BY ALAN KATZ
For 40 years, the magazine’s support of life and health insurance producers and the quality of its work has never wavered
IT IS EASY TO TAKE CALIFORNIA BROKER MAGAZINE FOR GRANTED.
After all, the publication has been a part of the state’s insurance industry for 40 years longer than most readers have been in the business. In fact, that is longer than many readers have been alive. California Broker is just there. Like a landmark on the horizon, its presence would be more pronounced by its absence. That the magazine is ubiquitous, however, does not make it unimportant.
Indeed, California Broker is and has long been an invaluable resource. Before the Internet there was California Broker. Need information on the latest insurance products and market trends? For four decades you could find it in California Broker. Worried about what was happening with health care reform? California Broker explained what was happening in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. — and why.
AB 1672 demands agents take responsibility
A short history lesson will demonstrate my point. Some of you may remember AB 1672. Taking effect in 1993, this state law transformed California’s small group market. AB 1672 changed the way small businesses shopped for, purchased and renewed their health insurance. Among its reforms: guarantee issue and renewal of policies; and defined rating bands regardless of health conditions.
When passed in 1992, AB 1672 put a great responsibility on brokers and carriers. They needed to become expert in the new law in a matter of months. Their clients were relying on them.
I was a principal at Centerstone Insurance and Financial Services at the time. Centerstone was one of the state’s largest general agencies (and has since evolved into BenefitMall). My partners and I decided to invest heavily in preparing health agents for the coming change. We even launched our own publication, The Excellerator.
Kate Kinkade, then editor of California Broker, saw the same need. She devoted numerous pages and much effort to the same task. Instead of competing for roker’s attention, California Broker and Centerstone worked together.
Centerstone held dozens of seminars. California Broker and The Excellerator published a book’s worth of articles on the law and how to deal with it. We issued pamphlets, brochures and more.
Agents and carriers alike relied on this material to smoothly transition clients to the new world, avoiding the chaos many predicted. The Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters (LAHU) recognized the impact of effort when it awarded California Broker and The Excellerator magazines its highest honor, the Paladin Award. To date, they are the only non-carbon-based entities to receive this award.
Kate Kinkade’s commitment to using the pages of California Broker to prepare brokers for the challenges they face extended beyond AB 1672. The magazine under her editorial leadership and under those editors who have followed aided agents in dealing with ballot battles, new types of policies, understanding competitive changes, and health care reforms like the Affordable Care Act.
A unique resource
California Broker’s consistency and caliber as a preeminent resource for the state’s agents is remarkable.
Forty years is a long time. Just think what you were doing in 1981. (For your own sanity, try not to think of what you were wearing at the time). Yet over this period the publication’s support of life and health insurance producers and the quality of its work has never wavered.
It can be easy for California brokers to overlook how unique the magazine is. I have addressed industry audiences in roughly 30 states. Across the country, associations, carriers, and general agents provide producers with state-specific information. Californians have these resources, too. But we also benefit from having an independent publication bringing disparate perspectives together in one place. As far as I know, there is nothing like California Broker anywhere else.
Most of us thinking about the magazine’s 40th anniversary will rightly focus on its editorial content. However, the advertisements have value, too.* These ads tell a fascinating story about the California insurance industry. They describe the evolving cast of players and the evolution of their products. These ads are a historian’s dream: 40 years’ worth of insights into the state’s changing life and health insurance markets. California Broker is a unique and powerful resource.
Yes, it may be easy to take California Broker for granted. We shouldn’t.
*[Ed. Note: WE AGREE—The advertisements have the GREATEST value to our survival! We rely solely on advertising to fund the magazine. Nearly all subscriptions are complimentary. We also have new SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES.
Contact Linda.firstname.lastname@example.org. Consider us when you plan your marketing budget!]
ALAN KATZ is a co-founder of NextAgency, an agency management system with CRM, marketing, and commission tools for life and health agencies. Alan is a past president of NAHU, CAHU and LAAHU. Since the early 1990s he has written dozens of articles for California Broker.