (if it is going to hurt, at least see if you can make the best of the situation)? What will you tell your clients? A little preplanning goes a long way in these situations.

[ 18 ]

The opportunity for professionally run agencies is great. Keeping clients informed, even if the message is mixed, sets reasonable expectations. Clients with reasonable expectations are more likely to remain clients. ________________________________

The opportunity for professionally run agencies is great. Keeping clients informed, even if the message is mixed, sets reasonable expectations. Clients with reasonable expectations are more likely to remain clients. It is not as easy for thecompetition to drive a wedge. Smart agencies also will manage their costs better by setting expectations because, all else being equal, they will not have to work as hard. The effort required to save an account once a wedge has been driven is far more expensive than building a protective barrier


Primary Agent | May 2012

from the start. Similarly, working with clients more closely to manage their expense is a great opportunity to prove your value. Possibly the greatest opportunity today is to take advantage of your competition’s weaknesses. Many agents are and will fail to keep clients apprised of market conditions. This is especially true of agents losing contracts. These agents will just deliver rate increases with much empathy and sorrow, hoping the client just accepts the situation as reality. Use their failure to pry apart their relationship with the

client. Use your great loss ratios as leverage with companies to obtain better treatment. Use your professional management to make the most professional submissions to carriers so they get first look. This market is the opportunity for professionally managed agencies to show their clients, their companies and their prospects the value of being professional. It is your time to shine. Make the most of it! * The author penned this article in late February 2012.

________________________________

Chris Burand wrote this article for IA&B. He is president of Burand & Associates, LLC, an insurance agency consulting firm. Readers may contact Chris at (719) 485-3868 or by e-mail at chris@burand-associates.com. NOTE: None of the materials in this article should be construed as offering legal advice, and the specific advice of legal counsel is recommended before acting on any matter discussed in this article. Regulated individuals/entities should also ensure that they comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations.

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[ 19 ]


AGENCY MANAGEMENT

Agency-carrier technology agreements What every agency principal needs to know

Those same technological advances that streamline agencies’ workflows can complicate them, sometimes limiting critical access to policy data stored on carriers’ websites. The following pages chronicle one agency exec’s experience – and her plea for others to prioritize fair technology agreements.


Primary Agent | May 2012

W W

e have learned from our own agency’s experience that agency principals and managers should be a lot more vigilant about the agencycarrier technology agreements that their agencies are signing. Moreover, it is extremely important for agency leaders to bring up these issues and press for these improvements when they meet with carrier executives or participate in agency advisory councils.

Why shifting to the Web necessitates agreements It is important to set the stage as to why these agreements have become a lot more significant to agencies. In today’s business environment, one of the key factors influencing an independent agency’s financial success – whether the agency is large or small – is a constant focus on operational efficiency. Effective use of the carrier’s Web-based technology tools, especially when accessed in real time through the agency management system, is an important way to improve efficiency and increase profitability. Carriers also are encouraging agencies to rely more and more on their Web-based tools, which include online rating and policy issuance, online rating manuals and marketing information, billing and claims status inquiries, and electronic copies of policies and other policy related documents. In fact, more and more carriers are requiring agencies to use these tools because they are no longer sending hard copies of policies, no longer providing phone support for billing inquiries, or allowing agencies to send endorsement requests via mail or fax. In short, both agencies and carriers agree that the use of carrier-provided electronic information, whether accessed through the agency management system or from the carrier’s website, can be very beneficial. And, many agencies have become more reliant on this carrier-supplied electronic information, pulling the latest information when needed from the carrier, rather than storing it in the agency’s system. At the same time, many of the carriers have required their agencies to sign an agency-carrier technology agreement, or click on an electronic acceptance option, in order to have access to the website. Agency principals and managers need to make sure only authorized personnel commit the agency to such agreements and that the agency leadership has read these documents closely.

[ 21 ]

Many carriers have

required their agencies to sign an agency-carrier technology agreement, or click on an electronic acceptance option. Agency principals and managers need to make sure that agency leadership has read these documents closely.


AGENCY MANAGEMENT

Guidelines for Effective AgentCarrier Technology Agreements Agents Council for Technology (ACT) found that too often technology agreements – where they even exist – do not keep up with the new electronic relationships being forged between agencies and carriers. In response, ACT crafted Guidelines for Effective Agent-Carrier Technology Agreements, which identifies the key principles that should be included in technology agreements. Download the report from www.independentagent.com/act: Simply select Agency-Carrier Technology Agreements from the Quick Links column.

When agreement language raises concerns One of my greatest concerns is that only a few carriers explicitly commit to give the agency continuing rights to access the electronic information upon which the agency is increasingly relying. Almost every agency-carrier technology agreement I have read to date, whether it be from a national carrier or regional carrier, contains a clause that reads something like: “We reserve the right to modify, limit or eliminate your access to the Website/Network or any Website/Network features at any time, for any reason.” Now you might say, my carrier would never deny my agency access to the website as long as we have a valid business contract in place. If that is the case, then why does the technology contract contain such a broad provision? And, what rights to continuing access will you have, if either you or the carrier decides to terminate the relationship? Most agreements today terminate the agency’s access to the carrier website upon termination of the underlying agency contract. If a carrier terminates your access, how do you deal with the fact that you no longer have paper copies of the declarations pages and policy forms and no longer have access to that information from the carrier electronically?

[ 22 ]

You also need to ascertain your continuing rights to access information in agentof-record letter situations, where you are no longer the agent of record, but need to access information relating to the time period when you were the agent of record. The policy of some carriers is to cut off continuing access to the insured’s former agent, even though the agent continues to be in good standing with the carrier. ______________________________

Only a few carriers explicitly commit to give the agency continuing rights to access the electronic information upon which the agency is increasingly relying. ______________________________

What provisions one agency recommends The issues raised in these agreements are extremely important to our agency, as we look to become as efficient as possible through the use of technology. When the Agents Council for Technology published its report, Guidelines for Effective AgentCarrier Technology


Primary Agent | May 2012

Agreements see sidebar on page 22), we found the document to be a very useful tool in identifying the priority issues for our agency to address with our carriers, particularly:

1. The agency-carrier technology contract should in no way supersede the primary agency-carrier contract, especially with respect to the indemnification provisions.

2. Carriers need to provide the agency full website access and electronic access to policy information for at least seven years, as long as the primary agency-carrier contract is in force.

3. In the case where the agency-carrier contract is terminated, the agency needs to have limited access to the website for the historical policy information for seven years.

4. While agencies should have the obligation to maintain password security for their employees, carriers should have a parallel obligation to carry out their responsibilities with regard to agency password security. A good example would be the carrier obligation to reset passwords for or provide new passwords to authorized agency staff only. Another would be to immediately act on agency requests to turn off access to particular employees and to check to make sure this

action has been taken promptly. (This relates to situations where such changes are made by the carrier and not directly by the agency administrator.) All of these items would seem to be very basic and are consistent with the carriers’ desire to have agencies rely on their website and electronic information, so that they can “turn off the policy paper” to their agents…. We urge carriers to “grab the ball” and address these agency concerns, as a few carriers already have begun to do. We also need the help of every agency — no matter how large or small — in articulating these concerns to the carriers at every opportunity. If enough agents do so, we will convince the carriers that these agreements should be amended to further their larger business objectives to encourage greater agency usage of their websites and electronic technology tools.

________________________________

Cyndy Smith contributed this article. She is vice president and director of technology at Haylor, Freyer and Coon, Inc., an independent agency based in Syracuse, N.Y., with 250 employees in 13 locations. Cyndy also has been involved heavily in several industry initiatives to improve technologies and workflows for independent agents and brokers. She participates actively in ACT, AUGIE, ACORD and the AMS Users Group. Cyndy can be reached at csmith@haylor.com. Cyndy prepared this article for the Agents Council for Technology (ACT), which is part of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. For more information about ACT, contact Jeff Yates, ACT’s 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.

More tech know As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a’changin’.” Technology is advancing at lightening speed, and while the implications for an agency’s operational efficiency are great, so are the chances that keeping tabs on the latest automations and trendiest social networks will leave an agency principal with a splitting headache. Save the aspirin: IA&B members have access to an online repository of technology resources. Topics cover everything from the E&O considerations to the marketing opportunities to the security threats of the latest advances. Simply visit www.iabgroup.com, select Technology from the left-hand menu bar and then choose Other Resources.

[ 23 ]


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

FEATURED PARTNER Selective Insurance Company of America CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Gregory E. Murphy Chairman, President and CEO HOME OFFICE LOCATION Branchville, New Jersey A.M. BEST RATING A+ (Superior)

I

n 1926, Selective was started by a small business owner committed to providing prompt, fair settlements and exceptional personal service. Today, Selective’s outstanding performance continues, and can be credited to people at every level of the organization who turn individual creativity, skill, purpose and hard work into the collective innovation, strategies and energy that characterize excellence. Their expertise at delivering the distinctive combination of high-touch through strong relationships and high-tech through ease of seamless automation has created a powerful engine for profitable growth. The company’s value-added products and services are offered through approximately 1,000 independent agents in 22 Eastern and Midwestern states. Commercial insurance for small and medium-sized businesses, light industry, and public entities represents about 82 percent of the company’s insurance operations.

Selective’s highly regarded field force is dedicated to servicing and supporting agents and customers. Living and working in their territories provides Selective’s field-based employees with unlimited opportunities to develop extraordinary relationships and to deliver a level of service unmatched by competitors. The 50th largest property and casualty group in the U.S., Selective is a customer-focused, super-regional company providing a broad range of insurance and alternative risk management products and services. The company has been rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best for 50 consecutive years. Selective’s financial stability in the marketplace, coupled with the nimbleness of a regional carrier, provides security for policyholders and the capacity for profitable growth for the company and its agents.

“Since our founding 85 years ago, Selective has remained committed to building strong relationships with all of our stakeholders. We value the relationships we have built with a select group of independent agents, and are dedicated to supporting their success through the powerful combination of our ‘hightouch’ business model and leading-edge technology.” Gregory E. Murphy, Chairman, President and CEO


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

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ASSOCIATION AT WORK

Company Satisfaction Index countdown Have your say in half the time … before time runs out

Time remains to complete the 2012 Company Satisfaction Index (CSI) survey — in half of the time of years’ past.


Primary Agent | May 2012

I

t has never been easier, or quicker, to provide feedback on your carriers’ performance. Speak now — via IA&B’s Company Satisfaction Index (CSI) — or for two years hold your peace.

IA&B sliced the time commitment in half by alternating the survey between personal lines and commercial lines. First up? Personal lines for 2012. So without commercial lines carriers to rate, you’ll need just half the time of years’ past to participate. The 2012 survey remains open until May 15 for all member-agency staff.

Easy as 1, 2, 3 Participation is simple: Jump online. Rate your top personal lines carrier. Then rate your second-most-used personal lines carrier. Finally, rate your third. Gauge your carriers’ performance on a series of statements using a four-point scale, where 4 indicates satisfaction and 1 denotes dissatisfaction. Categories include products, pricing and underwriting; policy service and claims; agency/company relationship; and technology.

TIP!

The CSI survey is housed online: Start now, save your progress and then return when it’s convenient.

Worth your time

CSI through a member agent’s eyes When Jim Curran’s staff meets with prospects, carrier talk typically ensues. How does this company’s pricing compare? How’s the claims department to deal with? What’s the company’s reputation? That’s where IA&B’s Company Satisfaction Index (CSI) comes into play. The Curran Financial Group staff explains its rationale and then touts the survey results as proof. The CSI is rapidly gaining acceptance as a gauge of carrier performance. And agency staff, consumers and, of course, companies are benefiting. “It’s a vehicle to share experiences that will be seen by a larger audience and to get corrective action,” says Curran, “and it provides positive feedback to carriers on their programs’ effectiveness.”

Completing the CSI helps carriers to improve their performance. And there are tangible benefits to your work — the abilities to compare your carrier relationships with your peers’ and to benchmark companies before accepting appointments. Plus, from a global perspective, the results are vital to IA&B’s dialogue with carriers. IA&B members’ participation has grown substantially since the CSI’s 2004 launch. (At its height, over 500 member agents rated 114 companies.) And for a non-scientific survey, the greater the participation, the more credible the results. Along with credibility, increased participation also improves carriers’ reception to the survey. CSI results are showing up in carriers’ marketing materials and agency-visit discussions, and company executives are touting their use for benchmarking their agent relationships. So block off a few minutes, grab a cup of coffee and share your experiences through the CSI. It’s (half of the) time well spent.

[ 27 ]

Have your say by May 15! www.iabgroup.com/CSI


Primary Agent | May 2012

Technology U P DATE

WHAT SHOULD TODAY’S MANAGERS REALLY BE MANAGING?

DANIEL BURRUS Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and strategists. He is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. The New York Times has referred to him as one of America’s top three business “gurus” in the highest demand as a speaker. For more information on the services and products offered by Daniel Burrus, please visit www.burrus.com. For Burrus’ mobile Web app and 2012 Technology Trend Predictions, text DANBURRUS to 99000.

perception others have of you and your department, how distracted you and your team are on a daily basis and many other things you may not even be aware of. For many people, these “other” things are just part of the job, how things have

As an executive or leader in your organization, you’re managing many things: the company’s image, numerous projects and a talented group of people. But you’re also managing many other important things, including the

[ 28 ]

always been done and the expected stressors of business. But do they have to be that way? Let’s start with perception. Why is managing perception important? Because perception is often


Primary Agent | May 2012

more important than reality. And in fact, your reality will not be a happy one if you’re not managing perception. You’ve likely seen many examples of how perception is more important than reality. For example, a stock might be beaten up horribly because of the way people view the company, whether that view of the company s accurate or not. So the point is that perception is something you have to constantly manage. Whose perception? Everyone’s – the C-level executives, the employees, the customer’s customer and, most importantly, your own. Therefore, ask yourself, “How do I perceive myself?” Do you perceive yourself as trying to keep up? Trying to protect and defend? Trying to integrate the new? How you perceive yourself is going to reflect how others perceive you. So you need to perceive yourself and everyone in your department as a major competitive advantage and as a major strategic asset for the organization. As long as that’s how you perceive yourself and your team, that’s how you’ll act, and that’s how others will see you as well. Plug into your future Equally important to managing perceptions is managing distractions (a.k.a. change). The fact is that in today’s marketplace, change is coming at us fast … and it’s only getting faster. That means organizations will be facing more problems than ever before. One things we know for sure is that most distractions or changes come from the outside in – external factors impact the organization. This causes people

to react, crisis manage and continually put out fires. But to be a strategic asset to your company, you can’t simply be a crisis manager; you also have to become an opportunity manager. The question is, how do you do that? The answer is to become an opportunity manager and plug into the future.

To be an opportunity manager and strategic asset for your organization,

distraction is the enemy. To provide major new competitive advantage and to create new products, markets and services, distraction is the enemy. To be an opportunity manager and strategic asset for your organization, distraction is the enemy. To provide major new competitive advantage and to create new products, markets and services, distraction is the enemy. Unfortunately, we have never been more distracted. Not only is everyone in your organization distracted, but so is everyone in your competitors’ organizations. But in a way, this is actually good news, because it means there’s a huge competitive advantage in pulling out of that mess of distraction. To do so, though, takes leadership and discipline. Realize that our distraction level has gotten worse over the years rather than better. Why? It used to be that we had several different realities. We had our home reality with our spouse

[ 29 ]

and children, and we had our work reality with our co-workers. Often the spouse and kids didn’t know what we specifically did at work, and all the people in our work really didn’t know much detail about our home reality. We also had our leisure friends, or our personal reality. And we belonged to a club or a church group and had that reality. Finally, we had our vacation time reality. As we went through life, we would go from one reality to the other. This was a good thing psychologically because it allowed us to recharge. Then, when we went from one reality to the other, we were refreshed and mentally sharp. Today, technology has allowed all of those realities to become one reality. But before you blame technology for this merging of realities, realize it’s not technology’s fault. Technology is neither good nor evil. It’s all about how we use it. We have the choice whether to plug in or unplug. Therefore, to reduce the level of distraction in your own life, you need to understand the power of unplugging on a regular basis. Unfortunately, most people are afraid to unplug, even when they’re on vacation. They believe something might happen, so they have to be always connected to work. But this means they’re never really on vacation, and when they’re home, they’re not really home; they’re always working. But if your people are always working, how well are they functioning? The answer: not very well. They’re certainly not as creative and innovative as they need to be. And if you’re not unplugging on a regular basis, then you’re not as creative and innovative as you need to be either.


TECHNOLOGY UPDATE

Unplugging leads to better results in all areas of life. Realize that your mind is always working on a subconscious level to solve your business problems. No matter what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing, your subconscious is at work. Have you ever noticed that your best business ideas tend to come when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working on or doing something else, whether walking the dog, woodworking or playing with your kids? Great ideas often do not occur when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in the midst of trying to come up with one. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in one of those other realities that many business issues get solved. However, if you never unplug, you develop something called â&#x20AC;&#x153;blur,â&#x20AC;? when all the realities blend together and your mind never gets a chance to rest and recharge.

The good news is that you can be a responsible employee or executive and still have a life. But since there are no guidelines on how to do that, you have to create them for yourself, for your team and for your organization.

While you may think that working all the time means youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re more productive, you have to ask yourself if thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really the case. First, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to stop thinking in terms of just productivity. While you may think that working all the time means youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re more productive, you have to ask yourself if thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really the case.

Maybe youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not able to be as creative and innovative as you need to be. Maybe youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not tapping into the fresh perspective that unplugging yields you. Next, be disciplined and create strict guidelines for yourself. At a certain time in the evening, close the laptop and turn the phone off. Detail when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re allowed to work and when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not. This may seem extreme at first, but eve though weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re adults, we often act like children and need the same rules and guidelines that kids do. If your kids have an X-Box, a Playstation, a computer with unlimited Internet access, and a Facebook and MySpace account, and if they can use

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[ 30 ]


these things whenever they want, they tend to act like the little monkey that keeps pushing the button that gives him food. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why parents set rules: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Do your homework before you play.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Only one hour of TV after school.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Turn off the computer at 9 p.m.â&#x20AC;? Because you want well-rounded kids, you encourage certain behaviors and activities. You send your kids to sports and dance lessons, help them learn a new language or how to play an instrument, and make sure they have enough time for rest. You know that your child will not be well-rounded if you let them decide what to do, as theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll tend to focus on just a few things. Adults are no different. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why you need to come up with your

own guidelines in terms of when to plug in and when to unplug. So is there a time to be thinking strategically, a tie to be mapping out that next project and a time to focus on innovation? Or are you going to get to those things â&#x20AC;&#x153;somedayâ&#x20AC;? because youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re constantly checking emails or troubleshooting? Granted, you may not be able to change everyone else and get them to unplug, but you can start by changing yourself and then grow it outward. Canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change the world? Then donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. Canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change your company? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s OK. Start with yourself and then bring it to your team. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll bring it to their team, who will bring it to their customers,

who will bring it to another group. Very soon, you and many others will start realizing the real benefit of taking control of your life, unplugging from work and harnessing the creativity and innovation you never knew you had. Your future awaits At the end of the day, being able to manage perceptions and distractions is just as important as being able to manage people and projects. When you focus on managing whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities. So donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait for your future to unfold randomly, only to end up in a place you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to be. Instead, invest the time into yourself and watch your success grow.

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[ 31 ]


Classified ADVERTISEMENTS

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Drinks are on … my insurance! Hole-in-one insurance isn’t just for contests anymore. Some golf clubs and golfers — and even some non-stateside insurers — are taking the terminology literally.

Classified Advertisement, simply fax your ad on company letterhead to 717-795-8347, and we will take care of the rest.

Ad Index Atlantic Specialty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

It’s tradition for a golfer who hits a hole in one to buy a round of drinks — often for everyone at the golf club’s bar. So say hello to hole-in-one insurance for holes in one … and their obligatory celebration. At golf clubs across the country, hole-in-one “insurance” is offered to cover the bar tab. Not actually insurance, the U.S. practice typically involves club members paying into a fund that pays out for drinks if they hit a hole in one on the club’s grounds.

Brokers Surplus Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Guard Insurance Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IBC Hanover Fire & Casualty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 Harford Mutual Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 IA&B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

In Europe, however, some insurers offer golf insurance policies that cover “theft or damage to equipment and reimbursement of club fees you can’t pay due to sickness or accident,” as well as $300 to $450 for hole-in-one-related bar tab expenses.

IA&B Partners Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Interstate Insurance Mngmnt. . . . . . . . . . . . .OBC Millers Mutual Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IFC Penn National Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 PennPRIME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Preferred Property Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IBC TAPCO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 [ 32 ]

Source: The New York Times ----------------------------------------------------------------———————------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.


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Primary Agent - May 2012 - DE Edition  

Primary Agent - May 2012 - DE Edition