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Tennessee Edition/Spring 2013

Technology A light in the dark

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


Help Build Your Family’s Financial Future With

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For more information about PIA Trust Insurance Plans, please contact your local PIA Affiliate or call the Plan Administrator at 1-800-336-4759. Additional information is also available on-line at *PIA National membership, when required, must be current at all times. **Only available if 100% employer paid and if the employer and 100% of the employees enroll. No medical underwriting necessary up to guaranteed issue limits.


Policies or provisions may vary or be unavailable in some states. Policies have exclusions or limitations which may affect any benefits payable.

All coverageInsurance except Dental Agents/Spring underwritten by Unimerica Insurance Company, Association Administrative Address, P.O. Box 17828, Portland, ME 04112-8828. Professional 2013 Dental coverage underwritten by MetLife. Insurance Program Administered by Lockton Risk Services

Dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and informed opinion for the professional enlightenment and growth of the men and women of the insurance industry.

Cover Story

D epartments


Five steps to choose an agency management system How to pick the right AMS for your agency


4 7 9 11 17 19 22


Readers’ service & advertising index


Officers and directors directory

Pro CSR Tech talk Tech trends Industry trends Tech bit


How mobility is transforming the business of insurance Agencies need to live up to clients’ 24/7 expectations

Cover design: Patty Dykeman Statements of fact and opinion in PIA magazine are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the officers or the members of the Professional Insurance Agents. Participation in PIA events, activities, and/or publications is available on a nondiscriminatory basis and does not reflect PIA endorsement of the products and/or services. CEO of PIA Management Services Inc. Kenneth Bessette, President Mark LaLonde, CPIA, CIC, AAI, Communciation Director Mary E. Christiano, Senior Magazine Designer Sue Jacobsen, Member Information Manager Jaye Czupryna, Advertising Sales Executive Susan Newkirk. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Professional Insurance Agents of Tennessee, 504 Autum Springs Court, Suite A-2, Franklin, TN 37067. “Professional Insurance Agents” is published quarterly by PIA Management Services Inc. PIA Management Services, 25 Chamberlain St., P.O. Box 997, Glenmont, NY 12077-0997; toll-free (800) 424-4244; email © 2013 Professional Insurance Agents. All rights reserved. No material within this publication may be reproduced—in whole or in part—without the express written consent of the publisher.

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


Association news PIA announces mobile app

PIA of Tennessee’s newest, exclusive benefit for member agencies is an agency mobile application that can be customized. The app works on all mobile devices—iPhone, Blackberry, Android, iPads and tablets. The best feature, though, may be the cost; it is available for only $375 annually, just pennies on the dollar, considering that many mobile apps cost into the thousands of dollars to be developed. If you’re asking why your agency needs a mobile app, consider this: In 2011, daily time spent in mobile apps surpassed desktop and mobile web consumption ( The blog, Flurry, found that the average user spends 9 percent more time using mobile apps than the Internet (Flurry Analytics, May 2011). When your client launches the PIA-TN mobile app, “My Agent” will appear with information that you have customized for your agency. Clients can request a quote, report a claim and upload a photo of their claim. Your application can include directions, a staff directory, and even can be viewed in multiple languages. To see how the application works, PIA has a video clip on YouTube that briefly describes the mobile app and how it can be customized for

your agency. To view the video, go to PIA’s website ( and click the link for more information.

PIA-TN Hiring System

PIA of Tennessee has partnered with George Nordhaus, founder and chairman of Agencies Online, to offer member agencies the PIA-TN Hiring System. The hiring system provides comprehensive, objective and highly accurate assessments that go far beyond those attained by traditional resume review and interview process. At the core of the system is assessment techniques developed by Profiles International, one of the largest psychological testing firms worldwide. These techniques combined with structured interview questions and personal consultations and advice from Sue Nordhaus take the guesswork (and potential financial risk) out of hiring and employee promotion decisions. Complete information about the PIA-TN Hiring System, as well as general articles on hiring, is accessed through PIA of Tennessee’s website (, under the “Products & Services” tab. Click on the “PIA-TN Hiring System” link on the “Career Center” tab.

PIA introduces YoPro

PIA of Tennessee has organized a new group geared to professionals younger than 40 and/or those with fewer than 10 years in the industry. The group is YoPro—short for Young Professionals—and its primary purpose is to assist the next generation of insurance professionals in elevating their career. PIA will organize YoPro events across the state and participation is open to insurance professionals, as well as professionals who may cross sell with insurance agents, such as realtors and financial planners. YoPro’s first event was held Feb. 8, 2013, in Nashville and featured two state legislators, Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, and Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, both of whom are insurance agents. Rep. Keisling is owner of Keisling Insurance Agency and is a PIA of Tennessee member. He is serving his second term in the state House of Representatives. Rep. Sargent is a State Farm agent and is serving his eighth term in the state House of Representatives. Both men shared insight into their professional careers, as well as their public service. PIA YoPro events will be publicized on the website ( and in the monthly newsletter, PIA Pipeline. More information also is available call PIA of Tennessee at (615) 771-1177.

YoPro Nashville speakers Rep. Kelly Keisling (left) and Rep. Charles Sargent (right) with Anna Montgomery of Montgomery Associates in Brentwood.


Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013

Rep. Charles Sargent (left) and Rep. Kelly Keisling (right) spoke at the YoPro Nashville “Steps to Success” event. Brennan Paris, PIA executive vice president (standing) introduced the guest speakers.

Platinum partner profile Allied Insurance, a Nationwide company, On Your Side®

regional presence gives Allied Insurance expertise in local markets so customers know they’re receiving top value for their insurance dollar. Allied Insurance carries on a tradition of service and integrity that is more than 80 years strong, and the company views every point of contact with customers as an opportunity to extend that reputation. By listening to customers and understanding their needs, Allied Insurance develops insurance solutions that meet or exceed customer expectations.

Corporate Headquarters 1100 Locust St. Des Moines, Iowa 50931-2000 South Eastern Regional Office 3300 SW Williston Road Gainesville, Florida 32608


Senior executives

Stephen S. Rasmussen, CEO, Nationwide W. Kim Austen, president and COO, Allied Insurance and Allied Group

Tennessee staff

Thomas Clark, regional vice president, Allied South Eastern Region Matthew Weaver, independent agency sales director Michelle Bryson-Hale, independent agency sales manager Daniel Schilling, independent agency sales manager


Formed as Allied Mutual Automobile Association in 1929, Allied Insurance has been committed to providing insurance coverage backed by its commitment to On Your Side® customer service. Whether it’s protection for home, auto, farm/ranch or business, Allied’s broad portfolio of personal and commercial products has the flexibility to meet customers’ insurance needs. With regional offices in Des Moines, Iowa, Lincoln, Neb., Denver, Colo., Gainesville, Fla., and Sacramento, Calif., its

Allied Insurance’s philosophy is: “National strength with a personal touch. With Allied Insurance you get the best of both worlds. Allied and Pennsylvania-based Harleysville Insurance combine to operate the independent agency network of Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide is number 100 on the 2012 Fortune 500 list and is one of the country’s largest multi-insurer and financial services organizations. As part of Nationwide, Allied is rated “A+” by A.M. Best Co., the leading industry rating services. “Allied partners with a network of 4,000 independent agencies across 33 states, so customers know they’ll be served by a local agent who understands them and their community. Likewise, Harleysville is represented by more than 1,300 independent agencies, primarily east of the Mississippi, and both Allied and Harleysville have a strong presence in the Tennessee market.”


Auto, property, business, farm/ranch, financial protection, sport vehicle and boat.

PIA of Tennessee and Allied Insurance proud partners for independent insurance agents

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


Platinum partner profile AMERISAFE

trucking, agriculture, logging and wood products, oil and gas, maritime, aggregates, and manufacturing. Our programs (safety, claims and audit) are designed specifically for these industries. We are a financially secure company, rated “A” (Excellent) by A. M. Best Co. with a financial-size category of IX. We are publicly traded on the NASDAQ Exchange under the trading symbol AMSF.”

2301 Hwy 190 West DeRidder, Louisiana 70634


Doing business in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia.

Senior executives

Allen Bradley, chairman/CEO Geoff Banta, president/COO Craig Leach, executive vice president of sales & marketing Chris Lestage, senior vice president of claims Leon Lagneaux, senior vice president Allen Bradley of safety Kelly Goins, senior vice president of underwriting Barbara McCrary, vice president of premium audit


AMERISAFE’s philosophy is: “We are a specialty provider of workers’ compensation insurance focused on small- to midsized employers in hazardous industries such as construction,

Underwriting. We offer a proactive, disciplined approach in underwriting our policies by providing comprehensive services that lessen the overall incidence and cost of workplace injuries. Safety. We provide safety services at employers’ workplace as a vital component of our underwriting process. Our field safety professionals visit our clients work sites to offer assistance in making the workplace safer. Claims. We utilize intensive claims management practices that we believe permits us to reduce the overall cost of workers’ compensation claims. Our field case managers carry low claims workloads, which allows them to provide our insured employers and their injured workers with personalized service, facilitating prompt resolution of claims. Financial security. AMERISAFE is a financially secure company, rated “A” (Excellent) by A. M. Best Co. with a financial-size category of IX. We are a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ Exchange under the trading symbol AMSF. Audit. We provide audit services to our insured’s with the proper allocation of payroll. Our field auditor’s visit with our insured’s annually to review description of operations and assist the insured with reporting processes.

PIA of Tennessee and AMERISAFE proud partners for independent insurance agents


Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013

Pro How are you handling CSR social media?

Magnusson is vice president of KJM Consulting & Training Inc. She can be reached at (315) 439-6764 or by email at mmagnusson@

By Mishell K. Magnusson, CIC, CISR, CPIA, AAI, FIPC

Does your agency utilize social media? If you’ve answered yes, does your customer service representatives’ use of social media affect your agency? Does any staff member’s use of social media affect your agency? Of course it does. The next question is: What should your agency do about it? Social media refers to the various outlets and platforms that facilitate communities of users to create and share content. In general, social networking can capture your audience. You can collect your customers and prospects as fans and market to them repeatedly. There are dozens of platforms out there (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Yelp, Plaxo, Classmates,

Typepad, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Formspring, MyLife, Blogger, Second Life, WordPress, Tubmlr, Wikia, Pinterest, etc.). The list is extensive. However, those of us in the insurance industry probably are most familiar with Facebook and LinkedIn.

Who’s using social media?

Before you can effectively utilize a social-media marketing plan, you need to determine who is on these platforms and with whom you’d like to connect. Most likely, your existing customers, carriers, vendors, friends, family, community and employees already are using these sites. But, why is that? What makes these sites so popular? There are two reasons that most everyone is using one or more social-media sites:

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


No. 1—It’s affordable. Both Facebook and LinkedIn (and other sites) allow you to set up free accounts. Most sites have no or low costs to produce and share photos and content. For your agency, compare this cost with the price of placing an ad in the traditional Yellow Pages. Then consider this, how many people still use the traditional, printed Yellow Pages to look up information? No. 2—It’s user-friendly. Ease of use is vital to social-media growth. There is the possibility of cross-pollination, as well as a number of resources available when people use social-media sites. And, probably the biggest upcoming reason (or perhaps a current reason) is these are all available on a mobile platform and we have become a very mobile society.

The good, the bad and the ugly

According to LinkedIn, the site adds new members at a rate of about one per second and has more than 70 million users. And according to Facebook, the average user is connected to 60 pages, groups or events; and it claims to have more than 400 million active users, of which 50 percent log in to the site daily. Like any other community, a social-media site is based around shared interests and needs. Professional, independent insurance agents are wellsuited to thrive under this model. And, like any other community, there is the good, the bad and the ugly. The good: • It gives you a distinct and unique voice—your own! • It allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field. (This might actually need to go under the bad and ugly.) • It allows you to monitor your customers’ habits. • It allows you to build a network of champions for your agency. • It allows you to adjust your message as needed. The bad: • You need to be aware of errors-andomissions concerns.


• You need to document information to manage risk and help to defend against potential claims and lawsuits. • You need to take steps to protect yourself when you can with appropriate disclaimers and notices. • You need to be aware of laws and regulations that may impact your social-media activities (e.g., advertising and copyright issues). • You need to implement and follow procedures to help deal with employee and employer use of social media. The ugly: For the ugly, we will use Facebook as the example. In our hypothetical situation, an agency has set up a “page” and “friended” many of its customers, prospects, employees, etc. Record retention and social media. An agency needs to have a plan to record what appears on its socialmedia networks. In the example, one of the agency’s “friends” (e.g., a customer) posts that he got into a fender-bender over the weekend. Since it appears on your news feed, is this a notice of claim to you? Because this is such a new medium, there is no case study to let us know the answer to this question. This would be a good opportunity to reach out to the customer (not on Facebook— nothing replaces a phone call). Advertising laws address social media as well as trade practice statutes, which are state-specific. An interesting case that has addressed unfair and deceptive advertising is Swift v. Zynga Game Network Inc. This may be the first lawsuit, but certainly not the last. Social media can be seen as an endorsement. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has stated that hitting the “Like” button on Facebook could be construed as a testimonial and or an endorsement. The line between business and personal sites. Your employee has her own “personal” Facebook page and lists the agency as her employer. A “friend” of the employee asks an insurance-related question and the employee answers. This just opened the agency to liability

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013

regarding anything discussed that has to do with work.

Take caution, implement protocols In the 1990s, agencies had static websites that told their customers information. Agencies utilized referrals and had to give customers an “opt-out” option. They used the Yellow Pages to reach new customers and the contact with current customers was limited. Today, agencies use social networking in which their customers are listening and are actually “opting-in” to the conversation, which allows agencies to have limitless customer contact. As with any facet of your agency, you need to be cautious of your socialmedia platform. By making sure you have implemented protocols and standards, you can help avoid problems before they occur. Designate personnel to represent the company who are professional and can distinguish between statements of fact versus opinion. Static content is better than interactive content since the reader cannot alter static content. Advise all staff of what they can and cannot do. It is OK to instruct employees not to list your agency on their personal socialmedia sites. Employees should be given notice of this as well as training on social-media usage. My last advice is to seek legal advice with regard to product information, claims, complaints and disclaimers for utilization of any social networking.

Tech Sandy stresses need for talks, Talk checklists and documentation

Pittz is PIANY, PIANJ, PIACT and PIANH’s business issues director.

By Jim Pittz, CPIA

The way business is handled in the insurance industry will be changed forever because of Superstorm Sandy. We already have seen new laws proposed that: 1.) will provide a brief overview of what is covered and what is not covered on an insurance policy; and 2.) will require all commercial insurance policies to provide coverage against the loss of perishable items in the case of a black-out or power outage. You can be sure it will not stop there. Recent news articles all have a similar theme when discussing the insurance claims process involved with Sandy—the insured thought coverage existed when it did not. The agent had performed his or her job admirably; explained in full details what the client purchased, what was covered and what was

not covered. However, we have begun to see a turn in how the scenario plays out. Recently, a New York court ruled that the insured’s failure to read the policy only serves as some evidence of the insured’s negligence, but it does not altogether preclude an insured from pursuing an action against their broker [American Building Supply Corp. v. Petrocelli Group Inc., 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 07849 (Nov. 19, 2012)]. This could be a game-changer for professional, independent insurance agents. Prior to the ruling, it was understood that insureds have a duty to examine the terms of their policies and to know their contents. This court ruling now may force agents to have a close, hard look at their best practices within their office.

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


Agency procedures

When your agency’s staff has discussions with clients about insurance policies, does each staff person review the same checklist of coverages and limits with each insured? If not, the time to start this practice is now. PIA has several coverage checklists to help you—for more information contact Sandy Clive, PIA TN E&O coordinator, at (800) 875-7428. Utilizing this practice could ensure the following: You touch on all of the appropriate coverages. This gives you the

opportunity to know your client. Ask those questions that help you understand what is invaluable to your client. Is he or she an audiophile? If so, now is the time to determine if more electronics coverage is needed. Does the client have valuable items that may require a specific endorsement? Does he or she have a room specifically designed as a home theater? Speakers are the most inefficient piece of a theater system and cost the most (sometimes thousands of dollars). Are they covered properly? You discuss these coverages with

M. J. Kelly of Tennessee 1-800-873-8374 Finance with BARCO, M. J. Kelly’s in house financing.

Our primary goal has been to provide the best of service to the specialty lines insurance marketplace. Understanding the needs and providing rapid response to the independent agent has been and remains our number one priority. For Transportation visit Call NAI for quick quotes or visit us on the web 1-800-824-1740 or M. J. Kelly of Tennessee 1-800-873-8374

Garage M. J. Kelly’s in house • Liquor Liability • General Liability Finance with• BARCO, financing. • Property • Transportation • Premium Finance


Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013

your client. Once you have determined if additional protection is needed, now is the time that sets you apart from the competition. You have the chance to get to the devil in the details. When discussing coverage options with a client help the insured determine the coverages that he or she wants, or even more importantly, what he or she doesn’t want. You let the client choose the coverage that is appropriate for his or her lifestyle or business. You have laid out the coverages, what is available, and in some cases even informed the insured of the costs of the additional coverages. You can make the recommendations as to what he or she should have, but the client can see the options and make his or her judgments as to what he or she can afford to cover or not cover. Also, with this checklist in place you can be sure that you hit all of the touch points that are needed. You let the client choose the limit that is appropriate for his or her lifestyle or business. You have just gone over and identified all of the appropriate coverages that both of you feel is needed, now all you need to do is to identify how much of that coverage is needed. This is where limits, sublimits, thresholds, deductibles, self-insured retentions, replacement cost and actual cash value terms are all explained. Now, understand that you’re not quizzing the client on these terms, but now is the proper time to discuss these terms with your insured. You have the client sign off on these discussions. This is a no-brainer. After you had these discussions and you’ve talked about the appropriate coverages, endorsements, increased limits and the expectations as to what is and what is not covered, all you need is to verify that these discussions took place. Having discussions with your clients about their insurance coverages, before an event like Superstorm Sandy happens, is a good way to make sure your insureds understand what is covered by their insurance policies before they need to file a claim. Use checklists when discussing insurance coverages to lessen the likelihood that something will be forgotten and don’t forget to document every conversation you have with your clients.

Tech Keep your clients happy in Trends the age of instant gratification

Hoeppner is a consultant at B.H. Burke & Co. He can be reached at

By Jason Hoeppner, CIC

You are in a relationship business. Communication between you and your clients is everything. Competition is fierce. Did you know that your agency owns an expensive, sophisticated, remarkable tool that can help you address these issues? It can lighten your workload, improve your accuracy and ensure uniformity of procedure … and yet, it has a tendency to be used like a Remington typewriter? An exaggeration, maybe; but chances are good that your staff is not using that tool—your agency management system—to its fullest. This electronic assistant can automate and streamline your operations and minimize the time your employees spend on non-valueadded steps, affording more time for client tender, loving care.

Take a critical look at when you have important client-contact points in your processes—and evaluate how you use your system to make that communication first-rate from the client’s perspective. Think about yourself as a consumer: Imagine that you are calling your bank with a question. You picture the service folks on the other end of the call pulling up your entire “file” and call history (electronically of course), listening carefully to you, and then immediately addressing your issue. OK, reality check … that is a rare and beautiful thing. But, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that it would be difficult to pull you away from a company that does handle your business this way. When you have an experience like that, your loyalty is strengthened, and your bank’s corporate image is enhanced. If you are not providing this high-quality service,

explore the benefits of thE CErtifiEd ProfEssionAl insurAnCE AgEnt designAtion Earn E&O credit while earning Tenn. credit. Plot your course below. CPIA 1: Position for suCCEss 3/14/2013 Nashville, TN CPIA 2: imPlEmEnt for suCCEss 5/16/2013 Nashville, TN CPIA 3: sustAin suCCEss 9/26/2013 Nashville, TN *The CPIA designation is approved by Utica Mutual for E&O loss prevention credit. This credit is applied once the designation is achieved. Please call PIA for details.


: 8:45 a.m.; Class 9 a.m-5 p.m.

rEgistrAtion fEEs $135/$155 for members; $175/$195 for non‑members, per session. Registration fee includes refreshments, instruction & materials.

The CPIA program is an excellent way to earn your state‑mandated CE credits; participants need not pursue the designation to receive CE credit. The CPIA designation is approved by Utica Mutual for E&O loss prevention credit. This credit is applied once the designation is achieved. To earn the designation, developed by the American Insurance Marketing and Sales Society, candidates are required to  complete all three, one‑day Insurance Success Seminars (in any order.) Participants leave with fresh ideas that will produce results.

CE CrEdit guidE CPiA 1: Position for suCCEss 7 hours CE CPiA 2: imPlEmEnt for suCCEss 7 hours CE CPiA 3: sustAin suCCEss 8 hours CE

to register, call piA at (800) 875-7428 or log on to

110297 2/13

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


and your competitors are, why would you expect your clients to stay with you? How can you prevent them from defecting? The answer lies in your agency management system.

Protect your agency

To protect your agency from your competition, you must first shed the mindset of starting something and finishing it later. You need to answer clients’ questions and address their concerns as soon as possible. Set up your management system to provide, with a few clicks of the mouse, a Real Time (see picture of a client’s business with you—a policy, payment or claims status—in addition to the up-todate notes/activities/diaries. Everything your staff needs for background and answers. (Of course, this presumes that the first step, entering such information into the system and keeping it up to date, has been accomplished.) When you get a phone call from a client, you probably will interrupt your other work to take it. But, as you pick up the phone and start to “refresh” your relationship, think about what you will have to do in order to complete the insurance task at hand before you

Celebrating 30 Years

hang up the phone. And, how does an agency management system help you bring this client touch-point to a close in a speedy manner? As an example, if your client needs a proof of insurance, can you generate or resend it while you are on the phone? Or, if it is a question about the client’s renewal, can you use your management system to review the renewal so you have the answer right at your fingertips? You can imagine many other examples. The assistance a wellorganized agency management system can provide is enormous. What do you do if you can’t respond to an email, voicemail or text right away? Instead of answering the client’s question immediately, reply promptly and briefly, in the same medium in which you received the message, to let the client know when to expect an answer. That’s most likely what you would want as a consumer. Perhaps it will take 15 seconds to assure the client that you received the message, that you consider it important, and that you will reply shortly. You can even preset certain responses with shortcuts for text messages on your smart phone and with signatures in your email. And, if the client’s message indicates the reason for contacting you, such as,







anniversaries with the gift of pearls, we at LEMIC are showing our appreciation and agency loyalty by continuing to provide the highest standard of workers compensation coverage for companies of any size. Thanks to all of our business partners and those who have allowed us to serve them for over






three decades.


MARKETING 225.201.0107 EXT225 UNDERWRITING 866.314.9970


Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013

“I have purchased the vehicle you quoted last week,” pull it into your management system as an activity/diary so that your workflow already is started and nothing falls through the cracks. If someone else takes a call for you, the agency management system, when properly used, can enable that associate to answer the client’s question. If not, then something is missing. A management system is a powerful collaborative tool, but only if fields, attachments, notes/ diaries, etc., are used and updated accurately and consistently. Otherwise, a staff member who is not the primary servicer of the account will stumble when trying to provide assistance. And even worse, if information exists only in the servicer’s head, or in his or her email inbox, the staff’s ability to help the client becomes a difficult and unnecessarily time-consuming task. Think of it this way: Your management system is your electronic brain. It can tell you what your priorities are and provide you with all the repetitive, administrative-type support you need. You can use it to remind your future self what thought processes you went through and what decisions you made at a given point on a client’s account. And, when a client calls with an immediate need, your management system can present you with all the information required for a response. You already know some of the questions your clients are going to ask. Are your current workflows set up to provide answers to those questions in your management system? If not, what to do? Well, since you can’t fire your “brain,” it’s time for a thorough training of your staff on the use of this powerful assistant.

Five steps to choose an agency management system How to pick the right AMS for your agency By Steve Anderson, CIC


he purchase of a new agency management system is an expensive and challenging undertaking. The expertise of professional, independent insurance agencies is selling insurance; computer concepts and terminology can be intimidating to agency owners, managers and users alike. In addition, despite industry consolidation over the years, agents still face a wide range of choices (more than they realize) in the technology marketplace. The purpose of this article is to provide you with the proven process I use when working with agencies that will help any size agency pick the best agency management system for your organization.

Step No. 1—Strategy: Why do you want a system?

First and foremost, the purchase of an agency management system is not about computers. It’s about the agency— the way it operates now—the way it will operate next year and in the years ahead. A detailed agency system review is an opportunity for an agency to examine its business closely and make strategic decisions about the kind of agency it wants to become. Strategy questions you should ask yourself and your staff include: • What is your strategic direction? • Is the agency growing or stable? • Will you expand into new markets and/or geographic territories?

• Do you expect a change in ownership or management? These are all changes that will affect the technology needs of the agency and influence the selection of an agency management system. Rapid growth may tax the current system. New offices will either need their own hardware and software or a cloud-based system will allow easy remote access to client information. An agency must consider all these things as it makes decisions about how to manage its technology infrastructure. For agencies on an existing system there are several reasons you might need to make a change to a new system: Improved service. A new system

may enable the agency to provide better service to its customers. Better performance. A system that seemed incredibly fast when it was new may feel frustratingly slow a few years later when a customer service representative has a client on the phone. More information. A modern agency requires a lot of detailed information, and the current system may not be able to track all the information the agency needs. Stronger controls. Securing clients’ information is not only a good business practice—state and federal legislation require it. The current system may not have security controls strong enough to meet both legal requirements and clients’ expectations.

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


Reduced cost. An old system may be more expensive than a new one. Insurance companies. The companies an agency represents may offer improved functionality through specific systems. The bottom line? Changing to a new agency management system is a difficult process. You will want to make sure that you are getting the full benefit out of your existing system before you decide you need to change to a new one.

Step No. 2—Establish system requirements

The first step an agency should take is to choose a “system selection team,” a small select group that will coordinate the review process and offer its insights on which system best fits the requirements of the agency. Next, the agency must determine the features of any system, current or future, that are most important and the benefits those features will provide the agency. In other words, the team selected above should determine the system requirements. A system requirement is a characteristic or feature that a system must include to satisfy the agency’s business requirements and be acceptable to most users. The team should now have a clear picture of the agency’s needs, the direction it is going, and the role of automation tools in achieving that direction.

Step No. 3—What are your options?

Now that you know what your strategy is for the agency and what requirements you have for new system the next step is to identify potential vendors and their products that would be appropriate for you to review. The best way to do this is to create a request for information, also known as a RFI. The RFI serves two major purposes. First, it acts as a formal statement of the agency’s expectations and plans for the system and the selection process. Second, it provides direction to the vendors as to the requirements their systems must


meet. If all the vendors work from the same RFI, the agency should be able to make a fair comparison between different vendor’s initial information. Most agencies are familiar with Applied Systems and Vertafore products due to their extensive advertising. However, there are about 35 products from about 24 different vendors that should be explored to see if they fit the agency needs. Once you have identified the vendors that are appropriate for your agency send them the RFI that you created in this step. That will begin the evaluation process.

Step No. 4—Manage vendor demonstrations

It is important for the agency to manage the demonstration process carefully. There are two different types of demonstrations that the system selection team will need to sit through: Vendor-controlled demos. This is the initial demonstration from the vendor. During this demonstration the team will be able to get a good overview of the product and the features contained within it. For this demonstration you should allow the vendor to do its standard review of the system. Agency-controlled demos. This second demonstration process will be controlled specifically by the agency. This is accomplished by providing the vendor with detailed written scenarios on common functions performed in the agency that you require the vendor to accomplish using its system during the demonstration. Make sure every team member uses a checklist to take notes during the demo process. After a few demonstrations it will become harder to remember what system did what.

Step No. 5—Make the decision

At this point, the selection team will be overwhelmed with information. The key is to gather that information together and put it into an organized fashion so that a final decision can be made. The score developed by the team members during the demonstration

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013

process is one component of the vendor evaluation. However, it should not be the only measure. The team should use other subjective criteria for judging the vendors. Here are a few items to consider: System functionality. Functionality is the ability of the system to help the agency perform its everyday routine tasks. Evaluating vendor direction. The vendor is not just a seller of software. For the agency, the vendor is a long-term business partner. Therefore, the team needs to determine the vendor’s direction. Talk to the vendor’s user group: Either with individual members or by attending group meetings. Talk oneon-one with other agencies that use the system. Another agency can tell the team about its experiences with specific functions. I have found that once all of this information is brought together and organized one particular system seems to stand out. That certainly helps make the decision-making process easier. The bottom line: The team should make a recommendation to management on which system it would select and its reasoning for that choice. Generally, the ultimate decision does rest with agency management. By working step-by-step through this process, the agency has a much higher likelihood of picking the best agency management system for its organization. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this decision. It can make or break an agency. Anderson is a nationally recognized expert on agency-company technology. This article is an excerpt from Anderson’s email course on Selecting the Best Agency Management System. The full course provides additional information on the five-step process described above. To receive these emails, register at: http:// There is no cost or obligation for taking the course and you will receive one email per day over five days. For more information, visit

How mobility is transforming the business of insurance Agencies need to live up to clients’ 24/7 expectations By Harry Snyder


here is no doubt that mobile technology has transformed the way relationships are managed and business is transacted. With 29 percent of U.S. adults owning a tablet or e-reader1 and 13 percent of Internet traffic from mobile devices,2 this form of interaction and communication is here to stay and will continue to expand its reach across all businesses and industries. While the insurance industry has been conservative in its adoption of leading-edge technology, there are a few major factors that impact a change in mindset for the insurance industry. Twenty or 30 years ago a professional, independent insurance agent’s job involved sitting at a desk with pen and paper. There was little threat of losing business to larger direct insurers with shinier technology. The life of the insurance agent has changed rapidly in the last decade with the evolution of technology. Outside of the evolution of technology, is the transition in the work force with the retiring baby-boomer generation and the incoming millennials. With the culture moving toward people who want their products yesterday and available all the time, there also is the new customer expectation of demanding service capabilities be available 24/7. Forty years ago, the top concern for a new insurance agent recruit may have been compensation and pension. Today, the top talent looks for the latest gadget that will make them more productive, but also help them attract a new class of

clientele in the Generation X or younger buying class that associates cuttingedge technology with a best-in-class company with which they want to do business. In fact, there are increasing numbers of new workers who want to carry one device for personal and business use (also called: bring-yourown-device). In addition, there has been a shift in the socioeconomic profile of many target prospects and more diverse specialty lines of business that demand the insurance agent of the 21st century be more knowledgeable, personable and accessible. Fortunately, technology already has begun to bridge some of these gaps

in things like online gaming, social networking and mobility. Now is the time for insurance agencies to determine how they can leverage the conveniences these types of technologies provide effectively to enhance the end-client experience to sell product, which at the end of the day is what business has been doing since the first lemonade stand opened. While online gaming and social networking are hot technologies, mobility is the tool that stands to make the most measurable impact on the business of insurance. According to our user data, we have found that more than 80 percent of producers who are Vertafore customers carry an iPad when visiting customers.

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


A recent survey of insurance agencies and carriers conducted by Vertafore, ACORD and Ovum, revealed that 40 percent of those surveyed want to use mobility to meet the expectations of their producers who use mobile devices. This is a narrow approach because they are neglecting to pay attention to the previously mentioned trends.

Meet clients’ needs

What can (and should) insurance agencies do to not only empower producers, but meet client needs? To start they need to look at what the endclient wants and also what he or she may get from the competition, including: convenience of service; best value for the money; and dependability of the agency/agent. While mobility cannot improve the price of an insurance policy a client must purchase, it can impact consumer expectations of convenience and dependability (available through mobile apps), which can help professional, independent insurance agencies compete (especially with direct writers). Clients expect to file an insurance claim, look up their certificate of insurance, view their auto insurance card and other functions when it is convenient for them. Once you take note of what the end-client wants, then it is time to evaluate your agency operations to determine the gaps to meet client needs. After doing so, it will boil down to access to key client and insurance information. The good news is some agencies have begun to do this and are looking to technology to help them close this gap. However, they are leveraging generic solutions that are taking a software product designed only for a desktop or laptop and trying to have the same productivity as you would expect from a native smart-phone application that is designed specifically for a mobile user. What this translates into is an inefficient mobile producer who is wasting time culling through irrelevant and difficult information.


Once an agency completes the prework involved with determining the viability of mobile technology. It is time for it to seek a technology partner that has the same target in mind—meeting customer needs as efficiently as possible. An agency needs to be careful in selecting a technology partner that is just that, a partner thinking holistically about the agency’s needs not about making the sale of a desktop app stuffed in a tablet. The mobile solution whether it is built as a native app or as an HTML5 application, must be designed specifically for the needs of the producer, underwriter, principal or other job functions needed to meet client needs. The solution’s user interface also needs to be designed to work well on the plethora of smart phones, phablets and tablets on the market today.

Other considerations

What else matters beyond satisfying the top-of-mind client need? No matter the coolness of the device or the functionality of the app, there is one thing all consumers will not tolerate—identity theft. The compromise of financial information is not only a deal-breaker for an existing client, it can have legal implications, and you can forget about positive word-of-mouth for the agent and agency. Most consumers can access their bank accounts on a mobile device, so they are used to an assurance that there are security measures on the backbone of the application. The same must be true of any mobile insurance application that an agent uses. Agencies must make it a top priority to ask the technology vendor about its security infrastructure and data architecture to make sure customer data is secure. If the vendor says that consumer data stored on a mobile device is unencrypted, that is not the application for you. Also, what happens if a producer leaves the agency? Do you want the producer to be able to take client data with him or her on a mobile device? The mobile application should connect to a core server that has security protocols in

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013

place, where client data can be controlled from the home office in the event that a mobile device is lost or stolen or an agency needs to restrict access to a former employee.

Technology will continue to evolve

Hopefully, you can understand the need for mobile technology and the major considerations agencies and insurance agents need to think about when meeting client needs. Like the Internet has evolved, so will mobility into things like augmented reality glasses, bendable screens, 3D visualization, haptic feedback, new forms of inputting data and ubiquitous connectivity. As the insurance-buying class expands with millennials, social media will no doubt play a role in how you market to and communicate with your clients via mobile devices. No matter the technology, professional, independent insurance agencies and technology vendors need to look at the needs of the client and the needs of the user to better service, sell and advise the end-client. A technology vendor will not tell you how to sell insurance, but it should equip you with the tools and best practices to be successful anytime and anywhere. Snyder is vice president of mobility & innovation at Vertafore and focuses on the development of new SaaS mobile products for insurance professionals. Pew Internet study, 2012, 2 StatCounter Global Stats, November 2012, SIa1NS 1

Industry The adversity of Trends a desperate market

Burand is president of Burand & Associates LLC. He may be reached at (719) 485-3868 or at

By Chris Burand

In almost 25 years in this industry, I have never seen such desperation. One of the unfortunate results is that many good agencies that have worked hard, done things well and are not grasping at straws, are still at a competitive disadvantage. The categories in which this is occurring are widespread. Here are some important examples: Certificates of insurance. Changes to certificates have caused widespread carnage, frustration, anger and virtually every other negative emotion imaginable. One item that is not being discussed much in the public is the difference between agencies following the rules versus agencies that are not following the rules. In particular, the question is whether to issue certificates that violate contracts, copyrights and regulations. There is no question some agencies are doing so knowingly or, if ignorant, they are living in a deep, dark hole. Neither companies nor associations nor many regulators (the Wisconsin Department of Insurance is a notable exception and there may be others of which I am not aware) have done much to correct the abusers. The result is that sometimes the agency willing to violate the rules, contracts and copyrights make sales they would not otherwise make. By being silent on this issue, companies, associations and some regulators are assisting the irresponsible—and the responsible are paying the price. Premiums payable. An even more verboten subject is whether all companies and brokers are truly requiring all agencies to pay premiums on time. My theory, based on my experience, is they are not. I understand that many companies are so desperate to hang onto whatever premium they can that they would prefer to work this out rather than lose their premiums. But the best agencies lose as a result because this amounts to a handout.

Giving away free services. The debate that is occurring between agencies and brokers and even among regulators on whether it is ethical for agencies to give away free services such as loss control in order to get accounts is eye-opening. The average agency makes zero dollars of profit on a commission basis per the last Growth and Performance Standards study by the National Alliance Research Academy. So, how do these firms plan on increasing their costs without going broke? Free services require significantly good management and good cost accounting methodology, which are severely lacking in most agencies and even large and supposedly sophisticated brokerages. I suspect many of these accounts will cost the agency much more than it makes; either that or the free services being offered are not that real. More than one agency/brokerage advertises services they don’t deliver. Sometimes they don’t deliver because they don’t actually offer the service. Sometimes they have the service but the producers won’t deliver it because the producers have to pay for it through a lesser commission. On the other hand, the desperation of this market has clearly changed buyers’ perspectives of what they are buying. They understand better now that the insurance policy is only one aspect of their purchase. So moving forward, it is no longer an issue of whether these services need to be offered to adequately complex commercial accounts. Burying your head in the sand while thinking important clients will never demand these services is pure denial of reality. The real issue is what price an agency will charge for these services. Companies buying into agencies. Companies cannot figure out how to grow themselves, but they are convinced they can grow agencies so their strategy is to buy into agencies. Insurance companies may not

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


be able to grow, but they have a lot of excess cash and are desperate to invest that cash, just like they are desperate to grow. It is too early to know, but the question worth asking is whether an agency owned wholly or even partially by a carrier will treat all carriers equally? Will they treat other agencies equally? Rising rates in a poor economy. Most people in this industry have never experienced a hard market in a poor economy. Customers will shop harder than ever when rates rise. They will be susceptible to promises that they don’t need limits and coverages. They’ll be susceptible to buying insurance from poorly rated carriers and ignorant agents. The question is, what are you doing to protect yourself and your agency when the market turns hard in a poor economy?

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NOTE: None of the materials in this article should be construed as offering legal advice, and the specific advice of legal counsel is recommended before acting on any matter discussed in this article. Regulated individuals/ entities should also ensure that they comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Professional Insurance Agents of Tennessee.

Tech Rethinking mobile Bit

Marshall is a speaker, author and consultant. He can be reached by email at gmarshall@ or visit www.

By Gregg Marshall, CPMR, CSP, CMC

Every November, I go to a “must-attend” conference, Defrag ( The first year it was confusing, almost random. But, I’ve come to understand that randomness is one of its key features. And, I know that I’ll hear about technology themes that won’t become hot topics for another year or two. I really recommend the conference. This year, one of the themes that hit me was mobile. I know mobile has been a hot topic for several years, with an increasing percentage of all cell phones sold and used in the U.S., and around the world, being smart phones. I wrote about it about two years ago (Tech Bit 85, Small Medium and Large) when I suggested that your website be able to display differently for phones, tablets and desktop visitors. If your website isn’t set up to adapt to the smaller display of mobile access, you are missing connecting with an increasing number of you customers or potential customer. It’s beyond time to make sure your website is up to snuff. Of course, things are changing in the smartphone market. Many of the current smart phones are sporting 720p HD screens (1280 x 720 resolution). In landscape mode, that is comparable resolution to most notebook computers. Some of the recently announced phones will have 1080p HD screens (1920 x 1080 resolution), that is as high as the big monitor on my desktop computer. So, in theory you shouldn’t need a special version of your website. But remember, those resolutions are on phones between 4.5 and 5 inches versus the 15.6-inch laptop or 23-inch or more desktop. Desktop layouts would be unreadable on these screens and trying to click a link with your finger impossible. But, the real insight that came from this year’s Defrag was the realization that more and more smart phones are going to be your employees’ primary connection to your business systems. More and more business systems are moving toward Software as a Service, or cloud-based computing, both of which are really your software running on a server that happens to not be in your office. It isn’t a new concept, companies have been offering web-based applications since 2000 when the term in vogue at that time was Application Service Provider or ASP.

The last two to three years have seen that trend accelerate, with big companies like SAP offering their multimillion dollar enterprise resource packages via cloud (remote servers) and via the web. Even small businesses can take advantage of this trend. Quickbooks, a longtime staple accounting system for small to medium businesses, has traditionally run as a desktop application, in larger companies on a local area network with shared data. Now you can get an add-on for the network version to allow access via a smart-phone application and the Internet. Or you could make the jump and sign up for Quickbooks Online, a cloud/web version of the desktop program. There are even ways to move your desktop data to the online version and back. The online version not only includes access for multiple users in its most common subscription, it has smart-phone application access. You also can set up different permissions for different people, so your salesperson could enter orders and perhaps view customer statement, but not see any of the accounting results or write checks. Many businesses have moved from desktop productivity software (word processing and spreadsheets primarily) to web apps like Google Apps or Office 365. Google’s Drive app lets you access those documents, make changes, and share files from your Android phone. I’m sure Microsoft will have an equivalent soon, if it already doesn’t have it. While I wouldn’t want to write War and Peace using a smart phone, it is useable for quick edits. The question you need to start asking yourself is what applications are you currently using that you or your employees might be accessing from your smart phone instead. Then start thinking about how you can make that happen. One approach is to use Application Programming Interfaces to make your business information accessible to websites and smart-phone apps. At the very least you should make smart phone, or minimally web access, a feature requirement for all new applications or application upgrades you consider purchasing. The day is coming, and likely very soon, when your smart phone will be your primary connection to your business. Will your business, and the software you run it with, be ready?

Professional Insurance Agents/Spring 2013


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Packaged in one easy-to-manage policy

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■ Up to $5 million for personal exposures of owners and officers

Core Coverage ■ Business operations — broadened coverage and excess limits protection for agent/agency’s business and employees for liability incurred as a result of normal business activities. Policy provides coverage over an agency’s commercial general liability or businessowners, employers liability and commercial auto.

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■ Excess over underlying E&O

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■ Personal umbrella coverage for owners, partners and officers, including members of their families. Sub-limit does not affect total limit.

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Rating ■ Staff rating for agencies with 9 or fewer employees ■ Excess rated for agencies with 10+ employees or special acceptance categories ■ Refer to state rate pages


■ First-dollar legal defense provided for claims not covered by underlying insurance ■ Professional liability — excess limits protection on a following-form basis for errors and omissions in the course of the agency’s business as an insurance professional. Coverage can be written over occurrence or claims-made forms of a variety of primary E&O carriers.

Coverage features on a following-form basis ■ Full prior-acts coverage ■ Covers any person acting in a capacity as a real estate agent or notary. ■ Options unique to this program: • Personal coverage — broadened and excess personal protection for owners, partners and officers, including members of their families. (Submit ACORD Personal Umbrella Application.) • Employment practices liability — excess limits protection for liability incurred by named insured or employees for wrongful employment practices. Coverage can be written on a claims-made basis over a number of approved EPL carriers. Maximum available as a sub-limit is $2 million. (Submit a copy of underlying EPL application.)

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■ Two payments — 50% down, one installment of 50% due three months later ■ 40/30/30 — 40% down, two installments of 30% each due every other month ■ Quarterly — 25% down, three installments of 25% each due quarterly ■ Monthly — 20% down, five installments of 16% each due monthly

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Contact Us Contact your local PIA producer. To find yours, visit the PIA Main Street Store at



Arlington / Roe & Co. Burns & Wilcox


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Bailey Special Risks

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Directory PIATN officers and directors OFFICERS

President Steve Peay Boyle Insurance Agency Inc. Memphis, TN (901) 766-0200 President-elect Tina Hutsenpiller, CPIA Hutsenpiller Insurance Services LLC Mt. Juliet, TN (615) 773-2886 Vice President John Keisling, CPIA, CISR Keisling Insurance Agency Inc. Byrdstown, TN (931) 864-3116 Secretary Herbert Montgomery Clay and Land Insurance Agency Inc. Memphis, TN (901) 767-3600, ext. 107 Treasurer Donnie Hogan, CIC Fred M. Smith & Son Inc. Springfield, TN (615) 384-2543 Immediate Past President Elaine Morton, CPIA Morton Insurance Agency Inc. Bartlett, TN (901) 382-4600


June Taylor, CIC, CPIA, CPIW, DAE Wilkinson Insurance Agency White House, TN (615) 672-4439


Carl Butcher, CIC, CPA C.L. Butcher Insurance Agency Knoxville, TN (865) 689-5482 Joe Kerr, CIC, CPIA Kerr Insurance Services LLC Brentwood, TN (615) 360-7524 Andrea Bond Johnson, CPIA Golden Circle Insurance Agency Brownsville, TN (731) 772-9932


Brennan J. Paris, CIC, CRM PIA of Tennessee 504 Autumn Springs Court, Suite A-2 Franklin, TN 37067 (615) 771-1177


Pam Cass, CPIA Convention, Education, Membership (615) 771-1177 Sandy Clive, CPIA E&O, Member Services (615) 771-1177 Lochiel Gaines Communications, Trade Show (615) 771-1177

Britt Linder, CIC Peterson Insurance Services Inc. Bartlett, TN (901) 386-4777 Chris Mills, CPCU, CIC Mills Insurance Agency Nashville, TN (615) 620-4452 Bill Oglesby, CIC, CPIA Brown Insurance Group Inc. Crossville, TN (931) 484-5103 Barry Wilson, CIC Mid-South Insurance Office Inc. Memphis, TN 38104 (901) 276-6388

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IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Arlington/Roe. You have our word on it. “Whether you choose Arlington/Roe for our breadth of knowledge, product line diversity, market access or industry know-how, you may be assured we are in business primarily to serve you. We will do our best to earn and keep your trust. You have our word on it.” – James A. Roe, CPCU, ASLI, President

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Professional Insurance Agents - Tennessee  

Quarterly magazine published for the members and partners of the Professional Insurance Agents of Tennessee.

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