Filed Under:Agent Broker, Coverage Issues

Policy Issues: ISO Program Revisions

ISO HO 2011 shows that filings aren’t the Holy Writ of days gone by

Chris Amrhein, AAI, is an insurance educator and speaker with more than 30 years in the industry. He also is the chief fun officer at, and author of "Yes Virginia, There is Insurance." He serves as AA&B's Policy Issues columnist.

One of the joys of fall is seeing the harvest come in from those fruit and vegetable gardens that you labored over so loyally all summer. The time and trouble pays off when you realize, as you savor that incredible “fresh from the garden” flavor, what those who purchase edibles from the grocery store are missing. They think all produce tastes exactly the same, rather than appreciating the vast variety available for the feast.

Yet the old ways die hard. Following the tried-and- true advertising motto of "Well, if it ain't true, act like it is," publishers, education providers and others dreaming of the potential windfall cash-flow of the old days still treat a new ISO program rollout like a "must see, must act, must know" event—when in reality it's more of a "interesting, wonder if it matters?" sideshow.

“So what?” you may be asking. Isn’t it better for everyone if no single monolithic organization dictates the standard form language applicable to all? For good or ill, at least we are all on the same page, all can learn the same lessons and at claim time all will know what will and won’t be paid.

Consider just a few of the implications:

  • All insurance classes, textbooks and technical articles should bear the following disclaimer: "WARNING: Nothing contained herein regarding ISO form language and usage should be interpreted as valid and applicable now or in the immediate future. Please consult your carriers and/or competition for the latest effective status."
  • No broad-brush summaries of coverage should be provided to prospects and insureds without the following disclaimer: "WARNING: Nothing contained herein should be construed as true. Please see your actual policy for actual coverages and details."
  • All blog posts, tweets and web articles discussing actual coverage should include the following disclaimer: "WARNING: This content is for general information purposes only. Do not assume reading this will help you in any way, shape or form to actually understand what your current insurance will or will not do in an actual claim situation. Only your specific policy can be relied upon for valid information on your current protection, assuming you can make any sense out of the wording in the first place."

Bottom line: if you want the right coverage, you better look only at the specific, applicable forms in current force for a specific client or carrier. Any other specific coverage information, regardless of source, should be considered generalizations and opinions, not fact—and certainly not to be acted upon as if it were fact.

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