Archive for July, 2009


What’s your take on all this?  Dare to share?

I attended the PIMA 2009 Summer Conference.

Subject: Catch the Wave! Products – and Profit – in the New Economy

Disclaimer: “The views expressed in this podcast are the views of the individuals, and are not the views of PIMA or its member organizations.”

Listen in.

A big thanks to the contributors.  Some of my favorite comments…

….without completely changing the entire system.  Socialized systems do not deliver the mark of excellence Americans are used to.

3 Gov’t HC plans = none are run very well.  Private contractors for public employees works well.

Employees will purchase complementary plans – but will that be illegal?

Universal HC is already available. – Unlimited HC=disincentive to work

Prevention and wellness

What kind of precedent does this set?

The 50mln uninsured breaks down to a very small pop that doesn’t have access or choice.

Basic level of care to more people needs to occur first.

Insurance entrepreneurs – covering gaps and alternatives

Look at the broader perspective…  Careful to not lose participation of docs… Might lose sense of ownership and responsibility…

Extensive waits – US population just wouldn’t put with that.

Continue to see a spiral in costs – financing issue.

Obama can’t change it – too much infrastructure.

Immediately. Why?

Behavioral conditions…

Catastrophic losses, not routine things like physicals and routine drugs.

Car insurance analogy – OUTSTANDING!

Very expensive – increase taxes 2-3 times over.

Private market – put the expenses with the users and providers – like HSA’s

More transparency of costs and quality, get the middle man out

Putting together by people who don’t understand healthcare or insurance

This is a health crisis…

Can’t fix it in 90 days.

White paper – Six Ways to Fix Our Healthcare System by Samuel H. Fleet

Breakdown insurance monopolies – set a provider pricing level, Medicare reimbursement rate plus 20%.

Lower administrative costs

Citizens and businesses – get educated and respond to congress,  House members need to hear from you.

Grandchildren will be paying this off…

Will bankrupt the country, sharply curtail research – that’s what keeps people alive.  Experimental procedures…. “…something else when it’s your family member.”

Please contribute your thoughts – comment on the blog below

Start a thread in Linkedin or Facebook.

Share this on Twitter.

Write your congressman.

Above all, let’s not rush into something because of politics.  Enough already.

To learn more about PIMA, visit



Doug Kreitzberg, Chief Executive Officer, USI Affinity

Marty Traynor, Vice President, Voluntary Benefits, Mutual of Omaha

Henry (Hank) Miltenberger, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Gilsbar

(Pictured left to right)


Doug Kreitzberg

Invest in areas you are already growing, Add new products

“If you are not investing in new products on an ongoing basis, you are starving your organization.”  DK

“Success is 99% failure.  Persistence usually pays off.  Fail often.  Fail fast.  Fail cheap.”  DK

Marty Traynor

Writes in Benefits Selling magazine

Voluntary products do not need to be ‘one size fits all’

Vol Ben is a market, not a series of products.  Must see it as a market.

Look at the employee as the actual customer (not the employer).  Cross sell.

Connecting methods

Web enrollments (bring that up in a PDA), person to person, etc.

Portability – a personal plan that stays with you across employers

Will Rogers – “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Hank Miltenberger

We don’t have to grow.  We wanted to grow.  Need to sell products that fit the culture of the company.  Need to have fun.

We’re good at administration, not selling. (“Man’s got to know his limitations.” CEastwood)

It’s not the revenue stupid, it’s the profit.

If we can do a thousand, we can do it well.  We are a process-driven company.  (Manual process?)  Can’t scale.

Heavily invest in IT area – what about the Web.  Wrapping services that we can charge for, around the products.

Not concerned about what happens in DC because we’ll just adapt.

Does the market want it from you?

To the extent as possible, always integrate. (outsource?)

Dental – Michael Krafcik, VP of Sales at Security Life Insurance Co.

One of the key distribution methods for indiv dental is the internet.

Dental individual carriers use the Web for quoting, enrollment, and e-issue.

Senior Market – big opportunity, benefits and care are a big deal.

Any Comments?



Andy McElwee, EVP Chubb Personal Insurance


Financial services sector showed a 51% loss of marketcap in 2008

Insurance success – insure availability of capital in the bad times

2009 Reason for Optimism

Weather the storm: Financial strength and the ability to pay claims

Agents will be taking a closer look at carriers – downgrades will eclipse upgrades in 2009

Responsibility to keep promises to our customers

Like most crises, this will paralyze some and energize others

Good crisis for the people in the affinity business – many have left the financial mainstream – unbanked and under-banked has doubled.

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less. -Eric Shinseki

Innovative entry by entrepreneurs … acts of creative destruction – Schumpter

A Chinese heavy equipment brand just bought the Hummer brand.

Innovation is the main driver of wealth. – Summers

Reset – replacement of old products, markets and business models with the new

Innovation and entrepreneurial activities are the table stakes

Shifting from self gratification to thrift and conservativism

Note: Awesome visuals – more of a flash preso – headlines and images


Think transformation versus incremental improvement

Increase speed to market

MySpace is over, Facebook has peaked, and Twitter is hot

End of the golden age of credit

Consumers switching from cash spend mode to a cash preservation mode

Trends and association challenges

Avg AAA participant is 53 years old

People aren’t joining

View associations as transactional.  But products are designed for WW2 generation – spend less on direct mail and more on online advertising that resonates with younger consumers – relevance

Stuffed mailbox image – offering real value in new ways

Need to generate the Wow factor – once-in-a-lifetime, appeal to dreams v wants

“Network neighbors” – people in your social network

18-27 – view SN’s as sources of reliable information

Mass Affluent – looking for gap and excess products that supplement core coverages – e.g. dental: bleaching and aesthetics

Medical tourism that includes “best doctor finder service”, pandemic protection

71 million Gen-Y’ers – 1977-1995 – annual income will increase from 1.8bln to 3.4bln in 10 years; eclipsing the boomers income; soon will replace boomers as the largest percentage in workforce; tax-savvy multi-taskers; Scuppies – Socially Consciously Upwardly-mobile; Get information about products from one-another, not “us” or MSM; network of friends; Snack-media consumers – tiny bits of information all the time

Mobile apps, SN, video and podcasting, and blogging

Online and mobile needs to play a more important role

My take – awesome content and a great exhortation to PIMA members.  Ideas: Perhaps take the next 3-4 weeks, break your team into groups, use new venues offsite, and start rethinking future marketing and product strategies and tactics.  Is it time to Re-engineer budgets and resources, find ways to learn, assign some tactical reading, get some favorite links to track, develop a private wiki, perhaps a team blog, and begin the transformational process?  You’re leaders.  Can you Lead out of this mess?  What can you Change?  How have you Innovated?  It’s scary, but time to take some calculated risks?  Can you keep doing what you’ve always been doing?  Happy to help facilitate your efforts – and surely help develop any ensuing insurance technology… Photo Gallery

(Working on the conference podcast on attendees thoughts on the Healthcare reform effort in Washington… next.)


Interesting collection of blogs and writing on the ObamaCare that linked to my last post.  Thanks Coach P.

Some good writing by a fellow PIMA Board Member on HealthCare reform.  (Wish it was blog, though.  Working on that.)

Sale of a Private/Personal Health Insurance Policy to become ILLEGAL.  Read the article from INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY.

One stat overheard: relative to insurance policy billing, one TPA is seeing 38% ACH versus 12% Credit Card.  The rest would be non-electronic direct pay… billing statements, checks, etc..

PIMA members need to be more engaged in the HC Reform debate.  Stop the presses.  Engage in this.  It very likely could mean the end of the business, or at least a big segment of the business – health insurance.  I can help them get engaged.

Here’s a bright spot in the new law.  Now this addresses costs.  Halleluja!  “The bill further requires that individuals applying to state and federal health programs be able to enroll and manage their eligibility information online.” Need help with that?  Let me know…

There’s also a debate about insurance regulation – state or federal.  PIMA folks need to voice their takes and opinions.  Join the conversation.


Frank Fimmano, PIMA President, AON Consulting SVP


Mary Margaret (Paul’s wife), Cathy Colburn (CorporateCallCenter exec), Paul Latchford (Aegon legal), Mike Mercer (Aegon sales)


Great story from someone who knows first-hand – The Fed’s (CMS) have been atrocious to deal with this year.  They keep changing their minds.  As an example…  “Rules changed about maximum commissions – end of Dec08, they gave us 4 days to make the change.  We had to pay the renewals on everyone.  CMS said guidance would be out in February.  It finally arrived in May.  Then they changed again causing charge-backs and re-apply’s.  Then they made an error with the file – and sent a new file – only 20% of the original file.  But the numbers didn’t look right.  Then they reversed the decision on who should get paid what.  They seem to be ignorant people, making it difficult to do business…” My take – So private marketing organizations say to heck with it, we’ll sell something else.  Then the consumers will have to get the insurance directly from the government – CMS.  Thus pushing the government solution.  Any other takes on that?  Might the same concepts and issues come into play with ObamaCare?

Customer Respect Group – if you’re involved in agent distribution, you might want to check our this study.  These guys know what they’re about.  They added a lot of value to the launch of the new site (which I believe does a nice job with helping educate consumers on life insurance and whether term or permanent is the best fit for you).  Check out this study.

Great new post by Lindsay Resnick, the new CMO with Gorman Health Group.  “Never has the value chain been more important to a Medicare plan than today.”  Especially like #6.  How do you do this “… fully trained, credentialed, certified, and monitored … moved away from a single source distribution strategy to…” without a Web development company, outsourced partner?  Please comment.

Insurance marketers, take note: “…may think their traditional advertising is working, when in fact…” Great post on the need for excellence with Web marketing – and thus Web design and architecture.  Don’t overlook the ALL IMPORTANT Information Architecture – both on the human side and the data side.  I first came to appreciate IA in 04/05 when someone sat me down and explained it to me.  If you’re involved in Web-anything, be sure to understand IA, at least at a high level.  Here’s something I wrote on a related subject – from the Web marketing perspective.

The Aartrijk Brand Camp – make your reservations now – September 28-30, 2009 / Hotel Sax Chicago.  This is going to be an extremely effective event for understanding branding and related marketing in the new economy….  short, sweet, creative, stimulating, attended by some some of the brightest lights in the insurance biz.  Tell them Mike sent you.  Love to see some of you there.  Let’s turn this biz on its ear!  Can insurance be FUN!  YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

This week – PIMA 2009 Summer Conference.  Should be interesting.  Great content as usual.  Hope the speakers really talk about the good stuff.

Some recent pics:


Cool Picture from Cleveland City Stars


Fireworks shot “SuperNova”


Very cool horn


Most amazing God-story … of this woman and her mom

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