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PIA National & Progressive — Reimbursement Program

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 12, 2020



PIA National President and CEO Mike Becker has released information on a new program developed by Progressive and the PIA to help agents with sales during the COVID-19 crisis.

Here is his message:

Progressive Insurance Company, a longtime member of The PIA Partnership and a past PIA National Company of Excellence Award winner, is stepping up to help PIA members keep their sales pipelines filled during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Progressive has made a substantial donation to help PIA members communicate with those in their communities and elsewhere. Whether agents want to send a customized message of support to those in their local marketplace as they navigate these uncertain times, or a message about a particular product or service that they believe will resonate right now, Progressive and PIA are here to help—with specific marketing tools PIA members can use and a $250 investment to help offset the cost!

Qualifying Programs

PIA members who would like to receive their $250 marketing reimbursement from Progressive (reimbursed to PIA members directly by PIA National) can do so by using either of the marketing programs listed below:

Option 1: The PIA DMV: PIA's Direct Marketing Vault (turnkey with option to customize)

Program Summary: The PIA DMV enables PIA members to launch hybrid print/digital marketing campaigns to households grouped together in USPS postal routes. As the basis for their marketing campaigns, PIA members can use an existing PIA template (no additional cost) or create a custom message of your own ($225 includes an oversized postcard and a suite of matching digital ads). Using our online portal, PIA members can select one or more postal routes to include in their marketing campaigns. Their postcard is then mailed to each household in those postal routes. Using geofencing technology, digital ads are then delivered multiple times to computers, tablets and smart phones in those same households. PIA members using the PIA DMV never need to leave their desks to implement a robust marketing campaign in their local community or other target market.

Additional PIA DMV Discount: When ordering, please use Discount Code PIAMAY20 to receive an additional 15% off of printing up to $350 (discount effective for orders placed April 30, 2020-May 31, 2020).

Learn more about the PIA DMV:

Watch an archived webinar about the PIA DMV — https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/318909351542092300

Visit the PIA DMV web page — https://pianet.com/benefits/marketingmaterials/PIADMV

Get Started With the PIA DMV:

Complete this short PIA DMV Access Form — https://pianet.com/benefits/marketingmaterials/PIADMVFORM  — so our program partner, ONE Brand, can create a username and password for you to enter the PIA DMV portal. (What is my agency's PIA National A1 member ID number?)

Once the log-in has been created, you will receive an automated email to access the site.

After placing your order, please submit your emailed receipt to PIA National's office following the instructions below.

Option 2: PIA Design & Print Services (customized marketing pieces created by PIA)

Program Summary: PIA members who need marketing materials beyond the direct mail and digital campaigns offered through the PIA DMV program will appreciate PIA’s Design & Print Services provided to PIA members nationally by PIA of the Northeast. Whether they need social media graphics, a flyer, a brochure, an advertisement, or even a newsletter, trade show display or promotional items, PIA’s team of designers can help PIA members draft copy and design stunning marketing pieces. Printing and mail services are available, using PIA’s in-house print shop to save agents money.

Learn more about PIA’s Design & Print Services:

Visit the PIA Design & Print website — https://www.pia.org/COMM/designprint/?utm_source=national&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=progressive

Get Started With PIA's Design & Print Services:

Contact PIA’s Design & Print Services team via email or phone to discuss your agency's unique marketing/communication needs — https://www.pia.org/COMM/designprint/?utm_source=national&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=progressive
    
They will work with you to create your agency's custom marketing/communication pieces.
After placing your order, please submit your emailed receipt to PIA National's office following the instructions below.

Steps to Get Reimbursed

PIA members, please follow these simple steps to get reimbursed through this program (one reimbursement per PIA National membership).

Step 1. Place an order through either the PIA DMV or PIA's Design & Print Services following the steps above.
Step 2. Email paid receipt to agentsupport@pianet.org along with the following information (REQUIRED):

Your agency's PIA National A1 Member ID# (What is my agency's PIA National A1 member ID number?)
PIA member's full name
Agency name*
Street address, city, state, zip code*

* Checks will be made payable to the PIA A1 member agency and mailed to the address PIA National has in our database. If you believe this will cause an error, please let us know when submitting your reimbursement request.

Question? Please direct all questions to PIA National at agentsupport@pianet.org.

Important Terms and Conditions:

Current PIA National membership required to participate in this reimbursement program.
One reimbursement per PIA National A1 member agency.
Reimbursements will be made on a first come, first served basis until available funds are depleted. This web page will be updated as funds start to become limited.

What is my agency's PIA National A1 member ID number?

Recent emails sent to PIA members from PIA's national office about this program have included PIA members' PIA National ID# and other information about your agency's A1 PIA member. Simply copy/paste that information when requesting your reimbursement payment.

To determine your agency's PIA National A1 member ID# 24/7, please follow these steps:

Click here as if you were requesting a password change to our website.
Enter the email address of your agency's PIA National A1 member. (If this is not you, it is likely an agency principal.)
PIA National's website will send an automated email to the A1 member. The trailing digits in the password reset link are the A1 member's PIA National ID#.

Source link: PIA National


Tags:  PIA National  PIA National CEO Mike Becker  PIA Partnership  Progressive Insurance 

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PIA National: Working for You — Where We Stand

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) supports you — its member — and the policy proposals that will best help you to maintain liquidity and, ultimately, solvency during these tumultuous economic times. Our industry must work together and with legislators and regulators to initiate actions that support the industry and insureds. PIA has embarked on a three-step plan:

The first step is the simultaneous implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. You can click here to access our comments on Families First and here to see our comments on CARES.

The Families First Act provides financial support to employers seeking to retain their employees, and the CARES Act establishes special loan and grant programs to assist businesses with fulfilling payroll, mortgage, and other financial obligations associated with retaining employees and physical spaces during the pandemic while they are unable to operate normally.

The second step is the PIA-supported Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund. Click here to see PIA’s comments on the fund.  It will provide prompt, streamlined financial liquidity to the businesses most affected by mandatory social distancing, temporary closures, and quarantines. Modeled on the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the Recovery Fund would be housed in and operated by the Treasury Department. Applicants will electronically submit a form demonstrating their need, and, if approved, funds are transferred directly into an applicant's bank account within 15 days.

We support the Senate's approach to addressing the pandemic and oppose any attempt by Congress to legislate the retroactive application of business interruption provisions that explicitly exclude pandemic-related interruptions. Such a response will not help all businesses; only one in three small businesses even has business interruption coverage. By contrast, the Recovery Fund would apply to all businesses impaired by the pandemic, regardless of the availability of business interruption coverage. PIA National encourages policymakers to include the Recovery Fund in the next coronavirus bill.

The third step is the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA). Click here to see the details. It will provide prospective relief for a future pandemic with a goal of making coverage for pandemics available and affordable. PIA supports the concept of an PRIA as a long-term response to future pandemics, and we are currently working with Congressional offices to help develop this proposal.

For the most up-to-date information on PIA National's policy positions and the activities in which we are engaged to support them, please visit our advocacy blog.

Source link: PIA National


Tags:  PIA  PIA National  Professional Independent Agents National  Working for independent insurance agents 

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PIA Western Alliance & PIA National & the Coronavirus

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 10, 2020


The PIA Western Alliance and PIA National issued this bulletin last week and sent it out in an email. Weekly Industry News is also publishing this week. Since the bulletin was sent out many more people in this country and in the PIA Western Alliance states have contracted the disease.

Many have died and the concern about the spreading coronavirus COVID-19 is growing.
 
PIA has an ongoing partnership with ALM Media, publishers of the National Underwriter, PC360 and FC&S. They have developed a webpage, Instant Insights, that collects all coronavirus outbreak stories and resources in one place.
 
Agencies should consider implementing safeguards to reduce exposure to illness. Steps should include but are not limited to:
 
Encourage sick employees to stay home: Suspend requirements for notes from healthcare providers – those offices are likely to be extremely busy, and it’s better to keep those with the virus away from others. Employees should not return to work unless they are free of a fever (100.4 degrees) for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications. Extend sick leave even to employees who aren’t ordinarily entitled to it, so that employees do not feel compelled to come to work.
 
Consider encouraging employees who are able to do so to work remotely: If remote work isn’t possible, allow employees to stagger shifts. Test remote work policies and staggered shift options now, before you are in an emergency situation.
 
*** Important: Test remote work capabilities, including remote access to agency server, management system, phone, voicemail, and email.
 
Develop a communication plan to keep employees updated on the status of the virus. Ensure employees know what the communication plan is.
 
Develop an activation plan and ensure all employees know what to expect.
 
Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers around the office and encourage their use. Place in open areas, conference rooms, kitchens, and break rooms.
 
Consider whether business operations can be conducted at alternate locations if the current location is quarantined.
 
If employees are not cross-trained for key tasks, begin cross-training now to avoid gaps in production.
 
This full pandemic checklist available from FC&S Coverage Interpretations can be found by clicking here — https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2020/03/05/pandemic-checklist-414-173300/
 
Another helpful resource is Assessing the Personal Impact of the Coronavirus. This article looks at the current situation, the likelihood of spread, and the potential insurance impact and coverage questions raised by COVID-19.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also a good resource; its coronavirus page has information about how coronavirus is spread, travel tips and restrictions, and information for specific audiences like businesses and schools.
 
Insurance departments across the United States are planning or executing actions to eliminate barriers to testing and treatment for COVID-19. [Best’s News 3/5/20]
 
Here are the links for State Departments of Health and Insurance for PIA’s Western Alliance States:
 
Alaska
 
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/default.aspx
 
Alaska Division of Insurance: https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/ins/
 
 Arizona
 
Arizona Department of Health Services https://www.azdhs.gov/
 
Arizona Department of Insurance https://insurance.az.gov/
 
 California
 
California Department of Health https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx
 
California Department of Insurance http://www.insurance.ca.gov/
 
Idaho
 
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx
 
Idaho Department of Insurance https://doi.idaho.gov/
 
Montana
 
Montana Department of Public Health and Welfare https://dphhs.mt.gov/
 
Montana Department of Insurance https://csimt.gov/insurance/
 
Nevada
 
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services http://dhhs.nv.gov/
 
Nevada Division of Insurance http://doi.nv.gov/
 
New Mexico
 
New Mexico Department of Health https://cv.nmhealth.org/
 
New Mexico Department of Insurance https://askjan.org/resources/New-Mexico-Department-of-Insurance.cfm
 
Oregon
 
Oregon Health Authority https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Pages/emerging-respiratory-infections.aspx
 
Oregon Division of Financial Regulation https://dfr.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx
 
Washington State:
 
Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public and related links for the latest information: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
 
And the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner had updated insurance information that is impacted by the Corona Virus: https://www.insurance.wa.gov/coronavirus

Tags:  Coronavirus  Coronavirus suggestions  PIA National  PIA National bulletin  PIA Western Alliance  PIA Western Alliance bulletin  Professional Independent Agents 

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Washington Legislature Wants to Tax Insurance

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Professional Insurance Agents of Washington/Alaska (PIA) is just one of many groups, associations, agencies and insurance companies opposing a new proposal to add to Washington’s insurance premium tax.

 

The premium tax — as it stands now — is 2%. It generates $1.4 billion in income for the state. The new proposal — SB 5996 — was introduced in both the Senate and the House. It adds an additional .52% to the current tax. The hope is to bring in $125 million in revenue to use to fund the newly established Wildfire Prevention and Suppression Account.

 

As most of you know, the current tax is on home, auto and business insurance. This tax applies to all P&C lines including home, auto, commercial property, BOP, medical malpractice, inland marine, construction and contractor liability, municipal and school district excess liability, umbrella policies — and no joke — even the insurance paid to insure mobile phones.

 

PIA Washington Lobbyist Mel Sorenson testified before the House Financial Committee. Along with others — including PIA Western Alliance Executive Vice President Clark Sitzes — Sorensen said the tax is unfair and unjustifiable.

 

“Fighting and preventing wildfires is a priority for society as a whole,” he told Weekly Industry News. “The costs should be supported broadly, not just by insurers and the insurance-buying public. SB 5996 will drive the cost of insurance coverage for Washington consumers $125 million higher over the next two years. It’s not fair to homeowners, drivers, and others who need insurance to push the cost of their coverage higher in this way.”

 

Sitzes pointed out the danger of the tax to consumers. Higher insurance prices could end up with a lot of people forgoing the buying much-needed insurance.

 

In addition to Sorensen and Sitzes, members from the American Property Casualty Insurers Association (APCIA), the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) and the Northwest Insurance Council (NWIC) testified.

 

Mark Sektnan of the APCIA said, “Taxes on insurance companies and our customers are contributing to support the state budget — including efforts to train wildland firefighters, prevent loss and improve forest health — and insurance consumers are doing their part to protect the investment they make in their homes, vehicles and businesses when they buy insurance. Improving forest health and protecting wildlands and communities is a societal good, and should be a priority shared by all taxpayers, not just insurance consumers.”

 

NWIC’s Kenton Brine said the increase — if passed — will put Washington-domiciled insurers at a competitive disadvantage to insurers housed in other states. In a document he prepared for testimony, Brine said it’s not that insurers oppose doing something about the destructive nature of wildfires. They just don’t want to bear the entire burden.

 

“We recognize that a variety factors including population growth, changing demographics, current and past forest practices and climate change are rapidly and dramatically changing the wildland fire threat in Washington,” he wrote.

 

Brine went on to say insurers are partners with communities all over the state in working onways to stop the carnage. However, he said this “unfairly shifts the societal cost of fire suppression exclusively to insurance premiums.”

 

He also asked committee members a number of critical — and very good — questions.

 

“Does the state tax health insurance policies to pay for cancer research and chemotherapy treatments?” he asked. “Is there a tax exclusively on jewelry stores to pay for more police officers? Of course not.

 

Washington residents, businesses and visitors across the state pay taxes to our state’s general fund to pay for societal costs, like fire and police protection. SB 5996 shifts those costs from all taxpayers exclusively to insurance companies and policyholders with a 25% tax increase only on auto, home, commercial and other P&C insurance premiums, to be paid into a dedicated account managed by the state Department of Natural Resources.”

 

Plus, Brine wrote, “There are no controls or limits included in SB 5996 on the use of the $125 million tax increase after it is put into the Wildfire Suppression and Prevention Account. At any time, the Legislature could ‘sweep’ these funds back into the general fund for other unrelated purposes, leaving property owners paying more and getting the status quo.”

 

Source links: Insurance Journal, Northwest Insurance Council, Tri-City Herald

Tags:  Insurance Content  PIA National  Washington insurance premium tax 

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The Farm Bill — PIA National Opposes Cuts

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Late in 2018, President Trump signed the current farm bill into law. PIA National supported the president’s decision to sign. It — says Jon Gentile, PIA National vice president of government relations — preserved provisions in the crop insurance program that PIA National says are vital. The bill also honored how important the independent insurance agent is to the crop insurance program.

 

We’re pleased that Congress was able to agree on a compromise Farm Bill that includes strong support for the federal crop insurance program,” Gentile said. “The overwhelming votes in favor of the bill in both the House and Senate and the president’s signing of it signal strong, bipartisan support for the key crop insurance provisions it includes.”

 

In his 2020 financial year budget President Trump has taken a different approach to the Federal Crop Insurance Program. The budget statement runs 150-pages and the pages relating to the program said it eliminates “subsidies to higher-income farmers and reducing overly generous crop insurance premium subsidies to farmers and payments made to private-sector insurance companies.”

 

PIA National opposes the changes to the crop insurance program in Trump’s budget. To begin with, Trump is proposing a 15% cut to the Department of Agriculture. In that decrease is deep cuts to crop insurance totaling $26 billion over the next decade.

 

According to the PIA National Advocacy Blog, the Trump cuts will have three impacts:

 

  It reduces the average premium discount for producers to 48% — it is currently at 62%

  The administration says that will save $22.1 billion over 10-years

  Next, it caps the rate of return at 12%

  This — says the Trump administration — saves $2.9 billion over a decade

  Lastly, crop insurance eligibility is limited to farms with an adjusted gross income of $500,000

  This will save $641 million over 10-years

 

PIA National says this is just not a good idea.

 

“Crop insurance is the cornerstone of the farm safety net. During a time of depressed prices in rural America, now is not the time to slash the federal crop insurance program, which so many farmers and ranchers rely on to stay afloat,” PIA National’s Advocacy Blog says. “This budget proposal would make crop insurance unaffordable and unavailable for many people. Furthermore, a 5-year Farm Bill with strong support for crop insurance was just signed into law in December.”

 

PIA National said it strongly opposes these — or any cuts — to the crop insurance program and will diligently work with members in the House and Senate to make sure the cuts do not make it through Congress. “We urge Congress to reject these cuts and to support a strong federal crop insurance program that recognizes the vital role that independent insurance agents play in the delivery of the program,” the Advocacy Blog stated.

 

Source links: Insurance Business America, PIA National

Tags:  Federal Crop Insurance  insurance content  insurance news  Jon Gentile  PIA National  President trump 

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​ FIO Director Bags the Job & Moves On

Posted By Staff Reporter, Monday, November 19, 2018


Steve Dreyer took the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) Director’s job in June. Last Friday was his last day on the job. He took the FIO job after an extensive vetting process and now feels it wasn’t the best career decision.

His background says he’s probably a good choice. Dreyer spent 25-years working for Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (now S&P Global) where he specialized in insurance and infrastructure and enterprise risk management.

Not to be, he said, and he resigned.

“Although we have been able to accomplish quite a bit during my time here, upon reflection, I have recognized that working in government turned out to be quite different from my time in the private sector, and I believe that my experiences can be best applied in other pursuits,” Dreyer said after announcing his departure to staff.

Dreyer is the second FIO director. Michael McRaith headed the office from its inception in 2011. Steve Seitz will now serve as acting director.

PIA National has always opposed the FIO and believes it usurps the regulation of insurance by states.

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  Federal Insurance Office  FIO  PIA National  Steve Dreyer 

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PIA National & Other Groups Respond to Mid-Term Election

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Democrats will control the U.S. House of Representatives when the 116th Congress is sworn in next January. Republicans will keep control of the Senate and have added to the number of seats the party holds.

So getting anything done for the two-years to follow will require bipartisanship.

PIA National is asking those in leadership in Congress to find bipartisan solutions for the insurance issues before us. Spokesman Jon Gentile — PIA National’s Vice President of Government Relations — said, “PIA will continue to advocate for policies that help independent insurance agents protect consumers: a strong National Flood Insurance Program and crop insurance program, the strengthening of employer-sponsored healthcare, and opposition to proposals that chip away at the successful state insurance regulatory system,” he said.

In the meantime, Gentile added — even though this is now a lame-duck Congress — it’s important for the 115th Congress to still be working on those goals as well.

Gentile and the PIA are not alone. Maggie Seidel of the American Insurance Association (AIA) added, “The AIA’s work on behalf of its members and their policyholders has always been — and will continue to be — bipartisan. We look forward to continuing to work with House Democrats and Republicans on a number of important P&C issues in the new Congress.”

Top on the mind of insurance these days is reforming the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Craig Poulton heads the private flood insurer Poulton Associates. He hopes the current Congress can get reforms done but says the House has put in the work but the Senate has not.

“The House had discussed and had come up with a set of reauthorization criteria that they were ready to act on and again, the Senate said, don’t pass the bill yet, let us look at it, and they just continue to keep it stalled,” Poulton noted.

What happens next? Whatever it is, Poulton isn’t optimistic. “Even though Democrats are in charge of the House, most of them had already looked at this issue and said, here are the kind of reforms we need to do, so if they see any light at the end of the Senate tunnel, I would expect the House to be willing to do something along the lines of what they’ve previously proposed. It’s really the Senate where the bottleneck is, and it’s more geographic than it is political.”

Nat Wienecke of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is somewhat optimistic about flood reforms. Since California Representative Maxine Waters — who has had a hand in previous flood reform legislation — is now going to head the House Financial Services Committee, Wienecke expects new flood legislation early next year.

But like Poulton, he wonders if anything is going to get done. “The question is, can the Senate find 60 votes and what does that compromise look like, and that challenge doesn’t change as a result of the election,” Wienecke noted.

Gentile said the PIA wants a long-term NFIP solution with reforms accompanying the legislation. “Since we also support efforts to encourage the development of the private flood insurance market, the expanded Republican majority in the Senate could present a good opportunity for the entry of additional private flood resources into the marketplace,” he said.

He — and the PIA and other insurance associations — hope the looming flood issue can generate some bipartisan cooperation.

“We hope these changes to the composition of Congress will encourage a renewed spirit of bipartisanship in terms of creating opportunities for insurance agents to expand their businesses and increase the take-up rate for flood and other essential lines of insurance,” Gentile said.

Wienecke said the PCI also wants Congress — and Waters specifically — to look at data protection. “I have a reasonably high degree of confidence that one of the major issues that will come up in this Congress is the issue of consumer data privacy, and I would expect to see Congress discussing and debating with legislative solutions to consumer data privacy similar to the California legislation that passed or GDPR in Europe,” Wienecke said.

He’s also very surprised that — with all the controversy lately over data theft and data loss from applications like Facebook — nothing was done. 

“With all the hearings that we’ve had with the social media companies this year, there was no bill or effort in this Congress to do that. That is almost impossible for me to see in the next Congress — I would be shocked if there weren’t legislation in the next Congress on consumer privacy,” he said.

In conclusion, Gentile said the PIA expects a split-controlled Congress will be a positive and not a negative. “While a lot has been accomplished under two years of singular control — including passage of tax reform, which led to many agents and brokers being able to qualify for a very helpful pass-through tax deduction — we now may see other positive actions as the result of this split Congress,” he added.

Source links: PIA National, Insurance Business America

Tags:  116th Congress  Democrats House  PIA National  Republicans Senate 

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PIA National, the NFIP Extension, Flood Dangers Rise

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) isn’t working. With over $25 billion in debt it’s obvious the NFIP hasn’t worked well in quite a while. The program’s carnage began with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was exacerbated with Super Storm Sandy in 2012.

Then along came last year’s Hurricane Harvey and his cousins.

The NFIP is in dire need of repair. Congress has avoided it and keeps kicking the proverbial can down the road. The program expired at the end of September and it has been extended for the fifth time since the new fiscal year began on October 1st of last year.

The expiration date now is March 23rd when the temporary federal government funding runs out. Professional Independent Agent (PIA) National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile said it’s time for Congress to go to work. “Congress must use the time between now and then to move away from short-term measures and provide a long-term reauthorization of this program,” he said.

Gentile — and the PIA and other insurance and environmental groups — want major reforms in the NFIP and those reforms keep getting put off.

“The NFIP is a program that requires certainty. It is also in great need of reforms. PIA will continue our advocacy for a long-term reauthorization of the program that recognizes the essential role independent agents play in providing expert advice to consumers," Gentile said.

Seth Chandler is an insurance law expert at the UH Law Center. He — like Gentile and the PIA — is tired that people “in non-flood areas are continuing to subsidize people in flood areas. The way to make it [the NFIP] sustainable is to both increase the premiums, particularly in the more flood-prone areas and also to use science to draw maps that more accurately reflect risk.”

The need for flood insurance reform has never been greater. Whether you believe it is climate change or not, the weather lately is weird and it’s driving changes that are increasing the danger of flooding.

A recent New York Times report brings how frightening that is home to roost. There are 21,600 facilities in the U.S. that store large quantities of toxic materials. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — that runs the NFIP — says over 1,4000 are in areas that are now considered to be at high flood risk.

The reason all this happened is because of how important being close to water is to some industrial operations. A good example is the 34,400 pounds of ultra toxic sodium peroxide and 300 pounds of benzene that leaked out of a Chevron Phillips chemical plant in Baytown, Texas during Hurricane Harvey.

These are toxic areas in the PIA Western Alliance state sites (It is hard to count on the map we saw so in the case of California, Oregon and Arizona the count is a close estimate):

Alaska — 2 sites

Arizona — 24 sites

California — 79 sites

Idaho — 3 — sites

Montana — 2 sites

Nevada — 9 sites

New Mexico — 3 sites

Oregon — 17 sites

Washington — 12 sites

 

Source links: Houston Public Media, Insurance Journal, Business Insurance America, New York Times

Tags:  Flood Dangers Rise  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  PIA National  the NFIP Extension  Weekly Industry News 

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PIA National, the FIO, Insurers & A New Systemic Risk Bill

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Jon Gentile

As Weekly Industry News reported last week, PIA National is calling for the demise of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO). It was created by the Wall Street reforming Dodd-Frank Act and is charged with “advising” Congress on insurance issues.

 

So far, PIA National says it’s been pretty good at keeping with its congressional instructions. It is — however — no secret that FIO Director Michael McRaith wants the FIO to be more hands-on in insurance regulation and at one time said insurance ought to be treated — regulation-wise — like banks and other security institutions.

 

Jon Gentile — who is the PIA National Vice President of Government Relations — said, “If the goal is to eliminate unnecessary federal regulation, getting rid of the FIO makes good sense. Doing so would reaffirm that regulation of insurance should continue to be the responsibility of the states. PIA will remain vigilant in its efforts to ensure that no new paths to the federal regulation of insurance are created as part of any Dodd-Frank rollback.”

 

The push to do away with the FIO came from a report it issued stating Congress ought to consider a uniform national standard regarding state guaranty association coverage limits. It also said it might be necessary for Congress to consider whether sex and gender are appropriate rating factors for insurers to use in underwriting.

 

"These are issues with interstate implications, especially given an increasingly mobile society and, therefore, are of national interest. For these reasons, if coverage limits are not standardized nationally by the states, then Congress should consider prescribing nationally uniform standards." It also said "Federal legislation may be necessary to address the issue of sex- or gender-based discrimination in the insurance industry,” the report said.

 

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) vice president Dave Snyder pooh-poohed the report as an attempt by the FIO to interfere with state regulation. And that regulation — Snyder said — is well-functioning. “The whole report is political propaganda and does not merit serious attention from state regulators,” he said.

 

Another Dodd-Frank created regulating body the Financial Stability Oversight Council is charged with determining which financial institutions pose a systemic risk to the nation’s entire financial system. PIA and other insurance organizations opposed adding insurers to the council’s jurisdiction as — maybe other than AIG at the beginning of the Great Recession but not now — none of them pose a risk to the nation’s economy like the big banks.

 

The House of Representatives has approved a PIA supported bill the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act to replace the significantly important financial institution (SIFI) arbitrary designation limit of $50 billion in assets with another system. Bill sponsor and Missouri Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer said it “would protect U.S. taxpayers from actual risk posed to the financial system. Decisions on what institutions are deemed systemically important should be based not on size alone, but also on activity and other factors that actually demonstrate systemic risk.”

 

He and 233 Republicans and 20 Democrats agreed and passed the bill. If it gets through the Senate and to either President Obama or Trump’s desk, before a SIFI designation is given the council and other regulators would have to consider the asset size of a bank holding company, the interconnectedness of the institution, and the complexity of the holding company’s nature.

 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling — a Republican from Texas and the chair of the House Financial Services Committee — said Dodd-Frank co-author, Boston Democrat and former Rep. Barney Frank agreed the law is arbitrary and supports the adjustment. Hensarling said he’s even been known to admit the arbitrary nature of the designation is a mistake.

 

“What we’re trying to do here today with this bipartisan bill is try to provide a solution, try to fix a genuinely recognized mistake in Dodd-Frank.  And what those who oppose this bill are trying to do is to preserve that mistake in the law,” Hensarling said.

 

Insurance groups like the American Insurance Association (AIA) agree the change will be a good one. AIA vice president of federal Affairs Wes McClelland said, “Given the strengths of the insurance business model, it is clear that the property/casualty industry was not and is not a source of systemic risk to the financial system. Therefore, in testing for enhanced supervision of financial institutions, the bill appropriately recognizes that risk assessment should be based on a range of factors wider than just size.”

 

California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters is the ranking Democrat on the committee. She said the bill will let President Donald Trump deregulate 27 of the nation’s largest banks. “H.R. 6392 would repeal Dodd-Frank’s $50 billion threshold, above which banks are subject to closer regulatory scrutiny, and prevent the Federal Reserve Board from regulating these banks. Instead, it would hand over that responsibility to the Financial Stability Oversight Council, or FSOC. To regulate the banks, the FSOC would have to go through a byzantine and litigious process of designation, which takes two to four years to complete,” she said.

 

In the meantime, the international Financial Stability Board (FSB) identified nine insurance companies last week as SIFI. Two of those insurers are U.S. companies — AIG which already has an SIFI designation and MetLife whose designation was overturned by a federal judge — are on that list.

 

Source links: PIA National, PropertyCasualty360.com, Insurance Journal, Insurance Business America

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Insurers & A New Systemic Risk Bill  Jon Gentile  PIA National  the FIO  Weekly Industry News 

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PIA National Sponsored Study: Your Website & You

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

For years insurance technology experts have been nagging the industry’s leaders about the importance of keeping websites up to date and working smoothly. Technology is evolving and you need to evolve with it. Those are the technology experts. Marketing experts are preaching from the same pulpit. The chant goes something like: keep up, keep up, keep up.

 

But independent insurance agents — at least most of them — don’t appear to be hearing the call. Or if they are hearing it, they aren’t acting. A poll done by Insurance Digital Transformation says 60% of independent agents say their websites are “average to poor.”

 

Just 8% brag that their website is up to speed and rated excellent.

 

PIA National administered the survey with ACORD User Groups Information Exchange and the IIABA’s Agents Council for Technology. The poll found 70% of agents have plans in place to raise the level of their websites.

 

But — as they say — the best laid plans of mice and men…etc. These independent agents and agencies are not following their plans.

 

The report generated from the survey shows less than 25% of agents have comparative raters to help customers quote home and auto. Just 16% use chat or instant messaging to communicate with potential customers or with current customers.

 

As to why? No one is quite sure and the report puzzled out this comment: This is a relatively inexpensive technology and easy to implement, so the low percentage is surprising.”

 

Cal Durland is an industry consultant and advocate at Insurance Digital Revolution. He said agents and agencies are also failing to update their websites to give consumers access in the format they prefer. Whenever I need to find something, I take out my phone and Google it. So does someone who is perhaps new to the area and is looking for insurance — but these agency websites just aren’t robust enough to keep them.”

 

And with that he gave some important advice to those same agents and agencies. “Your website needs to be more than just a brochure. It needs to host everything from the ability to quote car insurance or chat with staff, all from their phone. There’s a whole slew of functionality that’s just not reading,” he said.

 

PIA National Executive Vice President Mike Becker said consumers want to use mobile apps to help them with their insurance needs. Yet just 21% of agencies say their website has that capability. Just a few more — 23% — say they have a client portal on their website. He said independent agents ought to make these functions a high priority even if their clients are demanding them or asking for them directly.

 

Agents can’t assume that no news is good news. When it comes to customers’ digital requirements, that’s never true. Look at banking — many institutions did not know how popular online and mobile banking would be with their customers until they adopted it. The same is true for insurance. These technologies provide quick, easy and on-demand access to policy and billing information, quoting and rating,” Becker said.

 

Here are some other findings from the survey:

 

  Agents and agencies need to add automation tools that improve work flow.

  40% of those surveyed say disjointed work flow is a huge challenge.

  Carriers not making their sites available through agency management systems is also problematic.

  That said, agents aren’t really taking advantage of those carriers that do make them available.

  60% of agents say they are not using claims download programs.

  Just 6% are finding ways to add quoting to the website for commercial lines.

  For personal lines that figure is 16%.

 

That means — Durland said — many agents are manually reentering data when they switch from a carrier portal to their own management system. That not only slows down the process but it increases the risk for error. Years ago, you heard a lot of push for a single-entry, multiple-company interface. The industry is still stepping into that,” he said.

 

ACORD’s Greg Maciag and the PIA and others involved are encouraged by the results. Many agents want to become digital, they just need guidance on where to start,” Maciag noted.

 

As to the need to for agents and agencies to keep websites current, Laird Rixford — Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC) president — said all agents who know anything about anything know a strong website presence is critical to agency success. These successful people know Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are important, too but that an optimized website is where the rubber meets the road.

 

Whenever a consumer is looking for insurance they start with internet — that happens whether they’re looking at the big insurance firms or local agents. The first thing that someone wants to do is research, that’s where the online experience begins,” he said.

 

So it’s important — he said — to not make these three critical mistakes.

 

A design that is outdated: Rixford said your website can’t look like it was done a decade ago. That puts you at a distinct disadvantage. The design has to capture your attention and have a good call to-action. Companies with modern sites look like they know what they’re doing; they look like they’re on the ball.”

 

A current looking design is even more critical when you consider how long you have to snag the viewer. Rixford said it’s three seconds. If they’re not impressed instantly, they’re gone. If they decide your site is worth staying on, you have another four to five seconds to convince them to stay. Having good design, layout and call-to-actions will help you do that.”

 

Blog, blog, blog: Rixford wants you to think of a blog this way. It’s like talking with and educating your clients and prospects about the business of insurance. Having stories published on a regular basis shows that you care. Not just about the future of your prospects and clients, but about your web presence because nothing is more detrimental than an abandoned website or blog,” he said.

 

Plus, search engines — like Google — are much more sophisticated today than they were a decade ago, or even a couple of years ago. So you must publish fresh, unique content to end up higher in the results when someone does a search. A regularly updated blog makes you seen as a valuable content resource for search engines.

 

Never, ever have an About Us page that is blank: This is where you get to tell your story. That page says:

 

  Who you are

  What you’re about

 

By leaving this section blank and not telling your story, you’re missing the chance to create a personable impression of your agency,” he said.

 

And — pullleeassseee — don’t have an About Us page packed with boring content about when the agency was founded and what services you offer to your clients and potential clients. Rixford said do this:

 

  Share your history as a human story

  Make it something clients and prospects and random visitors can relate to

  Showcase your employees with a head shot and a personal, well-written bio that says who they are as people and not just as insurance agents

 

All of that is a nice personal touch that gets you noticed.

 

Last — and not from Rixford but from the PIA sponsored Insurance Digital Revolution survey — do something and do it now. Stop putting off updating your website. This is critical to the success of your business going forward.

 

Source links: Two from Insurance Business America — link 1 and link 2

Tags:  PIA  Pia National  PIA National Sponsored Study: Your Website & You  Webisite 

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