Prepare for Hurricane Season

In this week’s podcast episode, I talk about how insurance agents can help their policyholders prepare for hurricane season. Here are a few excerpts from the podcast, along with resources that appear at the end of the post:

Did you know?

  • Hurricane season begins on June 1 in the Atlantic and on May 15 in the Eastern Pacific. In all locations, it ends on November 30.
  • The biggest threat during a hurricane is storm surge–especially at high tide.
  • The National Weather Service reports that the number of hurricanes keeps growing each year.
  • During high winds, the 4 biggest areas of weakness in any building are its roof, windows, entrance doors, and garage doors.
  • Not all property insurance policies provide coverage for wind–especially in coastal states.
  • NO standard property insurance policies provide coverage for storm surge caused by a hurricane. This is because, in most states, it is considered a form of flood–which is an excluded peril.

For more information about how to prepare for hurricane season, listen to the entire podcast, which can be found at: https://episodes.castos.com/5e6ccb9ab4cf97-55025247/TMoI-Ep-16-Aug-4-Prepare-Hurricane-Seaxon.mp3

Resources: Prepare for Hurricane Season

Ready.Gov Hurricanes: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

NOAA Hurricanes: https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/weather-atmosphere/hurricanes

National Weather Service Hurricane Safety: https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane

Webpage with database of disaster declarations by state: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/

DHS’ DisasterAssistance.gov website: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/

SBA disaster loans: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Home/Questions

NFIP/FEMA Hurricane Season: https://agents.floodsmart.gov/pacifichurricaneseason

COVID, the Insurance Industry, and our Crystal Balls

This week, I ventured down a slightly different path on my podcast. I talked about COVID and insurance, but more about what I believe we need to consider for the future rather than about what is happening today.

Take a listen and then share what YOU think might happen: https://episodes.castos.com/5e6ccb9ab4cf97-55025247/TMoI-Episode-12-MR.mp3

Podcast Guest: Barb Gavitt Talks Insurance Licensing in a Pandemic

Barb Gavitt is Vice President of Product Development and Education at A.D. Banker & Company, one of the leading insurance pre-licensing and continuing education providers in the country. She is also the 2020 president of the Securities & Insurance Licensing Authority.

Barb sat down with me recently to discuss the challenges many have been facing, and continue to face, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Although the insurance and financial services industries have been deemed “essential” during shelter-in-place orders, the licensing test centers were not.

This means that individuals who were already hired to work in the industry could not obtain their licenses, despite having paid significant fees and devoted tremendous amounts of time studying. Similarly, those wanting to be hired or wanting to obtain an additional license or line of authority on an existing license find themselves equally frustrated and stymied.

On Episode 6 of my podcast, Taking the Mystery out of Insurance, Barb explains what’s been happening to date, how the states are opening up now, and what she anticipates in the future.

A video of our chat will appear on the podcast’s YouTube Channel later in the week.

Update: Cannabis Regulation

In prepping for the SILA Foundation webinar I presented yesterday, I have two items to share with you since the last time I blogged on the topic of cannabis.

Topic #1: Decriminalization

A number of states have decriminalized marijuana. Contrary to what many people infer from the term “decriminalized,” it does NOT mean a person is not guilty of a crime of possessing, growing, or selling marijuana. Unless the state has passed a law that stipulates the medical, or adult recreational, use/possession/sale of marijuana IS legal, it is still a crime.

What the term means is that if a person has a “small amount” of marijuana in his or her possession, law enforcement will not arrest and charge that person with a crime. However, law enforcement may still confiscate the marijuana and the person can be fined for possession. Each state defines “small amount” differently. The most common amount is less than 1/4 of an ounce.

So, what does this mean? Let’s say I’m driving along the road in a state that has not legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana, but has decriminalized it. A cop pulls me over for speeding and spots the ounce of pot I have sitting in the cup holder in my console. The cop can arrest me for illegal possession, I can be charged and found guilty of a crime, and I can be fined or jailed–however the state punishes that particular crime.

But, if the pot in the cup holder is less than the “small amount” defined by that state’s law, the cop can confiscate my pot (or not) and he can issue a citation that results in a fine (not a crime) for illegal possession ( or not).

Here’s a URL that lists how each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia handle the legalization of marijuana: https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state

Topic #2: Court-Enforcement of Contracts re: Cannabis Businesses

A recent ruling by the Nevada District Court shows that federal courts are handing down different findings with respect the the enforceability of contracts to which cannabis-related businesses are a party.

If you want the full story, click the link above. Here’s the short story:

When a cannabis business sues or is sued over breach of contract, the federal courts seem to be taking one of two positions:

  1. If the matter at issue relates to insurance, federal labor laws, federal intellectual property rights, and other contracts and laws not directly related to the growth, sale, etc. of cannabis, they seem to be ruling in a way that enforces the contract. Why? Because enforcement of the contract does not violate federal law under the Controlled Substances Act, which deems marijuana a Schedule I substance–and illegal under federal law. In other words, if I own a cannabis dispensary and lied on my insurance application about whether I use a safe, and my insurance company later denied my insurance claim for theft, the court will likely enforce the contract and side with the insurer (if it has proof I lied and violated the warranty about the safe).
  2. If the matter relates to a contract that are directly related the growth, sale, etc. of cannabis (such as a loan to expand the business), they seem to be ruling in a way that does not enforce the contract. In other words, if I failed to repay the loan I secured to expand my cannabis dispensary and the lender sued me to get the money back, the court will likely NOT find in favor of the lender suing me because I breached the loan agreement. Why? Because finding for the lender puts it in a position where it benefits from assisting an illegal cannabis business conduct operations–which violates federal law under the Controlled Substances Act.

Summary

How we insure cannabis risks in this country is ever-evolving and so long as federal and state laws differ with respect to legalization of marijuana, we’re in for a wild and exciting rollercoaster ride. Check back for more updates as they become available.

May Webinar Dates

My May schedule of webinars for A.D. Banker is now available:

  • May 05 | 11:30 a.m. | Driving into the Future: Uber, Drones, and Driverless Cars
  • May 11 | 11:30 a.m. | Emerging Technologies & Market
  • May 14 | 8:30 a.m. | Anti-Money Laundering 1-hour Refresher
  • May 19 | 11:30 a.m. | Ethics in Action
  • May 28 | 8:30 a.m. | Anti-Money Laundering

For more information, or to register, click here.

The Person Who Mentions Price First Loses Control of the Negotiation

I’ve always had a problem with buying or selling anything based solely, or primarily, on price. You want to know why? Because each of us places a different value on every product or service.

Note: For a more detailed version of this blog post, listen to Podcast Episode 1 (4/21/2020).

To be an effective and successful salesperson, you need to know how your clients and prospects value whatever it is they’re buying. Why are they buying it–because they have to, or because they want to? How well do they understand it–both in terms of what it does, and what it doesn’t do? What are their expectations–not only about the product they’re buying, but about how you’ll be providing service?

Tossing a dollar amount at someone means nothing in the absence of context.

Over the years, I came up with a really good way to gauge how people valued their insurance. I started with a story, then offered my absolute best, top-of-the line, super-duper insurance policy. It didn’t matter what type of insurance I was talking about.

If you use the same concept, it won’t matter what type of product or service you sell, either.

The most important thing is to tell a story about an individual (not your client or prospect) with the same product or service your client is thinking about buying. Illustrate the negative consequences that might result if the individual didn’t buy the RIGHT product or service, or the right options and features.

An insurance salesperson would provide a scenario involving a claim, such as an auto accident, a house fire, or an explosion in a manufacturing plant. A car salesperson might provide a scenario involving a car breaking down, or a truck that didn’t have all the features a buyer might need.

Then, after this unnamed individual (who is NOT your client) experiences the horrible scenario, you ask your client what he or she would want their product or service to perform if they WERE the individual starring in your story.

When your clients answer that question, they tell you how they value the products or services they’re buying.

When I was actively selling insurance, I’d quote the most comprehensive insurance policy with the highest limits of coverage. Yes, my clients were shocked when they asked the price and I told them what it was. But I’d explain:

This  is the most comprehensive, top-of-the line insurance policy I can sell you. I certainly don’t want to offer you anything subpar. When I prepared the quote, I had no idea about what you wanted your insurance policy to do for you, or what YOU think is the best type of policy. Now that I do, all we need to discuss is what you DON’T want your policy to do and, together, we can design YOUR version of the “best” policy.

At this point in the negotiation, all I had to do was discuss the available policy features and options, and which ones the client/prospect felt were important and unimportant. Same thing with the amounts of coverage. Then, when we did start talking price, clients had a much better idea about what they were buying, what VALUE they placed on the product, and to what extent they were willing to pay out of their own pockets in the event of a claim.

When you mention price before your clients do, you’re handing them control of the conversation … and the interview. They choose the story they want to tell and, I guarantee you, they’re going to skip over the confusing chapters and get right to the one about “Price.” They’ll also skip the words they can’t pronounce, all the small print, and all the stuff that YOU know and they don’t. The framework of what gets discussed, and why, will be much narrower in scope than if you, the person with the knowledge and expertise about the product, tell the story

Clients seek the advice and services of insurance professionals because we have a whole lot more technical and hands-on experience about the subject of insurance than they do. If they think they can handle the purchase all by themselves, they buy online. So, when a client seeks you out, all you have to do is be a little creative to showcase that knowledge … and to provide the framework to ask them what they want, and tell them the whole story.

 

3 Ways Insurers are Helping Policyholders Affected by COVID-19

The insurance industry is an “essential” business during the coronavirus pandemic and all the related upheaval social distancing and self-quarantining has created. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to continue working in the industry are finding as many ways as possible to help those who can’t work, or who can only work limited hours, and are suffering financially.

Please check with your insurance agents and insurance companies to see what assistance is being made available to you. Here are 3 types of help you should be able to obtain immediately with respect to your current insurance policies. In many cases, these actions are MANDATED by federal or state law.

  • Health insurance companies are waiving patient cost-sharing in the forms of deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance
  • Insurance carriers have suspended the issuance of cancellations for failure to pay premiums when due–for a certain time period (i.e., until May 1)
  • Some insurance carriers are allowing people to extend the due date of premiums due on renewal policies for a certain time IF they call the carrier at a designated phone number to make arrangements

Each insurance company will be responding differently based on a number of factors, so call your agent or insurer to find out what type of assistance is being offered. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has created a Coronavirus Recourse Center on its website, which can be found here.

Many insurance companies, agencies, and other professionals are publishing and broadcasting all kinds of information to help but take care to be sure you’re listening to a reputable source. As we often see on social media, some individuals thriving on exploiting others.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have about, and I’ll get you an answer.

Lunch & Learn Webinars

Are you an insurance professional who is interested in the latest news about emerging markets and technologies in insurance?

If so, register for one or more of the free Lunch & Learn webinars Linda co-presents with Pam Reihs of A.D. Banker & Company. Past topics have included pet insurance, drones, cannabis, InsurTech, senior financial exploitation, and eScoooters.

These 1-hour webinars begin at 1 p.m. Eastern time and are NOT eligible for CE credit. However, A.D. Banker will provide Professional Development Certificates to students requesting them after they’ve completed the webinar.

For a list of the scheduled dates, and links to register, click here.

 

 

Want to Join a Lunch and Learn?

Check out a recent blog post written by my associate, Pam Reihs of A.D. Banker & Company. She describes the monthly Lunch and Learn webcasts she and I co-host about the most current topics affecting the insurance industry.

These webcasts are free, and they always fill up, so visit Pam’s blog post ASAP, where you can register to reserve your seat.