also in this issue: Agency success on Twitter 5 ways agents get it wrong on social media
Have u heard the latest about ACUITY ?
YES! Every1 is talking about them : )
Contents Primary agent MagazinE
What “IA&B for Me!” means for you At IA&B, we’ve renewed our focus on you. You’ll find even more value in membership now and in the coming months thanks to the features on our new website and the promise behind our new “IA&B for Me!” brand. Read on to learn how you’ll benefit.
Page 12 Winning commercial business with Twitter A little birdy (envision the Twitter icon) told us that member agency LaPlaca Insurance was finding success engaging commercial clients and prospects on the social Web. Here, we share a synopsis on how and why the agency began the venture and what it has gained.
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
5 ways insurance agents get it wrong on social media It may seem so easy that a caveman could do it, but there is a method to the social-networking madness. Don’t waste time and resources. Instead, learn from those agencies that ventured into the social Web before you and read on for five ways to get it wrong.
In every issue 3 4 5 6 8 10
Glance at Events Chair of the Board’s Message Ask the Expert State News Preventing E&O Coverage Corner
17 28 30 IBC IBC IBC
IA&B Partners H.R. Headquarters 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 # 2013-10 is published monthly by IA&B Service Group Inc., a subsidiary of IA&B. Copyright 2013. 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.
Glance at Events october calendar Date
James K. Ruble Graduate Seminar
Ocean City, Md.
CISR Agency Operations
CISR Agency Operations
CISR Agency Operations
E&O Risk Management Seminar
CISR Agency Operations
E&O Risk Management Seminar
Lehigh Valley, Pa.
CIC Commercial Casualty
CISR Personal Residential
CISR Miscellaneous Personal Lines
CISR Miscellaneous Personal Lines
P&C Licensing Study Course
Lehigh Valley, Pa.
Dynamics of Service
CIC Commercial Property
King of Prussia, Pa.
William T. Hold: Learning From Losses
William T. Hold: Learning From Losses
Executive Management Conference
P&C Licensing Study Course
CISR Commercial Casualty II
CISR Personal Auto
Lehigh Valley, Pa.
Two new On-Demand programs on commercial changes w ISO 2013 Commercial Property Changes w ISO 2013 CGL Changes Earn four CE credits and get up to speed on these changes without ever leaving your desk. These new On-Demand courses are available anytime, anywhere you can connect to the Web (for up to 30 days following registration). Changes you need to know include: w modified coverage forms
w causes of loss forms
w new endorsements
w withdrawn endorsements
Understand the rationale behind these changes and their impact on coverage.
Read more and register at: IABforME.com/On-Demand
Board of Directors Officers G. Greg Gunn, CIC Chair of the Board Lemoyne, Pa. Diana M. Hornung Hanby, ACSR Vice Chair of the Board Wilmington, Del.
G. Greg Gunn, CIC
Chair of the Board’s M
Norman F. Basso, CPCU Immediate Past Chair of the Board York, Pa.
Members Joyce M. Bailey, CIC, CRM, CPIW Newark, Del. Henry “Butch” Bradley, Jr. Forest Hill, Md. Timothy P. Burris Mifflintown, Pa. N. Lee Dotson, CIC, AAI Wilmington, Del. Michael P. Ertel Columbia, Md. John L. Frankenfield Telford, Pa. John B. Hollister Milford, Pa. Jocelyn R. Howard-Sinopoli, CIC, CISR Butler, Pa. Robert S. Klinger, LUTCF, CPIA+ Germantown, Md. Douglas A. Loesel, CPCU Erie, Pa. Michael F. McGroarty Sr. Pittsburgh, Pa. Craig S. Mader Gambrills, Md. Ann Gallen Moll, CIC Reading, Pa. Joseph R. Pastor, CPCU, AAI Oil City, Pa. April E. Ressler, CIC Altoona, Pa. Scott C. Rogers, CPIA* York, Pa.
Fall into the EMC tradition October always makes me think of football season, crisp weather and trick-or-treat nights when my kids were young. But in recent years, there’s another seasonal tradition that comes to mind: the IA&B Executive Management Conference. If you haven’t been to one of these EMCs, as they’re nicknamed, you’re missing out. Missing out on opportunities to learn about and discuss the industry’s hottest topics (past themes included perpetuation, social media and branding), to hear from nationally renowned experts, and to trade successes and struggles with fellow agency principals. This year marks the fifth annual EMC — a conference not to be missed. IA&B is bringing back previous-attendee favorites Chris Burand and Robert Allen Paul and introducing a few new presenters to discuss marketing, advertising and social media, as well as agency culture and agency financial management. And in typical IA&B fashion, there will be some (historical) fun thrown in, too. (A Lincoln actor is scheduled, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s our very own former chairman Bob Hall….) This is an exciting time to be an IA&B member, and I encourage you to take advantage of everything your association has to offer — EMC included. Until next time,
David B. Wasson Sr., CIC State College, Pa. Lawrence A. Wilson, CIC, CPIA, CPCU, ARM** New Castle, Del.
G. Greg Gunn, CIC
* Pa. IIABA National Director ** Del. IIABA National Director + Md. PIA National Director
Ask the Expert QUESTION:
2) How do I accomplish this? Obtain a simple statement which should:
I’m in discussion with a new commercial customer. The owner referred me to a risk manager: Could I have an E&O issue if I fully rely on what the risk manager is asking for without clearing everything with the owner?
w Identify the individual to whom authority is delegated w Identify the extent of that authority w Be typed on the customer’s company letterhead w Be signed by an officer of the company For example: “We/I hereby authorize [name of individual] to represent [name of organization] in insurance matters. [Name of individual] has the right to discuss coverages, make any and all changes, sign insurance documents, and is generally acting as an authorized representative of [name of organization].
answer: It is not unusual for a producer to discuss insurance with an employee who is not an officer of the company. While that person is presumably in charge of insurance and able to make decisions on behalf of the owner/ principal, if there is a problem later, the customer could try to challenge the coverage selection made by the employee and argue that you should have verified this with the owner. By the same token, you don’t want to alienate the new customer’s goodwill by constantly checking every request with him or her.
_________________________________________ Signed by officer as specified above Date _________________________________________ Officer title 3) Recognize who can delegate this authority For each type of business (corporation, LLC, partnership, association or sole proprietorship), go to IABforME.com, search “Granting authority to sign insurance documents” and view a table stating whose signature is acceptable.
1) Address the delegation of authority up-front To avoid this thorny issue, we suggest you address the delegation of authority upfront. If anything, it will show that:
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? Visit the new Ask the Expert section of IABforME.com (find the link in the website footer) to submit your question and review answers to other frequently asked questions. to submit your question and review answers to other frequently asked questions. You can also email your question to us at IAB@IABforME.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
w You recognize the owner’s or principal’s authority in making decisions w You are taking direction from the owner himself to determine who the decision-maker will be with regard to insurance
Primary Agent | October 2013
State News New inheritance tax exemption for small businesses Good news for agency principals looking to one day pass on the family business to interested heirs: Legislation recently passed which exempts from inheritance tax the transfer of family owned business assets between members of the same family (with certain exclusions and requirements, of course!). Passage represents a win for agents with familyowned businesses, since prior to passage of the new law, heirs often were forced to either sell the business or borrow significant sums of money to pay burdensome inheritance taxes. Under the new law, which is effective for estates of decedents who die on or after July 1, 2013, exempt transfers include: w Transfer of the assets of a business operated as a sole proprietorship if, at the time of the decedent’s death, the proprietorship has fewer than 50 full-time employees, the proprietorship has a net book value of assets of less than $5 million dollars, and the proprietorship has been in existence for five years prior to the decedent’s death. w Transfer of an interest in a business entity if, at the time of decedent’s death, the entity has fewer than 50 full-time employees, the entity has a net book value of assets of less than $5 million dollars, the entity is wholly owned by the decedent or by the decedent and members of the decedent’s family, the entity isn’t engaged in a trade or business whose principal purpose is the management of investments or income-producing 
assets owned by the entity, and the entity has been in existence for five years prior to decedent’s death. To qualify — and remain eligible — for the exemption, heirs must continue to operate the family business for seven years following the decedent’s death. Failure to do so results in the forfeiture of the exemption, and the original inheritance tax, plus interest, becomes due. For the seven-year period, heirs are also required to file an annual certificate with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue that they continue to operate the business. Look for our complete Q&A on the law at IABforME.com.
New program initiates $100 million tax-credit auction among insurers Amid the flurry of activity surrounding the state budget, legislation was passed that authorizes an auction of tax credits among insurance companies. Bids for the credits are expected to generate about $85 million in investment dollars to benefit a number of economic development programs. The Innovate in PA program offers to qualified insurance companies $100 million of deferred insurance premium tax credits to be used against tax liabilities in 2017. The capital raised would be a discount between the face value of the tax credits and the amount raised at auction. Ben Franklin Technology Partners will receive half of
the proceeds; the PA Venture Capital Investment Program will receive 45 percent; and 5 percent will go to three regional biotechnology research centers.
PID now emailing license-renewal invoices
Insurers are not required to reduce policy rates because of a reduction of its insurance premiums tax liability, and if an insurer cannot use the entire tax credit for its given year, it may be carried over to succeeding taxable years up to Dec. 31, 2025.
Mind your email inbox (as well as your standard mailbox during the transition) to maintain your insurance license. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) began sending renewal invoices electronically, starting in July for September license renewals. The department assured stakeholders that the transfer will be secure and display no non-public information.
Pa. policyholders to be clued in on terrorism insurance unknowns The pending Dec. 1, 2014 expiration of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA) soon will trigger customer notifications. Stay ahead of the game by reviewing the endorsement that your workers’ compensation and employers’ liability policyholders will receive and by preparing your staff to answer their questions. This summer, the insurance commissioner approved the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau’s filing which will prompt a notification endorsement similar to the one used by the National Council on Compensation Insurance in 38 other states. At the crux of the message is a warning that premiums related to coverage of terrorism or war losses hinge on the reauthorization of the program. The notification will be sent to employers with policies in effect on or after Jan. 1, 2014. pcrb.com (choose Circulars, then number 1619)
Walk to make wishes come true Plan to participate in a fundraising walk to benefit Make-A-Wish, and capitalize on your agency’s tie to Trusted Choice®, a bronze sponsor of the events. Sunday, Oct. 20 – Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia area Saturday, Nov. 2 – City Island, Harrisburg
In addition, be on the lookout for a PID outreach campaign which will aim to capture additional licensees’ email addresses. For those licensees who do not have an email address on file, and for those whose emails bounce back to the department, a hard copy invoice will continue to be printed and mailed.
Trusted Choice agencies across the nation have joined forces to support Make-A-Wish. Collectively, when we unite, the benefit of our generosity on Make-A-Wish – and the secondary benefit of advancing the image of the independent agency system and the Trusted Choice brand – grow exponentially.
Note: These are two of several sponsorship and partnership opportunities we’ve organized throughout the year.
Our fifth annual Executive Management Conference will bring back your favorite presenters to provide more insight and advice on agency management, marketing and more. Read more and register at IABforME.com/EMC2013. Oct. 29-30 Wyndham Gettysburg Gettysburg, Pa.
IABforME.com (Select Resource Center, then Marketing Center)
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DeAngelo Insurance Group Sinking Spring, Pa. Staub Riggs & Collins Inc Littlestown, Pa. Quinn Insurance Agency Springfield, Pa.
Primary Agent | October 2013
Preventing e r r o r s a n d o m i ss i o n s
Navigating the minefield of liability coverage for contractors
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@IABforME.com.
Over the past several years, the issues have not changed when securing coverage for construction firms. Agents remain exposed to large claims arising from coverage issues from policies covering contactors and artisans.
language, the premium will not be attractive to the client. Policies with a smaller premium, in most cases, are more restrictive in what coverages are offered. Agents must understand the differences in coverage to properly service their clients and avoid a lawsuit against them.
Explain and document Due to extreme competition, construction firms continue to look for affordable general liability coverage. Accordingly, because of high loss ratios in this line of business, carriers continue to offer affordable non-standard liability coverage, yet it lacks coverage in important areas. The interplay between those variables — standard vs. non-standard – is where agents find themselves caught in the middle.
Two common patterns have evolved: 1) Policies that severely restrict contractual indemnity coverage that provides protection for “hold harmless” clauses in contracts and 2) Policies that exclude coverage for injury to any worker on a jobsite. Many policies offered today limit coverage in both areas, making the coverage offered almost illusory. To avoid a claim, agents must recognize the difference in coverages offered in the standard market and coverages offered in the
If an agent quotes a standard CGL policy without restrictive 
non-standard market. When the coverage offered is substandard, an agent needs to explain to the client the coverage restrictions and document the discussion. The “mirror test” and more The following examples show what can happen when coverage restrictions are present in a contractor’s policy. w A worker was injured on a job site when an air conditioning unit fell on his shoulder. The injured party sued the contractor and a manufacturer of the brackets which held the A/C unit in place. The loss was reported to the contractor’s carrier, and the carrier disclaimed coverage, citing an “injury to worker” exclusion in the policy, which negated coverage. The contractor, forced
to defend himself, sued the agent and the carrier. The carrier was let out based on policy language. The case settled for $550,000, and the contractor’s share was $275,000. The agent had a long-term relationship with the client. The policy at issue replaced an earlier policy issued by another carrier. The earlier policy did not have a worker exclusion. The agent missed the change in coverage when he switched carriers, failing to perform the “mirror test” on the two policies. The claim against the agent settled for $190,000. w In another example, the agent secured replacement coverage for a roofing contractor. The client was performing repairs to a flat roof and used a blow torch to cure the new roof membrane being applied. The roof rafters caught fire and the building was extensively damaged. The property carrier filed a subrogation claim against the contractor. The contractor’s carrier disclaimed coverage, citing an “open torch” exclusion. The contractor then made a claim against the agent. The previous carrier did not have an “open torch” exclusion, and the agent failed to point out the restriction in the new policy. This is another example of the agent failing to perform the “mirror test” when the new policy was received. The claim against the agency settled for $175,000.
contractor harmless. The policy covering the agency’s client did not list the general contractor as an additional insured due to an error by the agent, who was aware of the need to add the general contractor. In addition, the policy did not cover the “hold harmless” obligation due to restrictive language in the policy. After receiving a denial of coverage under the client’s policy, the carrier for the general contractor paid $1,800,000 to settle the claim, and made a claim against the agency’s client, who in turn made a claim against the agency. The general contractor claimed the defense costs of $175,000 and the first $1,000,000 of the settlement should have been paid under the client’s policy, had the agent done his job properly. The claim against the agency settled for $700,000.
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Keep the client informed Not only must agents be familiar with the coverage they offer contractors, if a policy with substandard coverage is noted, the client should be informed — and given the opportunity to purchase a more comprehensive policy. All communication between the agent and the client regarding a substandard policy and subsequent offers to secure a more comprehensive policy should be clearly documented. Absent clear documentation, claims against an agency will inevitably occur when the client finds itself without adequate coverage after an accident.
w In another example, a worker for an agency’s client was severely injured on a job. The worker sued the general contractor. In the contract between the agency’s client and the general contractor, the agency’s client agreed to add the general contractor as an additional insured to their GL policy and agreed to hold the general
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Primary Agent | October 2013
Coverage co r n e r
When does the injury or damage occur? 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.
Prior to 1976 Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) policies covered injuries and damages arising out of an “accident” that occurred during the policy period. The word “accident” was not defined in the policy. Black’s Law Dictionary devotes a half page fully explaining the various meanings of “accident.” One of those meanings is, “An undesigned sudden and unexpected event.”
the same general harmful conditions.” This revision was definitely a broadening of coverage since the injury or damage doesn’t have to be sudden – it could occur over a period of time. Think pollution, asbestosis, mold, etc. In 2010, a contractor hired a subcontractor to haul dirt to a building site and then compact the site prior to pouring the foundation for the building. The subcontractor’s work was faulty, and over a period of time the land slowly subsided, causing a portion of the building to collapse in 2012. Property damage claims were then made against the subcontractor in 2013 by the building owner and several tenants of the building.
In the 1976 revision of the CGL, those folks who write and revise the policy language changed “accident” to “occurrence.” Since that time, CGL policies have provided coverage for certain injuries and damages arising out of an “occurrence” that occurs during the policy period. “Occurrence” is defined as, “An accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially
First question: When did the damage occur? Second question: Does
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the subcontractor have coverage under all three CGL policies (2010, 2011 and 2012), or is coverage provided only under the CGL policy in effect when the damage manifested itself in 2012? The answer to the first question is: The damage occurred over a three year period – 2010, 2011 and 2012. The answer to the second question is: It depends on what state you’re in. When the injury or damage occurs over a period of time, the majority of state courts, including Maryland and Delaware, have consistently looked to all the policies in effect during that period of time for coverage based on the definition of “occurrence.” This is known as the continuous injury theory (a.k.a. multiple trigger theory).
However, this is not the case in Pennsylvania. In general, Pennsylvania law provides that a continuous injury trigger should never be applied to a property damage case. Where there are two or more insurers involved, the duty to defend and indemnify falls solely on the insurer whose policy was in effect when the manifestation of damages occurred. This is known as the manifestation theory. The exception to the manifestation theory in Pennsylvania is bodily injury arising from toxic materials. In Coregis Insurance Company v. City of Harrisburg (2006) the court stated: The multiple trigger theory has been adopted in very limited circumstances, such as asbestosis, where the injuries caused by exposure do not manifest themselves until a substantial time after the exposure causing the injury. Courts have justified use of a multiple trigger theory of liability in such cases due to the long latency period of the injuries caused by asbestosis and similar disease, and concern that insurers facing numerous future claims would terminate coverage. Devon International, Devon International Industries and Devon International Group (Devon) imported
Chinese drywall from China, which they sold to several distributors in the United States. The drywall was defective as it contained high amounts of sulfur. Devon was hit with numerous lawsuits in various states, including Pennsylvania. As is common with Chinese drywall cases, the plaintiffs alleged the sulfur emitted by the drywall damaged their real and personal property. Devon forwarded the claims to their CGL insurer, Cincinnati Insurance Company, seeking defense and indemnification under the CGL policies issued by Cincinnati for two consecutive years. Cincinnati accepted the claims, but the parties disagreed as to whether the claims were covered by both policies or by one policy only. If these claims had been filed in Maryland, Delaware, Alabama, Mississippi or in most any other state, Cincinnati would probably have to provide coverage under both policies under the continuous injury theory. However, on February 15, 2013, in Cincinnati Insurance Company v. Devon International, Inc., a Pennsylvania federal district court held that, for the purposes of insurance
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coverage, the shipment of the defective drywall from China constituted one occurrence, and the occurrence took place when the damage caused by the drywall manifested itself in the homes and buildings of the plaintiffs. This decision is based on Pennsylvania law, and the good news for insureds (bad news for insurers) is that the majority of Chinese drywall cases are located in jurisdictions where Pennsylvania law will not apply. The CGL now addresses continuous injury or damage in the Insuring Agreement of the policy. Once the insured has knowledge of any injury or damage, then any change, continuation or resumption of that same injury or damage which occurs after the policy period will be deemed to have occurred during the policy period in which the insured first had knowledge. This is referred to as the known injury or damage provision. However, if the injury or damage is ongoing, but not discovered for several years, the continuous injury theory will most likely apply in most states. Not Pennsylvania, except for bodily injury resulting from toxic materials. Yâ€™all take care!
Association at work
What “IA&B for Me!” means for you We want to prove that there’s nowhere beyond IA&B that you need to go for answers.
IA&B helped me grow a start-up agency from scratch to a successful, thriving business.
At IA&B, we’ve renewed our focus on you. You’ll find even more value in membership now and in the coming months thanks to the features on our new website and the promise behind our new “IA&B for Me!” brand. Read on to learn how you’ll benefit.
Tom Davenport, CIC President, Blue Marsh Insurance
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Primary Agent | October 2013
hat does IA&B mean to you? We’ve asked that question of you and your fellow members quite a bit, and we’ve drawn upon your answers to refocus on your needs and improve on your benefits. You’ve known us as a reliable resource for advocacy, training, compliance, insurance products, news and more. And now, thanks to our elevated member-centric philosophy, we think you’ll find membership of greater value than ever before.
How to use My Homepage
On the following pages, we’ll share what’s new at IABforME.com and with its My Homepage account-management feature — and how you’ll benefit.
IABforME.com Reset your Internet favorites list and bookmark a new website. We’re aiming to make IABforME.com your first stop for answers to your burning questions on agency management and legal and regulatory compliance; your go-to source for the latest industry news; and your one-stop shop for professional training and development and insurance products. The site debuted on Aug. 29. With it came the introduction of several features developed in response to your input and poised to improve your agency’s operations. Read on for a description of a few and how you’ll benefit from them. Site search and navigation Thanks to an improved search feature and streamlined navigation, you’ll save time finding answers and, in turn, gain even more benefit from your membership by further utilizing our resources.
The new IABforME.com features My Homepage – your personal hub for maintaining your individual and your agency’s contact information, preferences and demographics, as well as for registering yourself and your colleagues for education and events. My Homepage also provides a portal to search by region, date and topic for the training opportunities that meet your needs.
We heard you loud and clear: Our resources are thorough, helpful — and numerous — but finding them online was the pits. Our new site search engine lets you “self-service” our resources and find answers quickly. And how resources are organized on the new site allows for easier, more intuitive navigation. Plus, we’ve incorporated an Ask the Experts section, stocked with answers to members’ frequently asked questions.
Read more about how you’ll benefit on page 14. Then give it a whirl by following these steps:
We want to prove that there’s nowhere beyond IA&B that you need to go for answers and that you can find those answers whenever, wherever you need them.
3. Log in using your IA&B username and password.
News feature You’ll save time searching out the latest industry scoop and further your knowledge on industry trends thanks to the way news is reported at IA&BforME.com. We’re taking the Agent Headlines news and analysis you’ve come to know and trust to the next level. No more waiting for Thursday’s email for the news of the week. The new site allows us to provide you with updates in real time. You can visit the website any time to read the latest, sign up for our RSS feed to have our news updates delivered immediately to your RSS feed reader, or — for the diehards — read a
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1. Visit IABforME.com. 2. Select Account Login from the top right corner.
4. Click the arrow in the top right corner next to your name to activate a drop-down menu. 5. Choose My Homepage.
Association at work
weekly recap of the news we posted online in the redesigned Agent Headlines email which continues to hit your inbox. You’re too busy to hunt down the latest industry happenings. Count on IA&B to provide you with what you need to know.
My Homepage Prepare for simplified account management and course registration, as well as a growing personalized member experience, when you visit our new site. That’s thanks to the debut of a powerful new association management system tucked behind the façade of our new website. Account management You’ll gain more value out of your membership by helping us tailor offerings to meet your needs — and by ensuring that everyone on your staff receives member benefits. Now you can maintain your agency’s account with ease by visiting the new IABforME.com and selecting “My Homepage” from the upper, right-hand corner. From there, you’ll find your personal hub for maintaining your individual and your agency’s contact information, preferences and demographics. This also allows you to self-manage your employee roles so everyone on your staff receives timely news updates, discounted professional training and access to member resources.
In the coming months we’ll add even more opportunities to personalize your account, which — in turn — will provide us with additional information to offer you the news, educational opportunities and specific resources that meet your needs. We’re working to make your membership more valuable than ever before. Course registration You’ll save time finding the courses you need and registering for them on our new website. Our training and education offerings are top notch – awardwinning, in fact. But members shared that registering for them online required a timeconsuming and downright antiquated process. You’ll
IA&B is the go-to resource for managing our agency. Angela Franchi, CIC Executive Vice President, The Lunar Agency
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find it quicker and easier than ever to sign up for courses on our new website thanks to a simplified “shopping” and checkout process. You’ll even find hassle-free registration of your colleagues — no need to dig up their IA&B member numbers and no requirement to register yourself for the same courses. Another benefit? You’ll be able to zero in on the training opportunities that best meet your needs thanks to new search capabilities that sort by region, date and type. We want to make it easier than ever for you to rely on us as your trusted provider of education.
What’s to come Anticipate gaining even more value from your IA&B membership in the coming months and years. We’re improving the way we deliver member benefits and ensuring that you — the member — are the driving force behind everything we do. Thank you for your membership. And we look forward to your continued membership for years to come.
CSRs and producers, start your engines!
N CL quew techn oting olog y!
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Let us put you in the driver’s seat! Want to learn more about accessExpress? Log on to www.harleysvillegroup.com/access-express today. Then … If you’re already a Harleysville agent, contact your Harleysville representative to arrange for a“test drive”of our new quoting technology. If you’re not with Harleysville but are interested in an appointment, visit www.harleysvillegroup.com, and click on“’Good people make great partners.’ Get appointed with us today.”
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“Very easy to quote.Will be a timesaver.” CSR,Pennsylvania
Scan this tag to be sent directly to our accessExpress online information center. www.harleysvillegroup.com/access-express
Platinum Profile Insurance Agents & Brokers proudly recognizes Donegal Insurance Group as one of its Platinum Partners. IA&B Platinum Partners dedicate the highest level of sponsorship to our organization. Featured Partner Donegal Insurance Group Chief Executive Officer Donald H. Nikolaus President and CEO Corporate Headquarters Marietta, Pennsylvania DONEGAL INSURANCE GROUP Donegal Mutual Insurance Company Atlantic States Insurance Company Southern Insurance Company of Virginia Le Mars Insurance Company Peninsula Insurance Group Sheboygan Falls Insurance Company Michigan Insurance Company Southern Mutual Insurance Company A.M. BEST RATING A (Excellent) WEBSITE www.donegalgroup.com
e have been providing quality property and casualty insurance protection since Donegal Mutual Insurance Company began doing business in 1889. Over the years, the Donegal Insurance Group has grown significantly to now include nine property and casualty insurance companies. The Donegal Insurance Group enjoys an A (Excellent) rating by the A.M. Best Company. As our operations have grown, we have expanded our ability to provide our independent insurance agents with a comprehensive suite of products. In addition to providing a full line of personal insurance products, we have developed competitive commercial products that allow our agents to serve a broad spectrum of small, mid-market and larger commercial accounts. We work
very hard to provide exceptional products and service in lines of business and markets that we know and understand well.
through independent agents. We are constantly looking for ways to deliver increased value to our agents and solidify company-agency relationships.
At Donegal, we focus on providing superior technology and outstanding service to our agents and customers. We know that “ease of doing business” has become increasingly important to independent agents.
We have benefited greatly from the feedback we receive from our regional agency forums, which helps us enhance our products and operations.
Donegal has invested millions of dollars developing advanced technology that greatly enhances our agents’ and policyholders’ experience in doing business with us. Donegal has long recognized the value of an independent agent in assisting individual and business consumers navigate the insurance-buying process. Every day, we prove our commitment to the independent agency system by distributing our products exclusively [ 16 ]
Much has changed since we started in the insurance business over 120 years ago, but one thing remains the same — Donegal remains firmly committed to delivering a better value to our agents and policyholders. We look forward to our prospects for mutual success as we work together with our independent insurance agents in serving the insurance needs of our customers.
Listed below are those companies that strongly support the independent agency system and Insurance Agents & Brokers. Thank you for your continued sponsorship.
What is IA&B Partners? The IA&B Partners program gives company and allied businesses the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment of support to independent agents and receive maximum market exposure. As an IA&B Partner, you will also realize the benefits of IA&B membership to help you succeed in the insurance industry.
DO YOU SEE YOUR NAME? To become an IA&B Partner, choose the sponsorship package that matches your commitment of support. Contact the Member Sales Center at 800-998-9644, 717-795-9100 or visit us online at www.iabgroup.com to get started.
ACUITY Berkley Mid-Atlantic Group Donegal Insurance Group Erie Insurance Group Harleysville Insurance HM Insurance Group Insurance Agents & Brokers Service Group Inc Liberty Mutual Insurance MMG Insurance Company Millers Mutual Group Millville Mutual Insurance Co Mutual Benefit Group Penn National Insurance Swiss Re The Main Street America Group Utica National Insurance Group
Aegis Security Insurance Co Agency Insurance Company AmWINS Program Underwriters Inc Auto-Owners Insurance Company Briar Creek Mutual Insurance Company Chubb Group of Insurance Companies Conemaugh Valley Mutual Insurance Co Countryway Insurance Company Encompass Insurance GMI Insurance Goodville Mutual Casualty Company Guard Insurance Group Hanover Fire & Casualty Insurance Company Harford Mutual Insurance Co
Insurance Alliance of Central PA Inc
ISU Insurance Agency Network Progressive Westfield Insurance
Insurance Placement Facility of PA
Keystone Insurers Group Inc Mercer Insurance Group
Access Insurance Company Allied Insurance American Mining Insurance Co Burns & Wilcox Limited Cumberland Insurance Group Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of Western Pennsylvania Frederick Mutual Insurance Co Juniata Mutual Insurance Co PSBA Insurance Trust Selective The Philadelphia Contributionship [ 17 ]
Mutual Aid Exchange Penn PRIME Municipal Insurance Reamstown Mutual Insurance Company Rockwood Casualty Insurance State Auto Mutual Insurance Company TAPCO Underwriters Inc The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company The Motorists Insurance Group The Mutual Service Office Inc Zenith Insurance Primary Agent October 2013
Winning commercial business with Twitter An agency success story
A little birdy (envision the Twitter icon) told us that member agency LaPlaca Insurance was finding success engaging commercial clients and prospects on the social Web. Read on for a synopsis on how and why the agency began the venture and what it has gained.
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Primary Agent | October 2013
n paper, LaPlaca Insurance Inc., headquartered in Landsdale, Pa., is a typical independent agency – a family-owned shop with a staff of seven who write and manage a mixed book of regional business. But online, LaPlaca Insurance is atypical, finding tangible success with commercial clients and prospects through social networking.
Adding to the mix It helps that Anne LaPlaca, agency president and daughter of agency founder Dave LaPlaca, is a marketer at heart and by (previous) trade: She spent 10 years as a director of international marketing for global health insurer CIGNA. There she learned the importance of using a mix of marketing elements. So when it came time to develop a marketing plan for her agency, she knew the value of including social networking along with the more traditional strategies of advertising, public relations, sales support and direct mail. “In our ultra-conservative industry where change is slow, marketing is normally regarded as sales, and numbers are king,” shares Anne. “So I initiated the [social networking] program slowly and with youthful employees who understand today’s dependence on social media.”
Landing help Anne credits CampusPhilly.org for connecting her with a key youthful employee. She advertised for a marketing intern, and Julie Olley applied. “I was very impressed with Julie’s resume, especially her major in entrepreneurial and family business,” explains Anne. “LaPlaca Insurance is both.” No doubt, Anne lucked out. Julie needed little direction to get started and maintains an infectious positive attitude, and her education was spot on. “At Saint Joseph’s, my professors spent a great deal of time focusing on social media marketing and its importance in the business world today,” explains Julie.
Engaging staff Staff buy-in was slow. In fact, Anne initially chose not to share very many details with the staff who didn’t have extensive experience with or understanding of social networking. “I figured if it worked as a PR tool that gave us positive exposure which someday translated into sales, then they would understand its
“I don’t think you can tell if social media is worth it to your business in two to three months. The ROI will not be that quick.” – Julie Olley, marketing intern
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A week in the life of a social media manager Julie spends five to seven hours a week managing the agency’s Facebook and Twitter presence. She relies on HootSuite, a platform that allows her to schedule posts to go out at predetermined times throughout the week. Then each day, she monitors the accounts to check for engagement and to engage with other businesses in the area. “It’s really important not to get into the habit of just loading posts into a social media manager [like HootSuite],” shares Julie. “You have to get on the sites each day and show people that you are alive and listening to what they are saying.” To see the fruits of Julie’s labor, follow LaPlaca on Twitter (@LaPlacaIns) and Facebook (facebook.com/ LaPlacaInsurance).
Content for the taking A common concern among social networking newbies (new tweeps, if you will) is where to find fresh content. Look no further than our state-specific Twitter feeds for fodder for your agency’s tweets:
agencies] is to stick with it,” explains Julie. “I have come across too many accounts on both Twitter and Facebook where an agency started to send out tweets and posts and then two to three months later stopped. I don’t think you can tell if social media is worth it to your business in two to three months. The ROI will not be that quick.”
“The follower engagement is very high with retweeting, favoriting, replying and mentioning,” explains Julie. And a big milestone came the first time that the agency’s Twitter account generated a request to quote a business account. “The biggest piece of advice I would give [other independent
@IAB_DE | @IAB_MD | @IAB_PA
Resources 2.0 Find more resources on using social media for your agency by visiting IABforME.com. Select Resource Center and then Technology. importance and effectiveness,” says Anne. Julie confers that the process was slow but is proud of how far the staff has come.
Also, check out our Executive Management Conference, Oct. 29-30 in Gettysburg, Pa., for more expert instruction on social media management.
“It took everyone in the office some time to understand the value of communicating on social media,” shares Julie. “At first there were a lot of questions about what certain things mean, but over the past year, I truly believe that their knowledge has increased.”
Finding success Julie began maintaining the LaPlaca Insurance Facebook and Twitter accounts in the spring of 2012. Admittedly, the initial response of customers and prospects on both platforms was slow. But by the beginning of 2013, the agency’s Twitter account took off.
A.M. Best upgrades Harford Mutual to a Financial Strength Rating of
A (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating
BEST A Excellent
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For me, IA&B is my go-to place for continuing education for myself and my staff. Shannon Lipniskis Principal, Hutton-Blews Insurance
See all the CE weâ€™ve developed for you at IABforME.com/education.
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5 ways insurance agents get it wrong on social media An agency success story
It may seem so easy that a caveman could do it, but there is a method to the social-networking madness. Donâ€™t waste time and resources. Instead, learn from those agencies that ventured into the social Web before you and read on for five ways to get it wrong.
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Primary Agent | October 2013
ver the last seven years or so, I’ve consulted with and spoken in front of hundreds of independent agents and brokers. Mainly my message has focused on digital marketing, personal branding and emerging technologies. I’ve watched the insurance industry slowly adopt social media strategies, and can confidently say that — unfortunately — many agents and brokers are wasting their time with social media. Below I’ve shared five common downfalls of insurance brokers and social media, along with tips on how you can turn it around for a successful strategy.
1. Social channels are not online billboards Yes, I was one of those consultants beating the social media drum early on. I stood on stage delivering keynote presentations urging agents to get onto social media. I warned them of looking old and out of touch if they weren’t out there. Many in the audiences heard the message and jumped into the deep end of the social media pool. Unfortunately, most missed the bigger message, which was this: You can’t simply exist on social media, you have to use it the way it was intended. If you have a profile but aren’t active or optimized, then you are probably doing more harm than good. However, if you are truly committed to social media (and it can bring clear ROI to agencies who use it well), you need to invest the time to create a game plan, be consistently active on your profile(s) and integrate your activities across platforms, including your public website if you have one. Another option is hiring a third party to assist in this process.
2. You never have enough content Most agents and agencies have a decent structure in place. They may have a blog that they post on sporadically, and maybe even a social media presence that’s connected to their site. That is the easy part. In order to be relevant and effective, you have to be a content-creating machine. That is easier said than done. We recognize that most agents aren’t wired to sit down and write a blog. We also see the struggles that agencies have trying to get producers and owners to blog or create other content. It’s like herding cats! Best practices shows that you need to be blogging regularly and updating social media multiple times per day to be effective. It’s the reality of the environment. We know that this is very difficult for most organizations, regardless of size. For agents who can’t invest the time in content creation, there are services like YourInsuranceQuestion.com out there that can help.
3. Social needs your personality If you have not identified your personal brand, or do not see this as a strategic initiative, then there is really no point in participating in social media.
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If you have a profile but aren’t active or optimized, then you are probably doing more harm than good.
Social media is one of the most powerful tools any professional has today to manage their personal brand, increase awareness in their expertise, grow their network and ultimately increase their book. If you have not identified your personal brand and developed a plan that includes social media, then you are not taking full advantage of social media’s potential. Step back and think about your personal (or agency) brand, what sets you apart, and how you want to portray yourself both in person and in the virtual world of social networking. Only then can you start crafting a unified social strategy.
4. Likes and follows are neither leads nor sales We see a lot of Millennials and tech-savvy, seasoned producers hide behind technology. Most
Make sure your social media monitoring goes beyond activity and focuses on new leads generated, positive customer engagement, cross sells, referrals, etc. agency owners are admittedly not great at new technology, especially social media. These savvy individuals recognize
An evening with Lincoln
Courtesy of Thompson Photography
Activities include a welcome reception with our 16th president just weeks before the 150th anniversary of his historic Gettysburg Address.
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this and give a false sense of accomplishment by increasing “likes” and followers. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of equating those activity metrics with success. Social media can help your business, but that business is still insurance, not follower-gathering. Make sure your social media monitoring goes beyond activity and focuses on new leads generated, positive customer engagement, cross sells, referrals, etc. It’s not always easy to quantify these sales and retention metrics, but the earlier you put tracking systems in place, the better you can measure your true results and ROI.
Primary Agent | October 2013
5. Do you know what winning (results) means? If you want to be active on social media, you need to know why you’re doing it. Social media gives you a digital presence. It can help you to establish credibility online, increase traffic to your site, convert that traffic into leads and eventually turn that into sales. That needs to start with a strategy and plan. You need to have specific targets and constantly measure your results (as mentioned in No. 4 above). That information can then be used to adapt your presence to suit your needs. We know that people are wasting their time if they are unclear about expected results and 7.5 xthe 4.625 how to get there. Social media is jgs_umbrella_7.4x4.625v1
What’s regulation got to do with it? Not much, yet. It’s fair to say that the rapid advancement of social-networking technology — and the rapid adoption by carriers and producers – have outpaced state regulators’ ability to monitor them. Last year the National Association of Insurance Commissioners released The Use of Social Media in Insurance report. Of main concern? Protecting consumers from false or misleading information and upholding market-regulation principles, particularly record retention. Other tidbits of note from the report: w Responsibility for a producer’s social media communication depends on whether he or she is a captive or independent agent and what role the carrier played in providing and encouraging use of the content. w Static social media content must comply with state marketing and advertising regulations, while interactive content is – in most circumstances – not attributable to the carrier or producer. Only a few state insurance departments — not including ours in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware — have addressed the issue formally. We’ll continue to monitor their stance. - IA&B
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about more than stabbing in the dark â€” it takes a clear plan, consistent execution and ongoing measurement.
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The truth is that social media works. Agencies that are successful on social media tend to be successful, period. If you are going to put any investment (time, money, resource) into social media, you need to have a plan and clear objectives on what you want to accomplish. If you donâ€™t, you will most likely be wasting more than just time.
To learn more, visit www.guard.com/apply.
Patrick Sitkins â€” partner/managing director of SiliconCloud and coauthor of â€œBrand Damage â€“ Itâ€™s Personal!â€? â€” contributed this article. To learn more about SiliconCloud, a digital marketing firm, or connect with Patrick, visit www. patricksitkins.com or @patricksitkins on Twitter. a Berkshire Hathaway company
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Our value is crystal clear .
A peek inside the black box of catastrophe and predictive modeling
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our personal touch proves it. MBG. what a gem.
Predictive modeling can create unpredictable premiums.
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At recent Member Agent Panel meetings, participants aired frustrations with underwritersâ€™ growing reliance on predictive analytics â€” a seemingly secretive process thatâ€™s difficult to understand, let alone explain to customers. In response, the IA&B Board of Directors invited Willis Re representatives (seen here with IA&B Service Group Chairman Norm Basso and Vice Chairman Greg Gunn) to present on catastrophe and predictive modeling at their Aug. 20 meeting.
If youâ€™re looking for targeted coverage for farm and ranch,
The presentation included a primer on the reinsurance market, an explanation of how catastrophe models are developed and used, and a comparison between traditional ratemaking and predictive modeling. From here, the board will determine how your association can help you, whether it be with member resources, customer-education support or carrier advocacy. Stay tuned!
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[ 27 ]
Primary Agent | October 2013
h e ad q u art e r s
Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and its impact on employee benefits
Jeffrey W. Gerhart CEBS, MBA Jeffrey W. Gerhart, CEBS, MBA, provided this article on behalf of Mosteller & Associates, IA&B’s contracted human resources consulting firm. Protect yourself and your agency from regulatory and legislative missteps by accessing HR Solution©. Our compilation of products and services — available
This past July, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prevented the federal government from recognizing benefits to married, same-sex couples. The July ruling did not change any of the 35 states that have either statutory or constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. (Pennsylvania has a ban; Delaware and Maryland no longer do.)
same-sex spouses are denied death benefits from retirement plans or life/LTD plans. While changes to DOMA do not require employers to redefine eligibility under health insurance or retirement plans, there may be impact on administration of Family Medical Leave (FML) since state of residence is used to determine applicability. For example, an employee residing in Delaware or Maryland but working in Pennsylvania may be eligible for FML to care for a same-sex spouse who has a serious health condition.
exclusively for member agencies — simplifies establishing or improving your human resources program. It also includes base-level consultation and discounted professional services from Mosteller & Associates. Learn more at IABforME.com (Resource Center).
What is the impact on Pennsylvania employers? Pennsylvania does not recognize same-sex marriage. However, private employers have had the ability to voluntarily extend samesex benefits to employees. Some have already done so, but such extension does not allow those benefits to be eligible for federal tax relief. And,
Bottom line: While Pennsylvania does not permit samesex marriage, it may be prudent for those employers to run through the exercise of evaluating their programs. They should determine in which
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state employees live, whether the resident state allows same-sex marriage and evaluate how it may impact their benefit programs. What does this mean to Delaware and Maryland employers? Since Maryland and Delaware legalized same-sex marriages (Jan. 1, 2013 and July 1, 2013 respectively), the impact on benefits is more immediate. Employers should evaluate the design of their health and welfare plans, retirement or deferred compensation plans and protected leave programs. The review should include their broker, plan agent, consultant or tax/legal advisor to determine which changes are required from those which may be desired. Generally, if benefits are provided to
opposite-sex spouses, those benefits would extend to same-sex spouses. Benefits to be reviewed: w Health, Dental and Vision Insurance (insured & self-insured) w Life & Long Term Disability Insurance w Flexible Spending, Health Reimbursement or Health Savings Accounts w Family Medical Leave (if applicable) w Personal Time-Off Policies (i.e. funeral, non-FML leave) w Health Insurance Continuation (federal and state COBRA) w Retirement/Deferred Compensation Plans (election/ survivor benefits) Tactical considerations: w Review plan documents (i.e. contracts, summary plan descriptions) w Redefine and communicate the term “spouse” and which plans have changed w Review tax reporting and calculation systems (benefits eligibility/taxable wages) w Update enrollment forms and systems Other benefit considerations: Marriage of same sex partners will now qualify as a change-in-status event, allowing employees to make immediate changes to health plan coverage. As well, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order that is a result of a same-sex marriage divorce will need to be evaluated carefully.
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On a larger scale, Social Security and Medicare will allow same-sex spouses to receive benefits previously denied. These benefits appear to be based on the state of residence, and Congress would need to amend the law to allow broader coverage in states that do not acknowledge same-sex marriage. Long-term effects for same-sex couples: w Death benefits available, payable and not considered estate taxes w Immigration restrictions eased w Federal tax relief of benefit costs allowed w Employer “salary gross up” programs to offset taxable benefits eliminated There remain many unanswered questions about the changes with DOMA. We can expect to see continuing guidance issued from the U.S. Department of Labor and the IRS as these agencies sort out the impact of this landmark decision.
In a nutshell Pennsylvania employers: Determine in which state your employees live, whether the resident state allows same-sex marriage and evaluate how it may impact your benefit programs. Delaware and Maryland employers: Evaluate the design of your health and welfare plans, retirement or deferred compensation plans and protected leave programs. Generally, if you provide benefits to opposite-sex spouses, those the same benefits would extend to same-sex spouses.
Primary Agent | October 2013
Technology u p dat e
Agency strategies to manage change successfully
Jeff Yates Jeff Yates is Executive Director of the Agents Council for Technology (ACT). ACT’s mission is to bring the stakeholders in the independent insurance agency distribution system together to advance the use of the most effective business processes, practices and technologies, in order to enhance productivity, service, marketing, sales and security. Jeff can be reached at jeff. email@example.com. ACT’s website is www.iiaba.net/act. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.
Few would dispute that we are living in a time of rapid and profound changes. Consumers’ expectations are changing fast, often shaped by their experiences in other industries. More and more consumers are “connected” and will communicate with their business partners using any device that is handy to them at the time. These consumers
are also empowered by social media and will use these tools to research their potential business partners, as well as to spread the word when they receive bad service. New technologies are enabling businesses to enhance the consumer experiences that they provide and to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
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Managing through all of this change has become a major challenge even for the most tech-savvy agencies, as well as for our carriers and vendors. What are the key trends that will affect my business materially? Where will my major competitors be in five years? Which new technologies should I implement and when?
Agencies can position themselves to prosper in this rapidly changing environment by creating a culture that embraces innovation and implementing a defined changemanagement process. Below are several insights gleaned from ACT discussions to assist agencies in managing change successfully within their firms. Management sets the tone Agency management plays a key role in creating a culture where innovation is prized as a core value of the business. These agency leaders look at new technologies and other innovations strategically, as tools that will give them a competitive advantage. They encourage ideas from every source — most especially from their employees and clients — as to how the agency can do things better. Clients are surveyed regularly, and some agencies have even set up client advisory councils to test ideas and get fresh thinking. These agency leaders are involved in their associations and organizations like ACT, AUGIE (ACORD User Groups Information Exchange) and their user groups, as well as with their carriers, to keep up with the latest innovations available to them and the benefits other agencies are deriving from these implementations. The ACT website (www.iiaba.net/act) contains a number of resources to assist agencies in considering the key trends that are likely to affect them and how their fellow agencies are changing to position themselves for the future. Keeping up with innovation in other industries Innovative agencies also are keeping up with the innovations taking place in other industries, because consumer and business expectations increasingly
are being shaped by the experiences they have in these other industries. Agents can also learn from their business clients by asking them about their recent innovations and their resulting impact. Daniel Burrus, the author of Technotrends, notes that successful businesses of the future will not only need to be “agile” but “anticipatory.”
Agencies can position themselves to prosper in this rapidly changing environment by creating a culture that embraces innovation and implementing a defined change-management process.
Agility is important in reacting to competition. But being anticipatory enables you to become the competition because you are thinking through the “hard” trends that will affect you and, you foresee where your consumers and your competitors will be in the future in light of these trends. (“Hard” trends are those that are certain and permanent.) The anticipatory firm begins to make the changes now to position itself to be where its consumers and competitors will be in the future. The other key for successful implementers of change is to create metrics, so that you can quantify whether the change has been a success or not.
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Employee involvement & training are key The agencies that are implementing change successfully involve their employees in the shaping of that change. Employees — representing all of the disciplines affected by the change — work together in teams to implement it. Employees are empowered to innovate based upon the firm’s principles and are rewarded for doing so. There is an understanding that many innovations will not work perfectly at the start and will need to be modified and enhanced. These employees are also encouraged to work through these issues and to pursue problems with their carriers and vendors until they are fixed. The innovative agency makes sure it has the right employees in the correct spots. These agencies are looking for employees who are willing to embrace change and who know how to ask the right questions to get their jobs done correctly. These qualities have become the top factors these agencies look for in candidates — even more important than the individual’s insurance expertise. Some agencies also are striving to have a staff makeup that reflects the multiple generations and ethnic groups their firm is serving, to encourage diverse thinking and more effective understanding of each of their client segments. These agencies are also more willing to delegate authority and responsibility to employees in areas where they have a special interest and skill (in social media, for example). In order to achieve a successful implementation, these agencies tell their employees the “why” for the change, how it fits with the agency’s vision (which the employees have bought into) and then thoroughly train them on how to implement the change effectively. Once the agency
implements the new workflow or technology, the employees are expected to use it, so that there is consistency throughout the agency. Innovative agencies also provide their employees with training that helps them to become more effective employees in areas such as teamwork, leadership and management. “Slow down in order to speed up” This expression, coined by Paul Fuller of Strategic Insurance Software, expresses so well the importance of the agency’s taking the time to make sure the change it is pursuing — whether a new technology, workflow, etc. — is the right solution. Employees should be given uninterrupted time to confirm that their defined solution is the correct one. In addition, rather than just automating a traditional workflow that was devised for a paper world, these agencies rethink the workflow from the ground up in light of the new possibilities that have been enabled by technology. Willingness to experiment Successful agency innovators are willing to experiment with new technologies and continue to “tweak” them based upon feedback from clients and others. Creating a mobile friendly website and mobile apps provide great examples. There is no question mobility and the “connected” consumer are both “hard” trends that will increasingly affect us. Steve Anderson reports in a recent TechTips that 43 percent of Google searches are local and 74 percent are performed via a mobile device. So, it makes good sense for agencies to position themselves for this inevitable change, fully realizing they are going to have to enhance
these mobile tools over time based upon the features that consumers ask for and use. Another good example where agents are experimenting with new technology tools involves Internet marketing. Agencies continue to measure the effectiveness of the social media ads they run and modify the criteria until they hit upon a strategy that attracts the most correct leads, most cost effectively. The keys for these innovative agencies are: (1) to be willing to experiment; (2) to measure the effectiveness of each change they make; and (3) to refine the implementation as needed. Innovations save time & money Successful innovations often cut the time it takes to accomplish particular processes. For example, Stu Durland, a New York independent agent, found that he was able to cut his agency’s turnaround time to receive signed client documents from an average of 23 days to three to five days by implementing an electronic signature tool. Think about all of the time and follow ups this one innovation is saving his agency!
Similarly, Applied Systems has been able to greatly speed up its responsiveness to customers by creating faster communications vehicles for reporting issues and implementing an Agile development process, which brings together multi-functional teams to work with customers to devise and implement solutions without delays. There are numerous technologies available to agencies today that can enhance their competitive position. None of these specific implementations, however, is as important as positioning the agency to implement change successfully. The agency that embraces innovation as a basic value, keeps up with key trends and opportunities both within the industry and in other industries, empowers its employees to participate in the change process and implements a defined change management process — will position itself effectively for an environment that will continue to experience rapid and profound change.
www.coastalagentsalliance.com [ 32 ]
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If you would like to place a Classified Advertisement, simply fax your ad on company letterhead to 717-795-8347, and we will take care of the rest.
Who you gonna call — Ghostbusters or the unemployment office? Claims-processing company Enservio lost an adjuster to a haunted house one fateful day. The team of inventory specialists sent to investigate the house was wary but in good spirits upon arrival. But it didn’t take long for the alleged apparition to make its presence known.
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Each time the adjusters walked past a certain room, a chair was in a different position. Then, after they left and looked back at their photos, they saw “a white shadow that had an almost human form to it,” according to Enservio’s vice president of claims. The next day one of the adjusters quit, citing the bone-chilling experience and fear of reliving it at other haunted houses on future appointments. Source: PropertyCasualty360.com ________________________________________________________________
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Last & Least. The editor will happily protect sources’ anonymity upon request.
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