RiskProNet News


‘Drones & Camera Phones Replacing Adjustors’

Camera phones and drones may replace human insurance adjustors over the next decade — and 3D modeling may reduce the need for expert witnesses. These were among the predictions from David Princeton, P&C claim lead at M3 Insurance at this month’s Construction Practice Group teleconference.

One carrier, he told the group, is piloting Facebook messenger as a way to handle personal lines claims quickly. Callers receive a push notification through Facebook messenger that gives them access to a camera. They scan the camera over damaged property, and artificial intelligence compiles an estimate in the background. Carriers can fund the claim instantly through PayPal or Apple Pay.

“Clients get instant gratification,” Princeton said, “but the broker is losing an opportunity to create customer satisfaction.

“This kind of technology is here to stay,” he added. “I know one claims rep for a large national carrier who was told to expect claims to be completely automated within 15 years. He himself already has a pilot’s license to operate a drone to survey damaged property.”

Claims professionals also are turning to 3-D printing and modeling. Princeton discussed one case where 3D modeling showed that a person who suffered a spinal injury previously had a degenerative condition. The initial $2.5 million claim was settled for $75,000. “There was no need to rely on blurred images and a witness on a stand,” Princeton said.

“These changes mean that we need to reorganize our value proposition now,” he told the group. “Technology like this will be commonplace in the next few years. We will need more advocacy professionals rather than administrative professionals.”

For a RiskProNet white paper on drones, contact Executive Director Gary Normington.

Next blog: Learn how blockchain technology is disrupting industries.


Phone Calls Out, Text Messages and Postcards In

Postcards are effective. Texts are popular. Email continues to be an excellent way to communicate with clients. But when it comes to phone calls, 84 percent of clients would prefer their insurance agents choose another method.

Phone calls are intrusive, and calls usually go to voicemail. People want information, but on their own time – which is often weekends and after business hours for personal lines clients.

These are the statistics compiled by Agency Revolution, and the consulting firm’s David Morton shared them at this month’s Personal Lines teleconference. Morton himself is the son of an independent broker. Agency Revolution founder Michael Jans worked in the insurance business for a number of years.

“Studies show that 86 percent of consumers are dissatisfied with communication from their insurance providers,” Morton said. “This is a daunting statistic, but it presents an opportunity.”

People want to hear from their agents, but want personalized communications rather than generic information.

Almost every agency says it differentiates itself from others because of personal service, Morton noted. Yet most clients never hear from an agency unless they initiate the contact.

“If you actually reach out to people at renewal time, you’re setting yourself apart from the competition,” Morton said.

Communications should focus on three key messages:

  1. We are looking at your policy.
  2. We care about your situation.
  3. You have choices.

A Facebook survey, he noted, showed that the most common reason for changing insurance providers was a rate increase without an explanation.

Morton, as well as RiskProNet members on the teleconference, suggested setting up individual communications plans as each new client is onboarded. High-net worth clients often have a personal risk management contact who should receive some or all of the communications.

“Find out what the frustrations were that led them to switch to your agency,” one member suggested.

Among the other suggestions and comments were these:

  • Text messages are a good way to communicate specific information requested by clients. Ninety-nine percent of text messages are opened, compared to 50 percent of emails.
  • As an incentive for referrals, a donation to charity may be more effective than gift cards.
  • Postcards are coming back into style, particularly as direct mail often goes unopened.
  • Contact by mail may be important for E&O reasons.

Additional information about marketing campaigns is available from Morton. He can be reached at dmorton@agencyrevolution.com.


Meet Some Top Producers at RiskProNet Member Firms

We got a rare opportunity to learn more about top producers at two RiskProNet member firms when their bios and photo’s appeared in a recent edition of Insurance Business America magazine. Five were from Buckner Company and eight from AHT, including RiskProNet board member George Forrester.

The list includes 100 of the industry’s top-performing insurance professionals. To qualify as a Top Producer in 2017, applicants needed to have a personal book of business worth $750,000 or more (net commissions).

AHT is a full-service insurance brokerage and consulting firm with nationally recognized practices in areas including technology, manufacturing, government contracting and nonprofits. The Buckner Company is a third-generation, family-owned business led by President and CEO Terry H. Buckner.

AHT Insurance

Peter Dean, national practice leader of AHT’s real estate division, has been involved in more than $10 billion worth of real estate transactions, ranging from single-asset purchases to the acquisition of overseas hospitality and habitational assets. He also regularly works with investment advisors, and hedge and debt funds.

George Forrester, a member of the RiskProNet board of directors, leads the manufacturing practice at AHT. He also serves the legal, technology, and property and hospitality management industries. He is a leading expert on product liability risk management and was the primary architect of a product liability risk assessment methodology template that is commonly used among manufacturers.

Mark Ganley is a director of AHT and leads the sales team in Seattle. He has helped develop AHT’s expertise and practice growth in life sciences and technology while assisting clients in various industries with their management liability exposures. He is a former board member and past chairman of TechAssure, a nonprofit organization for risk management professionals engaged in technology products and services.

Jamie Madonna is the property and casualty principal in AHT’s Seattle office. He belongs to the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound, Washington Technology Industry Association, Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association, National Business Aviation Association and Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Ned Sanders heads the global services practice at AHT, where he is responsible for strategic relationships with leaders in key foreign insurance markets, including London, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Singapore. He focuses his business on growth-oriented global operations with less than $750 million in revenue in the technology, life sciences, manufacturing, nonprofit, financial institution, real estate and legal sectors.

David Schaefer, AHT president and CEO, leads the agency’s technology and government contractor insurance practices. He also led the development of a proprietary D&O loss prevention program and helped design an insurance certificate management and compliance system for real estate and multinational risks. Under his leadership, AHT has achieved national recognition for its technology and management liability programs.

Michael Tomasulo leads AHT’s management liability practice group. Prior to joining AHT, he was a founding member of the NASDAQ Insurance Agency, NASDAQ’s own full-service insurance brokerage. Tomasulo is a regular speaker at conferences such as the ROTH Capital Conference and Marcum Microcap Conference on topics such as IPO readiness, uplisting, Reg A+ and governance.

Derek Symer is a principal and director, nonprofit practice. He also is an experienced property and liability insurance broker, specializing in D&O, employment practices, media and publishers and cyber liability, as well as international coverage. He co-founded the Business Managers Roundtable, a networking and educational forum for business officers of private and independent schools, and is part of the National Business Officers Association and the American Society of Association Executives.

The Buckner Company

Mike Gale, a specialist in construction and surety bonds, is a member of the National Association of Surety Bond Producers and the Utah Surety Association, and was the convention chairman of the Associated General Contractors of Utah. He has served as a board member for the alumni association at his alma mater, Weber State University, and on the advisory council of WSU’s business school.

Béat Koszinkowski, the top producer at The Buckner Company, specializes in construction and real estate insurance. A Certified Insurance Counselor and Community Insurance Risk Management Specialist, Koszinowski is also an active board member at the Salt Lake Home Builders Association and a member of the education committee of the Utah Chapter of the Community Associations Institute. Born in Switzerland, Koszinowski is fluent in four languages and is a classically trained French chef.

Brad Nielson, who was born and raised on a potato farm and cattle ranch in Idaho, specializes in agriculture. President of the Buckner Company’ Idaho operations, he has been on the board of directors of the Idaho Independent Agents Association for 12 years. He has worked on association projects that include Make-A-Wish, Young Agents and Community Insurance Education.

Brett Nelson specializes in homeowners, small business, manufacturing and construction. He has served as the national chairman of the board of directors of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, and on the board of directors of the World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries. He has been a member of various committees of state and national organizations as well.

Dustin Thorne is active in the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Community Associations Institute, an international organization of homeowners and condominium associations. He contributes to the Colorado Real Estate Journal, the state’s only commercial real estate publication.  He also is a regular writer for numerous other publications and and frequent speaker on podcasts.


George Forrester, AHT Insurance Principal, Joins Board of RiskProNet International

George Forrester

RiskProNet International issued this press release today. We welcome George Forrester to our board of directors starting April 1.

LEESBURG, Va. – George J. Forrester, principal and senior vice president of the manufacturing division of AHT Insurance in Leesburg, Va., has been elected to the board of directors of RiskProNet International, an association of leading independent insurance brokers in North America.

RiskProNet member firms have combined annual revenues of $548 million and more than $5.5 billion in annual written premium.

Forrester, who joined AHT Insurance in 1996, brings more than 20 years of experience in insurance for manufacturing, construction and hospitality companies as well as specialized private financial institutions.

He has worked with trade associations, industrial engineers, American National Standards Institute committees and litigation advisers.

He is a frequent speaker at insurance and product safety events and has authored articles and white papers for industry publication.

Forrester is a graduate of Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Va. He holds the professional designation of Certified Insurance Counselor.

AHT Insurance, founded 96 years ago, is employee-owned and one of the largest independent insurance brokerages in the nation. Other offices are located in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Each RiskProNet member is an equal owner in the association, which gives the network the geographic diversity and shared knowledge base to serve clients with national, international or highly specialized exposures to risk.

In addition to AHT Insurance, RiskProNet members are BFL Canada Insurance Services, Inc. in Canada; BHS, Michigan; Brady, Chapman, Holland & Associates, Texas; Buckner Company, Inc., Utah; Connor & Gallagher Insurance Services, Inc., Illinois; Crane Agency, Missouri; Dawson Companies, Ohio; Eustis Insurance & Benefits, Louisiana; Herbert L. Jamison Co., LLC, New Jersey; InterWest Insurance Services, Inc., California; Johnson, Kendall & Johnson, Inc., Pennsylvania; M3 Insurance, Wisconsin; Moody Insurance Agency, Inc., Colorado; ONI Risk Partners, Indiana; Regions Insurance, Inc., Arkansas; Reynolds & Reynolds, Inc., Iowa; SterlingRisk, New York; SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services, LLC, California; and Watson Insurance, North Carolina.

RiskProNet International is headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif. Additional information is at www.riskpronet.com or at (650) 323-1929.

For additional information about AHT, visit www.ahtins.com or call (800) 648-4807.



Pros and Cons of CRM Software

Is CRM software worth the price? When do you enter a prospect into the agency management system?

Trigger points for moving a prospect into the agency management systems, participants in this month’s IT Practice Group teleconference suggested, may be these:

  • When you have a name and contact information for a prospect, as opposed to only a company name.
  • When you have confidential data on a prospect.
  • When coverage is bound.

The Salesforce software program is expensive, all agreed, and opinions varied on whether it is worth the cost. One of the most compelling arguments in its favor is the number of third-party apps that integrate with it.

Useful features of CRM programs include these:

  • Reminders of when to call a prospect again.
  • The ability to log calls made from cell phones.
  • Links to prospects’ social media accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Ability to know when two different departments, such as benefits and commercial lines, are calling on the same prospect.

Other comments included the following:

“Young, more productive producers at our agency started building a CRM on their own because none was in place. “But they weren’t doing it well and it could have been organized better.”

“You look at the money you’re wasting and you still don’t have a solution. If you have a solution that everybody is using and that gives you what you want, it’s worth it.”

“We went through a push-back period. Producers said ‘I don’t want to be managed,’ but they also said, ‘I need the tools.’”

“The hardest part is getting management to force the issue and change the culture.”


ACA Views on What’s Next

From Employee Benefit News….>

Those calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act are split on what to do should the law be repealed, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds.

Overall, the public’s opinion about what Congress should do next with the ACA has remained fairly constant over time. Equal shares (28%) say they want Congress to expand what the law does or, conversely, want a complete repeal of the law. The remainder either want Congress to continue implementing the law as is (22%) or scale it back (12%), Kaiser finds in its latest tracking poll.

Recently, these numbers have held fairly constant in this monthly poll. In late June, 25% of those surveyed said they want to expand what the law does and 27% called for a full repeal. “There is a narrowing of views toward an equal percentage,” says Bianca DiJulio, associate director of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s public opinion and survey research program in Menlo Park, Calif.

In this recent poll, conducted Aug. 6-11 of 1,200 adults in the United States, Kaiser for the first time asked Americans what should happen next if the law is repealed, and found a split answer.

Of those who want the ACA repealed in its entirety, 12% say Congress should replace the law with a Republican-sponsored alternative, while 11% say they would like the law repealed and not replaced. Although those opposed to the law disagree about what Congress should do, they have “an unwavering desire for repeal,” Kaiser reports. After being told of up to 19 million Americans potentially being uninsured should the law be repealed, just 3% changed to a favorable view of the law, the poll found.

On the ACA overall, the public remains closely divided on the law. Forty-four percent reported a favorable view of the law and 41% report an unfavorable view.

Views of the law remain tied to partisan views, DiJulio explains. “Republicans feel very unfavorable [about the ACA]; Democrats feel more favorable,” she says. “That is something consistent over time in conducting the poll since the ACA passed.” In the poll, 76% of Democrats hold a favorable view, while 71% of Republicans have an unfavorable one. It was a statistically even split for independents, with 46% unfavorable and 39% favorable.

DiJulio does not expect much to change drastically in these percentages. “Depending on partisan affiliations, that is highly predictable how they feel about the law and what happens moving forward,” she says.



Paid Advertising Is No Longer Best — So What Should You Do?

Frank Strong

Frank Strong

Consultant Frank Strong spoke to the RiskProNet Communications Practice Group on content marketing. Today’s entry will give an overview of why there is less emphasis on paid advertising than ever before. The next entry will suggest ways to generate ideas and selected case histories.

Paid advertising is no longer the most effective way to reach an audience. With the development of the Internet, you can build your own audience, using your own media, consultant Frank Strong told the RiskProNet Marketing Communications Practice Group at its recent teleconference.

“It’s an old idea, so why the fuss now?” he asked. He cited six reasons.

  1. The cost of production and distribution is lower.
  2. Corporations can connect directly with customers.
  3. Customers expect to be able to respond – and they want their questions answered.
  4. Customers expect minimum barriers to conversation when a company sells them a product or service.
  5. Content should be on a par with media or of even higher quality.
  6. The focus is on “help,” not “hype.” If you want to sell more in terms of dollars, you have to “sell” less in your message to clients.

Today’s Top Priority in Marketing

The new term is “content” marketing, and one survey last year showed that it is the top priority in marketing. In the old days, prospects might have to hear a message seven times before they made a purchase. With the proliferation of media and messages, some say it now is as high as 12 times.

Content marketing actually dates back to 1865, Strong said. That was when John Deere developed a glossy magazine called The Furrow. The Furrow was not about tractors, but about the science of farming.

“John Deere knew that a farmer might buy a new tractor as infrequently as every 30 years,” he said. “The goal was to build trust. If a farmer had been receiving the magazine for the last 10 of those years and it had useful information, he would have a level of trust in John Deere. It was worth it to create that level of trust.”

Today, of course, The Furrow is online.  It is a good example, Strong said, of providing information rather than selling. “There’s an old adage in public relations,” he added. “Pitch a story not a product. When you ‘sell’ too much, you lose credibility. That’s one reason PR people are so good at content marketing.  They understand that.”

A common mistake, Strong said, is looking for the “big” story that will go viral. “Consistency is more important than one big hit,” he said. “It’s like the strategy for winning a baseball game. You don’t focus on the home runs; you focus on the singles and doubles and that’s how teams win games.”

blogCenter_edited-1“Your website is the most critical asset you have,” he said, “and it will be for the foreseeable future. While it is time-consuming to update a website, a blog can be updated easily and will draw traffic to the website.”

In the URL for a blog, the word ‘blog” should come after the name of the company for best indexing by Google. For example, the RiskProNet blog should be www.riskpronet.com/blog rather than blog.riskpronet.com. Better indexing by Google, of course, will improve search engine results.

Not too long ago, Strong noted, paid media was the dominant way to reach a prospective client. With “paid” media, you “rent” an audience for your message. Today there is “earned” media – placement in news stories written by others; owned media – your website or blog; and “shared” media – social media such as Facebook and Twitter. A good marketing plan will incorporate all four.

“Lead with earned media, follow with owned media, and reinforce with shared media,” he recommended.

Tomorrow: Specific suggestions on how to develop content and case histories.

 Frank Strong, communications director with LexisNexis Business of Law Software Solutions, is a PR professional with savvy in content marketing and new media. Find him on Twitter or Google+, or read more on his blog: Sword and the Script. He was previously the director of PR for Vocus, a leading provider of marketing software that helps organizations reach and influence buyers across social networks, online and through the media. He is willing to answer questions from RiskProNet members and can be reached at strong3320@yahoo.com.



Subscribe to Member’s News