Insurance policies must be written and read carefully. There's a reason why your high school English teacher, whom you fondly referred to as Mrs. GrammarNazi, obsessed about punctuation. As Chris Amrhein explains, the presence or absence of a semi-colon can make the difference between a claim being covered or denied.
And you thought semi-colons were just for emojis. ;)
If you pay strict attention to the rules of grammar, you just might get a claim denial reversed, as the agent in this story did. Think that might win you some customer loyalty?
I've been writing a lot about how policies are not all alike. I can't stress it enough: Insurance policies are contracts, contracts are collections of words, and how those words are spelled, arranged and separated determines how they should be understood. Those who pay close attention will have a tremendous competitive advantage over those who just sell price. No one cares about the price when a claim is denied.
So, dust off your grammar books and your copies of policy forms (you do have them, right?) and have them ready next time one of your clients is denied coverage. These infinitely dull tools may just make you a hero.
Not long ago, a newsletter from an insurance agency landed in my email in box. The content in the newsletter appeared to be targeted at the agency’s personal lines clients. The article was all about coverage issues, which I think is a good thing. I’m all for trying to get insurance consumers to focus on the product they’re buying instead of how much they’re paying for it. The gecko and my gal Flo do plenty to emphasize the size of the premium. When independent insurance agents speak with their clients about coverage, they are doing the industry and the public a favor.
Unfortunately, this newsletter missed the mark. The more times I read it, the more I saw it as an example of what not to do. The author’s intentions were good; the execution was not. If your agency publishes a client newsletter, or regularly communicates with clients in some other way (which you should,) then here are some things to keep in mind:
The New York State Department of Financial Services released its latest periodic disciplinary actions report last week. Compared to some editions, this one was relatively short. A few insurers were taken to the woodshed for violating the laws pertaining to cancellation notices (balance sheets at 21st Century, AXA and MetLife are a tad lighter now than they were in April.)
The good news for agents and brokers was 1) not that many hearings and stipulations; and 2) a lot of the punishments were doled out to out-of-state producers.
Every couple of years, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (a/k/a, “The Big I”) conducts an “agency universe study.” The study gets into very specific detail about the state of independent insurance agencies across the country. It’s a way of taking the temperature of the distribution channel. It also indicates trends. For example, for many years the number of independent agencies shrank due to retirements, consolidations, mergers, and so forth. However, the number appears to have stabilized, according to the last few studies.
IIABNY decided it wanted to dig deep into the 2014 AUS to find out specifically what’s going on here in New York. The association hired a research consulting firm to pull out the New York data and compare it to the data from outside the state. The results were interesting – encouraging in some ways, challenging in others.
I read the insurance trade press every day, and if there's one story I read over and over again, it's that the U.S. insurance industry is on the verge of a cataclysmic brain drain. The workforce is getting older (I'm 53 years old, which makes me one of the younger members,) and a lot of people in the industry are seeing visions of retirement. A sizeable number of our colleagues will write their last accounts or adjust their last claims over the next several years. By most accounts, we are nowhere near ready for this.
For the last several years, IIABNY has asked New York insurance producers to rate the carriers they represent. We ask respondents to score their carriers on how well they meet these ideals:
Underwriters are empowered, responsive and consistent
Technology and documentation are easy to use
Keeps its promises, treats me, my agency and my customers with honesty and fairness
Treats our relationship as a real partnership
Field and office personnel have a relationship with me and my customers, and they are very responsive
Profit sharing and commission arrangements are fair
An independent polling firm rolls up the data (no one at IIABNY sees the individual responses) and calculates separate scores for personal and commercial lines. The results are further broken down by national, super-regional and regional carriers. The results paint an interesting picture of how carriers are performing, especially when compared with prior years.
The 200th edition of Cavalcade of Risk is online today, and I'm proud to say that the post I wrote last week about ordinance or law coverage made the cut. If you're not familiar with COR, it's a bi-weekly compendium of articles and blog posts from around the web on risk management and insurance topics. In addition to my post, this week's issue includes articles on:
The high risks of injury and even death that temp workers face on the job
The cyber-security risk problems with Healthcare.gov
Whether hospitals actually boost prices to make up for the cost of treating uninsured patients
Guaranteed issue life insurance
How to determine how much life insurance you really need
The Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate
Mental illness claims
The potential repercussions from legalizing marijuana
If any of this looks interesting to you, check out this issue. If you like what you read, share it with a colleague. Thanks, happy Wednesday, and let's keep warm out there.
Everyone knows that it's much more profitable to sell new products to existing customers than it is to get new customers, right? Watch the video below. These two are the masters of upselling. I hope you get a good laugh out of it.