In an effort to figure out the best method to accomplish the goal of a prospect that wants to market their insurance portfolio, I am always looking at how to inform my client of the work that surrounds this endeavor.  The truth is, done right this process, for an average size business should be started about 3 months out.  To that end, there is a great deal of information needed and some is completely out of my reach or the client’s reach.

For that reason I decided to blog today about the committment and cooperation needed for a truly in-depth look at the actual markets.  When you decide to access markets outside of your current broker, you are looking for the most in-depth research to be certain that your incumbent broker is giving you all of pieces to your puzzle.  Here is the real issue, when you do that you must realize that up front you have asked someone to do your research and that they are hoping to earn your business through these efforts but will do this at no charge to you.

Depending on the niche your organization occupies, there could be a limited amount of carriers and the battle to get to the best markets can put off the best underwriter from stepping up his game because he knows what ensues when brokers begin to battle it out for the competitive premium, best coverage, etc.  As a responsible consumer, you want to ask yourself a couple of things before you begin this battle.  Will I get the best from all if I just let the battle rage?  Will I be given a skewed look into my options and not the best picture because I didn’t make a committment?

To put things in perspective, you should let you rcurrent broker  know that they are doing a great job by allowing them the first swat at what markets they want to access.  But, after that you should reign in on the rest by appointing no more than two others and ask that they too select the markets they will access.  This offers the underwriters of your coverage the option of knowing that they should put their best offer on the table first and that they will deal with a specific broker with whom they have an established relationship that they know is solid.

Secondly, you must then commit to obtaining and providing all information.  I suggest about three months outside of renewal, requesting loss runs for the last five years.  I also suggest getting financial information together, putting a packet of information on the policies you are putting to market, and various other pieces of information depending on the type of coverage.

Remember that there are two things that EVERY carrier will want and no broker will want to release…….Loss History.  It sends a red flag up the back of the incumbent broker you are working with because they are threatened.  Try to have the conversation with them that gives them the big picture and let them know that you want them to earn this business and that they will have first pick of the carriers.  This will ally their fears a bit, but make no mistake none of us like competition.  However, competition will open the eyes of an incumbent to step up and give their all at this renewal to save their spot as a partner with your firm.

Things to consider when you choose a broker to represent you:

  1. Size of agency and the expertise they have in this specific industry.
  2. Connections will follow size and expertise because good carriers will want to do business with top rated agencies.
  3. Resources that the agency brings to the partnership as a part of their service platform.

These are just a few things to look at, there are many more that will make the difference in a good solid reporting back on a brokers findings and offer you the leverage the agency carries with their solid carrier choices in the market as a part of your up front committment.

This is an involved process and each broker you choose is taking their A game to the carriers and that is something that must be taken seriously.  The best way to handle this would be with  a solid committment from both your self and the broker to offer their best upfront and then make an educated decision based on the real information that an arrangement like this will bring to your renewal efforts.  It can only prove or disprove that you have the right coverage or if you should change.

One thing in the world that should change, apathy.

Headlines are a buzz with Obamacare this and Obamacare that and while I am a dyed in the wool Republican, I see a great deal of what is currently going on as part of everyone’s responsibility.

In the November election, I went to the polls with my daughter to vote at 5:00 am.  Just for bragging rights that we were there early and to get it over with so I didn’t have to wait in long long lines.  The sad fact is that there were never long lines; AND THIS WAS A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!!!

The lines were brief, the waits were short and even my husband, who went at 3:30 in the afternoon, said the lines didn’t even exist.  The only logical explanation for this is APATHY.  That’s right, the meaning is thus:

Full Definition of APATHY

:  lack of feeling or emotion :  impassiveness
:  lack of interest or concern :  indifference

The key here is the impassiveness or indifference, that could be the ONLY reason so many just didn’t care to show up.  Now the facts are we face the effect of that apathy and I don’t see it getting any better.  My father always said, “if you don’t vote, don’t gripe about the people running our country into the ground.”  He was a man of dry wit and faithful to his family, church and country, in that order.  I hear the “wah wah wah” of many declining to own the votes that put our current administration in office, but what about the lack there of?

By staying at home because it wasn’t convenient to vote, you didn’t cast a vote and thereby you voted twice for the other side.  By taking little Jenny to dance class and voting later but never getting around to it because “we don’t really matter the electoral college makes that decision for us”, you voted twice for something that now you totally may not agree with.

I myself, voted.  My children both voted, after a great deal of discussion on the facts during a family evening.  My 80-year-old mother voted, and my 79-year-old mother in law voted.  But so many just sat in apathy, feeling defeated and now we are on the precipice of what could be some very hard times for our country.  The aging population is suffering the effects of Medicare cuts that place more of the financial burden of their healthcare on their already poverty level income.  The idea of retirement is pushed to 70-80 now and as a 50 something American, I thought I would certainly be in a better position than most to retire, but no so. And that is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

I am not anti government, I am Republican.  I am anti apathy.  I am trying to impress on people that this is no way to handle your vote by throwing it away.  If we all vote, and I mean every one of us and the results don’t agree with your position, well then by golly you put up a good fight.  No where in history did a general sit in his tent and win a war by being apathetic to the opposite side.  He got up and gave it an effort, and won or lost with the thought that there was never a battle fought better.

Let’s get out of our funk, get up and make a difference.  Look at the issues you are voting on and really read the information so you understand if your yes is a no and vice versa.  There is a lot to be said for the battle well fought and I hope our people see the virtue in setting our country back on the path to taking matters seriously and making a difference not apathetically abstaining or casting your privilege to vote aside.  Next November, let’s get up and do the one thing that Americans have lived and died for, the freedom to VOTE.


Brookdale and Emeritus merge

Everyday, as I have said in previous blogs, I comb through the news for articles that apply to my specialty niche, Senior Living.  The articles that I choose to blog on have provoked a thought of one kind or another and this one gave me reason to pause.

Is the future of Senior Care behemoth organizations?  First doctors are joining large health systems and now the Senior Living Industry is fighting for its life and taking the same path.
With little competition and large organizations, will the quality of care slip through the cracks?  I know it’s hard to maintain when you are small and after talking to an owner of a smaller group of homes, my heart sank.  When I heard this same tone from a man who has literally grown up in this industry questions began to come to my mind.  What will this mean to the millions facing the choice of where to complete their circle of life?  What will it mean to the many smaller locations?  Are we facing a precipice of no return?

I watched the physicians turn over their practices to large health systems and I watched the decline in the actual care in only a few cases, however, the personal involvement has to suffer.  The connection to your “people” cannot survive a “depersonalization” of care.  To complicate matters, in some cases the physician didn’t even realize the next step coming was, after the patients were used to the changed office, the system could non renew their contract and hire another physician at less pay to assume the practice and the non compete would preclude the physician from action.

My sadness is in the heart of healthcare the basis that everyone gets involved in this particular area is not always the money, it is the people and your personal contribution to change their lives and make them better.  When the cost of doing business is so outweighed by the reasons for your participation, there is only one way to go.  Healthcare is sadly succumbing  to large corporations that can afford all of the changes that are on the horizon, or can afford to pay the penalties if they disregard them.  Who suffers here?  The people, the patients, the residents in the case of Senior Living.   Is there no end in sight to the decline of our healthcare system? Where does the buck stop?  Are we too late to find the solutions?  Are there any solutions?

These and so many more questions plague me each day as I comb through the news and I feel compelled to try.  It only takes one, one small stone to start an avalanche and there are ways to change things in a miniscule way to make a difference, and that is my task.  In small ways solutions to those aspects of this industry can make a difference but education on those small ways are paramount and truly a small investment can yield big results.  I have seen it.

submissionAs I sat staring at my email this morning trying to figure out why a prospect would not allow a Broker Of Record Letter on my two best markets, I had to ask myself one question. Did I educate this prospect so that they understand the meaning of BOR? What concept of this letter seems to spook a prospective buyer and more importantly what has their current broker stated about their position with those two carriers?

In the process of marketing an account, you have two factions playing against each other; incumbent, and prospective brokers. In this head butting of sorts, there are always reasons to allow the incumbent (who could be me at times) their choice of a few markets and allow another or even two brokers to quote other carriers. The truth is that this is not permanent arrangement and can be revoked at anytime if the prospect were to find themselves in a position of working with a firm you are not happy with.

Many carriers work with multiple brokers, however, a broker with a larger book of business through a carrier may have more connectivity to that carrier and its internal systems. Asking your broker to put their best for forward and select their three or four best markets will allow your incumbent to select from a relationship that they have established and work with regularly, but leave the other markets for another that may have a better negotiating power and thus offer the prospect the best opportunity to obtain the most competitive quote from all carriers so you can make a much more educated decision.

Simply put a BOR is a letter granting access to a market that may be blocked by a previous submission, however, you must agree that you cannot serve too many markets well and that there could be an advantage of working outside your current broker to investigate other resources that may benefit your organization in addition to a competitive premium or broad coverage. So consider when you market your portfolio annually, or biennially, there are many things that your outside broker will need , a BOR for his markets and a compelling case presented by any outside broker to an underwriter is always better when supported by as much data as you can send. Most importantly your loss runs.

Last point on re-marketing submission is that you need at least five (5) years loss runs and this will definitely get the incumbent in a defensive position.  However, it may also be just what you need to get the incumbent off dead center and dig in with their heels to show you that they have and will continue to earn your business and this is a win win for you.

Back to simple basics, hugs and smiles

As a professional that specializes in the Senior Living Industry and the day to day risks that surround that industry, I see the explosion of aging Americans and the increased need that this presents to our Senior Facilities. In that same vane of thought, comes the competition to attract residents and how to best offer services as well as amenities that will draw the public to the facility and thereby bring in residents.

Every day I comb through several news sites with my morning coffee, and I don’t mind telling you that Google is a wealth of information on this subject and you could spend the time drinking two pots reading and researching in the morning. In my morning research I have found facilities offering everything from a gourmet menu and dining experience to private more “Homey” rooms. For the jet set and healthier sector, trying to attract residents earlier while still in a position of a “younger lifestyle”, we see golf courses and resort type of living as a draw. This locks in their residents from an earlier stage in the ageing process to transition into more assisted care and finally nursing home as a full continuum of care model grows more prevalent.

With all of the creative ways to attract residents, one facility in New York has gone back to basics and taken a step in the direction of NO COST amenities and initiated an “Embraceable You” program. A great deal of research and data accumulation went into this program because we all know that some just plain don’t like to be touched and other may view it as a form of harassment from the resident side. As for the caregivers, they too may feel that this behavior is not appropriate and would rather not participate. There is the OPERATIVE word…..PARTICIPATE.

After a great deal of study and collection of data, participation of this program was done at a resident level, they were issued buttons that indicated that they were open for this experience, and they were also issued a token for each hug received and used after the initial five day study was completed for a drawing. The staff received training in acceptable behavior, types of contact that would be allowed, and they volunteered for this program as well. The idea of the entire program was to see if the residents felt better and if the extra contact from another caring human would have positive results.

The results were in and the study proved a success. While not a clinical trial by any means and done without the benefit of a professional psychologist to document the results, the participating residents reported new energy, enthusiasm and it was determined that this simple process of human contact was in fact leading to a “greater sense of well-being”. Imagine that, a simple connection between resident and staff that cost them nothing more than participation in a compassionate action from one human being to another.

I found this simple “back to basics” approach to making this facility attractive and successful a breath of fresh air. While I am confident that some could put a gray cloud over it and say that this facility could face certain issues surrounding the behavior, I am confident that they will find the success of their program to increase the value of residing at their home. And the best part is the effort really cost very little, paper for the surveys, time to review and analyze the information, and implementation as well as follow up. I know it’s only my opinion, but genius comes to mind, human ingenuity, and simple kindness follows on the heels of those thoughts.

We all over think things in some cases, but in this case I wanted to offer a huge hug of congratulations to the facility and the people that are managing the facility. Remembering the basics of human touch and compassion has obviously made a difference there and lends itself as an example to all. The article is below if you want to read the entire text, it is worth the time.


New to Blogging not New to Insurance

Wanted to open my first blog with a bit about my objectives for this blog.  As a 25 year veteran of Insurance, I have been through many changes to this industry and come to this blog with experience and knowledge that will help you with your business exposure to risk and solutions that protect that risk.   I am aiming to be informative and become a resource.

My expertise is in the Senior Living/Healthcare Sector and I will share my knowledge, provoke thought, and impart information that I glean from the many sources I comb through each day so that you won’t have to.  I look forward to posting each morning an idea that may just trigger a need or open your eyes to an issue BEFORE it happens.  I welcome the opportunity to assist you in any way I can with that need through this blog and will check my comments each day for questions, responses and thoughts of others.

Let’s get started!

A quick question about reading your insurance policies each year should bring to mind the need to comb through your information and as well as the impact that language and all endorsements can have on your business.

Without knowing the particulars of your coverage, how would you know if you have gaps until the dreaded moment you need that coverage to respond?  Any time changes occur no matter how small, a quick conversation with your broker is in line to avoid that “Oh Oh” exposure left when a common risk challenges your policy language.  Your coverage can be broad, but you will get what you pay for.  Just remember to look at the definitions and endorsements that change that coverage because without knowing your endorsements you be missing a key element to your policy.