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Dec 31
Big I for Intern

My name is Glenn, and I'm a sophomore Television-Radio Major at Ithaca College. I am interning at Big I New York for my winter break and really enjoying it so far. My official title is "Marketing Intern" and my name is even on the phone in my cubicle. I've never felt this professional before. I dress in business casual clothing and wear makeup everyday to properly fit the role. So far, I've worked on a few different projects, and it's only the start of my second week! I sent emails to people scheduling appointments to discuss my project efforts as well as left the office to get lunch without telling anyone. I've reserached​ learning management systems (LMS) and how they operate from platform to platform. Some I've seen in my college classes and I now understand why professors chose the ones they did. 

The projects I'm working on have to do with onboarding and making certain areas more attractive to people my age. Using things I've learned in school as well as researchingin the office adds a great sense of accomplishment to the things I'm doing. I'm learning more everyday and realizing that in insurance there is a spot for just about everyone!​​

Dec 30
On Our Mind: Hard Rock Hotel Under Construction Collapses

​Now that I have your attention, let's talk about something that should have the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention!!

On October 12,  there was a major collapse of a building under construction in New Orleans. According to a news report by John Simerman of The Times-Picayune, “The concrete floors that gave way on Oct. 12 atop the Hard Rock Hotel as it rose above Canal Street were poured into a different kind and size of metal decking than what the city's permitting office had approved for the project, according to documents and several sources.

Whether engineers accounted for that change in their plans for supporting those floors during construction may be a key factor during the investigation into the source of the deadly collapse, sources said."

Now I harken back to my days as an agent- I never had the privilege of writing any coverage or related policies to the size and extent of a hotel but some of the readers here may have... but most likely, you were like me and worked with projects on a much smaller scale.  Maybe you insured the contractor? The building owner? The potential tenant? Whatever way you look at it, such a collapse is no doubt devastating to all involved especially if there are injuries.  

Are you educated and experienced to handle such an account? How about someone in your agency? Are you a Principal of the agency that writes such accounts? Or do you write just one? What exposure do you have? Certainly the premium/revenue associated with this size of an account is attractive. What about the E+O exposure if you or your producer did something wrong? Or missed a key coverage component?

We have some upcoming webinars that I think you'll find very interesting, timely and helpful…check them out...


Webinar: Commercial Additional Insured Endorsements Status & Purpose​


Webinar: Construction Contracts: What the Insurance Agent Should Know​

Dec 26
Cybersecurity Regulation - Extension of Filing Deadline for Certification of Compliance Beginning in 2020

​Commencing 2020, The New York State Department of Financial Services (“Department") is extending the deadline for filing the Certification of Compliance pursuant to 23 NYCRR 500 (“Cybersecurity Regulation") from February 15th of each year to April 15th of each year.  Therefore, your next Certification of Compliance will need to be filed by April 15, 2020, covering the calendar year 2019, although the Department will accept Certifications of Compliance filings starting on January 1, 2020.  This extension is effective immediately with respect to Certifications of Compliance filings in 2020.  

The Department will be issuing a proposed regulation to amend the Cybersecurity Regulation to change the Certification of Compliance filing date permanently from February 15th to April 15th of each year commencing 2021 and beyond. 

This extension is intended to provide Covered Entities (as defined in the Cybersecurity Regulation) additional time and flexibility in meeting their compliance certification filings obligations and reduce regulatory burden. 

All filings should still be filed electronically via the DFS Web Portal at: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/industry_guidance/cybersecurity

Each Covered Entity should utilize the account that it used for previous filings. The DFS Web Portal provides a secure reporting tool to facilitate compliance with the filing requirements of the Cybersecurity Regulation.

For any questions regarding filing issues, please send an email: cyberregsupport@dfs.ny.gov.​

Dec 20
Big ‘I’ Scores Key Wins as Senate Passes Spending Bill

Government funding measure extends TRIA, NFIP and repeals the 'Cadillac tax.'

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 19, 2019— The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") applauds the U.S. Senate for passing legislation that would reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and repeal the Affordable Care Act's “Cadillac tax," all as part of government funding legislation.

“The Big 'I' would like to thank the U.S. Senate for closing out the year with great news for independent agents," says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I" president & CEO. “We are grateful that the passage of government funding legislation included a long-term reauthorization of TRIA, an extension of the NFIP and a repeal of the 'Cadillac tax' – three of our major priorities. We now urge President Trump to quickly sign this package into law. The Big 'I' also wants to thank Sens. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) and Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) for their tireless efforts that have finally led to Congress' repeal of the “Cadillac tax" after years of delays. Without repeal, this harmful tax would have been crippling to many of our small business members and their clients and would have only worsened over time. The damage to the employee benefits marketplace could have been devastating."

This bipartisan agreement between House and Senate leaders which passed in the House earlier this week would fund the government until September 30, 2020. It would also reauthorize several important programs including TRIA and the NFIP. TRIA was scheduled to expire at the end of 2020 and will be extended for seven additional years in this package. The NFIP was scheduled to expire tomorrow on December 20. This legislation would extend the program through September 30, 2020. Additionally, this package included a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's “Cadillac tax," which would have imposed a 40% tax in 2022 on health benefits that exceed an established annual cost.

“The Big 'I' would like to thank Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) for their hard work throughout the year on the reauthorization of TRIA," says Charles Symington, Big “I" senior vice president of external, industry and government affairs. “TRIA is vitally important to maintaining the stability of the economy and the strength of the commercial property-casualty insurance market. Due to the nature of insurance contracts, we are especially grateful the program was reauthorized for seven years well in advance of its scheduled expiration at the end of next year, bringing additional confidence to the marketplace. The Big 'I' is also thankful that this bill includes funding of the NFIP through next September after a succession of short-term extensions that caused uncertainty for independent agents and consumers. We ask Congress to continue to consider a multi-year reauthorization that would modernize the program as well."

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. ​​

Dec 20
Big I NY Applauds Passage of Small Business Regulatory Relief Bill

​​We are pleased to announce that Governor Cuomo has signed legislation to require state agencies to consider specific impacts on small businesses when creating new regulations​​. The bill​, sponsored by Assemblywoman Simotas (D, Queens) and Senator Kaplan (D, Nassau County), is an important victory for small independent agencies across the state.

Effective November 1, 2020, state agencies will be required to​ conduct an assessment of the minimum time needed by small businesses and local governments to apply with a new regulation, including practical, legal, and economic constraints on compliance. Furthermore, state agencies will be required to actively solicit the participation of small businesses and local governments during the rulemaking process. 

Big I NY joined a broad coalition of business groups in calling for the passage of this legislation, and member agents contacted the governor in the weeks leading up to its passage, urging him to sign the bill. We thank Asseblywoman Simotas, Senator Kaplan, and Governor Cuomo for passing this important regulatory relief measure.

Dec 19
Trusted Choice® Marketing Reimbursement Program Changes for 2020

​The Trusted Choice® Marketing Reimbursement Program (MRP) was created to ease the financial burden of branding efforts for independent insurance agents.

With the MRP program, agents can receive reimbursement funds for cobranding their marketing materials with the Trusted Choice® logo, purchasing a new website through our partnership with Web.com or signing up for an Advantage subscription.

Starting in January, the program will be structured with the following reimbursement tiers:

  • Tier 1: Agencies receive up to $750 for using the Trusted Choice logo on any consumer-focused items, including but not limited to advertising, promotional items, store signage and collateral items, such as business cards or stationery. Each agency location may receive reimbursement for 50% of costs with a lifetime maximum reimbursement of $750.   
  • Tier 2: Agencies receive a $500 reimbursement for creating a new website through Web.com, which covers the full cost of set-up fees and the first month of service.
  • Tier 3:  Upgrade your agency listing on trustedchoice.com for 3 months and receive reimbursement for 50% of the costs up to $250. Only valid for those who have not had an Advantage subscription on trustedchoice.com in at least 2 years.

To complete the MRP application or for more information, visit Trusted Choice agent resources or email Ambrie Jones.​​


Dec 19
Big 'I' Members to Receive ACORD Forms Licenses - Register for FREE Webinar!

​The Big "I" and ACORD are launching a new Big "I" member benefit. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Big "I" members with an annual property & casualty gross revenue of less than $50 million will receive a complimentary license to use ACORD forms. 

On Jan. 1, 2020, ACORD will begin charging all ACORD forms users an end-user license fee (EUL), which includes agents, brokers and carriers. Currently, most agents access ACORD forms via their agency management systems or other ACORD-authorized third-party forms redistributors. ​

The Big “I" has negotiated an agreement with ACORD where the Big “I" will cover the cost of the EUL when accessing the forms via a management system or redistributor, or provide an EUL discount when accessing directly through ACORD Advantage Plus Program. 

The result of this agreement is that your agency will not have to pay the EUL fee and you will not experience any disruption to your management system workflow or use of ACORD forms beginning on Jan. 1, 2020—with the exception of an initial, and then annual, validation to confirm Big "I" membership. At that time, agents will be directed from their management system to the ACORD licensing website to validate that they are a covered Big “I" member and perform a simple click-through process to accept the license. Once completed, agents simply return to their management system flow to access ACORD forms. 

Learn more and review FAQs about the new benefit at the ACORD license page on the Big “I" website, or register for a short informational webinar.


Dec 19
Don't Be So Sure Your Employee Doesn't Qualify For Overtime

​Some employers may mistakenly believe that they are not required to pay certain employees at the overtime rate for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. While the federal Fair Labor Standards Act generally applies to the question of whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt from requirements such as overtime pay, New York State Labor regulations set a different standard. Big I New York members should verify that they are meeting the state requirements.

Effective December 31, 2019, employees whose duties may exempt them from the overtime pay requirement are exempt only if their wages are at or above the following levels:

  • In New York City: $1,125 per week, or $58,500 annually. This represents an increase for small employers but not for large ones.
  • In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties: $975 per week, or $50,700 annually.
  • In all other counties: $885 per week, or $46,020 annually.

Even if an employee's wages are greater than these levels, the employee may still be eligible for overtime if he or she does not qualify for the ExecutiveAdministrative, Professional or Outside Sales​ exemptions under the FLSA. ​

The New York State Department of Labor has a document about this ​answering employers' frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to reach out to our HR partner, Affinity HR Group or email them at contact@affinityHRgroup.com for assistance.    

Dec 18
20 Minutes With Tim - Cyber Regulation - 3rd Party Service Provider Security Policy

​It's the holidays, so we're giving you a supersized edition of Two Minutes With Tim. There seems to be a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding of the third party service provider security policy requirement in the New York cybersecurity regulation. In this video, I give you a step by step explanation of what it entails, and end with a few words of suggestion about the regulation as a whole.

Two Minutes With Tim - Cybersecurity Regulation - 3rd Party Questionnaire​

Flowchart: Who Is a Third Party Service Provider?

NY Cybersecurity Regulation page​


 


Dec 17
Big ‘I’ Applauds House Action on Agent Priorities

Legislation would extend TRIA, NFIP and repeal the 'Cadillac tax.'​​

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 17, 2019— The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation that would reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and repeal the Affordable Care Act's “Cadillac tax," all as part of government funding legislation. ​

“The Big 'I' would like to thank the U.S. House of Representatives for bringing our independent agents a trifecta of early Christmas gifts this year with the passage of government funding legislation that includes a long-term reauthorization of TRIA, an extension of the NFIP and a repeal of the 'Cadillac tax,'" says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I" president & CEO. “The Big 'I' especially wants to thank Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut) and Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania) for their years of hard work that has led Congress to the brink of repealing this onerous tax. Without repeal, this harmful tax would hit many of our small business members and their clients starting in 2022 and over time would affect more and more individuals because the tax threshold is tied to a slow measure of inflation. This snowball effect would do irreparable damage to the employee benefits marketplace."​

This bipartisan agreement between House and Senate leaders would fund the government until September 30, 2020. It would also reauthorize several important programs including TRIA and the NFIP. TRIA was scheduled to expire at the end of 2020 and will be extended for seven additional years in this package. The NFIP was scheduled to expire in a matter of days on December 20. This legislation would extend the program through September 30, 2020. Additionally, this package included a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's “Cadillac tax," which would have imposed a 40% tax on health benefits that exceed an established annual cost.

“The Big 'I' would like to thank Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-California) and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) for their hard work throughout the year on reauthorizations for both TRIA and the NFIP," says Charles Symington, Big “I" senior vice president of external, industry and government affairs. “TRIA is vitally important to maintaining the strength of the commercial property-casualty insurance market and would provide much-needed stability to the U.S. economy. Due to the nature of insurance contracts, we are especially grateful the program was reauthorized well in advance of its scheduled expiration at the end of next year. The fact that it is a seven-year extension will bring additional confidence to the marketplace. The Big 'I' also appreciates the extension of the NFIP. Given recent short-term extensions that lasted in some cases only weeks at a time, the Big 'I' is thankful for the certainty this legislation provides through September of next year.  We also call on Congress to continue their efforts on a multi-year reauthorization to modernize the program."

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. ​

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