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Aug 28
NY State Insurance Fund Offers PPE Credit

​The New York State Insurance Fund is offering its Workers' Compensation insurance policyholders a credit to offset the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may hear about this program from your clients soon.

The program offers employers a credit of 5% of their annual premium or $500, whichever is less. The credit is for the purchase of eligible items such as:

  • Masks
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Gowns
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Other COVID-19 safety related items

Employers can apply for the credit now on the Fund's website​

Aug 28
NYAIP Governing Committee Needs Public Members & Alternates

​​The New York Automobile Insurance Plan​ has asked state insurance producer trade organizations to distribute the following message:


Dear Producers, 

Section 4 of the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP) manual provides for the Department of Financial Services to appoint 2 public members and at least 4 public member alternates to the Governing Committee of the NYAIP. The Superintendent also recommends eight public members who are subject to a majority of votes cast by Plan subscribers at the annual meeting. 

At the request of the Department of Financial Services, the NYAIP is soliciting producer trade organizations for qualified producers (at least five years of work experience) who are interested in serving in the capacity of public member or public member alternate on the NYAIP Governing Committee for the 2021 term.  Public members on the Governing Committee represent a broad segment of the public obtaining insurance through the NYAIP.  Public member alternates serve in the absence of any public member with the full powers, rights, and entitlements of a public member representative. 

The Governing Committee is responsible for the oversight and direction of the NYAIP pursuant to Article 53 of the Insurance Law.  It currently consists of twenty-two total members, eleven of which are insurers (known as subscriber company members), ten public members, and one limited assignment distribution (LAD) servicing agent.  Pursuant to the NYAIP manual, the Superintendent is responsible for appointing two public members and  at least four public member alternates to serve in the absence of any public member.  The Superintendent also recommends eight public members who are subject to a majority of votes cast by Plan subscribers at the annual meeting .   Each public member alternate serves for a term of one year.  At the end of each term, public member alternates may request to be reappointed for the following term. 

To facilitate the process, we have developed an electronic application. All applications will be provided directly to the Department of Financial Services for its consideration, and the Department will contact respondents for any further information if needed. Producers interested in serving on the GC  should submit the required electronic application form to the DFS by no later than September 4, 2020. DFS will review all applications and submit its Public Member appointments and recommendations to the Governing Committee for its November 2020 Annual Meeting. 

Application Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Y9L58W6

Candidates should know that:

  • The Governing Committee meets 4 times per year (January, May, September and November). The January meeting is a teleconference and the 3 others are in person.
  • In person meetings are conducted near the NYAIP offices in the Wall street area of NYC.
  • Public members and alternates are expected to attend each meeting and receive a per diem for each meeting.  Additionally, travel expenses are paid for by the NYAIP.
  • Meetings generally last no more than 3 hours.

 The NYAIP and the Department of Financial Services appreciate your assistance and participation in the Governing Committee Public Member and Alternate Public Member candidate process. 

Please contact the NYAIP at  NYAIPINQ@aipso.com if you have any questions. 

Regards,

The New York Automobile Insurance Plan​

Aug 28
On Our Mind….Coming Attractions

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

When I was younger I used to love going to the movies and watching “The Coming Attractions!"  Ok, yes, this was in the pre-Netflix and Hulu era.

Anyway, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some coming attractions here at Big I NY, specifically what we have cooking in the Education Department.

15 in One- Hybrid self-study Package
Get your required 15 CE credits by studying a text book, passing a simple quiz, and watching a webinar. All at your pace.

Property and Casualty Pre-Licensing Course
Yes, Big I NY is now an approved NYS Pre-Licensing Provider.  We will have a local Central New York area class in December and a larger virtual class in January.

Sales Coaching and Mentoring 
We are excited to be partnering with a successful sales coaching firm to help you, your staff, and your sales people get more individualized one-on-one or group sales coaching.

We have a couple of new Errors and Omissions classes we will be unveiling in the fall. There will also be a new Pandemic Protection class in September; learn more coverage details and approaches to prepare for the next pandemic.

Should you want to learn more about any or all of these coming attractions, please contact me directly at 800-962-7950, ext. 226.

In the meantime, here are a few upcoming webinars coming up in September.​

NYAIP Certification Program   

ABEN Torts, Negligence and Legal Liability   ​​​

ABEN Flood Program Overview: NFIP Then and Now    



Aug 27
Meet Big I NY’s Inclusion Task Force

​As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion of underrepresented communities in the insurance industry, Big I NY is proud to announce the launch of our Inclusion Task Force.

The Inclusion Task Force is composed of Big I NY agents  and staff members passionate about advancing inclusion, and is charged with leading the association’s efforts in this crucial mission. 

The Inclusion Task Force is working to promote and advance diversity and inclusion within our industry by: identifying, including, and empowering members from underrepresented communities; facilitating the recruitment and training of members of underrepresented communities in the IA system; identifying industry practices, procedures, protocols and roles that are barriers to diversity and inclusion within the industry, and working to develop and implement meaningful solutions, and; providing support and resources to help new and existing agencies thrive.

Big I NY Agent Members

David ​H. Borg, Jr. | Borg & Borg – Volunteer Lead, Board Liaison

David-H.-Borg-HS-300x300_100x100.pngDavid H. Borg has been involved in the insurance industry since 2006 and has been working with the Big I for over a decade.  His agency is located on Long Island where he is very involved with his local community.  David enjoys spending time with his family, running, and being outdoors in his free time.



Eileen A. Frank CPCU, ARE | President/CEO J. P. West, Inc.  

Eileen Frank.jpgFrank began her career as a Property-Casualty underwriter with the Chubb. From there she was recruited to Continental Special Risk Underwriters, then to AIG and ultimately to GAN NA where she served a VP of Underwriting, Regulatory Compliance and Risk Manager.  In 2000, Frank left GAN NA to found J. P. West, Inc. a full service insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm. She served as an adjunct professor at the College of Insurance and Yeshiva University,  a board member of CSRU, APIW, NIIA,  NAAIA, IAAC, IIABNY and as a commissioner of NYS Insurance Fund. She is a graduate of Dillard University  and holds a certificate in Executive Management from the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College.

Tamika MappEast Harlem Insurance

Tamika Mapp.jpgTamika Mapp has over ten years of experience in the insurance industry, and help young people get excited about becoming independent agents, brokers, or insurance agency owners. She is the owner of East Harlem Insurance Brokerage and Progressives Educating New Yorkers.  Tamika resides in East Harlem with her family and pets.


Emmanuel Osuyah, MBA, CIC, LUTCF, TRS | Alpha Direct Agency

Emmanuel Osuyah.jpgEmmanuel Osuyah a Nigerian born insurance professional and New Yorker, founded Alpha Direct Agency in the summer of 2004. With a mission to rebrand the value of an insurance agency to families, businesses and communities, he established relationships with all major Insurance Carriers and has learned how to grow an agency profitably in the metropolis. Today Alpha Direct Agency Flagship store is located in New York City with offices in Florida and North Carolina, plus licensed in 17 States in the U.S.

Emmanuel enjoys reading, singing, golfing and writing. He published his 2nd book titled “A Radical Faith” in January of 2020; available on Amazon.  An avid traveler, he has visited 20 countries around the world. Also an accomplished musician he has recorded 8 albums across Gospel, Jazz, Choral and Christian music genres. When asked about his greatest accomplishment outside of his children he is proud that he built a company where employees feel appreciated and inspired by the company culture. ​

John Cofini | BNC Agency

John Cofini Headshot.webpJohn has 30 years of experience in business insurance and risk management. He began his career working on the carrier side of the business as a premium auditor and commercial underwriter for large construction risks. He then moved to the agency side, first as a sales professional, and later as an executive vice president for Milbrandt Insurance. 
Over the years, John has helped countless business owners anticipate and manage emerging exposures. He has developed niche expertise in the construction and real estate segments, and as a LEED Green Associate, he is uniquely suited to help companies anticipate and manage emerging green risks.
In 2014 Milbrandt became part of BNC Insurance. As a member of the BNC team, John works closely with the sales and marketing teams.  

John is a graduate of Iona College and is active in the Independent Insurance Agents of Westchester (IIAWC), for which he served as President in 2009-2010. In 2015, IIAWC recognized John with the prestigious Frederick H. Dayton Award.  He lives in Nanuet with his wife and three children.

Andrew Chong | Advantage Partners

andrew-chong.jpgAndrew comes to Advantage Partners with an impressive background. He has over fifteen years of experience in commercial and personal lines underwriting, marketing, finance, and over eleven years of experience in accounting. Andrew currently serves as a member the Board of Directors of the Korean American Insurance Finance Association and past president of Big I NY TriCounty.​

Andrew is a licensed agent and principal of ARC Underwriting Partners and HD Underwriting Agency (HDUA), a Korean-American insurance brokerage firm that serves the multi-ethnic communities of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Andrew graduated from the College of Staten Island with a B.S. in Accounting.
 

Big I NY Staff Members:

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Scott Hobson, MPAAVP of Government Relations – Staff Lead






Lisa Lounsbury, CAE, AAI, AIS, | President & CEO

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​Kathleen Lawler, AAI, CIC | AVP Communities & Relationships


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

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Julie Furst | AVP of Marketing & Communications

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Susan Keegan, AIC, MBA | Learning & Development Coordinator


​​


Aug 21
ICYMI: DFS Emails; Market Bonus; License Renewal
In Case You Missed It
Happy Friday, August 21!

(Kathy Lawler said - if you haven't read this you REALLY should.
She and Tony the Tiger agree, it's...grreaaaaatt.)
ShoutOut
A BIG shout out to Kelly Gonyo & her team at Blue Line Insurance. Kelly shared that she reads our emails, encourages her entire team to read them, and when applicable, discusses the info in her weekly Monday Morning Meeting. Yay Blue Line!
IMS Progressive
Have a great weekend.  You deserve it!
Big I NY
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We believe independent insurance agents serve customers best with trusted advice and the right coverage options to protect what matters most.
 
5784 Widewaters Pkwy, 1st Floor
DeWitt, NY 13214

800-962-7950

Aug 21
Market Access Bonus - $300 For Your First Attune Policy

It's a great time to write a Businessowners' or Workers' Comp policy through IMS - our Market Access Program!  

Attune is offering ​agencies a $300 gift card for their first Attune policy. All you (or someone from your agency) have to do is bind a policy through the portal by Wednesday, Sept. 30. 

We can get you set up with Attune quickly. Visit IMSACCESS.com​



Here's the full rundown of promotion terms​...

Promotion Terms
$300 For Your First Policy Promotion sponsored by Attune Insurance Services, LLC, 83 Maiden Lane, Floor 6, New York, NY 10038 (Attune).

Promotion Name: $300 For Your First Policy

Territory: All States and the District of Columbia (except where insurance products aren’t approved).

Start Date: Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. ET

End Date: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Description of Promotion: $300 For Your First Policy Promotion will provide Attune-accredited brokerages the opportunity to receive a $300 gift card based on their agency’s Attune activity. Attune will provide $300 gift cards to agencies who bind their first BOP or WC  policies between Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, and Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. A full list of eligible classes is located in the Attune Portal.

Attune will provide gift cards on a rolling monthly basis for those who meet the criteria, and the final payout will occur on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.

By participating, sub-producers/employees agree to the following rules governing the promotion:
  • The promotion is open only to licensed insurance sub-producers or employees under the supervision of a licensed sub-producer having an in-force contract with Attune who are invited to participate by Attune.
  • No reward may be passed through in whole or in part to any customer.
  • The sub-producer will defend and indemnify Attune against any claim by any employee of the sub-producer or any other person or organization.
  • The promotion may not be available in all states and is void where prohibited by law.
  • The promotion is not a guarantee that insurance coverage will be bound.
  • Sub-producers and employees are solely responsible for compliance with any applicable laws and regulations regarding producer compensation.
  • Attune is not acting as an agent for any insurance company in relation to the promotion. No reward granted is deducted from premiums.
  • Attune reserves the right to suspend, modify or cancel the promotion for any reason and at any time.
  • Attune, in its sole discretion, may disqualify any sub-producer found to be engaged in dishonesty or fraud with regard to the promotion or the business of insurance.
  • The promotion is not part of the Attune producer contract. Nothing in the promotion or in these terms amends or alters the producer contract between Attune and the sub-producer.
  • The sub-producer agrees that any claim or dispute regarding the promotion will be resolved exclusively and finally by binding arbitration in New York, NY in accordance with the current commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association.


Aug 21
Reminder: BR License Renewals for Agencies Switching to June 30 Expiration Date

​Property-casualty broker (BR)  licenses for insurance agencies are coming up for renewal this October 31, and some of you who have renewed already are noticing a change. For as long as anyone can remember, BR licenses have expired on Oct. 31 in even-numbered years. That has changed.

In 2017, the New York State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted a change in the licensing law, a change written by Big I New York. Any license, whether it is a broker license or an agent (PC or LA) license, issued to a business organization will expire on June 30 in odd-numbered years. Under the old law, agencies had licenses expireing on three different dates. Now they expire on one. This should be easier for you to remember and manage.

Consequently, when you renew your BR licenses this year, you will see that the renewals will expire on June 30, 2023. Traditionally, the New York State Department of Financial Services does not issue licenses for terms of less than two years. That is why your renewals will be for terms of close to three years. 

Remember too that this change applies only to agencies. Licenses issued to individuals continue to renew on the licenseholders' birthdays.

Aug 19
On Our Mind… A Preview of CE This Fall

By Sue Keegan, AIC, MBA, Learning & Development Coordinator

Just like a lot of people, I am missing going to the movies.  I love all of it.  The popcorn, the reclining seats, the actual movie and the previews.  I love the previews. 

I wanted to take this opportunity to offer you some Big I NY education previews.  We have some great classes coming up and some great opportunities for you to obtain CE credits. 

Also, in case you were not aware, the DFS has extended “the suspension of the requirement that a monitor be present to complete producer continuing education and pre-licensing course exams online for an additional 90 days, through November 5, 2020."    Seize this hopefully once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and finish up a designation or complete your CE requirement. 

Coming soon to Big I NY is a 15 in 1 program, pre-licensing classes, a new crime class and more!

 Check out these offerings:

Homeowner's Policy Coverage Concerns for the Modern Family​     

ABEN When Words Collide...Insurance Coverage & Claim Disputes

Big I NY 2020 Annual E&O Loss Control Seminar: Webinar​​


Aug 19
3 Things Your Agency Can Do Today for a Better Tomorrow 

open-966315_640.jpgWe are now in our sixth month of the COVID-19 Era, with little hope for an early end. Social distancing and masks will continue to be parts of our lives for now. The changes that seemed shocking to insurance agencies in March have now become Just The Way Things Are.  

But people are still buying homes (there were almost 22,000 closed and pending sales in New York in June,) cars (auto sales were at an annual pace of 14.5 million units in July,) and businesses are hiring back some workers, though not as quickly as they shed them in the spring. Commerce is continuing as much as it can during a time when so many normal activities are unsafe. Is your agency taking advantage?

The New York State government designated insurance as an essential business last March. That means agencies weren’t required to have all employees offsite like others. Many agencies never sent their staffs off to work from home. Regardless of where your employees worked from (home or office), they continued to serve their customers, answer their questions, work out their new premium payment schedules, reduce their estimated auditable exposures, and help them through the anxiety.   The reality is most agencies seamlessly continued providing trusted guidance and care to their customers.

Many types of businesses were closed, but insurance agencies were there. Insurance agencies are still there.  And you are a local business. Are you broadcasting that to the world? You should remind your communities that you have always and will always be there. Now is the time to dust off your promotions, invest in your brand, spruce up your expertise, and experiment with scheduling. 

Here are three things your agency can get started on right now to position itself for success as the country muddles through this crisis and crawls toward the finish line. 

1. Revisit the COVID messages on your phone system and website. 

Do those messages still say something like, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our office hours are reduced to …” If that is still true, why? Can you ramp operations back up? If it’s not, get those messages off of there. You want to project reliability.

Sure, in April when literally everything was in flux and you were being ordered to send notices to all of your clients, those messages were a good idea, maybe even a necessary one. But now it’s August. We’re not shell-shocked anymore, the notice requirement is happily well back in the rearview mirror, and we can operate a bit more normally, even if most or all of your staff is still working from their kitchens. So jettison any messages implying that you aren’t. 

2. Your customers need flexibility just as much as your staff does. 

While a lot of people were idled or working remotely early in the crisis (and many still are,) some people and businesses are busier than they’ve ever been. They have insurance needs that they don’t have two seconds to think about until the dinner hour or later. Too bad your office closes at five. But does it have to? 

A lot of you have employees who need flexible schedules so that they can perform their newly-discovered jobs of home school teaching, daycare providing or adult caregiving. What if Jane, who is teaching math and spelling in the morning to her eight and ten year-olds, is able (and possibly desperate) to converse with adults about business between noon and 8:00 pm while her significant other assumes the tasks of instruction and peacemaking? Now your agency can serve customers well into the evening, which is when a lot of them need it. You get to take care of customers when your competitors aren’t, making them happy, and you help solve a valued employee’s problems, making him or her happy. Oh, and you make money. Think about it. 

3. Invest in staff education. 

The insurance business never stops changing, which means you and your staff should never stop learning. 

Last August, had you ever heard of pandemic insurance? Did you know that some specialty carriers are writing active shooter insurance? Less exotic, how often is your agency selling Ordinance or Law Coverage with commercial property and homeowners insurance? What do you know about Mechanical Breakdown Coverage? If you had to explain Personal Injury Protection Coverage to a client whose child was just in a car accident, could you do it? Do you know what types of property National Flood Insurance Program policies cover and what they don’t? Expertise matters. 

Every insurance shopper is looking for a lower price; that’s a given. But many (not all, but many) really are interested in protection, even if they don’t initially realize it. So build up your agency’s technical expertise. If you specialize in certain industry or market niches, learn more about those niches. If your business is changing, chances are they are, too. And COVID has likely impacted them differently than it did insurance. So commit to learning. It’s good for your customers, it’s good for your future E&O insurance premiums, and it’s good for your bottom line. 

These are simple things to make your agency look good. More importantly, they are things to make your agency be good. So get started now. Be the business that your customers know they can rely on. 

Aug 14
Here's What To Do If the DFS Emailed You About Cybersecurity


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A lot of members have been contacting us today about emails they received from the NYS Department of Financial Services about the Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies regulation. These emails stated that the recipient had not filed the Certification of Compliance required by the regulation. The deadline for submitting the certification was June 1, 2020. 

If individuals within your agency got these emails, here are some possible explanations and steps you can take:

  • If it appears that the email was addressed to you as an individual, it is very possible that you inadvertently checked incorrect boxes when you filed the Notice of Exemption for your individual license in 2019. This is a very easy and common mistake; many of our members have done it. Unfortunately, there is no method available to the public for you to check the filing you made last year.

If you think this may be what happened, we suggest that you log in to the DFS Cybersecurity Portal, click on the Exemption button, and re-submit your Notice of Exemption. The link to the portal can be found by visiting www.dfs.ny.gov, scrolling down the page to the area labeled Industry Quicklinks, and clicking the box for Cybersecurity Resource Center. 

Where the form asks for the reason why you are exempt, do not check the boxes for Section 500.19(a)(1), (2) or (3). If you check them, the DFS computer system will think you are an agency that must submit the Certification of Compliance. Instead, check only the box for Section 500.19(b). This will tell the DFS computer system that you are an employee, agent, representative or designee of your agency. Consequently, they will not expect a Certification of Compliance for your individual license number. 

Step-by-step instructions for filing are available on the Compliance Resources page in the Cybersecurity Resources section of our website. Click the Cybersecurity button on the home page at www.biginy.org to visit this section. Be aware that this is a special benefit only for Big I NY members, so you must log in to the site first.

  • If it appears that the email was addressed to your agency as a whole, and you are not certain whether a Certification of Compliance was filed for the agency’s license number by the June 1 deadline, we strongly urge you to have someone file it at the earliest possible moment. Step-by-step instructions for this filing are also available on the Compliance Resources page.
  • If it appears that the email was addressed to your agency as a whole, and you have confirmation pages from when your agency filed the certification this year, we suggest that you send an email to the address given in the body of the message from the DFS. Do not attach a copy of the confirmation page, as the DFS computer security system will reject emails containing unsolicited attachments. Instead, provide the confirmation number (or numbers, if you have more than one confirmation page) in the body of your message and ask them to advise whether you need to do anything else.
We hope this helps. Don't forget to regularly visit our Cybersecurity Resources page for information to help with your ongoing efforts to protect your computer systems and your customers' private information.

UPDATE: Big I NY has been in contact with the DFS on this matter, especially as it relates to those agencies who received the email despite having filed the Certification of Compliance on time this year. We will post again in this space when we hear something back from them.
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