As Web sites and social media companies like Facebook and LinkedIn have proven, new media is nothing if not great in building a community. That’s why long-time insurance educators Laurie Infantino, Ray Infantino, Tom Jackson and Marjorie Segale a have partnered to develop a resource where insurance industry professionals can get answers to their questions, share resources, secure continuing education credits, and learn about insurance in an online community setting.
Their brainchild, — Insurance Community Center (www.insurancecommunitycenter.com) — is divided into two parts:
- The Community, which is free and allows people to network, share resources, and attend monthly interactive Webinars; and
- The University, in which agencies pay an annual fee for all of their staff to access insurance products, resources, and attend online Webinars for CE credits in California and other states.
Infantino, who in 1978 co-founded the Insurance Skills Center (now owned by Insurance Brokers and Agents of the West), said the Insurance Community Center is a “new approach to offering the highest level of education and counsel. … [It] uses the newest forms of technology combined with ‘old school’ knowledge and the latest information in the insurance industry.”
For instance, in May, the Center presented a community Webinar conducted by the law firm of Tharpe and Howell on “Litigation Issues for the Insurance Industry.” Similarly, every month, a new topic is presented to the community, so “members” can learn and share ideas about such topics as vacancy and foreclosures; changes in certificates of insurance; and lessons learned from large losses. The Community also publishes a monthly newsletter that focuses on one topic with interesting claims and analysis, as well as features related articles from contributors. Five question “Quiz Flashes” allow community members to test their knowledge, then review answers to questions posted on the site.
On the other side of the house and in keeping with the “openness” of the Web, the University allows agencies to purchase one flat-rate membership, then let all of their employees have access to the trainings. University resources include interactive Webinars that qualify for CE credit; checklists; audio presentations on insurance topics; insurance examinations that individuals can take so companies can assess their staff; and a library of Powerpoint presentations for peer training, or for use in presentations to new or existing clients.
“I wanted to provide quality education that was easy to access at an affordable price, so that all individuals in an agency or insurance company could benefit from the training. The concept is for one flat, annual fee, based on the size of the office, that everyone in the office can attend all the seminars that are offered and use the products,” said Segale, another former Insurance Skills Center educator and now director of education for Insurance Community Center. “We wanted to encourage participation for everyone by keeping the cost down so that an agency operator would not have to deny education to anyone based on their budget.”
Following Infantino’s and Segale’s departure from Insurance Skills Center (ISC), IBA West in July 2010 named Cheryl Koch of Agency Management Resource Group (AMRG) as managing director to manage ISC education and training offerings, develop and deliver a variety of courses and programs.
Being at ISC was a “wonderful 34 years,” Infantino said. But, she said her new venture Insurance Community Center “embodies [her] life’s work of creating a place where insurance professionals can learn, share and have the tools to excel in this industry.” Using the latest online tools, and by leveraging the resources from an open, online community, Infantino said she, Ray Infantino, Segale and Jackson, an insurance agency marketing coach, and former chairman of Summit Insurance Services, will continue to provide answers and solutions for “people working in the challenging environment of insurance and risk management.”
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