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Jul 30
Industry Roundup: July 30, 2021

P&C Insurers' Net Income Increased in Q1 2021

According to a new report from Verisk and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), U.S. private property and casualty (P&C) insurers experienced growth in net income after taxes in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020. However, insurers' combined ratio, which is a key measure of underwriting profitability, worsened.

 

M&A Boom is Under Threat in D.C. As Aon-WTW Deal Dissolves

With a new appetite for stepped-up antitrust enforcement sweeping Washington, big deals are already getting harder to do. Aon's decision on Monday, July 26, to abandon a $30 billion takeover of insurance brokerage Willis Towers Watson after Justice Department pushback is the latest signal that transactions that consolidate industries could run into trouble.

 

White House Calls Nixing of Aon-Willis Deal 'Robust Enforcement' of Antitrust Laws

The White House praised the Justice Department's successful effort to stop a $30 billion deal that would have created the world's biggest insurance broker, saying the agency's work was “robust enforcement of the antitrust laws."

 

Aviation Insurance Trends to Watch As 2021 Unfolds

In April 2020, two-thirds of global aviation fleets sat idle on runways, but the sector is now rebounding with domestic travel leading the way, according to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), which noted several issues, such as “rusty" pilots and insect infestations, are now challenging the sector.

 

Chubb CEO Greenberg Stresses Need to Address Ransomware and 'Systemic' Cyber Risk

Chubb Chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg is doubling down against outlawing ransomware payments to address the growing threat of ransomware. He appears to make an exception, however, for cryptocurrency payments.

 

Smaller Companies, Remote Work Reveal Cyber Vulnerabilities

Small and micro businesses are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals, according to Coalition, Inc., which reported that 2021 has seen a 57% increase in the frequency of attacks against enterprises with fewer than 250 employees.

 

States Braced for a Wave of COVID Lawsuits. It Never Arrived.

In a legislative flurry, 30 states instituted liability protections in late 2020 and early 2021 designed to protect businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits, out of fear that companies would be sued for exposing workers, clients or vendors to the swiftly spreading, deadly disease. Those lawsuits haven't materialized.

 

Pressure on Workers to Get Vaccine Grows as Patience Runs Thin for U.S. Employers

As a resurgence in Covid-19 cases prompts more U.S. employers to require vaccinations, workers who object face a common response: Get a shot or get another job.

 

NFIP 'Continuous Coverage' Legislation Introduced in House

Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced the Big “I"-supported H.R. 4699, the “Continuous Coverage for Flood Insurance Act," into the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation clarifies that a flood insurance policy purchased in the private market can count as “continuous coverage" under the terms of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

 

New Health Insurance Compensation Disclosure Requirements

At the end of 2020 President Trump signed bipartisan legislation that included a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package and a $1.4 trillion omnibus government funding package into law. The omnibus government funding legislation included a provision, Section 202 of the No Surprises Act, which will have a significant impact on health insurance producers and consultants, requiring them to disclose their compensation and other information to group health plan sponsors. ​

Jul 29
We're hiring!

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Want to put your skills to work supporting the success of independent agents? We're hiring and could be looking for YOU! Our open positions are Accounting Specialist, Digital & Video Content Specialist, and Development & Solutions Coach. Learn more and apply here.

Jul 29
Facts About the Recent Government Executive Order on Cybersecurity
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​After a series of supply chain and ransomware attacks, the federal government is ramping up its effort to improve the nation’s cybersecurity. In the past several months, multiple federal departments and agencies announced new policy initiatives and regulatory directives to drive their cybersecurity agenda forward, and state regulators are following the trend. It is unmistakably clear that companies in regulated sectors are entering a new era of cybersecurity regulatory compliance. And although much of this early action targets specific sectors (e.g., government contractors, pipeline operators, and public companies), these requirements will indirectly touch companies in other sectors and are a preview of broader regulation to come. Here, we discuss recent notable actions on cybersecurity by federal and state government agencies.

On May 12, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity. The order focuses on improving the executive branch’s cybersecurity posture in response to recent supply chain and ransomware attacks. The order calls for:

  • Contractually obligating IT and OT service providers to share threat information with and disclose cyber incidents to their federal counterparts
  • Accelerating the migration of federal IT systems to secure cloud services, promoting a zero-trust security model, and enabling multi-factor authentication and data encryption
  • Calling for a national cyber incident review board (modeled on the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates significant transportation incidents)
  • Establishing baseline security standards for the development of software sold to the government by requiring developers to maintain greater visibility into their software and making security data publicly available
  • Deploying endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems across federal networks
  • Implementing enhanced logging at federal departments and agencies

OPEN LETTER TO BUSINESS OWNERS ABOUT THEIR CYBERSECURITY

The White House also published an open letter to U.S. business leaders and executives, urging them to implement protective measures against ransomware attacks. The letter confirms that disrupting ransomware actors is one of the Biden administration’s top priorities and recommends that private companies adopt the following security measures against ransomware attacks:

  1. Implementing security measures such as MFA, encryption, and EDR.
  2. Periodically test the integrity of your backups
  3. Regularly updating and patching systems
  4. Tests the company’s incident response plan
  5. Applying network segmentation where possible

The White House also emphasized cybersecurity and the need to impose consequences on criminal actors during meetings with foreign leaders. At the G7 summit, world leaders, including Biden, identified ransomware as one of the biggest threats to people and businesses around the globe and urged Russia to “identify, disrupt, and hold to account” cybercriminals operating from the country.

Biden continued this emphasis on July 9, 2021, several days after another massive ransomware attack by the REvil ransomware gang (believed to operate in Russia) affected more than 1,000 businesses over the July 4 weekend. Following this remark, on July 13, all infrastructure tied to the REvil ransomware group, including its data leak and payment sites, went offline.

On July 14, the White House announced a new ransomware task force to coordinate both defensive and offensive actions against ransomware operators, which may include launching cyberattacks against foreign ransomware operators. Some lawmakers and policymakers, such as Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, are taking it a step further by suggesting that ransom payments should be made illegal for U.S. companies to remove financial incentives for cyber criminals.

If you want to know more about Cybersecurity or if your business is in risk of a DATA BREACH visit: Cybersecurity Audit for BIG I Members | Motiva

Jul 27
July 2021 Labor Market Summary from Affinity HR Group

Affinity HR brings you this July 2021 Labor Market Summary, covering the latest on recruitment & unemployment, COVID-19, wage growth, minimum wage, legislative outlook, compensation & benefit issues & trends, immigration, and occupational outlook.

DOWNLOAD THE SUMMARY HERE


Jul 26
Assess Your Ransomware Risk & Get Ready For New Cyber Requirements

website-programming-code-picjumbo-com.jpgBased on new information out today from the Excess Line Association of New York (ELANY,) we encourage you to perform the periodically-required risk assessment of your computer networks now and get ready for new cybersecurity requirements from the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS.) 

As we reported earlier this month, DFS offered guidance to all entities it regulates on how to address the risks of ransomware attacks. Today's bulletin from ELANY indicates that they've had conversations with DFS that shed new light on the guidance.

According to computer security software provider McAfee, "Ransomware is malware that employs encryption to hold a victim’s information at ransom. A user or organization’s critical data is encrypted so that they cannot access files, databases, or applications. A ransom is then demanded to provide access. Ransomware is often designed to spread across a network and target database and file servers, and can thus quickly paralyze an entire organization.​" Ransomware attacks have become more pervasive in recent years; a massive attack​ affected hundreds of small businesses worldwide over the recent July 4 weekend. 

ELANY's bulletin advised its member brokers of the DFS guidance and contained this new information (emphasis added):

The DFS has told ELANY that the notice is not intended to supersede the regulation. Instead, it is meant to accomplish two goals. First, it provides licensees with information on controls that the DFS believes are important and that the DFS expects licensees to consider implementing, depending on their risk assessments. It is important to note that the DFS views the risk assessment as controlling a licensee’s approach to cybersecurity and that licensees should be able to explain what controls they considered based on their risk assessment, and why they chose not to implement certain controls.

Second, the DFS is putting licensees on alert that the regulation will be revised, and the notice includes some of the specific requirements that will likely be included in the revision. The DFS shared with ELANY that limited exemptions will be maintained and they understand that small brokers have limited resources compared to larger licensees, however some new requirements will likely be imposed on exempt licensees. Most prominently, licensees with a limited exemption can expect the current exemption from multi-factor authentication requirements to be removed.​


Therefore, while the notice did not change New York's  ​Cybersecurity Requirements For Financial Services Companies regulation, DFS is urging all covered entities to assess their risks of ransomware attacks and implement controls based on what they find. The regulation already requires agencies and brokerages to perform risk assessments. Section 500.9 states, "Each covered entity shall conduct a periodic risk assessment of the covered entity’s information systems sufficient to inform the design of the cybersecurity program as required by this (regulation.)"

Also, the bulletin supplements what we already knew from the DFS letter - changes will come later this year to the regulation, and they will affect all of you.  It currently requires larger agencies (those that do not qualify for the limited exemption​) to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA.) ELANY's bulletin indicates that DFS intends to require all entities, regardless of size, to implement MFA. The regulation defines MFA​ as:

"... authentication through verification of at least two of the following types of authentication factors:

(1) knowledge factors, such as a password;
(2) possession factors, such as a token or text message on a mobile phone; or
(3) inherence factors, such as a biometric characteristic."


MFA is a commonly-used technology for accessing networks remotely. Big I New York implemented it for staff working outside the office several years ago. 

Because of this new information from ELANY, we suggest you:

  • Perform new risk assessments with an eye toward the threat of ransomware attacks
  • Prepare to incorporate MFA technology into your cybersecurity programs.

Qualified cybersecurity consulting firms such as Motiva can assist you with implementing MFA. Motiva is also offering Big I New York members a free cybersecurity audit of their computer networks to evaluate network health.

Our cybersecurity regulation compliance resources are available to you at anytime at www.biginy.org/cyber​

Jul 26
3, 2, 1 with Sue Keegan: New Topic Requirements for CE, Insuring Your Collectables, and the Best Chicken Sandwich

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


3 Things


Read “DFS Proposes New Required Topics for Producer Continuing Ed.”  Next year is going to be here before we know it!


Did you miss our recent GearUPs! on the New York HERO Act?  No worries, you can find them on our website.


2 Ideas


National Lasagna Day is this Thursday, July 29th.  Celebrate, you say?  You don’t have to tell me twice.  

Are you a sports card and/or memorabilia collector?  I’ve been collecting ever since I was a kid – it was a cool way to spend time with my dad.  We would go to card shows, attend autograph sessions, etc.  I’ve built up a pretty good collection.  I gave no thought at all to insuring my collection until really just recently.  If you’re a collector (and even if you’re not), check out this discussion on insuring your collectibles.


1 Question


Are you Team Chick-fil-A or are you Team Popeye’s or is there another contender out there?  I am 100% Team Chick-fil-A.  Let me know your pick via email at skeegan@biginy.org or post in our Community.  
Jul 22
Industry Roundup: July 22, 2021

Biden Executive Order Takes​​ Aim at Noncompete Agreements

President Biden signed an executive order that the White House says is meant to promote competition in the American economy. The order includes 72 initiatives by more than a dozen federal agencies to tackle what President Biden says are some of the most pressing competition problems across the U.S. economy.

 

What are the Longe​​​r-Term Implications of the Florida Condo Collapse?

Authorities still don't know what caused Champlain Towers South to give way last month in Surfside, Florida, killing at least 46 people and leaving more than 90 unaccounted for. But early leads point to cracked concrete and frequent flooding in the building's garage -- damage that apparently went unaddressed for years amid questions over how to fund repairs.

 

Connecticut Be​​​comes 19th State to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

Connecticut recently became the 19th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use after Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation into law. On July 01, it became legal for adults 21 and older in Connecticut to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. However, it will likely be at least a year before the cannabis industry is up and running in the state, according to a report by NBC Connecticut.

 

Biden Under P​​​ressure to Counter Growing Ransomware Threat

President Joe Biden on Wednesday discussed the possibility of responding to a spate of ransomware attacks against U.S. entities that are believed to be perpetrated by Russian-linked hackers, a growing concern for his administration.

 

Policyholder Loses First C​OVID-19 Coverage Appellate Case

On July 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit delivered a ruling in the first appellate court case regarding pandemic-related business interruption coverage that is sure to be a blow to insureds nationwide litigating with insurers over denied claims. The Eighth Circuit ruled in Oral Surgeons PC v. The Cincinnati Insurance Co. that the lower court did not err in dismissing the suit brought by Oral Surgeons on the basis that it failed to plead any physical alteration to the property.

 

Cyber Insurance Rates Likely to Ris​​e Amid Escalating Ransomware Attacks

Companies looking to purchase insurance against cyberattacks in which their data is held for ransom will soon find it more expensive and difficult to obtain, according to a cybersecurity expert. Brent Arnold, a partner at law firm Gowlings WLG in Toronto, said Canada is facing a proliferation of criminal attacks that use software to lock up corporate data that can only be released by paying a ransom to get an encryption key.

 

Allstate Reveals Estimated ​​Catastrophe Losses

The Allstate Corporation has announced estimated catastrophe losses for the month of June of $195 million, or $154 million after tax. Catastrophe losses for the second quarter totaled $752 million after tax, the company said.

 

Global P/C Industry Sees Strongest Rate Hikes in 20 Years but Inflation Headwinds ​​Loom

Robust global economic recovery, higher risk awareness and the strongest rate hardening for 20 years in non-life insurance commercial lines will combine to push premiums 10% above pre-COVID-19-crisis levels this year, creating a faster bounceback than from the global financial crisis, according to a report published by Swiss Re.

 

U.S. Launches 'Stop Ran​​somware' Website; Offers Reward Up to $10M

The State Department will offer rewards up to $10 million for information leading to the identification of anyone engaged in foreign state-sanctioned malicious cyber activity against critical U.S. infrastructure — including ransomware attacks — and the White House has launched a task force to coordinate efforts to stem the ransomware scourge.

 

Just Text M​e: Policyholders' Communication Preferences Revealed

When it comes to how they want to be engaged, more than 80% of consumers said they prefer texting with an insurance company or agent, according to a survey by Hi Marley Inc., which reported 80% of consumers feel insurance companies that text build closer customer bonds.

 

U.S. News & World Re​​port: Top U.S. Home Insurers of 2021

With the housing market heating up during the past year, it isn't surprising to find that shopping for personal property insurance skyrocketed as well. TransUnion reports for the week of March 3, 2021, property insurance shopping grew 24.6% compared with the year prior. In early January, the rate increased 26% compared with the same period in 2020. See the top nine highest-rated home insurance companies, according to U.S. News & World Report

 

ACT Tech Summit Regi​​​stration Open

The Big “I" Agents Council for Technology (ACT) has opened registration for the ACT Tech Summit to be held Oct. 13-14. This free virtual conference will provide strategic insights from agency, carrier and technology provider experts on digital solutions to industry challenges.

 

New Webinar Series: Website Wording Liabilities from the Big 'I'

The Big “I" Professional Liability Risk Management team invites Big “I" members to attend its complimentary new webinar series, Your Website Says WHAT? How Your Agency's Online Presence Puts Your Business at Risk.  This series of webinars is focused on the errors & omissions issues created by agency websites and an agency's overall marketing efforts.

Register for each session:

July 27—The Claims Adjusters' Perspective

August 10—The Auditors' Perspective

August 24—Wrap-Up


Jul 20
Work Comp Rating Board Discontinues COVID Telecommuter Classification

pexels-andrew-neel-3954635.jpgThe New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board (NYCIRB) has announced that it is discontinuing a special Workers' Compensation classification created during the COVID-19 pandemic. The classification will no longer be valid as of July 25, 2021.

The classification, code 8873 - Telecommuter Reassigned Employees, was introduced in May 2020. The board created it to recognize the reduced exposure of "employees who, during New York’s stay-at-home order related to the COVID-19 pandemic (and future stay-at-home orders), are reassigned to either (a) not perform any work duties (idle), or (b) perform clerical work duties at home."​ The loss cost assigned to the classification was equ

​​The revision to the New York Workers' Compensation manual made at the time stated that the classification's use would cease no later than 30 days after the expiration of the state of emergency declared by the governor. That declaration expired in late June.​

You may want to advise your clients who currently have this classification on their policies that the payroll will be reassigned.

Jul 19
On Our Mind: All Stars

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

I’m a big baseball fan. I know there are people who love the game as much I do and many people who think it is too boring. However, as I was watching the Major League All Star game recently, something hit me in the forehead- what a great bunch of new and young stars!! They are energetic, extremely talented and play for the love of the game (well, that and a few million dollars a year)!

Nonetheless, it got me thinking about the insurance industry - we need new young talent​ - we need people who can take our place. We need people who will bring a new enthusiasm and energy to our agencies, our carriers, our partners and our organizations!

Do you have someone like that in your office already? If so, are you supporting them? Leading them? Helping them grow?  (Ask me about Big I NY Leadership Academy - it's coming soon!)

Are you working with your local college to identify that next big star? Whether it be internships, being a guest speaker or participating in career days- we can help! (Ask me about that too!)

Or? How about getting involved with an even younger generation? Have you heard about InVEST? (If not, that’s right, contact me!!)

315-432-4226

We here at Big I NY can answer questions, give you guidance and introduce you to a plethora of products, services and programs to help you grow your agency, support your team and recruit for new employees.

Of course, we also offer All Star education, like:

VU 4 Key Personal & Commercial Lines Exposures Every Agent Must Understand


15inONE CE Program: E&O


VU Why Certificates of Insuran​ce - Just Why?


Jul 16
Work Comp Loss Costs To Decrease 6.4%

worker-1895691_640.jpgThe New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board (NYCIRB) announced yesterday that its filing for a 6.4% decrease in Workers' Compensation insurance loss costs has been approved. The new loss costs apply effective Oct. 1, 2021. Many of your clients may see reductions in their base loss costs.

The NYCIRB files proposed loss costs with the New York State Department of Financial Services for approval every summer. Individual insurers periodically file a numerical factor called a "loss cost multiplier" with DFS. The loss cost multiplied by the loss cost multiplier produces the final rate that an insurer charges an employer for Workers' Comp insurance. 

The NYCIRB said that this is the sixth consecutive year that the DFS has approved its recommended loss cost change.

For more information, see:

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