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  July 30, 2013

The height of hurricane season is on its way. Are you ready?

The height of hurricane season is August through September. Did you educate your clients about flooding and other weather-related disasters at the beginning of the season, which runs from June to November? If not, PIA can help. Consider tweeting, posting on your website or sending your customers the consumer flier, Flood damage: Is my home covered?, which answers some important questions regarding flood insurance and encourages them to call your office for coverage, or Replacement cost coverage: A wise investment. These consumer fliers are part of PIA’s Agency Marketing Tool Kit. For more resources, click here. And don’t forget, if a storm hits your area, check out PIA’s award-winning Storm Info Central.  

CMS posts latest FAQ

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continues to post FAQs regarding the health-care exchange. The most recent FAQ #3 focuses on policy and technical information. PIANJ will introduce a tool kit, which includes information on health insurance exchanges, in the coming weeks. To receive an email when the tool kit has been launched, click here.  

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ISO unveils its Enhanced Wind Rating Program

Reflecting the increase in wind damage to property, the Insurance Services Office Inc. has created a program to survey and rate individual commercial properties for their wind resistance and threat of wind damage. Under the Enhanced Wind Rating Program, ISO conducts on-site surveys of commercial buildings for approximately 40 characteristics and geographic and environmental factors that may improve—or worsen—a building’s wind resistance or damageability. With that information, commercial property carriers can more accurately establish pricing; measure and mitigate their exposure to wind; and alert property owners to potential hazards. For more information, click here.   

ISO introduces media cyber policies

ISO announced revisions to its e-commerce (cyber insurance) product. The E-Commerce Program enhancements from ISO introduce new insurance policies designed specifically for companies with a media liability exposure. Both a "claims-made" and "occurrence" version, each providing defense within limits, are available.   

J.D. Power: 2013 U.S. Auto Insurance Study

According to a recent study by J.D. Power, overall customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies has declined in 2013. The study found that customers have a lower satisfaction with price and policy offerings. The study did note that: "Rather than making changes to their existing policy, many customers are opting to shop and switch to a new insurer when their rates go up. This is because many companies are not adequately notifying customers prior to sending a renewal letter or making efforts to review possible options customers may take to mitigate the impact of a rate change. When customers receive pre-notification, and discuss their options prior to renewal, satisfaction averages 698, 67 points higher than among customers whose did not get to discuss a rate increase prior to renewal."   

PIA helps members retain clients

The successful agency works hard at the onset to attract new business, but works harder to keep it year after year. Revolving-door agencies—that bring in clients one year, only to have them chase a competitor’s marginally lower quote the next—struggle to remain profitable in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Retention can be tricky for producers. Much of what you do for your clients is invisible to them. So when renewal statements hit their mailboxes, many customers think, "Why not shop around?" For truly effective retention and a book with stable growth, show your insureds year-round that you’re working for them. PIA Creative Services offers a line of consumer marketing materials—available for both personal and commercial lines. Mix and match newsletters, self-mailer brochures, postcards and other pieces to create your own turn-key and worry-free marketing campaign. They are the perfect tools for sales or retention. For more information, email or click here.   

Survey: P/C industry combined ratio improves

According to A.M. Best’s most recent financial review, the property/casualty insurance industry’s combined ratio improved to 94.7 in the first quarter of 2013 as premium increases and declines in losses boosted the sector to a second consecutive Q1 underwriting profit this year. More…   

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Ask PIA: Insurer offer letters after termination

Q. Why do companies contact an agent’s personal-lines clients, as soon as the agent is terminated, to tell these clients about their rights? A. New Jersey law governs many aspects of the relationship between the insurer, insured and agent following an agency’s contract termination. Your company is required by law to give your insureds a choice of continuing to be serviced by you as a terminated agent or by an active agent of the company. For a comprehensive answer to this question, click here. To access our entire Ask PIA library of frequently asked questions and expert answers by PIA’s technical staff, click here.  

Get violation activity at a fraction of the cost of an MVR

DocITTM, a web-based pre-screening tool from Drivers History, is available in New Jersey. This innovative service—now available only to PIA members—connects to local court records, giving you 24/7 access to real-time violation data. DocIT will help you lower MVR expenses, pre-qualify applicants, improve loss ratios, grow your business and enable you to place your clients with the right carrier on the first try, for as low as $0.75 per transaction. Only order expensive MVRs once ... when the policy has been sold. Use at point of quote, use in new business underwriting, policy renewal evaluation ... and more. There’s nothing else like it—try it today.   

What gives carriers the right to perform background checks?

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 does not permit any individual to engage in any insurance activity if that person has a prior felony conviction without a waiver. Additionally, it does not permit anyone to "knowingly" employ such an individual. Implied in the law’s requirement, is the ability of states, carriers and agency owners to conduct background checks on their employees. PIA’s Industry Resource Center has received numerous inquiries on this topic, and has a resource kit outlining rules, as well as information on carriers’ requesting Social Security numbers. To obtain a copy, log on to the PIANJ website and type QS29167 in the Google-facilitated search box, or a fax a request to PIA’s Industry Resource Center at (888) 225-6935.  

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