All posts by Maria Sassian

Recruiting young workers through a culture of volunteerism

photo courtesy of State Farm

Did you know that volunteering your time and expertise can make you happier and healthier? It’s been shown that unpaid work for the good of others enables people to make new friends, learn new skills and experience reduced stress levels.

And it’s not just individuals who benefit. Companies that create a culture of volunteering have better employee morale, workplace atmosphere and brand perception. A Deloitte study found that a large majority (89 percent) of employees think that companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better work environment. Volunteer activities were also reported to be more effective at boosting staff morale than company-sponsored happy hours, and more than three-quarters of workers said that volunteering is essential to employee well-being.

The insurance industry is no slouch when it comes to volunteering. The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) has contributed more than 300,000 volunteer hours to hundreds of community nonprofit organizations since its inception in 1994. The industry gives back to communities in significant and varied ways including pro bono and skills-sharing support to nonprofit organizations, disaster response, relief and recovery, employee-driven outreach in local communities and many other creative corporate social responsibility initiatives.

The industry is also hoping to recruit and retain workers by emphasizing the culture of volunteering. On April 10, the IICF released a white paper documenting the findings of its Millennial Ideas Summit. The summit convened in late 2018 with more than 50 young leaders and emerging talent from across the insurance industry to discuss key topics and challenges facing the industry. These included talent and recruitment of millennials; technology, innovation and change; and social responsibility, particularly the industry’s philanthropic response following natural disasters.

The paper, What Millennials Want, how are we engaging the millennial workforce, concluded that communicating to the younger workforce that insurance is a business of service and one that helps people in their times of need is critically important to millennials, who want opportunities to give back and make a difference through experiences and grassroots ways that help their communities.

April is National Volunteer Month. What is your company doing to promote volunteerism? Let us know in the comments section.

 

Making sense of the dip in property/casualty carrier employment

By Dr. Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist, Insurance Information Institute

 

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of people working for property/casualty (p/c) insurers has been dropping continually for two years (since February 2017), from 551,200 to 520,700 (the preliminary estimate for February 2019).

Seasonal adjustment plays a small part in determining these numbers. The not-seasonally-adjusted p/c carrier employment for February 2017 was 549,500, and the February 2019 preliminary estimate was 518,600.

What’s going on? Is this a trend? Based on the numbers alone, it’s hard to tell. Consider the following graph of seasonally-adjusted p/c carrier employment since January 2011 — 18 months after the official end of the Great Recession:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Don’t be misled by the spike in March 2015-March 2016. This is how the Bureau of Labor Statistics incorporates a change in classification—that is, in this case, some people who were previously not considered employed by p/c carriers were, as of March 2015, now considered as employed in this industry. Rather than an instant change, the adjustment is made over twelve months beginning and ending in March.

Since the data that begin in March 2016 also show a downtrend, it is easy to infer that, if there had been no reclassification in 2015-16, the downward trend that started (on the graph) in 2011 would in 2019 probably show p/c carrier employment at or below 500,000.

Although we don’t readily have policy counts over that span, it is reasonable to assume that, with growth in the population and the economy, p/c carriers are growing, and doing so with fewer employees. It is likely that at least some of this is due to the use of digital methods for activities that humans previously did. P/C carriers are becoming more productive.

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, April 4 to April 11

Here are the 5 most clicked on articles from this week’s I.I.I. Daily newsletter.

To subscribe to the I.I.I. Daily email daily@iii.org.

 

Avoid a Double Tragedy: Tips from National Dog Bite Prevention Week® Coalition Partners

Janet Ruiz

Our previous post discussed homeowners liability claims stemming from dog bites. Today, Janet Ruiz, I.I.I.’s Director of Strategic Communications, has these valuable safety tips from National Dog Bite Prevention
Week
® Coalition partners.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates there are approximately 78 million dogs in U.S. homes and each year 4.5 million people are bitten or injured. “Even the gentlest dog can bite if they are in pain, feel threatened, or are competing for resources such as food or space,” said Dr. John de Jong, AVMA President. “Not only is it important to understand how dogs behave, it is important to understand how a dog may interpret our behavior.” AVMA’s ‘Jimmy the Dog’ video series lets preschoolers look at how a dog might interpret different scenarios.

“We’ve seen firsthand over the years the tragic consequences surrounding dog bites and their effect on those involved – the people who are injured, the animals who may be relinquished or even destroyed, and the dog’s owners who have to cope with the loss of a beloved family member,” said Lesa Staubus, DVM, American Humane Rescue veterinarian, “Once your dog has bitten someone – or you or a family member fall victim to a dog bite – it will be already be too late.  Let’s practice good prevention instead.”

Because of the high-risk involving dogs, babies, and children, American Humane offers a free online booklet called Pet Meets Baby that provides families with valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a dog.

Additional safety tips from American Humane include:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet. Children are often bitten by dogs in their own household.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Walk and exercise your dog on a leash to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
  • Regular veterinary visits are essential to regulating the health of your dog. A sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
  • Be alert. If someone approaches you and your dog, caution them to wait before petting the dog. Give your pet time to be comfortable with the stranger.
  • Understand and respond to changes in your dogs’ body language. Look at the eyes, ears, tail, and posture to know when your dog may be happy, fearful, or angry.

Hope the (fire)wall is high enough

Getty Images

Fans of Game of Thrones are getting ready to learn the fate of their favorite characters when the final season of the show starts airing on HBO on April 14th. At the same time, security experts are warning that cyber-crooks are ready to take advantage of the show’s popularity to attack people’s computers.

The huge popularity of the show makes illegal download sites, where users can view episodes without the required subscriptions, popular distributions point for malware. In 2018 Game of Thrones accounted for 17 percent of all infected pirated content, according to Kaspersky Labs, even though no new episodes aired on TV over that time. This suggests that the coming premiere could be the most dangerous time to be downloading the torrents.

According to Kaspersky, the most popular kind of attack via pirated content was a trojan, a piece of software that is installed on a computer and allows the hacker to take control of that device.

The good news is that, overall, the prevalence of TV show-related malware has been declining. In 2018, the total number of users who encountered this kind of malware was 126,340, a third less than it was the year before. The number of total attempts dropped by 22 percent, to 451,636. Kaspersky said that drop was in line with a reduction in the number of security threats across the internet. But it might also be linked to a drop in the number of people using torrents, as interest in the technology declines.

Dog Bite Liability Claims by State – Interactive Map

Getty Images

Dogs provide millions of people with companionship, happiness and health benefits. But even dogs that are normally docile may bite when they are frightened or when defending their puppies, owners or food.

To educate pet owners about how to prevent dog bites The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Insurance Information Institute,  State Farm®, and others have joined together for National Dog Bite Prevention Week (April 7 -13).

Homeowners insurers paid out $675 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®, the largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.

California had the largest number of claims in 2018 followed by Florida. California also had the highest average cost per claim at $45,543.

For more details see our interactive map below.

 

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, March 29 to April 4

Here are the 5 most clicked on articles from this week’s I.I.I. Daily newsletter.

 

 

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Insurance Commissioner challenges Guinness record for tallest politician

istock

On March 27, Guinness World Records named Brooklyn councilman Robert Cornegy as the tallest male politician in the world. But his title was disputed by North Dakota insurance commissioner Jon Godfread who claims that he stands an inch and 3/4 higher than Cornegy’s 6 feet, 10 inches.

Godfread, who played basketball at the University of Iowa, said he didn’t know that “being a tall politician was a thing,” and that he’d probably get in touch with Guinness. A spokeswoman from Guinness said that the organization would be “be happy to receive an application” from Godfread.

Guinness keeps track of a wide range of unusual records. Insurance related records include: The highest ever insurance valuation ($100 million) of a painting for the move of the Mona Lisa from Paris to the U.S. for a special exhibition; Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu highest insured hair ($1 million); and the largest ever life insurance policy ($201 million).

 

 

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, March 22 to March 28

Here are the 5 most clicked on articles from this week’s I.I.I. Daily newsletter.

To subscribe to the I.I.I. Daily email daily@iii.org.

 

Ask a life insurance agent

photo courtesy of Robert Stevenson

 

The Triple-I blog received the terrific opportunity to ask State Farm life insurance agent, Robert Stevenson, a few questions about getting the most out of the often-misunderstood financial product.

What is your educational background and what was the path that led you to become a life insurance agent?

Robert Stevenson: I grew up in Savannah, Georgia and attended Hampton University in Virginia. I was working on my master’s degree when I accepted an opportunity with State Farm Insurance Corporate Headquarters. My job was to help the company expand its presence on the east and west coast. During that time, I learned about becoming a State Farm agent, and fell in love with it. I worked hard, and in December of 2000, opened my agency in New York, New York. As a State Farm agent, I’m a small business owner – I get to know people on a personal level. Helping them manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams is truly rewarding. I’ve never looked back.

What advice would you give students that are considering becoming life insurance agents?

RS: You have to listen and you have to care. This is more than a job. It’s helping people protect what’s most important to them. People don’t always want to talk about life insurance. It’s uncomfortable. But, let’s be honest. Someday you will die. No one in the history of the world has ever cheated it. That’s why, you have to make sure people are protected, and that they understand the bigger picture. You’re taking care of families and protecting the lifestyle they spent years building. While nothing can bring someone back, a family’s dreams can still be achieved because their loved one had life insurance. It’s truly a gift of love. You need to help people understand this.

What is the most common misconception that your clients have about life insurance?

RS: That they don’t need it. That they have enough. Often, I’ll hear the response, “I have it through my employer.” But, there’s a chance that benefit can be taken away. Also, if you have life insurance though an employer, and you get a new job, you might not receive the same coverage in your new position. Or, if you retire, it’s likely you won’t receive the same amount you once had. It’s wise to be proactive and read the fine print. Health and age also play a role in life insurance. I often hear, “I’ll wait till I’m married or have kids to get it.” Problem is, as we get older, our health tends to decline. Therefore, if you wait to get life insurance, you’ll likely end up paying more for it.

How do you help a client determine how much insurance they need and what type of policy is best for them?

RS: I start by forecasting. I ask customers questions like, “Where do you want to be in five, 10, 20, 30 years? Do you want to be married? Own a business? Have children? Travel? What’s your dream?” It’s vital for people to understand the importance of investing so they can generate more income as the years go by. Life insurance is not an afterthought. It’s the foundation of an investment strategy. You can’t invest in mutual funds, or stocks, or your child’s college, or buy rental properties, etc., if you don’t have the income. If something happens to you – your family is able to replace your income and still achieve their dreams.

It’s also important to help customers understand the difference between term life and whole life. Term does exactly what it sounds like – it covers you for a period of time. If you die within that period of time, your family is covered. But, think about this. Let’s say you’re 35, and you want to buy 20 or 30 years of term life insurance. Do you think you’ll be living 20 or 30 years from now? When I ask people that question, most answer, “Yes.” That’s when I remind them, when 20/30 years goes by and they’re still living, they won’t receive this payout.  Whole life covers you for the entire length of your life. No matter what. It guarantees your family will get paid. It’s more expensive up front, but you’re guaranteeing a payment – it builds value you can cash out.

How does one make sure that their life insurance policy does not get lost and that their beneficiaries get paid as quickly as possible after their death?

RS: When we sell a life policy, we tell our clients, “Make sure your loved ones are aware of the policy and each of you know where important documents are located.” For example, the safe in your house. Also, as life changes, periodic updates with your State Farm agent or financial planner are a smart idea to ensure everyone is on the same page.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

RS: That’s a tough one. I’d say, when I got my securities license. It allows you to sell packaged investment products like mutual funds and variable annuities. Getting this takes a lot of work and involves rigorous testing. I had one opportunity to pass it. That was a lot of pressure. But it was worth it. Getting my securities license gave me the opportunity to open my office and help people.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

RS: I enjoy reading and golf. Having activities like these lets me to unwind. But more so, I love spending time with my family. I have a son and a daughter who keep me busy. Family time is important. All things in equal parts. That’s what keeps life joyful.