NU Honors Haake Cos.

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For the fourth consecutive year, National Underwriter recognizedexcellence in the independent agency system last week by naming an"NU Commercial Insurance Agency Of The Year."

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Haake Companies of Overland Park, Kan., earned the grand prize,with the Insurance Office of America in Longwood, Fla., andFullerton & Company of Portland, Ore., given a well-deserved"Honorable Mention."

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I want to thank the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokersof America for once again graciously allowing us to introduce thewinner during the Opening General Session of their annualconference.

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We held a private breakfast to announce the winner, followed byour first "NU State Of The Agent Roundtable," featuring our threefinalists and past two winners. (Look for highlights of thatinformative panel--talking about how to cope with the softeningmarket, the aftermath of the Spitzer probes into producercompensation and other critical issues--in our Oct. 10edition.)

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Haake stood out because of its commitment to be risk managersrather than price-based policy pushers--an example we urge allindependent agents to follow.

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"At the Haake Companies, we do believe in managing andmitigating risk," said Steven Schill, Haake's chief operatingofficer, in accepting the NU award. "We started this approach aboutfive years ago as we realized that differentiation was the way togo in this business. You cannot continue to be a peddler ofinsurance."

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He explained that "the modeling of risk is becoming much morecomplex, and we are seeing this in catastrophe, seeing this,unfortunately, through terrorism, and other areas that we had to bemore than just a seller of insurance."

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Mr. Schill said Haake "transformed into a consultativeapproach," in part by bringing in "a number of folks from a numberof areas that really helped solidify the company with their solid[risk management] backgrounds to support our producers."

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Haake producers "had to understand, what are loss costs? How doI benchmark these?" he concluded. "This is hard work. There is alot of thought that has to go into risk management upfront, but thereward is very, very good on the backside."

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If you believe you have a unique game plan and would like toserve as a role model for your peers, please enter your agency forconsideration next year. We look forward to sharing your successstories.

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NU's Commercial Insurance Agency of theYear award program honored three finalists at the IIABA conferencein New York. Pictured (l-r) are: Timothy Nielsen, president ofFullerton & Company (Honorable Mention); Sam Friedman,editor-in-chief, National Underwriter; Steven Schill, chiefoperating officer at Haake Companies (Award Winner); and DavidMaki, president of the Insurance Office Of America (HonorableMention).

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