ALSO INTHISISSUE: ________________ Company Satisfaction Index
Contents PRIMARY AGENT MAGAZINE
10 hidden treasures
IA&B members have access to a wealth of information at www.iabgroup.com. This article serves as a treasure map for where to find 10 gems that are worth their weight in gold.
Company Satisfaction Index digest A record number of independent insurance agency personnel spoke, and the results and analysis of their feedback are in. Read on for highlights from IA&B’s 2012 Company Satisfaction Index.
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 15
Chair of the Board’s Message Member FAQ State News Preventing E&O Coverage Corner Glance at Events
23 24 28 28 28
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 # 2012-10 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
Norman F. Basso, CPCU
Chair of the Board’s
Norman F. Basso, CPCU Chair of the Board York, Pa. G. Greg Gunn, CIC Vice Chair of the Board Lemoyne, Pa.
Robert B. Hall, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, ARM, ARM-P Immediate Past Chair of the Board West Chester, Pa.
All of the help, none of the payroll
Members Joyce M. Bailey, CIC, CRM, CPIW Newark, Del. Henry “Butch” Bradley, Jr. Forest Hill, Md.
Let’s face it: We could all use a little help around the office. An extra employee or two would be nice. And, while we’re at it, making them insurance, regulatory or legal gurus wouldn’t hurt…. IA&B recognizes today’s high demand on agency personnel. The combination of stubborn market conditions, growing carrier expectations and, yes, even the technology that is intended to simplify our lives continue to increase workloads.
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. Diana M. Hornung Hanby, ACSR Wilmington, Del. 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.
That’s why your association — with its industry and legal experts on staff, growing member-resource library and expanding professional training opportunities — strives to be an extension of your staff. Truth be told, many of us only reach the tip of the IA&B-offerings iceberg. And, as a member, it’s all yours for the taking. This issue of Primary Agent magazine highlights a few of the many IA&B member resources available to streamline agency operations, ensure legal and regulatory compliance and minimize E&O exposure. I encourage you to start here and then explore www.iabgroup.com. I guarantee it will be precious time well spent. Until next month, Norm
Ann Gallen Moll, CIC Reading, Pa. April E. Ressler, CIC Altoona, Pa. Scott C. Rogers, CPIA* York, Pa. David B. Wasson Sr., CIC State College, Pa. Lawrence A. Wilson, CIC, CPIA, CPCU, ARM** New Castle, Del.
* Pa. IIABA National Director ** Del. IIABA National Director + Md. PIA National Director
Driving members to distinction. 
Member FAQ QUESTION: I have been asked for my national producer number: Do I have one, and where do I access it?
ANSWER: What it is: The national producer number, or NPN, is a unique number that is assigned to every licensed producer in the country. This includes individuals and some business entities (agencies). It was developed and is used by the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) as a single identifier for the national producer database (PDB). Initially created to avoid privacy issues by circumventing the use of social security numbers, the NPN has the great advantage of immediately identifying a person, even if that person holds licenses in multiple states. The NPN is automatically assigned to the producer as soon as he or she is added to the PDB. Some state insurance regulators (e.g. Delaware) now use the NPN to assign CE credits. It is anticipated that all states will eventually do away with their own state license numbers.
How to find yours: The NPN can be located easily by going to the NIPR website at www.nipr.com and selecting the “National Producer Number (NPN) Access” link in the left-hand side “Products & Services” menu. From there, the NPN can be retrieved by typing in the social security number and last name or the resident license number and home state. For an agency NPN, the FEIN number can be used.
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? Email it to us at email@example.com. Please use “Primary Agent FAQ” in the subject line of your message. You can also fax your question to 717-795-8347. We look forward to answering your questions!
State News Primary Agent | October 2012
New on-demand offerings
Opportunities for members to continue their education whenever and wherever they want it are on the rise. DAIAB’s library of on-demand programs increases this fall, with new courses covering pollution, cyber liability and certificates of insurance.
Delaware employers with one to 19 employees that offer group health coverage must comply with the state’s new mini-COBRA law, which affected new and renewal health policies as of June 21.
DAIAB’s on-demand programming allows flexibility: Staff can maximize their time in the office while gaining quality education (and CE credits) at their convenience. At the same time, the experience mimics classroom learning, with fully integrated auto and video and the opportunity to ask questions. The latest trio of on-demand programs joins others on the National Flood Insurance Program, compliance, ethics and E&O. www.iabgroup.com/on-demand
Members with access to DAIAB’s HR Solution© can review the association’s guidance online. Member agency principals and administrators received a bulletin explaining the new requirement and offering a sample notice on June 19. The bulletin now is posted online, within HR Solution. What’s HR Solution? A complete set of state-specific products and services, designed exclusively for members to develop and maintain their agency’s human resources program. Access is free but limited to those members designated as agency administrators in DAIAB’s database. Administrators can be changed by contacting the DAIAB Member Service Center at 800-998-9644, option 0. www.iabgroup.com/HR (choose “HR Updates,” then “View the HR Bulletins”)
New Members Bennetti Holmes Insurance Dover, Del. 
Don’t fall behind on autumn NFIP changes The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is floating changes more quickly than a minnow can swim a dipper. The following carry an Oct. 1 effective date. Rebating suspension: Rebating of agents’ commissions for flood sales soon will dry up. The no-rebating rule applies to all new and renewal NFIP business written with an effective date of Oct. 1 and later, even when premium payment is received before that date. Manual updates: Revisions to the “NFIP Flood Insurance Manual” – which is available at nfipiservice.com/nfip_docs.html – became effective Oct. 1.
Save the date for DCRB update An uptick in severity and the winding down of the 2009 Court of Chancery decision point to significant increases for the loss cost filings effective Dec. 1. On the other hand, economic conditions, market pressure and the fall elections likely will temper the extent. Members can learn the latest on the workers’ compensation market directly from the Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau’s (DCRB) Bruce Decker and Tim Wisecarver at the annual update for DAIAB members. Save the date of Nov. 14 and watch Agent Headlines for details.
MAP recap The association’s Member Agent Panel (MAP) reconvened on Sept. 27 in Dover. Participants weighed in on the association’s work – particularly its professional training offerings – and swapped agency struggles and solutions. Inputs from the meeting will go to the DAIAB Board of Directors, whose members will use it to formulate the association’s strategic direction. This MAP meeting marked the last for participants who met each fall and spring over the past two years. A sincere thank-you goes out to the 10 DAIAB members from up and down the state who volunteered their time and provided valuable insight to guide the association into the future.
Re-underwriting requirement: Severe repetitive loss (SRL) policies that were transferred to the NFIP Special Direct Facility must be re-underwritten before they can be renewed as of Oct. 1. FEMA believes that many existing SRL policies are misrated due to continual renewals based on years-old, original flood applications.
Crab Feast 2012
The annual DAIAB social event was all it was cracked up to be, with fresh seafood and old friends. Held Aug. 16 at The Boondocks in Smyrna, Crab Feast brought together members from up and down the state for an evening of camaraderie.
Preventing Primary Agent | October 2012
ERRORS AND OMISSIONS
A SIGNED APPLICATION — “MORE POWERFUL THAN A LOCOMOTIVE!” 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
With few exceptions, an application is a necessary document to secure a proposal or to bind coverage. If accurately completed and signed by the applicant, an application possesses tremendous power … “more powerful than a locomotive!” to borrow from the introduction of the 1950s “Superman” TV program. In the event of an errors & omissions (E&O) claim, this document could play a huge role in the outcome of litigation. Conversely, an application that doesn’t accurately portray the account’s true exposure can be an agency’s worst nightmare. The role this document plays is up to you. If you are serious about reducing your E&O exposure, proper handling of applications is a great place to start.
producers probably don’t enjoy completing applications, it is a critical task in the sales process. Are applications from your agency completed fully or are some questions left blank? The answers to these blank items could
If you are serious about reducing your E&O exposure, proper handling of applications is a great place to start. significantly impact the account’s desirability or pricing. What happens if you’re unsure of the correct answer as applications are completed? Do you “presume” to know the answer or do you contact the prospect to check? In the haste to get applications
A critical task The first thing to consider is the completeness of the application. While most
submitted, producers/ account executives may answer the questions believing they are answering honestly and correctly. Carriers rely heavily on the application and presume the information to be truthful. What happens if, after a loss, the carrier discovers the information was incorrect? They may very well take the position that they would not have written the account had they known the correct information. They may rescind the policy or choose to honor the claim but then take action against the agency. There are many E&O claims where the carrier successfully sued the agent due to misrepresentation of the nature of the risk. This reinforces the benefits of getting the insured to sign the app as it is hoped that this affirms the accuracy of the information.
The best approach The best approach is to complete the application face to face with the prospect, asking them the questions exactly as they appear and accurately noting the response on the application. After completing the application, request that the prospect/customer reviews it to ensure you have accurately stated the exposure. Then have them sign it. This is one of the most important procedures for an agency to insist upon. In virtually every state, the customer is held responsible for the contents of the application once they’ve signed it. If the prospect misled you in the completion of the application, their signature on the document could play a significant role if a problem develops. If getting the signature is not feasible for some reason, explore the possibility of providing the customer with the application electronically, asking them to review and approve the information for correctness. Be certain your file is well documented with the insured’s approval. In fact, when completing the application, look to complete the questionnaire from your exposure analysis checklist. These questionnaires will help the producer thoroughly understand the risk and accurately market it to various carriers. It is also highly suggested that agencies not sign the insured’s signature to the document. While the agency may believe the customer has authorized you to do so, after a loss the customer may disavow giving you this authorization. Handwriting experts have found their way into E&O claims, so extreme caution should be exercised in this area.
Complete and accurate Another issue that occurs now and again involves agencies completing “this year’s application” using the information from “last year’s application.” Avoid this. It is extremely dangerous and fraught with potential problems. Because of the possibility that your risk has changed, it is always best — to ensure complete accuracy — that the application is completed through current discussion with the customer. If the account is a prospect and you’re looking to provide them with a proposal, secure copies of their current coverage, if possible. When completing the application, this will enable you to request the necessary coverages to ensure your proposal is at least equal to what the prospect currently has. If this is not possible, advise the account accordingly. This is also extremely important when remarketing the account to other carriers in your office. Review the current coverage, including all endorsements, to ensure that, at a minimum, coverage is being duplicated. This is your agency’s responsibility and should be handled as such.
Review and reinforce with your staff the issue of providing your carriers with complete, accurate applications signed by the customer. This is also a great time for management to clearly state the expectation that applications will not be submitted to the carrier unless they are complete and accurate. This requirement typically falls, especially with commercial accounts, on the producers. Customer service representatives (CSRs) should be authorized to return an application to the producer if the app is incomplete or if the CSR is concerned about accuracy. In your favor Applications you submit to your carriers are extremely important and must be handled accordingly. Your agency’s goal should be that the information in the applications is complete, current and correct (the 3 Cs) and that the application is reviewed and signed by the customer. While getting the insured’s signature may be an additional step that takes time, the power of this signed app cannot be emphasized enough. Anything less could spell trouble if a loss develops and the carrier believes they were misled. By mandating and enforcing these requirements, you are turning the power of the application to work in your favor.
Coverage Primary Agent | October 2012
IF THE INSURER CANCELS, WHAT’S THE AGENT’S DUTY?
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.
Company billed: It all started in personal lines — Personal Auto, then Homeowners’. Commercial lines followed. You looked up one day and realized that all, or most, of your clients were being billed by your insurance companies. To add insult to injury, you also became aware that those clients were now paying the insurance companies directly. You even started calling it “direct bill.”
Go with me, if you will, to once-upon-a-time, long, long ago, and far, far away. At that time, if you were an independent insurance agent, you actually issued some policies (e.g., Homeowners’) yourself. You inserted the Declarations page into the typewriter and typed in all the required information. Then you signed (countersignature) your name. There was a copy for the insured, the mortgagee, the insurance company and you, the agent.
Prior to direct bill, the client owed you — it was called accounts receivable. If you didn’t collect, it cost you money. You still had to pay the insurance company, Therefore, you could allow them to pay later (after the effective date of the policy), arrange premium financing or cancel for non-payment. That was your option.
It didn’t make any difference if the policy was agency issued or company issued. You, as the agent, billed the insured and collected the premium. You then paid the company monthly. They sent you a bill for your written premiums less your commission. Remember “accounts current”? That was then, this is now. How things have changed!
Direct bill is now a way of life in the independent agency system. If the insured does not pay the required premium by the due date, a computer-generated notice
of cancellation will be mailed to that insured. The notice will give the insured a certain number of days (as required by state law) to make payment. This direct bill system with automatic notices of cancellation has created potential E&O exposures for you, the agent. When a client receives a notice of cancellation, and you receive a copy, what do you do? Do you call some of them, all of them or none of them? If you call some, but not all, it’s called “discrimination.” That’s a big no-no! You’re probably tired of going to E&O classes and hearing, “Call all of them or none of them.” What else can I say — that’s good advice. Especially if you want to stay out of the court room. What if you have been calling them and after years of periodically reminding certain clients to make their payment, you, for one reason or another, fail to remind them. Their policy is
cancelled, and they have a claim. Did you have a duty to notify them each and every time? Certainly you set a precedent. You have provided a “service” in the past and, without notifying the client, you discontinued that “service.”
Coastal Homeowners Insurance ISO HO3/HO6 Immediate Quotes 15% commission on new and renewal business Primary and Secondary Homes are eligible.
What if you have been calling all of them and decide to stop. You can’t just stop. You must notify each and every one of them that beginning on a certain date the agency will no longer contact them regarding their late payment. This notification must be in writing. Direct bill is between the insurance company and the insured. The more you, the agent, get involved, the greater your E&O exposure. Enough said. Y’all take care!
How to discontinue overdue payment notification As Jerry says, you can’t just stop! IA&B recently released a new member resource — to include a sample letter to customers — with guidance on how to correct the practice. Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ notif_overdue Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ notif_overdue Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/pa/ notif_overdue
For an appointment, contact:
Coastal Agents Alliance, LLC
Phone: 201-407-7151 email@example.com
We don’t just create fast and simple automation solutions for our agents.
With a “WOW” quoting system and superior service, we set out to delight them.
wow! That’s just one of the reasons we’ve been ranked among the top 10 carriers nationally in ease of business by Deep Customer Connections. Business t Surety t Auto t Home
10 hidden treasures Discovering valuable resources in IA&Bâ€™s online gold mine
IA&B members have access to a wealth of information at www.iabgroup.com. The following pages dig up 10 gems that are worth their weight in gold.
Primary Agent | October 2012
ierce competition lurks around every corner, and E&O stumbling blocks line the most well-intentioned way. The independent agent’s daily workflow is littered in land mines, but IA&B members don’t have to go it alone: www.iabgroup.com is a virtual gold mine of resources.
The following pages cut a path through the website and highlight resources developed in response to the most common member questions and concerns. Vetted by industry and legal experts and, where appropriate by state regulators, these turnkey tools help members to stay on the straight and narrow.
1. Certificates of insurance Certificates of insurance have become a lightning rod for conflict nationwide. On one side are clients and third parties who request modifications to certificates or use of outdated ACORD forms. On the other are legal and/or regulatory repercussions (depending on the state). Stuck in the middle? Insurance agents. At the heart of the issue is the public’s misunderstanding of certificates’ function. They are, of course, simply snapshots of policies, which limits what agents can (or should) do when asked to adjust them. And using outdated forms or adjusting proprietary ones is a legal nightmare waiting to happen. Strike gold! Visit IA&B’s online resource for a state-specific letter that educates requesters on what certificates are and why modifications cannot be done without involving the policy itself. And watch for IA&B's new on-demand training on certificates, set to launch this fall.
Delaware: http://www.iabgroup.com/pdfs/ag_operations/certificates/letter_de.doc Maryland: http://www.iabgroup.com/pdfs/ag_operations/certificates/letter_md.doc Pennsylvania: http://www.iabgroup.com/pdfs/ag_operations/certificates/letter_pa.doc On a related slippery-slope-of-requests note, it is not uncommon for clients to ask their agent to review a contract between them and a third party. But that seemingly innocuous ask is fraught with errors and omissions repercussions.
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Take a power hour IA&B members can attend a free webinar every other month. The Power Hour series offers timely topics covered by industry experts. Much of this article was derived from the June webinar, “Online Gold Mine: Discovering Valuable Resources at iabgroup.com.” The full recording, as well as associated PowerPoint slides, for that and other Power Hours on concurrent causation, vacated properties and out-of-state workers’ compensation are available in the online Power Hour resource library. Watch Agent Headlines for upcoming Power Hour announcements and registration. www.iabgroup.com/power_hour
Agency agreement review 2.0 IA&B has long offered agency agreement reviews. This fall the member benefit will take on a new form: an online, streamlined, user-friendly matrix that allow members to see how their agreements stack up and where they can be improved. Watch Agent Headlines for the launch of this new gem.
Strike gold! Check IA&B’s website for a sample cover letter explaining that the review is of insurance — and not legal — specifications and that policy modifications are necessary to change coverage.
2. Non-English-speaking clients
“Hablas español?” Answering no, that no one in the agency speaks Spanish (or Korean or Arabic or Pig Latin, for that matter) is a missed opportunity. The U.S. non-English-speaking population is on the rise — and remains underserved by the insurance industry. On the flip side, conducting business in multiple languages exposes an agency to risks related to miscommunication. After all, insurance terminology is complex for those fluent in English, let alone someone with limited use of the language. The best course of action is to use an interpreter. A bilingual agency employee or the insurance applicant’s bilingual family member or friend will do. (Agencies also can contract with a telephone language service.) The interpreter should translate the application as the agent explains and completes it. Then the client should sign the application and join the agent in signing a hold-harmless agreement. Strike gold!
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ContractReviews Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ContractReviews Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/pa/ContractReviews
Use IA&B’s sample translation agreement that holds the agency harmless from liability related to errors, omissions or negligence of the translator.
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More “senior” agency staff will remember when in-person meetings, telephone calls, standard mail and faxes summed up all agency-client communication. But those days are long gone. Today there are voice mail, email, online forms, social networking and text messaging to name a few. And with each new communication vehicle comes new challenges for agencies. Voice mail Clients are prone to thinking that leaving a voice mail message for their agent is equivalent to talking with him or her. At issue, of course, are requests to bind and alter coverage. Strike gold! Manage the risks of voice mail by instituting standard policies and procedures for agency employees. IA&B’s online resource shares tips — and a sample voice mail greeting disclaimer.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/e_o/voice_mail Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/e_o/voice_mail Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/pa/e_o/voice_mail
I’m celebrating our 100th year by planning for our next 100 years. Jason Bogart, CPCU, ARM, Vice President of Branch Operations Our future will be marked by the relationships we forge with you—the independent insurance agents who represent us. You’re the reason we’ll continue to investigate new market opportunities. Why we’ll develop competitive products. Why we’ll maximize the use of new technologies. Why we’ll emphasize ongoing professional development for our staff. By helping you profitably and efficiently grow your agency, EMC Insurance Companies will continue to serve you and your customers today and well into the future.
Valley Forge Service Branch: 800.333.3622 | Home Office: Des Moines, IA
www.emcins.com © Copyright Employers Mutual Casualty Company 2011 All rights reserved
4. Mailed applications
Archiving telephone call recordings and voice mail messages in an agency management system may seem like a no-brainer to reduce E&O exposure, not to mention improve customer service. But food for thought: There are state laws that govern the practice and the issue of consent.
Read up on transport layer security (TLS) — a secure email pathway for communication with commercial clients that TLS-enable their email servers.
Adding signature flags or highlighter marks to a mailed application may be second nature, but it’s worth a second thought. In the event of a claim and disagreement down the road, a client could argue that he or she was misled by that seemingly innocuous customer service gesture.
Strike gold! Count on IA&B’s Q&A to dissect the legal issues, provide compliance guidance and offer a sample notice for employees.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ record_phone_calls Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ record_phone_calls Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/record_phone_calls Email Privacy is paramount in email exchanges, especially when personally identifiable information is included. While some agencies rely on a confidentiality statement added to all outgoing messages, truth be told, the practice is not required — or binding. It simply relies on the intimidation factor. A more comprehensive and effective approach to email security is to create a safe email connection.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ technology/email_tls Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ technology/email_tls Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/technology/email_tls Text messages No discussion on agency-client communications would be complete without a look at texting. Close to 200,000 text messages were sent every second in 2010 with usage growing annually. So it was only a matter of time before it entered the realm of agency communications — and introduced concerns about documentation. Strike gold! Give those text-weary fingers a break and surf the IA&B website for an in-depth look at agency concerns and best practices of texting with clients.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/ de/technology/texting Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/ md/technology/texting Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/technology/texting
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There are ways, thankfully, to maintain the practice. First and foremost, agency personnel should check, and double check, to make sure they marked the correct lines for signature. Secondly, a cover lever should accompany the application that reiterates the selections were made by the client and asks the client to review the paperwork and to contact the agency if something is amiss. Strike gold! Visit the IA&B website for tips on how to reduce E&O exposure when using pre-filled applications in general.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/ de/e_o/signature_flags Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/ md/e_o/signature_flags Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/e_o/signature_flags
Glance at Events OCTOBER CALENDAR
James K. Ruble Graduate
Ocean City, Md.
P&C Licensing Study Course
CIC Commercial Property
CISR Agency Operations
CISR Personal Residential
Power Hour Webinar 15-18
CIC Commercial Casualty
William T. Hold
William T. Hold
CIC Life & Health
Ellicott City, Md.
Best Practices of E&O
P&C Licensing Study Course
William T. Hold
Best Practices of E&O
CISR Agency Operations
CPIA Module 1
CISR Personal Residential
Executive Management Conference
CPIA Module 2
CISR Personal Residential
CISR Personal Residential
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5. Electronic delivery of policies The practice of delivering policies electronically is catching on as quickly as electronic delivery itself. Carriers more often are sending policies electronically to agents. Clients more often are requesting electronic receipt of their policies. And agencies more often are looking for ways to streamline operations and avoid extra costs (think: paper, postage, mail supplies). Could it be a win-win-win?
executive assistant, office manager or even second in command is a legal no-no … unless the officer of the corporation granted written permission. Strike gold! Score official permission to talk insurance with commercial clients’ employee of choice. IA&B’s online resource provides step-by-step instructions, sample language to delegate authority, a look at various business structures and a sample letter.
Legally, nothing forbids it. However, there are privacy issues and E&O exposures at stake.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ cl_granting_authority
Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ cl_granting_authority
Read up on IA&B’s three recommendations — consent, proof of delivery and privacy protection — before clicking the send button.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ e_o/electronic_delivery Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ e_o/electronic_delivery Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/e_o/electronic_delivery
6. Authority to sign documents The delegating (or busy or golfcourse-distracted) head honcho is not always in the loop on every last detail of his or her company’s daily operations. But when it comes to insurance, communication between an agent and a commercial client’s
Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/cl_granting_authority
7. Overdue payments Habits developed in a souring economy can leave a bad taste in agents’ mouths in the end. For example, as clients struggle to make their insurance premiums on time and agencies struggle to keep clients, agencies’ overdue-paymentnotification practices often are born. While insurers must notify policyholders of cancellation for lack of payment, there is no requirement for agencies … unless they have notified clients in the past and, in effect, created a duty where none existed. And the dangers in the duty are teaching clients not to
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rely exclusively on the company’s letter and training them not to pay on time. The best way to nip this E&Oexposing situation in the bud is a client letter, ideally certified with return receipt requested, explaining that the agency no longer will notify them of overdue payments. Then the policy must be applied consistently — with all clients and by all producers. Strike gold! Model your letter of discontinued late-payment notification after IA&B’s sample.
8. Value-added services Differentiation (not to mention the lure of additional income) drives many agencies to think beyond the sale of insurance and about value-added services. The most common agency offering offshoots are loss control, risk management and safety consulting. But, along with additional selling points and revenue sources emerge E&O risks. Strike gold! Visit www.iabgroup.com for a sample disclaimer for contracts, inspection reports and marketing materials that explains the agency’s intent is not to identify all hazards.
Primary Agent | October 2012
9. Carrier downgrades
Just how low can a carrier rating go before an agency notifies its clients? It depends. Did an agent review the client’s contract that contains a stipulation of carrying a certainrated carrier? Is it standard agency procedure? Or do agency advertisements stress its carriers’ financial rating?
Brush up on exemptions for clerical and claims-processing work using IA&B’s duty-specific description of what unlicensed personnel can and cannot do.
If the answer to any of these is yes, notification should occur — with careful wording to avoid a statutory violation of “malicious” criticism, without mention of the State Guaranty Fund and without sharing the financial rating organization’s proprietary information.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/de/ licensing/producer Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/md/ licensing/producer Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/licensing/producer
Learn which commercial policies qualify for the nonresident license exemption and which states offer reciprocity. Then, for non-qualifiers, find a step-by-step guide on what to expect from the non-residentlicensing process.
Delaware: www.iabgroup.com/ de/licensing/non_resident Maryland: www.iabgroup.com/ md/licensing/non_resident Pennsylvania: www.iabgroup.com/ pa/licensing/non_resident
Strike gold! Personalize one of IA&B’s sample notification letters, either the one for simple notification or the one for agencies that made it their policy to do business only with carriers above a certain rating.
Get Real! Get MBG RReal people
http://www.iabgroup.com/pdfs/ carriers/ratings/downgrade_ltr.doc http://www.iabgroup.com/ pdfs/carriers/ratings/ downgrade_ltr_agcy_policy.doc
10. Licensing exemptions Knowing who needs licensed to do what is enough to trip up the most compliant agencies. Add knowing who is exempt and how non-resident licenses factor in, and it becomes a game of Double Dutch.
RREAL response At MBG, you get a real-time commitment to delivering technological systems that are intuitive and easy to use.
REAL solutions RE RREAL support MUTUAL BENEFIT GROUP Huntingdon, Pennsylvania www.mutualbenefitgroup.com
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ASSOCIATION AT WORK
CSI digest Highlights from IA&Bâ€™s 2012 Company Satisfaction Index
A record number of independent insurance agency personnel spoke, and the results and analysis of their feedback are in. Read on for highlights from IA&Bâ€™s 2012 Company Satisfaction Index.
Primary Agent | October 2012
2012 Company Satisfaction Index (CSI) gauged members’ experiences with personal lines carriers — and boasted an 80 percent increase in completed surveys since the last CSI. More feedback means a more comprehensive look at the agency-company relationship. In turn, that means a greater benefit for members who want to compare their experience with others or who are considering a new appointment. IA&B now conducts the formerly biennial CSI on an annual basis, rotating between personal and commercial lines carriers. The 2012 CSI, which focused on personal lines business, included 35 questions divided into four categories: products, pricing and underwriting; policy service and claims; technology; and agency/company relationship. The following analysis highlights the results by category of questions and by carrier size (see sidebar). A full report, as well as an online comparative tool that allows members to examine and compare specific carriers’ results, is available at www.iabgroup.com/csi.
Product, pricing and underwriting satisfaction IA&B members' overall satisfaction with their personal lines carriers' products, pricing and underwriting slipped slightly again. In addition, the 2012 CSI once again noted a parallel between carrier size and members' satisfaction in this category: For the third consecutive CSI, members noted the most satisfaction with regional I carriers' products, pricing and underwriting and the least with national carriers'.
More where this came from Read IA&B’s complete CSI results and analysis and use the interactive, online comparison tool by visiting www.iabgroup.com/csi.
Carrier groups For the purpose of analyzing the CSI results, IA&B places carriers into four groups, based upon direct premium written (DPW) and the number of states in their footprint. National carriers: 35 or more states Super regional carriers: 11-34 states Regional II carriers: 1-10 states, more than $100 million in DPW Regional carriers: 1-10 states, less than $100 million in DPW [ 19 ]
ASSOCIATION AT WORK
Policy service and claims
While participants noted their highest level of satisfaction in this category, the 2012 results broke a pattern and, for the first time since the CSI’s inception, showed an overall decline in satisfaction from the previous CSI.
Technology remains the area in which IA&B members relay their greatest dissatisfaction with carriers. In fact, the 2012 results showed less satisfaction than CSI results from 2008 and 2010.
Members’ satisfaction in the category of agency/company relationship remained nearly constant, as it has over the past several years. Satisfaction in this category when compared by carrier size also trended consistently through nearly every CSI, with regional II carriers once again receiving the highest ratings and national carriers receiving the lowest.
When analyzed by carrier size, results in this category returned to the status quo following a 2010 shakeup, when super regional carriers stole the show. This year, regional II carriers reclaimed the coveted spot of 7highest satisfaction – the position they held in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 CSI results.
Super regional carriers continue to make a comeback in this category of questions. After members reported their least satisfaction with this carrier group in the inaugural CSI, super regional carriers inched their way back and received members’ highest satisfaction ratings in 2010 and 2012.
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Platinum Profile Insurance Agents & Brokers proudly recognizes Donegal Insurance Group, Inc. as one of its Platinum Partners. IA&B Platinum Partners dedicate the highest level of sponsorship to our organization. FEATURED PARTNER Donegal Insurance Group, Inc. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Donald H. Nikolaus President and CEO CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS Marietta, Pennsylvania SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES Atlantic States Insurance Company, Southern Insurance Company of Virginia, Le Mars Insurance Company, Peninsula Insurance Group, Sheboygan Falls Insurance Company, Michigan 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. 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. 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 insurancebuying process. Every day, we prove our commitment to the independent
agency system by distributing our products exclusively through independent agents. We are constantly looking for ways to deliver increased value to our agents and solidify company-agency relationships. We have benefited greatly from the feedback we receive from our regional agency forums, which helps us enhance our products and operations. 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
Aegis Security Insurance Co
MMG Insurance Company Millers Mutual Group Millville Mutual Insurance Co Mutual Benefit Group Ohio Casualty Penn National Insurance Selective Swiss Re The Main Street America Group Utica National Insurance Group
Lebanon Valley Insurance Company
Progressive Westfield Insurance
Merchants Insurance Group
Agency Insurance Company AmWINS Program Underwriters Inc Auto-Owners Insurance Company Briar Creek Mutual Insurance Company Builders Insurance Group Chubb Group of Insurance Companies Countryway Insurance Company First General Services Foremost Insurance Group Goodville Mutual Casualty Company Guard Insurance Group Harford Mutual Insurance Co Hanover Fire & Casualty Insurance Company Insurance Alliance of Central PA Inc Insurance House Insurance Placement Facility of PA Keystone Insurers Group Inc Mercer Insurance Group Mercury Casualty Penn PRIME Municipal Insurance
SILVER LEVEL Access Insurance Company Allied Insurance American Mining Insurance Co Cumberland Insurance Group Frederick Mutual Insurance Co Juniata Mutual Insurance Co PSBA Insurance Trust The Philadelphia Contributionship
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 Travelers Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company Zenith Insurance Primary Agent October 2012
Primary Agent | October 2012
Technology U P DATE
AGENCY STRATEGIES TO SEND & RECEIVE PERSONAL DATA SECURELY
JEFF YATES Jeff Yates is executive director of the Agents Council for Technology (ACT). Jeff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
however, have multiplied the security risks that agencies must manage in order to protect their clients’ personal data.
The Internet and mobility revolutions have enabled agents and their clients to live in an electronic world where the parties can work and communicate with each other from anywhere, opening up wonderful new opportunities for agencies to reach out to new consumers and provide their clients with enhanced services and responsiveness. These developments,
It is no wonder then that E&O underwriters extending coverage for data breach to agencies increasingly are asking their applicants whether they encrypt or use other protective measures to safeguard this client [ 24 ]
personal data when it is being transmitted. This article explores approaches agencies can take to protect personal data in transit and then references a number of resources to assist agencies. Encryption A common question agents ask is: “What is encryption?” When you think of encryption,
Primary Agent | October 2012
consider those codes the military employs to keep conversations unintelligible to the enemy. You can find many definitions of encryption on the Internet, but I like this simple one from Microsoft: Encryption is a way to enhance the security of a message or file by scrambling the contents so that it can be read only by someone who has the right encryption key to unscramble it. For example, if you purchase something from a website, the information for the transaction (such as your address, phone number, and credit card number) is usually encrypted to help keep it safe. Use encryption when you want a strong level of protection for your information. Requiring a strong password to gain access to your system is an important security procedure, but it is not the same as encrypting the data within the system. Personal data What are the types of “personal data” that are most sensitive and need to be encrypted when transmitted? The definition of “personal data” can vary by state and is contained in the state data breach notification and privacy laws (http://www.ncsl.org/ issues-research/telecom/securitybreach-notification-laws.aspx), as well as in various federal laws, such as HIPAA (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/ privacy/hipaa/understanding/summar y/privacysummary.pdf), which defines protected health information (PHI). Insurers, too, might employ various definitions of “personal data” in their policies, so it is incumbent upon the agency to be familiar with not only the specific laws but also the coverage definitions that apply to the agency.
Note also that the applicable state law is based upon the residency of the individual whose personal data is being protected, not the location of the agency. This is an important consideration for both agencies writing business in multiple states and agencies writing policies that cover individuals who reside in multiple states.
It is important for agencies to know what types of personal information they collect, where it is retained and who has access to it.
With all of the above caveats, the most commonly mentioned types of non-public, individually identifiable “personal data” covered in the laws are those such as: social security numbers, driver’s license numbers and other government issued IDs; debit and credit card numbers and pins; bank and financial account numbers; and protected health information (PHI under HIPAA). While often not mentioned in state laws, other particularly sensitive personal data that should be protected includes information commonly used for security verification (mother’s maiden name, date and place of birth, etc.) or sensitive insurance information (such as jewelry schedules). It is important for agencies to know what types of personal information they collect, where it is retained and who has access to it. They then need [ 25 ]
to decide whether they really need to keep this sensitive information. For example, many agencies no longer retain copies of bank checks and are careful only to pass along credit card numbers to carriers, but not to retain them, so that they do not become subject to the comprehensive payment card industry (PCI) compliance requirements. These agencies are also extremely careful to shred this personal data as soon as it is no longer needed. Further, if the agency decides it must keep particular sensitive personal data, it should limit access to it to only those employees who need to see it, to the maximum extent possible. This is particularly true for protected health information. Finally, the agency should be careful to make sure that this personal data is kept off of PCs, mobile devices and thumb drives, where there is a significant risk of loss or theft. PCs and mobile devices Users of PCs and mobile devices should be trained to remove any emails with personal data that may be received on these devices, as soon as they are read. In addition, the agency should audit to make sure any PCs and mobile devices that can access agency applications are password protected. Further, the agency should implement software that can wipe all of the data off of these devices should they be lost or stolen, restoring them to their original manufacturer’s state. Secure email Email is the first major area where agencies need to begin to encrypt their communications to carriers and clients when personal data is included. Some prominent examples of emails likely to include personal
data include: sending insurance applications to carriers for a quote or to clients to complete or to sign, and sending insurance policies to clients. With respect to emails between agencies and carriers (and general agents), ACT recommends that transport layer security (TLS) be implemented wherever possible. TLS is an open standard that once implemented between an agency and a carrier (both parties must have TLS implemented), all of the emails between the partners go securely in a manner that is transparent to the end users. In other words, the agent or carrier underwriter does not have to go to a proprietary website to pick up each email (which many underwriters will not do and is inefficient for agency employees to do). TLS is a great solution for business partners where there are frequent email communications going back and forth. Many agencies can implement TLS if they have email servers or hosted solutions that offer TLS. We recommend that the initial TLS set up be handled by the agency’s technology person, who should also verify that the TLS is working properly with each carrier and general agent. You will find a number of resources that explain TLS secure email more thoroughly on the ACT website (see “ACT Resources” below), including a list of carriers which have advised us that they have TLS available. Unfortunately, most agency clients will not have TLS capability and therefore, TLS is not a solution for communications with them. This will require the agency to implement a proprietary email solution as well for these clients. When the agent sends a
secure email to the client using one of these proprietary solutions, the client accesses it on the email vendor’s secure website. The secure email tool also enables the client to send a secure email back to the agent, which is very helpful when the client is being asked to complete a D&O application, for example. Fortunately, there are a number of vendors which can help agencies with both TLS hosted emails and proprietary emails, as well as to provide many other useful tools. (Two examples of such vendors are AppRiver and RPost.) Real Time Today email is used heavily to convey applications and other information between agencies and carriers and general agents, particularly in commercial lines. It is important to note, however, that Real Time offers a more efficient and secure method to handle these communications, where the communications are automatically encrypted and kept within the agency’s and carrier’s management systems. Agencies are heavily using Real Time for personal lines and we need to increase the usage in commercial lines. Many agencies and carriers are already using Real Time to submit commercial lines applications and make quote requests for small commercial business, and some have started to use their real-time functionality to make mid-commercial submissions. In addition, there is great potential for the industry to use Activity Notifications to communicate other types of messages directly between the parties’ systems (such as the need for more underwriting information), [ 26 ]
without having to manage a morass of emails in employees’ mailboxes. We urge agencies and carriers to continue to push the use of Real Time within their organizations and with their business partners, particularly for commercial lines transactions and communications. Real Time is the workflow of the future for commercial lines, as well as personal lines. Email is not. Agency websites It is also critical that agencies provide secure website connections for consumers when they ask the consumer to provide personal data on the website — to receive a quote, for example. The website should create a secure “https” tunnel before the consumer can fill out any form that asks for personal data, just as you would experience when purchasing something online or banking online. In addition, if the agency provides a “non-https” protected free-form text field which the consumer can use to contact the agency and make requests, there is some risk the consumer will enter private, personal data. Therefore, it is a best practice to take one of the following steps with regard to this free-form text field: (1) to secure it, (2) change it to specified fields that ask only for basic contact information, such as name, phone number, email, address, or (3) include a note with the free-form text field that it is not secure and should not be used to provide any private personal data. If the agency provides clients with the capability to access their insurance information or documents online, the website should create an “https”
Primary Agent | October 2012
connection before any information can be accessed. Once again, agents should work with their website provider to help them with the technical aspects of creating this secure website capability. Some agency E&O providers also require the agency to post a privacy statement on its website(s), if there is an option for the consumer to submit personal data through the website. It is important that the agency customize its privacy statement to track the agency’s particular data collection, usage, sharing, and protection practices with regard to data collected through its website(s). Honda’s financial services website privacy statement (http://www.hondafinancialservices.com/help/ privacy-policy) provides a good example of the types of information that are typically included in such statements. ACT resources This article has covered a few of the areas agencies must manage when protecting the security of their clients’ and employees’ personal data. ACT has developed several resources for agencies to review as they establish and implement their agency’s comprehensive information security program. All of these resources are included on the Security & Privacy page of the ACT website (http://iiaba.com/act). These resources include a prototype agency information security policy which agencies can use as a template to build their own customized policy or as a checklist of security issues they should address. For more on TLS secure email, the ACT Security & Privacy page includes articles, FAQs, a recorded webinar and a list of carriers which have implemented TLS. For more on securing your website and managing potential E&O exposures arising from the website, see the article “Don’t Get Caught in the Web.” ACT’s Security & Privacy page also includes sample website disclaimers, a recorded briefing on HIPAA-HITECH requirements for “Business Associates,” and additional articles focusing on: the E&O and security risks arising from the use of social media, precautions to take when using free, public Wi-Fi sites, and how to manage the “Bring Your Own Device” trend where employees are using their personal devices to access business applications.
[ 27 ]
More where that came from In addition to ACT, IA&B’s website includes technology resources dedicated to security and identity theft, as well as a complete privacy review with turnkey compliance resources. Visit www.iabgroup.com. For technology resources, select “Technology” from the left-hand menu and then “Other Resources.” For the privacy review, choose “Agency Operations” and then “Privacy.”
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Closing the zombie coverage gap
care of the rest.
Ah, zombies. How many times have you had to inform a client that, no, his or her homeowners’ policy won’t cover damage cause by the walking dead?
No longer. For a $9.99 premium, My Zombie Insurance will provide life-long property damage coverage — with no deductible — for zombie attacks. The company even comes with undertakers’ seal of approval, touts its website.
Guard Insurance Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26
Insureds receive an insurance card, proof of insurance certificate and window decal. And, since zombie insurance apparently makes a popular (gag) gift, the name area on the certificate is left blank for personalization.
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----------------------------------------------------------------———————------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 email@example.com, subject line: Last & Least. The editor will happily protect sources’ anonymity upon request.
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