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COVID-19 — The PIA Western Alliance States of Oregon, Washington, Montana, California, Arizona

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020



The governors of the PIA Western Alliance states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, California and Arizona are urging citizens to mask up and do more to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Threats of shutting down businesses — or the actual shutting down of businesses — accompany most of those warnings.

In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee is doing a county by county analysis of the situation and is cautiously reopening the state. He’s issued information on what citizens can do to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown says mask up or else. She’s worried about the case uptick and has issued an ultimatum. Click here to find out what Brown wants Oregonians to do.

In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock is worried about the growing number of cases in his state. The Treasure State has been slowly reopening and successfully. Now COVID-19 is threatening to erupt. An article in Helena’s Independent Record newspaper, Bullock has asked Montanans to wear masks in public.

Click here to read that story.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is issuing orders similar to those of Brown and Inslee. Since the relaxation of the original emergency order, COVID cases have grown significantly. Newsom ordered non-essential businesses to close in 19 counties and that includes two of the heaviest populated counties — Orange and Los Angeles.

Newsom’s decision is covered in this article in The Hill. Click here to read it.

The PIA Western Alliance state of Arizona — along with Texas, Ohio and a couple of other states — has seen the highest increase in COVID cases in the nation. Governor Doug Ducey has put the state’s reopening on pause.

Click here to read his proclamation of June 30th.

 

Tags:  Arizona Gov Doug Ducey  California Gov Gavin Newsom  COVID California  COVID Montana  COVID Oregon  COVID Washington  COVID-19  Montana Gov Steve Bullock  Oregon Gov. Kate Brown  Washington Gov Jay Inslee 

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Forbes & Hanover — Independent Insurance Agents are Important to Small Business

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020



The 2020 Small Business Risk Report is out. It is the third time Forbes Insights has released the report. Forbes Insights is the research and thought leadership practice arm of Forbes and The Hanover Insurance Group.

The most important conclusion in the report is just how important independent insurance agents are to small business. This conclusion is in spite of a huge increase in the number of people going to direct insurance writers.

Small businesses — however — prefer and need help in assessing their insurance needs.

Here are some of the conclusions:

    * 72% of small businesses think the advice of an independent agent is critical
    * That’s up 12% from the 64% in 2018’s survey

Small businesses do — however — like online digital servicing tools like:

    * Viewing and paying bills
    * Getting certificates of insurance
    * Downloading policy documents

Michael Keane is the president of The Hanover’s core commercial department. He said the COVID-19 changes and other changes being faced today by small business makes it very important that we find ways to help independent agents serve them.

“Our annual Small Business Risk Report further validates the importance of working with independent agents to secure the best combination of coverage for business owners to protect their assets, especially during these challenging times,” Keane said.

Here’s more from the survey:

    * Small business owners want less complexity
    * 71% saying it is extremely important to use just one carrier
    * Yet 46% of them purchased policies for all their needs from two or more carriers
    * 22% say they are vulnerable to workplace discrimination lawsuits
    * Just 38% say they are adequately insurance against that kind of lawsuit
    * 79% say proper coverage is more important than price
    * 76% say they place a lot of trust in the reputation of their insurance company

Source link: The Hanover Insurance Group

Tags:  advice of independent insurance agent  Forbes and Hanover  Forbes and Hanover 2020 Small Business Risk Report  independent agents  independent insurance agents and small business  small business 

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Business Interruption Legislation — PIA National

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020



PIA National — like most of us — likes the idea of business interruption legislation that assists small businesses. The two bills Congress is kicking around do not fit what the association thinks would help them.

Currently being discussed is the Business Interruption Relief Act (H.R. 7412). It was introduced by California Democrat Rep. Mike Thompson. It creates a voluntary program for insurers that allows them to retroactively pay business interruption claims.

The federal government then makes them whole by reimbursing insurers for the costs.

PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile said the PIA opposes this legislation as it did similar legislation introduced this spring.

“The bill purports to quickly assist businesses in need, when it is not designed to help all or even most small businesses. Only about 30 percent of small businesses even has business interruption coverage,” Gentile pointed out. “As such, only a small percentage of businesses would benefit in any way from this bill, and thousands of business owners would be left struggling.”

Gentile and PIA National are also worried about paying business interruption claims retroactively. In a story on the PIA National website, the association said, “Such legislation would call into question the reliability of commercial contractual relationships and threaten the financial stability of the insurance sector. And the downstream effects of such a law, which could set a precedent for legislative rewriting of all kinds of contracts, could be unintentionally catastrophic across multiple economic sectors.”

PIA National is urging Congress to reject any bill that retroactively rewrites business interruption provisions of a policy. The PIA wants Congress to instead, “focus on assistance that will offer sustainable solutions to the vast majority of affected small businesses.”

Source link: PIA National


Tags:  Business Interruption insurance  Business Interruption Relief Act  H.R. 7412  National Association of Professional Insurance Age  PIA National  PIA opposes Business Interruption Relief Act  PIA opposes H.R. 7412 

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California’s Business Interruption Bill — Bad News Says the APCIA

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Assembly Bill 1552 in the California Legislature is bad news. Or so says American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) head David Sampson. Most insurance groups — including the PIA — agree.

The language of AB 1552 reads:

This bill, with respect to a policy of commercial insurance that provides coverage for business interruption, would create specified rebuttable presumptions affecting the burden of proof in a case in which the insured alleges that the business interruption was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and occurred during the period of the state of emergency declared by the Governor due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the bill would create certain rebuttable presumptions that COVID-19 was present on specified property and caused physical damage to that property which was the direct cause of the business interruption.

It — if passed — takes effect immediately.

Sampson point out that — if passed — businesses and individuals will get coverage on their policies that they did not pay for nor that the policy was intended to cover.

“This legislation is likely unconstitutional,” Sampson said. “We will aggressively defend against any attempt to undermine contracts, or violate basic due process, government takings, and contracts clauses of the U.S Constitution, as well as the California State Constitution.”

He notes that commercial property policies that have business interruption coverage in them do not generally cover disease or pandemic related losses. They generally cover the financial impact of interruption cause by physical damage to a commercial property.

“Since viruses, like COVID-19, do not cause physical property damage, they are not typically covered under this insurance,” Sampson said. “In the vast majority of cases, insurers did not price policies to include such coverage, and policyholders did not pay premiums to have this coverage.”

Estimates on costs to the industry from the pandemic from Lloyd’s of London hit somewhere around $107 billion. As a comparison, the insurer said Hurricane Katrina — with the biggest insurance losses in U.S. history — only caused losses of $54 billion.

The 9/11 attacks cost insurers $48 billion.

“Mandating retroactive business interruption coverage to include COVID-19 losses that were never intended to be covered by the insurance contract would undermine the ability of insurers to meet their promises and pay claims on all existing insurance policies,” Sampson said. “This could cause more harm to California’s economic recovery.”

Source link: Insurance Journal

 


Tags:  American Property Casualty Insurance Association  APCIA  Assembly Bill 1552  California Business Interruption Insurance  Coverage of business interruption insurance  David Sampson 

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AIG Turns Upper Middle Market Over to Safeco & Heritage Insurance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020


AIG is transitioning out of upper middle market homeowners, auto and umbrella insurance. The insurer said its AIG Private Client Group will now have agents use Safeco or Heritage Insurance handle those policies.

Kathleen Zortman of the AIG Private Client Group said the company is moving more toward the high-net-worth segment where it is known as a recognized market leader.

“Building on the recent launch of Lloyd’s Syndicate 2019 and the refinement of [AIG Private Client Group’s] risk appetite, this agreement optimizes our portfolio and allows us to focus on our relationships with our high-net-worth clients and distribution partners, thereby strengthening our core value proposition,” Zortman said.

AIG will begin the transition during the fourth quarter of this year. Agents handling that business can then send it to either company.

Source link: Carrier Management


Tags:  AIG  AIG middle market homeowners & auto  AIG Private Client Group  Heritage Insurance  Kathleen Zortman  Liberty Mutual  Safeco 

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Nationwide — Now Fully Independent Agent Carrier

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Nationwide has finished its 18-month journey to become an independent agent carrier. Over 99% of the company’s now ex-captive agents are independent. They will continue to partner with Nationwide but have independent agent status.


The company shared statistics from the transition period. In the news release on the subject, Nationwide said it currently has 11,000 or more agents selling personal lines, commercial lines, agribusiness, excess and surplus, and financial services products and services.

Mark Berven is the president and CEO of Nationwide Property and Casualty. He said the good news of the transition — as the stats show in the last two-years — is that independent agents have seen new written premiums rise by 35%.

While doing the switch, Nationwide did more investments in commercial and personal lines.

On the personal lines side of things — says Berven — the company worked on stability in pricing and the ease and competitiveness that independent agents need to build their businesses. The investments included personal lines improvements like a redesign and simplification of the company’s digital operations.

For commercial lines Nationwide focused on a streamline of acquisition costs, an acceleration of underwriting for small markets, an expansion of mid-market capability, servicing optimization, claims effectiveness improvements and an investment in modernizing technology.

Berven also noted the company continued to make progress in spite of the pandemic.

“Despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve made tremendous progress in transforming our business to meet the needs of independent agents and set our former exclusive agents up for success within the independent agent model,” he said.

Source link: Carrier Management

Tags:  Nationwide  Nationwide independent insurance agents  Nationwide insurance 

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A Decade’s Worth of Premium Growth will End in 2020

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020



Standard & Poor’s has just released a disturbing report. The ratings firm said the 10-year run of premium growth will end this year. S&P blames COVID-19.

“Factors including macroeconomic contraction, government-imposed restrictions, policyholder credits and other measures of relief related to the pandemic will combine to end the industry’s decade-long run of premium growth in 2020,” the report said.

The S&P prediction has direct written premiums falling 1.8% this year compared to a 5% growth rate in 2018 and 2019. Worse, this will be just the third decline in direct written premiums since 1997.

S&P predicts a 100.7 combined ratio for the P/C insurers and also predicts that insurers are going to struggle for months because of COVID-19.

Here more predictions from the report:

    * Personal lines direct written premiums will fall 4.3% because of driving declines
    * Personal lines dividend ratios and expenses will rise because of less driving
    * Homeowners rates could rise in catastrophe-exposed markets
    * Apart from driving declines personal lines direct written premiums will fall 1.6%
    * Some help will be offered by commercial lines insurers to businesses
    * Work comp premiums will drop 12.4% because of layoffs

Source link: Carrier Management

 

Tags:  10-year positive insurance premium growth  insurance direct written premiums  insurance premium growth  Standard & Poor's premium growth 

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Disaster Preparation — Few of Us are Ready

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Wildfire season is upon us. Floods are a possibility as well, especially in along the nation’s coasts as the hurricane season is now in full bloom. Earthquakes happen all the time and so do individual disasters that can have a negative impact on a person or a family’s life.

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) just released a study on disaster preparation and found that most of us think we’ll be hit by a natural disaster in the next five years. Yet some 30% of us still haven’t taken steps to make sure we survive a natural disaster.

Here are some statistics from the survey:

    * 61% of us feel we’ll be impacted by a natural disaster in the next 5-years
    * 19% say it is highly likely
    * Only 15% of us have prepared a natural disaster plan
    * 27% have not taken any steps at all
    
How much need is there for a natural disaster plan? A lot. AICPIA chair Gregory Anton says last year was the fifth straight year that we have seen 10 or more weather-related or climate disasters with $1 billion or more in losses.

“During the recovery process, access to financial resources and personal information is critically important,” Anton said. “Taking action to put together a plan today will help protect your family and your finances should you ever find yourself impacted by a natural disaster.”

It gets worse.

    * 37% say they don’t have a good sense of how much disaster recovery will cost
    * 70% said a natural disaster will have a major or moderate impact on finances
    * 33% said a natural disaster will have a major impact on them and their family

Anton then offered advice that most of us — if we’re doing our jobs — pass on to our clients.

“It is a good idea to run through the calculations for potential damage, finding temporary housing and other recovery costs, so you can check to see if you would have enough cash on hand to cover it,” he said. “Review your insurance to be sure you have the right amount of coverage and that you’re not overpaying. Make sure you know what is covered and don’t be afraid to comparison shop periodically to see if switching makes sense.”

Here’s more from the report:

    * 73% of us have taken at least one step toward preparing for natural disaster
    * 34% have a disaster supply kit in their possession
    * 32% put together an evacuation plan
    * 31% have backed up and stored personal, medical and financial records
    * 27% have made sure their insurance covers their needs
    * 26% have taken an inventory of assets and possessions for insurance record
    * 24% have an emergency savings account
    * 19% have an estate plan or a will or both
    * 19% have picked up additional insurance
    * 15% have a disaster plan to protect their finances

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

 


Tags:  AICPA  American Instituteof CPAs  disaster preparation  family plan for disaster  natural disaster preparation  personal plan for disaster 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 7, 2020

California — Lara Issues Diversity Investment Order: Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara launched “Invest in Our Diverse Communities”, an initiative to identify diverse woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ+-, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, Black, and Native American-owned investment managers who can guide investments made by insurance companies into capital-ready socially responsible affordable housing and environmental projects across California.
 
With the U.S. insurance industry commanding $7 trillion in investible assets, the new Invest in Our Diverse Communities Initiative will identify investments managed or owned by diverse investment leaders to fund targeted projects with social benefits in the state. The new initiative is part of the Department of Insurance’s California Organized Investment Network (COIN), a nationally recognized model program created in 1996 to increase insurance industry capital in underserved, low-to-moderate, and rural communities throughout California.
 
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequality in wealth that continues to persist in communities across our state, which I believe the insurance industry can help to tackle through socially responsible investments,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “‘Invest in Our Diverse Communities’ will help insurance companies target their investments to diverse managers and firms who support environmentally sustainable programs and affordable housing projects for California to help improve our way of life and provide a stable home for those who need it.”
 
Commissioner Lara’s initiative will add COIN-qualified investment opportunities owned and managed by diverse firms to the Impact Investment Marketplace, an online “central clearinghouse” portal that the Department of Insurance launched in May 2019. COIN-qualified investment opportunities address areas requiring immediate attention, such as health care, homelessness, and environmental sustainability. Investment opportunities also assist small businesses in underserved communities which, during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be needed now more than ever before.
 
In the past year, the COIN program has highlighted many new investment opportunities statewide to insurance companies, including funds which work to displace current and potential greenhouse gas emissions as well as to invest in renewable power assets such as solar and wind infrastructure that seek to deliver positive environmental and social impact. Other COIN program investment opportunities focus on the development of permanent supportive housing to help alleviate homelessness in California or those which invest in platforms that improve the quality of life for Californians by increasing access to better education, health care, banking, financial services and credit, and improved environmental conditions.
 
COIN also works with certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to help them source funding through insurance company direct investments and public bond offerings. COIN has long-standing relationships with some of the largest CDFIs in California. COIN sources CDFI capital-raising initiatives and gauges initial interest from insurers for public offerings of CDFI securities. COIN also notifies insurers of potential investment opportunities in CDFIs and regularly meets with insurer investment staff to “matchmake” specific CDFIs to insurers’ investment portfolio strategies.
 
Commissioner Lara today also announced his appointments to the COIN Advisory Board, which provides focus and guidance to the Commissioner and COIN Program to meet its mission. The newest members include the Board’s first ever representative with experience seeking investments that provide environmental benefits, a seat created on January 1, 2020 by Commissioner’s Lara’s sponsored Assembly Bill 1099 authored by State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, as well as other exceptional and diverse new members.
 
“It is crucial that we remain committed to socially responsible investing in our communities and in the environment and our COIN board members are an integral part in that,” said Commissioner Lara. “I am confident that our new members will bring fresh ideas and unique perspectives to help us further our goals of directing strategic funds to investments with a measurable impact in affordable housing, community development, renewable energy, and preservation of our natural resources.”
 
Doug Bystry, COIN Advisory Board Chair and President/CEO of Clearinghouse CDFI, stated, “I am extremely excited about Commissioner Lara’s move to increase diversity in directing insurance industry investments. This new initiative will bring new resources to underserved, distressed, low-income communities throughout California. We also welcome new members of the COIN Advisory Board, and look forward to their added expertise and input on community development investments.”
 
The next COIN Advisory Board meeting will be held on Thursday, August 13, 2020. More details are available at: www.insurance.ca.gov/COIN.

Idaho — Hands-Free Law: Idaho’s hands-free law has gone into effect. All electronic devices must be hands-free when driving. And that includes when stopped at a red light or a stop sign.

The new law also says cities and counties of Idaho cannot pass their own rules on the subject.

Police are — for now — just issuing warnings. On January 1 of next year, citations will be issued.

Source link: Idaho Statesman

Oregon — Preliminary health insurance rates
: The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation announced today that preliminary rate decisions for 2021 individual and small employer health insurance plans will remain as currently filed by the state’s health insurance companies.
 
Preliminary rate decisions are for individuals who buy their own coverage, rather than getting it through an employer, and for small businesses. The division must review and approve these rates before they can be charged to policyholders.
 
In the individual market, preliminary decisions for the six companies range from an average 3.5 percent decrease to an average 11.1 percent increase, for a weighted average of 1.8 percent. Under the preliminary decisions, Silver Standard Plan premiums for a 40-year-old in Portland would range from $425 to $466 a month.
 
In the small group market, the preliminary decisions for the nine companies range from an average 1.1 percent decrease to an average 7.0 percent increase, for a weighted average of 3.7 percent. Under the preliminary decisions, Silver Standard Plan premiums for a 40-year-old in Portland would range from $335 to $405 a month.
 
See our chart for a full list of preliminary decisions.
 
“Our transparent rate review process has been critical to understanding how health rates will be set for 2021,” said Andrew Stolfi, insurance commissioner and Department of Consumer and Business Services director. “We look forward to gathering more information from insurers and the public during the upcoming hearings before final decisions on 2021 rates are made.”
 
These preliminary decisions will undergo continued review and discussion through virtual public hearings streamed online Tuesday, July 7, and Wednesday, July 8. All Oregonians are encouraged to participate in the public comment period and view the public hearings.
 
The public comment period closes on July 8 at 11:59 p.m. There are two ways to comment on a company’s rate request:
During the virtual meeting: To testify by phone or email, send an email to stephen.w.kooyman@oregon.gov by 11 a.m. Monday, July 6. Include your name and phone number in the email, and join the web meeting at the link posted on the day of the hearing. The division will call on you during the public testimony portion of the hearing.
Click here to comment online and view the company's rate request documents.
Visit the division’s health rate public hearing page, to review each insurance company’s public hearing schedule, and submit comments regarding specific health insurance company’s rates.
 
Final decisions will be announced by early August.

Oregon — State extends emergency order for health insurance companies: The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services extended its emergency order for health insurance companies through Aug. 2, 2020.  
 
The order requires health insurance companies to do the following for their customers during the COVID-19 outbreak:
Provide at least a 60-day grace period to pay any past-due premiums
Pay claims for any covered services during the first 30 days of the grace period
Extend all deadlines for reporting claims and other communications, and provide members with communication options that meet physical distancing standards
The order is in effect through Aug. 2, 2020, and will be extended in 30-day increments during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
Washington — Health Insurance Grace Period: Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler has issued another order regarding health insurance. Click here to read his order.

Health Insurance grace period extended: https://dfr.oregon.gov/business/reg/Documents/20200505-Health-Ins-EO.pdf

Washington — Kreidler extends building repair claims order: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended an emergency order that requires insurers to extend deadlines relating to withheld depreciation for policyholders who are in the process of completing home or building repairs as part of a property loss claim under a replacement cost policy.  

The deadline is extended 30 days to July 26. The original order, issued on April 27, expires June 26.  

Without the extension, some policyholders in Washington could have been forced to accept a depreciated settlement from an insurer that was less than the replacement cost.

Some policies have a time requirement to complete repairs. Since the residential construction industry was prohibited from doing repair work during a statewide shutdown, some people may have been unable to complete the repairs within the allotted time.  

Washington — Deductibles & Copays: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order to Washington state health insurers for an additional 30 days requiring them to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Insurers also must continue:

    Allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
    Suspending any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19.

In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.   

The extension is effective immediately and applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term limited duration medical plans until Aug. 2, 2020.

“Consumers are rightly concerned about prevention, testing and possible treatment,” Kreidler said. “My emergency order provides guidance to health insurers and should help reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to protect them.”

Kreidler is using powers granted to him following the statewide emergency that Gov. Jay Inslee declared to protect Washington residents against the spread of the coronavirus.

When the governor issues an emergency proclamation, the commissioner can issue an emergency order related to health care coverage to ensure access to care.  The order lasts 60 days and can be extended by the commissioner for an additional 30 days, as long as the governor’s emergency proclamation remains in effect.

Kreidler urged state residents without health insurance to contact Washington’s exchange,  Washington Healthplanfinder to see if they qualify for free health coverage or a special enrollment for individual health insurance.


Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  California Department of Insurance  COVID-19 AZ  COVID-19 California  COVID-19 Montana  COVID-19 Oregon  COVID-19 Washington  Doug Ducey  Gavin Newsom  Jay Inslee  Kate Brown  Oregon Department of Insurance  Steve Bullock  Washington Department of Insurance 

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Update on PIA National from Board Member Wendy Abel-Hatzel

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 30, 2020


Greetings to all PIA Western Alliance Members

With the cancellation of the Annual PIA Advocacy day in D.C. this last April, the National Mid-Year Board of Directors meeting was postponed.

On June 24th the National Mid-Year Board of Directors Meeting was held virtually.

The meeting primarily consisted of a leadership update report which include the following:

 1. Creation of a series of programs specifically designed to provide assistance to PIA members:
 
    * Marketing and Communications Reimbursement Program
    i. Launched March 31st
    ii. Members use either  PIA DMV: PIA’s Direct Marketing Vault or the PIA Design & Print Services (customized marketing)  and are eligible to receive $250 reimbursement

    * PIA Partnership – Members are eligible to receive $250 reimbursement for utilizing
    i. Completion of Phase 2 = Agency Journey Mapping

    * AJM identifies how agencies may plan for their own internal or external succession to achieve the goals of the perpetuator, the successor, and the staff and clients of the agency.
    ii.      Winning@ Talent

     * The Independent insurance agent’s guide to hiring, motivating and retaining the best agency employees.

     *   3-part toolkit

1. Update on legislative actions

    * Actively engaged in the development of legislation to ensure emergency support for employees and businesses, including independent agencies

1. Expanded Communications

    * Added videos, webinars, live video conferencing, infographics and social media platforms

The National Annual Board of Directors Meeting is currently scheduled for Saturday, September 26, 2020 in San Diego, CA. The  decision to change this to a virtual meeting is still being decided.

Respectfully submitted,

Wendy Abel-Hatzel, AAI, CIC, CRM,  MBA

 

Tags:  PIA National  PIA National Board of Directors  PIA Western Alliance  Update PIA National board meeting  Wendy Abel-Hatzel 

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