Saturday, 31 August 2013

Insurance Scheme: Kwara NUJ Resolves Controversy

By: Agency Report


A verification team set up by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ ), Kwara Council, on the union’s insurance scheme has submitted its report to Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the verification team was set up to resolve the controversy that had dogged the enlistment of journalists into the scheme for which the state government had released some money.

Receiving the report on behalf of the governor, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour Matters, Mr Bisi Fakayode, commended the members of the team for diligently executing their mandate.

He also commended all parties involved in the exercise for arriving at an amicable resolution and urged the State Working Committee of the union led by Mallam Abiodun Abdulkareem to mend fences with all parties.

In his remarks, Abdulkareem thanked the state government for wading into the controversy and resolving it.

He pledged that he would continue to run an open and transparent administration that would cater for the welfare of journalists in the state.

The Chairperson of the verification team, Hajia Binta Mora, also commended the state government for its prompt intervention. (NAN)

Source: Leadership

NHIS To Cover All Nigerians - Tambuwal

By Agency Report


The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, pledged on Friday that the National Health Insurance Scheme would be extended to cover all Nigerians.

Tambuwal made the pledge at the opening of the National Executive Council meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and unveiling of the Face of Healthy Living in Nigeria in Sokoto.

``A situation where only a paltry six per cent of Nigeria's population is covered by the NHIS should no longer stand.

``Accordingly, the National Assembly would seek ways and means of extending the NHIS coverage to reach, especially the vulnerable groups within the society, in the current amendment process of the NHIS act.

``We call upon the NMA for partnership so we can be availed of the benefits of professional expertise.

``This call for informed professional input also stands for all other health-related legislations receiving attention at the National Assembly,'' the speaker said.

Tambuwal commended the leadership of the association for its ``unparalleled commitment to nation building and advancement of the health of Nigerians''.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, lauded the association for keeping faith with the ``Asaba declaration'' of near zero tolerance to the issue of strikes in the health sector.

``This was amply demonstrated when the NMA mobilised doctors and all other health workers who did not join the JOHESU strike to maintain services,'' he noted.

Gov. Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State also commended members of the association for their unreserved commitment to providing the healthcare needs of Nigerians.

``Sokoto State Government accords a top priority to the health sector as health is wealth. Everything revolves around the sector,'' Wamakko added. (NAN)

Source: Leadership

Why reporting insurance 'incidents' can cost you dearly

By Bob Howard Reporter

Motorists who call their insurer only to inquire about making or reporting a minor claim can find the information is recorded and used against them when it comes to renewing cover.

It is done using a little-known database which was set up to prevent fraud but which can be used by insurers in some cases to increase premiums paid by drivers who never make a claim but who do own up to "incidents" with their vehicle.

Even if motorists move their policy to a different insurer, the incident record - which could relate to something like a small theft or bump - follows them around.

Kevin England had his car stolen, after thieves used an 8ft (2.5m) pole to fish his car keys through his letter box.

He informed his insurer - LV - and it arranged for him to have a hire car, while it looked into the claim.

After just two days, Kevin, who lives in Surrey, was delighted when his car was recovered without damage by the police.

He asked LV whether if he paid himself for the car hire his premium would be affected by the theft, and he says he was told it would not be.

He told BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme: "They told me if I paid for my loan car then it was wasn't a claim and it wouldn't affect my premium in any way."

But at renewal, Kevin discovered that the theft of his car had been recorded as an "incident" - a report of any event which could result in a claim.

That did not affect his no claims bonus, because it was not formally listed as a claim but Kevin says his premium went up by £100.

"The lady said you had an incident, that means you're more likely to have another incident so your insurance premium has gone up," he told Money Box.

Next quote

Interpreting the word "incident" can be a problem for customers at renewal.

Continue reading the main story

"Start Quote

We would expect the insurer to make it clear the impact that could have"
End Quote Malcolm Tarling Association of British Insurers

Insurers have traditionally asked customers to state whether they have had any recent accidents, losses or claims, and say not disclosing them could invalidate a policy.

Money Box asked six major car insurers whether they would put up a premium as a result of being told of an incident, even if a claim was not proceeded with and they did not pay out any money.

Both esure and Admiral said it was likely to affect the driver's next insurance quote.

LV -Kevin's insurer - admits it used to use incidents as a rating factor, and so it says Kevin's renewal premium may have gone up as a result.

But the company says it has recently changed its system so this would not happen when premiums are now calculated.

Aviva said it would not, whilst AXA and Direct Line said it would depend on the circumstances.

Data access request

And not only does your insurer have a list of incidents to interpret as they wish, they are also listed on a database shared by 60 insurance companies called CUE.

Members of the public who wish to access it have to pay £10 and put in a data access request.

Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers says his members have good reason for recording incidents: "If you've had a couple of break-ins to your car for which you don't wish to claim, this may indicate that the crime risk is getting worse in your area and that is something that insurers have to take into account."

However, he admitted his members should warn customers of the possible consequences of reporting incidents.

"When you report a loss to your insurer and you say at this stage I don't want to claim, then we would expect the insurer to make it clear the impact that could have," he said.

`Source: BBC News

Better times for insurers as profit surge

By Gao Changxin
Ping An Insurance (Group) Co of China Ltd, the nation's second-largest insurer, reported a 28.3 percent rise in first-half profit to 17.9 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) on Friday - part of a string of encouraging results for the sector.

Insurers benefited from the performance of the nation's equity market, which significantly increased their investment returns in the first half.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index had a short bull run early in 2013, and it jumped about 20 percent by the end of January from a December low.

That positive period for stocks was enough to boost insurers' performances.

Ping An, which also has operations in banking and wealth management, joined its peers to achieve surging investment returns. First-half investment income almost doubled to 26.44 billion yuan.

Net investment income, mainly comprised of interest and dividends, increased 24 percent to 25.97 billion yuan.

Impairment losses from investments shrank 73 percent to 1.05 billion yuan, following a doubling last year. That translates into a yield of 4.9 percent, up 1.2 percentage points from 3.7 percent in the first half of last year.

In the same period, China Life Insurance (Group) Co, China's biggest insurer, saw its investment yield increase 2.13 percentage points to 4.96 percent.

Yields at China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co Ltd and New China Life Insurance Co Ltd increased 0.9 and 0.8 percentage point to 4.8 and 4.3 percent, respectively

The higher investment yields also reflected new rules that were in effect since the end of last year, which gave insurers more freedom in choosing asset classes when investing client money.

Chief Investment Officer Timothy Chan said Ping An looks for low-priced blue-chips that pay "decent" dividends. Some smaller companies, he said, aren't favorable in terms of valuation at the moment.

A total of 9.4 percent of Ping An's 1.15 trillion yuan in insurance funds is invested in equities, with 83.6 percent in fixed-income products, he said.

Chan said that the investment structure will remain stable for the rest of the year.

The Shenzhen-based company said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Friday that its new business value, a gauge for the profitability of new life policies sold, rose 14.2 percent.

China Life saw its profit jump 68 percent from a year earlier in the first six months on higher investment income and lower impairment losses.

China Pacific Insurance's net income more than doubled to 5.46 billion yuan.

Ping An stock rose 0.93 percent to HK$54.35 ($7) in Hong Kong on Friday, trimming this year's decline to 16 percent.

Source: China Daily

Friday, 30 August 2013

Pension fund’s expensive litigation

By David Gleason

THERE are about 3,500 private sector pension funds in South Africa. Between them, they care for the pension savings of about 8-million members and amount, very approximately, to R2-trillion (excluding government pension funds). It may sound a dull sector but, believe me, it’s very big, potentially powerful, too often mismanaged, and it can elicit passionate emotions.

So, when things go wrong, they invite all manner of additional problems. One of these is the lengthy and expensive argument that’s been going on between the Standard Bank and attorney Tony Mostert, curator of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union’s (Saccawu) national provident fund.

He was appointed curator in 2002 so he’s had 11 years at its helm. You’d think that by now he’d have the fund sorted out.

No chance of that.

Instead, he instigated an action in 2005 against WipCapital (an arm of black women’s empowerment company WipHold), Standard Bank, its subsidiary SCMB Securities, and the union’s own administrative services company. In what has become all too commonplace in South Africa’s legal system, that case still has a last hurdle to clear.

According to the latest issue of Today’s Trustee, WipCapital was mandated by the trustees of Saccawu’s pension fund to protect the fund’s share portfolio. WipCapital trotted off to Standard. The deal agreed was that Standard would put a floor under the fund: if the value of the portfolio fell below a certain price, the fund could oblige the bank to buy the shares at the floor price. In other words, this was a put option. The converse of the deal was an agreed ceiling. If the value of the shares exceeded the ceiling, Standard could buy them at the ceiling price: a call option.

Then Standard instituted a hedge to protect itself. Having taken custody of the shares, the bank began trading them in July 2002. Mostert’s appointment as curator took effect in September 2002. He was provided with full details, including those of the hedging strategy; Standard kept him fully informed monthly of the portfolio valuation.

In July 2005, Mostert issued summons. He alleged the 2002 agreement was void because it wasn’t signed by three trustees, as per fund rules. He wants all the shares returned plus dividends back to 2002. Standard said the agreement was perfectly valid because the trustees had given the fund’s principal officer the necessary authority. In any event, it said the agreement was voidable (could be cancelled) but wasn’t void because no effort was made to cancel it. By allowing it to run, Mostert was party to it.

The matter went to arbitration and the single arbitrator, former Supreme Court of Appeal judge Louis Harms, found for Mostert. Standard took the matter to an appeal tribunal (retired judges Howie, Smalberger and Nienaber). They ruled against the arbitrator and sent the matter back to him.

He reconsidered and dismissed all claims against the bank except the claim for 2.9-million MTN shares. This is, says Today’s Trustee, inexplicable. I agree. The tribunal found that the agreement between the parties was indeed voidable but had not been voided, which is why it sent the matter back to the arbitrator.

Unsurprisingly, Standard is going back to the tribunal, which will meet in November.

How much is all this costing? The guess is R15m in legal fees. If Standard loses in November it will cost it somewhere in the region of R500m. If Mostert loses, he will send the charges through to the fund. The members will pay.

Once again, the Financial Services Board (FSB) is involved. It recommends curator appointments to the courts; almost invariably, to my knowledge, the courts go along with it. So, though the FSB may claim it doesn’t appoint curators, that’s just sophistry.

The big question remains: why has Tony Mostert been so favoured? He is curator, I understand, of seven pension funds, and the fees he has earned must make even Croesus envious. In a profession overflowing with well-qualified practitioners, are there really so few capable of restoring pension funds to health?


I WAS taken aback the other day to discover that environmental impact assessments will not, in effect, be necessary for wind farms and for solar photovoltaic energy systems. It seems the Department of Environmental Affairs has asked the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to identify those geographical areas best suited for wind and solar photovoltaic energy projects.

Once approved, these renewable energy development zones will be developed without environmental authorisation (subject to some conditions). The chances are probably good that future developments will be undertaken without public comment and, frankly, there isn’t much certainty about how any of this is going to work.

My attention to this was stimulated by a little known organisation called Save the Eagles International, which is concerned about the apparent failure to make adequate provision for buffer zones.

Many otherwise critical natural areas will be quite unprotected — nature reserves, marine protected areas, protected environments, world heritage sites and, if you can believe it, national parks.

My pet hate in this are those monstrous gargoyles called wind turbines. They are 140m tall, have a sweep area the size of a rugby field, a generator that weighs 70 tonnes, and three 7-ton rotors flying around with a speed at their tips of 300km an hour. Innocent birds going from A to B don’t stand a chance.

What really gets me about the foolishness and considerable expense involved is that neither wind turbines nor solar photovoltaics can be relied upon for base energy.

If the wind doesn’t blow that gargoyle is useless.

If the sun doesn’t shine, then whatever has been saved in batteries will be used pretty quickly.

All this ignores the huge opportunities being presented in the form of Mozambican gas, available in such quantities that many generations won’t have to worry about adequate supplies. This doesn’t take account of what might be available off this country’s western seaboard, or of the Karoo’s shale gas.

Why are we so intent on wasting precious effort and money?

Source: BusinessDay

Conferences on responsible investment practice in the Government pension fund global

The Ministry of Finance has asked the Strategy Council for the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) to write a report on the strategy for responsible investment. The report will be presented autumn 2013. The Strategy Council has recently organised two conferences on responsible investments as part of this work. Two new publications summarises the dialogue with experts and stakeholders at these conferences.
The US$ 760 billion Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) is now one of the largest Funds in the world. The Norwegian Ministry of Finance earlier this year asked the Fund's Strategy Council to review its approach to responsible investment.
Mr Sigbjørn Johnsen, the Norwegian Minister of Finance, said:
    "Independent, academic discussions are very useful in our work to develop the management of the GPFG. It helps us contribute transparency and debate to important decision making, and supports us in our goal of wanting an open process concerning the work of the Strategy Council towards their report on GPFG's strategy for responsible investments."
As part of this initiative, the Strategy Council organised two open meetings. Summaries of the discussions at these gatherings have just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Investment Management.

Two meetings

The objective of the Strategy Council was to bring together experts to discuss the purposes and strategies for responsible investment, and to develop a framework connecting the investment decisions of larger asset owners with economic, social and governance issues. The two events – one held at Cambridge Judge Business School, the other at BI Norwegian Business School – were conducted with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.
Professor Elroy Dimson, Chairman of the Strategy Council, said:
    "We were joined by many experts on responsible investing. The aim was to deepen the Council's awareness of current research and experience, and to provide an opportunity to hear and discuss perspectives on investor responsibility. This dialogue has underpinned our work on the Fund's strategy for responsible investments."
The first meeting was the Responsible Investing Summit, organised by the Centre for Endowment Asset Management at Cambridge Judge Business School on 31 May 2013. TheSummit at Cambridge University brought together leading academics from around the world, along with asset owners and managers and other international experts. Their mission was to debate the purposes and outcomes of responsible investing strategies.
The second meeting was the Responsible Investment Conference, held at the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo on 20 June 2013. The Conference provided a platform for NGOs and other stakeholders to provide inputs and discuss priorities for responsible investing. There were lively exchanges of views with stakeholders on the environmental, social, and governance priorities for the Fund.
The Ministry of Finance's State Secretary, Ms Hilde Singsaas, summed up the process succinctly:
Source: / Norway Today 

Premium Increases Under Obamacare Are Exaggerated, Rand Says

By Drew Armstrong and Alex Wayne

Predictions of sharp increases in health-insurance premiums for people getting coverage under the U.S. Affordable Care Act have been overstated and many states will see little to no change, researchers at Rand Corp. found.

Out-of-pocket premiums for most individuals who buy health plans through new insurance exchanges will decline because of federal subsidies, the Santa Monica, California-based nonprofit research group said today in a report. The researchers looked at insurance markets in 10 states to project costs as core parts of the 2010 health law kick in next year.

"Rates for policies in the individual market are likely to vary from state to state, with some experiencing increases and some experiencing decreases in cost," Christine Eibner, a Rand senior economist and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. "But our analysis found no widespread trend toward sharply higher prices in the individual market."

Starting Oct. 1, people without health insurance may sign up for coverage through online insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, in each state. The health law requires that most Americans obtain insurance by next year or pay a fine. About 7 million people are expected to gain coverage through the exchanges next year, the Congressional Budget Office has said.

The Rand study was conducted on behalf of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and looked at insurance rates in Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

Rate Shock

Republican state officials in Ohio, Indiana and Georgia have warned of "rate shock" next year for young, healthy people who previously could buy inexpensive insurance plans. The Rand study estimated premiums in 2016 without examining actual 2014 rates that have been released for some states, including Ohio, Eibner said in an interview.

"Some people buy more generous coverage because of the law and that will lead to increased costs," said Eibner, who works at Rand’s office in Arlington, Virginia. "In my mind, that’s not the same as rate shock because the person will be getting a better plan."

The health-care law prohibits insurers from charging sick people more than healthy people or denying them coverage, and limits what companies can charge older people relative to the young. The result is that young, healthy people are expected to generally see higher premiums while older and sicker people see decreases, or are able to obtain coverage they previously wouldn’t have been offered.

Premium Discounts

Government subsidies will be available to offset higher premiums, and the Rand study said more than 60 percent of people who shop for exchange plans will get a discount.

In half the states Rand studied, and for the U.S. as a whole, the health-care law will cause no statistically significant change in premiums, the researchers said. There may be premium increases of as much as 43 percent before subsidies in Minnesota, North Dakota and Ohio, Rand estimated.

In Louisiana and New Mexico, premiums may decline as younger, healthier people are drawn into insurance markets and the Affordable Care Act limits the amount of premium revenue insurers can keep for their costs and profits, Rand said.

The percentage of the U.S. population that will remain uninsured, Rand said, will fall to 8.2 percent by 2016, compared with 19.6 percent if the law didn’t exist.


US finance institute seeks partnership with NAICOM

Chuks Udo Okonta


The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the New York Institute of Finance, United States Patrick Fitzgerald and the Registrar of the Institute, Currie Marcia, yesterday, paid a working visit to the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) Headquarters in Abuja to seek possible areas of collaborations and cooperation.  

The team who were accompanied on the visit by the immediate past President of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, Nigeria, Mike Itegboje, were welcomed by the Deputy Commissioner, Finance and Administration of the Commission George Onekhena.

Fitzgerald told the NAICOM team that they were in the Commission to seek collaborations with the commission in the areas of training and manpower development. According to him, students of the Institute turn out better informed, educated and connected at the end of each programme.

He noted that because participants in the Institute's training programmes come from diverse backgrounds, it gives them the opportunity to consummate cross-border relationships and contacts that are in most cases mutually beneficial to both the participants and their respective organisations.  

He stressed that the Commission will benefit immensely from the institute's hands-on/practical approach to learning, adding that the importance of insurance is growing at a great speed across the globe and thought Nigeria could take advantage of the institute's learning programmes to remain at the same level like its contemporaries in other jurisdictions.  

Onekhena, who briefed the visitors of the developments in the Commission and the industry, said the Commission is committed to training and development of its manpower as it is key to effective supervision of the insurance industry and alignment with international best practices.

He said the Commission is pleased to hear that the institute is focusing on Africa and assured the team of NAICOM's readiness to collaborate with the institute.  

He said: “The Commission will be interested in what kind of services you are ready to offer and how such services would impact positively on our operations. Of course we have needs to equip our staff with a lot of skills, especially in the areas of financial analysis which is very key to us and Risk Management. The learning needs in these areas are very huge so, we shall need as much assistance we could get."  

The New York Institute of Finance is the training arm/division of the New York Stock Exchange in the United States of America.


Fitch: Global reinsurance outlook remains stable

By Rebecca Zuill

Fitch Ratings have forecast that insurance pricing will decline, while their outlook for global reinsurance sector ratings is stable. The agency expect to affirm most of their current reinsurance ratings in 2014.

Capital strength and continued profitability are the reasons for their confidence in the reinsurance sector. "In the absence of a major catastrophe, a persistent, low-yielding investment environment and falling prices are the key factors that could lead to a deterioration of the sector’s credit profile," they stated.

"In order to trigger a sector outlook revision from stable to negative, a single loss event of $60bn, coupled with a sudden spike in interest rates of 300bp or more and an inability for reinsurers to replenish lost capital would be necessary.

"This would likely result in negative rating actions." Fitch said they considers such a combination to be rare.

"The investment environment is likely to provide the greatest challenge to the reinsurance sector in 2014," says Martyn Street, co-head of Reinsurance at Fitch. "We expect continued low interest rates, which will make it more challenging for reinsurers to achieve similar 2014 profitability to that forecast for 2013."

Fitch stated they expect broader softening of prices at the key January 1 2014 renewal and beyond, assuming no significant loss events take place, due to surplus underwriting capacity.

While premium growth is likely to continue into 2014, in the absence of a major loss event, prices are expected to fall.

"There is likely to be a disparity in overall pricing movements, but soft market conditions are likely to broaden to more product classes," says Brian Schneider, co-head of Reinsurance at Fitch. "While Fitch expects prices to remain adequate across major classes, underwriting discipline will be tested.

"We also expect continued competition between traditional and alternative reinsurance."

Fitch expects reserves to develop favourably overall, but the level of surplus is expected to decline somewhat, adding pressure to run-rate profitability.

Source: The Royal Gazetteonline


Insurance sector has little to fear from robot cars just yet

By Glen Mollink

THE machines are coming. From the computers that process our food to the robots that build our technology, automation has now infiltrated almost every part of our lives in some form or another.

And now it appears that one of the final bastions of individualism — the motor vehicle — is about to succumb to the convenience and economic value that machines can bring to our lives.

Google recently completed the first phase of testing for its new self-drive car, and initial reports suggest that the vehicle successfully drove 480,000km without any computer-controlled accidents.

Does this herald a new era for vehicles, their manufacturers and their owners, one that is devoid of speeding, dangerous driving and, ultimately, accidents? And if so, what does a future with minimal accidents mean for insurers specialising in crash damage?

Driverless cars are certainly the hot topic in the motoring industry at the moment. Google is testing vehicles in several US states, while other organisations, such as Robot Car are testing similar systems across Europe.

So successful have the initial tests been that Google is reportedly talking to Tesla Motors about incorporating the technology in the company’s range of electric cars.

However, there are signs that a backlash has already begun.

Experts in the US have already warned that the first accident has the potential to shut down the driverless project for good.

Elsewhere, US lawmakers are holding talks this month to examine the risks, issues, benefits and effects that driverless cars may have in the offing for the country.

But should insurers be worried too?

The short answer is no.

Technology has been creeping into the automotive industry for many years. All Google’s efforts have done is to act as a tipping point for manufacturers, which are now racing to fill their models with ever-more advanced driver-assist functions.

So confident are car makers that some, such as Volvo, are predicting that they will be able to eliminate crashes in their cars completely by 2020.

Does this mean that if a vehicle crashes with this manufacturer guarantee behind it, the car maker will be the liable party, as the product is essentially not fit for purpose?

Innovations at the heart of many safety improvements — such as crash monitoring and smart cruise control — are incremental when compared to driverless cars.

Automated vehicles are a complete overhaul of the human-car relationship, where the decision-making process is removed from the driver and placed in the hands of a robot.

Not only will cars need to be fundamentally redesigned from the engine up, the entire road infrastructure will also need to be upgraded to cope with the new technology.

Our data show that the average age of a repaired car is about eight years.

This suggests that even if the technology was perfected and rolled out commercially today, there would be a significant period of lag time before driverless cars became commercially popular.

Google aims to have its technology available by 2018, but considering its automated cars are currently fitted with hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and technology, it will be some time before car makers can find a financially viable way to make the concept affordable.

There is also the emotional side of car ownership to consider. People aspire to own cars now, and many use vehicles purely for the thrill of driving. Will car ownership be something we continue to aspire to if cars become automated, or will driving become a purely leisure pursuit?

I would argue that driverless technology is far more likely to replace taxis, trains, buses and so on. In fact, many airports and transit systems across the world already feature autonomous monorail options for ferrying passengers around.

Controlled environments such as industrial parks and holiday resorts are likely to be early adopters. It is more than likely this service sector of vehicles will act as a proving ground for the technology long before driverless cars are ever seen on every driveway.

There are plenty of other reasons why driverless technology should not present too much of a threat to insurers for the foreseeable future, ranging from complex regulation and licensing issues, to technology maturation and testing, and, above all, consumer confidence.

Then there is the actual cost of accidents on a road network populated by driverless cars. While their frequency may diminish, it is likely that the cost of repairing cars like these packed full of cutting-edge technology, will rocket.

In fact, it will be many, many years before there is enough data to force premiums down, meaning that, in the medium term, insurers should benefit from fewer claims.

While it is safe to assume that driverless cars are not going to affect insurers for a long time, it is prudent to acknowledge that the technology exists and will continue its slow seep into the industry.

So what will a world filled with automated vehicles look like, and what kinds of trends can we expect to see developing?

The first and most obvious trend is the liable party in a driverless car crash.

Presumably a very high percentage of future accidents will be caused by human error, perhaps meaning that motor insurance will become profitable. Added to this is an interesting side effect from the technology, namely that accidents are likely to happen at lower speeds as the machine is able to execute its braking decisions far quicker than any human can.

This will result in less severe injuries, fewer shunts and fewer whiplash claims.

In fact, this trend already exists to some extent with the improved drive-assistance technology now common in many of the newest generation of vehicles.

Will we see the emergence of a two-tier policy system, with a basic level to cover the vehicle and then a premium to cover humans when they choose to actually drive?

This would potentially remove the need for annualised premiums and hasten the industry towards a model that is based more on pay-as-you-go.

Young drivers are currently paying more for insurance than before to buy a new vehicle, in most cases. Driverless cars will arguably remove this discrepancy as automation democratises vehicle driving, and we may see the cost of cars relative to insurance starting to rise again after having dipped for the past decade.

The future-ready insurer should consider all of the above trends and more as driverless technology develops.

How can these developments be anticipated and applied, no matter how successful driverless technology becomes?

Techniques such as bundling risks, breaking down premiums to associate with different risks, and self-serve, pay-as-you-go models are all potential ways for insurers to start diversifying their operations now rather than waiting for automated cars to go mainstream.

What will be key is developing the flexibility and agility to adopt to whatever the future holds, rather than focusing on a specific future model.

Source: BusinessDay

Former Louisiana Deputy Insurance Commissioner Sentenced

A former deputy commissioner at the Louisiana Department of Insurance has received a prison sentence for racketeering, according to Justice Department officials.

Acting United States Attorney J. Walter Green in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana announced that Richard L. Chambers, Sr., 68, of LaPlace, La, was sentenced after having pled guilty to racketeering based on his corrupt activity while serving as deputy insurance commissioner.

Chambers was sentenced 30 months imprisonment, 1 year of supervised release following imprisonment, a fine of $10,500, and forfeiture of $11,341 as part of the federal investigation dubbed Operation Blighted Officials.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Chambers was involved in two corrupt schemes in 2009 and 2010 while serving as deputy commissioner.

In the first, Chambers used his official position to steer insurance business from municipalities and other entities to an insurance agent in exchange for a split of the commissions, federal officials said. He created the scheme and estimated that it would generate between $200,000 and $4,000,000 in commissions.

In the second scheme, Chambers took $5,000 in cash bribes to use his official position to fraudulently secure $500,000 in private investor funding for a conceptual trash can cleaning product, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This matter is part of Operation Blighted Officials, a long-running public corruption investigation conducted primarily by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson who serves as the senior deputy chief of the criminal division.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office




How do interest rates affect my life insurance premium?

Harry Gross

DEAR HARRY: I am 36, married with two daughters, in a very good job, with no debts other than a manageable mortgage and car payment. I have been looking for insurance to cover me until both girls finish their college educations. That will be about 17 years from now. I am looking for a term life insurance to cover me for 20 years. The broker I'm speaking with gave me quotes that are higher than what he gave me last year . . . even from the same companies. He said that this has happened to all insurance premiums because of low interest rates. I don't see the connection, but the rates are higher everywhere. I was under the impression that rates have been getting lower because people are living longer. What's the scoop here, Harry?

What Harry says: In life insurance, money has to be held by the company to cover the period between the receipt of the premium and the death of the person insured (if it occurs). This "float" must be invested by the company. If the interest rate on bonds goes down, less money is earned, and the shortage has to be made up by higher premiums. Sure, life expectancy increases will work to reduce premiums, but recently they have not been enough to make up the income shortage. Incidentally, get at least two quotes, because rates can vary by almost 50 percent among good companies. And my standard of company safety: Make sure the company you choose writes the policy you choose on New York residents.

Source: Daily News


US court withdraws ruling in BP insurance dispute

A federal appeals court reversed course Thursday on its earlier ruling favoring BP in a multimillion-dollar insurance dispute, handing at least a temporary setback to the energy giant as it seeks to defray some of the enormous costs associated with the huge 2010 Gulf oil spill.

BP has argued that it is entitled to a portion of $750 million in coverage from a drilling contractor's insurance policies to help the London-based multinational help pay pollution-related costs following the explosion, fire and spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP leased the drilling rig that exploded from Transocean Ltd. and required by contract that the Swiss-based drilling company maintain minimum insurance coverage for BP's benefit. Transocean's policy with Ranger Insurance Ltd. provided at least $50 million in coverage, while its policies with several "excess liability" insurers added at least another $700 million in coverage.

BP contends it is entitled to coverage under those Transocean policies as an "additional insured" party, but U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected the company's interpretation of the policy language in a November 2010 ruling. Then the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reversed Barbier's ruling on March 1 in a decision favoring BP.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the same New Orleans based appeals court said the outcome of the dispute isn't clear and it would seek answers from the Texas Supreme Court to two questions that could help the federal appeals court ultimately decide the case.

For now, Barbier's ruling against BP stands.

"We continue to believe that the 5th Circuit got it right in its previous unanimous opinion and think that result will be confirmed," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement Thursday.

The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon triggered an explosion that killed 11 workers and left millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf, a disaster that already has cost BP billions of dollars in cleanup expenses and other costs. The insurance dispute is one of several spill-related appeals to wind up in the 5th Circuit.

Source: Associated Press


Free insurance for orphans in quake-hit province

More than 50,000 orphans in earthquake-hit Sichuan province in Southwest China received health insurance contracts on Friday as a gift for the new school term.

Those insured include 406 orphans left by the 7.0-magnitude quake that struck Lushan county in April. They are covered by a joint insurance program provided by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Children Insurance Foundation (CCIF).

Each insured child is covered for 100,000 yuan ($16,340) at a premium of 50 yuan a year to cover the costs of treating 12 critical illnesses, including malignant tumors and conditions requiring organ or stem cell transplants, said Dr Heidi Hu, CCIF's managing director.

An insurance fund created through donations will be accessible for one year starting on September 1, said Hu.

"It's the fourth year we are donating such insurance to registered orphans in Sichuan. Some of the new beneficiaries just lost their parents in the Lushan earthquake. We'd like to help them through the adversity, and I hope more people can join us," she said.

The foundation launched the program in cooperation with the ministry in 2009 to give free insurance to 712,000 orphans. Insurance contracts have also been donated to children whose families have financial difficulties.

Over the past four years, it has provided about 800,000 insurance contracts to children in 20 of the country's provinces and regions.

Insured children will be notified about their coverage by local civil affairs departments, which will act on behalf of the CCIF in distributing specially designed insurance cards, according to the doctor.

Hu said that the number of small online donations has risen this year. In previous years money was mainly donated by large enterprises.

"Small donations, big love. That's the way to keep our project sustainable," she said.

Source: ChinaDaily


Insecurity raises aircraft insurance to over N20bn annually

Chinedu Eze

Terror threat, porous airports and high accident ratio have made Nigeria a volatile country and upped the premium for aircraft insurance, which is estimated to cost operating airlines over N20 billion annually.

The consequence of this is that lessors are reluctant to lease aircraft to Nigerian airlines, aircraft maintenance costs more, and loans from international financiers are obtained at higher interest rates.

Locally the high cost of insurance, high cost of aviation fuel and high charges by aviation agencies are passed to passengers and this explains why fares are high, whereby a one-hour flight, which cost about $80 (N13,000) costs as much as $200 (N32,000) on average in domestic travels.

A senior executive of a Nigerian airline said what increases insurance premium in Nigeria is mainly the operating environment, poor infrastructure, equipment on ground, operating procedures and the frequency of air accidents in the country.

A major airline disclosed that it pays more than 70 per cent higher insurance premium than what another airline operating in another country, especially in Europe or the US, pays for the same aircraft type manufactured in the same year and by the same company.

"Insurance graduates its risk assessment of the countries as high risk, medium risk and low risk and what we pay on insurance is higher than what is paid in other parts of the world and once you bring an aircraft into Nigeria its second hand value drops immediately because they believe that the aircraft is flying in the jungle where there is no maintenance facility," the official said.

A renowned aviation lawyer told THISDAY that he was aware of two aircraft manufactured at the same tame with very close serial numbers and sold to the same airline.

"When the airline later sold the two aircraft, one was sold in Europe while the other was sold to a Nigerian airline. The insurance of the aircraft sold to the Nigerian airline was 10 times more than the aircraft that was sold to a European airline. The reason is because Nigeria is termed a high risk country and the recent incident of stowaway and rate of accident keep on increasing the premium for Nigerian airlines."

Industry analyst and former head of communication of Virgin Nigeria, Francis Ayigbe, said when an airline has higher number of aircraft the insurance tends to be low, noting that when Virgin Nigeria was under Virgin Atlantic the cost of insurance of the six aircraft in its fleet was $300,000 but this rose to $1.5 million when the airline ceased to be a subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic.

He also identified the factors responsible for high cost of insurance for Nigeria airlines which include aggregate number of accidents in the country in 10 years; conflicting government policies; weak or non-existence of the legal system in the country (jurisdiction); managerial and operational competence of the airline; security challenges and operational environment of the airports.

It is believed that improved security at the airports, consistent regulation, less terror threat and infrequent rate of accidents would reduce aircraft insurance premium in Nigeria.

Source: Thisday

PenCom transfers N7bn NSITF fund to workers’ accounts

By Nike Popoola

The National Pension Commission has transferred a total of N7bn pension contributions of workers under the defunct Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund to the Retirement Savings Accounts of the contributors in line with the requirements of the Contributory Pension Scheme.

According to figures made available to our correspondent on Thursday, the N7bn has been transferred into 92,655 RSAs.

PenCom said it recently received 3,752 applications from Trustfund for the transfer of N242.44m to the respective RSAs of the contributors.

The commission said it had earlier reviewed and approved the transfer of N241.62m to the RSAs of 3,743 applicants.

"This brought the total amount and contributors for whom NSITF contributions were remitted to their RSAs to N7bn and 92,655, respectively," it noted

PenCom said the remaining applications were rejected due to incomplete documentation, zero balance or duplicated applications.

It said that in order to fast-track the transfer of the NSITF contributions into the RSAs of the contributors, PenCom, in conjunction with Trustfund, initiated the matching of the RSAs records with that in the NSITF database.

The commission said in furtherance of the matching of the records, the guidelines on the transfer of NSITF contributions were further amended to accommodate this new activity.

Under the old pension scheme, the National Provident Fund was established by an Act of Parliament in 1961 to regulate private sector pension schemes in the country. It ensured monthly contributions from the basic salaries of workers and their employers’ contributions.

The NPF was later converted to a limited social insurance scheme and administered by the NSITF from 1993.

However, through the Pension Act of 1979 and the activities of the NSITF, pensioners were subjected to difficulties as a result of the non-payment of their pensions.

This scheme was not funded, which led to mounting pension liabilities, and made it to become unsustainable.

The development led to the repeal of the 1979 Act and subsequent amendment of the NSITF Act of 1993.

The Pension Reform Act 2004 was promulgated and it established a contributory scheme for the payment of retirement benefits of employees in the public service of the federation, the Federal Capital Territory and the private sector.

The President, Pension Fund Operators of Nigeria, Mr. Dave Uduanu, said that the CPS had been recording some achievements.

He said that the PRA 2004 was also being reviewed.

According to him, the PFAs are jointly working to ensure that they improve the pension industry for the benefit of the pensioners.

He said the operators were looking at having a shared services platform for the industry in order to reduce areas of duplication.

NAICOM, GIZ, Munich Re Foundation, others stage Microinsurance confab

Chuks Udo Okonta


The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) and the Munich Re Foundation in partnership with the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) and the Microinsurance Network, will be organising an international Microinsurance Conference to unlock the over N60 billion untapped business opportunities.


According to NAICOM the conference is scheduled to hold on September 10 -11, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. It noted that the event will be an incubator of new ideas where the key stakeholders of the Nigerian insurance sector and related parties discuss approaches for promotion and practical implementation of microinsurance.


The commission noted that sessions will be designed to focus on future developments and how issues, lessons learnt and international best practices can be adapted for Nigeria, adding that the conference will provide: An opportunity for policy makers, private sector innovators, representatives from civil society and technical assistance providers to network with their peers, discuss their experience, exchange knowledge from good practices and discuss innovative approaches to promote microinsurance in Nigeria.


It said the confab will be a market place to showcase innovative ideas, tools, expertise and initiatives to support development of the Nigerian insurance sector and to match demand and supply; and presentations of activities and achievements in the development of microinsurance in Nigeria and around the globe.

Managing Director Riskguard-Africa Nigeria Limited Yemi Soladoye, said the embrace of microinsurance and retail market would trigger a revolution in the industry, adding that some few companies that have keyed into the system are presently doing very well.

He urged insurers to develop products that suit the need of the public, adding that any product that does not take default into consideration would fail. He said most insurers sell products and not solution.

He noted that research has revealed that Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) in the country presently have over 20 million customers, stressing that the customers are good prospects for microinsurance.

He said the problem of insurance is that most people lack education on how it operates, adding that it is worrisome that most operators recycle products developed by their counterparts.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Michigan Suspends Licenses of 3 Agencies, four Agents

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) has suspended the licenses of three LA Insurance Agencies for violations of the Michigan Insurance Code.

In addition, four individuals selling insurance at the agencies named in the order also had their agent licenses suspended, the DIFS announced.

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The three agencies named in the order were: LA Insurance Agency # 179 on M21 in Owosso; LA Insurance Agency # 100 on Washtenaw Ave. in Ypsilanti; and LA Insurance Agency # 117 on Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti.

The agents whose licenses have been suspended are Jennifer J. Essak, Laurance Essak, Ronnie K. Kassab and Brandon Kiminaia, according to the DIFS.

DIFS said its investigation found that insurance policies were sold by unlicensed or un-appointed agents representing LA Insurance. It also found that additional "coverages" were added to policies without consumers’ knowledge or consent.

The agents and agencies are prevented from selling insurance in Michigan until a hearing is held.

Progressive Michigan Insurance Company and Integon National Insurance Company are among those companies named in the DIFS order as being affected by the actions of the agents/agencies.

The order states that the agents/agencies also "misrepresented Nation Safe Drivers Motor Club memberships to insurance customers in order to generate a profit. NSD memberships provided roadside assistance and tow services for a fee."

Out of 110 customers interviewed as part of the DIFS investigation, only two were fully aware that they had signed an application for NSD membership or had paid for such memberships, the order states.

Source: Michigan DIFS


101 Sales, Marketing Ideas for Agencies

Insurance Journal has listened to readers, spoken with experts, combed through columns and articles and even searched outside insurance circles to find the best sales and marketing tips for independent agencies today. Here are 101 ideas, in no particular order.
1 – Know Your Client
Be alert to details that matter to the client and recognize what makes every encounter with each client unique. Our brand promise, "Because You’re Different," hinges on employees knowing their distinctive clients and sustaining a positive relationship. Tell your client things you are doing for them that they might not know about and make a point to ask them questions about their business. – Jackie Donnelly, Heffernan Insurance Brokers

2 – Link Up
Ask key commercial clients for their permission to include a link to their websites on your agency’s website. You can bet they will give you their OK and will probably appreciate your loyalty to them, which should help you bond with a long-term client. – Phil Tuccy, Insurance Group Consulting LLC

3 – Share Problems
Make the customer’s problem your problem. – Scott Mikkelsen, Mikkelsen, Kelly, & Kipp Insurance

4 – Mobile Friendly
Make your insurance website mobile-friendly so your customers on-the-go can easily access your information if they need it. – Laird Rixford, Insurance Technologies Corp.

5 – Customer’s Shoes
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think: "If I were them, what questions would I ask?" – Scott Mikkelsen, Mikkelsen, Kelly, & Kipp Insurance

6 – Referral Partnerships
Enter into a mutually beneficial agreement with a referral partner (i.e., accountant, car dealership) with the objective of sending each other hot leads. I gain a lot of new business using this approach. – Eric Lanzillotta, CBIA Insurance Agency Inc.

7 – Foot in the Door
For commercial insurance: Drop off a cookie in the shape of a foot to a prospective insured. The cookie should have a note attached that says, "Trying to get my foot in the door." – Trisha Wright, The Hartford.

8 – Checklists
Use coverage and exposure checklists to increase sales. By doing the job of a professional insurance agent, you will also create a great reputation for yourself. – Chris Burand, Burand & Associates LLC

9 – Make Friends
Stop pushing product and price. Make friends and they will become your best clients. – Al Diamond, Agency Consulting Group Inc.

10 – Thank You
Send a handwritten thank you card to clients when they send you referrals and say the following, "The sincerest form of flattery to my agency is in a referral from you, our client. Thank you so much for your vote of confidence and we will take special care of your referral." Then enclose two more of your business cards. – Catherine Oak, Oak & Associates

11 – Measurements
Measure customer sentiment with social media – not just negative, but positive, too. If your customers are singing you praises, use that to tell more people about your great customer service and get some real marketing mileage out of it. – Don Wolff, Astute Solutions

12 – Umbrellas
Sell increased limits on umbrella policies. Invite personal and small commercial lines umbrella insureds to increase their policy limits beyond $1 million. Many CSRs and producers write a small umbrella once – and then forget to suggest adding another million, or more, at renewal time. – Alan Shulman,

13 – Promote Your Website
Promote your website on all of your marketing. This could include business cards, brochures, emails and social media. Basically, anywhere you have your agency logo, your URL should be there, too. – Laird Rixford, Insurance Technologies Corp.

14 – Turn to Your State Association
If you have an agency challenge, chances are that someone else has already faced it – and solved it. Turn to your state agents’ association for a broad range of solutions to problems you face as an agent or agency principal. – Sharon Emek, Work At Home Vintage Employees (WAHVE)

15 – Screen Share
It’s not always possible to get an in-person appointment. Using easy-to-use screenshare technology such as is a good way to share a presentation, or go through your website while you’ve got the prospect or client on the phone. – Julie Tinney, Insurance Journal

16 – Virtual Checks
Use remote deposit to electronically deposit checks without leaving the office. Remote deposit captures images of both sides of checks, analyzes them for image quality and authenticity, and automatically balances deposits before submission. That makes the bank available 24/7, saves time and money, and boosts security. Remote deposit does not require application software, and uses a scanner (typically provided by the bank) as well as a PC with an Internet connection. – Mary Grazen, InsurBanc, a division of Connecticut Community Bank N.A.

17 – Great Customer Service
It’s not a secret tactic, but it is the most effective one. When our agents provide customers with outstanding service, they show their appreciation by giving us referrals. – Trident Insurance Agency

18 – Give Them Something
Never leave your client or prospect empty-handed. Give them something useful and informative that will make them think of you every time they see it and use it. – Christopher J. Boggs, Academy of Insurance,

19 – Track New Business Appointments
New business production is the ultimate indicator of sales performance, but understanding meaningful activity may be the missing piece of your sales management platform. – Tommy McDonald, MarshBerry

20 – Website Design
A well-designed website will serve as the hub of all digital agency marketing. When done well, it can serve multiple purposes: customer service, education, sales, retention. – Laird Rixford, Insurance Technologies Corp.

21 – Tracking Metrics
Growing agencies have one thing in common: They track where every new piece of business is coming from, so they know which marketing efforts are paying off. They also track the number of policies per client, so they know whether they are building deeper relationships. – Jeff Yates, Agents Council for Technology

22 – X the Lingo
Get rid of lingo and find a way to talk to clients in words and phrases they can easily understand. – Anonymous

23 – Strategize
All marketing needs a strategy and a goal. You want to post a banner? Send an email to a list? Start a newsletter? Great. Why? – Anonymous

24 – Double Referrals
Create a referral program that rewards existing and new customers. This creates a win-win which is naturally what a referral should be. Dropbox and Uber have successful referral programs that award the existing customer and new customer with bonus storage and service credit when the new customer signs up. – Josh Carlson, Wells Media Group

25 – Believe in Your Brand
Passion is contagious. If you love where you work, shout it to the rooftops. Let others know why your agency is the best. You’ll be much more likely to generate genuine enthusiasm, which could drive more customers to use your services. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

26 – Data Goldmine
For more than 20 years, agencies have had the most lucrative gold mine locked up in customer data. You may have 20 valuable nuggets of information about every client in your system: birthdays, claims, policies held, policies not held, ex-dates and so forth. So, if you’ve got 5,000 customers, you’ve got 100,000 pieces of information …that changes every single day. Technology exists to turn that "dead data" into a marketing goldmine. – Michael Jans, Agency Revolution

27 – Be in Position to See Opportunity
Work hard and try to put yourself in a position where, if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it. – Mark Cuban, chairman of HDNet

28 – Drip Marketing
Use a consistent drip marketing campaign: Bring value by providing useful info or ideas. You will be (hopefully) top-of-mind when the need for services will arise. – Brad Tamulski, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

29 – Unique Landing Pages
Use landing pages that are designed to match specific marketing campaigns (e.g., an email sent to auto insurance prospects should link to a landing page that discusses auto insurance and matches the design of the email). This will improve your conversion rate. – Laird Rixford, Insurance Technologies Corp.

30 – Social Media Content
Provide useful, engaging content on social media to attract new customers and retain relationships with existing ones. Always remember that social media is conversational. Never ignore anyone. Respond to all inquiries, comments, etc. – Valerie Foster, Monitor Liability Managers

31 – Community Like Its
Partner with a community charity on Facebook. Preferred Insurance Services is partnering with Pet Project Rescue in Minneapolis until the beginning of September in the hopes of garnering $500 for the non-profit. Preferred has committed to donating $1 to PPR for every new "like" it gets on its Facebook page between now and then. In just three weeks, Preferred doubled its fan base – and raised nearly $200 for PPR in the process. – Preferred Insurance Services

32 – Don’t Forget to Ask
Ask for the business. After showing value and laying out distinct advantages of a partnership, be clear about asking for business. You will either get it or find out remaining obstacles. – Brad Tamulski, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partner

33 – Community Involvement
Savvy agencies and their employees are becoming increasingly involved in local causes to support their communities, and these efforts are generating new clients for them – clients who want to support businesses striving to make the community better. – Jeff Yates, Agents Council for Technology

34 – Target Marketing
Smart call – target certain industries/client sizes/etc. and tell them exactly why you’ve identified them as benefiting from what you have to offer. Prospects can be more receptive. – Brad Tamulski, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

35 – Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is more than tweeting/posting and running; it is roll-up-your-sleeves interactive work that builds solid relationships and reputations. – Tammy Elizabeth Southin, social media marketing consultant

36 – Show You Care
Show your customers you care by helping them when they’re in trouble, responding quickly and effectively to complaints, or providing sympathetic feedback. It’s up to you to build a symmetrical feedback loop of appreciation and understanding. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

37 – Clients in Common
Find out from each of your key clients who their attorney and CPA is, and then contact those professionals and let them know you have the same good clients in common. It gets the attorney and CPA to send you more referrals because their clients use you. – Catherine Oak, Oak & Associates

38 – Video Testimonials
Collect mini-video testimonials. Identify your happiest and most influential insureds. Ask them for a brief video testimonial you can tactfully use. A 6-second Vine or 15-second Instagram video recorded on your smartphone can be fun for your insured and for you. Use them online for marketing purposes and display them in-person when actively selling. – Alan Shulman,

39 – Bigger Footprint
You have a license to sell insurance throughout your state, or more. Then do it. One of my clients shot from 95 contractors to 2,000 in four years. Her small town location did not dictate a small town marketing plan. – Michael Jans, Agency Revolution

40 – Email
Use email marketing to cross sell. – Laird Rixford, Insurance Technologies Corp.

41 – Decide Once and For All
Average marketing will flow from the unconscious decision to be "OK" with an average agency. Great marketing will flow from the decision to be great. Insanely great marketing will flow from the decision to be insanely great. It’s up to you, cowboy. – Michael Jans, Agency Revolution

42 – Go Out of Your Way
Going out of your way to help a customer will likely benefit you in terms of customer retention and word-of-mouth. But it’s also just a genuinely good thing to do – and that’s worth something, too. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

43 – Buyer’s Remorse Review
What do you do when you discover that your personal or commercial prospect’s policies just renewed? One response is to target their post-sale period of uncertainty and offer to provide a "buyer’s remorse review." Your prompt second opinion can open an unsure prospect’s mind to many valid criticisms. – Alan Shulman,

44 – Free Coffee
We have a promotion on our website that offers a $5 Starbucks giftcard for referring a friend to our agency. – Trident Insurance Agency

45 – Build a Community
There is strength in numbers. Look for people who are excited about the work you do and highlight them. Create an ambassador program to get even more people involved. You’ll suddenly find your brand popping up in more places: in conversations, blog posts and "Best Company" lists. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

46 – Dissatisfaction Surveys
What’s wrong with your insurance? Don’t use the same old "let me quote" approach when soliciting commercial lines. Instead, employ a business "dissatisfaction survey" to differentiate yourself and to let the buyer vent about what’s wrong with his current insurance program. When you know exactly what bugs him, you can provide a custom solution. – Alan Shulman,

47 – Turn to Training
The industry’s nonprofit organizations are a rich source of training and education. The CPCU Society,, AIMS Society, and NAPSLO are a few of the national organizations that offer specialized classes in property/casualty insurance. Local associations and affiliates also are helpful and even more accessible. – Sharon Emek, Work At Home Vintage Employees (WAHVE)

48 – Featured Partners
We feature prospective clients and existing clients’ companies on our "partners" page for cross referrals. – Trident Insurance Agency

49 – Email Drips
Set up email drips in an automated agency marketing system to automatically follow up on every prospect over a period of time. This will help keep your agency in front of the consumer without you having to remember to do the follow up. – Laird Rixford, Insurance Technologies Corp.

50 – Shopping Carts
We have our president’s picture on shopping carts! We advertise our agency at the local grocery stores. – Trident Insurance Agency

51 – Reduce Redundancy
Maintain your records and solidify your data with data download. – Real Time/Download Campaign co-chair Joyce Sigler, Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency

52 – Consider Your Audience
It’s all about the customer experience. Think about their experience and what they’re going through. Gather feedback. Consider what they like and what they don’t like. Try and fix the things they don’t like. Use their recommendations and concerns to change your company’s tactics or direction. Your customers will appreciate it. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

53 – Real Time Saves Real $$$$
Implementing real-time functions in your agency saves time and money. A typical agency with four CSRs each doing 15 transactions per day via real time (versus a company website) will save 90 days of CSR time and $14,400 annually, according to surveys. – Real Time/Download Campaign co-chair Stuart Durland, Seely & Durland Insurance

54 – Be Quick
Be quick and responsive to a client’s need. When I get a referral or an Internet lead, I try to make contact right away. – Anonymous

55 – Soft Stalking
If a prospect is not responding, begin following their company on Twitter and Facebook and participate. It’s surprising how many business-owners and CEOs actually check to see their new likes and followers. This is particularly true of smaller companies. It’s just another way to get your name in front of them without asking to personally connect on social media with someone you’ve never met, which can be creepy. – Julie Tinney, Insurance Journal

56 – Virtual Connections
Use your existing technology to give producers immediate system access while they’re working remotely. Two technologies built into Windows make it as secure to connect to the office server from across the country as from across the hallway: virtual private networks (VPNs) and remote desktop protocol (RDP). – Frank Sentner, Work At Home Vintage Employees (WAHVE)

57 – Online Banking
Use online banking to streamline processes. Sending and receiving funds electronically, transferring funds between accounts, scheduling direct deposit of payroll, and creating wire transfers are all ways to be more efficient as an agency. Bankers familiar with insurance agencies can help develop programs to create an efficient process in managing agency funds and accounts. – Mary Grazen, InsurBanc, a division of Connecticut Community Bank N.A.

58 – Varied Methods
If you put all your time and energy into social media, you may end up ignoring the potential customers who aren’t on social media. Embrace a variety of marketing methods to succeed, including everything from face-to-face interaction to grassroots tactics. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

59 – Set Up Knowledge Transfer
Experienced workers are valuable sources of insurance expertise. Before they retire (and 10,000 Americans hit retirement age every day) and take their institutional knowledge with them, set them up as mentors for newer and younger producers and employees in your agency. – Sharon Emek, Ph.D., Work At Home Vintage Employees (WAHVE)

60 – Real People
Delete your Facebook, delete your Twitter, meet real people, sell insurance. – Josh Carlson, Wells Media Group

61 – Listen Carefully
Listening to clients’ concerns and answering their insurance questions thoroughly is extremely important in maintaining mutual trust. The client trusts that you are looking out for their best interests and that you are providing them with expert industry advice. – Trident Insurance Agency

62 – Be the First to Know
If you are tired that your agency’s not getting data before your customers do, encourage your carriers to initiate activity/notifications for real-time notifications and policy data. – Real Time/Download Campaign co-chair Joyce Sigler, Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency

63 – Become an Expert
Encourage your producers to develop an expertise on an industry group or technical niche, and become the go-to person in the marketplace. Enhance the reputation by participating in national events, publishing articles and hosting seminars on the subject. – Laura Sherman, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

64 – Carrier Help
Ask your carriers for content to use on your marketing materials, website, blogs or social media. They have a wealth of information to share about risk trends and industry changes, as well as claim examples/scenarios. Also, follow them on LinkedIn or Twitter, and you can share or re-Tweet any relevant information. – Valerie Foster, Monitor Liability Managers

65 – In-House Social Media
We have an in-house social marketing consultant that stays up-to-date with our blog and social media sites. They reach out to local businesses and post useful insurance tips that elicit calls to our agency for quotes. – Trident Insurance Agency

66 – Amplify Success
Rather than trying to accomplish all of your promotion goals at once, focus on growing over time. Once you gain recognition, whether it’s a mention from an important influencer on social media or a front-page story, you can use that to show more potential audiences why your brand matters. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

67 – ‘I Don’t Know’
Don’t be afraid to say: "I don’t know." No one expects you to know everything; plus you now have the opportunity, and a reason, to connect with the client or prospect again. Not only will you know you have provided the correct information, you will have built trust." – Christopher J. Boggs, Academy of Insurance,

68 – Keep Score
Become obsessed with being the best through performance benchmarking within your agency and within the industry. Top performers are motivated by winning. Encouraging competition internally creates a growth culture that helps you compete externally. – Tommy McDonald, MarshBerry

69 – Get Out What You Put In
Start small and strengthen over time. Put in the hours to build relationships with the media and your customers. Brand recognition does not just happen overnight. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

70 – Hire, Hire, Hire
Predictable, sustainable growth is directly dependent on systematic reinvestment within your production staff year-over-year. – Tommy McDonald, MarshBerry

71 – Why Measure?
You don’t have time to spend on efforts that don’t yield results. You have to illustrate how your efforts increase brand awareness, create buzz and generate new business; otherwise you’ll never know what gets you noticed and what ends up being overlooked. Demonstrate growth and illustrate investment. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

72 – New Client Thank Yous
Every new client gets a personally written thank you card with their agent’s information and a note that says: "We love referrals. Thank you for referring us." – Trident Insurance Agency

73 – Total Agency Sales Culture
Producers are the quarterbacks of a growth team, but key technicians and high-level servicers are your linebackers. Employ quality people throughout the entire organization, not just within your sales staff. – Tommy McDonald, MarshBerry

74 – Make Your Value Proposition Valuable
Track utilization on all value added services, charge fees on top of commission, and have a communication process through stewardship reporting to ensure the client knows your value. – Tommy McDonald, MarshBerry

75 – Match Interests
Employees and producers have favorite charities to which they personally give time and donations. Choose one of those for your entire agency to contribute to by volunteering and/or a fundraising. It’ll build camaraderie, help the charity, and make your brand a little better known in the community. – Jill Bookman, American Collectors Insurance

76 – Institutionalize Your Relationships
Develop a long-term retention plan on large-scale accounts by introducing key agency executives to decision-makers. Involve quality service, loss control, claims advocates, and other value-added service personnel during the prospecting process to help diversify the relationship long term. This practice allows for better delegation of servicing responsibilities, sells the team, and helps transition relationships as employees move on or retire. – Tommy McDonald, MarshBerry

77 – All Aspects of Life
The bottleneck for selling comes from lack of activity. Turn your life gray and open the opportunity of prospecting with every part of your life. – Justin Berry, MarshBerry

78 – Take Chances
Someone will always say: "You can’t do that!" Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it won’t work or that it won’t make a huge impact. You have to take chances to stand out. – Aimee Woodall, The Black Sheep Agency

79- Understand Customers’ Business
Do your homework. When the customer sees you’ve invested time into understanding his business, there is a certain level of trust established right away. – Sales and marketing consultant Barry Farber, as quoted in Entrepreneur magazine

80 – Be a Solution
Don’t sell product and features rather be a solution and new business will come to you – Justin Berry, MarshBerry

81 – You Can’t Do It All!
Social media and blogging are becoming integral to a growing agency’s daily operations. Consistency is critical. It may be time to hire a part-time or full-time employee to do this. – Real Time/Download Campaign co-chair Stuart Durland, Seely & Durland Insurance

82 – Expand Your Virtual Reach
Try your vendor’s web-based consumer self-serve quoting functionality, so your clients can serve themselves for quotes. – Real Time/Download Campaign co-chair Joyce Sigler, Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency

83 – Google+
Use Google+ for research and lead generation. With more than 100 million active users on Google+, it is a great way to search information. It’s a good tool for finding people in a specific demographic, occupation, employer, etc. – Valerie Foster, Monitor Liability Managers

84 – Once is Enough
With the use of a comparative rater, you can key once and realize multiple sales opportunities. – Real Time/Download Campaign co-chair Joyce Sigler, Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency

85 – Ask for the Sale
No matter what else is recommended, a salesperson ultimately must always ask for the sale. – Chris Burand, Burand & Associates LLC

86 – Free Content
Tap into the insurance content – newsletters, emails, infographics and social networking shares – that carriers and wholesalers provide. Share it with clients and prospects on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, and in your email newsletter and on your agency website. This showcases you and gives consumers relevant information. – Laura Packard, American Collectors Insurance

87 – Differentiate
Make building your book easier and use your agency’s institutional and personal differentiation to build partnerships of new business. – Justin Berry, MarshBerry

88 – Set Aside an Employee Day
Pick a day once a year to honor and recognize your agency team with a surprise lunch or other special event that focuses just on them and the work they do all year long. Recognition works. – Jill Bookman, American Collectors Insurance

89 – Pop the Question
It’s amazing what people collect. Ask your next 10 clients or prospects: "Do you keep anything of special value or significance in your home or garage?" That opens up a new line of conversation, expands the relationship, opens up a channel for cross-selling coverage for collectibles or collector vehicles, and reduces E&O risk. – Laura Packard, American Collectors Insurance

90 – In Their Words
Often, an individual can tell you what their primary concerns are in simple conversation. Have broad, open conversations with clients and prospect clients to learn about where they are in life. As you review their insurance needs, use that conversation as the guide for what your clients value most. – Laura Packard, American Collectors Insurance

91 – Get the Experience of Partners
Ask for input from your business partners. Most will gladly pass along solutions that have worked for them in similar situations. It will expand your knowledge, strengthen your relationship and may even lead to additional opportunities. – Jill Bookman, American Collectors Insurance

92 – Find a New Way to Keep in Touch
Client messages related to annual reviews, policy anniversaries and birthday are common. Also consider special communications related to risks. For example, send an email to clients with classic cars or recreational vehicle coverage in the spring when the "toys" are coming out of the garage! – Laura Packard, American Collectors Insurance

93 – ‘Sales’ Is Not a Bad Word
Sales is often seen in conflict with service, but when this function is executed properly, it’s really the essence of good service. Proactive, attentive, needs-based sales in an insurance environment means that you are serving clients by looking out for their best interests, educating them about the need for coverage, and covering potential risk exposures. – Jill Bookman, American Collectors Insurance

94 – Set Your Goals
Goals should be set at both an individual and company-wide level. Be realistic but ambitious. Be measured but strive for the best. Your goals should be based on where you’ve been, as well as where you want to go. – Jill Bookman, American Collectors Insurance

95 – Mine for Specialties
Mine your agency management system to find out where you have a niche. If you have three or four restaurant accounts, then you have knowledge within your agency about restaurants. Ask your current clients about other restaurateurs who could use your expertise. – Insurance Journal

96 – Document, Document, Document
Keep track of what you do and what you tell clients. It provides seamless service when a colleague follows up later with a client at a moment when you are not available to answer questions. – Maureen Boeing, Landmark Insurance Agency and past chair, ASCnet

97 – Multitasking Break
It is so easy to work on the computer while simultaneously talking on the phone. Stop. Commit yourself to focusing on the needs of the client with whom you are speaking. Dedicating that time to the conversation and lending full expertise to his or her situation will build stronger relationships and open the door to opportunities you may not have caught otherwise. – Jill Bookman, American Collectors Insurance

98 – Branch Out
Pick your best niche and expand it like crazy. Keep nurturing your existing book while you grow your new "branch." A well-picked and "niche-branch" can outperform the entire agency. – Michael Jans, Agency Revolution

99 – Budget, Schmudget
I wish more agencies would "act like grownup" businesses and budget their money. And then, I wish they’d know when to throw that budget away. If you’re getting a positive ROI on a marketing campaign that is what every entrepreneur dreams of: free money. Don’t let accountants run your business. Good marketing means that the marketplace pays for your marketing. (Don’t let lawyers run your business, either!) – Michael Jans, Agency Revolution

100 – Agency Newsletters
A newsletter is an excellent tool to help educate customers on insurance issues, to make customers believe that they’re getting something extra for their insurance dollars, and to keep an agency’s name before its customers. – Mary Christiano, Professional Insurance Agents associations of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Hampshire

101 – Don’t Use Complicated Diction
When pitching, do not use complicated diction. Pride yourself on being able to explain the concept as quickly, clearly and simply as possible. The biggest problem in sales is client confusion. Confusion does not lead to a Yes. – Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, a N.J.-based "upcycling" and manufacturing firm, in a commentary in The New York Times

Source: Insurance Journal