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Thursday, 04/24/2014email print

MAIA Missouri Agent Magazine -- May-June 2009
For MAIA members only. You must be logged on to view this page.

Feature... Leadership Conference Continues to Improve, Interview with Doug Clift
Book Excerpt ... Do the Right Thing by Mike Huckabee
Special Focus ... Agencies Can Look to Mo. College for Staffing Needs
From the President ... MAIA Committees State Great Conference
My Turn ... Selling Buggy Whips in a Bad Economy
The Legal Side ... The Increasingly Pointless Drive to "Transparency"
Errors and Omissions ... Agents are Expert Consultants ... Except When They're Not
Management Focus ... Stop Wasting Your Sand
Technology ... Increasing Agency Productivity & Profitability Using Best Practices
From the DIFP ... Spring Brings Deep Flood Risks
Technical Focus ... Beware Rental Car Agreements: When Employees, Not Companies, Rent the Vehicle
Missouri News ... Mo. Agents Attend State and National Legislative Events
Missouri News ... Uninsured Motorist Exclusion Upheld in Court
Partner News
Agency News
Regulatory Actions 


Feature

Leadership Conference Continues To Improve

Interview with Doug Clift, Leadership Conference Committee chairman

 

This is the seventh year since the MAIA’s “Annual Convention” became the “Leadership Conference,” so what changes are in store for 2009?

Our most exciting new development has been the adoption of the Best Practices program as the core of our education sessions.

 

Why did the committee decide to make this change?

We have always attempted to present agency management topics during our three educational sessions and throughout the years have hired the best instructors. The problem was that each instructor brought in his or her own  theory of management. The beauty of the Best Practices program is that we will still hire excellent instructors, but there will be continuity from session to session and from year to year. So attendees will get an ongoing, unified education in managing a successful independent insurance agency.

 

So, what is the Best Practices program?

Best Practices are guidelines for operating a successful independent insurance agency. The guidelines are based on studies of some of the most successful independent agencies in the industry. The first study was done in 1993, but new, updated studies are published each year, so the information is always current and pertinent.

 

How is the Best Practices program a good fit for the Leadership Conference?

The Leadership Conference and the Best Practices Studies are about the same thing: bringing together what the industry’s best and the brightest are doing and sharing ways for everyone to emulate that success. The need was there, and the opportunity was right next to it, but we never put it together.

            The Leadership Conference is potentially one big think tank of the industry decision makers in Missouri. We have the owners and managers of our agencies alongside high-ranking company officials and members of the state insurance department. With Best Practices, we can add a national perspective by looking at the most successful agency practices across the country.

 

What are the Best Practices sessions that are going to be offered at this year’s conference?

There are so many topics that Best Practices addresses, and they are all vital for running a successful agency. In the future, we may offer concurrent sessions that appeal to different audiences, but this year, we chose three topics that every agency considers every day.

Kevin Stipe, who actually wrote the Best Practices publication, The Agency Self-Diagnostic Tool,  is presenting a session called “Mergers, Acquisitions and Valuation.” It covers how to value your agency for a sale or a partnership and even how to value your agency to look for areas of weakness you need to develop.

            Two other courses are going to be presented by Jeff Gelona, an expert in sales management. “Creating a Sales Organization” is based on the Best Practices study that evaluates techniques used by great sales organizations in insurance and in other industries. “Recruiting, Developing and Motivating New Producers” looks at ways to use Best Practices recommendations to grow your staff. It covers the entire hiring process, plus motivation and retention.

 

Stipe’s session sounds like it is aimed at large agencies. Is there anything at the Leadership Conference for smaller agencies?

That course, “Mergers, Acquisitions and Valuation,” is not only for large agencies. Valuation, for instance, is the equivalent of assessing the curb appeal of your home. Every agency owner needs to know where the business stands in terms of value. Decisions about your daily operation depend on understanding that.

            There is not one thing that we do at the Leadership Conference that is geared simply toward the large agency. We have very consciously been trying to make this a conference for owners and managers of any size agency. It is not the opposite of the Small Agency Conference.

 

Will the sessions offer continuing education credit?

It is difficult to qualify a management program for continuing education credit in Missouri. We always file, but we made a conscious decision at the time we revamped this conference eight years ago to strive for excellent management education, regardless of whether it qualifies for C.E. Helping our members with their growth and success is our priority.

 

This year’s keynote speaker is Mike Huckabee. What is he going to talk about?

His session is titled “The Pursuit of the Presidency and the Perfectly Insane American Process.” Huckabee is actually tremendously diverse, with interests and expertise in several areas including personal fitness and the healthcare system. He’s also very funny. But we thought the conference would be a unique opportunity to hear about the campaign process in an intimate setting.

 

Why did the committee choose Huckabee as the keynote speaker?

We are very excited to be able to have Huckabee at the Leadership Conference. He is a household name, having recently campaigned for the presidential nomination and having followed that up with the highly successful Fox talk show. He hasn’t reached the peak of his potential. Our bet is that you will brag someday that you have signed copy of a Mike Huckabee book.

We always choose high-quality keynotes with excellent messages and fascinating stories. We want our keynote address to complement the other outstanding aspects of our conference. In recent years, we’ve been able to bring in Oliver North, Joe Theismann and a group of Missouri sports legends who had never appeared together before. We want the keynote speaker to be enjoyable not only for our members but also for their families .

 

So there will be an autograph session for Huckabee?

Yes, another “new” tradition is that our keynote speaker will hold an autograph session after his address in the exhibit hall. Huckabee will be signing copies of his book, Do the Right Thing, and the booths will be open for a second time.

 

Do you still do those crazy themed parties where everyone dresses in costume?

Well, not the way we used to. A few years ago, we started a unique way to make the trade show atmosphere fun and relaxing. We now host a “block party” with themed decorations and a strolling dinner in the exhibit hall. The beauty is that the company and vendor reps dress up. So when the agents are networking in the hall, it makes for a great ice-breaker to see their favorite company rep in costume, and the spouses seem to love it too.

 

Is there anything else at the conference for family members?

There’s so much. We have a kids program with special activities, and we hold the conference at top-notch resorts that offer amenities such as marina activities and horseback riding. Spouses are welcome at all of our sessions, and we especially encourage them to attend the banquet.

            We want spouses to be participating and be supportive and be looking forward to next year. In fact, we take a loss on the cost of spouse registrations in order to make it accessible to more people.

 

Some other associations have gotten away from the formal banquet. What keeps it alive at Leadership?

The committee feels it is important to honor the association’s members in a very special way. We have great food and get dressed up and make a big night of it.

We have had an excellent response from our attendees. Seeing the emotion that the recipients of our top honor, “Insurance Person of the Year,” always display is a powerful experience. You start to understand what the organization means to its members. You can’t walk away from the banquet without being very proud of your industry.

 

What is your goal for the Leadership Conference?

The conference has changed a lot since its last year as the “Annual Convention” in 2002. We’ve perfected a formula, and we expect that the addition of Best Practices as the foundation of our education sessions will bring the conference to a new level. I would really like to see our members who have never attended Leadership, or who have not attended in several years, come out and experience it. We do this for the members, and it is intended both to serve their needs and to honor their contributions to the industry.
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Book Excerpt

Do the Right Thing by Mike Huckabee

 

Actually, sometimes we could get a little too focused on our goals. During the campaign, we would sometimes have experiences that would bring us back to earth – sometimes literally, and not a moment too soon!

            I had flown in rough weather plenty of times. Politicians and political candidates spend half their lives on airplanes, and we get used to just about anything. But this was different. Not since an engine went out at forty-three thousand feet on a small Cessna jet in June of 2006 on the way to North Carolina had I had such a flight. That one will forever rank as the most harrowing flight for me, but most of the passengers onboard this day weren’t with me on the North Carolina flight, and this is the one they will tell their grandkids about.

            We were on a chartered plane crisscrossing Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia ahead of their simultaneous presidential primaries to be held February 12, 2008. These “Beltway Primaries” would be another extremely important test of our growing support. A good showing in and around the capital would signal, we hoped, that I was a serious contender for the nomination.

            Janet was with me along with Sarah, Chip, Bob, and other members of the team, including Ed Rollins, who had only joined us a couple of months or so ago, and who had masterminded Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign in 1984 when he carried forty-nine states. We were working hard and pulling in great crowds. Several thousand supporters – along with Jerry Falwell Jr., who had recently endorsed me – packed Thomas Road Baptist Church near Liberty University in Lynchburg and cheered me like a rock star. My staff, the media, and I were flying to four or five rallies a day across the region. Most days the plane rides, typically only twenty or thirty minutes, were uneventful spacers between campaign events that gave me time to meet with staff, work on a speech, or catch up on what the competition was doing, and most important, catch a brief catnap, since we were only getting three to four hours of sleep per night.

            I don’t remember much about the speeches that particular day, but I’ll never forget the flights. The weather was awful, with high winds gusting to sixty miles per hour that promised a bumpy ride. Even so, we had a typically packed schedule of events, momentum was on our side, and I figured if the pilots thought it was OK to take us up, I was all for it.

            Usually on a flight through bad weather, the plane climbs above the clouds to get to the smooth air as fast as possible. Because our trips were so short, we never had enough time to get up there (well, maybe once for five minutes). We had to slog through the worst of the wind, shaking like an old jalopy. Looking out the window, I could see the wings flopping up and down like a handsaw in a cartoon.

            After we landed on our first leg of the day, the pilot and copilot, both probably in their twenties, were cool about it all. “We’re headed to Roanoke next.” Or wherever. Didn’t even mention the weather. None of the passengers wanted to be the first to say, “Do you really think we should be flying in this?” Some of my fellow passengers needed a lot of self-control to climb aboard once more and head back into the whirlwind. I had the advantage in that I was so intent on studying my notes that I could sort of tune out the commotion. Sort of.

            By the end of the second leg or so, the CNN camaraman was kissing the ground every time we landed. Coming in, we had to crab way over at an angle to keep from being blown off the runway approach. Twice the turbulence got so bad that the pilot lowered the landing gear to help stabilize the plane. En route, Bob Wickers sat with his feet apart, one hand on the armrest and the other on the overhead bin to keep from being jostled around. Joy Lin, the bright, energetic, and genuinely delightful young embedded reporter from CBS, was chatting nonstop and joking to try and keep things light. Kevin Chupka of ABC News and Matt Berger from NBC were unusually quiet. The flight attendant was as white as a sheet and absolutely silent. She made no pretense about being petrified. If the rest of us had known better, we’d probably have been petrified too.

            Whether fearless or foolish, we made all our stops that day. I found out later that Hillary Clinton had grounded her flights at Dulles International Airport because the weather was too bad to fly. I respect her and her pilot’s decision, and thought maybe Hillary really was as smart as she is reported to be. In some ways, the trip through rough weather was a metaphor for our campaign. It was never easy, and in fact, sometimes painfully bumpy. We weren’t sure we’d make it most days, and we were surrounded by people who were scared out of their wits that we were going down. But the bumpy ride didn’t deter us from making the journey and having some memorable stories to tell.

 

Mike Huckabee is the featured keynote speaker for the 2009 Leadership Conference in July. See the brochure inserted into this magazine or visit www.missouriagent.org to register for the conference.
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Special Focus
Agencies can Look to Mo. College for Staffing Needs

Even with many businesses trimming their staff counts, it is as important as ever to attract fresh faces to your agency. When you bring a young producer to the table, you take a vital step in ensuring your agency’s perpetuation. Not only will those producers be prepared to take over the business when you are ready to retire, but they have an intimate relationship with the technological and globally minded concepts that are increasingly influencing today’s business models.
    They also bring with them access to a new generation of clients. Their contacts – from college, from summer jobs, even from online communities – will quickly grow into new entries in your book of business. So the critical question is not whether to recruit new talent but where to find it.

One college in Missouri is addressing this issue with a degree program designed specifically to draw young men and women into the insurance field. Missouri State University in Springfield offers the only risk management and insurance degree in the state.

As part of the finance and general business department, students who major or minor in insurance at MSU receive a broad educational foundation in finance and are able to specialize in insurance or risk management, with concentrations available in property and liability, and life and health.

Students who wish to pursue careers as adjusters, agents, claims examiners, employee benefits specialists, risk management associates and underwriters are all able to tailor the program to suit their needs. Students who seek to become actuaries typically major in mathematics and minor in insurance.

MSU has taken a number of steps to attract interest to the insurance and risk management program. In 1997, the Baker Chair of Insurance was implemented as the first endowed academic chair at the university. The late William G. and Retha S. Baker helped to fund the chair with additional support from several individuals and organizations in the insurance and risk management industries.

Today, the earnings from the Baker Chair of Insurance Endowment are put toward the mission of perpetuation and promotion of the insurance program at MSU, as well as related research and education programs.

To support students in the program, the university offers a limited number of internships in companies, agencies and governmental regulatory agencies throughout the United States. Students can also apply for an array of scholarships, sponsored by organizations and companies in the industry.

MSU hosts the Alpha Lambda chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, the professional fraternity of risk management, insurance and actuarial science. The fraternity is a source of networking and academic support for insurance students, providing contacts with industry representatives and planning both professional and social events.

Students have responded well to the focused and unique program at MSU. Between the spring of 2006 and the fall of 2008, 42 risk management and insurance majors graduated, as well as 22 students with minors in the field. In a given year, the program usually hosts approximately 45 majors and 30-35 minors.

Programs like the one at Missouri State University help to draw young people into the industry, revitalizing and refreshing the face of the independent insurance agency.

 

Meet the Majors

Name: Jessica McDaniel

Birthday: June 2, 1987

Hometown: Cedar Hill

Projected Graduation Date: May 2010

What drew you to the MSU risk management and insurance program?

I actually came across it in a meeting I had with my advisor because I told her I have worked for an insurance agent for the past three years. I think that this will greatly benefit me in obtaining my insurance license.

 

Name: Jordan Hinck

Birthday: Sept. 28, 1988

Hometown: Independence

Projected Graduation Date: December 2011

What drew you to the MSU insurance and risk management program?

What sparked my interest is the fact that it is a very unique program. There are not many universities across the U.S. that have this program, and I feel it is a great opportunity to have an educational background from Missouri State for that reason. From family members who are also in the insurance field, I can see it has a very promising and secure future.

 

Name: Joe Cero

Birthday: Sept. 19, 1987

Hometown: St. Louis

Projected Graduation Date: May 2010

What drew you to the MSU insurance and risk management program?

It is a unique program not offered everywhere, and there is good job demand. Two upperclassmen friends spoke highly of the MSU program.
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From the President

MAIA Committees Stage Great Conference

by Brent Speight

 

After giving a lot of thought to what I might communicate to you for this column, I decided the subject matter should concern what has been my greatest experience since becoming president of the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents last summer. I communicated this to the MAIA board at our March meeting, and I witnessed it at the recently conducted Small Agency Conference.

            Last summer, at its annual planning session, our board, with the leadership of Joe Tye, established some ambitious goals to increase attendance at MAIA’s three biggest conferences (Small Agency in March, Young Agents in June and Leadership in July). We set these goals as a method of demonstrating to our members what MAIA can mean to them.

            Well, we all are aware of what has happened to our economy since last June, and each of us is feeling the impact on our agencies. Had we known this at the planning session, our goals might not have been quite as ambitious, and as the committees started shoring up their plans for each conference, many thought the events might fall flat on their faces. In fact, as early registrations for the Small Agency Conference began to trickle in, the committee members and the MAIA staff were very concerned.

            Well, I am delighted to report that, from my perspective, the Small Agency Conference was a tremendous success. We did not meet the attendance goal the committee set this summer, but there was a very slight increase in agent attendance. As usual, the trade show was filled to capacity, and the companies’ and associate members’ support was fantastic. Additionally, the attendance at the Young Agents’ Crawfish Feast on the eve of the Small Agency Conference was great – I was told they had 45-50 people who registered on site, and the young agents did a fabulous job of showing all of us a great time.

            Joe Tye, the keynote speaker, got a lot of us motivated to get the negative things and negative persons out of our lives so we can be happy with our work, our families and our community endeavors. Many people told me that the educational sessions were all very informative, and I think the experts in the Idea Lab were pleased to work with the many attendees who visited with them.

I was also told by several company personnel and vendors that the organization demonstrated by our committee and our staff was much better than they experience at other states’ similar events. As it has been in the past, the technology panel on Friday morning was very enlightening, with first-hand accounts from the panelists on what worked for them in their agencies and what they were hearing from some other agency owners about similar experiences.

            What is my point with all of this? The dedication and commitment from many of MAIA’s committees and the MAIA staff was there for each of you to see – as I have been witnessing since last summer. 

The Small Agency Conference Committee, led by Wil Turner, put together a great conference and worked very hard with support from the MAIA staff. The Young Agents Committee, chaired by Steve Naught and assisted by crawfish chef Sam Bennett, performed tirelessly to welcome us on Wednesday evening.

The Technology Committee, led by Randy Baker (and panel moderator Alan Hedrick), were very helpful to many of us who are trying to deal with many technology issues facing our agencies. The Education Committee, led by Kathy Riley, saw to it that many deserving conferees were publicly awarded their CIC, CRM and CISR certificates and pins at the luncheon on Thursday.

The Political Action Fundraising Committee, chaired by JoAnn Evans, was actively asking us members to contribute to InsurPAC and MAPAC, and the Public Relations Committee, headed by Tom Montileone, worked diligently at the Trusted Choice booth to secure participants in the Trusted Choice advertising campaign with the Mizzou Sports Network.

The New Building Fundraising Committee, led by Bob Allen, was present to continue efforts to raise more contributions to this noble effort, and Larry Case told me we even increased the number of members who will attend IIABA’s Legislative Conference, April 29-30.

            Since last summer, I have made it my personal goal to participate in nearly all of the MAIA committee meetings, whether they are conducted by telephone or held in various parts of the state (Jefferson City, St. Louis or Bolivar). My goal is not to interfere, but to witness what a great agents’ association we have. That is only accomplished by the individual spirit and tremendous dedication of many, many volunteers.

            That MAIA’s volunteer participation is second to none is evidenced by what was accomplished at the Small Agency Conference, and I could not have witnessed all of this if I were not president of this fantastic association. I thank each of you for allowing me this opportunity, and if you are not participating in one of MAIA’s committees, please volunteer to do so, because it is you who is missing out on the excitement.
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My Turn

Selling Buggy Whips in a Bad Economy

by Larry Case

 

We all know the economy is in the tank at the moment. And, without a doubt, we all are very concerned not only for our own circumstances but also for our friends and relatives, as well as for future generations that will follow. There is no question that the economy will experience cycles and that there will be times that are stressful as well as times that are good. I am one who never quite believes that things are necessarily as good or as bad as some would have us think.

Now, I am not intending to get into a political debate about bailouts and stimulus plans or whether we are on the right track or wrong track. I reserve that type of discussion for one-on-one conversation with appropriate libations in hand. However, the point I want to address is that perseverance and attitude go a long way in keeping a steady course and not jumping into panic mode as economic cycles occur. And, being a part of the insurance industry, we are all accustomed to market cycles.

For as long as I have been around – and long before – there have been self-proclaimed experts that continue to predict that the insurance agents will vanish or fade away because they serve no useful purpose. Such predictions have come whenever these experts see issues that have advanced the industry or simplified processes. However, no such predictions have yet come true. Why do you suppose that is? It certainly is not because insurance isn’t available directly. And, it certainly isn’t because elected officials and regulators haven’t tried to tie your hands or limit your ability to do your job. Maybe it’s because the public values your services.

If you look at the most recent data released by IIABA in their 2008 Agency Universe Study, you will find that the market share of insurance controlled by independent agents isn’t shrinking at all. The independent agency system continues to control the vast majority of commercial insurance and is maintaining its market share in the personal lines arena. So, even though things could be better, statistics indicate that you seem to be holding your own.

That is exactly what I heard recently from agents attending the Small Agency Conference. And, yes, even though it is called a “Small Agency Conference,” it is much more than that, so I spoke with agencies of all sizes and configurations.

Because you are entrepreneurs, you seem to take more in stride and adjust more quickly to economic changes than the average person. Moreover, you continue to look for opportunity, and you often find it in the most trying of times. This was also reflected in the study, which indicated that agencies have become much more efficient and have significantly increased technology usage.

While I certainly do not want to minimize challenges we have to work through on a daily basis, I remain convinced that agencies will weather the current economic downturn better than many businesses. In fact, many of you indicate that you expect revenue to begin an upward trend later this year. And, a significant number of you also indicate that you are or will soon be looking to add staff. These are not exactly signs that you expect to close your doors anytime soon.

Again, this follows the indicators from the most recent study, which shows that there has been an increased number of start-up agencies over the past couple of years. This also helps explain the fact that, within the agency universe as a whole, the percentage of small agencies grew over the past two years. I can validate this from personal experience, as not a week goes by that I do not talk to someone wanting to discuss starting a new independent agency.

In the end, what all of this demonstrates to me is what I already knew. Even though times are tough, you will survive. You are a very resourceful group of business men and women who perform valuable services that the public needs. And, if I really need a buggy whip, you could probably find one for me.

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The Legal Side

Producer’s Legal Duty

by Lew Melahn

 

One of the categories of questions we receive from producers fairly often concerns the duty of a producer to discover information regarding a policyholder’s risk that is initially unknown. Quite often, the information is not volunteered by the policyholder, so the producer doesn’t know of the risk without additional inquiry.

Many errors and omissions consultants and advisors, as well as carriers, counsel producers on adopting various mechanisms and procedures meant to prevent any issues regarding a producer’s duty. Those procedures, such as checklists or having policyholders sign declinations for specific coverages, are excellent procedures and should be followed in some form. However, they are preventative measures, which address potential theories of producer duties, not necessarily expressions of actual legal duties.

            The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, recently addressed one theory of potential producer duty, and in so doing gave an interesting review of the legal history of a producer’s legal duty.

The case, Zubres Radiology, et al. vs. Providers Insurance Consultants, et al., involved an agency that placed medical malpractice coverage with an insurance carrier that eventually went into liquidation during the policy term. The policyholder brought suit against the agency and others. Among other allegations, the policyholder alleged the agency negligently failed to carry out its duty of good faith and fair dealing.

            The trial court had dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim, which the court of appeals upheld. The court cited prior decisions in stating that the producer “owes a duty of reasonable skill, care and diligence in obtaining the requested insurance.” However, the court further expressed that the duty ceases upon execution and delivery of the policy to the insured.

The court rejected the argument that the agency had a duty to notify the policyholder of the carrier’s financial downgrade to give the policyholder an opportunity to place its coverage elsewhere.  The court specifically held that the agency did not have a duty to continue to monitor the financial condition of the carrier. In so ruling, the court made reference to prior court decisions in Missouri that rejected other alleged duties of producers, finding that producers have no duty to:

 

·         Notify an insured of a decision not to submit a renewal application.

·         Determine the appropriate amount of insurance coverage.

·         Advise a potential customer of optional coverages.

·         Maintain an insurance policy or advise clients to pay an overdue premium with an extension period.

·         Inform potential clients of the significance of provisions in another insurer’s policy.

 

This decision should give producers some comfort that producers do not have a general duty to consistently monitor the changes in conditions of the policyholder’s risk or an insurance carrier’s financial condition. However, producers should remember that all such court decisions are relatively fact specific.

The court has not addressed in this decision whether a producer can specifically create additional duties by means of a separate implied contract with specific policyholders. If a producer commits to performing a certain act for a policyholder, the producer may create a separate duty with regard to a separate contract that is more specific than the general duty of an insurance producer addressed by the court in this decision. Therefore, producers should be cautious not to make specific promises to policyholders if they may create specific duties not otherwise imposed by court decisions.

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Errors and Omissions

Agents Are Expert Consultants … Except When They’re Not

by Robert J. Burns, Utica

 

As agents’ errors and omissions underwriters, we look at a lot of agency web sites. Some just have some contact information, but many contain sweeping portraits of agency experts as risk managers. When reviewing agency websites and reading brochures, it is common to see the ability to offer expert advice as one to the most important values being offered in the agency-client relationship.

Producers spend time and effort earning Certified Insurance Counselor or Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designations, so agency principals will sometimes become upset over our claims department’s characterization of the agent as an “order-taker” in a transaction. No one would reasonably want to denigrate the professional standing of the agent, yet in some cases, that characterization is the best defense for the agent. It all boils down to the client’s expectation and need.

It is common for accountants to complete a specific agreement of expectation for every service transaction. This is because the possible scope of accounting services is so broad that it is important to nail down the exact nature of the services expected each time. Is the accountant acting as a management consultant or a bookkeeper? This can be true with insurance agents and brokers. We find that many claims stem from a simple misunderstanding of the relative roles being played.

For example, the chief financial officer of a mid-sized construction firm meets with a producer and offers a list of values that he confirms represents the cost of the company’s buildings. The producer enters the numbers on the statement of values included with the application. After a loss, the carrier invokes the coinsurance clause. At that point, the CFO recalls that he submitted the list to the producer for his approval and agreement. The producer recalls that the CFO was emphatic that the values provided were sufficient and all that he was willing to insure.

In this interaction, the producer assumed the role of order-taker while the CFO saw him in the role of consultant (after the fact of course). Either or both could be correct. It would be helpful if the roles had been agreed on beforehand.

Producers will often begin a relationship with a client by emphasizing their expertise and ability to advise. As the association develops, the client asserts more control over the program, and the producer cedes to the client’s opinions. Perhaps the client shows some irritation at the “constant costly coverage suggestions,” and the producer backs off on some offerings in response.

At some point, the roles change without express discussion. A loss at this point could well result in a claim against the agency. Both parties would have some substance to their defense.

Clients may see constant recommendations for more coverage as price gouging on the part of the agency. Producers respond by withholding advice in deference to the client’s program decisions. This is particularly common with clients large enough to employ an accounting professional in the position of controller but not so large to employ risk management staff.

In cases where the client has a risk manager, the roles are clearer. The agency is given a request for proposal and obtains insurance proposals that meet the specifications with an addendum that details variances or alternate recommendations. Here, the role of the order-taker is appropriate.

A way to deal with this situation may be to have a discussion with the client and establish a clear understanding of what services are being offered. An example of points that could be useful to establish go as follows:

 

  • The producer will review the client’s evaluation of property and casualty risk exposures and offer suggestions.
  • The client will provide financial, staff and physical plant data necessary to a survey of risk.
  • The producer will develop an array of insurance options to be considered by the client.
  • The client will develop an assessment of his or her appetite for risk acceptance that outlines the maximum noninsured amounts acceptable, as well as stability expectations.
  • The producer will make recommendations based on the client’s guidance regarding risk appetite.
  • The client will complete and sign all requested applications with the assistance of the producer.
  • The client will read and understand the policy options offered.
  • The client will choose the option best suited to his or her needs according to the terms offered.
  • The producer will obtain the coverage selected and confirm when it is bound.
  • The producer will thoroughly check the coverage provided by the carrier.

Or, under other circumstances:

 

  • The client will provide a list of coverages required with values and limits.
  • The producer will produce applications to be signed by client.
  • The producer will acquire proposals of coverage from appropriate insurance carriers.
  • The client will read and understand the insurance programs recommended prior to making a selection.
  • The producer will thoroughly check the coverage provided by the carrier.

The point of these agreements is multifold. First, it establishes the roles each party is undertaking. A new agreement can be made for each renewal or can continue until changed. Second, it reminds clients that they have the responsibility to read the policies provided. Third, it establishes the ”right” of the producer to put forward suggestions for coverage, or it clarifies that the agent is restricting his or her activity to following the client’s instructions. Fourth, it can empower the client while protecting the producer from a twenty-twenty hindsight perspective.

Our claims staff is very careful to note that any evaluation of risk is inherently dangerous. It is essential that the ultimate responsibility for decisions of how to manage risk clearly reside with the client. Whenever an agreement is to be reduced to writing, it is always recommended that the agreement be reviewed by counsel.  

In any event, it is vital that producers maintain a very clear understanding of their role in the insurance transaction and ensure that the perspective is shared by clients. You can also use this initial discussion to remind the client that it is your job to suggest coverages. In the long run, premiums paid are much cheaper than uncovered losses.

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Management Focus

Stop Wasting Your Sand

Jeff Gelona, CIC, The Virtuoso Group

 

Jumbo shrimp, state worker, military intelligence – such funny oxymorons. We all get a good laugh when we consider our unique language and its difficulties. But there is another great contradictory phrase, and that is time management.

How does one go about managing time? I have never seen anyone manage time, but what I have seen are people who manage themselves and their activities within the available time. This is a key to successful people and something that we all can work on to improve ourselves as producers, managers, service teams, agency owners or company personnel.

Look at how technology has grown to try and fill the need for better management of our activities. We use digital voice recorders, contact management devices the size of a wallet, electronic business cards that we Bluetooth from one device to another, all the while multitasking by sending emails and checking our latest status on Facebook.

Yet for all of our efforts, we still waste huge amounts of time, not so much because of poor planning but because we fail to communicate our process and expectations to others.

Another time waster has been our insurance training time. How many training classes have we all been to or delivered ourselves that, while fun and informative, never led to any real change in our activities, our marketing, our management or our sales techniques? It is time to make a choice. We can continue to do only the state-required training just to keep our licenses in effect, or we can undertake results-based training that will also impact our careers for the positive.

 As one of the “guilty,” who for 32 years attended and presented these events, I realized that what we were missing were results. Can you as an attendee actually walk out of the training session and implement the protocols, procedures and information that were taught?

Is the information sensory acute, and does it allow you to coach and measure your results or the results of your producers? Do you leave the session with the ability to not only use the information yourself but also teach it to others? This is the results-based training that we need in order to make the effort worth the investment.

For regardless of your stance on eternity, there is no doubt that each of us only has a certain amount of sand in our hourglass of life. As you read this, your sand is running, and at some point it will run out. Have you ever seen anyone beat the odds on this?

Our time on this planet is limited, and no person or insured has earned the right to waste your sand. Just how large does the premium need to be before an insured has the right to waste your sand? How many locations or how big the commission, before a prospect has the right to waste your sand?

The answer is that none of them have earned that right!

So how do you and your producers and account managers go about qualifying the opportunities to grow and expand your agency and control the use of your time, effort and resources? If you can’t manage time, can you at least set out realistic expectations and goals that are fair to everyone and that maximize not only the chances for success but also for profitable growth? The answer is YES.

I look forward to working with you at the Leadership Conference, July 23-24, at Tan-Tar-A Resort, where we will tackle and achieve this import task of getting results from our time and training effort, not just a feel-good event. I hope to see you there. You have my promise, I will not waste your sand.

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Technology

Increasing Agency Productivity & Profitability Using Best Practices Processes

By Laura Nettles, Nettles Consulting Network

 

The focus of the independent agency system is always, first and foremost, increasing agency revenue. Everyone wins when agencies experience a steady stream of sustained growth. Certainly, increasing sales should be a part of every agency’s plan. But the best agencies – those achieving sustained growth today – also implement Best Practices in their operations to ensure maximized productivity. This provides a balance between growth and continued process improvement, guaranteeing the agency minimizes the cost associated with increasing revenues, and frees up employees to focus on more productive, client-oriented activities.

The Best Practices Guide to Agency Business Processes and Information Management provides agencies with a resource to improve agency operations. This tool was developed by IIABA’s Agents Council for Technology and Council for Best Practices, working with Nettles Consulting Network. It gives owners and managers critical indicators to assess current operations and offers tools for improving. The guide includes something for everyone – from main street community agencies to the largest most complex commercial or benefits departments. The guide is meant to be used electronically, and you can download it from www.independentagent.com/act.

 

Where Are You Today?

It is interesting to note that most agencies today have the tools and technology needed to operate at peak efficiency. This includes agency or benefits management systems, document management systems and connectivity to the carriers for Real Time transaction processing. However, we are only as good as our implementations.

The Best Practices guide provides a self-assessment questionnaire. We recommend the manager of each department take the self-assessment quiz and have each service representative also take the assessment. You will be surprised at the results. They typically vary from desk to desk. The manager usually has a much higher expectation as to what has been implemented than what actually has.

 

Moving to More Advanced Workflow Environments

Once you assess your current level of technology and workflow implementation and obtain your scores, the guide places you into a specific operational environment. The four environments – “manually automated,” “process,” “service” and “client” – let you know how the energy in the office is being spent. In the manually automated and process environments, all the energy is being spent on internal tasks. With the technology you probably already have today, workflows, processes and procedures can be streamlined, moving you to the service environment where the focus is on serving the customer, not just processing transactions.

            Most agencies will have staff scattered among those three. This is useful information for the manager, information that can help move the staff to the same page to get the entire office operating at peak efficiency.

For those agencies that find themselves below the curve, the guide provides some practical, back to the basics tools to quickly get your staff up to speed. Included are a feature implementation checklist, a training checklist, database audit guidelines and monitoring and managing backlog suggestions.

 

Integrating Technology Features into New Insurance Workflows

Technology delivers features. Many agencies have successfully implemented the features of their agency management systems, as trained by their vendors. They store documents using attachments; invoice from the computer; generate applications from AMS data; create requests for proposals from the benefit plan input in the benefit management system; and go online to check the status of carrier payments.

These are very important parts of implementation, but you can’t stop here. It is not enough to simply implement features. You have to integrate them into practical insurance workflows to benefit fully from your technology implementation.

Agencies that are successfully implementing best practices actually rewrite the workflow, integrating technology into new operations. They let go of the old way of doing a transaction and embrace a totally new way, taking advantage of the features and weaving them into a new, more efficient process.

The Best Practices guide shows you how to put your focus back on your client. It gives you the guidelines and suggestions to think about a new way of processing work – eliminating unnecessary steps and putting the client first.

For example, many agencies have access to Real Time processing. The information technology folks set it up and showed everyone how to use it. But if you take a look at their assessments, you will probably find very few people are actually using the Real Time feature in a way that eliminates all the manual steps – doing Real Time quoting while on the phone with the client, generating no paper and employing an integrated electronic follow-up and client communication. Real Time transactions take a fraction of the time to process. Your own staff may say they use the feature, but have they changed their workflows to be more efficient?

The same is probably true for commercial lines submissions and benefits RFPs. Both your agency and benefits management systems, along with document management systems, have the capability to completely automate the marketing process. This includes preparation and tracking in a completely paperless environment. However, we still see staff printing and scanning loss runs in commercial lines and manually tracking RFPs in benefits. The resulting loss in productivity for an agency that has all the technology tools is unnecessary.

 

Best Practices to the Rescue

The guide includes sample workflows integrating the technology tools you probably have already purchased into practical, updated insurance processes. If you follow the guide, you will be more efficient. It teaches you how to implement the feature and  integrate it into the workflow. Good workflows lead to improved errors and omissions loss control and better services delivered to the client. The guide provides all you need to improve operations and move your agency to the client environment. In the client environment, the staff spends the majority of its time with the customer.

 

Monitoring Compliance

The guide also gives you practical audits you can do to assess staff compliance with your procedures. The compliance section of the guide guarantees that your staff adheres to the changes you implement, and the audits will tell you where you have the capacity to grow without hiring additional staff. Before hiring that next customer service representative, run these audits. You might be surprised to learn that your existing staff can absorb the work with some minor adjustments.

There is always room for improvement. The Best Practices guide provides a framework to focus on improvements in areas where you are sure to get results. The world is changing. To be competitive in the future, you must be serving your client in a new way – not just by processing work but by truly being a trusted advisor.  

 

Vision of the Future Agency

As an industry, we need to get out of the insurance processing business and get back into the insurance service business. We have become an industry in which the service staff believes that processing equates to service. That is not how our customers define service. They want a qualified staff available when they have questions or concerns. Your customers want to know that you are working hard to maximize coverage and eliminate risk. The Best Practices guide helps you move your organization to the client environment where serving the client is defined by a trusted relationship, not a process.

 

Laura Nettles, president of Nettles Consulting Network, specializes in agency workflows and organization. She can be reached at lnettles@nettlesconsulting.com; 404-325-0023. Nettles developed this article for the Agents Council for Technology, part of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. ACT’s Web site is www.independentagent.com/act. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.
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From the DIFP

Spring Brings Deep Flood Risks

by Matt Barton

 

Spring is generally the time of year when Missourians see the most precipitation, in the form of rain. That same rainfall, while productive and supportive to flowers and grasses, can have devastating effects when it arrives in great amounts and the ground is unable to absorb or carry off the moisture quickly enough.

This is the perfect time of year to review homeowners policies with those clients that may truly have a need for flood insurance coverage. As we all know, damage resulting from flood waters is generally not covered under standard homeowners policies.

The National Flood Insurance Program is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was established by the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. Congress stated that the purpose in passing the Act was to:

 

• Authorize a flood insurance program that, over time, could be made available on a nationwide basis through the cooperative effort of the federal government and the private insurance industry.

• Provide flexibility in the program so that such flood insurance would be based on workable methods of pooling risks, minimizing costs and distributing burdens equitably among the general public and those who would be protected by flood insurance.

• Encourage state and local governments to use wisely the lands under their jurisdictions by considering the hazard of floods when rendering decisions on the future use of such land, thus minimizing damage caused by flooding.

 

Nearly 20,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters and business owners in these communities. Community participation in NFIP is voluntary.

Flood insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Flood damage is reduced by nearly $1 billion a year through communities implementing sound floodplain management requirements and property owners purchasing of flood insurance.           

The Write Your Own Program, begun in 1983, is a cooperative undertaking of FEMA and the private insurance industry. The WYO Program operates within the context of NFIP and is subject to its rules and regulations. WYO allows participating property and casualty insurance companies to write and service federal flood insurance in their own names. The companies receive an expense allowance for policies written and claims processed while the federal government retains responsibility for underwriting losses.

Individual WYO companies may, to the extent possible and consistent with program rules and regulations, conform their flood business to their normal business practices for other lines of insurance. Many producers have elected to move or place their flood policies with one or more of the WYO companies they represent. In brief, the producer has the following options:

 

• Place all business with one or more WYO companies.

• Place business with both NFIP directly and with one or more WYO companies.

• Continue to place all flood insurance directly with NFIP (referred to as "NFIP direct business").

 

Floods are consistently the most common, costly and deadly disaster Americans face each year. Approximately 90 percent of all national disasters in the nation involve flooding. Take the time to evaluate flood risks with your clients and provide them the coverage they need. None of us ever really expect a flood to damage our homes, but isn’t that the very premise of insurance?
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Technical Focus

BEWARE Rental Car Agreements When Employees, Not Companies, Rent the Vehicle

by the MAIA Technical Committee

 

The Mid-America Technical Conference is an annual event hosted by the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents. Each year, delegates from 17 states in the region gather to discuss consumer-driven topics within the insurance industry that are problematic due to policy language and manual rules.

With representatives from the Insurance Services Committee, the National Council on Compensation Insurance and several insurers, the state delegates discuss in detail the year’s chosen issues. The conference is an opportunity for agents to protect the independent agency system and its consumers by clarifying the exact regulations, implications and exclusions in policy language and to address problems with those policies if needed.

The MATC was founded in 1934 by Earl Fisk of Green Bay, Wis. The 17 member states are Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

 

The problems associated with renting a vehicle have long been a topic of concern from the standpoint of insurance coverage. Rental agreements often require payment of any damages, loss of use, claims administrative fees, diminishment of value, towing, storage fees and other expenses. Some of these expenses may be covered by a personal auto policy, and some may be covered under a business auto policy, but a number of these expenses are not insurable. Equally important, the rental agreement and the business practices of some rental agencies may impose responsibility on individuals without their knowledge.

There are three concerns that you need to be aware of (and by extension be prepared to advise your insureds about): 1. Who is actually renting the vehicle? 2. Who is allowed to drive the vehicle? 3. How are the renters permitted to use the vehicle? For the purposes of this article, I will only deal with the question of who is actually renting the vehicle and the insurance implications associated with the answer.

When a business wants to rent a vehicle, it will often establish a company account for this purpose. Most believe that doing so establishes the business as the renter and thus the party responsible for the rental vehicle and its use. This is not necessarily true.

In fact, a major rental agency based in Missouri rents the vehicle to the person who physically picks it up, regardless of who pays, so if a business has made arrangements to rent a private passenger vehicle and it sends an employee to pick it up, the rental agency lists the employee, not the business, as the “Renter.”

Specifically, the rental agreement reads, “Renter agrees by Renter’s signature on page 1 that Renter has read, is aware of, accepts full responsibility for and is bound by the terms and conditions contained in this Rental Agreement.” 

The rental agreement goes on to contractually obligate the “Renter” to be responsible “for damage to, loss or theft of vehicle, including all related costs.” The employee is now (unknowingly) responsible for the vehicle and any damages.  

As it relates to the business and its Commercial Auto Policy, the Insurance Services Office’s Business Auto Policy coverage is triggered by the use of coverage auto designation symbols. If you have used symbol 1, the policy refers to “any auto.” Under the liability section, it states:

We will pay all sums an "insured" legally must pay as damages because of "bodily injury" or "property damage" to which this insurance applies, caused by an "accident" and resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of a covered "auto.” 

However, the liability section exclusions go on to exclude "’Property damage‘ to … property owned or transported by the ’insured‘ or in the ’insured's‘ care, custody or control.” Since the rental vehicle is either property in the insured’s care, custody or control, or since the rental agreement is in fact in the name of the employee, the business cannot look to the liability section for coverage of damages to a rented vehicle.

If the vehicle is not in the care, custody or control of the business, and  if the vehicle is not rented to the business, then coverage would be limited to the vicarious liability that the business might have for the use of the vehicle on its behalf. This would leave the renter, the employee, looking for his or her own liability and physical damage coverage, hopefully under a personal auto policy.

Under the physical damage section, the BAP reads, “We will pay for "loss" to a covered "auto" or its equipment.”  

But here too, coverage is triggered by symbols. Symbol 1 is not available for physical damage coverage, so for a rented vehicle, the business would have to list symbol 8, which defines hired autos as those that “you lease, hire, rent or borrow. 

This triggers physical damage coverage for hired autos, with the limitation that only those autos “you” lease, rent or borrow are covered. In the very beginning of the ISO Commercial Auto Policy, you will find that "’you‘ and ’your‘ refer to the Named Insured shown in the Declarations.” Therefore, since the named insured is the business and is also ”you,” and “you” did not rent the vehicle, there is no coverage for the business because it is not the “Renter.” This leaves the employee, who has signed the rental agreement and thus has agreed to be responsible for any damage to the rented vehicle, again looking to his or her own personal auto policy.

What are the solutions? The first solution would be to avoid using any rental agency that will not rent the vehicle in the name of the business. If the rental agency is willing to show the business as the renter, the business can look to the BAP for both liability and physical damage coverages.

If the rental agency is not willing to rent the vehicle in the name of the business, there is an endorsement, CA 20 54 Employee Hired Autos, that for liability coverage adds to the definition of ”insured,” the following: 

To include "employee" of yours as an "insured" while operating an "auto" hired or rented under a contract or agreement in that "employee's" name, with your permission, while performing duties related to the conduct of your business.

For hired auto physical damage, it also adds:

Any covered "auto" hired or rented by your "employee" under a contract in that individual "employee's" name, with your permission, while performing duties related to the conduct of your business. 

If the business insists on renting a vehicle with a rental agency that will only put the rental in the name of the employee, the BAP must include CA 20 54, or the employee will have to rely on his or her own PAP for coverage, and with either the BAP or the PAP, there are still coverage problems.

The rental agreement requires the “Renter” to pay for not only the physical damage to any rented vehicle, but also for loss of use, diminishment of value and administrative expenses. There is also the possibility of disagreements on the value of a vehicle if totaled or costs of repair and possible betterment if being repaired.

Remember that the rental agreement says that the rental agency has the sole right to repair any damages. Loss of use coverage is provided on a very limited basis in the Commercial Auto Policy. Under Section III.A. 4.b, “Loss of Use Expenses,” the policy says:

For Hired Auto Physical Damage, we will pay expenses for which an "insured" becomes legally responsible to pay for loss of use of a vehicle rented or hired without a driver, under a written rental contract or agreement. We will pay for loss of use expenses if caused by a covered physical damage loss; however, the most we will pay for any expenses for loss of use is $20 per day, to a maximum of $600.”  

There is no coverage for diminishment of value or administrative expenses, either of which can be quite expensive if a loss does occur. The only answer to cover the fees and expenses associated with the rental of a vehicle by the business is to purchase the physical damage waiver at the time of rental. The best course of action is to always recommend that the business or individual purchase the physical damage waiver.
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Missouri News

Mo. Agents Attend State and National Legislative Events

 

Members of the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents have been working to support the interests of the industry in both state and federal legislative arenas this spring. Agents from across the state took time away from their everyday duties to attend the MAIA Day at the Capitol, the PIA Federal Legislative Summit and the Big “I” Legislative Conference and Convention.

            The 2009 MAIA Day at the Capitol was held March 3 in Jefferson City. Approximately 60 agents and friends of the association attended the event, which started with a briefing at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Executive Vice President Larry Case and MAIA lobbyists Gary Burton and Chris Liese reviewed the insurance-related bills that have been filed in both the state House and Senate and encouraged participants to maintain connections with their legislators throughout the year.

            Some of the most important industry issues before the Missouri General Assembly this year include reforms to health insurance and the topics related to uninsured drivers. MAIA supports a range of health insurance-related bills that would help reduce the strain on health insurance costs while preserving a viable safety net for difficult and uninsurable cases without moving health insurance out of the private market.

            The association also supports two changes related to auto insurance. One, dubbed the “no pay, no play” bill, prohibits uninsured drivers involved in accidents from recovering noneconomic damages. The other criminalizes the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of fraudulent auto insurance documents.

            After the briefing, Day at the Capitol attendees visited with their representatives and senators to share their views on the issues. Later, an MAIA-sponsored reception at the Capitol Plaza Hotel attracted a large number of agents and legislators.

            MAIA’s two national associations, the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, both held their annual legislative events in April. PIA’s Federal Legislative Summit took place April 1-2 in Washington, D.C. Case and PIA State Director Dick Minor attended the event, which included time to visit with legislators on Capitol Hill and a fundraising dinner for the association’s political action committee. Political commentator Norm Ornstein gave the keynote address. PIA also hosted Rep. Jackie Speier, a democrat from California, who spoke on the perils of federal regulation of the insurance industry.

            IIABA’s Big “I” Legislative Conference and Convention, held April 29-May 1, attracted a large group of delegates from Missouri. The event included time to meet with legislators and several educational “Ask an Expert” sessions, as well as an exhibit hall and the State of the Association address by Big “I” Chairman Brett Nilsson. Other speakers included Marvin Kelly, the president of the CPCU Society and director of the Texas Property and Casualty Insurance Guarantee Association; U.S. House Republican whip, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia; and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican assistant whip.

            Both of MAIA’s national associations are working hard in the federal legislative arena, with federal regulation, agent licensing and health insurance reform topping the list of important issues. IIABA and PIA oppose the creation of an optional federal charter to oversee insurance regulation and support streamlining licensing reform such as those concepts proposed in NARAB II. The associations are dedicated to protecting the right of independent agents to sell health insurance to individuals, and small and large businesses.

Uninsured Motorist Exclusion Upheld in Court

 

A ruling by the Circuit Court of Johnson County against Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. was overturned by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, allowing the company to enforce an exclusion dealing with uninsured motorist coverage.

            Shelter Mutual originally awarded Jason Rice the state minimum payment of $25,000 for each of three uninsured motorist policies under which he was covered when he received severe burns in an accident that took place while he was traveling for work. The uninsured motorist policies provided Rice with a total of $600,000 in coverage but were subject to an exclusion which reduces coverage to the state minimum if the insured receives workers’ compensation in connection with the claim.

            Rice sued Shelter Mutual for the remaining $525,000 of coverage provided under the uninsured motorists policies, arguing that the exclusion was illusory and void as against public policy. A then-judge with the  Johnson County Circuit Court, Joseph Dandurand, ordered the company to pay the remaining coverage plus statutory interest.

            Shelter Mutual then appealed the circuit court decision, and the appellate court overturned the ruling on March 10, 2009, stating that because all three of the uninsured motorist policies under which Rice was covered provided the minimum state requirement, they complied with the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law. The court also found that the policies were not illusory as they would have provided full benefits if Rice had not received workers’ compensation.
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Partner News

SECURA Joins Breast Cancer Battle

Independent insurance agents in 11 states, including Missouri, are showing they care by raising money for breast cancer research through a funds drive with SECURA Insurance.

            “For every new MILE-STONE policy our agents write, we’ll contribute $25 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Collectively, this will do a lot of good for a lot of people,” said Jean Van Den Brandt, director of marketing for SECURA.

 

Travelers Agribusiness Unveils Automated System for Agents

Responding to growing interest from its vast network of independent insurance agents across the country, Travelers developed the Travelers Agribusiness System, an automated system that allows agents to efficiently rate, quote and issue policies electronically. TAgS also allows for online endorsement and automatic renewal processing.

 

Annual Report Leads to World Record for ACUITY

On Dec. 10, 2008, ACUITY set the official Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Waldo. The event, which was certified by an onsite Guinness representative, was planned as part of ACUITY’s 2008 Annual Report. It is patterned after the iconic Guinness Book of World Records.

            “We do this for our independent agents – to help them and their customers understand us and our business better,” says Brett Blizzard, communications director.

 

Consumers Appoints New State Sales Manager

Bill Wheeler, president of Consumers Insurance Co., Murfressboro, Tenn., has announced that Ron Mattli, CIC, Wappapello, has been promoted to state sales manager for Missouri and Arkansas. Mattli has been in field marketing with Consumers for five years and in the insurance industry for 20 years.
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Agency News

Mo. Agency Wins Automation Award

Lakenan Insurance, Ste. Genevieve, was recently chosen as a winner of the AMS Users Group 2009 Automation Excellence Award. The award recognizes AMSUG members that best exemplify excellence in agency automation implementation and make the fullest use of available technology.

Lakenan was selected in the category of independent insurance agencies with 25 users or fewer. The agency is paperless, and customer service representatives work in Real Time with dual monitors.

 

Harter Receives Top National Honor

Steve Harter, Select Risk Management, Ava, was named the PIAPAC “Agent of the Year” at PIA’s recent Federal Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Harter is a past president of MAIA and past PIA National Director.

 

Heffernan Insurance Brokers Honored in Insurance Journal

Heffernan Insurance Brokers, Chesterfield, (headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif.) was ranked No. 11 in the Insurance Journal’s Top 100 Agencies in the country. A profile in the March 9 issue of the magazine described the agency as “a young company with a nontraditional management style.” Heffernan focuses on niche markets, including nonprofits and middle market construction.

 

First State Insurance Agency Given Top Honors

First State Insurance Agency, Farmington, has been named Underwriting Agency of the Year for 2008 by the Midwest regional office of United Fire Group. The prestigious award is given annually to the agency that has shown consistent and profitable growth for United Fire Group.

            Beth Baker, from First State Insurance Agency, accepted the award during the United Club Luncheon at Cedar Rapids Country Club on March 12, 2009.

 

New Associate Members

Chubb Insurance Solutions, Jeff Walker, Whitehouse Station, N.J.

Equity Insurance Co., Lorrie Dozier, Tulsa, Okla.

Pennsylvania Lumbermen’s Mutual Insurance Co., Gerald Healy, Philadelphia, Pa.

Rural Missouri Insurance Solutions, Mary Lou Dyer, Auxvasse

 

New Members

Auto Insurance Express, Philip Edwards, Joplin

E & W Enterprices, Michael Webb, St. Charles

Challahan Insurance Agency, Kari Callahan, Warrensburg

Freedom Insurance, Nathan Barger, St. Louis

Gibson Insurance Group, Dean Gibson, Tiption

Poplar Bluff Insurance Agency dba Steven Phillips Insurance Agency, Steven Phillips, Poplar Bluff

Provident Insurance Agency, Dawn Berry, Florissant

Rick Robertson Agency, Rick Robertson, Moberly

VMR dba Rinehart Insurance, Vickie Rinehart, Dexter

 

Agencies Welcome New Employees

Jason Clemons joined PJC Insurance, Springfield, as a commercial sales agent.

Kerry Reuthebuck joined Ollis & Co., Springfield, as an account manager in the personal risk department.
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Regulatory Actions

Enforcement Actions

  • Wendell Agee, Overland Park, Kan., voluntary forfeiture of $1,000 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Michael E. Barton, Fenton, order of dismissal issued.
  • Nicholas A. Baumgartner, Overland Park, Kan., consent order issued to revoke insurance producer license.
  • Shannon Butcher, Columbia, voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Jess Claibourn, Gravois Mills, voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • David G. Clevenger, Joplin, application for bail bond license refused.
  • Steve Cranford, O’Fallon, voluntary forfeiture of $1,100 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Heidi P. Donahe, Portland, Ore., voluntary forfeiture of $250 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Ethan Erickson, Las Vegas, insurance producer license renewal refused.
  • Nennette Frische, Pineville, consent order issued to revoke insurance producer license.
  • Kelly Fritts, Drexel, voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of bail bond law violations.
  • Lori Harris, Marion, Iowa, insurance producer license application refused.
  • Chris Herbolsheimer, West Plains, complaint filed with request to find cause to discipline.
  • Ted Herrera, Amarillo, Texas, insurance producer license application refused.
  • Mildred Jackson, Mayfield Village, Ohio, voluntary forfeiture of $250 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Milton Johnson, Kansas City,  voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Kyle Labrue, Camdenton, consent order issued for forfeiture of $2,500, completion of 10 continuing education hours and other stipulations for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • John W. Lawson, San Diego, consent order issued to grant insurance producer license under special circumstances.
  • Colin P. Lindsey, Lenexa, Kan., voluntary surrender of insurance producer license and complaint dismissed with prejudice .
  • William D. Montgomery, Pevely, decision issued to find cause to discipline.
  • Timothy W. Newkirk, Green Bay, Wis., insurance producer license application refused.
  • David Pennington III, Dalton, Ga., voluntary forfeiture of $250 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Raymond Plante, Harrisonville, voluntary forfeiture of $300 for department allegations of bail bond law violations.
  • Christopher Sharp, Kansas City, voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of bail bond law violations.
  • Kenneth L. Short, Galena, consent order issued to revoke insurance producer license.
  • Tamara Sibson, Reno, Nev., insurance producer license renewal refused.
  • Marcus Smith, Charleston, voluntary forfeiture of $300 for department allegations of bail bond law violations.
  • Tammy Smith, St. Charles, voluntary surrender of bail bond license.
  • Billie Jean Smoote, St. Charles, voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Thomas Taylor, Jennings, voluntary forfeiture of $250 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Alex M. Thomas, Kansas City, voluntary forfeiture of $400 for department allegations of bail bond law violations.
  • Terance C. Torrence, Madison, Wis., insurance producer license application refused.
  • Mark A. Vanderheiden, Kansas City, voluntary forfeiture of $300 for department allegations of bail bond law violations.
  • Paul R. Whitlow, Clinton, voluntary forfeiture of $600 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Jason R. Wisdom, Troy, voluntary forfeiture of $100 for department allegations of bail bond law violations.
  • Richard Wolfe, Dallas, voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Sean Zuber, Belton, voluntary surrender of insurance producer license.
  • AT1 Title Co. dba Rels Title, Omaha, Neb., voluntary forfeiture of $1,200 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Davis Title & Abstract Co., St. Charles, voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • First Automotive Service Corp., Albuquerque, N.M., voluntary forfeiture of $1,000 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Frische Insurance Agency, Pineville, consent order issued to revoke business entity insurance producer license.
  • Investors Title Co. and James Fenberg, Clayton, voluntary forfeiture of $3,000 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Linear Title & Closing, Middletown, R.I., voluntary forfeiture of $250 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Maness & Miller, Doniphan, voluntary forfeiture of $3,000 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Platinum Title and Mary Clark, Overland Park, Kan., voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Premium Title Group, Spring Valley, Wis., voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Shaughnessy Title Co. dba Preservation Title Company and Ryan Shaughnessy, St. Louis, voluntary forfeiture of $2,100 for department allegations of insurance law violations.
  • Southwest Reinsure dba Southwest RE, Albuquerque, N.M., voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegation of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • Weekes & Callaway, Delray Beach, Fla., voluntary forfeiture of $250 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • United Agencies, Pasadena, Calif., voluntary forfeiture of $500 for department allegations of failing to report administrative actions within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.
  • U.S. Insurance Services and David Coffman, Jacksonville, Fla., voluntary forfeiture of $250 for department allegations of failing to report an administrative action within 30 days of the final disposition of the matter.

Market Conduct Exams

  • Consumers Insurance USA, Murfreesboro, Tenn., order issued for stipulations and voluntary forfeiture of $6,417.50.
  • First Acceptance Insurance Co., Nashville, Tenn., curative order for violations of law.
  • Homesite Indemnity Co., Boston, curative order issued for violations of law.
  • Ticor Title Insurance Co., Santa Barbara, Calif., order issued for stipulations and voluntary forfeiture of $20,725.

Company Changes

·         ALFA Specialty Insurance Corp., Montgomery, Ala., effective Feb. 19, 2009, added miscellaneous authority.

·         Alliant National Title Insurance Co., Longmont, Colo., effective Feb. 3, 2009, Mason Title Insurance Co., merged with and into the aforementioned company.

·         American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance Co., Boise, Idaho, effective Jan. 22, 2009, changed its name from General Fire and Casualty Co.

·         American Merchants Casualty Co., Wilmington, Del., effective Feb. 2, 2009, was admitted with property, liability, and accident and health authorities.

·         American Mining Insurance Co., Birmingham, Ala., effective Feb. 19, 2009, was admitted with property, liability and miscellaneous authorities.

·         Atlantic Risk Services, New York, effective Feb. 23, 2009, withdrew as a third party administrator.

·         Automobile Protection Corp., Norcross, Ga., effective Jan. 23, 2009, registered as a vehicle protection product provider.

·         AVIVA Life and Annuity Co., Des Moines, Iowa, effective Sept. 30, 3008, Indianapolis Live Insurance Co. merged with and into the aforementioned company.

·         BeneCard Services, Lawrenceville, N.J., effective Jan. 23, 2009, was admitted as a third party administrator.

·         Catholic Holy Family Society, Joliet, Ill., effective Jan. 21, 2009, changed its name from Holy Family of the USA.

·         Central Mutual Insurance Co., Warrensburg, effective Jan. 7, 2009, added other authority.

·         Chrysler Insurance Co., Farmington Hills, Mich., effective Jan. 1, 2009, changed its name from DaimlerChrysler Insurance Co.

·         CIGNA Dental Health, Plantation, Fla., effective Feb. 24, 2009, withdrew as a third party administrator.

·         CIFG Assurance North America, New York, effective Jan. 20, 2009, the company’s certificate of authority was suspended.

·         Essence Healthcare, St. Louis, effective Jan. 1, 2009, changed its name from Essence.

·         Express Scripts Insurance Co., St. Louis, effective Feb. 20, 2009, was admitted with accident and health authority.

·         First Health Life and Health Insurance Co., Downers Grove, Ill., effective Dec. 31, 2008, American Life and Health Insurance Co. merged with and into the aforementioned company.

·         Foremost Property and Casualty Insurance Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., effective Feb. 17, 2009, changed its name from Harrington Benefit Services.

·         Forethought Life Insurance Co., Batesville, Ind., effective Oct. 6, 2008, Forethought Life Assurance Co. merged with and into the aforementioned company.

·         Freistatt Mutual Insurance Co., Friestatt, effective Jan. 1, 2009, Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of Harrison County Missouri merged with and into the aforementioned company.

·         HDM Benefit Solutions Corp., Omaha, Neb., effective Feb. 11, 2009, withdrew as a third party administrator.

·         Legacy Marketing Group, Petaluma, Calif., effective Feb. 25, 2009, withdrew as a third party administrator.

·         Maiden Reinsurance Co., Mt. Laurel, N.J., effective Jan. 23, 2009, changed its name from GMAC Direct Insurance Co.

·         Mapfre Insurance Co., Florham Park, N.J., effective Feb. 26, 2009, changed its name from Mapfre Reinsurance Corp.

·         Mason Title Insurance Co., Wesley Chapel, Fla., effective Feb. 6, 2009, was admitted as a title insurance company.

·         Medical Savings Insurance Co., Indianapolis, effective Feb. 3, 2009, the company’s certificate of authority was suspended.

·         MPP Co., Merriam, Kan., effective Jan. 23, 2009, registered as a vehicle protection product provider.

·         OwnerGUARD Corp., San Diego, effective Jan. 22, 2009, registered as a motor vehicle service contract provider.

·         ProAssurance Company of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., effective Feb. 18, 2009, changed its name from Physicians Insurance Company of Wisconsin.

·         Residential Resource Associates, Charlestown, Mass., effective Feb. 6, 2009, was registered as a purchasing group.

·         Schaller Anderson of Missouri, Phoenix, effective Jan. 23, 2009, withdrew as a third party administrator.

·         SeniorDent Dental Plan, Chicago, effective Jan. 16, 2009, was admitted as a prepaid dental company.

·         StarNet Insurance Co., Greenwich, Conn., effective Feb. 17, 2009, added fidelity and surety authority.

·         Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, Hartford, Conn., effective Jan. 2, 2009, Seaboard Surety Co. merged with and into the aforementioned company.

·         Travelers Insurance Co. (accident department), Hartford, Conn., effective Feb. 26, 2009, withdrew its certificate of authority.

·         Travelers Personal Security Insurance Co., Hartford, Conn., effective Feb. 6, 2009, was admitted with property, liability and miscellaneous authorities.

·         Triangle Insurance Co., Enid, Okla., effective Jan. 16, 2009, was admitted with property, liability, accident and health, and miscellaneous authorities.

·         UMR, Edina, Minn., effective Feb. 9, 2009, changed its name from Fiserv Health Plan Administrators.

·         Universal Underwriters Service Corp., Oakland Park, Kan., effective Jan. 23, 2009, registered as a vehicle protection product provider.

·         World Wide Warranty dba W3 Solutions, West Vancouver, British Columbia, effective Jan. 26, 2009, registered as a service contract product provider.

·         WRM American Indemnity Co., Marlborough, Mass., effective Feb. 26, 2009, changed its name from Alliance Assurance Company of America.

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