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Oct 19
Oct 16
A Few Minutes With Tim: Certificates of Insurance - What Limits Should You Show?

Question from a Big I NY member: I have a commercial lines client who has a $5,000,000 umbrella policy with us.  The insured does not want us to show on certificates that he has a $5,000,000.  He would like us to show on the requested certificates a $2,000,000 umbrella policy.   The insured just bumped up his umbrella for one client.  The umbrella policy has always been $2,000,000 and he will be changing the coverage back to $2,000,000 at renewal.  Is this something that I can do?

Watch the video below where my confidant and I consider this question. Also note the change in title because truth in advertising.

Links mentioned in the video:

ACORD 25 Forms Instruction Guide

New York Insurance Law Sect. 502

New York Insurance Law Sect. 2110

Connecticut Law:

Certificates of Insurance

Producer misconduct

New Jersey Law:

Certificates of Insurance

Producer misconduct​

Big I New York Answer Center:

Certificates of Insurance



Oct 15
On Our Mind: Sales Coaching & Training

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

I have been having a ball the last year or so working for Big I NY. After being “on the agent side” for many years, it is a pleasure and a breath of fresh air to be able to support my fellow Brothers and Sisters. We want to give you all the resources and services you need to make your job easier, more worthwhile and more fulfilling so you can continue to HELP PEOPLE!

This is why I am very excited to share with you a new program... Sales Coaching and Training- this can be for you, your rising stars, or future hires.

Selling insurance is the ultimate people's business. The best agencies know how to make deep connections with people. In the past, we motivated our sales teams with carrots and sticks. The new generations of sales agents want more. In the book Good Authority by Jonathan Raymond, he states what people want from work today. "It is the offer of work that will-from the day they start to the day they decide to move on-help them become a better version of themselves." 

We are excited to offer a new and different sales performance training from Habit Finder coaches Cliff D'Angelo and April Ballestero. Their programs aren't just about learning sales techniques. These very experienced coaches will identify your habits of thinking. They will show you how these thought habits support you in achieving your goals or cause roadblocks in your performance.

Together Cliff and April have over 50 years of sales experience and proven coaching results. The core of this program is your agents will now have coaches who are focused on them personally and professionally to increase production, create a whole perspective to their life and business, and improve overall results in doing business with people they want to do business with.

Want to learn more? Contact me  by email at or by phone at 315-432-4226.

Here are some upcoming webinars you might find interesting as well.

Oct 13
If you haven’t been hit by a BEC attack yet, there is a good chance you will be


By Andrew Frisbie, Chief Information Security Office at LCG

​What is a BEC attack?

In the last several weeks, we have seen an increase in a type of cyber-attack called Business Email Compromise (BEC) – targeting businesses using Office (Microsoft) 365 email services. In this type of attack the objective is usually to influence your email communications for the purpose of convincing someone to divert payments (funds) to an illicit bank account or repository. 

Learning to protect your organization from BEC attacks is a cyber risk mitigation strategy against financial loss. Some examples from the past few weeks include:

  • Company using custom email domain in Office 365 was spoofed to convince a customer to redirect invoice payments, resulting in nearly $200,000 in diverted funds. 

  • Company using custom email domain in Office 365 experienced email account takeover, which was used to send credential stealing malware to customers. 

  • Company using custom email domain in Office 365 has been subjected to brute force / password guessing attacks from around the globe and is concerned about email account takeovers.

Why BEC?

Like most business owners, cyber criminals evaluate their Return on Investment. BEC is highly profitable and requires very little investment by the attackers. Cyber criminals do not need to procure teams of software developers to create and deploy malware into a company’s network, maintain persistence in the network or surveil the network – all the while risking detection before achieving their monetary objective.  Rather, they can simply use social engineering to trick your employees to do the hard work for them. Also, as many businesses are migrating to cloud-based email like Office 365, there are plenty of targets to choose from.

Company executives are often targeted in BEC attacks because they are in a position of authority and have influence over financial transactions. Similarly, people in finance/accounting roles are often targeted. Cyber criminals can easily find this information by searching sites like LinkedIn.

How the attackers pursue their objectives

As noted, the objective is to divert funds into an illicit bank account. To do so, they must convince the email recipient that the email sender is a trusted source. There are two basic techniques attackers use to assume the “trusted sender” role in BEC attacks:

  • Spoofing – the act of impersonating a trusted sender by obscuring the email source (sender name, address, website, etc.) - often by changing just one character. The goals is to get you to click on something or reveal information beneficial to the attackers by making you believe you are communicating with a trusted source.

  • Email account takeover – harder to recognize than a spoofed email because the legitimate email account has been compromised and is being controlled by the attacker. In Office 365 environments without proper safeguards, the attackers leverage rules and policies to hide the fact that they have compromised the account.

A note about Email account takeovers: The attacker may try to compromise the account by getting you to do something (click/open) or they may try to brute force / guess their way in. Regarding the latter, we often find that company email addresses from various mega breaches are purchased on the Dark Web and used to harvest information such as usernames, email domains and in some cases passwords. Attackers rely on human fallibility in password management – that most people use the same passwords over and over again across numerous services and websites. Attackers can leverage the breach data to run automated attacks against your Office 365 system until a successful compromise occurs and the attack is handed off to a human being. Remember that a compromised Office 365 account is not limited to email – Office 365 exposes other apps like Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive.

8 steps you can take to protect your organization against BEC attacks

  1. Train your employees to recognize fraudulent emails and provide them a mechanism to report such emails to your IT or information security contact.
  2. Create an incident response plan that includes what to do and who to call when an employee makes a mistake and falls for a phishing/spear phishing type attack.
  3. Secure your Office 365 environment by enabling Multi-factor authentication – the single most important safeguard for protecting against account takeovers.
  4. Know what sensitive information is stored in Office 365 apps like Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive (premium licenses from Microsoft have features that enable more granular protections of content).
  5. Create dedicated administrator accounts in Office 365 that are closely monitored and used strictly for administrative tasks. Never use an administrator account for normal, regular use such as connecting to an inbox and sending email.
  6. Enable Audit Logs in Office 365 so you can monitor activity and so there is data to investigate in the event of a suspected breach. 
  7. Leverage the relatively new Security and Compliance admin centers in Office 365 to implement Microsoft’s recommended rules and policies to protect against malware, ransomware and phishing attacks.
  8. Implement financial controls for employees that include “out-of-band" verification of changes to payment methods. An example of “out-of-band” verification means that if you receive an email notice that bank routing information has changed for payment of invoices, you should not attempt to verify via the same mechanism that requested the change, rather you should verify by phone or in person instead.

Additional Resources

Oct 12
Big I NY's Spoooooky Thoughts

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

​This week's Spoooooky Thoughts includes some music from classic Halloween movies.  Be warned, you may be singing all day at work.

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice​

The City That Never Sleeps (and now I know why)

NY's Most Haunted Theater (right in my own backyard!)​

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good

Yard Haunts.  I bet their neighbors love them!​​

Let us know your favorite Halloween songs.  Email Sue Keegan at​.

Oct 05
Big I NY's Spoooooky Thoughts

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

Big I NY is celebrating Halloween all month long.  Enjoy some music,  videos, and scary stories - if you dare.​

Friends, this podcast is goooood and spoooooky

Be sure and tell 'em Large Marge sent ya

Don Henley and spoooooky?  Say it isn't so

Tale of the 13 Curves (right in my backyard for crying out loud

​Quoth Bart Simpson, nevermore

Share your favorite local haunted legends with us.  ​​Email​.

Oct 02
Why Do the Limits on a Workers Comp Policy Matter?

lawyers-1000803_640.jpgQuestion from a Big I NY member: Hi Tim. Work Comp question for you. How come some policies have different limits shown than others? Work comp is unlimited isn’t it? I never really had a good answer on this issue.

Answer: By “limits,” I assume you mean the Employers Liability Limits shown in Item 3.B. in the Declarations. It is true that, for most employments, Employers Liability Insurance is unlimited in New York. The NY WC manual states that endorsement WC 31 03 08, New York Limit of Liability Endorsement, must be attached to all policies that list New York under Item 3.A. in the Declarations. It applies only to Part Two, Employers Liability Insurance, and states:

"We may not limit our liability to pay damages for which we become legally liable to pay because of bodily injury to your employees if the bodily injury arises out of and in the course of employment that is subject to and is compensable under the Workers' Compensation Law of New York."

Therefore, if an injured employee is eligible for New York Workers’ Comp benefits, Employers Liability Insurance coverage is unlimited. For example, suppose a construction worker is injured using a power tool and collects WC benefits. The worker is prohibited by law from suing his employer, but the manufacturer of the tool is fair game. He sues the manufacturer for allegedly selling an unreasonably dangerous tool. The manufacturer countersues the worker’s employer for allegedly failing to train him on how to use it properly. The Employers Liability Insurance coverage for this lawsuit against the employer is unlimited because of this endorsement.

Another example: A landlord owns a few one-family houses and hires someone to clear away dead grass and leaves from one of the yards during the spring. While doing the job, this person somehow gets hurt (gets a cut or something.) A casual laborer doing chores around a dwelling is not eligible for NY WC benefits. If he sues the employer, the limits shown in Item 3.B. in the Declarations would apply to that lawsuit because the injury arose out of and in the course of employment that is not is subject to and compensable under NY WC law. In this scenario, the limits shown in the Declarations become pretty important; that’s one reason why you might see higher limits.

Another scenario would be if an employer has operations in multiple states, and an employee from another state gets hurt while temporarily in New York (think a claim adjuster from Virginia sent to New York to handle claims after a hurricane.) Most states extend eligibility for WC benefits to employees temporarily working in another state. In that case, again the injury is not compensable under NY WC law, so the limits to Employers Liability Coverage would apply. In addition, if a single policy lists New York and other states under Item 3.A., the EL limits will apply to an injury in one of those other states.

Lastly, it seems to be pretty common for some project owners to require high EL limits in the insurance requirements, probably because they’re ignorant of the way EL coverage works in New York.

These are the reasons I can think of why the EL limits might vary from one policy to another. If an employer has operations and employees only in New York and all of the employments are covered by the NY WC law, I agree that the EL limits are meaningless.

Oct 02
Congrats to the NY 2020 Best Practices Agencies


​​The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (Big I), and Reagan Consulting are proud to present the 2020 Best Practices Agencies:


  • Austin & Co., Albany 
  • Curabba Agency, Middletown 
  • Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy, New Hartford 
  • Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Syracuse 
  • Mackoul Risk Solutions, Island Park 
  • Marshall & Sterling Enterprises, Poughkeepsie 
  • Merriam Insurance Agency, Schenectady 
  • Metz Wood Harder dba MetzWood Insurance, Chatham 
  • Mirabito-Gresham Insurance & Bonds Agency, Vestal 
  • Rose & Kiernan, East Greenbush 
  • Seely & Durland, Warwick 
  • The Connors Agency, Mechanicville 
  • Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Batavia 
  • Walsh Duffield Companies, Buffalo 
  • York International Agency, Harrison​

Congratulations! For a full list of all of the 2020 Best Practices Agencies, click here.​​​

Oct 02
On Our Mind…Get the Facts

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

Knowledge is power. As agents, we rely on it, and use it to help others protect what matters most. As individuals in this strange year of 2020, we are experiencing a time when determining what's fact from fiction can be blurry. While social media can be amazing for business, it also easily spreads this confusion. The solution – more knowledge.

In and outside of your agency, research and learning can go a long way. Sure gut is important, but you'll be in a much stronger position to persuade others to your way of thinking if you include facts and statistics. You become more credible. Trusted. People are looking for someone to lean on and learn from. Why not be one of those people right inside your own agency?

To do our part, we've got some very valuable and timely educational programs coming up to help you expand your footing as a trusted source. You can always trust us to have your back with the right information and resources.

Hang in there. This too shall pass.​

Oct 01
Senator Breslin to Chair NCOIL Special Committee on Race in Underwriting

​This week, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators announced the formation of a Special Committee on Race in Insurance Underwriting. The new committee will study race-related issues in insurance underwriting, with an eye to protect the jurisdiction of state legislatures over the regulation of insurance. The committee will be chaired by Senator Neil Breslin (D, Delmar), the current chairman of the New York State Senate Insurance Committee.

The Special Committee will take testimony from stakeholders and work to define “proxy discrimination", which has been used to refer to seemingly neutral practices which disproportionately harm members of certain ethnicity, gender, or other protected class. The committee also seeks to examine underwriting factors such a zip code and education level.

We applaud NCOIL for its commitment, and for the selection of Senator Breslin to lead the committee. Big I NY is firmly committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry, and we welcome any opportunity for our Inclusion Task Force​ to work with Senator Breslin and NCOIL to study these important issues.​

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