Kevin Baker on 2010

This is the time of year to reflect on the past year and look ahead with the optimism that a new year brings.  Later this month, IBA West, will install a new volunteer leadership team to oversee the association for the coming year.

Kevin Baker, CRM, CIC, ARM, AAI, CRIS, out-going IBA West president, shared his thoughts about this transition.

“IBA West is all about continuity. Continuity with each other, with our clients, with regulators and our legislators,” said Baker who views his role as a steward, following the guidance provided by the members and previous volunteer leaders.  “ I am certain the good things that happened this year were the result of the continuity of members and staff efforts, including the work of Steve Young, John Norwood and Clark Payan to execute a strategic plan that produces results.”

Baker is particularly proud of his role in refocusing the association’s education operation.

“I am thrilled that Cheryl Koch has joined us to build an education department that will provide IBA West members with the best practices tools they need to effectively and efficiently manage their agencies, focus on sales and coordinate the professional development of their staff,” said Baker who felt that ISC’s previous concentration on product knowledge continuing education was falling short of meeting the needs of members.

“We have exceptional intellectual capital in place to develop courses and training programs to help our members compete in the unique California insurance marketplace. The programs are designed specifically for California brokers and agents,” added Baker. The Advanced Agency Management Conference, scheduled on January 21-22 in Palm Springs and the Management & Agency Road Show are prime examples of the new courses being offered. Baker also believes that a sales and agency management focus will help attract new members to the association.

“Our goal is to have an IBA West member in every legislative district in the state. A growing membership will help fund our outstanding legislative and regulatory advocacy programs,” said Baker who admits he’s worried about the new insurance commissioner, Dave Jones who was inaugurated yesterday.

“I am concerned about an elected official, running for the office of a regulator, that sends out an invitation on Facebook, to join him at a protest at one of the companies’ he’ll be regulating,” said Baker speaking of Jones’ invitation during the campaign to protest Mercury Insurance’s campaign donation to JobsPAC, a California Chamber of Commerce political action committee, that supported Jones’ opponent.

Also, shortly after his inauguration on Monday, Jones signed an emergency order to enforce medical loss ratio rules requiring insurers to limit the percentage of premium revenue spent on reimbursement for “non-claims costs” to less than 20% for the small group and individual health insurance to follow form with the new federal law. Previously, California law required them to spend 70 percent of premiums. The cap is controversial in the insurance industry because commissions are not excluded from the calculation.

“Agents and brokers should be very concerned about the intentions of Insurance Commissioner Jones and how his administration will affect our businesses,” said Baker.  “We need members to step up and support IBA West’s advocacy efforts and others should consider joining IBA West to ensure that our message continues to be heard in Sacramento.”

Baker will pass the gavel to Tim Manaka, IBA West President-Elect at the IBA West Annual Meeting & Installation Luncheon on January 26th at the Westin Pasadena. Please click HERE for registration information.