From the February 2012 issue of American Agent & Broker •Subscribe!

Reader Letters

Certain Revelations

My "ah-ha" moment! Barry Zalma’s September column "Cert Uncertainty" correlates to a recent epiphany I had about certificates of insurance/endorsements. I’ve started developing a method to address this "silent but deadly" issue we have with providing insurance certificates. I’ve done the research, studied the court judgments and read the blogs about certs and the uncertainty of this costly agency process. Agents are starting to take notice of the legal ramification of improperly produced certificates of insurance. I would like to share my solution with you and ask you to be an advisor to its development. I have two other industry veterans and key experts on this matter advising me currently and I believe your expertise would be invaluable to this project. I’m so excited about it because it’s a definite way of thinking outside the "proverbial" box that our industry is so accustomed to doing, yet we can possibly solve this issue for all stakeholders if the right support for this system is galvanized.

Herbert E. Gibson
Southfield, Mich.

Amhrein’s Livin’ on the Edge

I just read Chris Amhrein’s article "Livin’ Large" (AA&B November 2011) on lifestyle protection and had to write to thank you for continually making reading about insurance enjoyable. In what other place could one see references to Eric Clapton’s "Crossroads," "Burn Notice," "Cool Hand Luke" and the Bee Gees in the same breath as the Boca Raton Club and Frank Sinatra, all in the context of documenting the virtues of placing proper insurance coverage?

Bravo for years of making insurance interesting, if not "fun." You are definitely the banquet in an industry filled with plain turkeys.

Jim Karjalainen
Grand Blanc, Mich.

Smart and right support

After reading the editorial in the December 2011 American Agent & Broker ("What’s Smart and What’s Right" by Laura Mazzuca Toops), I just had to write to express my admiration of your bravery in standing up for doing what’s right as well as what’s smart. I did not read your article on the risk management aspects of the Penn State scandal. However, your response in the editorial to the critics inspired me as nothing else has lately. Your editorial remarks brought a little ray of sunshine into what sometimes seems like a cold and gloomy world of political correctness and misplaced tolerance. Please continue to promote doing what’s right as well as what’s smart.

Brenda Tranchina
Metairie, La.

Two opinions on two associations

I have read the observations on Laura’s blog regarding questioning the need for two associations representing agents ("Do Agents Need Two Trade Associations?" Nov. 3, 2011). I have been in this business for more than 45 years and this issue has been discussed that entire time. A No. 1 need that an agents’ association should and can help with is educating the public on what professional independent agents bring to the table. This requires advertising, which we all know is expensive. However, we can collectively accomplish much more together than we can individually.

There appears to be a declining enrollment in both organizations. I along with many of my peers perceive that there is more interest in maintaining their respective bureaucracies than furthering the interests of their membership. This is not to say that they haven’t developed some excellent resources, but many of these are either at a charge or, in the case of insurance products at a reduced commission to benefit and maintain the organization’s offices.

I don’t believe many agents see relevancy in what the organizations do and provide and thus they do not belong. Two organizations, with all of the duplications that implies, in today’s world of falling market share is no longer affordable.

Peter M. Bakker Sr.
Avon, Conn.

As for the future of the agent associations? All I can say is that they have to demonstrate real value, and other than legislative advocacy, right now I don’t see either one providing anything of real tangible value. The PIA has their agenda, and the Big "I" local chapters stopped meeting decades ago. Aside from an annual meeting and trade show, we don’t see much more activity from either one.

At least the Big "I" is working on branding with the Trusted Choice initiative, and now introducing the Agent Portal program. I believe the PIA offers agent training and is much more effective to that end. The Big "I" with its Legislative Conference is much better organized than the PIA on the national level, but the PIA is active in state legislatures. That being said, I wish they remain separate so as to offer choice. Each has their strong points, but in the end there is only so much an association can do with its limited funds and statutorily restricted charters.

Paul K. Improta, AAI, LUTCF, CIC
Bethel, Conn.

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