AAMGA Votes to Expand Membership

Members vote to amend bylaws, broadening representation of the wholesale insurance market

AUG. 27, 2013 – King of Prussia, Pa. – The American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) announced today its members have voted to amend the association’s bylaws and expand membership to include all wholesale insurance professionals who have underwriting or binding authority and meet other minimum standards of the association.

Balloting occurred between July 26 and Aug. 26 with more than 63 percent of eligible members voting. The proposed bylaw amendments passed with an overwhelming majority.

“This is a significant moment in AAMGA’s continued evolution and development in line with our 87 year history,” explained Frank Mastowski, CPCU, CIW, president of AAMGA’s Board of Directors. “Our members recognize the wholesale insurance landscape continues to change. The revised strategic focus of the association will broaden members networking access to markets and other industry practitioners. It will support technical underwriting and other professional educational development through the AAMGA University, and further the strength of our advocacy with regulators and legislators domestically and internationally.”

According to the AAMGA Executive Director Bernie Heinze, the board of directors will now take additional steps to implement the new by-law changes. The board will also expand curriculums for AAMGA University, the group’s professional education and training arm.

“These new bylaws were designed to ensure those market professionals working in the wholesale insurance space with binding or underwriting authority have a place to go where peer networking, education and advocacy resources are available,” said Heinze. “By broadening our membership, we’re strengthening and advancing the importance of the entire wholesale insurance marketplace.”

The AAMGA board of directors proposed the by-law changes to members in May 2013 after a two-year strategic review. Without the Association changing its core values, membership will now be open not only to MGAs, but also to MGUs, program administrators, aggregators and other wholesale insurance professionals who meet stringent membership standards. Among the standards are minimums for years in business, annual written premium, and underwriting or binding authority.

ABOUT AAMGA
The American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) is the wholesale insurance community’s international trade association. Founded in 1926, the AAMGA today represents over 500 corporate members and is respected as a leader in and voice of the wholesale and excess and surplus lines insurance industry. Membership in the AAMGA is highly selective and therefore the wholesalers admitted to the ranks are those who annually subscribe to a Code of Ethics and demonstrate the highest standards of excellence, experience, integrity and insurance company representation. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, the nonprofit Association and its University Foundation provide substantive benefits and service to its members throughout the year. Learn more at www.aamga.org

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Public Relations Explained

MediaRelations

Media relations is just one aspect of a well-rounded pubic relations practice. Pictured here, the author is conducting a training session with a client.

“So what exactly do you do?”

I get this question a lot. Seriously. A lot.

It seems, despite the Public Relations Society of America’s best efforts, far too many people still have very little understanding of public relations as a profession. More often than not, folks have grabbed hold of one aspect of the profession and decide that is the full breadth and scope of the field.

“You help your clients get into news stories, right?”

The above statement describes PR about as completely as asking someone at Apple if they just “sell phones.”

Media relations is one important aspect of PR, but it doesn’t cover the profession by half.

Our job is to be a true strategic partner with our clients. We help them communicate with all of their audiences, including stockholders, management, employees, customers, local communities, industry influencers, government officials, and the media. Within each of those groups, there are countless subgroups we must consider, often outside the interest and view of the media.

We help to build networks for our clients, introducing them to community and business leaders, government officials, special interest groups, employee advocates, industry insiders and online communities. We conduct research and write position papers. We offer insights and suggestions during the development of marketing campaigns, and we advise human resource professionals on messaging to employees of the company. We partner with lawyers when client-related legal matters are referenced in the media, and we advise on, and integrate with, social media strategies and messaging. We collaborate on planning that ranges from celebratory events to disaster scenarios, and we interface with multiple departments to drive and/or support ongoing brand reputation management practices.

PR pros play many parts: advocates, diplomats, strategists, trusted advisors, communicators and content managers, with our clients. On any given day, we might play one or all of the above roles with a few extras thrown in just to keep us sharp.

So, with respect to the PRSA and their efforts to define the practice, the answer I’ve developed in the last few years feels a little less jargony and appropriate for the cocktail party set as well. In 25 words, what I do is this:

“I help clients communicate better, with honesty and integrity, to those most important to them. Sometimes I also get them in the Wall Street Journal.”

Lehigh Valley Manufacturer Turns to Kimball Communications 
for Public Relations, Social Media Services

Ecopax, a leading manufacturer of single-use takeout containers based in the Lehigh Valley, has hired Kimball Communications to handle its public relations efforts as well as to develop a strategy for Ecopax to enter the social media space.

“Technology, lean manufacturing practices and productivity innovation have converged to create what is now a really dynamic period in U.S. manufacturing,” said Gary Kimball, president of Kimball Communications. “Our goal is to partner with Ecopax to help educate consumers and tell the story of this inventive Pennsylvania manufacturer.”

Formed in 2007, Ecopax employs approximately 75 employees and offers a diverse product line of foam, paper and plastic containers customized to meet the needs of the food service and consumer industries. Using its propriety, closed-loop system, Ecopax ensures 100 percent of its materials are used to produce consumer-ready products. In just five years, Ecopax has captured substantial market share among national chains, distribution and retail market segments. The core strength of Ecopax is its ability to increase customers’ supply chain efficiency through product customization.

“Because we live in a world that is increasingly on-the-go, Americans demand safe, affordable and sanitary food packaging options – at coffee shops, salad bars, take-out restaurants and grocery stores. Our diverse product line offers ideal solutions to these needs, and we look forward to working with the team at Kimball Communications to share our story,” said Christina Wong, vice president of operations for Ecopax.

About Kimball Communications
Kimball Communications is a results-driven, public relations agency with offices in Easton, Pa. and Charleston, S.C., dedicated to serving the individual public relations needs of every client. Founded in 1995, the agency provides innovative public relations and social media solutions to a variety of clients. Visit us on Facebook or on Twitter.

When Was the Last Time You Reviewed Your Social Media Accounts?

If you manage social media accounts for clients and for your company, sometimes it’s easy to forget to take some time to review each social media account. We often forget that we can always make improvements, make additional connections, etc. With summer coming to a close in a few weeks, now is a good time to review your current social media platforms to see how you can make the most out of your accounts.

webtreats / Foter / CC BY

Here are a few suggestions when you review your accounts:

Follow/unfollow accounts on Twitter. Did you meet a few new faces at conferences over the summer? If so, connect with them. Are you attending any conferences this fall? Connect with relevant speakers in advance to make the most out of upcoming conferences.

Browse to make sure everything is accurate.You can never browse your accounts social media platforms enough! Make sure all information is accurate. Did your company just celebrate their 30th anniversary? Ensure you have the correct number of years on social media platforms. Are your hours of operation accurate on Facebook? Did your office just change locations? Make sure platforms state the new address.

Now that users have access to Graph Search, make sure your Facebook is easily recognizable and you’re easy to find. Do photos contain specific locations? Does your page have an address? Have hours been added? Have you added categories to your page?

Ask yourself what overall improvements can I make. Does my cover photo need a facelift? Could my biography on Twitter use some updating? Is my content stale on some of my platforms?

Those are just a few suggestions. When is the last time you reviewed your social media accounts?

Photo credit: webtreats / Foter / CC BY

American Modern Launches Claims Management and Training Firm

Specialty Insurance Services (SIS) features hands-on claims training and a national network of claims adjustors for property and casualty products

Amelia, Ohio – August 5, 2013 – American Modern (www.amig.com)), a leading provider of specialty property and casualty insurance products, today announced the launch of a new claims management and training firm, Specialty Insurance Services Corporation (www.siservices.com). The new firm will offer property and casualty claims adjusting and training services to companies across all segments of the insurance industry, including retail and wholesale brokerage firms, MGAs and MGUs, insurance companies and insurance-related services.

View video footage of SIS here: http://bit.ly/14VjYuq

“SIS is built on the claims expertise of American Modern, which has insured and managed claims for specialty property and recreational products for the past 45 years,” said Manny Rios, president and CEO of American Modern. “SIS claims training offers a unique, hands-on training experience in our 32,000 square-foot facility, while featuring a national network of experienced claims adjusters in 170 locations nationwide – all with a focus on P&C products.”

SIS claims management will provide first- and third-party specialty claims services, including complete claims administration, desk and field adjusting, catastrophic claims management, and support to insurance providers and their policyholders.

SIS claims training features real-world repair shop settings for P&C products. “SIS promotes the true hands-on experience of tearing down then repairing damaged property and vehicles,” said Kevin Morreale, senior vice president of SIS. “Students learn, first-hand, the real cost and length of time it takes to complete the repair.”

About American Modern
American Modern (www.amig.com) is a national specialty insurance carrier with approximately 1.7 million policyholders. Licensed in all 50 states, the company delivers flexible, specialty coverage across the property and recreational markets. A subsidiary of Munich Re, one of the world’s leading risk carriers, American Modern is rated A+ Superior by A.M. Best Company and has been ranked one of Ward’s top 50 performing insurance companies since 1999.