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New Website Feature - Policyholder Corner To better serve our policyholders, we have developed a new website feature called “Policy Corner.� It is available via the Employers tab of the website and requires employer log-in. This self service area provides access to more detailed policy information, such as policy documents, billing transactions, account statements and claims summaries. Please note that agents have access to the same policyholder information through the CompQuick system. Please share this exciting new self service feature with our policyholders and encourage access for their policy service needs. While there, free safety services are also just a click away!

NewMexicoMutual.com > Employers > Policy Corner *An employer log-in will be required to utilize these new features.


“La Voz” is the official monthly e-publication of the

a L

Independent Insurance Agents of NM 1511 University Blvd. NE Albuquerque, NM 87102. (505) 843-7231. Fax (505) 243-3367. Web site www.iianm.org. This publication is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subject matter covered, but is distributed with the understanding that neither IIANM, nor any contributing author, publisher, contributor or advertiser is rendering legal, accounting or any other professional service and assume no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Further, the electronic links to our advertisers and/or contributors found in this publication are provided as a courtesy to our readers and do not necessarily indicate an endorsement by IIANM. News items from members of Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico and the general insurance industry are encouraged. The advertising deadline is the fifteenth day of the month, preceding publication. Advertising rates are available upon request. Please contact Rachel Sheffield at rachel@iianm.org for details

IIANM Staff President/CEO Thom Turbett Chief Strategy Officer Marit Peters VP of Member Services Consuelo Trujillo VP of Insurance Programs Julie A. Franchini Communications Director Rachel Sheffield Member Services Associate Renee Trujillo

2012-2013 Officers Chair PJ Wolff

Features

o VZ

"The Voice" of Independent Agents since 1934

IIANM’s 2013 Company Partners 04 IIANM’s Southern Seminar, Now Accepting Registrations

05

Creating a Culture of Greatness in Your Agency

07

Why Google+ Should Be Part of Your Agencies Online Strategy

08

Agent & Broker Role in Federal Exchanges Comes into Focus

11

The Five Biggest Sales Mistakes Insurance Agents Make

14

5 Things That Really Smart People Do

17

Union Standard’s League of Heavy Hitters

18

Young Agents Spotlights Michael Dennis, Free Market Insurance

19

Increasing Policy Limits Without Permission

20

A Dirty Word

22

Ways Agency Principals Can Seize the Future

26

In Every Issue Tech Talk

12

June's Clickable Calendar

26

Odds n Ends

27

Advertiser Index Acuity Burns & Wilcox

10

Back Cover

Litchfield Special Risks

21

Vice-Chair Diana Hobbs

Market Finders, Inc.

16

Secretary/Treasurer Gabe Portillo

New Mexico Mutual

02

Philadelphia Insurance Companies

15

Risk Placement Services (RPS)

06

National Director Sam Conlee Immediate Past Chair Scott Jones

Mountain States Insurance Group

22


The companies listed below have made a commitment to support the strongest agents' association in New Mexco. In turn, as members, please show your thanks by utilizing their varied products and services!

Become a Partner! We invite companies to experience the networking, recruiting and branding opportunities presented by becoming an IIANM Corporate Partner. Our Associate's Partnership Program puts supporters front and center in a meaningful and memorable fashion. Click here for more info!


15 H ou of C rs E

Day Two: Lunch on your own (12:00-1:00pm)

! M N , s e c u r C s La During lunch on the first day, we will also be hosting a Town Hall Meeting.

If you are not attending our Southern Seminar, please join us by clicking the ‘easy button’ below to register for the Town Hall Meeting:

Topics at the Town Hall will include changes in the Insurance Division and new legislation that will affect your agency. We will also introduce improvements we are considering at the Association office and will ask for your feedback. It is our goal at IIANM to be your “easy button” by ensuring we understand your problems and help SOLVE them!

How Much: FREE. There will be $25 reservation fee that is completely refunded upon

signing in and participating at the event. We want to encourage as much participation as possible!

Agenda: 11:30a Lunch is Served / 11:45a Program Begins / 1:00p Meeting Adjourned Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

Page 5


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Creating A Culture of Greatness In Your Agency Contrary to popular opinion, creating a culture of greatness within your organization is hardly rocket science.

By: Jack Fries

In fact, if the following 11 tips—courtesy of Jon Gordon, author of “Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else”—offer any indication, the secrets to forging a world-class team are…well, almost boring in their simplicity. But in this case, equating ”simplicity” with “ineffectiveness” would be a grave mistake. Read on:

1. In order to be the best, you first have to know what you want to be the best of. Only when someone finds their passion are they truly ready to do what it takes. 2. Everyone wants to be great, but only the best are willing to pay the price. They’re not afraid of working hard and putting in extra time. 3. The best are never complacent, and always looking for ways to improve themselves. 4. The best aren’t superhuman; rather, they simply perform a lot of tasks a little better than everyone else.

7. The best aren’t immune to fears, but they confront them head on. 8. The best live in the moment—they aren’t paralyzed by the long-term ramifications of that moment. 9. Rather than generate their own power, the best tap into a power source greater than themselves.

5. Success is all about the fundamentals, and the best know better than to eschew the basics.

10. The best leave a legacy, making their lives about a purpose greater than themselves.

6. Mental and emotional toughness are the hallmarks of the best.

11. Through their own pursuit of excellence, the best make everyone around them better.

Save the Date! IIANM’s 79th ANNUAL

CONVENTION SEPTEMBER 18 & 19, 2013 SANDIA RESORT & CASINO WWW.IIANM.ORG/EVENTS

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

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Why Should be Part of Your Agency’s Online Strategy Participation in Google+ can help an agency considerably in maximizing its local search optimization. Google+ local business pages have replaced Google Places and if a consumer’s search suggests local intent, Google includes Google+ local business pages in the search results. The author provides some great tips as to how an agency can get started with Google+ and use the tool to its full advantage. The article also contains a number of links to very helpful additional information that will help agencies increase their visibility online. If you’ve been following Google’s social experiment from afar, you may have lost Google+ in the shadow of social media’s 800 pound gorilla, Facebook. But before you dismiss the search giant as an also-ran in social, take note of Facebook’s own pet project, Graph Search (www. facebook.com/about/graphsearch). Facebook’s foray into search despite Google’s clear dominance (two out of every three searches online are conducted using Google) reveals the cracks forming in the wall separating search and social. Both companies are preparing for when the wall comes tumbling down, and now is the time to position your agency to capitalize. If Progressive’s marketing data holds true, many more agents are opting for a place on Facebook over Google+. Here’s why you should diversify by building a strong presence on both.

Google+ is much more than social Google+ does have social strengths, such as the ability to easily segment and target communications to customers using Circles and host Hangouts with customers on insurance topics. However, for now the primary insurance agency benefit of Google+ is local search optimization. Americans conduct 3.6 billion local searches on Google each month, and Google+, acting as an online business directory, is the most effective way to capture those prospects. It’s also the best way to do so without having to compete with big brands’ multi-million dollar online advertising budgets. A key reason to engage with Google+ is to acquire new customers in a way that no other social media site or online directory can currently offer.

From Places to Plusses Google reports that one in three searches have local intent, and 83 percent of consumers search online for local businesses. If a search query suggests local intent, Google includes the Google+ local pages in the search results, typically near the top. Formerly called “Google Places,” Google+ local business pages now include social elements Page 8

as well, making an agency’s participation in Google+ (and customer interaction on the platform) a growing factor in showing up in local searches. Here are five steps to start taking advantage of Google+ for local search:

1. Claim and verify it

If you haven’t done so already, claim and verify your Google+ listing. This is something you can easily do on your own (www.google.com/+/business/get-started.html). Be sure not to create a duplicate Google+ listing for your agency if one already exists. It’s against Google’s rules. To check if your business already has a Google+ listing, simply go to www.google.com/maps and enter your business address and phone number into the search bar. If a listing shows up reflecting your business name, then your agency already has a Google+ local business page. Ensure it is under your control through the owner verification process. If someone in your agency does not already have the log-in information to manage your Google+ listing, click on “Manage this Page” on your business’ Google+ page to begin the verification process. Owner verification is a critical step in building trust with Google and guaranteeing that you control your business information on Google+. Progressive research indicates that as of November 2012, more than half of independent insurance agencies had failed to complete this critical first step, significantly diminishing their ability to rank highly in local search results. If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, programs like Progressive’s ListAgent (vimeo.com/49025996) or local search packages from Trusted Choice®’s Project CAP (projectcapmarketing.com) can help you with claiming your business listings online and optimizing your local presence. While you’re at it, it’s an excellent idea to also claim local search listings at sites like Yahoo, Bing and Yelp.

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013


2. Build trust in it

Review your Google+ listing for accuracy and be sure that you’re using the identical name for your agency and its contact information across all directories, on the internet and on your agency website. Search engines like Google look for consistency in your agency’s name, address and phone number (NAP) online, and your visibility in search results improves if you have consistent listings. Exact NAP match is important. For example, you don’t want your agency website to say “ABC Insurance Agency” while your Google+ listing says “ABC Ins Agency.” GetListed.org and Yext.com offer free, simple tools to assess the consistency of your agency’s name, address, and phone online. You also can improve your local search ranking over time by creating references to your agency NAP on additional local directories. There are hundreds of local directory sites where you can submit your NAP information for free, with the only cost being the time it takes you to manually claim them. Alternatively, Progressive’s ListAgent program can do this for your agency for less than $100 a year.

3. Connect it Google changed its local ranking algorithm last year to favor Google+ business listings that link to well-optimized websites, making your agency website’s search optimization an important factor in both organic and local search results. While website optimization can be time-consuming and expensive, here are a few simple changes to help your website’s local search optimization: • Include your agency’s name, address and phone number in text (not as an image) in the header or footer of every page on the site. • Include your city or town name in your title tags, meta descriptions and header (H) tags. • If you have multiple agency locations, create a separate location page on your website for each location, and a separate Google+ local business page for each location. Submit each location’s page to its respective Google+ local business page. • Start using Authorship Markup (webmarketingtoday. com/articles/authorshipthe- top-search-marketing-tacticin-2013) on your agency website and blog posts. If you don’t have a website, consider using a carrier directory page in place of a website in your Google+ listing. For example, the ProgressiveAgent.com agent directory offers Progressive agents free locally optimized agency pages that work well for this purpose.

4. Populate it Populate your Google+ profile with content. Thoughtfully consider your business description, including key search terms that describe what your agency does. Make use of all business listing categories available and include photos and videos. Providing this content not only helps your agency rank higher in local searches, but it also makes

your listing stand out to consumers and increases the likelihood that they’ll do business with you. Visit www.davidmihm.com/local-search-ranking-factors.shtml for more tips on optimizing your local listings.

5. Legitimize it On your agency website and within your established agency referral processes, ask for reviews on Google+ as well as other sites like Yelp and Citysearch. Not only are reviews important to your prospects, 70 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal. Reviews are also known to be an important local search ranking factor. Progressive research indicates that the average independent insurance agency has less than one online review, so creating a slow-but-steady review generation process can really make your agency stand out. The battle between Facebook and Google remains fierce, and both are making big moves to enhance their value to consumers and businesses. Questions may remain over social ROI, but there’s no question local search is critical as more and more people start their insurance shopping online. Adding Google to your online strategy brings a few social benefits, but the local search impact makes it a clear plus.

Matthew Marko is a Marketing Process Manager for Progressive Insurance. Matt wrote this article for ACT and he can be reached at matthew_marko@progressive.com. He works to provide local marketing strategies and tools to help independent agencies grow their business, and has developed online marketing programs and webinars for Progressive agents on ForAgentsOnly.com. He is one of 40 local search experts invited to contribute to the authoritative annual Local Search Ranking Factors study. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT. Matt also recently did an Insurance Journal podcast on this subject which can be found online at www.insurancejournal .tv/videos/8821.


$1,000,000,000 CELEBRATING ONE BILLION IN WRITTEN PREMIUM! DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH has pushed ACUITY over the $1 billion revenue mark! In the past 14 years, we’ve quadrupled our written premium and you are responsible for that. Thank you! We have the agents, employees, and strategic plan to allow our growth to keep compounding on the path to becoming a multibillion-dollar insurer.

www.acuity.com For All That Matters

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Agent and Broker Role in

Federal Exchanges

Comes into

T

Details are issued on agent enrollment and Web-brokers; exchange applications are revised.

Focus

wo big pieces of the puzzle dropped into place for agents and brokers interested in working through the new health care exchanges.

The Obama Administration released a document detailing exactly how agents and brokers will enroll individuals and small businesses through federally facilitated exchanges (FFEs), as well as a few new details on the web-broker program. In addition, the Administration published revised and shortened applications for enrollment in coverage through the exchanges. The Big “I” welcomed these developments, with producer training and registration through FFEs slated for later this summer and initial enrollment in exchanges scheduled to begin Oct.1, 2013.

Federal Exchange Enrollment The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) released a 12-page document that is divided into three sections. The first section provides an overview of the role of producers in FFEs and state-federal partnerships. The second section is a Q&A series on frequently asked questions regarding the role of agents and brokers in FFEs and state-based exchanges. The third section is also organized as a Q&A and provides new, but still fairly general, information on the web-broker program. The main portion of the document describes two pathways for agents to use when enrolling consumers: one through the carriers’ websites and another through the exchange website. Agents will continue to be paid directly by the carriers, with the only stipulation that they must be paid the same both inside and outside of the exchanges for “similar health plans.” Later this summer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is the government body that CCIIO reports to, will begin a registration and training process for agents and brokers. During this process a producer will confirm his or her identity, complete an exchange-specific online training course and sign an agreement with the exchange. Once these steps are complete, the producer will receive an exchange user ID. Both this user ID and the agent or broker’s national producer number (NPN) will be needed to identify a producer and ensure he or she is compensated no matter which enrollment pathway is used—the carrier website or the exchange website. Producers will also need to provide copies of their

training certificates and user IDs to issuers as part of the appointment process. To use a carrier’s website for enrollment, a producer will start by logging onto the issuer’s website. Once the producer and consumer decide on the best plan for enrollment, the producer will be securely redirected from the issuer’s website to the exchange website to complete the application. The agent or broker will then need to enter his or her user ID and NPN to receive credit for the completed enrollment. To use the second option for enrollment, known as the marketplace pathway—the Administration’s new term for exchanges—the consumer, employer or employee will first need to log directly onto his or her own exchange account through the public website. The agent or broker will then go over the plan options and assist in deciding which best fits the needs of the client. Similarly to the carrier pathway, once the application for enrollment is completed the producer will be prompted to enter his or her user ID and NPN. The “two pathway” method is a positive development and an idea that the Big “I” has been working on with CCIIO for some time. However, the association does anticipate there will be wrinkles to be ironed out and will continue to work with the Obama Administration to ensure a strong role for agents and brokers.

Revised Exchange Applications The Administration released final versions of applications for consumers to use when applying for coverage in the health care exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Each of the applications has been significantly simplified and shortened from previous drafts. CMS released three forms: the individual short form, the family application and the application for individuals without financial assistance. Notably, the individual application is three pages long, which is a significant reduction from the 21-page original draft. Also, the family application is seven pages, which is a reduction of two-thirds. The applications now contain added language to show, if applicable, that an agent or broker assisted in the process. The original draft only had a section for government entities such as navigators and certified application counselors. New Mexico is planning on using the Federal Exchange to enroll individuals for at least the first year (2014).

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

Page 11


Steve

Anderson.com by, Steve Anderson (Always feel free to email me with comments, new ideas or products that have worked for you. I will check them out and spread the word!)

Add Measurements to Photos The days of an insurance agent needing to carry around a bulky digital camera are long gone. A very capable digital camera has been built into smartphones since the first iPhone was released just over five years ago. And the quality of pictures taken by these cameras has improved significantly also. App developers have also significantly improved programs that utilize this camera functionality to solve common everyday problems. One type of program that is a significant productivity improvement for an agent is Photo Measures. These programs allow you to use your camera phone to take a picture of a property or building from the outside or a room on the inside and overlay measurements onto the photos to show size. This is a great tool to use during property inspections. Once you add measurements to the photo, you can email the photos as a PDF attachment or JPEG file. Depending on the specific application, you can also export the file to Dropbox or to your smartphone or tablet for use later. Two programs you might consider experimenting with are: • Photo Measures (for iOS) • D-Photo Measures (for Android)

Page 12

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013


Are You Using

Ugly URLs?

Your website is made up of individual pages that are linked together using hyperlinks. Every page on the Internet has an address that page's URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. No two pages can have the exact same address. Some web page addresses look good - and some are just plain ugly. You should strive to make sure every website page looks good. Here's an example of the difference: A Google+ Page URL: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/ 106285021558818454031 An article on my website URL: http://steveanderson.com/2013/04/29/self-driving-cars-willchange-auto-insurance/ Which one do you think is easier to read, and to type into your browser? So, here are some tips for making sure each and every website page is easy to read and is easy for the search engines to find: • Descriptions: Like the example from my website above, the URL is easy to read and describes what you can expect to find on that page. Search engines will also understand the words you use, and that can help your rankings. • Keep it short: Brevity is a virtue. The shorter the URL, the easier to copy and paste, read to someone over the phone, and share on social platforms. • Words are better than numbers: It is far better to use words when possible in the link than numbers. • Keywords don't hurt: If you know you want to target particular keywords, use them in the URL. It may not be a huge help in search rankings but it certainly doesn't hurt. • Use hyphens first: When creating URLs with multiple words in the format of a phrase, hyphens are best to separate the terms (see the example above), followed (in order) by underscores (_), pluses (+), and nothing. There is some debate on this so you may hear a difference of opinion. Making your web page address easy to read may seem like a small thing. But, I have found that it is often the small things that can really help.

Technology Self-Test Digital consumers continue to redefine what they consider to be “good customer service.” Increasing the productivity of your staff seems to be an elusive goal. In order for your organization to keep ahead, it’s important to make sure you evaluate how existing technology tools are being used as well as determine what additional tools have become available. This agency productivity self-test is published each year in my newsletter, The Anderson Agency Report, as a way to help measure how well your organization is using technology resources. Hopefully, it also provides ideas about new tools that you might want to incorporate into your workflow. The self-test delves fully into your use of technology in the following categories: Management, Administrative, Infrastructure, Sales, Customer Service, and Communications. Everyone is encouraged to participate. The audit self-test will take you approximately 15 minutes to complete so set aside some quiet time to complete the survey. It’s well worth it. As a little extra incentive every agency that completes the survey will be entered into a drawing to receive our course, The Personal Lines Ultimate Marketing Program—a $500 value. The total maximum score possible on the self-test is 232. You’ll receive an email with your ranking and what it means to you and your agency in how you utilize technology to improve profit. Take the Test!

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

Page 13


The Five Biggest Sales

Mistakes

Insurance Agents Make by John Chapin

Of all the sales mistakes insurance agents make, the five discussed here are by far the most critical. Side step these by being aware of them and using these recommendations and you will be well on your way to success. Mistake #1: No accountability to a plan of action It’s important to have daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals regarding the number of calls, number of contacts, number of appointments, and number of sales you need to make, and you must push yourself to meet those goals on a daily basis. Equally as important, there needs to be accountability to that plan. In addition to holding yourself accountable, you have to have someone else, preferably a manager or boss, holding you accountable to ensure you don’t let yourself slide. Review your numbers daily and have your manager look at them weekly. If you are not hitting those numbers, sit down with your manager and make the necessary adjustments. In this case, your manager should be reviewing your numbers daily until you are on track. If you manage agents, it’s a good idea to have numbers posted during sales meetings for all the agents to see. This will serve as extra incentive for agents to work hard and stay on track. This one item alone has been shown to instantly increase office production by an average of 18%.

Mistake #2: No follow through, no follow up It’s important to have a system in place that keeps you organized and ensures you follow up and follow through on commitments to prospects and customers. Doing what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do, builds instantly credibility. Not doing so, immediately destroys credibility. In addition to follow through on commitments, it’s also important to return phone calls, e-mails and other communications promptly. Forget the old 24-hour rule. With the speed of business these days, you need to think in minutes and hours. The longest anyone should have to wait for a Page 14

return phone call or communication from you is an hour or two. Yes, even on weekends and evenings. The longer you wait to communicate, the greater the chance something bad will happen. Your objective is to be known as someone who is super responsive, reliable, a person of your word, and as someone who is almost always available.

Mistake #3: Wasting time and majoring in minor things Anything other than servicing current customers, reviewing current coverage, cross-selling, and pursuing new business are minor things. These minor items include: reviewing a customer file before you contact them, driving to and from appointments, handling the paperwork, and all other items that do not involve interaction with a prospect or customer, potentially leading to addition business. Don’t get me wrong, those items are important, but they are still minor. The mistake that most agents make is that, in addition to spending too much time on these minor items, they also waste a lot of time looking for things on their messy desk, chatting with friends and colleagues, checking e-mail, taking multiple coffee breaks, and, in general, finding things to do other than calling on prospects and customers. Your highest priority, the only time that really counts, is the time you spend with prospects and customers.

Mistake #4: Focusing on new business at the expense of current customers Your long-term business success will come down to your ability to acquire, maintain, and solidify customer relationships. If you get enough customers and treat them right, your business will be fine. If you focus only on chasing new business, taking existing customers for granted and failing to nurture those relationships, you will always have to make

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013


tons of contacts to replace the current customers you’re losing. That is a recipe for frustration and failure. Every day you have to carve out some time to work on solidifying relationships with current customers. This involves phone calls, in-person visits, and other ways of reaching out. In addition to sending birthday, holiday, anniversary, and thank-you cards, look for other creative ways to keep your name in front of customers. Perhaps you send an article or book on an area of interest, or send a gift for a special occasion. The key here is to stay in touch and keep the lines of communication open. Most customer issues begin with a lack of communication.

finding leads to servicing customers well and making them happy? Where are you having some success and where do you need some work? You should always be growing and improving in the areas of personal and professional development. This becomes even more important when you are struggling. Keep in mind that ultimately success and failure come down to you. Whatever issue or problem you are having, others have been in a worse position than you and have still been successful.

For access to John's free monthly newsletter and white paper on what it takes to be successful in sales, visit John's website at www.completeselling. com

Finally, don’t ever take your current customers for granted or let service slip. While it’s important to get new business, your current customers are your number one priority.

Have a sales question? E-mail John at johnchapin@ completeselling.com John Chapin’s specialty is helping salespeople and sales teams double sales in 12 months. He is an award-winning sales speaker, trainer and coach, a number one sales rep in three industries, and the primary author of the gold-medal winning "Sales Encyclopedia". In his 24+ years of sales, customer service and management experience, he has thrived in some of the toughest markets and economies.

Mistake #5: Pointing the finger elsewhere Many times when sales are off, a deal falls through, or we are otherwise unsuccessful, we place blame on factors other than ourselves. It is imperative to accept responsibility for your results. If things aren’t working out, why aren’t they working out? Are you sticking to your daily plan? Are you effectively handling all aspects of your business from

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5 Things That Really

Smart people By Kevin Daum Source: Inc.com

Do

M

ost people don't really think much about how they learn. Generally you assume learning comes naturally. You listen to someone speak either in conversation or in a lecture and you simply absorb what they are saying, right? Not really. In fact, I find as I get older that real learning takes more work. The more I fill my brain with facts, figures, and experience, the less room I have for new ideas and new thoughts. Plus, now I have all sorts of opinions that may refute the ideas being pushed at me. Like many people I consider myself a lifelong learner, but more and more I have to work hard to stay open minded. But the need for learning never ends, so your desire to do so should always outweigh your desire to be right. The world is changing and new ideas pop up everyday; incorporating them into your life will keep you engaged and relevant. The following are the methods I use to stay open and impressionable. They'll work for you too. No matter how old you get.

1. Quiet Your Inner Voice You know the one I am talking about. It's the little voice that offers a running commentary when you are listening to someone. It's the voice that brings up your own opinion about the information being provided. It is too easy to pay more attention to the inner voice than the actual speaker. That voice often keeps you from listening openly for good information and can often make you shut down before you have heard the entire premise. Focus less on what your brain has to say and more on the speaker. You may be surprised at what you hear.

2. Argue With Yourself If you can't quiet the inner voice, then at least use it to your advantage. Every time you hear yourself contradicting the speaker, stop and take the other point of view. Suggest to your brain all the reasons why the speaker may be correct and you may be wrong. In the best case you may open yourself to the information being provided. Failing that, you will at least strengthen your own argument.

3. Act Like You Are Curious Some people are naturally curious and others are not. No matter which category you are in you can benefit from behaving like a curious person. Next time you are listening to information, make up and write down three to five relevant questions. If you are in a lecture, Google them after for answers. If you are in a conversation you can ask the other person. Either way you'll likely learn more, and the action of thinking up questions will help encode the concepts in your brain. As long as you're not a cat you should benefit from these actions of curiosity.

4. Find the Kernel of Truth No concept or theory comes out of thin air. Somewhere in the elaborate concept that sounds like complete malarkey there is some aspect that is based upon fact. Even if you don't buy into the idea, you should at least identify the little bit of truth from whence it came. Play like a detective and build your own extrapolation. You'll enhance your skills of deduction and may even improve the concept beyond the speaker's original idea.

5. Focus on the Message Not the Messenger Often people shut out learning due to the person delivering the material. Whether it's a boring lecturer, someone physically unappealing, or a member of the opposite political party, the communicator can impact your learning. Even friends can disrupt the learning process since there may be too much history and familiarity to see them as an authority on a topic. Separate the material from the provider. Pretend you don't know the person or their beliefs so you can hear the information objectively. As for the boring person, focus on tip two, three, or four as if it were a game, thereby creating your own entertainment. An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies. twitter.com/awesomeroar

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

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Union Standard Insurance Group®

League of Heavy Hitters

Union Standard is committed to working with young independent agents because they are the future of our business. That’s why we are partnering for success with New Mexico’s Young Agents. Union Standard recognizes the need to foster the growth of new talent to perpetuate the Independent Agency System as well as provide young agents a competitive advantage.

Union Standard and the League of Heavy Hitters, Now that’s a Winning Team!

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Congratulations Congratulations, 2013 2013 League of Heavy Hitters Anna Byers Brad Tillotson Chad Hewitt Charlie Estrada Jeff Wilson Joe Cito Joe Menicucci Kelly Mancha Michael Dennis Michelle Wilson Mike Parisi Robert Lilley Ryan Brennan Sadie Ary Samantha Sanchez Tanesha Vigil Will Gorham

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Young Agent Spotlight! The third Young Agent Spotlight in our 2013 series is

Michael Dennis of Free Market Insurance

Michael grew up in Albuquerque where he currently resides with his wife Misty and their son, Braxton. He graduated from UNM Anderson School of Business. His favorite pastimes include spending time with his family, mountain biking & golfing. http://www.youtube.com/user/freemarketins

Q: Q:

Are you involved in any professional or civic activities?

Q:

Where do you work now and what are your responsibilities?

Trusted Advisors Network & Executive Association of Greater Albuquerque

Free Market Insurance Agency, I am the owner and agent. I specialize in Business Insurance & Risk Management. My daily responsibilities are to make sure our clients have the coverage they need for the risks associated with their business. It is also to keep my service team as happy as can be so that we can ensure that all of our clients receive the best experience when working with us. I believe if we take care of our people, the rest will take care of itself.

Q:

How and why did you choose insurance as your career?

Q:

Do you have any influences / role models that have helped to shape your career?

Never thought I’d be an insurance agent! I was a golf professional at the time and a student, and good friend JP Turpen talked me into coming to work for his and his brother’s agency. It was the best decision I ever made.

What do you think are the key challenges that young professional agents face in our industry?

Age can be a factor sometimes, but in most cases too many agents sell on price, not coverage and other services the agency provides. Talking with clients to find out what else they need in their business other than insurance is critical in developing a referral base & trust within your client base to help grow your business. It’s by far referrals that have gotten us to where we are.

Three Main Reasons Why New Insurance Agents Fail. By Brent Kelly read full article 1. Expect too much too soon. Let’s face it, most of us live in the “see it, want it, have it” generation. We see something we like, want it, and then must have it right away. We look at successful people and think, “That must be nice, I sure wish I was that successful.” Wake up call; successful people work their tails off. Typically 20-30 years of hard work looks like an overnight success. 2. Lack of quality training / education I often speak with young insurance agents who are frustrated with their job. That can’t understand why this business is so tough. After a few minutes, I realize that this young agent was given a phone, and computer, and maybe a lead sheet with no training or mentorship. Of course they are going to fail. That’s like taking a person who has never golfed, walking them out to the golf course, giving them a club, and questioning why they can’t break 100.

Michael Gerber, Mark Tobiassen, Michael Podolny, Tony Pino, Kit & JP Turpen, Taylor Horst, Juelie Loftin & my wife Misty who has helped keep me sane along the way.

3. Focused on the wrong thing (money vs. people) If you are in the insurance business simply to make money, you will not succeed. Maybe in the short-term, but over time prospects and customers will see right through you. The will know you don’t care about them, you only care about you.

She also has given me some of the best advice anyone has ever given me.

This is a people business. This is a relationship business. This is a service business.

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

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Increasing Policy Limits ulty

VU Fac

without permission Virtual University’s Ask an Expert

"We are going to be updating our auto clients in a new program to $500K if there has been no increase or a decrease in premium. We will then let them know that we have increased their limits. They can call us if they don’t want the increase. We will also give them other options to add. Can we increase their limits and then tell them we did it or do we have to have their permission first? This has gone different ways in the past and we don’t want to screw this up." This is a common question and it comes up most often during an increasingly soft market when policy limits can be increased at renewal time without an increase in premium to the insured due to falling or more competitive rates. This question was fielded by our E&O folks and the VU faculty. Their responses follow. This practice of increasing coverage and/or limits has been done ever since I have been in the business which is 1960. In fact, my own insurance agent has done it to me. I do not see anything wrong with it. The insured may be better off this way. Waiting for insureds to consent first may take a long time, if ever.

FACULTY RESPONSE

I like the idea of “rolling on” increased limits or important coverages (e.g., Replacement Cost on Coverage C under a HO), even when there is a small charge. This has the advantage of putting the declination in the hands of the client, rather than asking permission.

FACULTY RESPONSE

Isn’t this called “sliding”? I know that our department of insurance frowns on this practice. If there truly were no additional premium, they might feel that is was simply an enhancement. I think it will vary by state as to its legality. The standard of care is elevated by it in my opinion.

FACULTY RESPONSE

I would agree with the letter approach up to a certain point. I think the letter is appropriate but I really don’t see any issues with standard of care. What I really see, if I read the policy correctly, is the only one who legally has the right to make changes to the policy is the INSURED! Doing so without the permission of the insured might easily be determined to be an Unfair Trade Practice, violating state insurance law and could cause the agent to be disciplined or have his/her license suspended or revoked.

FACULTY RESPONSE

FACULTY RESPONSE

Establishing “agency standards” for new policies is still a good idea, to prevent this problem in the future. I don’t understand the first sentence, “We are going to be updating our auto clients in a new program to $500K if there has been no increase or a decrease in premium.” Page 20

If you haven’t offered higher limits to your other clients, this would be a good time to do it. Upgrading clients in one company to a minimum of $500,000 while leaving other clients with lower limits sounds like a breeding ground for E&O.

You should not make a limits decision for an insured unless you have a relationship where these decisions are your responsibility. Are you making the same increases on their houses, boats, RV’s, etc.? Contact your insured. Explain why they should consider increased limits. Tell them the amount of increase they can obtain at whatever price. Don’t limit your recommendations to auto. Offer umbrella coverage at the same time.

Having said that, HOWEVER, be sure the agency is fully informed on the laws and regulations in their state. I have heard that there are some jurisdictions that have specifically prohibited this practice, since it was perceived as agents looking to pad their wallets, rather than protecting the client.

FACULTY RESPONSE

What’s the “new program”? It sounds like the insurance company is automatically giving everybody $500,000 with no increase in premium. If that’s how it works, I don’t see a problem. Some states have rules about rolling on coverages, though. You might check to be sure the company has cleared this with your insurance department.

Click here to read the full list of faculaty responses. (You must sign in to view the full list. E-mail rachel@iianm.org if you need your log-in information.)

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013


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Chris Burand is president and owner of Burand & Associates, LLC, a management consulting firm that has been specializing in the property/casualty insurance industry since 1992. Burand is recognized as a leading consultant for agency valuations, helping agents increase profits and reduce the cost of sales. His services include: agency valuations/due diligence, producer compensation plans, expert witness services, E&O carrier approved E&O procedure reviews, and agency operation enhancement reviews. He also provides the acclaimed Contingency Contract AnalysisÂŽ Service and has the largest database and knowledge of contingency contracts in the insurance industry.

R

ecently I used the word "accountability" as in, "Employees, especially producers, must be held accountable for doing their jobs if an agency is going to succeed." I was told by several chief operating officers that accountability is not a word they could use in their agencies. The connotations were simply too negative. Can you imagine a coach afraid to use the word accountable relative to whether his players are doing their job? Can you imagine a general afraid to use the word accountable when his officers fail to carry out his orders? Can you imagine any other field (other than politics) where management is not allowed to use the word accountable, especially when managing key people? Think about this. What happens when a producer fails to make sales in an agency where key managers are not only timid about holding the producer accountable but they also are actually prevented from talking about holding the producer accountable? Why would this environment even exist? Is this what we get when we give medals to kids regardless of whether they win or even make an effort? Is this any way to run a business? Isn't something fundamentally amiss when the most highly paid people are not held accountable for doing their jobs? In fact, it is not just that they are not held accountable for making sales; most are not even held accountable for not trying to make sales! Having worked with agencies for a quarter of a century, I know the COOs mentioned above were right and I know their agencies are not unique. I have known hundreds of agencies in which producers did not have to do anything to get a paycheck. Sure, some were eventually were let go, but not always. I know of many producers who make fewer than 12 small sales annually, and these are all 100 percent by luck. In the last year they have not made a sales call. In the last two years they have not made a true sales call. I know producers who have never made a sales call in their entire careers, at least not a real sales call. No wonder I was advised to not use accountability. But if producers are not accountable for at least making sales calls, exactly what are they accountable for? It is difficult to hold a producer accountable for waiting for the phone to ring or waiting for a prospect to walk into the agency. It is difficult to hold a producer accountable for following procedures when producers do not have real procedures (easily the case in 75 percent of agencies). It is difficult to hold a producer accountable for checking renewals when the customer service representatives (CSRs) do this.

What is the future of having the most highly paid portion of the workforce be reactive? How is being passive going to lead to success? How is avoiding the bad word, accountability, going to lead to success? In light of 4,000 new agencies and at least $4 billion in annual advertising by the big direct writers and others, how is sitting around and not holding highly paid people accountable for doing their jobs going to create prosperity? Frankly, I do not see a government bailout on the horizon for the typical independent agency. I do not see carriers saving these agencies; in fact, some carriers are creating the competition. "Accountability" is not a dirty word to me. I understand that holding people accountable may hurt some people's feelings but those who do their jobs will not have their feelings hurt. For those that don't do their jobs and get their feelings hurt, their hurt feelings should be their problem, not management's problem. While others may be judged subjectively, the performance of people who have sales jobs can be measured easily and objectively. Yet objective measurement is often turned into a bad thing, which creates an awesome opportunity. This "no accountability" culture exists in so many agencies that those that are not afraid of using the word accountability have phenomenal opportunities to take advantage of their competition. The coach who will pull the quarterback for not doing his job has a far greater probability of success than the coach who will not pull the quarterback for fear of hurting the quarterback's feelings. The entire team is dependent on producers making sales and everyone in the agency pays a price when producers do not sell. I have seen agencies lay-off staff because their producers are not out proactively selling, and yet those producers are not being laid off. The agency would make a far better investment letting those producers go, investing the savings in producers who can sell, and moving forward to much more opportunity. I have even seen agencies lay-off non-performing producers and the staff has increased sales as a result. The rationalization that they can’t find good producers and therefore must live with what they have is just that, nothing more than a rationalization. One reason they can't find better producers is because they do not have the money. They usually don't have the money because they’re spending it on producers who don't produce. For those agencies not afraid to make accountability part of their culture, this is your competition. How can you not win?

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

Page 23


Ways Agency Principals Can Seize the Future By Peter van Aartrijk

brand ship leader g staffin social cs metri

Attributes of a successful agency of the future - the foreseeable future, to be specific. I’d like to comment on a few of these I find critical for principals to consider:

Brand Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m biased here. But a strong brand is the difference between winning and falling behind, period. Remember that the agency brand isn’t tangible; it is a set of expectations and memories that reside in the minds of your stakeholders (owners, employees, customers, prospects, business partners and opinion leaders). The objective is a clear/consistent 360-degree understanding of the brand among all stakeholders. This will take a while if you haven’t started the process.

communications are an investment, not an expense, and they will build agency value. Best Practices agencies consistently are spending 1% to 3% of annual revenue on these activities (the larger the agency, the percentage typically drops). Some firms are redirecting more of the annual spend towards younger talent to handle social media initiatives; where in the past they might have directed more to paid media, for example. Refer to the Websites & Social Media page of the ACT website for more information. Are you just an agency name? Or a brand name? Could it be more crisp, clear, consistent and visible?

Leadership Our work group has talked a lot about leadership—specifically, the value of transformational vs. transactional leadership.

The insurance industry creates products and services, but people buy brands. Thus, your agency’s brand is the most valuable asset. From the owner’s perspective, it will guide employee behavior. From the consumer perspective, the brand will help them decide where to buy. That won’t change for the agency of the future.

Organizations need both to succeed, but agencies typically are lacking in transformational leadership. Such a leader:

Strong brands build loyalty - reducing turnover and increasing revenue per customer. You attract talented people to work for you. You attract the best carriers. Your referrals increase. You can talk more about value than price with prospects. And you can go beyond clients to raving fans.

• Builds a culture that drives customer and employee happiness.

Thus, it is important for the agency to go through the process of defining and codifying the agency’s brand attributes and personality. What are they today? What should they be? What could they be? More important, with the proper strategy and investment, what will they be? Agency owners must clearly understand, embrace and communicate a direction for their firms. A strong brand is something you earn, not something you receive. Smart firms realize that customer and prospect

• Inspires staff to work as a team toward a common goal - and inspires the team to take its own initiative to accomplish goals without management’s handholding.

Page 26

• Always seeks improvement and is more willing to shake things up. • Realizes that the world is dynamic and sees change as an opportunity, not a threat.

• Develops employees, at the right levels and in the right places, and allows them ability to grow. • Has effective listening and communications skills.

For an agency, leadership means managing a business, not just being an insurance technician. Smart agency principals never seem satisfied—they always strive to get better. They have a voracious appetite to learn.

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013


Leaders are willing to gain new information and insights from any source—employees, clients, other industries and industry meetings. To that point, “Leaders are readers,” according to author/speaker David Nour. Improving just 1% per day in knowledge and skill means that in 70 days you’re twice as good as today, he says. Does your firm have a good dose of transformational leadership?

Staffing Over the next 10 years, 50% of current agency workers will have retired. But the next generation of leaders are ready to get involved now—don’t stand in their way. Smart agency owners invest in people and training. Some of your new hires may come from outside the industry—a great way to generate new ideas and also get strategic help, which agencies often lack. Many firms have a couple of family generations on board. But now these successful owners are handing over the reins to professional managers who are not part of the family. And if you’re looking for the best talent, be prepared to pay the best salaries—but it’s an investment in your future. Another trend of which to be very aware: Who works at your firm, what is work, where we work, when we work, how we work—even why we work—is all evolving. It’s an exciting time. Be flexible. Some of your best talent of the future won’t commute to the office 9 to 5 every day. Some will be consultants, some employees; some will work full time, and some part time, and some remotely. And some of those highly talented would-be retirees I mention above might continue to contribute to the firm under alternative circumstances. Flexible work arrangements backed up by slick, enabling technology—such as Internet phone systems—are becoming more prevalent at agencies. Do you offer a place where insurance professionals want to work? What’s your story to a new recruit? Will you earn your fair share of tomorrow’s talent?

Social The successful agency of the foreseeable future isn’t going to dabble in social media marketing—it will be a social business. Sitting on the sidelines of this incredible consumer revolution isn’t going to cut it. Nor is looking at customer and prospect marketing as a series of projects. The future agency will be fully engaged, year round, in online and social networking activity. Social is not just an isolated initiative. It must be an integrated piece of your agency’s personality. It defines how the firm communicates and engages with customers and prospects. Agents say they struggle with creating (a) the time it takes to be a social business, and (b) ideas for content - the

“what” and the “how” to do this. It’s easier than you think if you approach it from an honest and authentic standpoint. For example, I find it interesting how every day agents literally “speak” dozens of potential blog entries when they help explain a coverage or handle a claim. Write them down! Or use voice-to-text software. You don’t have to make this up on your own. For good material on developing and implementing an online, mobile and social policy, go to the ACT website. The reports will help you guide employee behavior. Once you have a system in place to interact and respond to consumers, the rest will be easier. Relationships are key to the future of consumers and agencies. Everything you do should be about building relationships with employees, business partners, prospects and customers. Software and hardware and cloud technology and social media platforms can be distracting. Put your work into a strategy, setting goals and building relationships. The social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, and more—that you use to communicate will be a secondary consideration. Are you building relationships online? Do you allow your employees to use these tools as well?

Metrics Agencies that measure effectiveness of marketing and sales efforts tend to be much stronger, period. Knowing your numbers is a key differentiator between the growing agency and the one that is not. Key metrics to understand include new business, retention and revenue per client; number of policies per client, and from where the business comes. For more on 12 key metrics, see this excellent article by Chuck Blondino, Safeco Insurance. Are you measuring your success? If you’re falling short in some areas, how soon will you know? What’s your plan? What’s your dream for the future? In the words of the late Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Peter van Aartrijk is CEO of Aartrijk, a marketing-communications firm specializing in insurance. He also is principal at strategic branding firm Chromium and Channel Harvest Research , which conducts studies of independent agency preferences/views on their carriers. He chairs ACT’s Agencies of the Future Work Group. Peter produced this article for ACT; it reflects his views and should not be construed as an official statement of ACT.

IIANM can now help you tackle these issues! Call Marit 505-999-5804

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico - www.iianm.org - * June 2013

Page 27


June 2013

Clickable Calendar

Click on class title to register Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday 1

2

3

4

5 ACSR 7 Commercial Liability 8 CE

9

10

11

TOWNHALL MEETING

AAI 81A Principles of Insurance 8 CE

6

7

8

ACSR 4 E&O Loss Control 8 CE

12

13

14

15

ROSWELL

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

P&C Pre-Licensing Exam Review

L&H Pre-Licensing Exam Review

IIANM’s Job Bank Looking to fill a position within your agency? Trying to find a job but don’t know where to look? Whether you are looking for somewhere new to share your special skills or an employer looking for quality, professional employees, we are here to lend a helping hand. Click here to take advantage of IIANM’s Job Bank. Do you have an agency you’re trying to sell, or in the market to buy one? Check out our Classifieds!


Odds n

Ends

50 Most Underrated Summer Vacation Spots in the USA Summer is fast approaching and that means that it’s time for that age old ritual: the summer vacation. Why not take a chance on one of these 50 most underrated vacation spots? Taos, NM makes the list at #21...

New Words for a new era?

The English language is always growing and changing. These new words may not appear in any dictionary, but they’re sure to add some sparkle to your everyday conversations: • Beardspiration. A beard so awesome that it inspires other people to grow their own beards. “Abraham Lincoln is truly a beardspiration to me.” • Corporatistical. Adjective relating to oversize executive egos. “Telling me to remove all the semicolons from that report was really corporatistical of him.” • Deskorations. Knicknacks for the workplace cubicle, intended to make the resident look cool. “That miniature fountain would make a great deskoration for the office.” • Inboxapocalypse. An overstuffed email inbox. “I’ve got 1,256 emails! It’s an inboxapocalypse!” • Stresscalation. When one person passes his or her stress on to a co-worker. “Pam’s meetings always produce a significant stresscalation to her assistant.”

101 Fun Things To Do in the Summer Before your family has a chance to say, “I’m boooored!” you can be ready with this list of great ideas. So, slather on the sunblock, grab your shades, and live it up this Summer!

Human brain cells enhance learning in mice We know a little bit more about how the human brain works, thanks to experiments with human brain cells grafted onto the brain cells of mice. Scientific American reports that a group of neuroscientists took a type of brain cells called glia and injected them into the brains of newborn mice (under anesthesia). The glia matured into astrocytes, which facilitate high-speed connections within the brain. In the mice, the human astrocytes increased the strength of synaptic signals between neurons, enhancing the mice’s ability to learn. The results may suggest a path toward understanding how to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, scientists say. Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it. ~Katharine Whitehorn

7 Memorable Graduation Speeches by Entrepreneurs and Other Leaders Among the thousands of graduation addresses given each year, these stand out--mostly for the right reasons.

Sleep Deprivation: Just as Bad for Performance as Alcohol Feel proud of your 70-hour weeks? You may as well boast about working while drunk. Read more...


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06lavoz2013  

The Official E-zine for Independent Insurance Agents in New Mexico

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