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Oct 17
Upcoming Flood Insurance Webinars for Agents

Presented by the National Flood Insurance Program

October 2019 - Register Now!
(Capacity is Limited)

Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance for Agents
Parts One and Two

Please register for both parts of this webinar.

Part One: October 23 - 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CDT - REGISTER
Part Two: October 24 - 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CDT - REGISTER

Insurance agent continuing education course approval and credits vary by state. CLICK HERE for information about your state. 

Can't attend these sessions? Watch for more opportunities soon.

 

TWO-PART KEY FUNDAMENTALS WEBINAR

This webinar is a two-part course on the National Flood Insurance Program. It includes the topics listed in the Federal Register notice on training and education requirements related to Section 207 of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004, otherwise known as FIRA 2004.

It brings participants the latest information on reform legislation impacting the NFIP as it reviews the key elements that insurance agents need to know about the NFIP and how it works. It also discusses many of the federal flood program's general rules as well as some more advanced topics. For more information visit our Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance overview.

Attendees must complete both sessions in order to cover all topics required by the Flood Insurance Reform Act (FIRA) of 2004.

REGISTRATION INFORMATION

To register, please use the links above. These webinars are FREE to attend, but spaces are limited so please register early.

Can't attend these sessions? NFIP Training conducts webinars on flood insurance topics regularly. Watch for more upcoming opportunities. If you are not a subscriber to NFIP agent training bulletins, please sign up here.

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS

Insurance agent continuing education course approval and credits vary by state. Click Here for information about your state. Some states (e.g. California, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia) require that both parts of the course be successfully completed in the same offering to receive any credit hours.

Currently, there are no CE credits available in Puerto Rico, Guam or the Virgin Islands.

Both parts of the course must be completed to meet the FIRA 2004 training requirement. Periodic learning checks will be conducted to measure attendee engagement. Learning checks must be completed by each registered attendee to earn CE credit. Only registered attendees are eligible to receive CE credits. No exam is required. As the course provider, we will collect agents' license numbers for the purpose of roster submissions.

State Mandatory Notifications:

Colorado - This two-part course is approved by the Colorado Division of Insurance for Continuing Insurance Education Credit.

Connecticut - Approved by the State of Connecticut Insurance Department for insurance producer continuing education credit.

Florida - Each part of this course has been approved by the Florida Department of Financial Services for insurance continuing education credit.  FL Provider: H2O Partners, Inc. (#365883); Course: Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance for Agents - Part 1 (Webinar) (#106200); Course: Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance for Agents - Part 2 (Webinar) (#106202).

New Mexico - This course has been approved by the Insurance Continuing Education Committee as a New Mexico Insurance Continuing Education Course.

South Carolina - This course is approved by the South Carolina Department of Insurance for Continuing Insurance Education Credit.

 

Questions? Contact Aaron Montanez at: producer@h2opartnersusa.com 

 

Please do not reply to this email. If you have questions regarding NFIP Training, please write to nfiptraininginfo@h2opartnersusa.com.

Sign Up for NFIP Agent Training Bulletins​​


Oct 17
ALERT: MAJOR REGULATORY CHANGE ON OVERTIME PAY

The U.S. Department of Labor announced its long-anticipated changes to overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Beginning January 1, 2020, employees who are considered “exempt" from federal overtime provisions must earn a guaranteed minimum salary of at least $684/week ($35,568 /year).   

Therefore, if an employee's salary is not at least $684/week, he or she must be classified as non-exempt, have his or her time tracked and receive overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a week.

This new regulation has the potential to impact many Big I NY members. To help you understand and prepare for this change, we are co-hosting with Big I National a webinar on October 30, 2019 at 2:00 ET. Our presenter will be Claudia St. John, president of Affinity HR Group, Big I NY's national HR consulting partner and resource.  The purpose of the webinar is to:

  • Review the regulatory changes and their potential impact on independent agencies
  • Present reclassification and pay accommodation options to consider to be compliant
  • Answer as many of your questions as possible before, during, and after the webinar

To sign up for this complimentary webinar, click here. 

If you are unable to attend and would like assistance on understanding the rule change and how to remain compliant, please feel free to contact Affinity HR Group directly at (877) 660-6400 or Contact@AffinityHRgroup.com.​

Oct 11
On Mary's Mind: Insurance - What a Great Business

​Insurance is a great business that we have chosen for ourselves.  Think about it…

Where else could you find a career that is so interesting and where the sky is pretty much the limit?  Every day, we at Big I New York get calls and emails from our members asking questions about topics ranging from insurance coverages, form interpretation, legislative and regulatory issues, Cybersecurity, and licensing to name a few.  It's through many of these discussions that we've really gotten to have some great conversations and it makes me marvel at how many things you've got going on and how engaged you are through it all. 

How fortunate are we; all of us collectively, to work in a field where we can be learning something every day.  After all, the amount of information that we are exposed to is so vast there will always be something that we'd like to learn more about.  We get to help others have a sense of well-being in knowing that we've looked out for them and if something happens, they know they can call.  We volunteer in our communities to contribute to where we live and work.  ​

For all of the insurance warriors out there, hat's off to you!  How lucky are we all to be a part of it?  When you talk to a young person about what you do, remember to let them know the potential that you see in the industry and how it could be a wonderful choice for them as well. Until our next conversation…

Oct 07
On Mary's Mind: Cyber Tips for Agents

By Mary Byrnes​AAI-M, AU​, Education Department

Recently two things happened.  First, I received a call from an agency that wanted to review some cyber tips with their staff and secondly, I attended a webinar on Cyber Exposures for the Healthcare Industry.​

I took the webinar mostly out of curiosity.  The reality was that it was so eye opening and it made me think of the common types of information and exposures that there are between both healthcare and our own industry.

Mailroom Failure-In 2017, Aetna mailed letters to 12,000 recipients in 20 states about HIV medications.  The letters were placed in window envelopes prior to mailing.  The envelopes used allowed third parties to see the who was receiving medication for HIV/AIDS.  The award on the suit was $17,000,000.

This claim shows us that through something so innocuous as mailing letters could come such a huge release of Personally Identifiable Information.  Although, this is not a cyber type incident, it does show that a huge exposure is people.  There lies the commonality in this claim and in the exposures that agencies have from cyber exposures.

Agencies have some of the same types of information that the healthcare industry does:

  • Billing Info (credit card, bank info, addresses, etc.)
  • Social Security #s
  • Insurer info
  • Medical info (agencies that write Health Insurance)

Agencies are dependent on the IT infrastructure for insurer communication platforms/portals, billing, vendors, etc.

The common types of breaches are:

  • Employee carelessness &/or negligence
  • Employees & Social Media
  • Ransomware
  • Rogue Employees (former employees with an axe to grind)
  • Phishing schemes
  • Lost or stolen devices
  • Business associate failures (former vendors with an axe to grind)

All of these types of breaches point to a human factor.

Let’s go over one of the breaches on the list.

Phishing is when someone (cyber-criminal), poses as a trusted party to get sensitive information from a source.  This could be a mass email sent from a spoofed site that looks almost exactly like a site that you use all the time.  The email might say that they need to update your credit card info or social security number possibly due to your account being compromised.

As everything else evolves, so are the cyber criminals.  They're not always looking for the quick turnaround for what some of them consider low profit with mass email spoofs.  Now, many are willing to do some research into a firm, mine for data about the people at a firm, watch their emails etc.  They're even willing to scope out the physical location, seeing who comes and goes.

Picture this…the boss goes away on a long-awaited vacation.  Beforehand, they've included in all of the emails that they've sent out that they'll be out of the office for a couple of weeks visiting sites in Europe.  While the boss is away, an email is received by the accounting department from the boss.  It says that they are having a great trip, seeing the sights and doing some shopping.  They've decided to buy some jewelry from a well-known store overseas and they don't want to put it on their credit card because they'll be there for a while and doing more shopping.  Please wire $xx,000 to Well Known Jewelry Store, here's the routing number etc.  Please let me know when it's done.  See you in a couple of weeks.  Thanks, the Boss.  The accounting person is really busy and this is the last thing that needs to be done before they can leave for the day.  They wire the $$ and respond to the email from the Boss that it's done.  The email goes back to the cyber-criminal, they receive the $$ and close the account.

Did the employee willingly send the funds-yes.  Without some type of insurance can the funds be recovered-no.​

From an insurance standpoint-this would be treated on a Crime Policy by endorsement for Social Engineering.  An unendorsed crime policy won't do the trick, it needs to be amended to include the coverage. 

Not only is a Cyber policy a good idea for your agency and your insureds, but Crime policies should be endorsed to include the Social Engineering coverage.

Risk Management Tip:  If ever you get a request to transfer funds or to change an account number that you send money to (vendors, carriers, etc.), don't do it based on an email or a call in.  First, call your usual contact or the person supposedly requesting the $$ (example: vendor, carrier, the boss, etc.) and ask about the request.  Verify!  Do not call the number in the email or email that was provided in the call requesting the money transfer or the account number change or call the number back from the email or the phone call that was received.

Cyber Security Tips for Everyday:

  • Don't open emails from strangers and especially don't open attachments from them.
  • Use strong passwords, don't use names (human or pet, etc.) add a few special characters or numbers.
  • Free Wi-Fi connections can be unencrypted, so be careful of accessing personal or sensitive data in places where you're unsure of the security (hotels, hospitals, airports, restaurants, internet cafes,  etc that provide open access to their patrons).
  • Make sure that your computers & systems are updated with the latest updates on operating systems and virus protection etc.  It's not uncommon for a vulnerability to be discovered and an update issued.

The criminals aren't going to target mega corporations; they're looking at John & Jane Q Main Street.  To keep your information safe, the key is to be aware and diligent.

Oct 02
New Online Video! October 2019 NFIP Program Changes

​​


The National Flood Insurance Program continues to undergo change. Some of the change is aimed at providing a better customer experience for policyholders while other changes continue the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. This new short video explains the key elements of changes to the NFIP that are effective October 1, 2019.

What You Will Learn
The October Program Changes video details three NFIP program changes related to:

  • National Producer Numbers
  • Specific Rating Guidelines
  • The Community Rating System Eligible Communities List

Suggested Additional Reading
FEMA periodically issues WYO Program Bulletins related to legislative changes and clarifications to the NFIP Flood Insurance Manual. FEMA recently published Bulletin w-19014 - April 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021 Program Changes.

Free Online Flood Insurance Courses
The NFIP offers free online courses covering basic and advanced flood insurance topics through the FEMA Emergency Management Institute's Independent Study Program. Visit the NFIP Training pages for agents or claims adjusters for course details, or view this list of NFIP courses offered through the Independent Study Program.

Go to the October 2019 NFIP Program Changes Video


Big I NY's Flood Insurance Page​


Big I NY's Flood Page on the Answer Center​

Sep 27
On Mary's Mind: So I have a Maserati

By Mary Byrnes​AAI-M, AU​, Education Department​​

So I have a Maserati GT Convertible; it is cherry red and revs to an impressive 7,500 rpm.  It's gorgeous and turns heads (it's also a figment of my imagination, but stay with me on this). 

Would you like to rent it for a few days, maybe drive around town, impress a few people?  Did you know that with peer to peer car sharing, you can do that?  You can find a Chevy for about at about $65/day, but there's also a Rolls at $1000/day.  So far, we've received calls or emails from agency members in and around NYC and Long Island but the concept is likely to catch on.

The devil, of course, will be in the details.  Hate to rain on anyone's parade, but the whole insurance thing might not be as easy as it sounds on the sample rental agreement. Also, there are a lot of stipulations in the agreements about usage, who, where, how and to what extent are all spelled out. 

As Tim Dodge's recent video Two Minutes with Tim-Car Sharing illustrated there's a lot to consider.  If you get a call from an insured that either wants to rent out their vehicle to or rent an auto from a peer to peer car sharing arrangement, read their policies, it's unlikely that you'll find coverage and more likely that you'll find an exclusion.  Is coverage offered through the car sharing operation and is it adequate or bare bones. 

At this point, even if you don't think that it's an issue where you are, your clients travel and they might see it as a cool option.  After all, it's hard to think about the insurance ramifications when they're blinded by that shiny red Maserati GT Convertible!

Whoever thought that, in addition to asking about whether an insured does ride sharing, we'd need to ask about car sharing?  I'm hesitant to ask, “What's next?"

Sep 26
Two Minutes With Tim - New York Auto Photo Inspections - Does the Insurer Need the Window Sticker?

​In this video, I answer members' questions about demands one particular insurer has started making when it comes to waiving the inspection for a new car.


 

Sep 26
Big "I" Applauds House Passage of Financial Services Cannabis Bill

SAFE Banking Act provides significant legal protections for insurance agents and brokers.

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 25, 2019 -- The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") thanks the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation which would protect agents and brokers who write insurance coverage for legitimate cannabis-related businesses from criminal prosecution and civil liability. H.R. 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act overwhelmingly passed the House with a vote of 321-103. 

“The Big 'I' applauds the House of Representatives for passing the SAFE Banking Act and taking the steps necessary to protect agents and brokers," says Charles Symington, Big “I" senior vice president of external, industry & government affairs. “The Big “I" especially wants to thank Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) for their leadership on this important legislation."

Under current federal law, the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana is illegal, except for some limited research purposes. However, at the state level, all but a handful states permit medical marijuana use in some capacity, and several states now allow the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

“Now that the legislation has passed the House, the Big 'I' encourages the Senate to take action on cannabis legislation," says Joseph Cortina, Big “I" director of federal government affairs. “Specifically, we encourage Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to consider the SAFE Banking Act."

Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") is the nation's oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing more than 25,000 agency locations united under the Trusted Choice brand. Trusted Choice independent agents offer consumers all types of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products—from a variety of insurance companies.​

Sep 26
Big ‘I’ Reaction Mixed on Overtime Rule

National insurance agents association cites “improvement" from previous regulation.

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 25, 2019 — Members of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I"), along with other employers, will have just under 100 days to comply with a final overtime rule announced yesterday by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Effective January 1, 2020, the rule sets the minimum salary threshold for overtime eligibility at $35,568. The regulations implement the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)'s overtime mandate and will make an estimated 1.3 million additional U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay.  

“While not perfect, the final rule is a significant improvement over the overtime rule proposed during the Obama administration, which would have caused a significant increase in direct compliance costs and paperwork burdens for our small business members as well as significant losses in productivity for the economy," says Charles Symington, Big “I" senior vice president of external, industry & government affairs. “While still a challenge for many of our members, we appreciate that the final rule did not set any automatic updates and that employers will at least be able to count non-discretionary bonuses, incentives and commissions--up to 10% of an employee's salary--toward the threshold."

The FLSA's exemption threshold for “highly compensated employees" will be set at $107,432, lower than in DOL's initial draft but still higher than the previous threshold of $100,000.

In 2016, the Big “I" was the only insurance trade association to join a lawsuit with the Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and other business groups to successfully prevent the DOL from moving forward on the previous rule which had doubled the exemption threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 for “white collar" exemptions and raised the exemption threshold from $100,000 to $134,004 for “highly compensated employees." It had also set automatic updates to the thresholds every three years. The Big “I" was concerned the 2016 rule would have diminished employee flexibility, increased administrative burdens and costs on small businesses and negatively impacted insurance consumers through reduced customer service.

“Even with these changes, a number of our member agencies may still find it difficult to comply with these exemptions," says Heather Eilers-Bowser, Big “I" counsel, federal government affairs. “While the new minimum thresholds for 'white collar' exemptions and 'highly compensated executive' employees are much lower than proposed during the last administration, they remain a concern for many independent agents and brokers."

Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") is the nation's oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing more than 25,000 agency locations united under the Trusted Choice brand. Trusted Choice independent agents offer consumers all types of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products—from a variety of insurance companies. ​​


Sep 26
Challenge to the insurance industry: Tell your “giving back" story
lisa.lounsbury.jpgBy Lisa Lounsbury, CAE, AAI, AIS,
Big I NY President & CEO​





The insurance industry is AMAZING. 

It pays claims and provides financial support when there is a loss;

It supports someone starting their dream business or buying their dream house;

It provides “peace of mind" that an individual's or business's assets are protected.

But, what makes the insurance industry AMAZING is its heart.  I am constantly blown away by the meaningful ways that our industry “gives back".

An insurance agent who quietly bought, collected and refurbished hundreds of bikes over many years to provide to inner city youth who could not afford one;

The insurance agency that just underwrote and helped organize a major fundraiser to support a local children's hospital;

The insurance agent who spent two days every week with her “little sister" until she went to community college;

The local association that made beds together for a charity that provides beds to youth who do not have one;

The insurance carrier that underwrote the costs of playground equipment and supported its employees to install and build it for an impoverished community.

I could go on and on with these examples; the industry and people who work in it have heart.

But, we have a major problem.

We don't talk about it as an industry. 

We are modest.

We don't want to seem self-serving.

We don't want to seem boastful—that we are “giving" for the “wrong" reasons.

STOP. 

Stop being modest. 

Stop keeping your story to yourself or your organization.

START SHARING! 

Start telling your stories. 

Talk about the causes that you and your organization are passionate about and why.

Explain how you support them.

A lot of good will come from it.

First, it is good for the charity.  It gives them FREE PR and marketing. They need you to be an ambassador for their organization and talk about the way you support them.  If you do this, you essentially “multiply" your support of them.

Second, it changes the “perception" of the insurance industry.  Unfortunately, most news about our industry is negative.  Insurance is generally triggered when there is a problem.  Public media loves to beat the industry up.  Instead of reacting to all of the negativity, let's be proactive and control the narrative.  If the industry proactively talks about philanthropic activities, it changes the story and the image.

The last reason to share your story is to attract talent—the right talent. Younger generations place a high value on social responsibility. They are attracted to organizations that “give back".  They eagerly participate in workplace volunteer activities.  In addition to attracting new talent, overall employee morale is raised.

I recently attended an IICF (Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation) board meeting.  The IICF helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strength of the insurance industry in providing grants, volunteer service and leadership.  We awarded ten $2,500 grants to local charities around the Tri-state area.  The work that these groups do is meaningful to the audiences they serve. 

My challenge for you is simple: Start telling your story.  Share your story on your digital channels and include #insurancegivesback and #biginewyork.

Warmly,

Lisa

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