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Sep 30
A Few Minutes With Tim - NYS HERO Act Changes

​The New York State Department of Labor has made some small changes to the model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan, required by the HERO Act. Watch this 4-minute video for details.

Download the revised model plan​


Sep 30
Industry Roundup: Insurance Industry Calls for NFIP Extension, Risk Rating 2.0 Delay; Cost of Insuring Expensive Waterfront Homes is About to Skyrocket; Reinsurers Could Be Underestimating Nat Cat Exposure by 33-50%

Appetite for Flood Risk Among Private Insurers Still Small

The U.S flood insurance market is slowly transitioning toward private insurers playing a much needed and more prominent role by providing additional competitive market options for those seeking coverage, according to a new AM Best report.


Reinsurers Could Be Underestimating Nat Cat Exposure by 33-50%

Analysts at S&P Global Ratings believe that reinsurers could be underestimating their exposure to natural catastrophe risks by between 33% and 50%, despite recent efforts to better incorporate climate change considerations into their business models.


Staying Innovative and Agile Post-Pandemic

Leveraging the right technology such as video conferencing and enhancing risk management platforms, has helped both internal and external communication during a period in which organizations have had to adapt their approach to connectivity.


Tesla to Sell Auto Insurance in Texas Next Month

Tesla Inc. will be offering its auto insurance product to Texan drivers this coming October.


Biden Cyber Officials Back Breach Incident Reporting Mandate

The head of the U.S. cybersecurity enforcement agency “is a huge supporter" of bipartisan legislation to mandate that operators of critical infrastructure report data breaches to the government.


The Cost of Insuring Expensive Waterfront Homes Is About to Skyrocket

Starting Oct. 1, communities in Florida and elsewhere around the country will see flood subsidies begin to disappear in a nationwide experiment in trying to adapt to climate change: Forcing Americans to pay something closer to the real cost of their flood risk, which is rising as the planet warms.


U.S. Insurance Regulator Hosting Another Climate Summit

A report from the Mortgage Bankers Association says there's little doubt that climate change will impact housing and the housing finance industry, and while just how great that impact will be is as of yet unknown, the authors take a stab at painting a scary picture of the possibilities faced by homeowners and those who service them – financiers and insurers.


Former New York Insurance Broker Sentenced to Prison for $1M Fraud Scheme

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced that Brian Bartz of Rochester, New York, who was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Charles J. Siragusa.


Insurance Industry Calls for NFIP Extension, Risk Rating 2.0 Delay

With the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) set to expire within a matter of days, the insurance industry is rallying together to urge lawmakers to extend the program to ensure millions of Americans don't experience a lapse in coverage.


Allianz Plans to Offload Large US Life Portfolio

Allianz SE is working to offload a large block of US life insurance policies in a move that could free up several billion dollars in capital, people with knowledge of the matter said.


Religious Exemptions Grow as COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Rise

An estimated 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees are citing religious objections to try to get out of the required COVID-19 vaccination. In Washington state, thousands of state workers are seeking similar exemptions. ​

Sep 30
That's How Sue Sees It: Banned Books Week

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


Banned Books Week kicked off this past Sunday and runs through Saturday, 10/02/2021.  I look at this week as a sort of way to celebrate the freedom to read.  So I did a little research to try to find out the first banned book in the United States and it appears that title goes to New English Canaan written by Thomas Morton.  Here’s a link if you would like to learn a bit more.  

To celebrate Banned Books Week, I chose three banned books to read in the month of September.  My choices are Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (I know I have a copy of this somewhere...).  I am also adding the short story, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, which is not banned in The United States, but was banned in South Africa.  

Which banned book(s) have you read or will you be reading?  Let me know via email at or post in our Community​.  ​

Sep 27
Webinar Wednesday - Cyber Series


Join us for this series of webinars FREE for Big I NY members, presented by Walter Contreras of Motiva. You won't want to miss this opportunity to protect you, your agency, and all of your data. 

Phishing, Malware, Ransomware, Spoofing. You may have heard the term, but do you know how to spot them? In this session, you'll learn how to avoid the popular tricks cybercriminals are using every day on people like you. Walter will also share how to best use multifactor authentication and what to do when you can't. Great session for your ENTIRE team. This is part two of a three-part cyber series. 

Your brick-and-mortar building may have great safeguards for your systems. But what happens when your team is working from somewhere else? The number of new exposures goes through the roof. There are best practices that can minimize the chance of hackers getting your data. Walter will light the way with tangible tips for your entire team. This class made possible by the cybersecurity team at Motiva. 

Big I NY Member Benefit: Receive a free compliance assessment and security test from Motiva

Sep 27
On Our Mind: Leaders in the Making

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

I am sitting here writing this with a big ol' smile on my face… why? We just finished our second class of the Big I NY Leadership Academy. We have eight participants and I couldn't ask for a better first cohort!!

They have been engaged, entertaining, energetic and vulnerable-willing to learn from each other and share some of their day-to-day challenges. 

The people in the class range from a 24-year-old who is just starting her insurance career, to a 45-year-old, mid-level manager to a (little older) owner of a small agency. However, what we have all come to quickly realize is how many similarities and commonalities all independent agencies have in today's environment. Things such as personnel problems, lack of clear communication, growing disrespect by carriers, outside competition, trouble retaining staff, etc.

When we created this class we knew it would be a hit- but even though it's still early, it may be a home run and not just a single or a double (sorry- another baseball reference).

The coaches have been phenomenal guiding the discussions, offering insight and advice but being careful to let the agents run the conversations and topics.

Want to learn more? Attend the next academy? Contact me at​

In the meantime, here are some upcoming classes you may find interesting and valuable.

Sep 24
Industry Roundup: Competition Is 'Fierce' To Insure Established Cannabis Businesses; Offices Reopen with Safety Plans, but Big-City Commutes Rattle Workers; Biden's Vaccine Plan Puts OSHA in Spotlight

Large Insurers Embrace Digital Exchanges, Selling Their Own and Other Policies

Major U.S. insurers are joining new digital exchanges to sell not only their own policies but also those of rivals, a fresh twist in an industry known for fierce competition.


Competition Is 'Fierce' To Insure Established Cannabis Businesses

The battle is heating up to write property lines for well-run cannabis businesses with clean loss histories, which are seeing capacity increase, according to a report by Amwins, Inc.


Small Business Cyber Insurance Premiums Up 7% In 2021

Since the start of the year, cyber insurance rates have increased 7% for small businesses, according to AdvisorSmith Solutions, Inc., which estimated organizations of this size that are considered low-risk see average annual cyber insurance premiums of $1,589 for $1 million in coverage. For midsize and large businesses, those increases were closer to 20%.


Revealed: The Four Sectors at The Forefront Of The Specialty Insurance Market

Healthcare, mortgage banking, catastrophe products and non-profit protection are the sectors at the forefront of the specialty insurance market, according to a new report from Aon Programs.


Commercial Insurance Prices Increase Again in the Q2 but Have Moderated

U.S. commercial insurance prices increased again during the second quarter of 2021, according to leading global advisory, broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson's Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey (CLIPS).


Biden's Vaccine Plan Puts OSHA in Spotlight; Expected to Trigger Legal Challenges

President Joe Biden's sweeping new vaccine requirements have Republican governors threatening lawsuits. His unapologetic response: “Have at it."


Drugmaker Endo Settles Opioid Claims by New York, Counties for $50M

Drugmaker Endo International Plc on Thursday said it has agreed to pay $50 million to resolve lawsuits by New York state and two of its largest counties related to the sale and marketing of opioids.


The Future of Ultra-Targeted Insurance: Get Bigger by Thinking Smaller

In a world where consumers expect a fast, friction-free brand journey, the insurance industry is experiencing a mindset change — where successful marketing doesn't center around price alone, and the entire customer experience can be used to support brand loyalty.


Deepfakes: An Insurance Industry Threat

If you are familiar with photo and video editing tools, then you have probably heard of deepfakes, an emerging breed of artificial intelligence-enhanced videos that have demonstrated the ability to blur reality in ways that are extremely difficult for humans or even machines to detect.


Hannover Re Sees Continuing Trend Towards Rising Prices in P&C Reinsurance

Hannover Re anticipates a continuing trend towards higher prices and improved conditions in property and casualty reinsurance for the various rounds of renewals in 2022.


Offices Reopen with Safety Plans, but Big-City Commutes Rattle Workers

Many workers say they are reluctant to ride subways, trains and buses into city centers, particularly when they could be in close quarters with unmasked or unvaccinated people. Several executives say their employees are citing COVID-19 fears related to their commutes as a key reason they want to continue working from home. ​

Sep 24
Albany Update: Big I NYRaises Concerns with Privacy Act, New Government Transparency Directive, Governor Announces Measures to Address Bus Driver Shortage

Big I NY Raises Concerns With NY Privacy Act:

This week, Big I NY participated in a roundtable meeting on the New York Privacy Act, hosted by the bill's sponsors, Senator Kevin Thomas (D, Nassau County) and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D, Manhattan). This bill would create sweeping and burdensome data privacy rules, including most significantly a fiduciary duty on entities that handle customer data and private right of action allowing private parties to sue for damages. The bill includes generous incentives to file lawsuits, including allowing for the awarding of attorneys fees, minimum damages, and authorizing class actions.

Big I NY has opposed this bill since its inception, as we are concerned it would not only be extremely challenging and burdensome for businesses to comply with, but would result in a wave of abusive lawsuits that will threaten independent agencies, harm the economy, and raise insurance premiums. Subsequent iterations of the bill have addressed some of these concerns, and the latest version will only apply to businesses with $100M or more in revenue, or those whose business is substantially based on the sale and collection of consumer data.

Big I NY recommends the bill be further amended to exempt entities that are currently subject to the NY Cyber Regulation, noting that it is already one of the most stringent data security regulations in the nation. Furthermore, we urged the elimination of the private right of action, as in addition to significant economic impacts, it could disrupt the market for cyber liability coverage, leaving businesses without affordable coverage options.

State Agencies Directed to Increase Transparency:

According to the Buffalo News, two top aides to Governor Hochul have directed state agency heads to develop plans for increasing the transparency of their work within 30 days. We support this measure, as increased transparency and openness is critical to ensuring that state agencies operate in a fair, honest, and ethical manner. We welcome the opportunity to work more closely with state regulators to understand and respond to our industry's unique needs.

Governor Hochul Announces Measures to Address Bus Driver Shortage:

On September 19th, Governor Hochul announced several measures designed to address the ongoing school bus driver shortage. The plan includes reducing barriers to recruiting CDL drivers, expanded testing opportunities, and outreach to over half a million CDL license holders. The latter piece drew significant concern from the trucking industry and other businesses relying on commercial drivers, as the shortage of CDL drivers has reached crisis levels and will likely be exacerbated by this measure.

Sep 24
Are You and Your Clients Ready for the New Flood Insurance Pricing?

jim-gade-cKjxGyfNdQc-unsplash.jpgPhoto by jim gade on Unsplash

As reported in today's issue of The New York Times​, the way the National Flood Insurance Program sets premiums for coverage is going to change for the first time in 50 years next Friday. For some current and prospective property owners, the change may be painful. 

The methodology change takes effect for new policies on Oct. 1, 2021, with renewals following on April 1, 2022.

The traditional way of pricing flood insurance has been to use a flood insurance rate map (FIRM) to determine the flood risk zone in which a property sits. For those properties in special flood hazard areas (SFHA), premiums depended on the property's elevation above ground level. Federal regulations require lenders that issue federally-backed mortgages to verify that properties within SFHAs carry flood insurance. The coverage is optional in other zones.

The new pricing methodology, dubbed "Risk Rating 2.0 - Equity in Action," endeavors to measure flood risk by using more variables besides location and elevation. These include:

  • Flood frequency
  • The types of flooding to which the area may be prone (river overflow, storm surge, coastal erosion, heavy rainfall​)
  • Distance to a water source (ocean, river, lake, etc.)
  • Cost to rebuild

Theoretically, a relatively small house a mile from a water source will have a smaller flood risk than a large house on the shore. Consequently, the new methodology will result in a higher flood insurance premium for the second house, even if they are in the same zone on the flood map.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the program, says that the new methodology will  "equitably distribute premiums across all policyholders based on home value and a property’s unique flood risk." The agency maintains that, under the current system, "policyholders with lower-valued homes are paying more than their share of the risk while policyholders with higher-valued homes are paying less than their share of the risk." FEMA estimates that two-thirds of policyholders will have average monthly premium increases of $0 to $10, almost a quarter will see their premiums decrease, and 4% will see increases of more than $20.

Everyone who has purchased or will purchase flood insurance will feel the effects of this change. Your clients with properties next to a water source are likely to see their premiums rise for several years. By law, flood insurance premiums may rise no more than 18% per year. The highest risk properties may see several years of increases at that level.

With the effective date of the change approaching, this is the time to inform your flood insurance clients. Even if their policies will not renew until next spring, these changes may effect the ability to sell a property immediately. 

Visit the Flood page in the Answer Center of this website and click the "Helpful Tools" tab to find more information about Risk Rating 2.0, including an estimate of the effect in New York. FEMA also offers information and resources on its flood insurance website​.​ More information about flood insurance is available on the Big "I" Virtual University Flood Resources page​.​

Sep 23
Phone Carriers' New Requirements for Business Texting

National phone carriers like T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon are starting to implement new requirements for business texting to counteract telemarketing spam. The requirements primarily focus on businesses using application-to-person (A2P) text messages sent via 10-digit long code (00310DLC) phone numbers, which are phone numbers that include a local area code and support high volume texting.

Most major phone carriers will start requiring businesses to register their texting campaigns and follow various protocols with their texts, such as obtaining consent. Businesses may be subject to large fines and penalties for non-compliance.    

The 10DLC requirements are different in certain respects for each carrier and are at varying stages of application and development. Most agents and brokers who use 10DLC texting will likely be able to work on compliance with any requirements in coordination with their third-party texting vendor.

What steps should agents take next?

  • We recommend that agencies stay current with developments from their cellular carrier as well as those their customers may be using.
  • We recommend that agents renew consent by obtaining a new opt-in form annually, such as when the agency meets with the client to review coverages prior to renewal. An opt-in template is available for all Big “I" member agencies.

For more information on these developments, visit the following links:

If you have any further questions, please contact Ron BergGinny WinkworthScott Kneeland or Eric Lipton.


Sep 22
'Additional Insured Request Form' Available For Your Use

​​Any agency that sells commercial liability insurance (that is, pretty much all of you) gets requests from its clients to name some person or organization as an additional insured. I've said it before and I'll say it again - America used to be a country where everyone dreamed of being rich; now it's a country where everyone dreams of being an additional insured.

When someone is an additional insured on a liability insurance policy, the insurance carrier is assuming some of their loss exposures. Consequently, underwriters rightly want to know why they should provide coverage for these parties. 

To make it easier for you to give them the information they need, we've created a REQUEST TO ADD COVERAGE FOR AN ADDITIONAL INSURED TO GENERAL LIABILITY POLICY form​. The one-page form asks for the proposed additional insured's name and address, a brief description of their interest in the coverage, whether there is a written contract requiring the coverage, and the nature of the relationship with the named insured. This last question helps pinpoint the correct endorsement to use. 

The form is always available for you to download under the "Tools" tab on the E&O Tools page​ in this website. ​ We hope it makes handling these requests a little easier for your agencies.

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