Managing the Life Insurance Company
Charles B. Cooper

Field Notes Expert Pages Background Links Contact

This site is a series of observations and discussions about how to analyze, understand, and manage a life insurance company. This home page contains a link to every page in the site. There are three basic sections: the Field Notes are my observations and suggestions, based on 30 years in the business; the Expert Pages are question and answer sessions with experts in fields of interest to life insurance managers; and the Consulting pages, which are about my background and services.

On a lighter note, check out my personal blog for observations on the non insurance world.

If I can help you with any of the topics, or clarify or expand on any topic, please feel free to email me. Every section of the field notes is updated regularly with new material. You can subscribe to receive by email a copy of any new or substantially revised paragraph. To subscribe click on the link below in the contacts set of links.

Writing and editing this web "book" on life company management is a way of sharing what I have learned, and I invite you to join in, and offer some of what you know that would be helpful to life company managers. Email me individual paragraphs, or enough to build your own expert page. Don't hesitate to send comments that disagree with mine. Different viewpoints and opinions are often the most helpful to the reader. I have not hesitated to offer opinions on matters where reasonable men can certainly differ.

Field Notes Sarbanes Oxley
Underwrtg Security
Operations Systems
Web Sites Email
Computers How To
Regulation Stories
Expenses Phones
Outsource Leads
Using Consultants
Product Reinsurance
-Critical Illness
-Lapse Supported
-Universal Life
-Burial Insurance
-Finite Insurance

The FIELD NOTES were developed as a checklist with three primary users in mind:

- someone doing due diligence on a life insurance company;
- a consultant hired to improve the profitability of a life company; or
- an officer seeking to improve the operations his life company

Some of these pages are essentially a checklist. Examples would be the pages on Email, Web Sites, and Expense Control. You can run down the list item by item to see if you have implemented the items you think would be helpful. If you have found approaches that I have missed, please email me so I can add it. The page on Operations is also a virtual checklist, with more detail.

These field notes are primarily derived from my experiences while managing or consulting for life companies. I have a helpful habit, which is to go to work every morning with a to do list, and to add to the list throughout the day matters and ideas that I can't pursue on the spot. It can take quite a while to get everything crossed off, so the lists get saved. Sometimes one of the field notes comes directly from the to do list, sometimes the list triggers a memory of how something was handled, and sometimes, with the change in technology, an old approach becomes a new idea. When something looks like it will be helpful to the user, it is placed in the Notes where it logically seems to fit. Often a note, or my thinking, has been supplemented with the excellent material that is now available on the web. Where this is so I have included links to the original material. You will see a lot of this in the section on Regulation. In this rapidly evolving area I try to give you a solid start with internet research and comment, and I often have a different slant on it myself. The page on Sarbanes Oxley is an example where well intentioned government regulation has produced huge consequences which you would hope were unexpected. That is not the first time for government, but outside of war, may well be the most expensive to produce a negative net benefit.

Comments and suggestions for enhancing the usability of this site are always welcome. You are welcome to use the guest book, so everyone can benefit from your input.

Initial Public Offerings
eBusiness Applications
Systems Evolution
Network & Server
Open Source Log
Network Computing
Agent Screening

The EXPERT PAGES provide information, discussion, and tips from others in the industry. In some of the discussions, like that of initial public offerings by Mark Pape, material is added that is not covered at all in the Field Notes. Mark gives you an inside look at the public offering process, from the "window" to the road show and pricing.
In others, such as E Business Applications by Bill Fleming, significantly more detail is added on items mentioned in the Field Notes, such as scanning in the field and the development of an electronic policyholder file systems. That section includes material that should be helpful to programmers and systems people building related systems.
I believe the most unusual approach is Systems Evolution by Mike Dragoo. This traces a number of systems for handling specific work over a period of more than 25 years, during much of which the technology of today was not available. The solutions offered should be interesting even to those that have already moved to more modern solutions, but of particular value to those that are still using earlier approaches.
Network Computing by Dan Rau offers a "how to" approach from the standpoint of a outside consultant and hosting company, covering everything from the steps of setting up a web site to hosting services to hardware and network issues.
Network & Server by Bill Doyle covers similar ground from the standpoint of an internal IT department.
One of the most frustrating areas of the business, that of selecting agents that will succeed, is addressed in Agent Screening by Tony Hinrichs. This discussion centers on the value of testing applicants .

My Background
Quotes from CEO
FLMI Insurance Education Award

I have included several links describing aspects of my background that may be helpful in evaluating the analysis and opinions expressed on this site. The Field Notes is my creation, except where attributed quotes and comments have been included. These Notes will give you a good idea of what can be accomplished in evaluating products, marketing, and home office operations. I believe that most managers who take the time to read through the pages will find a number of things they will want to implement. And a lot of things to investigate and watch out for. Every time I work in a new company I resolve to follow my lists in whatever priority fits the company, but the possibilities are always so great that it is usually possible to do only the most important and profitable. So don't get discouraged about the volume here. Pick the best and implement. Naturally I would be happy to answer any questions regarding anything said on these pages at no charge.

If you are considering taking your company public or selling it, there are definite strategies for getting prepared. A review of the relevanct points in this site should help you pinpoint what is needed. One certainty, you do not want to freeze everything in place, as this can be one of the best times to resolve problems and enhance the value of the company. If, on the other hand, you conclude the most effective strategy for maximizing shareholder value is to limit new production and operate as a cash cow, it is crucial to maintain the level of service to the in force blocks while reducing cost. The cost reduction strategies are much the same as for a growing company for things you have to keep doing, but there will be a lot you can stop doing.

Insurance Law
Blackberry Info

LINKS to other sites that would be helpful or of interest to the student of life insurance management are included here. The links under Information are the standard sources for such as zip codes, area codes, directories, dictionaries, and so on. These are links that were actually used in company operations, in many cases replacing expensive paper manuals as the internet blossomed. Those under Insurance Law were compiled on the theory that web sources were getting so exhaustive that we could do away with the annual expense of the red books. For many states, particularly the searchable ones, this is true. Some are poorly indexed or not even linked to specific sections, and will make you wish you had the red books on CD. The underwriting links are probably too exhaustive and need to be trimmed to the really good sources. These were developed by all of the underwriters at American Income as they turned to the internet for information not found in the standard manuals. The Calculations, which I am still adding to as I find internet sources that duplicate the spreadsheet formulas we found or invented over the years. Perhaps many of these are history, and are now readily found in spreadsheet software. My favorite was the calculation that filled in serial days or weeks or months just by copying the formula down. That used to be hard.

Subscribe to Updates

The first link provides complete contact information. You can reach me just about any time by email or on regular business days by phone. The bottom link takes you to the page where you can subscribe to receive a copy by email of new material added to the site.