Archive for November, 2005

30th

Here’s an interesting thing I’m looking forward to: I’ve been asked to facilitate a session at a Med Supp conference in New Orleans this coming May. That’s right – hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.

The American Insurance Institute is sponsoring its first “Issues and Trends in Medicare Supplement Insurance” conference May 1 through 3. (To the best of my knowledge, this is the first-ever industry conference exclusively for Med Supp professionals.) The organization had already booked the hotel and made arrangements prior to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. With all the destruction, there was some talk of relocating the conference. But the conference organizers quickly decided to stick with New Orleans as a way to help the city. So not only will it be a great conference, but it will be part of the solution for helping downtown New Orleans.

The conference will include a distinguished list of speakers. Topics will include:

  • Can Med Supp Make Money for Your Company?
  • Industry Overview: Players, Products, Profitability and A Look Toward the Future
  • What is the Market Potential for Med Supp Insurance Sales
  • The Political Outlook for Medicare Supplement Insurance
  • A Current Look Inside Medicare SELECT
  • and much more.

I will be discussing Web-enabled Med Supp Sales – Helping Producer Networks Sell More. We’ll be looking at whether or not a Web site can help agents and consumers understand and decide which Plan best suits the individual needs. I’ll also discuss the latest and best practices in Web-enablement, plus, proven techniques to help agent-broker networks sell faster and more efficiently using online services and tools – search engine marketing, affilliate marketing, cross-selling, etc., etc….

Personally, I see a really big opportunity for more Med Supp insurers and distributors to leverage the Web for quoting and enrollments. Did you know that according to an International Demographics report, of the approximate 15.7 million Americans aged 55 to 64, about nine million use the Web today? And one of the biggest things they use the Web for is finding health information. In fact, according to a Pew report, of all adult Internet users, 30% use a search engine to find information DAILY! That’s a lot of traffic. So there is little question that as the baby boomers age, having an online, meaningful solution will be an asset.

As one of the only Web developers with significant experience in e-signature-based medicare supplement enrollments, I’m looking forward to sharing IdeaStar’s insights with the group. I hope to see you there!

17th

The opening night of the conference just happened to coincide with the Pittsburgh SteelersCleveland Browns football game. My hotel was just across the street from the game and the place was crawling with rowdy Steelers fans. As a Browns fan, I took a low profile. Somebody asked me where I was from and I said Akron. They had no clue about its proximity to Cleveland, so I was OK.

I watched the game from my hotel window. That was interesting in itself because of the television tape delay. When a touch down occurred, I heard the roar of the crowd before the play even happened on TV — couldn’t quite get my hands around that one.

Go Browns!

At MarkeTTech, IdeaStar rolled out its new booth and we had lots of great conversations with insurance executives. There were some really interesting sessions on marketing technologies and techniques. One interesting company was VERITAS. The way I understand their technology, when you are looking for an insurance product on their Web site, they’ll walk you through a series of preferences, then send a customized brochure through the mail. It’s based on the potential customer answers to the online questions. There’s definite application to helping people figure out what type of insurance product they should buy. I’m looking forward to doing a little networking with them.

Mike Wise and friends from USI Affinity at the IdeaStar booth.

During the conference, I facilitated a discussion on www.unionsecure.com which IdeaStar developed. It went very well. There was a lot of interest. But, back by popular demand, here is the best part.

Last but not least, our client site, www.unionsecure.com was presented a Gold Medal award in the Marketing Methods competition for an e-commerce site. We’re now up for the Best of PIMA at the PIMA annual meeting in March.

I’m really pleased with this award because it gives us and UnionSecure positive recognition among our peers. The site has processed over 6,000 insurance applications since its launch in March 2005, has a positive return on investment, was launched in three months, and is available for repurposing for similar enrollment situations. All primary stake holders are pleased.

The Winning Team: IdeaStar’s development group from left to right: Graphic Designer Dave Mottram, Mike Wise, Project Manager Jane Hudeck, Developers Phil Hall and Dale Cassidy

I was also elected as a “tri-chair” for the 2006 MarketTech Symposium which will be in Chicago. It’s going to be a great conference. I hope to see you there!

11th

by Mike Wise, VP IdeaStar Insurance Technologies

I am really excited about a new agent Web site that recently launched for McGowan & Company, one of the nation’s premier writers of umbrella liability insurance. It marks the end of the second phase of McGowan’s cutting edge technology initiative, and really solidifies their online presence.

McGowan partnered with IdeaStar a little over a year ago after finding us on a Google search for “insurance technology”. Working with McGowan was a classic win-win situation — IdeaStar had the Web development services McGowan was looking for, and McGowan offered IdeaStar the opportunity to move into a new niche of insurance technology. Turns out, it has become a huge opportunity for McGowan to quantum-leap the competition.

Phase one was a re-design of the McGowan corporate site. It has become a destination for industry buzz, and a great information resource, attracting close to 3000 unique visitors in a typical month.

With the Phase Two agent site, the corporate site is no longer information-only, as agents can now interact with McGowan electronically.

At MyMcGowan agents have a variety of options. They can:

  • Complete a progressive HTML application for umbrella and D&O insurance, and submit it directly to McGowan for underwriting.
  • Create pre-filled, printable pdf files of applications for their internal records.
  • Endorse an existing policy.
  • Access lists of pending accounts, and check the status of a new quote request.
  • Request a quote on a renewal policy.
  • Access policy forms, guidelines, and additional information.

So, in collaboration with IdeaStar, McGowan has provided its agents an application submission tool and a resource center in one simple, usable location. McGowan expects hundreds if not thousands of independent agents to use the site on a daily basis as they submit new business and manage their book of business with McGowan.

3rd

I’d like to promote two conferences focusing on the insurance industry. The first, coming up in a little over a week, is The Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) MarketTech Symposium in Pittsburgh. The second is the Inter-Company Marketing Group’s (ICMG) 22nd annual meeting in Phoenix in January.

PIMA’s MarketTech, Nov. 13 through 15, is entitled Growing Success. It’s a great opportunity for insurance professionals to meet each other, as well as suppliers, and find out what works best in growing their own successes.

I’m particularly interested in the results of the Marketing Methods competition. IdeaStar Insurance Technologies submitted the Web site which it did for UnionSecure. The union member supplemental accident and life insurance site has been going gangbusters since it launched about a year ago. And, the company’s underwriter has asked if IdeaStar can do an accidental death and dismemberment site for a large group that wants to do a similar self service Web site to control costs and streamline administration – something we can do for around $10,000 in three to four weeks. What a great example of extending return on investment of our Web sites! As I’ve said before, site-architecture is important.

Also for MarketTech, I’m running a pre-conference survey of insurance companies and distributors about e-business and their current and future plans. I’ll publish the results in my blog after the conference. I’ve also just finished some “Internet Utilization Statistics” research — interesting stuff. For example, 30% of adult internet users, or 41 million adults, “Use a search engine to find information” DAILY. The fastest growing segment, online banking @ 47% in the past 3 years, reveals that 56 million adults have used online banking at some point. 67% of adult Internet users have bought a product online.** It will be VERY interesting to cross-reference these stats with the e-business survey of the PIMA members… more later.

And don’t forget I’ll be a speaker at the conference, discussing successful uses of the Internet in marketing insurance to associations.

The ICMG conference, January 24 through 26, will focus on The Power of Partnership. Hundreds of insurance and financial insurance executives will meet to discuss hot industry issues. I’ve heard there will be a record number of attendees this year, mostly chief marketing officers of carriers and presidents of larger agent distribution groups. The conference will be at the fabulous Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, during a very nice time of year. I’ll be there talking about the successes insurance companies have had with IdeaStar developed, interactive Web sites. I look forward to talking to insurance industry representatives about online agent-driven quotes, electronic applications, online signatures and more.

There’s still time to register for both conferences. I hope to see you at at least one!

** Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Archives to 2005