How to Get & Stay
Motivated When Selling
Turn Angry Customers into
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Time To Produce
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IIABO Staff Directory
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Marketing & Communications
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The Oregon Agent is a publication of the
Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers
of Oregon and is published quarterly by Blue
Water Publishers, LLC. IIABO reserves the right
in its sole discretion to reject advertising that
does not meet IIABO qualifications or which
may detract from its business, professional
or ethical standards. IIABO and Blue Water
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assume responsibility for claims made by
advertisers, content provided by the editor, or for
the opinions expressed by contributing authors.
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on advertising, contact :
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Message from the President, Brett Slater
8 Turn Angry Customers into Customer Evangelists
10 IIABO Board Leadership
12 How to Get and Stay Motivated When Selling
16 IIABO 2018 Midwinter Education Symposium and
18 How to Communicate Effectively During the Sales
20 What Do You Do When a Producer Doesn’t Have Time to
22 ACT: A Decade of Progress
26 No More Paper Policies
28 Introduction to Property & Casualty Insurance
Anderson and Murison 14
Berkshire Hathaway Guard 26
Burns & Wilcox 9
Grange Insurance Association 5
Griffin Underwriting Services 2
Imperial PFS 14
Insurance Agency Network 15
Liberty Mutual 32
Mutual of Enumclaw 31
Preferred Property Program 27
Risk Placement Services 3
Western National Insurance 7
4 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
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California • Colorado • idaho • oregon • Washington • Wyoming
For information, contact us at (800) 247-2643
Visit us online at grange.com
FROM THE IIABO PRESIDENT
President, Slater & Associates Insurance, Inc.
IIt is remarkable that I’ve already reached the midway
point in my term as president of the IIABO. Besides being
a great honor, it has also given me the opportunity to see
how membership in the Independent Insurance Agents and
Brokers of Oregon (IIABO) provides a vast array of benefits.
Most are included in your dues, and some are available at
a very modest cost. I think it’s important to step back on
occasion and see just what membership brings to an agency.
The IIABO provides a very strong voice both in Salem
and Washington, D.C. This is vital to agents, not just as
producers, but as business owners. Agents are represented
in Salem by IIABO’s lobbyist, Roger Beyer. Roger spent
eleven years in the Legislature both as a representative and
a senator and served one term as Senate Minority Leader.
My responsibilities as IIABO president have also taken me
to the national Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
Your dues support an incredible lobby in the nation’s capital.
Each year over 1,200 agents attend this event to spend a
full day on the “hill” visiting with legislators. This year we
had a personal meeting with Senator Merkley. We also
met with Representatives Bonamici, Walden and Schrader.
Congressman Walden also joined us for dinner.
The Virtual University is a member’s only resource that brings
a wealth of information to your fingertips, including coverage
information, sample ISO forms, business practices, check
lists, charts, and white papers. You can even “ask an expert”
by posting questions and then receiving answers from a
panel of insurance experts.
The Big I Virtual Risk Consultant is an online set of tools
that enhances the professionalism of agency staff.
Information includes commercial risk assessments for over
650 industries. There you will find checklists to identify
exposures and create proposals. The site has a complete
library of forms, court cases and explanation of coverages.
Marketing and prospecting template letters are included.
Finally, members are able to access the Westport/Swiss
Re agency E&O program. This IIABA risk purchasing group
provides an E&O program with the finest in claims service,
broad coverage and competitive rates. Local personal
service is provided by staff right here in Oregon.
If you are a member of our organization, I thank you for your
support and would encourage you to take advantage of
these programs. If you aren’t, you should consider joining
our ranks and participating in these programs. The IIABO
sponsors three important events each year; the Annual
Convention, the Forecast Breakfast and the MidWinter
This issue of the Oregon Agent features the MidWinter event
and includes information and registration forms. Make plans
now to join us and our instructor, Jerry Kennedy, March 8-9,
2018, at the Inn at Spanish Head in Lincoln City.
If you are interested in membership, call Barb Demings or
Jim Perucca at 503-247-4000 or visit our website, www.
Brett Slater, President, Slater and
Associates Insurance, Inc.
Your association staff:
Executive VP Jim Perucca 503-274-0583 email@example.com
Sr. Vice President Barb Demings 503-274-4000 ext. 126 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Tyra Dressel 503-274-4000 ext. 131 email@example.com
Asst. Vice President Abby Kahl 503-274-4000 ext. 123 firstname.lastname@example.org
Toll Free Numbers: 1-866-77-IIABO or 1-866-774-4226
6 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
TURN ANGRY CUSTOMERS INTO
By Shep Hyken
just returned from speaking at the International
Franchise Association convention. This was my
sixth year speaking at this great organization’s
conference and I decided it should be more of a
conversation than a speech. While there was plenty
of content in the session, I asked our audience members
to share their best practices that related to the various
topics that were in the presentation.
One of these best practices came from Jim Brown, the
Chief Operating Officer of Handels, a chain of homemade
ice cream and yogurt shops. By the way, you should
know that this chain of ice cream shops has numerous
accolades including listed as being number one in the
world for ice cream according to the book, “The Ten Best
of Everything: The Ultimate Guide to Travel” published by
His best practice had to do with complaints. My first
response to Jim, after he told me about Handels, was
how many complaints does an ice cream store typically
receive? Probably not many, but when Jim does receive
a complaint from a customer, the first thing he does
is what most of us do. He apologizes to the customer
and discusses what he can do to make the situation
right. So far, that’s nothing special at all. But then he
does something interesting, if not somewhat unique. He
invites this complaining customer to be part of his secret
shopper program. He actually turns his complainers into
What a brilliant idea. He not only apologizes and fixes
the problem. He enlists their help to ensure a positive
experience for other customers. And, the customers love
doing this. Sure, they get some free ice cream for helping,
but they also get to feel like part of the Handel’s team.
He turns these complaining customers into customer
This idea is so simplistic, but the results are excellent.
Most of the time when there is a complaint, we want to
resolve it and restore the customer’s confidence in doing
business with us. This takes it one step further. This
almost guarantees that the customer will not only come
back, but become loyal as a result of the “bond” that
develops when the customer becomes part of the team.
I’m constantly amazed at how many different ideas
people and companies use to amaze their customers.
What ideas do you have that turns complainers into
evangelists? Send me an email and I may just include it
in my next book.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional
speaker and New York Times bestselling business author.
For information contact (314) 692-2200 or www.hyken.com.
For information on The Customer Focus customer service
training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.
com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken (Copyright ©MMXIV, Shep
Hyken.) Copyright © MMXIV Shepard Presentations, All
rights reserved. Reprinted with permission
8 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
IS OUR MIDDLE NAME.
Only Burns & Wilcox has the depth and breadth of
experience to deliver the right solutions right away.
San Francisco, California | 415.421.4244
toll free 800.759.4855 | fax 415.421.0620
Salt Lake City, Utah | 801.432.5422
toll free 800.523.1409 | fax 801.944.4893
Commercial | Professional | Personal | Brokerage | Binding | Risk Management Services
2017 - 2018
The IIABO Board of Directors is a diverse group of insurance professionals representing the
varied interests of agents throughout the State of Oregon. We would like you to learn more
about these volunteer leaders and the years of experience they bring to the association.
Chief Operating Officer,
Slater & Assoc. Insurance, Inc.
Tualatin, Oregon - 26 years
Chief Operations Officer,
Beaverton, Oregon - 25 years
KPD Insurance, Inc.
Springfield, OR - 29 years
Past President, IIABO
President, Wheatland Ins. Ctr., Inc.
Pendleton, Oregon - 46 years
Legislative Chair, IIABO
Huggins Insurance Services
Salem, Oregon - 18 years
Finance Chair, IIABO
Chief Operating Officer, Bisnett Insurance
Offices throughout Oregon - 28 years
National Director, IIABO
Maps Insurance Services
Salem, Oregon - 49 years
Young Agents Chair, IIABO
Portland, Oregon - 14 years
President, Atkinson Insurance Group
Portland, Oregon - 25 years
10 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
Board Member, IIABO
President, J.D. Fulwiler & Co.
Portland, Oregon - 24 years
Data Breach Specialist
Brown & Brown NW
Bend/Portland, Oregon - 35 years
Commercial Lines Producer,
Insurance Partners, LLC
Portland, Oregon - 20 years
Managing Partner, The Protectors Insurance
Medford, Oregon - 31 years
Owner, Chet Hill Insurance
Portland, Oregon - 30 years
President, CAL/OR Insurance Specialists, Inc.
Brookings, Oregon - 32 years
Co-Owner, Valley Insurance
LaGrande, Oregon - 17 years
President, Timmco Insurance, Inc.
Portland, Oregon - 39 years
Owner, Pacific Insurance Partners
Forest Grove, Oregon - 21 years
Insurance carriers and service providers do not serve on the IIABO board of directors,
but support the association as Associate Members, Sponsors and Exhibitors. If you
want to learn more about the IIABO, or if you would like to get involved, please contact
any of these individuals. If you are not a member, please email Jim Perucca, jimp@
insureoregon.org for information on membership.
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 11
By John Chapin
HOW TO GET AND STAY
MOTIVATED WHEN SELLING
Sales is a profession that
requires you to be “up” and
motivated most of the time.
It is also a profession in
which you can get knocked down very
quickly from the amount of rejection
that’s required for success. As a result,
one of the biggest questions I get from
salespeople is: “How do I get and stay
motivated?” Here’s my answer.
FOUR PATHS TO MOTIVATION
There are only four forms of
motivation. They are: external
negative, external positive, intrinsic,
and peer motivation.
Motivation Source #1: External
Negative - Or as my first manager
used to say, “If I put a gun to your
head, you’d do business.” This is a
negative consequence or penalty for
not doing something. This was third
place in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” or as
Alec Baldwin’s character said in the
movie, “Third prize: You’re fired!” This
motivation is all about accountability
When motivating others, a sales
manager usually starts with a
probation period followed by loss of
one’s job for failing to do the necessary
work or make quota.
When motivating oneself, the most
effective form is usually a financial
penalty. For example, when putting
off some scary calls to big prospects, I
finally told a friend that if I didn’t make
the calls in the next 30 days, I owed her
$1,000. By the way, I made the calls on
day 29. Yes, sometimes I struggle with
this stuff too.
Motivation Source #2: External
Positive - External positive was first
and second place in the Glengarry
Contest: “First prize: a brand new
Cadillac. Second prize: this fine set
of steak knives.” This is a reward for
work done or a goal achieved. This is
not as powerful as the first motivator
12 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
as generally we respond more to pain,
but is still a way to get leverage on
ourselves and others.
To motivate others this could be $100
for the person who makes the most
calls in the next hour or a limo lunch
for whoever closes the most business
To motivate ourselves this can be
dinner at our favorite restaurant,
a dream vacation, or some other
indulgence upon the completion of a
Motivation Source #3: Intrinsic -
This is the most powerful motivation
among high-achievers. This form has
the most potential power and, if strong
enough, can be used all by itself. This
is the “personal WHY.” In other words,
what are the personal reasons you
need to be successful?
To motivate yourself, decide what you
really want out of life. What do you
want your life to ultimately look like?
What do you want for your family and
your kids? What do you want to do
and be? If you had no limitations on
time or money, how would your life
be different? What will your perfect
day look like 20 years from now? What
drives you? Is it your dream lifestyle,
taking care of your kids and future
generations, to leave a lasting legacy,
To motivate others, help them find
their WHY. Where do they want to be
in their career 5, 10, or 20 years from
now? Ask them: If they had no limits
on time or money, what would they
have and do with their life? What is
their endgame? Do they want to retire
and to where?
Motivation Source #4: Peer Group
- This is who you spend your time
with personally and professionally.
People usually rise to, but rarely above
their peer group. “Birds of a feather
do flock together.” This also relates
to your environment. If you have an
office of negative people in which no
one is held accountable, any success
will be fleeting or completely nonexistent.
To motivate others, provide a work
environment that is positive and
professional and one in which people
are held accountable. Have them look
at the people they hang out with.
Aaron Hernandez and Tom Brady
had/have different peer groups.
To motivate yourself means hanging
out with positive people who have
goals and are achieving big things.
It also means getting rid of negative
people and negativity in general.
SOME OTHER WAYS TO
• Write out your goals in the morning
and at night and have them in front of
you during the day.
• Create a vision (dream) board.
• You can’t watch the news and be
positive. Keep negatives out and put
in plenty of positives through books,
thoughts, images, and inspirational
and motivational ideas.
• Have rituals and routines in place to
• Announce goals to friends, family,
and in public forums, and have people
hold you accountable.
• Have a coach, mentor, or mastermind
group hold you accountable to your
goals and dreams.
• Accept that there will be problems
and see them as challenges.
• Have a support system in place,
People who are positive and upbeat
and will help you turn around a tough
• Take 100 percent responsibility for
your life. Where you end up will come
down to you and what you do, not
the economy, the job market, who’s
president, or anything else.
• Realize that doing what you need to
do is ultimately a question of character
• Who wins when you win and loses
when you win? Who is for you and
against you? Make sure the right
• Every call gets you closer to a sale.
If a sale is $1,000 and you have to
make 100 calls, each call is worth $10
regardless of what happens.
• If it will ultimately take 10,000 hours
of work for success, every hour you
put in gets you closer.
Continued on page 14 >>
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 13
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Fall 2017 • The Oregon Agent 15
16 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 17
HOW TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
DURING THE SALES PROCESS
By John Chapin
In theory sales is pretty simple: communicate the right way with
the right people, and you’ll make sales. It’s in practice that most
people complicate the issue. So how do you keep it simple?
Assuming you’re selling
something where someone
has to deal with you for
any length of time. In other
words, you’re not selling batteries
at Walmart. You need to get several
points across: you care; you’re
trustworthy; you understand their
problem; and you’re competent and
can solve their problem.
That said, effective communication
begins with mindset. First, you must
be completely sold on and have
confidence in your product, your
company, and you. Next, you have to
have empathy for the people you’re
selling to and you must put them first,
before your company, your product,
the sale, and even before you. If you
enter the sales conversation with
confidence, caring, and compassion,
putting the other person’s needs first,
you’re off to a good start.
Next is preparation. You need to
know your product, the competition,
how to identify the needs, wants,
and desires of the prospect, how to
present your product solutions, how
to answer to objections, and you
must be able to close.
Once you have the proper mindset
and are prepared to sell, here are the
other communication rules to follow.
Rule 1: Be honest and authentic.
Rule 2: Agree with people. Never
argue or debate. Rarely will you
get anywhere by beginning a
conversation by disagreeing with
someone. When you push back, most
people dig their heels in even further.
Start by agreeing, let them be right,
build some rapport, and then start to
shift the conversation.
Rule 3: Listen well. The better you
listen, the more people will like you
because most of us are not listened
to during the day. While we are
speaking, the other person is thinking
about what they’re going to say.
Especially on initial calls, you want to
be listening far more than you speak,
about 70 to 80 percent of the time.
Take notes if necessary and make
sure you actually hear what is being
said. Read between the lines and wait
five seconds after someone is done
talking before you speak.
Rule 4: The most important part of
communication is the mindset of the
audience. What is going through their
brain? What are they thinking? If they
think it’s green and you think it’s red,
you’d better figure out why they think
it’s green and how you may be able to
educate them as to why it’s actually
red. If you’re going to connect and
communicate effectively, you need
to be able to see things from their
Rule 5: People listen via their favorite
radio station – WIIFM (what’s in it for
me). Focus on the other person and
what they are interested in. Why
should they be listening to you? Why
should they care about what you’re
saying? Use “you” versus “I” language
and ask good questions to find out
what’s important to them.
Rule 6: Always speak in benefits. Never
give a feature without the resulting
benefit. Again, what does the feature
mean to them? How does it save
them time, money, effort, energy,
headaches, or make their life better?
Rule 7: Be extremely responsive
and answer client/prospect
communications as quickly as
possible. Also answer calls and emails
at night and on the weekends.
Rule 8: Do what you say you’ll do when
you say you’ll do it. Then go one more
step and go above and beyond, doing
more than you promise.
Rule 9: Everything affects your
communication and how people hear
you. You will be judged what you wear,
how you speak, the car you drive, the
pen you use, and everything else that
the senses can pick up.
Rule 10: Make sure your body language,
facial expressions, eye movements,
tone of voice, and words match the
point you’re trying to get across. Most
of communication is non-verbal.
Rule 11: Don’t use industry-speak,
18 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
jargon, acronyms, or words the other
person is not familiar with.
Rule 12: Speak intelligently about your
product or service. If you don’t know
the answer to a question, be honest,
and then follow up with an answer as
quickly as possible.
Rule 13: Deliver important
communication in person and don’t
Rule 14: Document communication
Rule 15: Be scripted and know exactly
what to say in each and every prospect
and client situation. Role play and
practice your scripts constantly with
others and yourself.
Rule 16: In most cases too much
communication is better than not
Rule 17: Don’t wait to communicate.
When there is a potential issue, the
more time passes, the worse the
situation usually gets.
Rule 18: Always follow an email with a
phone call or text message (whichever
medium the person prefers) and
sometimes a physical mailing. You
can’t assume they saw your email.
Rule 19: Communicate based upon
facts, not assumptions. Clear up
assumptions by asking questions. An
email in all capital letters may mean
it’s easier to proofread emails before
they go out, not that the person is
mad at you.
Rule 20: Communicate based upon
facts, not opinions. “It’s cold in the
room,” is an opinion. “It’s 65 degrees,”
is a fact in that it can be proven to be
either true or false. When people start
to argue opinions such as religion
and politics as facts, that’s when we
end up in wars. When someone says,
“I can’t sell in my territory because
of our pricing structure,” the first
question to ask is, “Is that a fact or an
Rule 21: No negative talk. Prospects
don’t want to hear about bad traffic or
the latest bad news on the radio. Keep
prospect and customer interactions
positive and upbeat. People like to do
business with positive people.
John Chapin is a motivational sales
speaker and trainer. For his free
newsletter, or to have him speak at your
next event, go to: www.completeselling.
com John has over 29 years of sales
experience as a number one sales rep
and is the author of the 2010 sales
book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia.
You can reprint provided you keep
contact information in place. Email:
Reprinted from The PIPELINE, the
national newsletter for agency
principals. The PIPELINE is published by
Agency Consulting Group, Inc., leading
consulting firm for independent agents
in the U.S. for over 3 years. Call 800-779-
2430, email info@agencyconsulting.
com, or visit www.agencyconsulting.
com for information about the content
of this article or PIPELINE subscription
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 19
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN A PRODUCER
DOESN’T HAVE TIME TO PRODUCE?
By Al Diamond
When I explained the issues involved and the simple solution, my friend asked, “But will
it cost more?” Cost more than what? Currently she’s paying for partial coverage and all
kinds of headaches in the event of a claim involving her daughter. What is a few dollars
more or less for real coverage? What is the difference between a fake policy and a real
policy? No price comparison exists. It is not even apples to oranges. It’s dog food to caviar.
The insured is a smart, welleducated
person. She trusted her
either stupid/imbecilic or cheating
agent to take care of her insurance.
She trusted because like 99 percent
of consumers, she is not educated in
insurance. The dreariness of reading
an insurance policy dissuaded her
from wanting to learn more. While
this cluster wreck is especially
egregious, such incompetency is not
uncommon. It happens so often that
some company underwriting offices
probably have weekly contests for
the stupidest agents. Sometimes
they probably have the equivalent
of photo finishes. If potential E&O
claims or actual claims could be
published, the title might be (think
Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a
redneck…”), “You might need your
license revoked if you’ve done…”
I am not throwing all agents under
the bus by any means. The industry
has many excellent agents. I am
only throwing the idiots under the
bus. Readers up to this point likely
fall into one of three categories. The
first will not believe other agents can
be that stupid/lazy/incompetent.
Another category is upset with me
and their fellow agents. They are
upset that I’m writing about the
problem and they’re upset with
their fellow agents for being so poor
at their jobs. The third group has
not a clue that I’m pointing out their
Their incompetency ruins lives so
I have no problem being direct.
20 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
They ruin lives when insureds
need coverage but do not have the
right coverage because the agent
was too stupid/deceitful to even
offer the right coverage. I am not
writing about some unusual gap
or even the occasional mistake. I
am writing about the obvious and
continuous. These agents ruin it for
the good agents because they’re
the epitome of one bad apple. One
reason commoditization occurs
is the public begins believing all
agents/insurance companies are
incompetent. What is the price
difference between one bad policy
and another bad policy is really
what my friend was asking.
The solution: The good agents need
to find a stronger voice to point out
the mistakes of the incompetent.
Quit You are not alone! This happens
You hire a producer, whether a
fresh and new producer or an
experienced producer. They spend
several years diligently creating
new clients for the agency. You
use our Producer Acquisition and
Management Program to acquire
them and our Producer Validation
Program to assure yourself that
they are as active as needed to both
support themselves and the agency
as they grow your book of business.
Then, when they reach a hundred
or a few hundred clients, you notice
that their New Business production
diminishes each year. They are still
active, but they spend their time
managing their client relationships
to keep the clients happy and
renewing. Something is happening
that needs to be addressed if you
agree that a producer’s job in your
agency is to build an ever-growing
book of clients for the agency. But
there are two types of producer
personalities and each must be
treated differently if you want to
continue to grow your business.
The producers with a true Salesman
Personality are complaining that
they don’t have time to get out
and sell anymore – their time is
occupied by the existing clients in
service, relationship management
and renewals. The second type of
producers is a Service Agent. This
persona is comfortable when he
has reached his compensation
level. Once his goal is reached, the
agency’s production will slow down
or new business will plateau. Hence,
that producer is now satisfied to
become a Service Agent, tending
a book of business. They simply
haven’t told the owner that they are
no longer producers.
It’s important to identify which
category of producer you are
facing when the time comes that
their New Business production
has diminished. Both types can be
motivated to regain their posture
as New Business producers, but
the motivating factors are a little
different for each type.
If you have a true Salesman
Personality in your producer,
the correct action is to take their
lowest five percent of clients (by
revenue size) and re-assign them
to an Account Manager or to an
Account Executive. Your goal, of
course, is to retain as close to 100
percent of your clients every year
AND, simultaneously, have your
production team both replace
lost clients and grow new clients
every year. The advent of Account
Managers for smaller accounts in
partnership with the producers and
Account Executives who assume
an entire book of business with
the goal of maximizing retention
will take much of the producers’
workloads away, allowing them
time to prospect and penetrate
new customer relationships. Once
true producers realize the luxury of
more time, they will penetrate more
(and usually larger) accounts, paying
themselves and the agency better
for their efforts.
Producers who have converted
to Service Agents are motivated
differently than True Producer
personalities. While the True
Producer personality is always
looking for more money and will do
anything you permit to grow that
compensation, Service Agents are
seeking to solidify their on-going
compensation according to the
revenue levels that have permitted
them to achieve their current
The motivation for a Producer
turned Service Agent is to continue
to pay their residual commissions
only if the book of business grows (as
defined by either revenue growth or
customer count growth) each year.
Knowing that their income level
depends on growth, they will regain
their motivation to sell.
There is much more involved in
either the Producer Incentive
Program or the Service Agent
Incentive Program that is specifically
tailored to the producer and current
condition of the agency in question.
We invite your call to familiarize us
with your producers and allow us to
create specific incentive programs
to keep them involved in customer
growth within your agency as long
as they work for you.
Reprinted from The PIPELINE, the
national newsletter for agency
principals. The PIPELINE is published
by Agency Consulting Group,
Inc., leading consulting firm for
independent agents in the U.S. for
over 3 years. Call 800-779-2430,
or visit www.agencyconsulting.com
for information about the content of
this article or PIPELINE subscription
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 21
About this article: This article is a modified version of comments Jeff Yates made at the Phoenix ACT
meeting as he anticipated his retirement at the end of February, 2014. Jeff discusses the significant
progress that ACT and the industry have made with technology over the last thirteen years and provides
his thoughts on taking ACT to the next level, as well as on the future for independent agents and brokers.
ACT: A Decade of Progress with Enormous Opportunities Ahead
by Jeff Yates
As I prepare to turn over the reins as ACT Executive Director to my very capable successor, Ron Berg, it is
a great time to take stock of the progress ACT and the industry have made over the last 13 years and to
provide my thoughts on how ACT can achieve even greater things in the future.
A Decade of Progress
Sometimes we all get frustrated with how long it takes to see a time-saving technology implemented
broadly within our distribution system. But when you view it with a longer term perspective and look
over the last decade, the progress we have made is amazing and is impacting every employee in almost
every agency across the country.
We are seeing the agencies of the future emerge right before our eyes. And the best thing is that these
agencies are willing to share their innovations and experiences with the rest of the industry, so that the
whole distribution system benefits.
Agency principals have become a lot more engaged with technology in recent years and are working
with their staffs to implement these technologies. They realize that their competitors are using
technology as a competitive differentiator and they are starting to harness these tools as well to
improve their own agency’s customer value proposition.
Real Time, Download & Going “Paperless”
Real Time has come of age over the last ten years and has so much more potential to grow in the future.
I get frustrated when I talk with agencies that have not made Real Time the standard workflow in their
agencies, because I have seen the positive benefits other agencies have realized from using this
technology. Agencies have wanted to be able to work with their multiple carriers in a consistent manner
through their management system or comparative rater for decades. Real Time is the vehicle that will
get us there.
There has been enormous progress in download in the last several years. Personal lines download is
almost universal and commercial lines download has been much improved. It is time for agencies which
have not implemented commercial lines download to take another look at it and to use it at least for
small commercial business with those of their carriers that are able to send clean downloads. IVANS
reports that 14,000 agencies are currently receiving 639,000 commercial lines download messages a
22 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
month from 95 carriers. In other words, commercial lines download is working today for many agencies
Direct bill commission statement download and claims download are two additional innovations over
the last decade that are saving incredible time for agencies today. The download of Activity Notes by
carriers directly into agency systems is the latest technology that will profoundly impact agencies in the
coming years. Using Activity Notes, carriers can send agencies electronic policies and documents,
important client billing notices and other needed information. This technology saves the agent having to
go to multiple carrier websites to pull these documents and information – a huge pain point.
Using Real Time, Download and the electronic filing, agencies have been able to become largely
“paperless,” particularly for personal lines and small commercial business. This trend has enhanced
agency efficiency greatly and enables employees to work from anywhere that they have an Internet and
phone connection. As a result, agencies are breaking down traditional geographic boundaries as they
look to expand.
Agencies Build Online Presence
Over the last decade, agencies have had to re-align their marketing efforts to build an online presence,
so that the 80% of consumers who now go online to do insurance research can find them. Agencies are
building websites with more content and client self-service features. They are taking advantage of Local
Search and social media tools to attract prospects and build relationships. IIABA is helping agencies
attract online consumers through TrustedChoice.com and Project CAP services, and will soon be
expanding this initiative into commercial lines.
Agencies Adapt to New Privacy Requirements
As new state and federal privacy and data breach laws have passed over the last several years, many
agencies have taken the necessary steps to comply with these requirements by implementing secure
email with their carriers and clients, adopting written information security plans and procedures,
securing their websites when requesting personal information, and training their employees in these
procedures. This is an area that will require continued agency attention in the future as businesses
continue to experience data breaches and laws and regulations are updated to respond to these threats.
ACT Provides Forum to Promote Technology Adoption
ACT has been dedicated to advancing all of these issues by providing a forum for their discussion. We
have used ACT meetings, work groups and regular ACT articles, reports and communications to discuss
innovation and to encourage further implementation. We have also had a very active Strategic Future
Issues Work Group which has helped us keep an eye on the future and aware of the key trends that will
impact our businesses.
ACT Provides Resources
In addition to providing a forum to encourage the use of innovative technologies, ACT has created or
curated numerous resources to assist agencies and carriers with implementation. I encourage you to
take a few minutes to review the wealth of material that ACT members have created by going to
www.independentagent.com/act. A few highlights from the site include:
• 2013 Key Trends Report
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 23
• Electronic Policy Delivery -- A Game Changer
• Videos: Agency Perspectives on the Future; Agency Strategies for Growth
• Planning Your Digital Presence & Blueprint to an Improved Agency Online Presence
• Agency Prototype Information Security Plan
People Make the Difference
ACT has had great success over the last decade because of the incredible passion and talents of its
volunteers. Agents and carrier representatives thank me all the time for the resources we have made
available to them and those resources are a direct result of the work of our ACT volunteers.
I have seen time and time again, one person step up and take leadership of an initiative and with the
support of the group, make a real difference in driving an improved workflow or technology forward.
I just got back from our ACT meeting in Phoenix and was blown away by the level of idea sharing,
camaraderie and friendships that have developed among the ACT members. This was truly the sign of a
healthy organization that has so much potential for the future.
We are always looking for new volunteers to get involved in ACT to make a difference – not only for
their businesses, but also for our distribution system as a whole. Please contact Ron Berg and let him
know of your interest (email@example.com).
Taking ACT to the Next Level
I believe ACT has become a jewel for the industry. It is your forum. It can have as big an impact on your
future as you want it to have.
Dare to bring the big issues to the table that ACT needs to be discussing. That is what ACT meetings are
Be a leader in making innovation happen. If a new technology needs to be incorporated to advance our
distribution system, make it happen. Don’t just wait to see what other carriers or vendors do. Be willing
to do that Proof of Concept and then bring that innovation to an ACT meeting to demo it and encourage
the industry to adopt it.
Agents, you need to be persistent in advocating for what you need in terms of improved workflows and
technologies from your vendors and carriers. Innovation and change takes time. This is a big industry!
Keep pushing for positive change at ACT and AUGIE meetings, but also when you meet with your
marketing reps and when you attend carrier advisory councils. Most important, implement new
technologies when they become available to you. That’s the best way to encourage carriers to continue
to invest in these improvements on your behalf. Finally, remember to thank your carrier executives and
vendors when they do implement a new technology or workflow that benefits you.
Ratcheting up our Sense of Urgency
ACT has created a great foundation to build upon, but I encourage you to increase your sense of
urgency. The competing distribution systems are doing everything they can to use technology to beat us
in the market place. We need to move faster in taking advantage of new technologies and implementing
24 The Oregon Agent • Winter 2018
All of us – both as individual organizations and collectively through ACT and other industry organizations
– need to do a better job of publicizing the new technologies that we do implement, so that the industry
begins to understand the level of innovation that is going on within the Independent Agency System,
and additional agents and carriers are encouraged to follow suit.
We should be the innovators that future reports from McKinsey & Company and A.M. Best point to, not
the competing distribution systems.
We can be the group setting the pace for future innovation in the industry, if we all work together. You
all have ACT, AUGIE, ACORD, and the vendor user groups to help support you and amplify your
individual efforts. The direct carriers and captive agent companies do not have these organizations.
A Bright Future
I believe independent insurance agents have an incredibly bright future. You have the best business
model. You have the freedom to advocate for your clients and to offer them a wider choice of markets.
You now have the technology tools that permit you to write business efficiently and those tools will
continue to improve over time.
You can build a strong online presence on the Internet if you choose to use the tools available to you.
You can’t compete with the national advertising of the direct carriers, but you can compete with them
using local search, social media and your active community involvement.
I urge independent agencies to focus on developing your unique value proposition in concert with your
employees. Why should the consumer do business with you as an independent agent rather than with a
captive agent or a direct carrier? And what makes your agency stand out from other independent
agencies and brokers? Once your have developed your unique brand, make sure your website, blog and
social media reflect that brand and that your employees articulate and reinforce that brand with every
client contact they make.
Having the opportunity to work with independent agents and brokers and the IIABA staff this past 39
years has been a pure joy. Having the opportunity to work with the ACT membership this past 13 years
has inspired me and energized me. I deeply appreciate the many friendships I have formed and will miss
working with such a talented group of people very much.
I urge you to take ACT to the next level by promoting a sense of urgency, putting the big issues on the
table, exercising leadership in driving innovation, and providing Ron with the type of wonderful support
that you have provided to me.
I wish each of you every success and much happiness in the future.
Jeff Yates has been Executive Director of the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) since 2001 and will
retire at the end of February, 2014. Ron Berg takes his place as ACT Executive Director and he can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeff can be reached at email@example.com. This article reflects the
views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 25
NO MORE PAPER POLICIES
Electronic policy and other attachments via Activity Notifications
By Mele Fuller - AAI, AIM, ACE, AIS, AIT, ARA, ARM, FIDM, FLMI
There’s been movement to eliminate the agent
copy of personal lines policies. Most agencies do
not receive a physical “agent’s” copy of a policy
anymore. They receive ACORD standard policy
download to maintain current personal lines
data in their management systems (although many carriers
provide access to the full policy on their agency portals).
With personal lines being almost exclusively direct bill, the
carrier sends a printed copy of the policy to the policyholder.
But commercial lines is still working to catch up. Carriers
still print, collate, and mail paper policies to the agency
– both the agent’s and the insured’s copies. The upshot is
the agency then mails the insured’s copy to them. Agencies
on the whole want to eliminate their dependency on paper
copies of policies, but they may feel a need for a copy in
order to service their customers. At the same time, many of
their customers are interested in receiving electronic copies
rather than paper.
A carrier can use ACORD XML standard ‘Activity Notification’
messages to electronically send a full copy of a policy to
an agency. These notification messages are very simple in
format, and can include a PDF attachment of the policy when
needed – which the agency can then store in their agency
management system. For the carrier, this eliminates the
cost of the printing infrastructure and postage – which can
be very high on commercial policies. As an added benefit,
the Activity Notification process works to eliminate paper
storage in the agency.
ACORD notification messages are used today by a number
of companies to send copies of policies to their agents. The
messages are currently sent via the IVANS network, just as
policy download is sent. The policies are sent separately and
do not replace the policy download.
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“More and more of our agents are receiving their policy
copies (agent, insured, or both copies) through daily ACORD
Activity Notifications. They love the fact that they no longer
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The documents are automatically delivered to their agency
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Notifications because there is no chance of the transaction
overwriting any data in their system, and they receive much
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These Activity Notification messages are an ACORD XML
standard developed to provide secure communications
between carrier and agency. While historically carriers and
agents have shared documents via email attachments, email
is not as secure as the use of ACORD notification messages.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that focus must be put
on securing data as it travels over the Internet.
Activity Notifications can also be used for more than
policy attachments. Typically today, carriers send pending
cancellation notices (e.g., late payment notices), renewal lists,
and policy activity. Additionally, they can send claim updates
if they are not using claims download, or also to supplement
their existing claims download. This information is often
available on a carrier’s website, but an agency must interrupt
daily work flows to log in to their individual carriers to see
this data – and then manually key the information into their
management system. Using ACORD notification messages,
the agency management systems can process this data
automatically in to desktop activities.
“Activity Notifications messages are also a great way to
send agent policy updates for lines of business they don’t
receive in their carriers’ policy download. They then make
the updates to those policies in their management system
without having to log in to a carrier’s system and see what
changes were made. For example, in renewal situations,
it can reduce the changes of policies ending up in an
expiration list because they receive the renewal policy when
carriers generate the renewal. The agent then goes into their
system and renews the policy with any necessary updates.
This is a big time-saver, and can also reduce E&O.” — Caleen
There are many benefits for carriers and agencies in using
the ACORD XML Activity Notification messages: cost savings,
efficiency, security, and timeliness of information. If you
are not using ACORD Notification messages, talk to ACORD
(standards@ACORD.org) about how to get started.
This article reflects the views of the author and should not be
construed as an official statement by ACT.
Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 27
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Winter 2018 • The Oregon Agent 29
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