The Good News. Employee perception of workplace ethics rank industries as follows (from ... Business Associates A Business Associate includes a business or an ...
Ethics In Business
Slide 2:Good Ethics is Good Business
Why? Maybe it’s because the insurance industry is so highly regulated. Maybe it’s because NAHU makes a point to promote ethical behavior. Maybe it’s because the insurance industry realizes that ethical practices make good sense! Whatever the reason, “Insurance and Financial Services” should be highly credible!
Slide 3:The Good News
Employee perception of workplace ethics rank industries as follows (from best to worst): Insurance Financial Services Business Services Wholesale Trade Technology Health Services Communication Manufacturing Retail Trade Transportation
Slide 4:Ranking the Best to the Worst
Marc Drizin, vice president and loyalty specialist from Walker Information, attributes the rating for insurance and financial services to two factors: “Both of these industries are regulated and have compliance requirements.” “The success in these industries is dependent upon a company’s ability to build a good reputation in the marketplace.”
Slide 5:The Bad News
Statistics show that one out of every five employees in the insurance industry is aware of at least one ethical violation over the last two years. We still have a long way to go!
Slide 6:What Kind of Ethical Violations?
When insurance and financial services employees were asked to: “Describe the behavior you suspect is or was in violation,” half reported witnessing unfair treatment of employees four in 10 reported improper/personal use of company resources 25% reported lying or intentionally misleading customers
Slide 7:Any Other Ethical Violations?
Half reported lying on reports or falsifying records Half reported lying to their supervisors Four in 10 reported conflicts of interest
Slide 8:How Can We Raise The Bar?
Walker Information Vice President Jeff Marr suggests, “Integrity is clearly a top-down value. If senior leaders don’t exhibit the behaviors and decisions of high integrity, the company’s employees aren’t going to go the extra mile to do the right thing.”
Slide 9:True or False?
Leadership is critical if you want to build an ethical organization (not just CEOs and board members). Ethical leadership can come from any of us. For a collective industry to make significant strides ethically, each employee has to commit to doing what is right. We must do it because it is the right thing to do. Our actions speak louder than words.
Slide 10:Why Ethics?
Consider this scenario: You are at a movie, which have just ended. As the person in front of you gets up, you see him drop a twenty-dollar bill from his coat on to the floor. What would you do? take the money and run? say nothing and leave it for the cleaning crew? tap the person on the shoulder and let him know he dropped some money? Would your answer be different if it was a five-dollar bill? How about a quarter?
Slide 11:The Moment of Truth
You can’t put off this decision till tomorrow. The person who dropped the money is about to leave and be gone forever. There is not enough time to use a “lifeline.” You can’t call a friend or poll the audience. The decision is completely up to you! Whatever action you take or don’t take is a direct reflection of your character!
Slide 12:What is Character?
It is defined as the combined moral or ethical structure of a particular person. Character is also defined as the combined principles, values and beliefs of an individual. Some children were asked during a tutoring program, “What is character?” One little boy stood up and said, “It is the stuff inside you” – a simple, but accurate answer?
Slide 13:Character in Your Professional Life?
“Professional ethics” is defined as the set of principles or values we use to guide us professionally. “Ethics” is defined as a principle of right or good conduct; a system of moral principles or values; the rules or standards governing the conduct of the members of a profession.
Slide 14:Why Are Ethics Important to Our Industry?
Ethics provide guidance when we are confronted with a new or unfamiliar situation. Ethical behavior is critical in maintaining trust between an insurance or financial services professional and the clients he or she serves. A “Code of Ethics” provides guidance beyond just doing what is a legal or regulated practice.
Slide 15:A Review of Prohibited Practices
Rebating – Splitting a commission or paying a client for his business. Prohibited except in Florida and California and punishable by loss of license. Twisting – Convincing a prospect to let a policy lapse or to surrender a policy so that a competitive company can sell him a new policy that is not in the best interest of the prospect.
Slide 16:Prohibited Practices
Churning – Convincing a prospect to replace a policy with a new policy from the same company, which is not in the best interest of the prospect. Misrepresentation – When during an insurance transaction an agent unintentionally makes statements or presents misleading or false information to the prospect. To avoid misrepresentation, an agent must thoroughly understand the product or service he or she is selling. Many states require the delivery of a “Buyer’s Guide” to protect the prospect.
Slide 17:More Prohibited Practices
Fraud – Intentionally misrepresenting any information in an insurance transaction. Punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Failure to Remit Premiums – It is unacceptable for an agent to hold a premium for an unreasonable length of time. Premiums should be submitted to the insurance company at the earliest opportunity.
Slide 18:Looking for Guiding Principles
Some say, “If it’s legal, it’s ethical.” Building long-term relationships means going well beyond what is legal. You have to do what is “right” for the client. Your sense of right and wrong probably came from your family. It is from our families that we, hopefully, learned the basic rules for building relationships and getting along with people.
Slide 19:Searching for Principles That Support Long-Lasting Relationships
The first step is to look back at the Twelve Great Character Lessons of Youth: Cheaters never win Do the best you can Forgive and forget Be thankful for what you have Sisters are people too (so are brothers) Always tell the truth Be sure to say “please” and “thank you” Don’t forget to clean up after yourself What goes around comes around To give is to receive If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all Treat other people the way you would like to be treated
Slide 20:Translating Personal Character Lessons Into Business Principles
The second step is to translate our list of personal character lessons into a list of business principles. Translations: Cheaters never win – Don’t deceive or mislead to get ahead. Do the best you can – Always do what is in the client’s best interest. Forgive and forget – Don’t let anger or frustration influence your future actions.
Slide 21:Translations (Continued)
Be thankful for what you have – Clients come first; prospects come second. Sisters are people too – Clients, co-workers and competitors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Always tell the truth – Always tell the truth. Be sure to say “please” and “thank you” – Conduct yourself in a professional manner.
Slide 22:Translations (Continued)
Don’t forget to clean up after yourself – If you make a mistake, go back and fix it. What goes around comes around – Your professional success and reputation are the result of the way you conduct your business. To give is to receive – If you provide a valuable service, you will be rewarded.
Slide 23:Translations (Continued)
If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all – Before you speak, think about being considerate and respect your client’s confidentiality. Treat other people the way you would like to be treated – Clients, co-workers and competitors deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and compassion, just as you want to be treated.
Slide 24:Case Study #1
An agent is working on a large life case with an older couple. All of the preliminary meetings with the clients have gone well, and the agent has scheduled a meeting to complete and sign the application. During this meeting, the clients say that they would like to have their son review the proposal. The agent fears that this sort of third-party involvement could cause the clients to become confused and possibly delay the whole process. The agent convinces the clients to sign the application. He then submits the case to underwriting with the understanding that he will send the proposal to the clients’ son for his review…
Slide 25:Case Study #1 (Continued)
The agent does send the information to the clients’ son, though not right away. Unfortunately, when the clients’ son calls the agent to discuss the proposal, the agent is unavailable and a little slow in getting back to him. By the time the agent and son finally discuss the proposal, it is too late to make any changes because the policy has already been issued. How should the agent have handled this situation? Here are two suggestions.
Slide 26:Case Study #1 (Continued)
Suggestion 1: When the clients bring up their desire to have their son review the proposal, the agent should STOP the application process immediately and schedule an appointment with the clients and their son. Preferably, the agent should set the appointment before the end of this meeting. Keep in mind that the son represents another prospective relationship to develop. If the proposal the agent has presented is in the clients’ best interest and he or she openly shared their thoughts and expertise with the son, they will have created the foundation for a new relationship.
Slide 27:Case Study #1 (Continued)
Suggestion 2: The agent can avoid this situation by asking one simple question early in the relationship with the prospective clients: Are there any other advisors you would like to have involved in this decision-making process? This question demonstrates a commitment to the clients’ best interest as well as a willingness to be a partner with the clients’ “circle of advisors.” Remember, the agent’s success is dependant upon his/her ability to build great business relationships; consequently an agent should always be looking for opportunities to meet and serve new people. Always do what is in the clients’ best interest.
Slide 28:Case Study #2
Agents “A” and “B” are both independent agents working in the group health market. Agent A has found him/herself in a competitive situation with Agent B three times over the last six months. In each case, when Agent A has met with the prospective clients, it becomes apparent that Agent B has misrepresented the features and benefits of the plans offered by the XYZ Insurance Company. Agent A knows this because he/she also represents XYZ Insurance Company and is familiar with its plans. In two of the three cases, the clients have enrolled with Agent B with what Agent A believes is an unrealistic view of the plan’s benefits. This is very frustrating for Agent A because not only has he/she lost the business, but also he/she believes that Agent B has misled the clients. What should Agent A do?
Slide 29:Case Study #2 (Continued)
The appropriate action is not as clear as it may seem. If we keep our focus on building relationships, however, here are some possibilities. First let’s consider the prospective client. Even though Agent A is not the “writing agent,” that doesn’t mean they can’t offer information. Remember, if they provide value, they will be rewarded. Agent A could present the client with marketing materials from XYZ Insurance and highlight the commonly misunderstood features or benefits. This information would be valuable to the benefits administrator.
Slide 30:Case Study #2 (Continued)
Second, Agent A could also make their selves available as a resource for future questions or issues. Both of these actions would demonstrate the agent’s commitment to the client’s best interest and develop the agent’s relationship with the prospective client, thus positioning Agent A for next year’s renewal. Next let’s consider Agent A’s possible actions with respect to XYZ Insurance and Agent B.
Slide 31:Case Study #2 (Continued)
If Agent A assumes that XYZ and Agent B share thier desire to serve the client’s best interest, and if Agent A is committed to maintaining the integrity of industry he/she works in, here are a few possible actions. First, Agent A could contact the local sales representative for XYZ and suggest that additional training may be needed for Agent B with regard to the company’s plan designs. This action demonstrates that Agent A values his/her relationship with XYZ and is committed to help the company maintain its reputation in the field.
Slide 32:Case Study #2 (Continued)
Second, to raise the level of commitment to professionalism in the industry, Agent A could send Agent B information regarding the professional development opportunities provided by local, state or national trade associations (like NAHU). By inviting Agent B to participate in these activities, Agent A is helping to create a healthy and competitive environment committed to serving the client’s best interest.
Slide 33:Case Study #3
Life and health agent John Q. Salesman receives a phone call from Bob K., an employee of ABC Corporation. John has worked with ABC Corporation as its group health agent for several years, and occasionally the benefits administrator has referred employees directly to him for assistance. Bob (the employee) asks a few questions regarding COBRA and, during the course of the conversation, he discloses, in confidence, that he is considering resigning from his current job. A few days later John (the agent) gets a call from the benefit administrator about a rumor in the office that Bob was thinking about quitting. The benefit administrator wanted to know if John knew anything about it.
Slide 34:Case Study #3 (Continued)
Question: What should John do?
Slide 35:Case Study #3 (Continued)
As life and health insurance agents, we are trusted and confidential advisors. We have a responsibility to the clients we serve to keep their best interest in mind and to hold sensitive information in confidence. This is even more critical in light of HIPAA privacy regulations regarding patient privacy. While this information regarding Bob’s future employment may not be considered protected health information, John still has a responsibility to keep information disclosed to him confidential.
Slide 36:Case Study #3 (Continued)
It would be appropriate to make the following statement to the benefits administrator: “As a life and health agent, I have an obligation to maintain client confidentiality and take that responsibility very seriously. This responsibility extends to all the people with whom I consult, including the employees of my corporate clients. My professional reputation is dependent on my ability to develop the trust and confidence of the people I serve, and I hope you can appreciate my commitment to the principle of confidentiality.”
Slide 37:Case Study #3 (Continued)
This statement works to develop the relationship with the benefits administrator by emphasizing John’s commitment to conduct himself in a professional manner while maintaining the confidence that Bob has placed with him. Remember: “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”
Slide 38:Other Ethical Issues for Insurance Professionals
Conflicts of Interest As an agent in the insurance and financial services industry, an agent will have to identify and disclose any conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest can best be described as a situation where an agent gets into a position where they are representing or advising clients who have opposing needs, goals or interests. To best serve the clients an agent must represent, they need to identify and disclose, as soon as possible, any conflict of interest they discover.
Slide 39:Examples of a Conflict of Interest
An agent serves on a board or committee, for a friend’s company, that has the authority to make purchasing decisions for the products they sell. The accountant recommends key man insurance. You are a decision-maker and represent a life insurance company that could fill this need. Conflict of Interest!
Slide 40:Examples of a Conflict of Interest
The agent feels pressured to get a client’s case underwritten. The client indicates that he wants to move to another carrier because of increased costs. The owner says if costs don’t come, down he’ll discontinue the insurance. In reviewing the applications the agent suspects medical information has not been disclosed. The agent is caught between an obligation to provide accurate information to the carrier and the client’s desire to reduce cost. Conflict of Interest!
Slide 41:Examples of a Conflict of Interest
An agent feels pressure to sell a product even if it is not in the client’s best interest because your agency is looking for a big bonus from XYZ Company. To get that bonus, a certain number of cases have to be placed with XYZ Company. XYZ’s product does not meet the needs of the client but the agent is encouraged to sell it anyway. Conflict of Interest!
Slide 42:Resolving Conflicts of Interest
First, recognize that the conflict exists. Second, disclose the conflict to the people involved. Finally, search for a solution that does not compromise an agent’s professional integrity.
Slide 43:Corporate Governance
For the purpose of our discussion, a corporation is any entity created by an individual or group of individuals for the purpose of engaging in or developing the insurance industry. Within our industry there are many different types and sizes of corporations. In all cases, large or small, it’s people who lead and govern these corporations – people whom we (the consumers, employees, agents, vendors and stockholders) count on to provide us with direction and ethical standards. While issues, objectives and opportunities are different from one corporation to another, there are two common goals that all corporate leaders should consider to ensure ethical practices.
Slide 44:Corporate Governance (Continued)
Goal/Challenge 1: Balancing the Needs of All Stakeholders All corporations serve the needs of multiple stakeholders, defined as any individual or group of individuals who interact with and benefit from the activities of a particular corporation.
Slide 45:Corporate Governance (Continued)
Common stakeholders include: Stockholders Employees Representatives Customers Vendors Neighboring communities
Slide 46:Corporate Governance (Continued)
The common element for all stakeholder groups is that, in each and every case, the stakeholder is in a mutually beneficial relationship with the corporation: Stockholders provide capital in exchange for profits. Employees provide labor in exchange for compensation. Customers provide payment in exchange for products and services. Vendors provide products and services in exchange for payment. Communities provide public services in exchange for economic development.
Slide 47:Corporate Governance (Continued)
A corporate leader interested in building an ethical business must keep each of these stakeholders’ interests in mind at all times. Impossible? Keep in mind that these relationships are “mutually beneficial.” That is to say, benefits to one group of stakeholders should, by design, be benefits to all of the other stakeholder groups as well.
Slide 48:Corporate Governance & Ethics
Invariably, ethics and integrity come into play when corporate leaders take actions and set policies that exploit one stakeholder group for the benefit of another. For example:
Slide 49:Corporate Governance & Ethics (Continued)
Using inferior materials in an effort to cut costs and boost profits for the benefit of stockholders without regard to the needs of the customer. Offering excessive bonuses and stock-option plans to employees without regard to the impact on stockholder return on investment. Damaging or polluting the local community’s environment in an effort to maintain current price levels for customers on the other side of the world.
Slide 50:Corporate Governance & Ethics (Continued)
Goal/Challenge 2: Balancing Long-Term and Short-Term Objectives Actually this is an extension of the first challenge, “to balance the needs of all stakeholders,” because it is the long- and short-term needs of each stakeholder group that come into question. The ethical breach usually occurs when the pressures associated with meeting short-term demands cause corporate leaders to take actions or set policies that undermine the company’s or stakeholders’ long-term objectives. A classical example of this indiscretion is “cooking the books” in order to achieve a quarterly profit or influence a lender when cash is tight.
Slide 51:Corporate Governance & Ethics (Continued)
A corporate leader’s resolve and integrity is critical in these situations! To govern effectively, corporate leaders must give careful consideration to long- and short-term objectives, avoiding the temptation to do what is less confrontational or convenient, always standing firm for what they believe is right. Clearly corporate leaders set the tone for the ethical behavior within the companies they govern. This responsibility is critical to the company’s success, especially in the insurance and financial services industry, where trust and confidence are the cornerstones for long-term success.
Slide 52:Health Care Morality vs. the Free-Market System
Striking a balance between providing access to quality health care and managing the day-to-day concerns of a company in a competitive marketplace may be the most difficult issue for the insurance professional. On one hand, consumers have asked the insurance carriers to keep the cost down. One of the ways to accomplish this goal is to establish contractual relationships with providers and encourage patients to use the specified health care providers in exchange for a discount on services provided.
Slide 53:Health Care Morality vs. the Free-Market System (Continued)
BUT when a person is involved in a medical emergency, the idea of delaying care solely for economic reasons doesn’t make sense. Consequently, the insurance professional finds himself stuck in the middle of a conflict between health care moralities and the demands of the free-market system. We spoke earlier about the responsibility of balancing the needs of all stakeholder groups. In this case the health care and financial needs of a customer are juxtaposed with the insurance company’s desire to provide a competitively priced product with a good return on investment for its stockholders.
Slide 54:Looking for the Answers About Conflict
A five-step process for recognizing, managing and resolving conflict: Recognition – The first step in resolving conflict is to recognize its presence. Conflict resolution involves acknowledging that there is conflict and then making a commitment to resolve it. Disclosure – Once recognized, all parties must be aware of it and understand it thoroughly, which creates the positive environment necessary for finding solutions.
Slide 55:The Five-Step Process in Conflict Resolution (Continued)
Solution – Corporate leaders are responsible for searching out creative solutions and then building a consensus among the parties involved on the best course of action. Communication – Once the parties have identified a solution and a course of action, effective communication and training are the keys to the successful implementation of any change.
Slide 56:The Five-Step Process in Conflict Resolution (Continued)
Feedback – Since it is difficult to anticipate all of the potential effects of a change in policy, procedure or value system, corporate leaders should seek feedback from all parties involved in the original conflict. Careful attention must be paid to ensure that everyone is making progress.
Slide 57:The Five-Step Process in Conflict Resolution (Continued)
While the responsibility of managing the inherent conflict between health care morality and the free-market system falls on corporate leaders, all insurance professionals have an obligation to contribute to this process. Through the collective efforts of all insurance professionals, effective solutions can be designed and implemented.
Slide 58:Social Responsibility
As life and health insurance agents, we possess information and expertise (VALUE) the average person does not possess. We are the trusted advisors when it comes to insurance and financial matters. Consequently, we have an individual and collective responsibility to always look out for our clients’ best interests, share our good fortune, and offer our expertise within the communities we work.
Slide 59:Three Suggestions for Social Responsibility
Education – Our education should be one of our primary responsibilities. We possess information the average prospect/client needs and typically does not understand. Unfamiliarity with everything from terminology and operating procedures to their rights and responsibilities can be very intimidating and frustrating for consumers.
Slide 60:Efforts in Social Responsibility (Continued)
Consider several opportunities to relieve this prospect/client stress through: One-on-one meetings with benefit administrators or owners One-on-one conversations with a client’s employees, your neighbor or colleague Writing a newsletter for prospects and clients
Slide 61:Efforts in Social Responsibility (Continued)
Accepting an invitation to speak at a local church, service club, Rotary, public or civic organization Putting on a seminar for the local chamber of commerce If we consider education one of our primary responsibilities, opportunities to educate and share our expertise appear all around.
Slide 62:Efforts in Social Responsibility (Continued)
Sharing your time, talent and treasure – Consider this: As agents who benefits from the work of trade associations like NAHU and other industry groups, it is in our best interest to support their efforts with our time, talent and treasure. Join NAHU Volunteer to serve on a committee Become an advocate for the development and preservation of our industry Get involved!
Slide 63:Efforts in Social Responsibility (Continued)
Be a Humble Expert – As the result of our ongoing training and daily activity, insurance agents become the providers of important advice to our clients. While our efforts to educate clients and the general public certainly help to create informed consumers, we will always have more expertise than the average person has; consequently, they will view us as an advisor.
Slide 64:Efforts in Social Responsibility (Continued)
In order to be socially responsible, the agent must accept this responsibility. This means we must maintain a constant eye on the client’s best interests and never use our expertise as a source of power to manipulate a client for personal benefit. As we continue to develop knowledge and expertise, we also take on the additional responsibility of conducting our business with integrity expected of a trusted advisor.
Slide 65:Efforts in Social Responsibility (Continued)
Beyond our professional obligation, being socially responsible also provides the opportunity to bring meaning to the work we do. Selling products and making a commission is on the first level of success. Making a difference in the lives of the people we serve and for the communities in which we work and live is what makes the complete insurance professional.
HIPAA As life and health insurance agents, we are exposed to and trusted with personal medical information from the clients we work with. It has always been good business practice to view this type of information as confidential. In 1996, however, the federal government passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which provides specific rules for how we must protect personal medical information. It is no longer an option.
Slide 67:Privacy (Continued)
Who is required to comply with HIPAA? Covered Entities – A Covered Entity includes health plans, health care clearing houses and most health care providers. (Includes employer group health plans)
Slide 68:Privacy (Continued)
Business Associates – A Business Associate includes a business or an individual who works with a Covered Entity and creates, uses, receives or discloses protected health information. Employer and Other Sponsors of Group Health Plans – Includes all employers that receive protected health information as well as other organizations that sponsor group health plans, e.g., a union plan.
Slide 69:Privacy (Continued)
Protected Health Information HIPAA defines as any individually identifiable health information that is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, employer or health care clearinghouse. (PHI includes a person’s name and address.)
Slide 70:Privacy (Continued)
HIPAA requires that a group health plan does not disclose this information except for the following permitted or required disclosures: To the individual. To carry out treatment, payment or health care operations. With a valid authorization.
Slide 71:Permitted Disclosures (Continued)
Under limited circumstances, when the individual has the opportunity to agree or object to the use or disclosure. For defined “public good function” and for very limited “marketing” purposes. Disclosure of protected health information to business associates, with satisfactory assurance that the business associate will adequately safeguard the information.
Slide 72:Privacy (Continued)
Required Disclosures To individuals seeking to access their protected information. To individuals seeking an accounting of disclosures of their protected health information. When required by the secretary of HHS to investigate or determine the health plan’s compliance with the regulation.
Slide 73:Privacy (Continued)
Business Associates – As life and health agents, we fall under the definition of a “Business Associate,” consequently, we are required to enter into a “BA” contract with the health plans with which we work. These contracts are required to have the following provisions:
Slide 74:Business Associate Contract Provisions
Establish the permitted uses and disclosures of protected health information. Provide that the business associate will not use or further disclose the information other than as allowed under the contract or required by law. Provide that the business associate will use appropriate safeguards to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of information.
Slide 75:Business Associate Contract Provisions (Continued)
Require the business associate to report to the health plan any unauthorized uses or disclosures of the information. Ensure that any agents or subcontractors to whom the business associate discloses protected health information agrees to these same restrictions. Provide that the business associate will make protected health information available for inspection.
Slide 76:Business Associate Contract Provisions (Continued)
Provide that the business associate will make protected health information available to amend and that the business associate has the capacity to make amendments. Provide that business associates can provide for an accounting all of their disclosures of protected health information.
Slide 77:Business Associate Contract Provisions (Continued)
Require that the business associate agrees to make its internal practices, books and records available to the secretary of HHS for inspection, if necessary. Provide that the business associate agrees to return or destroy, if feasible, all information and limit future uses and disclosures to those purposes that make its return or destruction infeasible. Authorize the termination of the contract if the business associate has violated a material term of the contract.
Slide 78:Privacy (Continued)
GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999) – This law put into place privacy requirements for the protection of consumers’ non-public, personal financial information. It is specifically designed for and directed at professionals working within the financial services industry. Your first step in determining the impact of GLBA on your business is to determine if you receive information that is protected by the law.
Slide 79:GLBA (Continued)
The types of information that GLBA protects: Information from an individual seeking to obtain an insurance product Information that is financial in nature Information that relates to a personal, family or household product or service Information that is non-public Information that identifies the individual
Slide 80:GLBA (Continued)
Each state’s government has the job of enforcing the GLBA requirements within the insurance industry. While efforts have been made to promote consistency from state to state, the reality is that each state’s compliance measures can be different. It is our responsibility to familiarize ourselves with the compliance measures for each state in which we do business.
The information presented in both the HIPAA & GLBA sections of this presentation are not intended to be complete descriptions of these regulations. In the context of this ethics course, the intent of this discussion on HIPAA & GLBA was to present an overview of this important legislation. As insurance professionals, it is our responsibility to conduct our business in accordance with state and federal laws.
Slide 82:Ethics – A Three-Questions Test
When you find yourself in a situation where there is more than one possible course of action and you are having trouble deciding which action would produce the most ethical result, consider these questions: Is the action legal? If there is any question as to the legality of a potential act, we need to seek legal counsel.
Slide 83:Ethics – A Three-Questions Test (Continued)
Would I want an account of my actions published in the local newspaper? If the thought of a public review of an agent’s actions creates any reservations or concern, the action they are considering is probably not the best solution. They should continue to search for better alternatives – alternatives he/she would be proud to share with thier family, friends and community.
Slide 84:Ethics – A Three-Questions Test (Continued)
Does this action support my commitment to building long-term relationships? If the action an agent is considering creates a win/win situation for everyone involved, then he/she can move forward. If there’s a chance that their action will damage a relationship, they should reconsider thier position and look for better alternatives. Remember, for this discussion, “action” includes both the actions we take AND the actions we don’t take. A lack of action can be damaging, and to do nothing is still a choice you make.
Slide 85:Putting It All Together
Behind our titles, business objectives and professional identities, we are just people, your clients are just people, and people are just people. If you want to build great business relationships, start with the great character lessons of our youth, the basic principles for getting along with others. Translate these lessons into business principles and then use them to guide your actions in the business world.
Slide 86:Where Do We Go From Here?
If an agent is interested in building or developing his/her business relationships: An agent can surround his/herself with people who understand and live by these relationship-building principles. Take on the task of teaching these relationship-building principles. Start practicing them today! The only way to move these concepts and ideas, on ethics from information an agent know about to information they live by is through practice, trial and error.
NAHU’s Code of Ethics: To hold the selling, service and administration of health insurance and related products and services as a professional and public trust and do all in my power to maintain its prestige. To keep paramount the needs of those whom I serve. To respect my clients' trust in me, and to never do anything that would betray their trust or confidence. To give all service possible when service is needed.
Slide 88:NAHU’s Code of Ethics (Continued)
To present policies factually and accurately, providing all information necessary for the issuance of sound insurance coverage to the public I serve. To use no advertising that I know may be false or misleading. To consider the sale, service and administration of health insurance and related products and services as a career, to know and abide by the laws of any jurisdiction, federal and state, in which I practice, and seek constantly to increase my knowledge and improve my ability to meet the needs of my clients.
Slide 89:NAHU Code of Ethics (Continued)
To be fair and just to my competitors, and to engage in no practices that may reflect unfavorably on myself or my industry. To treat prospects, clients and companies fairly by submitting applications that reveal all available information pertinent to underwriting a policy. To extend honest and professional conduct to my clients, associates, fellow agents and brokers, and the company or companies whose products I represent.
Slide 90:Thank You
This presentation was made possible through the adaptation of an online presentation prepared by insurancestudy.com. The full presentation and test can be found on www.nahu.org.