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Jan 26
2021: Create a Big Impact on Your Agency’s Learning

A guest post by My Agency Campus

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​Is your agency continuing to work remotely?  

There is a good chance that many agency teams will continue to remote work for some portion of 2021.  The good news is that most companies have figured out how to achieve operational performance over the past 12 months.  Many have been able to find efficiencies and growth during this unique period of time.  

Now, it’s time to get back to providing educational and engaging opportunities to agency team members.  Start with a 3-4 month plan.  Make it simple and integrate it with a variety of elements.  

Create a Blended Strategy:

  1. Make it Personal:  Start the conversation.  Schedule a 20-30 minute meeting with each staff member to discuss their interests and where they wish to grow.  
  2. Purposely Mix Training Elements:  Integrate opportunities for live learning elements with subject matter experts based on timely topics and offer immediate online courses.  The online courses are selected based on the personal goals from #1.  
  3. Leverage Your Inside Experts Too:  A regular monthly feature should include inhouse agency experts to deliver 30-45 minute small-bite informational sessions.  The sessions could be related to risk management advice, emerging trends, facts that build knowledge, etc.  This will also help inside experts upgrade their presentation capabilities too. 
  4. Mix and Match Resources:  Make your investment count and diversity the resources available.  Online courses are a flexible and affordable option to plug-in for new hire training, upskilling or expanding technical expertise.  Longer term investments should align with the goals in #1 above and receive ongoing positive support from leadership. Resources range in price.
  5. Run Fun Moments and Contests:  The mission is to create laughter in the workplace – even when it is remote.  Find random reasons and dates for celebrations.  Create a video contest around a company value element, great customer experience or the cool-factor of insurance!  There might a superstar on your team who can make videos for the agency in the future.
  6. Grant Time for Learning:  It is a surprise that many organizations expect learning to only take place after hours.  Learning happens all of the time – any part of the day – structured and unstructured.  Team members need to know that there is time allotted during their work week for learning.  

An investment in learning always pays the highest returns.  ~Benjamin Franklin

We can help you with your learning plans.  Visit myagencycampus.com or contact us at info@myagencycampus.com 
Jan 25
NY State Insurance Fund Goes Paperless for Disability Policies

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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.

Jan 25
On Our Mind…Embracing Change

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

As I write this, I have the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony streaming in the background. Politics aside, it is a tremendous event and shows the world that America can accept and embrace change. I don't want to belittle it by comparing it to our lives in the insurance industry but there are a few obvious similarities:

  • As agents we must ALWAYS be prepared for change and have tools and resources to assist us.
  • As agents we must ALWAYS honor the rules and traditions but at the same time try to find better ways to do things
  • As agents we must ALWAYS have a good team around us.

That being said, let's talk about your team:

  • How do you show support for them? Not just by giving them a paycheck but what other ways do they know you have their back?
  • In what ways do you endorse education, training and coaching? Do they know they have a future in your agency?
  • How often do you just say “thanks" or tell them they did a good job?
  • And, do you address those employees who are challenging? If you don't, the rest of the staff sees that and may lose some motivation or incentive.

I task you with these above questions and hope you will make some changes and or do more of these!​

Here re some upcoming classes you may find helpful, including P+C Pre-licensing in March.

ABEN Professional Development & Account Management - ACSR 5 - Part 1 

ABEN Little This a LittleThat: New Threats & Possibilities   

ABEN Those Kids and Their Cars​   

Jan 22
Governor's Proposed Budget Includes Multiple Issues Affecting IAs

This week, Governor Cuomo released his proposed state budget. This is the first step in the state's budget process. Next, the Senate and Assembly will release their own budget proposals ("one-houses"), then the three budget proposals are negotiated into a final budget, which must be passed by April 1st.

The governor's proposal includes several key provisions of interest to independent agents:

No-Fault Reform 

The Superintendent of Financial Services would be granted greater authority to prohibit a provider of health services from demanding or requesting payment for health services rendered under the no-fault insurance law. The bill also establishes the Motor Vehicle Insurance Task Force, which will examine alternatives to the no-fault insurance system as well as other legislative or regulatory initiatives to reduce the cost of motor vehicle insurance.

Electronic Notarization:

Notaries would be permitted to rely on approved technologies to verify identity and to notarize documents and exercise notarial authority remotely.

Electronic Service of Process:

The proposed budget would allow process to be served on the Secretary of State through an electronic system operated by the Department of State. It would also authorize the Secretary of State to forward notice of service process to entities by email and then make copies of process available to such entities.

State Insurance Fund (SIF) Proposals:

A trio of proposals would permit SIF to:

  • Invest reserves and surplus similar to that of private insurance carriers.
  • Cancel workers' compensation policies based on the policyholder's failure to cooperate with a payroll audit.
  • Enter into agreements with private insurers to cover NYSIF policy holders performing work outside of New York State.

Pass-Through Entity Tax:

This bill would create an optional pass-through entity tax for partnerships and S corporations to pay and deduct State taxes at the entity level in exchange for a personal income tax credit. The new pass-through entity tax will permit partners, members and shareholders of electing entities to indirectly deduct SALT taxes paid under Article 24-A for Federal purposes as outlined in IRS Notice 2020-75.

Notably Absent:

In previous years, the executive budget has included various proposals to increase potential fines for insurance law violations and give the DFS greater deference in legal challenges against its regulations. We have vigorously opposed these measures, and are encouraged to see the governor has declined to include them in this year's executive budget.

What's next:

Big I NY's government relations team is carefully reviewing these proposals and formulating our position on each. In the coming months, we will meet with key members of both houses of the legislature to advocate our support or opposition of the various pieces.

For more information, contact Scott Hobson​.

 

 


Jan 18
Guest Blog: Thoughts for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021

Submitted by Kathy Lawler, Big I NY's AVP Communities & Relationships​...
"Almost everything about this past year has been different, so as we honor and remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today it is fitting to wonder what Dr. King would think if he were still alive today.  My good friend Derrick Murry wrote the attached blog and I could not agree more.  Please take a few minutes to read and reflect."


by Derrick L. Murry, MPH

Every year, Americans honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with marches, parades, and readings of his iconic “I Have a Dream" speech.  And yet, society seems to be more interested in revering MLK, rather than applying the principles he lived his life by.  We tend to focus on the deeds of fallen heroes instead of the messages they have left us.

Some of us will look at Martin Luther King day as just a day off from work.  Others will use this day to help others.  However, very few of us will take this time and ask, “What would Dr. King do if he were still alive today?"

Dr. King lost his life while supporting city sanitation workers organizing for a union for better wages and safe working conditions. Very few people speak about his work in favor of higher pay for the “working man" of his day.  Even after all this time wages are still too low.  Few people recall that Dr. King's esteem at the time of his death was steadily declining because of his disapproval of the Vietnam war.  What would Dr. King say today about all the wars in which America is involved, openly or clandestinely?

Dr. King was preparing to lead a Poor People's March on Washington, D.C. at the time of his assassination.  He was seeking to call for a radical redistribution of economic and political power.  King wrote “…It is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights".  He would not describe the discrepancies between paychecks as “poverty", but rather as “economic injustice."  This too caused the political power structure of the time to disapprove of him.  What would Dr. King have to say about the distance between the wealthiest 1% of Americans, as compared to all others today?

In his 1968 book, “Strength to Love," Dr. King says, “The ultimate measure of a man [or woman] is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."  As a public health practitioner during a time of pandemic and political turbulence on Monday, January 18th, 2021, I will ask, myself what can I do to be more like Dr. King.  Will I set aside political differences to see issues through another's perspective, will I wear a mask to protect my neighbor, and will I seek to understand others, more than seek to be understood?  Dr. King gave his life for what he believed in.  I believe that we as a community should take time to honor him, and care for our families, friends and neighbors on January 18th.  Change starts with you, so please stay safe, and remember to wear a mask during these trying times. ​


Jan 18
What You (And Every Insurance Team Member) Should Do On MLK Day

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Today, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I encourage you to add action to remembrance. Action in your agency. Action in the insurance industry. Action.


But what does that mean?

Dr. King often spoke of taking the step you can take. It's not always about moving the biggest mountain; it's about taking the step you can. To keep moving.

So today, take a step. One step towards raising someone up in your agency or drawing someone new into this great industry. To building your understanding of what others face so you can be a better teammate or leader. To reflect on roadblocks that may exist in your agency for others, and think of how you may help remove them. To see the talent in others that should be called out.

You don't have to be 'top dog' at the agency. You, yes YOU, have the power to start a chain reaction with a small move. We owe it to each other and our agencies to try.


8 Great Resources to Help Your Next Step

Everyone has a story. This one hits me in the heart. I just got permission to share it. 
This is part of why, folks. 

Take your first step on a journey to developing more effective social justice habits. 
Rather than me list out 100 links to check out, sign up here and you will receive a simple, bite-sized weekly email with links to videos, podcasts and learning tools. Free and excellent content.
Register here for the 12-week challenge 

Big I NY and Trusted Choice are proud partners in this initiative!​


Did you know that "African Americans have been involved with insurance since the late 17th century" and "as many as 42 large, black-owned insurance companies existed in the 1920’s." Marsh's study shares history, the value of diversity, and thoughts on the way forward.
Thank you to our own,  and IAAC's,Terri Yates for sharing

Eileen Frank, agency leader, and Inclusion Task Force member, cannot recommend this book any higher. So, our ed guru Sue Keegan is going to dive in. Grab the book and tell Sue you're in. 
Read more
Songs and Videos in Honor of Dr. King. 
Thanks to Sue for this great one!

Leaders - Grow Your Team through Education
Think about each of your team members. Find one person to help grow with some extra education. We have tons of classes to help. Maybe a new designation?! Pride is powerful.

Have​ a Courageous Conversation with Your Team
This can be hard but powerful. Scott Hobson shared this great guide​ from the National Big 'I'​ and I found this very cool dinner conversation tool - Civic Dinners​. Or lunch and learn about each other.
* No matter what you do, create a safe space for openness and no shame!

Podcasts to Check Out
Thanks to Christine Neet and the team for these.

What would Dr. King be thinking if he were alive today. Kathy Lawler, our AVP of Communities & Relationship loved what her friend shared so much she is sharing with you.

Did you know we have an Inclusion Task Force at Big I NY? Agency leaders and Big I staff members have been working hard all year to make a difference in our corner of the world.  We understand the need and value in taking small step to move forward. And we are already making progress.

Take the first step friends, take the first step.

Our agencies will be better because of it.

We'll be sharing more all week!

Together with you,

Julie Furst

The Culture Corner highlights tips, tricks, tools, and insights for making your business a great place to work.



Jan 18
Big I NY's Good Thoughts: Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

Big I NY is honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today with music, articles, and reflection.

Start Your Monday With 10 Songs in Honor of Dr. King

Up to the Mountain

A Change is Gonna Come​
​​​The Original
A Cover​

A Letter Started It All

The Song That Comforted Millions There's a listen option along with the text.
Mahalia Jackson's Version


10 Years This Summer - The Stone of Hope


Jan 18
On Our Mind...Opening Our Minds

​By Sue Keegan , AIC, MBA, Learning & Development Manager

 I ordered a book last week that was recommended to our Inclusion Task Force by Eileen Frank. It's written by Ron Chernow who I'm sure you all recognize as the author of Alexander Hamilton.  

 The book I ordered is Grant, and I want to read it because I don't know enough about things I should know a lot about, mainly the history in our country of suppressing the enfranchisement of Black people. I am not a history buff, a history nut, or a lover of the history genre, but I'm going to put that all behind me and get down to the business of opening my mind and learning. 

 If you'd like to do the same, please consider making your purchase of Grant from an independent book store; my two favorites: Strand Bookstore in NYC and Bridgton Books in Bridgton, ME. If you're interested in discussing the book, please let me know; I see a Big I NY book club in our future. 

 Check out these two new offerings to get you closer to CE compliance in 2021:

Is This Stuff for Real - Emerging Risks   

Commercial Property Direct Vs. Indirect Damage




Jan 15
Agency Staff Not Eligible for Early COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Some Big I New York members have asked us whether insurance agents are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1b of the distribution plan. The answer appears to be no.

The New York State COVID vaccine web page contains a long list describing New Yorkers eligible for vaccinations in Phases 1a and 1b​. The list includes health care workers; individuals over age 65; first responders; corrections officers; in-person college instructors; those working in schools (pre-school and grades K through 12); grocery store workers; childcare workers; public transit workers; and individuals living and working in homeless shelters. 

It does not appear that insurance agency staff qualify under any of these categories.​

Jan 11
On Our Mind...When Quality Matters

​By Sue Keegan , AIC, MBA, Learning & Development Manager

 I wanted to write a bit about when quality matters but then I got to thinking about those three words, and I couldn't help but wonder, well when the heck doesn't it matter? Or do we think now of quality more as it doesn't really matter until it matters. That's a dangerous approach, I think. 

 I'm reminded of my days in claims when the only thing coming between a settlement check and a denial was a missed endorsement or a simple typo or an incorrectly completed application or ignored legal paperwork. There is no better time than the beginning of a new year to get your ducks in a row.

 “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
-Henry Ford

 To help you in your pursuit of making quality a habit, I suggest these brand-new courses​:​

Exposures That Prove Why ALL Employers Need EPL Coverage  

Is This Stuff for Real - Emerging Risks
 
 

Personal Lines Clients and Their New Normal  

Also, our GearUP! on Wednesday is a must attend. We will provide updates on the EEOC's legal opinion on the mandating of vaccines, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, NY Paid Sick Law, and NY Quarantine Leave.


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