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Feb 28
DFS Urges Compliance Measures in Wake of Russian Attack on Ukraine

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The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) is urging precautions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week. In a Feb. 25 letter to all regulated people and entities, DFS provided detailed guidance. We encourage all of you to:

  • Review the contents of the letter; and
  • Implement those measures that are appropriate for firms of your size and scope of operations.

This is particularly necessary if you do business with companies in either of the two countries.

Writing that the “Russian invasion of Ukraine significantly elevates the cyber risk for the U.S. financial sector,” Superintendent Adrienne Harris said that regulated entities should:

  • Review their cybersecurity programs to ensure that they are adequately protecting computer networks and non-public information. Entities should pay “particular attention to core cybersecurity hygiene measures” such as
    • Multi-factor authentication (MFA);
    • Management of access privileges;
    • Management of vulnerabilities.

The DFS’s Cybersecurity Requirements For Financial Services Companies regulation exempts small entities from some of its requirements. Insurance agencies that qualify are exempt from the requirement to implement MFA. However, DFS encourages all entities to implement it anyway. Big I New York partner Motiva is available to assist agencies interested in implementing MFA. They also offer complimentary cybersecurity audits to Big I New York member.

  • Plan for how they will respond to cybersecurity incidents and how their businesses will continue operating after an attack.
  • Implement DFS’s ransomware guidance from last summer, including making sure they have protected data backups available.
  • Given “the realistic threat of extended outages and disruption,” re-evaluate plans to maintain essential services, protect critical data and preserve customer confidence.
  • Test data backups before an attack occurs to ensure that restoration will work.
  • Remind all employees of the importance of cybersecurity.

The letter also recommended that all entities:

  • Monitor guidance and alerts from the federal government and private organizations;
  • Implement guidance explained in three linked documents;
  • Increase “measures to monitor, inspect, and isolate traffic from Ukrainian or Russian offices and service providers, including over virtual private networks …” if they do business in Ukraine or Russia.

Because of the invasion, the federal government has imposed several economic sanctions against Russia and people and entities based there. The letter recommended subscribing to email updates from the U.S. Treasury Department regarding financial entities on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. The SDN lists people and entities against whom the U.S. government has imposed economic sanctions. U.S. law prohibits businesses from doing business with entities on the list unless the Treasury Department has otherwise authorized them to do so by issuing special licenses.

The letter addressed many other practices. It recognized that this isn’t one-size-fits-all advice:  “The Department understands that not every measure applies to every regulated entity, however in the interest of transparency, the Department is sharing this vital information with all regulated entities … The Department will provide further guidance to regulated entities as necessary.”

Feb 25
​ Albany Update: Favorable Amendments to Insurance Disclosure Act (Finally) Enacted

What Happened:

On Thursday evening, Governor Hochul signed Big I NY-supported amendments to the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act (CIDA). Fifty-five days since the passage of the CIDA, agents and insurers can finally breathe a sigh of relief as significant beneficial changes are officially on the books. The CIDA will now apply only to actions filed after December 31, 2021 (not all pending actions, as originally passed). Additionally, policy applications are no longer subject to mandatory disclosure, PIP actions are exempted from disclosure, and the time frame for disclosure will be extended from 60 days to 90.

What's Next:

While the amended CIDA is less sweeping than the original, it still has implications for you and your customers. Read the latest analysis in our E&O report, and stay tuned for the upcoming E&O report which will provide recommendations on how to deal with any information requests you may receive pursuant to the CIDA.

Big I NY Has Your Back:

We opposed the CIDA when it was first proposed in 2021. Despite our objections the bill was swiftly passed by both houses of the legislature and sent to Governor Hochul. We mobilized agents across the state in a phone-in campaign that resulted in well over 100 phone calls. Ultimately, the Governor signed the CIDA only upon the condition that the legislature make “chapter amendments" to the bill, which removed the most objectionable pieces of the bill, i.e. mandatory disclosure of policy applications, and applicability to pending actions (as opposed to future). 


Feb 25
Industry Roundup: Only 3% of Employees Want to Return Full-Time to Their Offices; Cyber Market Primed to Grow and Eclipse Property by 2040; Auto Insurance Shopping Sees Quarter-On-Quarter Decline; Pet Benefits May be a Key to Retaining Talent

Manufacturers are Now Hackers' Favorite Targets

Manufacturing was the industry most targeted by hackers during 2021, accounting for 23.2% of incidents, according to IBM Security X-Force research. The sector edged out insurance and financial services by a slim margin.

 

Cyber Market Primed to Grow and Eclipse Property by 2040: Gallagher Re

Following a pause to stabilize the vessel, the cyber market is poised for a wave of growth that could make it larger than the property catastrophe market by 2040, said Gallagher Re.

 

Agency's Specialty Portfolio Often Fragmented by Working with Multiple Carriers

The Hanover Insurance Group recently released its State of Specialty Insurance Report, which highlights the risks of fragmentation in the marketplace.

 

Auto Insurance Shopping Sees Quarter-On-Quarter Decline

The final quarter of 2021 saw the rate of personal auto insurance shopping drop to minus 5.9% compared with minus 3.9% during Q3 2021, according to LexisNexis Risk Solutions Insurance Demand Meter.

 

Pet Benefits May be a Key to Retaining Talent

According to Nationwide, 70% of surveyed employees stated their employer does not currently offer pet-related benefits, and 30% said having pet benefits would convince them to stay with their current company or leave for a company that does offer them.

 

Only 3% of Employees Want to Return Full-Time to Their Offices

Just 3% of white collar workers want to return to the office five days a week, according to a poll by management consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates, which warned employees will quit if bosses force them back full-time.

 

Ford, State Farm Partner for Car Insurance Program

Ford has entered the insurance market through a collaboration with State Farm called 'Drive Safe & Save Connected Car' is the name of the insurance program.

 

Insurance Agency Networks in the U.S. Control $66B in Premium​​

Insuran​ce Networks Alliance (INA) released its first-of-its-kind study examining the size and dynamics of the insurance networks business segment which revealed that Insurance agency networks in the U.S. control $66 billion in premium.

 

AIG to Move High Net Worth Homeowners to E&S

Peter Zaffino, CEO of American International Group (AIG), said the company's ongoing analysis of the increased frequency and severity of natural catastrophes has led to a decision to move the high-net worth homeowners business to excess and surplus lines in multiple states.

 

More Than a Conversation: Building Diversity Means Taking Action

The cybersecurity and insurance industries have been talking about prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion for a while, but Larry Whiteside, co-founder and president of Cyversity, says conversations aren't enough. 

Feb 25
Breaking: Amendments to Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act Signed

​On Thursday evening, Governor Hochul signed Big I NY-supported chapter amendments to the new Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act (CIDA), which are effective immediately. Crucially, the CIDA will now apply only to actions filed after December 31, 2021 (not all pending actions, as originally passed)Additionally, PIP actions are exempted from disclosure, and the time frame for disclosure will be extended from 60 days to 90. Read the latest E&O report on the amended bill here.​


Feb 18
Albany Update: Chapter Amendments to Insurance Disclosure Act Passed, Advocacy Week(S) Registration Open, Public Hearing on COVID and Insurance, Photo Inspection Co-Sponsor List Grows

Chapter Amendments to Insurance Disclosure Act Passed:

This week, agents and insurers breathed a​​ sigh of relief as the legislature finally passed  Big I NY-supported chapter amendments to the new Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act (CIDA). As expected, the CIDA will now apply only to actions filed after December 31, 2021 (not all pending actions, as originally passed). Additionally, PIP actions are exempted from disclosure, and the time frame for disclosure will be extended from 60 days to 90. Anticipating these favorable changes, Big I NY prepared a summary in our February 2022 E&O report. Governor Hochul is expected to promptly sign the amendments into law and they will take effect immediately. Stay tuned for guidance on best practices for complying with the CIDA.

Registration for 2022 Agents Advocacy Week(S) is Now Open!

Advocacy Week returns this year, bigger than ever! Join fellow independent agents from across New York State for Big I NY's Virtual Independent Agents Advocacy Week(S) This empowering event will kick off with an advocacy training session on April 4th, followed by virtual meetings with your state legislators who represent you in Albany. This is your opportunity to be an advocate for your industry and your customers. During Advocacy Week(s), you'll meet your state lawmakers, and be part of the movement to help the independent channel thrive – all from the convenience of your desk! Don't worry - we'll get you prepped on the issues and ready to share your story. Register today!​

Big I NY to Testify Before Assembly Insurance Committee:

Big I NY has been invited to testify before the Assembly Insurance Committee on February 24th at a hearing to evaluate the impacts on all parts of the insurance industry, businesses, and consumers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to identify major issues, inefficiencies, potential legislative solutions, and to look forward at the future of the industry in this state. As your voice in Albany, we want to hear from you! What issues and frustrations have you and your customers experienced during the pandemic, specifically as it relates to insurance laws, regulations, or coverage? Click here to let us know!​

Photo Inspection Co-Sponsor List Grows:

Big I NY's grassroots meetings on our bill to make auto photo inspections optional continued this week, and the list of Senate co-sponsors has grown to 11. Help us keep the pressure on lawmakers to pass this important bill this session – send a message to your representatives today asking the to become a co-sponsor!


Feb 18
The Eisenhower Matrix

Ever heard of it?  I hadn’t until I was prepping for more staff development time with my team.  I was searching the internet for a visual graphic of The Purpose Matrix that I learned about in Amy Jen Su’s book “The Leader You Want to Be” to share with my team.  For some reason, the Eisenhower Matrix​ popped up.  And boy am I glad that it did!

In our quest to become a more effective and efficient team this year, we recently talked about Urgent vs. Important work and where we need to spend our time.  For me, I find great satisfaction in checking things off a list.  The more I can check off the better! My staff team is similar.  The problem with this is that this “task mindset” does not reward important or strategic work.  Without focusing on strategic work, we will not be able to advance and grow our organization.

This is where the Eisenhower Matrix comes in.  It is a simple Matrix that forces you to take that “To Do” list and categorize the items by level of importance and urgency.  4 quadrants are formed.  As you have probably guessed, it will help you determine how to categorize the items on your list.  The four quadrants in the matrix represent “Do First”, “Schedule”, “Delegate” or “Don’t Do”.

Obviously the “Do First” items are the most important things you should get done during the day.  Most likely they are the things that you are uniquely qualified to do.  You need to block time to get these done.  Another important matrix for me as a leader is the “Delegate” quadrant.  I am not great at delegating.  But, I understand that delegating is important to grow my staff team. They need opportunities to learn, grow and handle more responsibility.  I pay attention to this quadrant.

If this matrix was a useful tool for the 34th President of the United States who served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II, I am pretty sure it is a useful tool for me as a leader of my organization!


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Lisa Lounsbury, CAE, AAI, AIS
President & CEO of Big I NY


Feb 17
Industry Roundup: ​Rating Upgrades Increase for U.S. P/C Insurers in 2021; Insurer Sues Real Estate Firm for Workers' Comp Fraud; Gangs Now Arbitrate Payment Disputes as Ransomware Growth Continues; & More

Rating Upgrades Increase for U.S. P/C Insurers in 2021

Ratings for the U.S. property/casualty industry returned to pre-pandemic levels with some companies strengthening balance sheets and improving operating results, said financial strength rating agency AM Best.

 

Insurer Sues Real Estate Firm for Workers' Comp Fraud

An insurance company is suing a New York real estate firm for allegedly ducking nearly $1.5 million in workers' compensation premiums.

 

Allstate Auto Lines Suffer as Inflation Boosts 'All the Costs'

Allstate Corp. results missed estimates for the second quarter in a row as the highest inflation in 40 years drives up the costs of insuring and repairing automobiles.

 

How Champlain Towers Could Impact Condo Insurance in 2022

Even before the sudden and tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condo­minium building located just outside of Miami in Surfside, Fla., insuring condominiums was a tough proposition.

 

The Home-Based Business Boom has an Underinsurance Problem

To date, there are more than 15 million home-based businesses (HBB) in the U.S., according to AXIS Capital, which found that 44% of HBB owners either don't have commercial insurance or don't know what they are covered for.

 

Business Interruption Claims & Implications for Loss Calculations

The impacts of COVID-19 continue to affect businesses, and claims professionals may need to change how they calculate losses as a result.

 

P&C Insurers see $5.6B Net Underwriting Loss in Nine Months 2021

Private U.S. property/casualty insurers saw a $5.6 billion net underwriting loss in the first nine months of 2021, as non-catastrophe losses returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report by Verisk, a leading global data analytics provider, and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA).

 

Gangs Now Arbitrate Payment Disputes as Ransomware Growth Continues

Cyber criminal gangs are getting increasingly adept at hacking and becoming more professional, even setting up an arbitration system to resolve payment disputes among themselves, according to a new report by the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom that paints a bleak picture of ransomware trends.

 

What Gaps are Emerging in High-Net-Worth Coverage?

The rapid growth of family assets and the desire among high net worth (HNW) families to preserve their wealth for future generations has led to a significant increase in the number of family offices across the country, according to Aon's 'Family Office Benchmarking Report'.

 

What do the Top Business Interruption Insurance Policies in the US Cover?

Half of the US respondents to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS)'s latest Risk Barometer survey viewed business interruption as the biggest risk facing companies in 2022, marking the third consecutive year that supply chain disruption has topped the annual rankings.​


Feb 15
Become an IMS Sub-producer

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Big I New York helps agencies gain access to useful insurance markets through its investment in Independent Market Solutions (IMS). This members-only program allows agents to quickly connect with carriers and find insurance products suitable for their clients' needs.

IMS offers very competitive terms, and there is no cost to join. To start taking advantage of this exclusive member resource, you must complete New York's market access application. Before you begin the application, please make sure you have quick access to the following, which you'll need to complete the process:

 

  • Agency (if applicable to your state) and individual agent license numbers
  • Agency Federal Employee ID Number (FEIN)
  • Agency E&O policy information
  • Policy count information
  • Premium volume information
  • ​Agency and individual agent license numbers. Copies of the licenses will be required to upload. Please in​clude a copy of all individual agent licenses (in one uploaded file) who would like access to the carrier's quoting system.

A sub-producer agreement will also be required as part of the IMS sign-u​​p process. After uploading the application, a link to the sub-producer agreement document will appear in your application confirmation email. Once you complete both steps, you will receive a copy of the application and sub-producer agreement.
 

Applications must be submitted separately for agencies that have branches with separate FEINs. To learn more about IMS and how to sign-up in your state, click here.


Feb 11
Albany Update: Agents Advocacy Week(s), National Legislative Conference, The Importance of IAPAC, Mask Mandate Dropped

Save the dates for our 2022 Agents Advocacy Week(s) April 4th-15th (Virtual)

Advocacy Week returns this year, bigger than ever! Join fellow independent agents from across New York State for Big I NY's Virtual Independent Agents Advocacy Week(S) This empowering event will kick off with an advocacy training session on April 4th, followed by virtual meetings with your state legislators who represent you in Albany. This is your opportunity to be an advocate for your industry and your customers. During Advocacy Week(s), you'll meet your state lawmakers, and be part of the movement to help the independent channel thrive – all from the convenience of your desk! Don't worry - we'll get you prepped on the issues and ready to share your story. Keep an eye on your inbox, as registration will open soon!

Big “I" National Legislative Conference (In-Person)

It's back! We are in person and thrilled to see our Big “I" independent agents on Capitol Hill again from April 27th to 29th. Join us for a one-of-a-kind event and get up to speed on the many legislative, regulatory and legal challenges happening to your profession right now. Hear from industry leaders and spend time meeting with your legislators in Washington, D.C. Learn more and register here!

What is IAPAC, and Why is it Critical to Fighting for You?

2022 is likely to be the most important state election cycle in a decade, and we urgently need agents to step up and make a financial contribution to support our Independent Agents Political Action Committee (IAPAC).

IAPAC helps support our advocacy efforts, which include making the auto photo inspection voluntary, defeating attempts to abolish private health insurance, repealing the 30-day notice requirement to exit the State Insurance Fund, and opposing harmful and burdensome new regulations.

IAPAC allows us to support candidates for office who understand the unique needs of our industry and our customers. The relationships IAPAC helps build make us more effective at doing what we do best: standing up for YOU in Albany!

Make your contribution today – every dollar helps!

$99  $250  $500

Mask Mandate Expires

On Thursday, Governor Hochul announced the state's mask mandate would not be renewed when it expired at midnight on February 10th. Businesses are no longer required to mandate mask wearing by employees, customers, and guests, however local mask mandates may still apply. Masks are still required in schools, public transit, state healthcare facilities, and several other locations.

 

 


Feb 11
Eat the Frog: Tips for Time Management

It is 6:30 a.m.  Instead of jumping out of bed and exercising like I do every morning, today I purposely got up and am eating a big frog to start my day. 

I have been talking to my staff team about time management.  The gerbil wheel of life seems to be spinning faster and faster.  Maybe it is just me.  But I don’t think so.   

Here are some tips we talked about to better manage our time: 

Plan.  This is one thing that we have control over in our day.  It doesn’t mean that our plan always works, but if you do not start with a plan for your day or week, how do you know what you need to do to accomplish your goals?  I am an old school Franklin Planner girl.  I take a lot of heat for that!  I end every day by mapping out my “list” for the following day.  I end every Friday by setting up and planning out my following week.  I start my day and week by visiting my plan for the day to be focused. 

Know Your Best Time.  A lot of research has been done to try to pinpoint the time most productive time of the day for people.  I have read a lot about this and concluded that there is no universal most productive time of the day.  That means we need to figure this out for ourselves.  Once you know your time, use it to your advantage. For me, it is first thing in the morning.  Literally first thing.  I can get more accomplished by 10 am than most people can in a day!  

Time Block.  Once you know your most productive time, give yourself the gift of that time a couple of times a week. Protect that time from meetings or other tasks.  I mean literally put a calendar invite on your calendar (and Franklin Planner!) to protect that time.  Tackle those big projects that require a lot of brain power and are important during that time.   

Eat the frog.   Mark Twain said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” 

I hope this helps you take a little control of your time.  I would love to hear what time management tricks you have to share. ​

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Lisa Lounsbury, CAE, AAI, AIS
President & CEO of Big I NY




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