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Feb 21
2/14 Legislative Call Recording Now Available

Did you miss last week's legislative update call? You can now access the recording here​!

In this call, Big I NY provided updates on issues in the state budget, 2020 legislative priorities, Independent Agents Advocacy Day, and new training resources available to Big I NY members.

Legislative update calls are held every other week during legislative session. View the schedule and register here

Feb 17
On Our Mind: People Over Profits

By Jim Lombardo, CPCU, AAI, AIM, MBA, AVP of Learning & Development​

Today I want to highlight two distinct topics that are intermingled nonetheless.

The first is the business philosophy that reinforces People before Profits…

It may not have started here, but in 2015 Dale Partridge wrote a book about the benefits to a business by putting “People over Profits". Some key points included in the book state:

  1. Recognize the value of people.
  2. Understand why honesty is always the best policy.
  3. Realize everyone must stay true to who they are.
  4. Develop and maintain quality standards.
  5. Be generous without intention of getting something in return.

Whil​​e these are straightforward and simple thoughts- even very logical- how often do we experience Bosses, Managers or Supervisors who don't abide by them?

Your staff is a reflection of who you are!! How you treat others is witnessed by everyone in the office.

Sometimes we need a soft, gentle reminder to treat people the way we want to be treated.

My second, but related, point is to announce we are looking for candidates for our 2020 ACSR of the Year. Do you have an employee, teammate or co-worker that deserves recognition? Please check out our website and our upcoming Go Big Event in May​. We will announce this year's winner during our program.

Here are a few upcoming classes/webinars you may find interesting...
Feb 14
Big I NY Releases 2020 Legislative Position Paper

​Big I NY has released our 2020 p​osition paper​, outlining our key priorities for this year's session. 

This year's paper outlines key victories from 2019, including the passage of "storm chasers" legislation, small business regulatory relief, and the defeat of harmful liability-expanding legislation and a bill to ban the use of lead paint exposure exclusions.

2020 position paper.PNGWe continue to push for legislation to improve Workers Compensation for our customers, by raising the payroll threshold for the Workplace Safety and Loss Prevention Program, and eliminating the requirement to provide 30 days' notice before withdrawing from the State Insurance Fund. As in previous years, we are calling for the repeal of the vehicle photo inspection requirement, full repeal of the anti arson application, and strongly opposing efforts to eliminate private health insurance through a single-payer healthcare system.

We have also added several new priority issues for 2020. These include protecting small businesses from a dramatic expansion of "unfair, deceptive, and abusive" practices, protecting consumers from misleading "bait and switch" auto insurance pricing, opposing a ban on lead paint exposure exclusions, and opposing the NYS Privacy Act, which would enact a sweeping and enormously burdensome and challenging "data fiduciary" standard. 

This year's position paper reflects an ambitious commitment to advancing the independent agency system and protecting the customers we serve. Moreover, it highlights the multitude of challenges facing our members in the current political environment.

Read the full 2020 Position Paper here

Feb 14
Big I Tri-County Members Meet With Senator Brooks


Recently, a delegation of agents from Big I Tri-County met with Senator John Brooks (D, Massapequa) in his district office. 

Big I Tri-County Chair Neil Levy​ was joined by Evan Portnoy, Patrick Marlowe, and Bob Bleistein for the meeting. They thanked Senator Brooks for sponsoring common-sense legislation to raise the payroll threshold for the Workplace Safety and Loss Prevention Program (Code Rule 59), and discussed a number of Big I NY's key legislative priorities. ​

Senator Brooks is a member of the Senate Insurance Committee, and chairman of the Senate Committee​​ on Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs​. As a firefighter and former insurance agent, Senator Brooks has a strong understanding of the importance of the insurance industry, and is a champion for our cause in Albany. 

Feb 14
Travelers Cyber Symposium in NYC: Brian Bixby Answers Your Questions

​On Tuesday, February 11th, Brian Bixby attended the Travelers Insurance Cyber Symposium at the New York Stock Exchange and gained a lot of knowledge about the future of Cybersecurity and the new threats that face us. 


For cyber resources, visit 

Check out LCG at www.biginy.og/LCG 

Learn more about our cyber liability coverage:

Feb 14
The Clausen Agency, Inc. Promotes Chad Smith to Chief Operations Officer

ChadSmith.jpgRocky Point, NY (February 12, 2020) – The Clausen Agency, Inc, one NY's largest & fastest growing family owned Independent Insurance Agencies, announced today that Chad Smith has been promoted to the position of Chief Operations Officer.

“Chad has proven himself as someone who is hardworking, loyal, honest and a real team player.  We are proud of his professional growth and are excited to have him in this new expanded role," said Chris D. Clausen, President.​

Chad has been with The Clausen Agency, Inc for more than 10 years.  He started in sales and has worked his way up through the ranks to his current position in charge of operations.

Prior to joining The Clausen Agency, Inc Chad worked as an Assistant Golf Professional at St. Georges Country Club in Setauket, NY.​

Feb 14
AM Best Upgrades Credit Ratings of Broome Co-operative Insurance Company

​OLDWICK - FEBRUARY 04, 2020 AM Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A- (Excellent) from B++ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “a-” from “bbb+” of Broome Co-operative Insurance Company (Broome) (Vestal, NY). The outlooks of these Credit Ratings (ratings) have been revised to stable from positive. 

The ratings reflect Broome’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. 

​​The rating upgrades reflect the company’s improved operating performance as a result of several key underwriting initiatives, demonstrated by four consecutive years of underwriting income and the below break-even combined ratio through 2019. Underwriting results have been impacted historically by severe and frequent winter events in New York. However, major technological advances, a focus on cost reduction and a re-underwritten book of business collectively have aided underwriting performance. As a result, a pattern of stability is more established, and the underwriting and operating ratios compare favorably with the personal property composite averages. 

Broome’s balance sheet strength is supported by its risk-adjusted capitalization being at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), reflective of low underwriting leverage, a high-quality investment portfolio and stable loss reserving trends. The balance sheet strength also is supported by strong liquidity measures and consistent surplus growth. Offsetting rating factors include limited financial flexibility and limited scale of operations. 

AM Best views the company’s business profile as limited based on writing predominantly property business and its geographical concentration in New York, which exposes results to weather-related events, as well as changes in the regulatory, judicial and economic environments. However, Broome adheres to an appropriate risk management program that identifies major risks to the organization while correlating mitigation strategies to offset those risks. In addition, the company maintains a comprehensive reinsurance program, including catastrophe coverage, which helps to shield surplus and mitigate tail risk from weather events. 

Feb 14
Relation Insurance Reports Possible Cyber Hack

​Specialty insurance brokerage Relation Insurance, Inc. announced this week that ​it experienced a cybersecurity event last summer. The company said that personal information was exposed but that it has "no evidence to suggest actual or attempted misuse​" of the information. 

What This Means To You:

Relation and six of its affiliated companies hold various New York property-casualty and life insurance licenses. Any Big I New York members who obtain coverage through Relation should be aware that this has happened and monitor the situation accordingly. It is possible that these agencies may have to report the incident to the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) in the future. 

What Happened:

Relation's announcement said that the company detected unusual activity in an employee's email account last August 15. With the help of a third-party computer forensics specialist, they determined that "an unknown individual" accessed the account on Aug. 14 and 15. The investigators have confirmed that personal information was present in the account. This information included such things as email addresses, Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers, bank account and credit card information, and medical treatment information.

The company said it notified its insurance provider partners of the event in mid-December. A report was also made to law enforcement authorities.

The announcement states, "To date, Relation has no evidence to suggest actual or attempted misuse of information as a result of this event." Nevertheless, it has set up a dedicated assistance phone line for individuals who want more information. They may call 1-844-902-2034 between 9:00 am and 6:30 pm on weekdays.

​What You May Need To Do:

As a reminder, New York's Cybersecurity Requirements For Financial Services Companies​ regulation requires any individual or non-governmental entity "required to operate under a license, registration, charter, certificate, permit, accreditation or similar authorization under the Banking Law, the Insurance Law or the Financial Services Law​" to report certain "cybersecurity events" to the NYSDFS. ​The regulation defines "cybersecurity event" as "any act or attempt, successful or unsuccessful, to gain unauthorized access to, disrupt or misuse an Information System or information stored on such Information System."

Relation Insurance's event falls within that definition, but that does not necessarily mean that New York brokers obtaining coverage through them must report it. The regulation requires a cybersecurity event to be reported if it has "a reasonable likelihood of materially harming any material part of the normal operation(s)" of the brokerage. A report must also be made if existing law requires the brokerage to report it to any governmental body or other supervisory body. 

New York's recently-enacted SHIELD Act states, "In determining whether information has been accessed, or is reasonably believed to have been accessed, by an unauthorized person or a person without valid authorization, such business may consider, among other factors, indications that the information was viewed, communicated with, used, or altered by a person without valid authorization or by an unauthorized person." The report from Relation Insurance does not indicate that this has happened. At this point, it may not be necessary for affected brokerages to report the incident to the New York State Attorney General and the NYSDFS. However, all brokerages doing business with Relation should monitor the situation closely for updates.

Feb 13
LCG, Big I NY Cybersecurity Support Partner, May Contact You Regarding Third-Party Service Provider Due Diligence

​Big I New York recently shared our list of third-party service providers (TPSPs) with LCG, our cybersecurity support partner. LCG may contact you and provide a secure link to the due diligence questionnaire online. Please fill out this form if you are contacted by LCG. Upon completion, you will receive a copy of the completed TPSP form for your own use, and a completed TPSP form from IAAC. 

Questions? Contact Andrew Frisbie
(832) 730-2852 - Direct

Feb 10
On Our Mind: The Three F’s…

By Jim Lombardo, CPCU, AAI, AIM, MBA, AVP of Learning & Development

Many, many years ago, I had a manager whom I admired a lot.  He seemed to have great relationships with all involved- peers, employees, carriers and clients. As my career progressed and I started to manage more and more people, and I had to deal with all of the responsibilities, challenges, rewards and, yes, silliness that comes with management, I often reflected back to what he once told me about the Three F's. He said, “Jim, you must always be Firm, Fair and Friendly!" To this day, I think that might be one of the best bits of advice I was ever given.

He went on to explain…

Firm- You cannot be perceived as wishy-washy- When you make decisions or give direction, you must be firm in how you deliver it. You must be clear in how you communicate it- it can't come back later as “I didn't know what you meant" or, “I wasn't clear so I did it this way". Make sure to take out any chance of being misunderstood.

Fair- Treat everyone fairly. This doesn't mean equally! It was a great lesson that I learned early on. We all have that one (or hopefully two or three) employee that is a star. They do what needs to be done and do it correctly and on time. They don't need handholding and don't go rogue. You trust they will make the right call and do what is in the best interest of your firm. Then you have other employees who you also treat well- just not equal to your star. This may seem wrong or not politically correct, but it is smart management. If an employee consistently delivers quality results and goes above and being without much directive from you then they need to be treated differently- but fairly.  They do, however, sometimes make decisions without consulting you but that is because they have a proven track record and you have trusted their wisdom in the past.

Friendly- Referring to the two notes above, always be friendly! You can be firm in your message without being mean or abrupt. You can treat everyone fairly without showing blatant disregard to someone's feelings or circumstances. The old proverb that you get more bees with honey rather than vinegar applies here.

Great advice that has helped me over the years. Do you have any words of wisdom that guide you?

Here are a few upcoming webinars/classes that may help with some managerial responsibilities.

AAI 83 B The Insurance Production Environment

ABEN Ethical Issues - Personal and Organizational​

​Culture, Ethics and E&O: The Right Way To Run An Agency​​

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