How Active Assailant Insurance Can Help Your Business Survive after a Mass Casualty Event

Co-authored by Chantal Roberts, CPCU, AIC, RPA

Are those firecrackers? Is a car backfiring? Perhaps there’s a disturbance of some kind. Today’s managers and owners rarely consider if an active shooter incident can occur on their property. Unfortunately, active shooter or active assailant incidents are more prevalent in the United States than ever before. Due to the increasing occurrence of this type of loss, a business that faces this situation may find itself without coverage for many claims that arise post-event. These uncovered losses can include posttraumatic stress (PTSD) treatment, structural improvements of buildings, post-event security, or the inability to handle the onslaught of media post-event.

This article outlines typical policies most businesses buy and describes additional coverage business owners should consider to protect their business, employees and customers/guests if the unthinkable event occurs. It discusses active assailant policies along with other risk prevention techniques. This article helps business owners understand the liability products available and provides some pricing examples. Active assailant coverage is surprisingly affordable, and while not right for every business, certain owners will want to obtain a quote for this important coverage.

Continue reading “How Active Assailant Insurance Can Help Your Business Survive after a Mass Casualty Event”

The power of the press release

A press release does several things for your business.

  • A news release announces a recent accomplishment you have achieved. For example, it could be a class you completed; a professional designation you earned; a civic award; your appointment to a board or charity; an educational goal you may have attained; a new program you are rolling out; an office expansion; or any noteworthy event that keeps your name in the public arena. One caveat: Don’t fall into the trap of the “I feel good” press release. Find the hook in the accomplishment, which means that the accomplishment also helps your clients, not just you.
  • A press release announces a new program roll out or personnel change. Maybe you have partnered with a new carrier or formed a new strategic alliance. Perhaps you’ve lured a new hire with impressive credentials. Maybe you’ve grown so much that you’re opening a new location.

Continue reading “The power of the press release”

Weasel words can weaken your writing

Do you use “weasel words”? I don’t mean a furry critter that goes through your garbage in the late hours of the night. Weasel words are terms and phrases that are deliberately fuzzy. Rather than providing clarity, weasel words obscure your message.

Weasel words get their name from the crafty weasel, which sucks eggs without breaking the shell. Similarly, weasel words suck the meaning out of your message. If you communicate with phrases like “highest quality,” “prompt service,” or “highly qualified,” you may be weaseling, even if inadvertently.

Continue reading “Weasel words can weaken your writing”

White Papers keep your business in your prospects’ minds

More and more insurance industry organizations turn to White Papers to spread their message.

What is a white paper? A white paper is usually a “thought leadership” paper of about five-to-12 pages that highlights one or more of the benefits of your business. Insurance organizations use white papers to educate the public by delineating a problem or a challenge then posing a solution, usually highlighting your services.

Here are some of the key elements of a white paper:

  • Cover page
  • Executive summary
  • Description of the problem or issue the paper addresses
  • A solution to the problem
  • An action step (how readers can take action utilizing your product to solve their dilemma)
  • Charts and graphs, if needed
  • Footnotes, if needed
  • A conclusion
  • Information about your company

Once written, organizations distribute their papers either electronically to sites your potential clients visit, to sites that warehouse business data, or to their customer list. They are also great to hand out at a trade show booth or a local networking event.

One of the best uses of a White Paper is to announce its publication with a press release distributed through Business Wire or some other news service agency. A White Paper may simply serve as a reminder to clients who haven’t used your services in a long while or to those who’ve considered you in the past. It’s one way of saying, “We’re still eager to work with you.”

White papers generate short-term “buzz” and create a long-lasting testimonial that builds your brand.

Insurance white papers abound. Some insurance-related white papers we’ve written include “Computer Modeling Tames Super-Cat Hurricane Risk,” “Growing Wildland Urban Interface Increases Wildfire Risk,” and “Supply Chain Risk: Hidden Exposures for Your Company.

To non-insurance readers, these topics sound pretty dull. Okay, to insurance geeks, they still sound kind of dull. That’s why, if you’re considering a white paper to promote your business or technology, finding a writer with knowledge of the insurance industry and enthusiasm for the project is imperative. I can help.

Feel free to contact me at via my website at www.insurancewriter.com for more information or call me (602) 870-3230.

Lose those adverbs and strengthen your writing

Part of our ability to promote and persuade in the insurance industry hinges on our ability to write clearly, concisely and unemotionally. By eliminating adverbs from our writing, we can reduce the clutter in our communications.

What is an adverb and why should anyone care? An adverb is a part of speech that modifies several parts of the language, including verbs and adjectives. Often, adverbs end in “ly.”

Adverbs often answer questions like “when,” “how often,” “how,” or “in what manner.” Here are some adverbs:

· admittedly
· sadly
· totally
· highly
· completely

Adverbs weaken your writing. Most adverbs can be eliminated from text without losing one iota of meaning.

We see adverbs often in insurance writing. Have you ever written any of these sentences?

“The home was totally destroyed.” If it was destroyed, why do you need to add “totally”?

“Admittedly, you made a valid point.” If you say the point was valid, why add “admittedly”?

“I note that you were understandably confused.” Not only is the tone condescending, but it’s clearer to say, “I understand your confusion.”

We can avoid the use of adverbs in writing by using verbs. Instead of saying, “I was badly mistaken,” how about saying, “I was wrong”? Or instead of writing, “That is highly unlikely,” try “That is improbable.”

Search “ly” with your ‘find’ function and you can search and delete those adverbs. Your writing will be clearer and more concise.

Even the best writer needs occasional help to deliver the best message in the fewest words. A copywriter streamline your communications and set you apart from your competitors.

Improve your insurance technical writing by removing passive voice

meetingWhat is passive voice and why should you avoid it in your insurance writing? No matter what you’re writing for the insurance industry, a blog, a technical report or a white paper designed for marketing your business, passive voice weakens your writing. Once you understand a little about passive voice, it becomes much easier to find and eliminate it in your own writing.

What is passive voice?

Passive voice sentence construction occurs when the subject of a sentence becomes the object of an action. I know, it’s a grammar thing, something we disliked in school. Here’s an example of passive voice.

Our underwriting team was defeated by the western region.

Passive sentence construction weakens your writer because, in a nutshell, no one takes responsibility for the action. Written actively, this sentence would read like this:

The western underwriting region defeated our sales team.

Ouch! That wording smarts a bit more, doesn’t it?

In passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon.

The applicant was rejected by Tom due to his negative loss history.

In active voice, the subject of the sentence (Tom the underwriter) performs the action.

Tom rejected the applicant due to his recent negative loss history.

One easy way to fix this and many passive sentences is to put the actor, Tom, ahead of the verb, “rejected” in the sentence.

Tips to find passive voice

To find passive voice, look for verb forms like “to be,” like “is,” “are,” “were,” followed by what is known as a past particle, a verb typically ending in “ed.” To make things harder, not all forms of “to be” are passive, but it’s a good red flag.

Here are a few more examples.

The claims department’s closing ratio was reduced last month by a high number of flu-ridden adjusters.

Rewritten actively you might say something like this:

Absenteeism in the claims department from the flu reduced last month’s closing ratios.

Here’s another passive construction.

The marketing team’s attendance at RIMS was delayed by one day due to bad weather in Atlanta.

Rewritten actively, the sentence might read like this:

Due to bad weather in Atlanta, the marketing team arrived at RIMS one day late.

I know what you’re thinking: “This is too hard! It’s grammar! I have a solution for you, or rather Microsoft Office does. While grammar check in MS Word won’t catch every instance of passive voice, it does a darn good job.

Here’s the plan

First, ensure you turn on grammar check in Word. If you aren’t sure how, read this link. Just be sure when you click your Review tab on Word and you click the Spelling & Grammar tab, the box at the bottom marked “Check grammar” has a check mark in it. (Now, if I’d said “is clicked,” I would be using a passive construction and Word would not catch it.)

Next, run the Spelling & Grammar check on your entire document. If you are new at writing active voice (the opposite of passive voice and what we strive for), you will probably have a high percentage of passive voice in your document. You will find the percentage of passive voice instances on the final grammar check tab under Readability, Passive Sentences.

Finally, to narrow down the location of your passive writing, go paragraph by paragraph with Spelling and Grammar. Do this by highlighting one paragraph at a time. If necessary, highlight sentence by sentence. Find the offending sentence and reword it. As you move to active voice in all your documents, you’ll find your writing comes alive and your audience, whether or not they understand grammar mechanics, will appreciate your writing style much more.

I’m a technical person – Give me a number

What percentage of writing should be passive? Professional writers argue percentages, but I strive for no passive writing in my work. If you’re new to this concept, shoot for five percent passive, and then aim even lower as you learn.

But we write about insurance,” you may argue. “It’s technical and somewhat boring!” Experts argue that even highly technical writing should avoid the use of passive voice. Even though we’re writing about insurance, we should never bore our readers. Our writing should be clear, crisp, concise and active. This writing style engages the reader and helps to ensure he or she will tag along to the end of your writing, whether it’s a claim report, an underwriting manual or a insurance white paper designed to educate clients or consumers.

In conclusion

One of the problems of passive voice is that we may attempt to distance ourselves from our decisions with the use of passive voice. I recommend you step up and say it like it is – take responsibility by using active voice. After all, that’s what we do in the insurance industry – we make decisions.

Active voice bolsters your writing, helping to engage your reader every step of the sometimes technical way. With the help of Microsoft and a few simple tips, you can actively improve your writing.