The Future of the Independent Agency – TAAR – May 2009

As I travel the country, the first question I hear when I visit an agency is,  “Where is the insurance industry headed?”  Of course, nobody has the exact answer to that question.  I believe I need more knowledge about what is going on in the reinsurance and insurance carrier worlds to be able to offer a view of what the future might hold.

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The Power Of The Positive Audit Part II – TAAR – November 08

I want to tell you the story of the “Perfect Agency”.  This story is based on an actual agency that I audited for their E&O carrier several years ago.  The E&O carrier instructed the auditors to find holes in the agency’s processes that might lead to E&O claims.

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What I Learned Setting Up A New Blog

Moving to a self administered blog has been a challenge and a learning event.  First there was learning how to administer the site itself.  I still look around for the function I need.  I am not fully up-to-speed in this piece of software yet.  But with frequent use I am getting there fast.

Next the learning involves researching and deciding what widgets and plug-ins one might need or want.  I have to tell you this is an endless list.  Without the help of articles I have read by other WordPress users and the help of a very special WordPress administrator, I would be totally lost.

I feel a lot like an employee of an insurance agency would when they are learning a new system.  I still have real work to do, clients to talk to, yet I need to spend time learning this new software and develop it as a tool for my clients.  I know I will get through this learning and development curve and cruse along in an effective way soon.

One of the areas that I have spent a lot of time researching is a tool for blogging offline.  I went through several recommended softwares before settling on Windows Live Writer.  This software provides all of the functionality of writing direct in the blog plus a few plug-ins that are actually easier to use outside the blog.  Like in implementing agency systems, I am spending a lot of time upfront for a payback in the long term by having the best, most efficient software in place.  This will allow me to respond normally to my clients and support my website and blogging.

So if you are implementing a new system or updating the way you use your system, remember that the time invested upfront will pay off in the long term.

Impowersoft Selects Patricia Alexander to Aspire Advisory Board

I am honored to share this press release with you.  Watch for my review of this product in the July 2009 edition of The Anderson Agency Report.


May 19, 2009

Patricia Alexander: A New Key Member on the impowersoft Team

Today, impowersoft announced the selection of Mrs. Patricia Alexander, CIC, CPIW, as a new member to the Aspire Advisory Board.  As a consultant, coach and mentor to many agencies, her experience spans standard insurance carriers, retail agencies, surplus lines insurance carriers and managing general agencies.  She has been an agency owner in addition to holding several executive level management positions throughout her career. Mrs. Alexander has managed large, national programs both at the insurance carrier level and at the managing general agency level.

Real Time/Download Webinar

I highly recommend this webinar.  I have heard very positive feed back from the agencies I know that have attended.  Independent agencies are deriving major benefits from implementing Real Time as well as Commercial and Personal Lines Download today and I encourage you to attend this highly regarded one hour webinar being put on by the Real Time/Download Campaign on Wednesday, June 3 (1:30-2:30 PM eastern time) and on Wednesday, July 1 (1:30-2:30 PM eastern time).  ACT has gotten great agent and carrier attendance at previous showings of this Webinar, averaging 390! I encourage you register for this webinar today.

Zywave Brokerage Builder Conference – May 09

This week I attended my first Zywave Brokerage Builder Conference.  Wow am I on overload.  For my property & casualty friends, this product is an agency management system built for and used by those agencies writing benefits coverages.  I have watched this product grow over the past several years and it has been impressive.

The conference was a very fast paced two days.  A balance of keynote speakers, product how tos, networking, user panels and of course socializing.  There has to be some fun at the end of those long days of sitting in meetings and piling your brain full of information.

I really like the approach Zywave takes in teaching their users about set up of activities and attachments.  They use the best practices approach of minimizing the number of activity types, matching the attachment types to the activity types and defining the conventions for descriptions.   Consistency is the key to being able to quickly retrieve information from your agency management system.  Consistency is also the key to successful reporting from your agency management system.

For me the most fun session was “Embrace Your Inner Technology”.  My impression of what this session would be about would be the technology of Zywave.  However, it was far more than that.  The session covered, web conferencing, social networking and wikis in addition to the  Zywave technology.  The exercise for each group was to determine what technologies they would use in transacting a particular business scenario with their client.

HIGH-TECC 2008 Reflections

A week and a few days after HIGH-TECC 2008 I have checked out a number of the technologies discussed and presented.  Adopted some, tried some and decided they didn’t fit my needs but they have been added to my resources as my client’s might need them, and been led down different paths in other research.  I have ordered a Flip Mino, however, it has not arrived yet.  That is so frustrating to want to try something out and it not arrive as soon as you had hoped.  So there will be more on this item in later posts.

HIGH-TECC 2008 – Day 2

The first session of HIGH-TECC day 2 is Bridging the Industry Communication Gap Panel.  The panel is a diversified group.  There are members from rating services, insurance carriers, Agents Council for Technology, ACORD, and insurance agents.  The issues considered in this discussion are those around the ability of insurance agencies to be able to do effective on-line rating using the data from their agency management systems and having the quote make the round-trip back to the agency management system.  The audience was very active in asking questions of the panel as well as expressing their needs and concerns on this subject.  I really like the terminology that Keith Savino used about comparative rating.  In their agency they refer to the software they use for comparative rating as “a data aggregation tool”.

HIGH-TECC 2008 – Day 1

HIGH-TECC is an annual gathering of agents, brokers, vendors, associations and executives interested in the technology which drives the insurance industry.  The atmosphere is charged with a high level of knowledge on the subjects at hand and the sharing of information.  I have attended this conference for the past several years and find that there is always more to learn than I ever imagined.  I have never heard an attendee that didn’t find the meetings and information exchange valuable. 

Millennial Survey

Networking GroupI am embarking on a study of what attract and keeps Gen-Xers and Millennials engaged in the insurance agency business.  As I look around insurance agencies that I visit I don’t see enough of the individuals in these groups.  When I do see them they are rarely engaged in the true business of insurance.  Those that are employed in agencies are usually in assistant roles.  This is a great starting place, but no clear career path seems to be defined in most agencies to ensure that these individuals continue to grow and move forward in the agency.

I get the impression in casual conversations with these groups that they are just biding their time until they search out something better in another profession.  I don’t believe that the independent agency system understands how to recruit or manage these groups of people.  However, the very existence of agencies depends on doing so.  Look for my full length article in the July 2008 edition of “The Anderson Agency Report”.  You may access the survey at Millennial Survey, my website or via the link in the article.  My request is that everyone in your agency 30 years of age and younger complete this survey.  There will be on-going information at this blog and in “The Anderson Agency Report” on the findings of the study.  I will also be looking at and discussing solutions to the issues that result from the study.