<p>BOCA RATON, Fla. – Completing its first full year, the Credit Union Service Organization Members Insurance Services, L.L.C. is slowly picking up speed. "Our game plan was to be profitable in less than five years," said Members Insurance Services Board President Barry Hughes. "Now even in a worse case scenario-we will be profitable in 2004." Initially started through a partnership of six credit unions- Atlantic Coast FCU(which has since converted to a savings bank); Bay Gulf FCU; Tampa Bay FCU; IBM Southeast Employees FCU; Community Educators CU of Brevard; and Sarasota Coastal CU- Members Insurance Services now writes through 26 insurance companies and offers multiple-state insurance policies in 28 states. Given the diversity of its insurance companies, Members Insurance Services was not hit too hard by Progressive's recent announcement of dropping its credit union surety bond program. According to Hughes, the steady growth comes from partnerships and deepening relationships with members. "We constantly preach service, service, service," said Hughes. "We may not always offer the best savings, but we do try to keep members informed, help a broader scale of people and provide the best service." According to Hughes, the CUSO's emphasis on member relationships and education are part of the reason why two large credit unions may be signing up by the end of the year. This year Members Insurance Services plans to focus on marketing, which may be challenging since members only contact the CUSO by phone or over the Internet. As a result, much of the marketing is incorporated into the Web site and direct mail postcards, which are sent to policyholders. "We do monthly newsletters but so far our most effective piece has been the postcard. It is colorful, eye-catching and members just respond well to it," said Hughes. [email protected]</p>

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