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Ads target unlicensed insurers

John Seelmeyer

In advertising terms, it’s a challenge the size of Mount Everest.

An ad campaign rolled out last week by the Nevada Division of Insurance and the Nevada Surplus Lines Association warns business owners of the risks of dealing with insurers who aren’t licensed in the state.

The campaign appears to be needed, as a survey that preceded the campaign showed that almost nobody in the target audience had thought about the issue.

Only 3 percent of the 402 businesspeople surveyed by Reno’s InfoSearch International said they have any knowledge about the issues that arise when they deal with insurers who aren’t licensed in the state.

The other 97 percent pleaded ignorance.

The advertising campaign, which is expected to cost $250,000 to $300,000, is designed to change all that.

The campaign was designed by InnerWest Advertising of Reno and will use print, outdoor advertising, a Web site and direct mail.

The state insurance division and the attorney’s general office can bring either civil or criminal cases against insurance companies that operate in the state without licenses, said Peggy Dehl of the insurance division.

Commonly, however, businesses discover that they have no coverage because their carrier isn’t licensed only when they have a claim and some carriers simply vanish in the meantime.

The InfoSearch survey found 44 percent of businesspeople don’t verify that their insurance carrier is licensed in the state.

Most of those who do check out their carrier ask the company’s agent.

“Not thinking of it or taking their insurers’ authorization for granted was a prominent reason for not verifying their insurance company’s state license,” InfoSearch said in a summary of its findings.

A Web site created as part of the ad campaign it’s found at http://www.nvinsurancealert.

com details red flags warning that businesses should check whether an insurer is licensed.

Rates that seem low in comparison with other plans are among the warning signs.

The Web site also includes a list of licensed insurance companies in the state.