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As Weather Warms, Property Owners Urged to Buy Flood Insurance

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Having flood insurance will be increasingly important this year as spring rain combines in many parts of the U.S. with the melting of record snowfall, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

"Many states on the Atlantic seaboard were hit with record amounts of snowfall only a few weeks ago, creating a situation where already overflowing bodies of water are placed under additional pressure," said Michael Barry, vice president of Media Relations at the I.I.I. "Homeowners and renters who reside near small streams and creeks should already have flood insurance but, those who don't ought to secure a flood policy because this will continue to be an issue into the spring season."

Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. The optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy includes coverage for flood damage.

Flood coverage for homeowners and renters, however, is available in the form of a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers. There is typically a 30-day waiting period -- from date of purchase -- before a new NFIP policy goes into effect. Consumers can get more information on the NFIP at www.floodsmart.gov.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) specifically cited Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey yesterday as three of the four states nationwide that received precipitation at levels "much above normal" for the winter season (December 2009-February 2010). South Dakota was the fourth state NOAA mentioned. Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, particularly the areas of those states along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, are also seen as vulnerable to flooding over the next 90 days, according to a recent National Weather Service report.

"When it comes to floods and the damage they can do, many people are complacent. Fortunately, flood insurance is easy to get, whether you're a homeowner or a renter," Barry noted.

A 2008 I.I.I. poll found that only 17 percent of Americans have a flood insurance policy, with the take-up rate higher (20 percent) in the Northeast than in other parts of the U.S.

The NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. However, it is worth noting that many floods also occur in areas that are not designated flood plains.

The NFIP provides coverage to its policyholders for up to $250,000 for the structure of a home and $100,000 for personal possessions. Private flood insurance is available for those who need additional insurance protection, known as excess coverage, over and above the basic policy or for people whose communities do not participate in the NFIP.

Some insurers have introduced special policies for high-value properties; these policies may cover homes in non-coastal areas and/or provide enhancements to traditional flood coverage.

Source: www.iii.org

Millennial mentality keeps agencies from aging to irrelevency

Saturday, January 30, 2010

From Nicholas Brown on InsuranceCampus.org (link):

The thought of suiting up, commuting and sitting in an office for eight hours a day is the definition of agony for many young professionals. Millennials, Generation Y, people born from 1974-1980; whatever you want to call them, this segment has been exposed to the internet and mobile communication for most of their professional lives. And for many, this exposure has instilled a sense of connectivity carried from work to home to play.

In referring to Millennials, an article on Brighthub.com states:

“The influence of this new and completely different workforce will bring with it a tsunami of change. These workers are not cube-dwellers, they are an instant gratification, naturally multi-tasking, technology-eating/breathing and consuming force that will join the voices of the older Baby Boomers who are also demanding flexibility in their work opportunities.”

From an insurance business perspective, whether you’re seeking new talent or trying to hold on to existing team members, understanding this paradigm shift and surrounding yourself with the right people is key to growing your agency. A staff that clocks in at nine, clocks out at five and takes a one-hour lunch break in the afternoon is an archaic model.

Flexibility works both ways however. While you may not feel great about an employee sauntering in at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday; the client email they respond to at 10:30 on a Saturday night can make up for that extra hour of sleep. The key is having the right insurance technology solutions and infrastructure in place to monitor productivity and make communication efficient.

Social media is creating new portals for 24/7 communication but can also introduce privacy risks when personal information is available. While social media tools are excellent for support, a virtual insurance office that is constantly generating leads and offering visitors a “storefront” experience is the first step towards streamlining your agency for the next generation of insurance professionals.

Lead generation is obviously important, but from the Millennials perspective, the virtual insurance office must provide access to client and policy information. Work is done from laptops at children's doctor’s appointment or on smartphones while at the local coffee shop, and not necessarily in a poorly decorated cubicle. What’s more? This on-the-go business execution can generate more leads just by having agents out in public.

Is your agency prepared to handle the demands of Millennials, who, consequently, will make up the bulk of new insurance policy buyers in the coming years? You are if you use their tools and play by their rules.


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