A recent survey of nearly 600 U.S.-based independent agents from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance sought to understand how independent insurance agencies are evolving to meet new expectations. The results, published in the “Rise of the Digital Insurance Agency" report, found that digitally-savvy agencies grow an average of 60% more than their less digital counterparts.
See marketing materials from Trusted Choice here.
During the first quarter of 2021, commercial property & casualty rates saw an overall gain of 7%, according to MarketScout Corp., which reported umbrella, professional liability and D&O all saw double-digit increases. The best defense is a good offense, so talk with your customers now so they are not surprised at renewal.
Across the country, businesses are reopening in some fashion, but going back to work after months of operating from home will look very different. As you and your staff navigate returning to work during the pandemic, there are multiple issues to be considered as you balance the needs and concerns of your employees against those of your customers and clients.
Nearly 40% of U.S. motorists are somewhat or very concerned about cybersecurity and safety of connected and autonomous vehicles, according to a survey from Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), a Munich Re division. Additionally, 35% said they feared a virus, hacking incident or other cyberattacks could damage or destroy a vehicle's data, software or operating systems.
Researchers compared the 50 states across the three tax types of state tax burdens — property taxes, individual income taxes, and sales and excise taxes — as a share of total personal income in the state and New York tops the list.
A panel of experts examine everything from SolarWinds, to the COVID-19 pandemic, to the best prevention methods and tips for you.
The firming of the cyber market is having a big impact you and your customers. Not only do you to work harder to secure adequate coverage for your clients, but you also have to educate yourself and continue to develop your technical skillsets around cybersecurity controls and best-practice cyber risk mitigation. This is vital if you want to differentiate yourself in a hardening market.
The Biden administration appears poised to reinstate masking and other social distancing rules for recalcitrant governors — at least in the workplace. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is preparing to issue new short-term regulations to protect workers from catching COVID-19 on the job, according to lawyers tracking the agency's efforts.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency unveiled the details of an overhaul to the National Flood Insurance Program, the initiative's first major update in 50 years. Most homeowners in the program will have lower or stable premiums, but roughly 11% of homes — largely the highest value ones — will see increases in premiums of at least $10 a month. Those could continue to rise until they reach a cap of $12,000 a year.
New York Federal has denied an insurer's dismissal of a COVID-19 coverage case, issuing a favorable decision for an insured. In what stands as the first win for policyholders in a New York COVID-19 insurance coverage case, the ruling found that the contamination exclusion was ambiguous and that the Court lacked a sufficiently developed factual record to rule on whether the Loss of Use exclusion encompassed the insured's losses.
While COVID-19 was top of mind for everyone in 2020, dominating both our personal and our professional lives, it was not alone in determining the health of the global insurance industry. The industry had to deal with a very costly natural catastrophe year, combined with low interest rates, years of soft pricing, and certain types of social inflation or expectations.
CNA Insurance expects its corporate email and other functions to be fully operational soon as it continues its recovery efforts following a March 21 cyber attack. The company said it is now safe to conduct business and communicate with the insurer via email.
Zurich Insurance and Farmers Exchanges have closed on buying MetLife's U.S. property/casualty business for $3.94 billion. The business acquired includes 2.4 million MetLife Auto & Home policies, $3.6 billion of net written premiums (2019) and 3,500 employees, according to Zurich. The deal provides the Farmers brand an opportunity to gain more of a national presence and strengthen its position a major personal lines carriers in the U.S.
During its current legislative session, New York is considering a proposed privacy bill that would greatly enhance consumer privacy rights, increase business obligations and create new litigation/enforcement exposure.
With the vaccine continuing to roll out across the country, you may have questions besides if you should or shouldn't require your employees to be vaccinated, like - do vaccinated employees need masks? Should we track who has been vaccinated? Learn more about this important considerations as you re-open your agency.
One-quarter of independent insurance agencies report COVID-19 had a significant impact on their operations, revenue and commercial lines customer base, according to the 2020 Agency Universe Study COVID-19 Impact Summary.
COVID-19 is not in the rearview mirror yet and we know many of you continue to struggle with paperless processes, remote relationship building and digital communications. It can feel difficult to keep people at the center of business when most people are secluded at home and avoiding in-person interactions.
Still, it is never too late for you to modernize their business and recommit to building stronger relationships. Three insurtech trends are critical to adapting to this moment and thriving.
Legislation requiring certain insurers to disclose to current and future policyholders whether their business interruption policies cover pandemics was approved by the New Jersey Assembly. Several other states are also considering bills seeking to create business interruption coverage, including New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Your agency was forced to adopt and adapt to technology at a head-spinning pace to remote work as a result of COVID-19. Will you and your staff return to the office, or will business as usual now include some form of a virtual workforce? Get some tips from work-at-home experts at WAHVE. Learn more about what WAHVE can offer you here.
Future One, a collaboration of the Big “I" and leading independent agency companies, has released key findings from the recently completed Agency Universe Study, hailed as the most comprehensive look at the independent agency system. The study shows that the number of independent insurance agencies has remained stable and business conditions continue to improve.
How can you help your insureds move into adopting more standalone cyber coverage? Learn the key challenges and possible solutions to help you place more cyber risk and better protect your clients. See Big I NY's cyber insurance.
Find out why these cyber carriers can help you meet the needs of your customers and their cyber exposures.
If the National Association of Insurance Commissioners doesn't act this year to correct systemic racial bias in insurance ratemaking and other processes, Congress may pass anti-discrimination laws that apply to insurance, a consumer advocate said earlier this month.
A new study released by Global Disability Inclusion, in collaboration with Mercer, found that disabled workers are less engaged and rank their work experiences lower than workers without disabilities.
The ten-year study underlines the challenges faced by disabled people, who represent 15% of the population. The project collected more than 12 million responses from workers around the world and found an “engagement gap" that was significant in a range of areas.
What sort of workplace experience would you provide for a disabled worker in your agency?
From career and leadership strategies to beyond, the Women in Insurance Summit promises a day of inspiration and empowerment on May 25, 2021. The agenda is full of industry presentations and panel discussions featuring speakers from top companies. It will provide insights and ideas to advance equality for all women in the profession.
CNA Central and cnasurety.com, are back online. This means that you can now get quotes for CNA's small business through CNA Central and surety agents can access cnasurety.com to issue surety bonds through the online application.
As president and CEO of ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) - the global standards-setting body for the insurance and related financial services industries – Pieroni has a unique perspective on the insurance industry, based on ACORD's 36,000+ members.
The insurance industry is dedicated to assisting people in times of need. As such, the industry is uniquely suited to be a philanthropic leader, adapting its skill-set to charitable endeavors. On behalf of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, Big I New York is pleased to invite your company or agency to nominate a charitable organization for a local grant.
IICF helps communities and enriches lives by combining the collective strengths of the industry to provide grants, volunteer service, and leadership.
In an effort to expand the reach of IICF across communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the foundation is offering 10 local grants in the amount of $2,500. All charities awarded a grant must be sponsored by an insurance entity, so this your chance to nominate a worthy organization your company or agency supports or is familiar with in your community.
The application process is simple. Please communicate with your chosen nonprofit that you are nominating them to apply and ask the charity you are sponsoring to complete this application
. They must provide the requested corroborating documentation and submit all items electronically to Lauren Pincus at email@example.com
by 5:00 p.m. on Friday May 28, 2021. Additional information is detailed in the local grant guidelines
We appreciate your help in recognizing outstanding charities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Formed in 1994, the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity funded and directed by insurance industry professionals representing a broad spectrum of the industry. Since its inception, IICF has contributed over $40 million in local community grants, over 300,000 hours of volunteer service, and the leadership of over 100,000 industry volunteers.
Biennial study reveals stability and challenges in independent agency system.
ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 29, 2021—The number of independent insurance agencies has remained stable and business conditions continue to improve, although at a slower rate than 2018, according to the 2020 Agency Universe Study.
Future One, a collaboration of the Big “I" and leading independent agency companies, has released key findings from the recently completed Agency Universe Study, hailed as the most comprehensive look at the independent agency system.
“The 2020 Agency Universe Study reveals good news for the independent agency system, including continued adaption to the digital solutions and innovations that enable independent agents and brokers across the country to serve their clients and communities most efficiently," says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I" president & CEO. “The study also offers a pulse read on key areas agencies should focus on to better prepare for the future. Women and people of color continue to be underrepresented as agency principals, and the Big 'I' is committed to continuing its outreach efforts to address this issue so agencies can serve all insurance consumers better."
The study looks at many statistics about independent agencies operating in the U.S., including their numbers, revenue base and sources, number of employees, ownership, mix of business, diversification of products, technology uses, non-insurance income sources and marketing methods. For 2020, the study continued to examine those trends, focusing on agency perpetuation challenges and the impact of emerging purchase channels and trends.
“The study provides independent agency principals and managers with insights into how their peers operate, as well as business strategies that may be helpful to them," says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I" vice president of agent development, education and research. “In particular, as agencies express concern over emerging purchase channels threatening their consumer segment, the study revealed how crucial adaptation to social media and digital marketing strategies are key to agency success. Overall, though, the channel has fared well during the economic upheaval of the last year."
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdown orders in 2020, the study was halted in its traditional fielding time in March and re-started in September. The study also included survey questions related to COVID-19's impact on the independent agency channel, the results for which have been released separately.
Key findings from the 2020 Agency Universe Study include:
- The number of independent agencies remains stable. In 2020, the estimated total number of independent property/casualty agents and brokers in the United States stands at 36,000. This is consistent with 2018 number of 36,500.
- Business conditions remain favorable but growth slows. Business conditions continue to improve, as they have for the past several waves, but at a slower rate. The majority of agencies (70%) report increases in total revenue between 2018 and 2019, with an average increase of 20%. However, this is slightly lower than in 2018 when 76% reported an increase, with average increases of 25%. Agencies are slightly more likely to report increases in personal lines revenue (67%) than commercial lines (63%).
- Principal aging remains consistent. The aging of the independent agency universe is consistent with 2018 findings as the average age of agency principals is 55 years old, with 17% age 66 or older. Agencies may be starting to consider perpetuation planning. Nine in 10 have a perpetuation plan (on par with 2018), though it often centers around children and family. Four in 10 anticipate some ownership change in the next five years.
- Social media and digital marketing strategies are key. All the top marketing strategies cited in 2020 are digital: social media and digital marketing (58%), creating and maintaining the agency website (49%), portal technology on the agency site (30%), search engine optimization (30%), and e-marketing activities (20%).
- Emerging purchase channels remain a concern. The impact of emerging purchase channels remains a concern, particularly for personal lines, with 35% of agencies believing personal lines direct purchase through the insurance company will have a significant impact on their agency over the next two years—and 27% believing the same issue will emerge with non-insurance website purchases. Approximately 1 in 4 express similar concerns about small commercial direct purchase or purchase through emerging online providers.
- Inclusion continues to be a challenge. Women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in the independent agency universe. Forty-two percent of agency principals are women. Nearly 9 in 10 of agency principals are white. Larger agencies are especially likely to have male principal or senior managers. However, newer agencies are more likely to have at least one African American principal (12% versus 5% of established agencies).
The 2020 Agency Universe Study is the fourteenth in a series that was first conducted in 1983. Since 2002, the study has been completed biennially. Since 2004, the Agency Universe Study has relied on internet data collection. In total, 1,437 respondents were included in the 2020 study, conducted by Zeldis Research in cooperation with Future One.
To order a copy of the 2020 Agency Universe Study Management Summary, which provides an overview of the highlights from the complete study, visit the Big “I" Agency Universe Study webpage.
In addition to the Big “I," the Future One coalition includes the following company partners: Allstate/Encompass, Amerisure, Central Insurance Companies, Chubb, CNA, Foremost, Grange Insurance, Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), Liberty Mutual Insurance/Safeco, Nationwide, Progressive, Selective, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford, Travelers and Westfield Group.
Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") is the nation's oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing more than 25,000 agency locations united under the Trusted Choice® brand. Trusted Choice independent agents offer consumers all types of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products—from a variety of insurance companies.
No fooling - here's a roundup of the industry news you need but may have missed.
April 1, 2021
Since the start of the pandemic, more than half of homeowners made improvements to their property, according to Hippo, which noted 71% said they'd continue making the same amount of home improvements moving forward. Are your policyholders updating their coverges accordingly?
If you serve the transportation industry, you must keep an eye on these programs that could impact your trucking risk management this year.
Insurance Journal is seeking young independent insurance agents – those 40 and under – to share their thoughts on the insurance industry, their job and their future as a young professional in the annual Young Agents Survey.
Commercial lines insurer CNA reported that it has sustained a “sophisticated cybersecurity attack" that caused a network disruption and impacted certain CNA systems, including corporate email.
If CNA in vulnerable, with their vast IT resources, aren't you? Check out our Cyber coverage options.
The 2020 Property/Casualty Market Share report offers cumulative market data reported on insurers' annual financial statements to the NAIC as of March 15, 2021, for business conducted in the U.S. states and territories and Canada. An estimated 98.29% of P&C filings have been received to date.
Be sure you check to see where your carriers stand to protect your agency.
Digital communications are more important than ever, but one particular tool can increase landing page conversion rates by 80%.
If you are not using digital marketing, it's time. Check out the new resources from Trusted Choice.
The most recent tallies of financial results by rating agency analysts reveal that the property/casualty insurance industry weathered the storms of catastrophe losses and COVID, with one segment actually reporting better combined ratios and higher income than in 2019.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 842, the “Protecting the Right to Organize" (PRO) Act. The PRO Act would drastically change the nation's labor laws and includes a provision that could significantly impact your agency. Among other things, the legislation seeks to change the definition of “independent contractor" in a way that could cause significant disruption to you and your customers.
E-commerce giant Amazon.com is getting into the insurance game through a new partnership with digital insurtech company Next Insurance. Through the partnership, Amazon Business Prime members can obtain a small business insurance quote from Next Insurance. Business Prime members can also immediately purchase general liability, professional liability, workers' compensation, commercial auto, as well as tools & equipment insurance from the insurtech.
This is just another reason why you need to develop and implement strong social media strategies for your agency.
Not many speak of this elephant in the insurance room, even though there are thousands of them: condominium policies. So what's the big deal? Renter policy, condo policy, my stuff is covered if I have a claim . . . or so the resident thinks. That half-million dollar view of the Gulf of Mexico is nice as a renter, but when ownership issues come into play, it gets more complicated.
Do your CSRs talk with your insureds about their rental properties to ensure that they are adequately covered?
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) is calling on its regulated insurers to prioritize diversity of leadership and says it will begin collecting and publishing diversity data from insurers this year to promote transparency.
These new actions were spelled out in a circular letter DFS issued today to New York-regulated insurers and come amid a push by the department to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the state's insurance industry.
Merchants Insurance Group, a group of property and casualty insurance companies serving policyholders in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest, has announced the appointment of Charles E. Makey III (pictured) as president, effective April 01. Makey currently serves as the company's senior vice president of insurance operations.
The long period of soft market conditions in cyber insurance is coming to an end. Due to the growing frequency and severity of ransomware incidents, which continue to hit record highs, insurers have started to seek more rate and toughen their underwriting guidelines to both control costs and protect their books. However, one expert says that what's happening in the cyber insurance marketplace is less of a hardening and more of a re-evaluation of risk.
So, you met an insurance company recruiter at career fair, or you read some of our articles and decided to apply for an entry level role in the company. You're about to finish your college degree, probably not in RMI, and want to maximize your chances of getting an offer. Read on to find out what to do.
Want to help promote the industry? Send this article to clients that have college age children!
We should prepare for a big agency errors and omissions (E&O) litigation wave to crash their shores in 2021. Agency E&O claims are a lagging indicator, meaning plaintiffs typically only go after us after they exhaust other legal avenues -- most often suing insurers -- and come up short, according to experts at the 2020 virtual Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) conference.
While E&O claims from the pandemic of 2020 have not happened yet in noticeable numbers, they will, just as they happen following major storms or other disasters, the experts warned.
Be sure you and your staff are ever-mindful of the many strategies on how to avoid losses. Register now for our upcoming E&O Seminar.
Insurance pricing was up across most lines and classes globally in the final quarter of 2020, and that upward pricing trend looks set to continue well into 2021, according to Aon's Q4 2020 Global Market Insights Report.
The COVID-19 pandemic and connected economic downturn has heightened underwriting scrutiny and risk aversion at a time when the market was already being tested by a confluence of macro factors and events, including more frequent natural catastrophes, social inflation, and the sustained low interest rate environment, which is impacting the industry's ability to make strong returns on underwriting and investment income.
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has warned all entities it regulates about newly discovered security vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange Server software. The department advised all entities to take immediate actions to address the problem. The DFS regulates banking, financial services, and insurance organizations doing business in New York.
If your agency is running this software, you may be at risk of having suffered a data breach already or of having one in the future. Agencies that use a cloud-based hosting service for email should not be affected.
In a letter dated March 9, the department relayed Microsoft's report that it had found four vulnerabilities in the 2013 and later versions of Microsoft Exchange Server. "The vulnerable servers appear to host Web versions of Microsoft’s email program Outlook on their own machines instead of cloud providers," the DFS wrote. "It also appears that the vulnerabilities were being exploited for some time before March 2, and that widespread exploitation of the vulnerabilities is ongoing." Microsoft has released security updates to address the vulnerabilities.
The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has recommended that entities using the web version of Microsoft Outlook immediately patch the vulnerabilities and preserve forensic information of any cybersecurity events that may have occurred.
If your agency uses the web version of Micrsoft Outlook, we strongly encourage you to work with your information technology staffs or consultants to install the patches as soon as possible. You should also investigate whether your systems have suffered a data breach.
As a reminder, the New York Financial Services regulation Cybersecurity Requirements For Financial Services Companies requires all entities to notify the DFS within 72 hours of determining that a cybersecurity event has occurred that state law requires you to notify law enforcement about or that has a reasonable likelihood of materially harming any material part of your normal operations. If you have suffered such an event, you can submit the notice using the same portal that you use for submitting the annual certification of compliance.
The DFS letter recommends that you review the following resources:
More information about compliance with the New York regulation is available on our website at www.biginy.org/cyber. You can also find valuable information on the website of the Agents Council for Technology. If you believe you have been affected by these vulnerabilities, our endorsed cybersecurity consulting firm, LCG, may be able to assist you.
An endorsement to the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Homeowners insurance program, which Big I New York initially proposed, has been approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS). The form gives homeowners coverage for damage to underground utility service lines. It will allow you to offer better protection against very expensive losses to your Homeowners clients.
Since 2012, Big I New York has been a member of the Mid-America Insurance Conference, a forum where independent agents, trade association staff, and representatives of industry standards-setting organizations discuss topics such as property-casualty coverage, rules, forms, and other technical aspects within the industry. ISO, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD) attend the forum. When there isn't a pandemic, the conference meets each year in early November in Kansas City, MO.
In response to a Big I New York member inquiry, we proposed at the 2016 meeting that ISO create an optional Homeowners insurance endorsement that would insure against loss or damage to underground utility service lines, such as natural gas, water and sewer lines. While ISO has no obligation to adopt the attendees' proposals, in this case they did and reported at the 2019 meeting that they intended to file such an endorsement with regulators across the country.
The NYS DFS approved the endorsement for use in New York on November 3, 2020.
The endorsement is HO 06 69 12 20, Utility Line Expense Coverage. It insures against damage to utility lines on the insured's residence premises, located outside the home and below the ground's surface against causes of loss such as wear and tear, deterioration, rust, corrosion, leakage or blockage. The premium charge is based on individual insurer rate filings, with a modification based on the age of the construction.
If any of the insurers you represent use ISO Homeowners forms, they have the ability to adopt this form so that you can offer it to your clients now. We encourage you to ask your carriers whether they offer this important new coverage.
The New York State Department of Financial Services today issued a warning of a "systemic and aggressive campaign to exploit cybersecurity flaws" in websites that provide instant insurance quotes. The department urged all entities that it regulates, if they have instant quote websites, to review them for evidence of hacking.
The alert, which DFS emailed to regulated entities and posted on its website today, said that two auto insurers reported attempts by cybercriminals to steal unredacted driver's license numbers. These insurers off instant quotes for auto insurance on their sites. The New York Cybersecurity Requirements For Financial Services Companies regulation requires "covered entities" to report certain "cybersecurity events" to DFS within 72 hours of determining that they occurred.
Last month, DFS notified a dozen entities that they might be targets of this campaign, after which another six reported suspicious events. Four of those insurers reported that the hackers had successfully stolen private information.
The department said that the campaign was one part of an overall increase in attempts to steal private information, and this appears to be linked to a growth in benefits fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic. New York has implemented enhanced identity requirements for pandemic benefits, and this may explain the search for driver's license numbers.
If you have a public website that displays or transmits consumers' non-public information, DFS suggests that you:
- Review whether it's necessary to display non-public information - even redacted - on the site
- Review the site's security controls
- Review the site for browser web developer tool functionality
- Confirm that any tools for redacting or obfuscating personal information are implemented properly
- Ensure that your privacy protections are up to date and working effectively
- Search and scrub "public code repositories" for proprietary code
- Block the IP addresses of suspected unauthorized users
- Consider limiting the number of quotes a user can obtain in one session.
You may need to consult with the vendor that hosts your website on many of these items.
More information about cybersecurity and the New York regulation are available in the Cybersecurity section of our website.
Also, this is a reminder that all agencies must submit a certification of compliance with the regulation on the DFS website no later than April 15.
The New York State Insurance Fund has notified Big I New York that it will soon stop mailing paper copies of New York State Disability Benefits Law (DBL) insurance policies and bills to insurance brokers. The change takes effect on Feb. 28, 2021.
In a letter to be sent to brokers this week, the State Fund invites all brokers to create online accounts on its website. The accounts give brokers constant access to their clients' records. The letter provides instructions for brokers who do not already have online accounts with the State Fund.
If you have obtained DBL policies for your clients from the State Fund, be aware that you will no longer receive physical mail from the Fund as of the end of February. We encourage you to plan accordingly.
The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has announced a rule change that clarifies which operations should and should not be assigned to the marina classifications. The board also made the telecommuter classification more specific. If you provide Workers' Compensation insurance for these types of operations, you may want to inform your clients.
The New York Workers' Compensation Manual has two classifications for marinas - code 6826F for employers subject to the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act, and code 6836 for employers who are subject only to the New York Workers' Comp law. The new rules clarify that these classifications apply to employers that have "boat docks, storage facilities, repair shops, and marine railways."
The state Department of Financial Services has approved loss costs of $4.64 per $100 of payroll for code 6826F and $3.29 for code 6836. Loss costs are used to develop the Workers' Compensation insurance premium. However, the rule change clarifies that these classifications do not apply to:
- Building of boats up to 150 feet long
- Building or repair of wood boats exclusively
- Boat rental or livery
- Boat salespersons selling boats
- Lifeguards at onsite swimming pools
- Store operations
There are separate classifications for employees engaged in these operations.
The board also clarified that classification code 8871, Telecommuter Clerical Employees, applies only to employees who spend "more than 50 percent of their time performing clerical or drafting functions from their residence." The loss cost for this classification is $0.16 per $100 of payroll.
The rule changes take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.