Quarterly Newsletter - November 2017
As many of you know, one of my great pleasures in life is riding my bike. I don’t get to do it as much as I would like. I ride around our beautiful county filled with farmland and rolling hills. I do fundraising rides for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, for which many of you have generously sponsored. I have done bicycle tours of Western Ireland and Prince Edward Island.
In 2018, I will begin a bucket list ride across the country and, using that as a rationalization, I have recently bought a custom road bike. The process of having a custom-built bike made me think about our industry’s products and how they retain the core product values, even as the latest bells and whistles come along and get added and then fall away over time.
My new bike is shiny, and it has a beautiful custom paint job. But guess what? It isn’t carbon fiber or some other super high-tech material, it is steel. The steel frame and fork will make it much more comfortable to ride across the country. My cycling friends asked, “Isn’t it heavy?” When I answer that it is about 1 lb. heavier than my carbon fiber road bike, they seem shocked that I would make that choice. I tell them I can lose 1 pound of body weight to make up for that, but I can’t make a carbon fiber bike any more comfortable to ride. Sometimes the tried and true is more valuable than the latest new thing.
I never met the designer of my custom bike. Pictures, measurements, preferences, and experiences all shared by email. If I had to meet with her in person I could not have made it happen. I would not have been able to take the time to meet with her. We used all the technology we could to make the transaction happen. Those who know me best will also not be surprised to know the bike itself has a lot of technology too, including the latest Garmin tracker of all things cycling and front/rear lights that I hope will protect me from distracted drivers. But if they don’t, they have cameras to take pictures of the drivers’ cars if the bike sustains an impact.
I had a moment of panic after the bike had been built but before I had seen it. Several of my friends were also getting new bikes complete with disc brakes—something my new bike did not have. I sent a worried email to the designer, who assured me that the traditional brakes are a better option. The cost and complexity of the new systems is not outweighed by performance, she assured me. Ultimately, with some angst, I went with her recommendation. I see my friends with their disc brakes and sometimes wonder if I made the right choice. I am not sure if I will ever know one way or the other.
In the end, I trusted the expert. ~ Cailie
AICP Wrap-up: Don’t Go Sleepless in Seattle
By Glenda Bean
Hot Topics in Advertising
We attended another wonderful AICP National Conference last month. Seattle delivered with beautiful weather, and AICP delivered with great content, networking, and compliance insights.
I was honored to be a part of a panel featuring Maureen Perry, Product Reviewer with the Interstate Compact, and Ted Newton, Advertising Review with Mass Mutual. Together we selected what we saw as four overarching issues to be on the lookout for within the world of advertising review for life, health, and annuities.
- Consumer Confusion – Who is Offering What?
- Carrier Confusion – What is advertising?
- Electronic vs. Printed Advertising – Capabilities and Challenges
- Consumer Engagement – Plain Language, Disclosure, Engagement
Now, each of these topics could be broken down further and have their own dedicated sessions to really dig into how issues show up and how to tackle them. Still, we were able to discuss lots of ways to manage these hot topics and enjoyed an engaging conversation with the audience.
So how can you address these issues? Here are some of the key takeaways for each category:
- The issuing carrier must be made clear and prominent. Some states have more specific requirements about what this means than others, but there should be no question about who is issuing the policy.
- The definition of “advertising” is broad, and it’s best to cast a wide net to make sure your company is catching all the ads. If you don’t know if something is considered an ad or not, start with this question, “What is the intent of this flyer/tweet/brochure/tv commercial, etc.” Is it to promote insurance (generally, or specific products), your products, your services, your agents/agencies? If the answer is yes (and there’s a lot of times it’s going to be a yes) – then it’s an ad and needs to be handled as such.
- When it comes to electronic vs. printed ads, there are pros and cons on both sides. We talked a lot about space restrictions and how specific you can get in a limited space ad. Rule of thumb – less space, less specific.
- Finally, we rounded out our discussion with a big trend, which is the use of “plain language” or “plain English” in both insurance ads and in the contracts, themselves. We expect to see challenges to the traditional language and terminology that’s used in the insurance space for lots of reasons – target markets, selling products direct to consumer are just a couple of the drivers – while the idea of having language that’s familiar and understandable is certainly appealing from a compliance perspective (we want people to clearly understand how it works, what they’re buying). What that looks like while still having protection measures in place against litigation and/or regulatory violations is still very much up in the air. That said, it’s important for compliance professionals and regulators to keep an open mind here and work with others on what makes sense. There’s lots of room at the table to make insurance more accessible and understandable, it just needs open minds and discussions to make sure it stays reasonable and not simplified to the point it creates expectations that aren’t accurate.
If you’re interested in hearing more about these topics, drop us a line with any questions or comments you have or advertising issues you’re struggling with!!
By Machael Heise
While at the AICP National Conference in Seattle recently, our booth was bustling with a stream of visitors looking for information and the latest Currin Compliance swag—often with stories of the adventures of their “buddies” collected in previous years. If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending an event where we had an exhibit booth, you’ve missed out on our very popular giveaways. Over the years our items have included the Compliance Hero, the Currin Cow, the happy yellow cell phone holder, the fuzzy bobble-head pen, the talking stress reliever, and the list goes on.
So many of the visitors who stopped by our booth last month made comments about their buddies from previous years, as if giving us an update on what our little friends have been up to since leaving our booth at a conference. It may sound silly now, but the stories were always warm and heartfelt. Whether lined up on their desk at work, on the top of their TV at home, or passed along to children or grandchildren, the buddies seem to make their way around, spreading a little happiness wherever they go.
During a break at AICP, one of our long-time CCS fans, Ken Bach, shared a story about two bobble-head pens he collected several years ago. Ken took them home and eventually ended up planting them in his yard. He sent a picture of them to his daughter, as in “look what just popped up today” like a tulip or a daffodil. Now Ken regularly sends an updated picture to his daughter as a way to say hello and to put a smile on her face. Amazingly, the pens have survived the Connecticut weather and are not looking too bad! He shared this picture with me, and I agree, the buddies look pretty darn cute.
As you can imagine, I have a few CCS buddies of my own. Last spring, we adopted 2 kittens, Buck and Bonnie, to share our home with our older cat, Clyde. As you can see, Buck and Bonnie took a liking to our Compliance Hero. Little did I know at the time that the Hero would become a favorite companion!
If you have a story or a picture of one of your CCS buddies that you would like to share, please send them to us via email (email@example.com). We would love to include them in our newsletter as they’re sure to put a smile on a face or two!
Another Symposium in the Books!
By Cailie Currin
As we get a number of Currin Insurance Compliance Symposiums under our belt, it is interesting to me how each one takes on its own character. This one had more actuaries and attorneys than others we have held and that had some impact. Tom Hartman was an active participant, which also made a difference. Oh, and there was a TON of food, including my personal favorite for the afternoon break: dark chocolate covered espresso beans.
We talked a lot about Reg 210. We had two sessions that were each scheduled to be 75-90 minutes and they both went long. There was a lot of great discussion and participation. There were, of course, unanswered questions, but I think we all came away more confident in our understanding of the regulation and its requirements.
In the afternoon we spent most of our time talking about e-applications and recent NY requirements, including challenges regarding Reg 60 and the October 10, 2017 revisions to the outlines. We also talked about recent challenges on the annuity side relative to distribution channels and discrimination.
I really like our new format of smaller events with plenty of space for discussion, both more formally in sessions, but equally important during the many opportunities to eat! One of my favorite parts of the conference was when, at lunch, we moved the rounds together so that we could all eat at one big table and continue to talk both about the topics of the day and a little about ourselves, so we left feeling truly acquainted.
I think it may make sense to do a similar event after the first of the year. Reg 210 will continue to grow as a presence in our daily lives and if we come together again in, perhaps February of next year – a month before its effective date, we can have a different conversation and talk about what we have come up against as the effective date approaches. Also quite a few people said they could not make this date work, but they really wanted to participate, so this would give another opportunity. Good idea, bad idea?
If you think it’s a good idea, where would you like to see it happen?
I am open to anything, but perhaps near our own Machael Heise’s remote office in Southern California? Thinking about the weather in upstate NY in February makes that seem attractive! Email me your thoughts (firstname.lastname@example.org) and watch your email for details – don’t let us go to spam!
Fall greetings from Sasha!
Fun at AICP National in Seattle
Photo Credit: Heather Pomerene