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Tips for Becoming the Best Risk Manager for Your Clients and Your Agency

Posted By Chris Prewit, Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tips for Becoming the Best Risk Manager for Your Clients and Your Agency


An article written by Michael G. Manes.


If you want to become an above average risk manager/agent, you must make your client aware of their most important exposures. If you call yourself a risk management professional, not just an insurance guy (gal), it is what you claim to do.

Lenders require mortgaged homes, offices and other property to be insured. Most states dictate workers’ compensation and auto coverage. The NFIP advertises Flood coverage. Watching plaintiffs’ attorneys on TV creates an understanding of the need for liability insurance.  Most of the rest is left to the knowledge of the clients or the engagement of their agent, aka risk manager.


I’m guessing, hoping really, that most of you also suggest property coverage, cyber liability, fidelity bonds, loss of income, life insurance, disability income, business interruption, extra expense coverage. The last several items on this list acknowledge that the real asset of most individuals and businesses is the income stream that they or their business produces.

The St Mary’s University risk management classes teach that the steps in the risk management process are – avoid, reduce, assume and transfer. Transfer is what we sell in an insurance product. The true risk management professional helps his/her client understand how to avoid, assume and reduce his/her risk.


Whether you are an agency owner, a producer, or professional staff, what happens in your job, your agency and your book dictates much of your value today (your income, your salary) as well as the asset value in your future.

We can start with the obvious. Do you have contracts with your production and professional staff? Will these contracts do what you think they will do? How much will it cost you to enforce (defend) these agreements?  Can you win or will you just use these to negotiate damages after the producer/professional and book have moved to a new home? Have you planned for all the peril of divorce?


Would all interests be better served to have agreements that anticipate changes and allow all to settle up on a mutually beneficial basis? (Before you say no. I’ve seen this done) Have you considered life and disability income buy-sell policies? Should you?


Do you have contingency plans in place in case of a catastrophic loss in your market service area?  For example how about oil prices dropping from $100 to $20 a barrel in a one-year period and your book being all energy related.


Do you have a plan for additional locations for insurance agent access if you town’s biggest employer closes or your town is shut down for a significant period of time by a weather catastrophe?  Have you thought of the consequences to your agency if you or a partner or key staff person is caught in a major scandal (a business partner is arrested for distribution of drugs, child molestation, etc.)?  Don’t laugh. It happens!


Niche (affinity group) marketing can be great as long as the niches you focus on are growing and prospering. Unfortunately in this world of structural transformation, markets can change drastically and quickly.  One example is a fitness club opening a huge facility in a small town.  The market seems to be overserved by fitness clubs already.  You need to be able to anticipate that there will be significant shrinkage in this niche in the next year or two.


Commission is the addiction of choice in our industry. We negotiate, cluster, consolidate books, etc. to drive our percentages higher and higher.  Have you ever thought about what happens when it goes down?  In 1975, some carriers paid 25% commission on homeowners insurance.  As commissions trended downward, some said they would not sell homeowners policies for less than 20% commission.  This is the wrong attitude.  If you are in the homeowner’s insurance business today, you are doing what your predecessors said they wouldn’t do.


What if a carrier tomorrow went to a system of quoting net of commission or requiring full disclosure of commission?  Could you still compete?  Do you fear some of the lesser quality agents would steal your business with their lower fee?  The better you are, the more vulnerable you are.  If you do everything right, your competitors can steal your account by sacrificing commissions since they know they’ll work for less and will be okay at the reduced commission.  If an agent is doing it wrong, he’ll have to work harder for less commission in order to make it right.


Years ago one of the best producers ever lost an account to one of the smartest producers ever-she told the client, Bill is a great producer, and I assure you he has you with the best carrier, at the best price with all the right coverages. If you’ll sign this letter of record, I’ll do what he did at five percent less cost to you. The AoR was signed and the account moved! 

Many other risks exist- consider additional government intervention, robots instead of laborers, driverless cars, artificial intelligence, direct writers, Zenefits engaging in the world of small HR online accounts, etc.


If you’re not changing as rapidly as the marketplace, you, your agency and your future are at great risk.

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Risk Management Techniques that Help Producers Increase Revenue

Posted By Robert Crosby, Thursday, April 28, 2016

Use these principles to improve chances of success

In this article, John discusses his 20 year’s of experience in writing commercial accounts and how his risk management experience has helped him earn business through traditional methods rather than quoting on a prospective client’s insurance. Over the years John has quoted on prospective business, but he has used these principles to vastly improve his chances of success. The following principles should be considered by business owners in order to properly realize the greatest value for their insurance dollar. When John speaks to long-term clients, he has been told that they receive numerous calls per year about 90 to 120 days out, asking for the opportunity to quote their insurance.

What sets John’s approach apart and has enabled him to be a top producer in this business are common approaches to managing risk. The following are sound principles that will be noticed by your clients and prospects.

1.      Never quote apples to apples. When a prospective client gives you bid specifications with a schedule of insurance and loss runs at the meeting, run like the wind.

2.      Make sure the payroll and sales basis for accounting is set up correctly. Make sure that the prospect is properly rated for the tasks performed.

3.      Understand the client’s disaster recovery plan and how it’s revenue is earned

4.      Make sure your clients DOT and non-DOT fleet programs are up to date with today’s standards.

5.      Get help with hiring and firing decisions.

6.      Understand how the workers compensation modifier works and screen pre and post-injury practices.



Originally written by John D. Marek. March issue of Rough Notes magazine. p. 51 and 52

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Costliest Hailstorm in Texas History

Posted By Robert Crosby , Thursday, April 28, 2016

San Antonio Storm becomes Costliest hail storm in Texas History - from Mark Hanna with Insurance Council of Texas:  More than 110,000 vehicles and thousands of homes in northeast San Antonio and Bexar County were pelted by large hail in what has become the costliest hailstorm in Texas history. The storm struck on the evening of April 12th damaging roofs and knocking holes in car windows and denting the cars, many beyond repair.


The storm primarily struck the northeastern portion of Bexar County moving across northern area of San Antonio with large hail that was shaped like jagged rocks.


Estimated insured losses to automobiles are expected to reach $560 million while damage to homes and businesses is expected to reach $800 million. The $1.36 billion total surpasses the May 5, 1995 hailstorm that struck Fort Worth causing an estimated $1.1 billion in damage. The insured loss estimates were taken from company projected losses and verifying their percentage of the marketplace.

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Entry Point - 10 Digital Marketing Stats You Need to Know

Posted By Robert Crosby, Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016

by Charlie Riley  - Lawley Insurance


According to, 80% of consumers research products online making digital marketing a huge industry. To get your digital marketing strategy off to a great start in 2016, consider these strategies:


1. Within two years, 71% of business will be on Instagram

  • Instagram currently boasts 400 million monthly users, 70% of which use the app to search for brands. While a photo-sharing app may not be the best medium to discuss insurance, it provides a place to humanize your team and charitable efforts. Increase your Instagram presence with brand-specific hashtags and daily posts that go beyond a sales focus.

2. Digital Marketing is projected to compose 35% of marketing budgets by 2016

  • While "content marketing" is the latest industry buzzword, content-focused inbound marketing is the direction of the future. Take the advantage of increased spending by targeting the digital channels your audience favors and creating content for those platforms.

3. 60% of the B2B marketers measure success by web traffic analytics 

  • companies are increasingly using Web metrics to keep an eye on their success, Have your digital marketing analytics tools ready to go during 2016.

4. 67% if twitter users state they're likely to buy a product from brands they follow

  • To make the most of your following, share a healthy mix of organic content, but also retweet industry and relevant thought leaders.

5. Leads gained through SEO boast a 14.6% close rate

  • Search engine optimization lead traffic closes at a much higher rate than outbound lead traffic, so it;s a smart move to focus on SEO content and social media sharing.

6. Posts with more than 1,500 words earn 68.1% more tweets

  • Compared to posts with less than 1,500 words, content that weighs in at 1,500 words or more garners more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook shares.

7. The average consumer watches 204 minutes of video daily

  • This viewing is split equally between television and Web-based video. To take advantage, focus on creating more high-quality visual content in 2016. Providing customers with written and visual content helps appeal to their specific learning style.

8. YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world

  • This makes it more powerful than Yahoo, Bing, AOL, and Ask combined. Establish a brand presence on YouTube and start developing a video content calendar.

9. Google users initiate 100 Billion searches each month

  • Google is a massive source of Web traffic, and marketers can benefit from this by focusing on SEO and social sharing platforms.

10. Twitter users are 1.4 times more likely interact with a brand after seeing a promoted tweet

  • Twitter's new conversion Lift service enables brands to track their promoted tweets and measure user interaction. Promoted Tweets perform better than regular tweets and should be a part of every digital strategy.

- Robert C. Crosby

Executive Director - IIASA

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Get Your Facts Straight Regarding Drones

Posted By Robert Crosby, Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016

The following are top questions you're going to hear from underwriters when pursuing a drone risk.

This article is based off the experience of Vikki Stone, executive vice president of Poms & Associates and Jacquelyn Connelly, IA senior editor.

  • What is the year, make and model of the drone?
  • Who is the manufacturer?
  • What are the details of the drone, including areas of operations and flight height?
  • Has the client applied for and/or secured the FAA’s
  • Section 333 exemption?
  • Is the drone pilot certified?
  • How does the drone land?
  • Will the drone fly in populated areas?
  • What is the drone’s intended use or application?

- Robert Crosby

Executive Director - IIASA

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Tech Trends that are Affecting Independent Agents

Posted By Robert Crosby, Monday, February 29, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016

It is all about mobile access.


In the February issue of the IA Magazine, Margarita Tapia talks about the trends that will impact our business in the future.   Mobile which includes cloud computing and social media will change how you offer your products and provide services. 


Social Media has a broad impact on not only personal lives but also business interaction.  Society is becoming connected in not only the personal sense but also on all business platforms.   Technology allows for the capture of huge amounts of data that crosses all demographic lines.  This data will be incorporated into decision making in real time.   Insurance Risk will be impacted by new social norms, climate change and types of risk faced by businesses.   Data Breaches will become more expensive for all businesses with the implementation of new federal and state regulations.  


This will create opportunities for agents.  By paying attention to the newest trends, the forward thinking agency will realize new opportunities and prepare for those.  


- Robert C. Crosby

Executive Director

Summary of the IA Magazine February issue article Tech Trends

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4 Risks to Consider in 2016

Posted By Robert Crosby, Monday, February 29, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016

4 Risks to Consider in 2016:

  • Driverless Cars are already on the roads.   One school of thought is that driverless cars could be covered under a product warranty for the vehicle rather than the driver.   This could impact the new vehicle auto insurance market.
  • If you or your agency offers mutual funds, retirement plans or IRAs you must be aware of the new rules that the Department of Labor developed for the “Fiduciary” standard.   The very simple principle is if “You want to give financial advice, you’ve got to put your client’s interests first.”  The new rule language can be found at
  • The 2015 holiday buying season highlighted the fact that most consumers look online first to begin their buying research.  The impact of Online Marketing cannot be ignored. You have to utilize the internet to drive clients to your website and ultimately your agency.  Look to to read about how you can increase and improve your digital presence.
  • Balance your life and your work.  This cannot be emphasized enough.  If you don’t allow time for rest and your life outside of work, you will lose focus of what is most important in life, your family and you health.   Read a good book, play with your kids, stare at the stars, and cherish those you love. 


- Robert C. Crosby

Executive Director - IIASA

Referenced from the IA website

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Adapt and Ignite!

Posted By Robert Crosby, Thursday, January 28, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016

Originally presented by Dr. Gary Bradt


This past weekend I attended the 53rd annual IIAT Joe Vincent Management Seminar and wanted to share several important maxims I learned from the best motivational speaker that I've listened to in many years, Dr. Gary Bradt. He is a proven leader in business strategies and transformational processes, he can help anyone adapt to new technologies and turn change and challenging times into opportunity and high performance.


More than a catch phrase "Adapt and Ignite" is Gary's rallying cry for success in a world that moves fast and doesn't wait for stragglers. He has 8 secrets for turning times of change into times of opportunity. These secrets will show us how learning to adapt leads to new levels of performance and can facilitate personal and professional long term growth.


Secret 1: How does change work?


Here's the formula: Think - Feel - Get


You must always think differently to change results. In a world where thinking outside of the box is standard, occasionally forgetting about the box altogether is necessary.


This creates - Innovation


Secret 2: Adapt First and Fast


There’s never a time to be indecisive. When you choose to change, be the quickest and fastest.


Example: When Netflix began to catch momentum, they wanted Blockbuster to be a part of their online strategy. Blockbuster however, did not see the impending dynamic change from brick-and-mortar stores to online commerce. This missed opportunity by Blockbuster resulted in a rough few years and eventually going out of business.


Another example that's happening now: How will Yellow Cab co. change now that Uber is taking over? Good question?


Another sub-secret that Dr. Bradt leave us with is "Make the competition adapt to you." Ex. The iPhone taking over Blackberry's market share.

Secret 3: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable


In other words, take risks.


Dr. Bradt wanted us to create a "To-Who List." The first To-Who list is to call people you know that you don't feel comfortable with and simply catch up with them. This iterates getting out of your comfort zone.


The second To-Who list is to call friend and close relationships that you have lost track of in the last 6 months to a year.


The third secret - call people that could use an emotional boost. This may be the most difficult for some people, however, it's important to have those difficult conversations sometimes. These difficult conversations can be what ignite the most growth.


Secret 4: Let go of whatever is holding you down or back


Dr. Bradt's solution to this secret is the use of forgiveness. Helping others with this secret is equally important.


Secret 5: Latch on to Values


The need to create your own values and hold on to them in this whirlwind of change, value is the anchor to your soul and keeps you grounded. Values never change.


Dr. Bradt wanted us to write a letter to a friend that you will never see again and share with that person your core values, that he or she can use in their lives. Cary gave us 2 minutes to write the letter. This will give the author of the letter a compass that can be used forever.


Secret 6: Long term success formula


Passion, Persistence, Patience


It's as simple as that.


Secret 7: Have fun in what you are doing


Of course, it's always very important to be able to have fun in something you do on a daily basis. This will lighten the load.


Secret 8: Grow where you were planted - dig a little deeper


What Dr. Bradt means is - open your eyes and enhance your views of the world.


Dr. Bradt - "if you live by these 8 secrets you can lead your agency through change.


If you need to reach Dr. Bradt, his email is on his website at


Let these 8 secrets help you in this world of change.


- Robert C. Crosby

Executive Director of the Independent Insurance Agents of SA

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