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Nov 24
That's How Sue Sees It: Thanksgiving

​3 Things I’m Thankful For:​

  1. My dad.  89 years young.  Taught me to drive a 5-speed (and lived to tell).  An encyclopedia of Cleveland sports trivia.  Teller of many, many dad jokes.  My biggest fan.  
  2. Adele’s new music.  Adele’s old music.  All Adele music.  
  3. Ted Lasso where have you been my whole life?  Thank you Apple TV for this masterpiece.  

2 Things that Made Me Smile

  1. If this isn’t the greatest reason to embrace texting, I don’t know what is.
  2. Introducing the real super heroes.

1 Thanksgiving Message from me to you:

Thanksgiving, 2021, I have been waiting for you.  I have been waiting for you because last year you just weren’t that great.  And I am in need of a great Thanksgiving.  I want my family all together, so loud, and laughing and everyone talking over one another and everyone involved in five conversations at the same time, not missing a beat on any of them.  I want to take a picture of my sister’s tofurky and laugh about it with my cousins.  Plant- based proteins, hah.  I want to watch some football with my dad and talk about SU basketball and not hustling on defense and how do you give up 100 points to the Raiders?  (No disrespect to Colgate, but come on Cuse, you can do better.)  I want pumpkin pie.  And more than one slice, please.  I’m going to put down my phone and not once check my email or FB or Insta.  

Sending Happy Thanksgiving wishes to the people who put up with me on a daily basis.  All of my co-workers and bosses and customers who understand that dressy for me is now joggers.  If I put joggers on in the morning, I mean business.  People who laugh with me and listen to me and cheer me up when I need it and  thank me for helping them and ask me about my day and listen to what I have to say.  All those who accept that salty language is a part of me, I thank you.  Who understand if I send them a tik tok it means I’m thinking about them and that I want them to laugh with me at some hilarious dog or cat video.  Who understand that I know I have a terrible voice but that I will still sing ABBA’s Take a Chance On Me full volume, voice cracking and all.    

I’m missing two great friends I lost this past year and am sending out all the love in my heart to their families as they approach what I know can be an extremely difficult time of the year for so many mourning the loss of a loved one.  Love on your family and love on your friends every single chance that you get.  And love yourself too.  

Take care of yourself, friends, physically and mentally, because I want to be around you for many years to come.  

Nov 22
On Our Mind: Holiday Nostalgia

By Jim Lombardo, AVP of Learning & Development

As we approach the holiday season, I can't help but feel nostalgic.  My kids are all grown and out of the house. While it certainly quieter and less hectic, I miss the days when my children would be available to run errands for me. No, I'm just kidding (well sorta!) But I do miss the looks on their faces when they got the Christmas present they were hoping for, or how my wife had an extra wide smile on her face when she made hot chocolate for the little ones to have while I sipped my coffee.

Here's my question for all you empty nesters... when is the last time you reached out to your kids? Just to say hello? Just to check in? Just to let them know you were thinking about them?

Why don't you make that call (not a text or email) today!?

Here is another question for you-- when was the last time you used Big I NY for your CE needs? We are here for YOU. We are staffed and trained to help YOU and your agency.

I ask you to give us a try if you haven't in a while - we are knee-deep into our 2022 planning for education and we have​ new classes, new instructors and many of the solid courses you have come to know.

Have a GREAT Thanksgiving!

Jim Lombardo, CPCU, AAI, AIM, MBA
AVP of Learning & Development
800.962.7950 EXT: 226

Nov 19
Industry Roundup: 6 Factors That Will Shape P&C Insurance by 2025; Here's Why Many Workers are Now Hunting for a New Job; 6th Circuit to Hear Consolidated Lawsuits Challenging Biden Workplace Vaccine Rule

AIG, Underwriters Leaning on Reinsurance with Prices Set To Jump

American International Group Inc. and other insurers avoided steep losses from a spate of extreme weather this year thanks in part to the reinsurance industry. But increased reliance on those policies probably means price hikes are coming.


6 Factors That Will Shape P&C Insurance by 2025

With a projected compound annual growth rate (AGR) of almost 6%, according to Mordor Intelligence, the U.S. property and casualty (P&C) insurance market outlook for 2020-2025 looks robust.


Here's Why Many Workers are Now Hunting for a New Job

Using data from a survey of more than 200 professionals, The Chiral Project, they found that not only was work-life balance the No. 1 challenge — people are just burned out.


6th Circuit to Hear Consolidated Lawsuits Challenging Biden Workplace Vaccine Rule

A judicial panel on Tuesday consolidated 34 lawsuits challenging the Biden administration's workplace COVID-19 vaccine rule in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a venue favored by opponents of the rule.


Businesses Encouraged to Take Fresh Approach on Cyber Risk

Over the past two years, there's been a huge jump in the number of ransomware attacks targeting North American businesses and threat actors are using the same tactics they always have – namely, peppering victims with malware-laced phishing emails and links, and taking advantage of software/network vulnerabilities.


Want Wearable Tech with That Workers' Comp Policy? Kinetic Teams with Nationwide

New York-based safety technology firm Kinetic has formed an underwriting partnership with Nationwide's E&S/Specialty division and is offering workers' compensation coverage combined with workplace safety technology.


Commercial Insurance Pricing Gradually Moderating, More Capacity to Help Market in 2022

According to Willis Towers Watson's 2022 Insurance Marketplace Realities report, commercial insurance prices in North American are expected to gradually soften, resulting in a welcome slowing of premium rate increases and further stability in 2022.


New York Regulator Calls for Insurers' Disclosure

New York State's financial regulator called on insurers to consider climate-related risks in their business planning and provide related disclosures.


Best Insurers for Small Businesses In 2021

Small businesses account for 99.9% of all firms in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), which leads to quite a bit of demand for small commercial insurance policies.


Liberty Mutual Is Moving its 2,200 Exclusive Agents to its New Digital Agency

Liberty Mutual Insurance, the nation's sixth-largest personal lines property/casualty insurer, is planning to transition its more than 2,200 exclusive insurance agents in 200 offices across the country to working for a new agency it is starting. ​

Nov 19
How to Leverage Broker Tech in a Hard Cyber Market?

​A guest post by Relay Platform​.

Cyber insurance has faced its share of hard bumps over the past few years. Following an unrelenting tide of cyber security claims and a subsequent spike in rates and coverage restrictions, cyber insurance has become a trying market for insurance brokers to say the least. And with cyber criminal activity showing no sign of waning, the trend is likely to continue.

To weather the storm, brokers need to be innovative in order to compete. In the digital age adopting the right technologies has become synonymous with embracing the right technologies. In this article, we'll take a look at the new breed of insurtech technology available today and how brokers can use it to survive and thrive in this difficult market.

Insurtech: Old Meets New

Before we fully dive into the concept of insurtech, let's first take a look at the two industries that converged to create this new technology and their divergent core values: insurance and tech.

Insurance, for the most part, has always been a very slow and steady industry that is typically wary of quick change. It's also an industry highly regarded for putting people and relationships at the core of its identity. This value of relationships enables the industry to deliver first class customer service — a deliverable that's virtually synonymous with the industry.

On the flipside the tech industry, famed for the lightning pace at which it moves, holds efficiency at the core of what it does. Efficiency allows it to conceptualize, iterate, and produce at speeds that keep it competitive in the constantly evolving digital realm.


Insurance + Technology

Insurance IndustryTechnology Industry
  • Pace: Slow & Steady
  • Core Value: Relationships
  • Pace: Instant!
  • Core Value: Efficiency


Finding Common Ground

So how do we strike a balance between these seemingly polar opposite industry verticals of insurance and technology? The answer lies in finding a common ground between the pace and core values of each. This is particularly important when it comes to evaluating a potential insurtech platform. For example:

  1. Speed (Quick and Accurate): Take a look at the speed and efficiency goals you may have for your brokerages. Is there a way to shift yourself from a 'slow and steady' pace to a more ramped up pace that will help increase your efficiency without compromising your standard of accuracy?
  2. Core Values (Relationships strengthened by Technology): 'Disruption' is a concept often referenced when discussing the tech industry. Case study after case study illustrates the power of tech to enter a new industry and 'disrupt' it for the better. While disruption can certainly lead to innovation, we as an industry must also be cautious when injecting tech into our practices. As mentioned above, relationships sit at the very core of the insurance industry. When introducing tech be sure to look for platforms and partnerships that will help to enhance those relationships through better customer service, ease of transactions, and transparency.

Overall, when balance is achieved between the divergent speed and core values of insurance and tech the results can be remarkable;paving the way for innovative products and first-class servicing that is designed for the digital age.

Relay Platform - Bridging Insurance and Tech

As an emerging leader in Insurtech innovation, Relay has gained immediate industry credibility due to our depth of expertise in both insurance and tech and our passion to energize both sides of these two exciting industries. Through our platform, Relay, empowers brokers to discover their edge in the digital era by delivering superior customer service with increased efficiency and accuracy across all lines of coverage and all complexities of risk. Some key differentiators that elevate Relay above the competition:

We are A Tech Partner, Not a Wholesaler: At Relay we believe strongly in remaining a neutral insurtech provider that enables and supports your carrier and wholesale distribution. We have former brokers on staff who are very passionate about not creating channel conflicts that would complicate your wholesale broker relationships by confusing broker of record appointments, overriding carrier relationships, complicating renewal and claim servicing, and possibly putting entire books of business at risk in the event of a potential acquisition.

  • Quote to Bind Efficiencies: Other competing platforms in our space have gone the route of not wanting to burden the brokers to collect underwriting information because it takes too much time. Therefore they are designed to ask minimal info in an effort to get some rough estimate of final pricing on quotes which are no better than non-binding indications.
  • The problem with this approach is that these indications are starting to not stick after the full set of underwriting questions come back so that leaves the broker in a bad situation that actually adds more time. Relay does things differently. We've tackled a larger set of questions up front because we have the working knowledge of what will be ultimately required to bind coverage. We have designed features to help brokers move through the submission process more efficiently leading to BINDABLE quotes in hand and not just rough indications. Additionally we have built our functions in our system to triage underwriting referrals as well as declination scenarios.
  • Meeting the Market Where They Are At: While API's are the future of insurance quoting and we actively engage with API enabled capacity providers, the fact is that many carriers and MGAs do not have functional API technology at this current time. Our platform has thoughtfully integrated functionality to continue to submit, quote and propose quote options from both API and Non-API integrated capacity providers so that we can support a broker's entire book and trading relationships. A true one stop solution!

There are many more differentiating features here at Relay. Please contact​​ us today for a live demo of our platform and a consultation of how our BrokerTech solutions can elevate your business!

Author Bio: Anne Hasenstab, VP of Cyber and Executive Risk, Relay Platform

Anne is the Vice President of Cyber & Executive Risk for Relay Platform.  Her 20+ year career spans both public and private co​mpany exposures on the underwriting and brokerage sides of the insurance industry. Anne began her career at Chubb in Chicago as an executive protection underwriter and later held various management roles focusing on D&O, EPL, Professional Liability, and Cyber with firms such as Gallagher, Marsh, Travelers and most recently Ward Insurance, an independent agency in Portland, OR.

Nov 19
​ Albany Update: Big I NY Opposes Mandatory Insurance Disclosure Bill, UI Tax Hikes

This week, Big I NY joined a broad coalition of business, municipal, and construction groups in calling on Governor Hochul to veto the “Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act". The bill would require the automatic disclosure of virtually all information related to a defendant's insurance coverage and information, including insurance applications. Typically such information is obtained through discovery, in which a judge has discretion to allow only relevant materials to be disclosed. The practical effect of this bill would be to put significant discovery costs on defendants, and give plaintiffs attorneys a trove of information to engage in a litigation “fishing expedition," pursuing claims based on a defendant's available coverage rather than the liability for alleged harms. This will worsen the state's already abysmal legal climate, and further contribute to higher insurance costs.

Big I NY also joined the National Federation of Independent Businesses and multiple other employer associations in calling on Governor Hochul to use state and/or federal funds to alleviate significant unemployment insurance tax hikes and protect the solvency of the fund. The pandemic completely upended the Unemployment Insurance system. The private sector shed more than 1.7 million jobs in March 2020, driving unemployment from 4.4 percent to 16.2 percent. Extraordinary amounts of money flowed out of New York's UI Trust Fund to satisfy claims, and the State needed to borrow more than $11 billion from the federal government. The outstanding loan and completely depleted UI Trust Fund have forced all employers into the highest employer contribution rates allowable under New York's UI tax tables, meaning all businesses are paying the highest possible UI tax rate related to the fund balance. With $9.3 billion outstanding on the state's federal UI advance, New York employers are subject to these highest rates for years. We asked the state to consider several UI tax relief measures, including:

  • Restore New York's UI tax levels to their pre-pandemic, 2019 levels (based on the state UI fund balance), i.e., application of the tax table column based on a state account balance of 2.5 to 3 percent (S.6791/A.7788);
  • Use a combination of available federal and state funds to finance the cost of any regular UI benefits paid in 2022 that exceed the amount of state employer-paid UI taxes;
  • Pay any interest payments due on New York State's federal UI program advance for calendar years 2022 and 2023; and
  • Offset any increase in net FUTA taxes applicable to New York employers for calendar years 2022 and 2023.

Replenishing the UI Trust Fund should not and cannot solely fall on the backs of  New York employers for actions mandated by state government and which have already suffered immense financial harm.

Nov 19
State Proposes Regulations For Homegrown Cannabis


The newly-created New York State Office of Cannabis Management has proposed new regulations that would govern the personal cultivation of cannabis plants. If adopted, the proposal published in the Nov. 17, 2021 edition of ​New York State Register would set the legal parameters for individuals who wish to grow marijuana plants  in their homes. Growing cannabis at home may increase the risks of losses covered by homeowners and renters insurance.

The proposed rules permit cultivation of cannabis plants by individuals over age 21 in or on the grounds of their private residences. There are limits on the permissible number of "mature plants" (flowering plants visibly budding) and "immature plants" (non-flowering plants not visibly budding):

  • Three mature and three immature plants per person
  • Six mature and six immature plants per private residence (private home, townhouse, apartment, condo, etc.)

It will be permissible to give away up to three ounces of cannabis or up to 24 ounces of concentrated cannabis to a person over age 21, but selling or bartering them will be prohibited. Processing cannabis at home using liquids or gases other than alcohol that burn at temperatures below 100º F is prohibited, and plants must be stored in secured locations inaccessible to those under age 21. 

The proposed regulations will also set standards for growth of medical cannabis by certified patients and designated caregivers. Certified patients over age 21 will be permitted to grow  their own plants under the same rules as those for recreational use. Designated caregivers over age 21 caring for certified patients under age 21 or those unable to grow their own plants may grow up to six plants for a patient. Patients are limited to one caregiver growing plants for them; caregivers taking care of more than one patient may grow the six plus one for each additional patient.

Caregivers must segregate a given patient's plants from other plants in a way that easily identifies which plants belong to which patients. They can be reimbursed only for the actual costs incurred in cultivating the plants; may not sell the plants even after the patient no longer needs them; and can grow them only on their own premises or those of the patients. 

Lastly, landlords will be prohibited from refusing to lease to or otherwise penalizing a certified patient or caregiver solely for engaging in legal cannabis activity.

The Office of Cannabis Management will accept public comments​ on the proposed regulations until Jan. 16, 2022.

​Experience in Canada and other states that permit indoor growing of cannabis has shown that it presents fire hazards from electrical connections, heat from lighting fixtures, and chemicals used in the process. Expanded homegrowing activities may produce more frequent fire losses covered by homeowners and renters insurance. It seems likely that insurers will begin asking on insurance applications whether prospective insureds are engaged in this activity. In turn, the available markets for homes and apartments where cannabis is grown may become limited. 

You may want to begin asking your homeowners and renters insurance clients whether they grow cannabis plants and discuss the available coverage options with them. It may also be a good idea to caution them about the risks of misrepresenting a material fact​ on an insurance application. ​Now that both medical and recreational use of cannabis are legal in New York, homegrowing exposures are likely to increase. Being proactive now will better position your agencies for the future.

Nov 19
DFS Finalizes Guidance For Carriers On Climate Change Risks


The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) this week issued final guidance to licensed domestic insurers on how they should manage the financial risks presented by climate change. The document culminated a months-long process that started with proposed guidance on which 45 parties provided detailed comments.

Acting Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris said that DFS intends the guidance to "support insurers’ efforts to manage the financial risks from climate change, bolstering the safety and soundness of the industry and the protection of consumers. " 

According to the document, DFS expects all New York insurers to start integrating consideration of climate change's financial risks into their governance frameworks, business strategies, risk management processes and scenario analysis, and financial disclosures.  It calls on insurers to take a strategic approach to managing climate risks. They should consider current and future risks and identify actions necessary to address them. Actions should be "in a manner proportionate to the nature, scale, and complexity of insurers’ businesses. "

The guidance listed specific approaches insurers should take. DFS said it will monitor insurers' progress in implementing the expected actions. They expect insurers to implement expectations relating to organizational structure and board governance by Aug. 15, 2022. 

The department will present a webinar on the guidance on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 from 9:30 to 10:30 am. Interested parties can register here ​with registration password ClimChg112221. 

Nov 15
3, 2, 1 With Sue Keegan: Avoid Hackers; Register for Pre-Licensing; Make Chai Sugar Cookies

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

3 Things

The last in our Webinar Wednesday series with Motiva is this Wednesday, November 17th from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Join Walter Contreras of Motiva to learn how to Avoid Hackers While Working Remotely.  Free for members!

Is it too early to start talking about our January Pre-Licensing session?  We will be offering Personal Lines and P&C Pre-Licensing starting January 4th, 2022.  Get your seat now.

Register for P&C here.

Register for Personal Lines here.

Because the struggle is real, give this a read: 5 Steps to Hiring and Retaining Talent in 2022 by Claudia St. John, President of Affinity HR Group. 

2 Ideas

Running #futuregoals

Am I middle-aged? Yes. Do I love Taylor Swift? Also yes. Grab her Red (Taylor's Version) album (I'm so old that I still use the word album) that dropped last Friday and whip up some of her Chai Sugar Cookies while you listen.

1 Question

What is the last tv show you binged?  For me it was Only Murders in the Building on Hulu and it was fantastic. What’s your recent binge? Let me know via email at or post in our Community.

Nov 12
Workers' Comp Assessment Rate To Drop in 2022


The New York State Workers Compensation Board has announced a decrease in the premium assessment rate for 2022. The rate will be 10.2%, down from 11.8%, and applies to standard premium or its equivalent. The premium assessment pays for the Board's administrative costs. By law, the Board must announce its annual adjustment by November 1 each year.

The new rate takes effect on January 1, 2022.

Nov 12
Despite New Law, Insurers Can Still Underwrite Dogs

brady.jpgA portrait of the author's offi​ce​ mate

As we reported here last week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Oct. 30 signed into law a bill that prohibits insurers from declining, cancelling, non-renewing, or increasing the premiums for homeowners coverage based solely on the fact that a dog of a particular breed lives in the home.  The new law applies to policies issued, renewed or modified on and after January 28, 2022. A few of you have emailed the research department with questions about it. It's important to know that the dog breed part is not the complete story.

The law created a new Section 3421 of the New York Insurance Law. Subsection 1 of Section 3421 imposes the ban on underwriting dog breeds. However, there is also a subsection 2 that states:

The provisions of this section shall not prohibit an insurer from refusing to issue or renew or from canceling any such contract or policy, nor from imposing a reasonably increased premium or rate for such a policy or contract based upon the designation of a dog of any breed or mixture of breeds as a dangerous dog pursuant to section one hundred twenty-three of the agriculture and markets law, based on sound underwriting and actuarial principles reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss experience subject to the applicable provisions of section three thousand four hundred twenty-five of this article.

Two things important to know about this provision:

The phrase "applicable provisions of section three thousand four hundred twenty-five of this article​" refers to New York Insurance Law Section 3425, which addresses ​​cancellation and renewal of personal lines insurance policies. Therefore, even if the insurer has the right to decline or non-renew a homeowners policy or hike the premium because of a dog, it must still follow the constraints of Section 3425.

More significantly, Section 123 of the New York Agriculture and Markets Law​, titled Dangerous dogs​, permits actions that include:

  • Anyone who witnesses an actual or threatened attack by a dog upon a person or certain other animals may make a complaint to the municipality's dog control officer or police.
  • The witness,  police or dog control officer  may make a complaint under oath to a judge. The judge must then decide whether there is probable cause to believe the dog is dangerous. If she does, she must order the dog to be seized and held. She must then hold a hearing on the complaint within five days with at least two days' notice to the dog owner. The person bringing the complaint has the burden of proving "by clear and convincing evidence" that the dog is dangerous. If the judge is convinced, she must order the dog to be spayed or neutered, microchipped, and one or more of other actions, such as temporary confinement, behavioral analysis and training, mandatory leashing or muzzling, mandatory liability insurance, up to permanent confinement or euthanasia. 

There are other provisions relating to possible civil or criminal liability for the dog owner. The point of all this is that, while insurers will no longer be permitted to underwrite dog breeds, they will still be permitted to underwrite individual dogs. It will be acceptable for them to ask on an insurance application whether the applicant owns a dog and about the animal's history of attacks or bites. They can also ask whether a judge has ever designated it to be a dangerous dog. The process laid out in Agriculture and Markets Law Section 123 is extensive, time-consuming and probably expensive. It is not something an ordinary and reasonable person is likely to forget to mention when asked this specific question.

Most homeowners insurance policies include a provision similar to this one from the Insurance Services Office Homeowners 3 - Special Form, HO 00 03 05 11: "We do not provide coverage to an 'nsured' who, whether before or after a loss, has ... Intentionally concealed or misrepresented any material fact or circumstance; ... or ... Made false statements ... relating to this insurance." An insured who "forgets" that his dog was judged by a court to be dangerous risks having coverage denied based on this provision. It is a bad idea to be less than truthful about this.

​The new law does hamper underwriters' ability to restrict availability of coverage based on a dog's breed. No longer will they be able to reject applicants solely because they own pit bulls. However, they still have discretion when it comes to individual dogs of any breed, whether they are rottweilers or rabid chihuahuas. The state legislature did not leave insurers defenseless in this matter. Many may decide to restrict their writings in New York because of this new law. However, with careful underwriting, such a drastic step may be unnecessary.

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