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Wednesday October 9, 2013

I love using axioms or cliches in a story.

An axiom, according to Dictionary.com, is a self-evident truth that requires no proof. The website defines a cliche as a trite, stereotyped expression.

Neither is considered part of a good writing routine, but they work well when you're trying to show that the opposite of what is common practice or understanding is actually true.

When interviewing Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the global insurance practice at J.D. Power, just such an axiom came to mind, which happened to be pretty cliché back in the day, and it referred to "stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime."

And that's just what some insurance agents may be doing by casting out their nets for the big fish instead of mining for customers who may be easier sells right now, and who may be better customers in the future.

Bowler spoke about insuring renters, a segment many agents with their sights set on higher commissions tend to overlook because of measly couple of hundred bucks brining in a typical renter means to them.

Bowler noted that these renters represent much more.

They represent future income. Many of those renters will be come homeowners, boat owners, business owners, multiple vehicle owners, and they'll likely want to insure those assets with a source they can trust.

There is also an abundance of these potential customers. According to Bowler the adoption rate for rental insurance varies from 43 percent to 58 percent across the U.S. That takes nearly half or more of the the "I already have it" retorts an agent is likely to get when asking renters for their business.

So go ahead and step over that dollar to pick up that dime, which will be worth more in the future. It's a concept, to borrow from another grossly overused cliche, that could represent a paradigm shift in the way sales people think.

Figuring It All Out

Wednesday September 18, 2013
There's plenty of technobabble, industry jargon and new stuff we all have to learn.

I have trouble cutting through all the acronyms in the insurance industry, which includes names of programs, designations at the end of people's titles and the names of myriad insurance associations.

But with technology, the importance of keeping up and figuring out what new gadgets, software and apps will be useful, can not be overstated. It impacts the bottom-line and can save, or waste, ever-precious and ever-fleeting time.

And what works for one, let's say insurance agent, who needs to respond to his clients quickly, may not work for a claims adjuster, who may be required to communicate in long and accurate emails to her superior.

Read more about insurance and technology.

I was looking for a portable device with plenty of screen room and considered Sony's VAIO Tap 20, which is among a new class of hybrid desktop systems.

About.com Guide Mark Kyrnin writes that the 20-inch display is below the 1080p high definition video level and less than most desktop screens, but the speed of system is a bit "faster than the other hybrid all-in-ones currently available."

If you're like me, and you're always trying to get a lot done in a short time, speed is a top consideration. I thought about speed when I purchased my Samsung Galaxy III smartphone.


Drought and a Hard Market

Wednesday September 18, 2013
Following are two things you should know about the spate of droughts across the U.S.

No. 1: Droughts have intensified in the summer of 2013 and are likely to maintain their severity, or get worse, according to the September monthly outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.

No. 2: More severe losses from natural catastrophes are a large component of the formula that leads to a hard market, in which insurers, not buyers, are the sought after party.

Insurance is Cyclical

Like other industries, the insurance industry is cyclical, with hard market and soft market cycles lasting between two and 10 years.

Following a prolonged soft market in the insurance industry, some experts believe the market began to harden in 2011 or 2012.


Census Brings Good News

Wednesday September 18, 2013
A little good news can go a long way, especially in a slowly recovering economy in which investors, businesses and consumers lately seem to be as ready to pounce on as a kitten with a ball of yarn.

And if you sell homeowners or auto insurance, get ready to purr.

A slew of what appears to be very good data has emerged from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau on July 10 released data from May for sales of merchant wholesalers showing they were up 1.6 percent to $424.6 billion from a revised level a month earlier and were up 4.1 percent from a year ago.

The data, which does not include manufacturers' sales branches and offices and is adjusted for seasonal variations and trading-day differences, bodes well those in the automotive lines.

Sales of motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and supplies rose 3.0 percent from April to May, the monthly report shows.

A day after that good news a Census report came out showing the median price ofhomes purchased rose 2.3 percent to $110,000 from a survey in 2009. The statistics come from the Census' American Housing Survey and are sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A HUD executive outlined the importance of the data.


Romney "Likes" Several Elements of ObamaCare

Monday September 10, 2012

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who promised early in his campaign to repeal President Barack Obama's health care reform, says he would keep several important parts of the overhaul.

Although Romney has yet to articulate or set forth any semblance of a reform plan, he says, "of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Romney favors the following:

  • make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage."
  • and would allow young adults (up to any age) to keep their coverage under their parents' health-insurance.

In addition though Romney has also said on the campaign trail that he favors allowing interstate purchase of health insurance, allowing employers to circumvent their own state's insurance lwas in favor of less strict regulations, which I believe would allow many employers to seek out the cheapest, and therefore inferior coverage possible.

Romney has also said he'd allow businesses to band together in asscoaitations to purchase health coverage.

Romney Health Reforms for Middle Class

Saturday September 8, 2012

11 million uninsured Americans came from the middle class, or nearly a quarter of the nation's total uninsured and under ObamaCare most would achieve coverage through health insurance exchanges.

Most middle-class Americans - nearly three out of four - are insured through their employers, according to the report. For the one out of four who are not, it's become more and more expensive to buy health insurance on their own. Between 2000 and 2008, health insurance premiums grew three times as fast as wage increases and because of that employer-based coverage has dropped from 68% of Americans to just 60% over that timeframe.

Romney reforms

One reform promoted by Romney would be to allow people to buy insurance in other states but that might dilute strong insurance standards and create a "race to the bottom.

"I want these individuals and businesses to be able to buy insurance across state lines to get the best deal they can get anywhere in the country," Romney said in a speech in June in Florida.

Romney's website outlines other reforms: Allowing individuals and businesses to buy insurance as a group to get more bargaining power, for example, and allowing money in health savings accounts to be used towards purchasing premiums.

In 2006, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed into law a health care plan that, like Obamacare, provides subsidies for purchasing health care. While running

Small Business Health Insurance Survey Results

Thursday September 6, 2012

The findings of a new NFIB survey show the cost of health insurance is what's keeping small employers up at night--still.

The latest National Federation of Independent Business survey reveals more than half of small business employers view the cost of insurance as their "most critical problem."

Health insurance costs for small firms have risen 103 percent in the last decade, causing many to forego offering health insurance. This increase outpaces wages and inflation, and renders insurance unaffordable for many small-business owners, the survey finds.

"Fears over increasing health insurance costs continue to dominate the list of concerns for small businesses, very much in spite of the president's health insurance reform law--certainly not an endorsement of the policy, nor a good sign for the future of the sector," says Holly Wade, senior policy analyst and survey author.

The NFIB authors also note the PPACA has failed to address the "fundamental causes of rising health care cost while opting to focus on coverage." As you know I have put forward numerous ideas in this space to courageously attack increasing costs. See this article for the details.

Health care costs overshadow the No. 2 problem for small business owners--economic uncertainty--by 14 percentage points.

The study was based on surveys of more than 3,800 small business owners.

Collaboration Tips for Agents to Tap New Markets

Wednesday September 5, 2012

LIMRA is reporting that less than 50% of individuals in the U.S. have life insurance. There are many untapped markets therefore that agents can target.

One of those markets perhaps is those from Generations X and Y. When it comes to retirement planning, Generations X and Y have learned from the mistakes of their elders, according to new survey findings released recently.

One site I've found, by financial advisor/ consultant, Lanh Nguyen brings together financial planning resources that may be helpful for insurance agents. This is one example of how insurance agents and financial planners can improve contacts and sales through collaboration.

Nearly 60 percent of Gen X (59%) and Gen Y (56%) make regular, automatic contributions toward their retirement savings, compared to 46 percent of non-retired Baby Boomers. And when it comes to getting a jump on their nest egg, younger generations are eager to get started - both Gen X and Gen Y started saving for retirement, on average, in their mid- to late-twenties illustrating that this is a forward thinking group perhaps in need of life insurance. That's nearly a decade earlier than Baby Boomers who, on average, stared saving at age.

By linking websites and creating partnerships for mutual referrals with local financial advisors, insurance agents can gain access to new clients and new markets. Networking is always important, partnering with other financial services professionals is key to expanding business.

Will Provider Incentives Reduce Healthcare Costs?

Monday September 3, 2012

Beginning October 1, hospitals face steep Medicare penalties for high readmission rates, as they work fast to implement solutions to carry out safe transitions for patients.

Oct. 1 is shaping up to be hospitals' version of doomsday, in which organizations performing poorly in heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia readmissions could see cuts from 0.42 percent to 1 percent in revenue, which could run well into the high six or low seven figures a year for single, large facilities, FierceHealthFinance reported.

And those penalties will only increase--2 percent in October 2013 and up to 3 percent in October 2014 for persons covered by Medicare.

The Medicare penalties "have been motivating," Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the policy institute, the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, told the Detroit Free Press. "Nothing focuses physicians and hospital executives more than facing financial penalties."

Romney's Plan to Replace ObamaCare: Still Waiting

Friday August 31, 2012

Being a health policy wonk I have been waiting,.... and waiting to hear about Mitt Romney's plan to replace ObamaCare since I know he definitely wants to repeal it. After three days of the RNC, I'm still waiting.

I tend to float between liberal and conservative on many issues, but on health reform I have very specific ideas that ObamaCare DID NOT include like payment reform, efficiency incentives for physicians and health plans, extension of Medical Home model beyond Medicaid/ Medicare, etc. If you're a loyal reader you know this. If not, this is my stance: Its great to extend coverage to the uninsured, expand Medicaid etc, but until we face the cost issue, courageously, health care costs will continue to run over us like an 18 wheeler over a tomato. Not pretty, and pretty much unrecognizable.

Romney and Ryan had three days to tell us more than, "I hate ObamaCare and its bad policy." Yes, much of it is bad policy, and some other portions are great like eliminating pre-x, extending dependent coverage to young adults, eliminating gender rating so that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition because they might become pregnant, etc.

I need more. We all do. Its about time we find out what their plan is to replace ObamaCare.

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