I was able to spend some time last week at the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia Fall Insurance Extravaganza, which was held in Macon. Next to the opportunity to network with other agents and company representatives (there were over 150 in attendance), the best thing about this event is that it is free for IIAG members and provided an opportunity for agents to get up to eight hours of continuing education credit at no cost. I arrived in time for lunch on Thursday and stayed for the afternoon education sessions and the evening dinner.
Apparently, the conference started with a bang, as everyone I met mentioned the opening general session at 8 a.m. that morning. A fellow insurance agent, John Immordino, spoke on Cyber Liability exposures for insurance agencies and agents and said some things that had everyone concerned. After that, it was on to less scary topics, although the E&O Loss Control presentation had some things in it that should cause agencies and agents concern, especially with respect to social media. As the presenter, Becky McCormack of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of South Carolina, noted, the potential liability exposures with social media are essentially the same as with other communication media, but due to its more casual feel, instantaneous and worldwide distribution, and the permanence of what is posted, those exposures are magnified. That is why it is crucial for agencies to have a policy about the use of social media by their employees in connection with the performance of their duties. The Agents Council for Technology has created a guide to help agencies in creating such a policy. (Click here for a link to it, sample policies, and articles on related topics.)
I was also able to sit in on Tamara Gatson’s presentation on time management. I have been to such presentations for attorneys and the principles are the same, but she made a basic point that is often overlooked. In order to take control of your time, you need to track how you are currently spending your time both at work and outside of work and compare it to the way you want to be spending your time. Once you know these basic facts, you can take control of your life by cutting down on what you don’t want to be doing and doing more of what you want to be doing. She also made the point that you can’t wait for specific events to occur to be happy. Like life, happiness is a voyage and should be sought in all the activities of your life.
Perhaps the most entertaining presentation I attended was on a subject that is usually considered somewhat boring and technical. Its title was “Insurance & BBQ” and addressed issues related to commercial property and general liability insurance policies. The link between Insurance and barbecue was the use by the presenter, David Thompson of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, of some of the many barbecue restaurants he has visited to explore those issues. His critiques of the restaurants were fun and made after he discussed a particular issue related to the restaurant. He made the obvious point that agents should read the policies they are selling and pointed out some endorsements to watch for and avoid if possible (generally, any endorsement that contained the words “limitation” or “exclusion.”). He also made the not so obvious point that when responding to a customer’s question about the existence of coverage, an agent should begin his or her answer with the statement “there is no coverage, except” in certain situations, instead of “there is coverage, but limited” to certain situations. I think most of my readers can guess why the first response is better than the second, especially if they have taken an E&O Loss Control course.