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FAIA and Industry News

TrustedChoice.com: An Open Letter to Carriers

(Member News, Trusted Choice) Permanent link

For more than 200 years, the American Agency System’s success has been largely based upon its ability to adapt to changes in consumer behavior and technology. Today, independent agents and the carriers they represent are once again challenged by the increasing number of insurance buyers who prefer to shop online and competitors that have developed greater digital proficiencies to solicit and serve them.

Certainly, this is not news to agency carriers specializing in personal lines, as they have experienced the most severe market share declines during the digital era. While some have fared better than others, many company-sponsored digital solutions for agents are largely proprietary and have generated only pockets of success. The challenge is a broader one for the American Agency System and it must be overcome to effectively compete with direct writers and other on-line insurance providers that have made early gains on the internet.    

That’s why I’m urging you to become a participating carrier on TrustedChoice.com, the most viable online platform for independent insurance agents.  

Broad agent and carrier participation is essential to the success of TrustedChoice.com and already, there are more than 1700 independent agencies and 35 insurance companies enrolled with more are signing up each week. But often times, agents want to know whether their carriers are participating before they will subscribe and vice versa. This “chicken-egg approach” is simply no longer a viable solution and consumer buying preferences aren’t waiting. Companies and agents can’t afford to be late adopters! The agency system needs to work together to realize the enormous potential of TrustedChoice.com.

Some carriers are also reluctant to participate because they don’t want to be “spreadsheeted.” First, TrustedChoice.com is not targeting the shop-by-price buyer, and second, there’s a big difference between shopping and buying. When you want to buy a TV, what’s the first thing you do? Compare prices online. You want to know about the different models, the options, and yes, the price—the benchmark price. We should have no problem with insurance consumers doing the same thing.

Comparative rating is about helping customers understand there’s a variety of choices and a range of prices—two things that embody the value proposition independent agents bring to the table: advocacy, expertise, and choice. Pricing information is just part of the equation (TrustedChoice.com does not offer quote to bind); the ultimate goal is to provide information and connect consumers with agents for all of their insurance needs.

Many traditional agency carriers are already experimenting online and investing in new digital distribution channels. Two recent news stories chronicled some of this activity by announcing that Walmart and Overstock.com are entering the online insurance business. Letters from carriers affirming their commitment to the independent agency distribution channel quickly followed that news. While it’s gratifying to hear such words, they ring hollow if these same carriers aren’t also willing to support their agent’s digital future by investing in TrustedChoice.com – the largest independent agent on-line platform.

The momentum of this on-line insurance platform is unmistakable as nearly 150,000 consumers visited TrustedChoice.com in April, a 39-percent increase over March and the ninth consecutive record setting month. The ongoing Freedom of Choice digital ad campaign continues to drive strong traffic, and with more agents and states participating in coming months, that record-setting pace will continue.

TrustedChoice.com makes it simple for carriers to participate. There’s a flat $500 fee per month, per state, per carrier, and no long-term commitment is required. For more information and to get signed up, email Vincent Savarese, Consumer Agent Portal vice president of Carrier Relations, or call him at 860-673-1310.

Ultimately, the best reason for carriers to participate is to increase market share by equipping their agents to successfully compete in the digital era. The ongoing viability of the American Agency System depends on it, and I strongly encourage your company’s participation today!  

Sincerely,

Jeff Grady
FAIA President & CEO

Traffic to TrustedChoice.com continues to break records

(Member News, Trusted Choice) Permanent link

April marked the ninth consecutive month of record consumer traffic to TrustedChoice.com. The site ended April with 149,388 visits—a 39-percent increase over March. The site is already ahead of April’s pace for May, with the Freedom digital ad campaign continuing to drive strong traffic.

TCAprilTraffic

Florida is now ranked 4th among the states in terms of traffic generated to TrustedChoice.com, up from 10th place in March. And the site continues to track keywords that increase search return results. TrustedChoice.com is tracking 13,000-plus keywords; 754 of them rank in between first and third position in search results; 1037 fall between fourth and 10th.

Agent and carrier participation is up, but we can do better. To date, 36 carriers have shown their support for the independent agent channel by signing on with TrustedChoice.com (not all are participating in all states), and more are in the pipeline.

Agency participation is holding steady around 1,700. If you haven’t yet signed up for an advantage subscription, you are missing out. Visit Project CAP online to learn more and subscribe. The cost is a mere $39 a month and can be canceled at any time.

Be found online by participating in Trusted Choice digital ad buy

(Member News, Trusted Choice) Permanent link

The Trusted Choice® Freedom Campaign is off to a great start since its implementation in January, using images of restrained captive agents to help promote the independent agents’ ability to choose the right plan for their consumers.

As part of the campaign, Trusted Choice, several state associations—including Florida— and a few agencies pooled funds to purchase a digital ad buy targeting consumers on various websites that focus on life changes, such as buying a house or car, pregnancy, divorce, etc. So far, the ad buy has targeted more than 800,000 consumers with various ads showcasing the Freedom Campaign’s creative material, and has delivered a total of 11,230,431 impressions and 5,571 banner ad clicks—metrics that are right on target with delivery expectations. As the three-month campaign continues, those numbers will only grow. Each participating agency will receive a minimum of 800,000 impressions and approximately 400 banner-ad clicks.

Trusted Choice is now accepting purchases for the second flight of the digital ad buy, tentatively set to start in September 2014. For $3,000, participating agencies receive placement of customized banners, tagged with agency information, within an online network consisting of hundreds of sites that focus on life events (health care, residences, finance, family and more). Through Tier 3 of the Marketing Reimbursement Program, agencies will receive a $750 discount, bringing the total cost to $2,250.

This is an excellent opportunity to tap into the digital ad space and reach thousands of potential consumers, and you can sign up directly today. The deadline to reserve your online space is Aug. 1, 2014.

For discount codes and more information, contact Kiescha Cherry, Trusted Choice advertising manager, at 703-706-5443.

This Week in Insurance: May 26–30, 2014

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Consumer Services Committee teleconference, 3:30 p.m. To participate in the call, dial 1-866-361-7525 and use conference ID: 6487811620#. 

This Week in Insurance: May 19–23, 2014

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Monday, May 19, 2014 

  • Department of Financial Services, Rule Hearing: Reporting Assessment Information and Paying Assessments Offsets for Dividends and Premium Refunds, 2:00 p.m., Tallahassee (Room 102 Hartman Building, 2012 Capital Circle SE). For more information, contact Greg Jenkins (850) 413-1630 or Greg.Jenkins@MyFloridaCFO.com. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

  • Florida Workers' Compensation JUA, Producer Committee teleconference, 11:00 a.m. To participate in the teleconference meeting, please contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 

Talented FSU students awarded Johnson, McCue scholarships

(Member News, Good Works Fund) Permanent link

2014GWFScholarshipWinnersFAIA congratulates Michael Howard (right) and Britain Dooley (left, with RMI Assistant Department Chair Kathleen McCullough pictured center), recipients of the 2014-15 Tom C. Johnson and Buddy McCue scholarships, respectively. Both scholarships are named in honor of former FAIA presidents.

Established in 1990, the $1,500 Tom C. Johnson Scholarship is awarded to one talented returning senior each year. Criteria include: academic performance, career interest in the property and casualty industry; financial need; extracurricular activities; RMI major; and Florida resident. The recipient is selected from students nominated by RMI faculty at Florida State University. Similar criteria are applied for the $1,000 Buddy McCue Scholarship.   

Funding for the scholarships is made possible through FAIA’s Good Works Fund. Contributions to the fund support endowments to institutes of higher education with insurance degrees programs, and provide scholarships to talented students pursuing insurance as a field of study.

Visit the Good Works Fund online to learn more.

Trusted Choice Chopper up for grabs

(Member News, Trusted Choice) Permanent link

Trusted Choice ChopperThe Trusted Choice®-themed custom motorcycle, designed and built by Paul Teutel, Sr., star of the reality TV show “American Chopper,” is for sale—and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Make-A-Wish.

Both strong supporters of Make-A-Wish, Trusted Choice and Teutel built the bike to raise awareness and money for the leading children’s charity. The motorcycle caught the attention of agents and consumers nationwide during its yearlong tour.

“The Trusted Choice Chopper has been a tremendous boost to our consumer brand’s identity,” says Kevin Brandt, director of operations for Trusted Choice. “It exemplifies our commitment to Make-A-Wish and the children it serves. It’s bittersweet to wind down its tour of the country, but we are thrilled to once again raise additional funds for Make-A-Wish.”

Trusted Choice is entertaining offers to purchase the chopper. Contact Kevin Brandt with inquiries.

This Week in Insurance: May 12–16, 2014

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 

  • Florida Cabinet, 9:00 a.m., Tallahassee, Cabinet Meeting Room (The Capitol, Lower Level). 
  • Department of Financial Services, Rule Hearing, 10:00 a.m., Tallahassee (Room 143 Larson Building, 200 E Gaines Street). For more information, contact Matt Tamplin 850-413-5496 or Matt.Tamplin@myfloridacfo.com. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

  • Florida Workers' Compensation JUA, Investment Committee teleconference, 10:00 a.m. To participate in the teleconference meeting, please contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

  • Florida Workers' Compensation JUA, Audit Committee teleconference, 10:00 a.m. To participate in the teleconference meeting, please contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 
  • Florida Workers' Compensation JUA, Operations Committee teleconference, 2:00 p.m. To participate in the teleconference meeting, please contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

  • Florida Health Choices, Board of Directors meeting, 11:00 a.m., Tallahassee (200 W College Ave). 

FAIA bills fare well during Session

(Member News) Permanent link

Though the 2014 session was void of hugely controversial insurance topics (by design), FAIA still managed to have a very productive session for independent agents. FAIA worked closely with Governor ScottCFO Atwater, legislative leadership, and others in the industry to pass legislation aimed at improving the agent/agency regulatory environment and continuing to move Citizens back to its intended place as the insurer of last resort.

Following is the status of several of FAIA's priority bills:

UNANIMOUSLY PASSEDCS/CS/HB 633–Division of Insurance Agents & Agency Servicesby Rep. Ingram and Sen. Bean 

  • Streamlines insurance agency licensure by combining registration and licensure and making licensure perpetual; creates a new unaffiliated agent license; and makes multiple technical changes to the regulation of mediators and neutral evaluators.

PASSEDCS/CS/HB 1089–Citizens Property Insurance Corporationby Rep. Raschein and Sen. Hays.

  • Codifies eligibility for commercial residential risks as relates to transient occupancy. With respect to wind-only coverage for commercial lines residential condominiums, effective July 1, 2014, a condominium shall be deemed ineligible for coverage if 50 percent or more of the units are rented more than eight times in a calendar year for a rental agreement period of less than 30 days. It also delays, for one year, the prohibition on new construction being covered by Citizens within the Coastal Barrier Resource System.

PASSEDCS/CS/SB 1672–Property Insuranceby Rules and Commerce and Tourism; Banking and Insurance; and Rep. Wood 

  • Makes numerous changes to the Citizens statute, including: a prohibition of NEW commercial residential multiperil policies after June 30, 2014, prohibits agents from receiving referral fees from mitigation inspectors, requires procurement protests within Citizens to be decided by the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), and prohibits contractors from providing deductible rebates to an insured along with other minor changes.

PASSEDCS/CS/CS/SB 542–Flood Insurance, by Sen. Brandes and Rep. Hooper 

  • Reduces regulatory burdens for insurers entering the private flood market, and includes important agent and consumer protections.

UNANIMOUSLY PASSEDHB 271–Workers’ Compensation, by Rep. Cummings and Sen. Galvano 

  • Strikes a balance between making firm penalties for non-compliance with workers’ compensation coverage and providing ample opportunity for employers to come into compliance and continue to provide jobs.

Hot topics in 2014

The 2014 Florida Legislative Session ended last Friday about 10:45 p.m., and while many pundits characterized the 2014 session as one chiefly designed to help re-elect Governor Scott, the session was not without a few very important issues, including the budget, tax cuts, education, and gaming expansion.

The legislature passed a seventy-seven-billion-dollar budget that included nearly five hundred million in tax cuts and a record high eleven billion of funding for K-12 education. The expansion of gaming in Florida was discussed and debated extensively, but in the end no change was made.

FAIA thanks…

In addition to the sponsors of the bills, FAIA recognizes all of the insurance agents who serve in the legislature; we couldn’t successfully advocate on your behalf without their help and commitment to improving Florida’s insurance market. Special thanks to FAIA member Rep. Bryan Nelson for his eight years of service to the state of Florida. Unfortunately, Bryan has to leave the House as a result of term limits, but he has been an incredible advocate for the business community. His willingness to fight for free market principles has helped return Florida to a strong competitor in a global economy. 

Single sign on no longer a pipe dream for agents

(Member News) Permanent link

By Paul Peeples
FAIA Vice President and Chief Information Officer 

The proliferation of user IDs and passwords for multiple partners on multiple sites was meant to enhance security for the countless interactions required to transact insurance business. In reality, password management slows progress and frustrates everyone involved from the agents, carriers, and vendors all the way down to the consumer.

ID Federation, Inc. a not-for-profit developed Signon Once, a program that allows quick access to multiple sites so insurance professionals and consumers can get right down to business instead of fumbling with failed passwords, password clues, and resets.

Signon Once was not developed by technicians in a computer lab. It's not the product of a for-profit company trying to collect information or generate revenue. Instead, it's a solution developed by the insurance industry for the insurance industry to help us work better, smarter, and more efficiently.

So, how does it work?

Signon Once participants—carriers, solution providers, agency personal, and others—agree to abide by a set of guidelines called a "Trust Framework" that outlines membership expectations and certification requirements.

Users from each certified organization receive a unique federated identity token based on the organization's own distinct existing credentials. The federated token ID allows users to seamlessly access each participating Signon Once carrier and solution provider.

The technology is very complex, but the user experience is smooth and easy. There are multiple security checkpoints and verifications going on "behind the scenes" as users move from carrier site to carrier site. For users, the process is easy: They simply sign on—once!

Today at the annual ACORD conference in Orlando, Signon Once version 1.0 was announced, and now it is up to us as an industry to move it forward and get more carriers and solution providers involved…that is if you want a single signon for all of your carriers!

So, what do you do now? 

  1. Find out more about Signon Once at signononce.org 
  2. Talk to your carriers and let them know these technologies now exist, and that they should become members of the ID Federation Signon Once platform to make your workflows easier, and their security better.
  3. Ask your agency management system provider to get your system connected. 

Following are current members of the ID Federation to date. Make sure your companies and systems get on that list, because it works! 

  • BB&T Insurance Services
  • EMC Insurance Companies
  • The Hanover Insurance Group
  • The Hartford
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Progressive
  • Applied Systems
  • Vertafore, Inc.
  • ACORD
  • ACT
  • ASCnet, Inc.
  • NetVU, Inc.

This Week in Insurance: May 5–9, 2014

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  • Department of Financial Services, Rule Hearing: Insurance Representatives (Navigators), 10:30 a.m., Tallahassee (Room 116 Larson Building, 200 E Gaines Street). For more information, contact Matt Tamplin 850-413-5460 or Matt.Tamplin@myfloridacfo.com. 
  • Department of Financial Services, Rule Hearing: Penalty Guidelines for Insurance Representatives (Navigators), 10:30 a.m., Tallahassee (Room 116 Larson Building, 200 E Gaines Street). For more information, contact Barry Lanier (850) 413-5601 or Barry.Lanier@myfloridacfo.com.