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May 29
On Our Mind...Keeping You Informed

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

Hello! This week we will be sharing some updates from the Department of Financial Services to reinforce Big I NY's attempts to keep you informed and up to date with important information. Be sure to check our website out at www.biginy.org for a whole bunch more.

 Extenstion of Expirations
The New York State Department of Financial Services announced that it was extending the expiration of individual insurance agent and broker licenses through July 8. The move grants producers an additional 45 days to renew their licenses.

On March 25, the department announced that it was suspending the expiration of producers' licenses for 60 days, through May 24, due to anticipated difficulty for producers to meet continuing education requirements during the current pandemic. All licenses with expiration dates between those dates were automatically extended to expire on May 25. Today's announcement pushes that expiration date back to July 9. For example, a license scheduled to expire on May 22 will now expire on July 9.

Deadline to File Certification of Compliance
Insurance agencies and brokerages must file the Certification of Compliance required by New York's cybersecurity regulation for financial services companies. You have until Monday, June 1.

In the past, the deadline for filing the certification was Feb. 15. However, in late 2019 the New York State Department of Financial Services announced that it would propose a change to the regulation, moving the deadline to April 15. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the department announced that it was giving all financial services companies an extra 45 days to file. The department's website now states that the deadline is June 1.

You can file the certification on the department's cybersecurity portal. Step-by-step instructions are available for download from the Compliance Resources page within the Cybersecurity section of the Big I New York website.

Workers' Compensation Rates
The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board (NYCIRB) today announced that employers who are paying employees sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic will pay a less-expensive rate for Workers' Compensation insurance. Big I New York had asked the NYCIRB to make this change.

Many employers have taken advantage of the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which provides them with short term loans to cover payroll for two months during stay-at-home orders. Other employers are simply paying employees even though they are prohibited from operating.

Workers' Compensation rating rules require premiums to be calculated based on the amount of the employer's payroll. While idled employees are still on the payroll, they have no exposure to being injured on the job. This results in an employer paying insurance premiums for a non-existent risk.​

Here are some CE webinars that are sure to be of interest to your staff.​

Homeowner's Policy Coverage Concerns for the Modern Family

ABEN Understanding the Insurance Industry​

Reg 187 - It's In YOUR Best Interest​

May 26
Will You Be Welcoming a New Employee?

While new hire season 2020 may look very different than 2019, new employees are still joining agencies every day.  We have connected with many hiring managers and new hires to learn what's different about the onboarding process.  A lot is different especially when agencies' employees are working from home or a smaller staff rotates in-office times. 

Below are tips if you are hiring over the next 60 days:

1.  Number One Priority: Have A Plan!

This was always a proven strategy but now more than ever.  Map out the first three weeks day by day.  The first impression sets the stage for future expectations.  A schedule with a mission, timing and outcomes for each day will communicate how employees and teams are expected to perfect at your agency. 

  • Arrange HR related requirements on their first day.

  • Schedule guest one-on-one speakers from the agency to talk about their role and the culture.

  • Set online learning assignments for completing a certain number of courses each day.

  • Organize all operations and procedural training that takes place remotely via zoom or webinar to be recorded. These can be terrific reference tools for the new hire.  Finding the information they need when they need it, will build confidence.

  • Integrate report backs or quizzes.  Accountability starts with the new hire sharing what they learned to encourage them to ask questions and learn more. 

​2.  “Before" Day One- Impression Matters!

Make your new hire feel welcome; create a plan. Nothing is worse then a new employee showing up for work and feeling lost. Here are some ways to make a great impression that first day: 

  • Make them feel they are part of the team – introductions are a must – and virtual conference calls are perfect for this. 

  • Send the new employee a welcome basket or a swag bag with your company marketing materials. 

  • Schedule virtual lunches – not every day but sprinkle them in throughout. 

  • Can you assign a different buddy for the first three weeks? (That's only one per week.)

  • Rotate buddy assignments for the first three weeks. 

  • Include them in staff meetings (and then ask them post-meeting to share questions with you). 

  • Engage with the New Employee Daily.

As a leader, be sure to check-in daily – this can be a longer meeting on Monday morning to reset the plan for the week and then at lunch or end of day to discuss questions. Employees value leadership and guidance.  The first 90 days on a new job can be tense for the new employee – now more than ever.  Every connection and discussion will ease this tension and create a supportive onboarding process. 

Need help with a training plan?  Please visit:
https://www.myagencycampus.com/ for more information. 



May 21
Reminder: Cybersecurity Certification of Compliance Due June 1

​This is a reminder that, even with a pandemic going on, insurance agencies and brokerages must file the Certification of Compliance required by New York's cybersecurity regulation for financial services companies. You have until Monday, June 1.

In the past, the deadline for filing the certification was Feb. 15. However, in late 2019 the New York State Department of Financial Services announced that it would propose a change to the regulation, moving the deadline to April 15. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the department announced that it was giving all financial services companies an extra 45 days to file. The department's website now states that the deadline is June 1.

You can file the certification on the department's cybersecurity portal. Step-by-step instructions are available for download from the Compliance Resources page within the Cybersecurity section of the Big I New York website.

May 21
NYS DFS Delays Producer License Expirations Through July 8

​The New York State Department of Financial Services today announced that it was extending the expiration of individual insurance agent and broker licenses through July 8. The move grants producers an additional 45 days to renew their licenses.

On March 25, the department announced that it was suspending the expiration of producers' licenses for 60 days, through May 24, due to anticipated difficulty for producers to meet continuing education requirements during the current pandemic. All licenses with expiration dates between those dates were automatically extended to expire on May 25. Today's announcement pushes that expiration date back to July 9. For example, a license scheduled to expire on May 22 will now expire on July 9.

Visit the Big I NY Education Calendar to find webinars that you can take to meet the continuing education credit requirements.

May 21
Agents on the Front Lines – Virtual Visits on the Hill

​Long story short:

  • Big I NY members from across the state met virtually with our Congressional representatives
  • Members discussed key issues facing the industry, including the COVID-19 Recovery Fund and business interruption coverage legislation

Despite the ongoing pandemic, independent agents were still able to make our voices heard on the hill. This week and last, Big I NY members participated in virtual meetings with members of the state's Congressional delegation, including the offices of Senator Schumer and Gillibrand, and multiple Members of Congress.

Katko Meeting.png

"This was my first time joining a congressional meeting with Big I NY, and I wasn't sure what to expect. It was a great opportunity to speak on important issues for our clients, and I was really impressed how thoughtfully my Congressman (John Katko), listened to our concerns." Said Rina Hart, from OneGroup in Syracuse.

Members met to discuss several pressing issues related to COVID-19, including: opposing misguided legislation to retroactively mandate that business interruption coverage apply to pandemic-related losses; calling for expanded small business relief through the Paycheck Protection Act and the Business Continuity Protection Program; and urging a for a constructive and collaborative dialogue around the best model for providing pandemic coverage in the future.

"It was definitely empowering to meet with our members of Congress and speak up for our members and customers," said Neil Levy, President of Big I Tri-County. “Every day we provide our customers with solutions, and it's our obligation to fight for the right solutions in Washington, too."


May 21
On Our Mind...Language of Leadership

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

I am sure, like me, you receive all kinds of inspirational messages and quotes from famous people. I actually like reading them and applying the principals if they seem new or different to me.

I particularly like the ones that are sensible and seem to be very logical. After all, there isn't any special sauce to being a good leader- much of it is common sense, a true concern for others and a sincere interest in learning about your team.

Here is a list of some leadership “language" that I think will hit home:

  1. How can I help?
  2. What do you think?
  3. I trust you
  4. Thank You
  5. I was wrong- sorry
  6. I appreciate your efforts

Have you used any of these in the past five days? Did you include them in an email? Did you say them during a Zoom meeting? Can you put them into a message today?

It doesn't take much to make someone's day and to let them know that they are truly appreciated.​

Take a look at some of our upcoming webinars..​

Flood Insurance - It's Coming Your Wa​y!!​

ABEN Additional Insured Illusion & Feats of Cont Risk Trans

ABEN Law of Ins Contracts & Rules of Policy Interpretation

ABEN Understanding the Insurance Industry



May 18
On Our Mind...Creativity at its Peak

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

I have been enjoying very much the many different videos that people have been posting on the internet- from professional musicians working together to produce unbelievably great music (have you seen the Doobie Brothers?) to celebrities ​trying to share good news to plain ol' folk creating videos with their families.

I share these with you to point out that all is not doom and gloom!!  Creativity is at its peak!!  There are certain industries that are thriving, certain businesses that will come out stronger and new businesses will be invented.

Stay positive! Stay Strong!  Have fun and take some CE!!!​

Here are some upcoming webinars in addition to our E+O webinars​ scheduled for May 28 and May 29:

Welcome the Future Everyone Shares & Your Car Drives Itself

VU 5 Contractor Coverage Concepts All Agents MUST Know

Flood Insurance - It's Coming Your Way!!​



May 14
Survey: Big I NY Members Careful About Returning To Their Offices

​With the official end of "New York State on PAUSE" imminent, a survey shows that Big I New York members are taking the first steps toward more normal conditions with care. While a siginificat number of them continued to work from their offices after the stay-at-home order shuttered non-essential businesses, those that did not are bringing staff back gradually and with an eye toward employee safety and security.

The survey started on May 12 and drew responses from all corners of the state. Of those who responded, more than one in four said that they never stopped working at their office locations. Of the rest, roughly equal numbers said they would bring staff back immediately or would continue working remotely for the time being. The rest expected to have their staff back within a month.

Members are aware of their employees' comfort level with working in the office during a pandemic. More than a third said that their employees who are uncomfortable returning to the office will continue to work from home. A smaller number will bring staff back in stages, with about the same number bringing everyone back immediately and a fraction keeping everyone home for now.

Almost half (45%) of members said they will watch the news to determine whether or when to let third parties into their offices. At opposite ends of the spectrum, 18% will let customers and carrier representatives visit immediately and 17% will keep their doors shut for the foreseeable future.

One thing seems certain: Employees will not be rubbing elbows anytime soon. A full 86% of respondents said they will maintain at least six feet of separation between employees. Three-quarters will require handwashing and sanitizing, use of masks and other personal protective equipment, and regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment. Smaller numbers plan employee training (70%), making employees responsible for monitoring their own health (59%), and posting reminder signs around the workplace (53%). In addition, some respondents say they are erecting physical barriers between workstations (one member sent photos of plastic sheets hanging between desks), closing lunchrooms and conference rooms, removing customer chairs from lobbies and offices, putting up plexiglass to separate staff from customers, and taking away reuseable drinking cups.

The survey asked members to identify things they need from Big I New York at this time, and several provided thoughtful answers. Some needs we may be able to fulfill (guidance, information on regulations); others may be more difficult (sources for obtaining cleaning supplies.) One member asked for safe transportation in Manhattan. We're deferring to the governor and the mayor on that one. We will pursue some of the non-transportation related requests in the coming days and weeks.

The survey had drawn 426 responses as of late Thursday afternoon, with 25% of them coming from Long Island. The Hudson Valley was next (15%) and Western New York was third with 12%. New York City made up 7% of responses, and the rest of the state was also in single-digits.

Upstate Results     Downstate Results​

For more COVID-19 resources, visit www.biginy.org/coronavirus.

May 14
National General, In Support of Adirondack, Donates $250,000 to the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund

adironack-natgen.jpg 

​Big I New York thanks National General, in support of Adirondack Insurance Exchange, for its $250,000 donation to the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund to specifically benefit members of Big I New York!  We know that Big I New York members are experiencing different hardships, incurring new expenses to serve their customers and set their team up for various degrees of remote work and eventual return to the office.  Members are making new and necessary investments in many areas that were not anticipated or planned, such as:

  • Enhancing cybersecurity protocols for remote workers
  • Implementing new communication tools to stay connected with their staff, carriers and customers
  • Updating human resource policies and procedures
  • Engaging with outside professionals to ensure agency operations adapt to new regulations and government guidance
  • Purchasing personal protection devices for staff
  • Implementing new safety and health measures for office locations
  • Purchasing equipment for staff to work effectively and comfortably while remote

Through this generous donation, Big I New York members may be eligible to receive a minimum grant from the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund of $1,000.  Submit your application and ALL receipts and back up documentation directly to the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund.

​Again, we offer a heartfelt thank you to National General, in support of Adirondack, for partnering with Big I New York to recognize the important role that independent insurance agents play in advising their clients through this challenging time and helping to ease some of the burden.

May 11
On Our Mind… Staying Persistent During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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

Per-sist-ent

Adjective

Continuing firmly or obstinately in a course in spite of difficulty or opposition

​I'm a pretty patient, even keeled man. My wife would agree with that statement. As we raised our kids, it was usually me who had a level head and she was the one who, well let's just say, wasn't as patient at times.

But I have to admit to you now- I am starting to lose my patience with this whole Covid-19 thing!!

I am struggling to be consistent, persistent and steadfast in any and all of my routines. I like to work out. I like to read. I like to go for walks with my wife. These normally enjoyable simple tasks are becoming more aggravating.

Now, this week's note isn't about me (well I guess it is) but it's more about trying to combat this overwhelming feeling that is encroaching my life.

What are you doing to change things up? What are you doing to make things better? What are you doing that perhaps can help you, your staff and your family become a bit more comfortable over the next coming few weeks?

Read a book? Take a class? Exercise more (or for the first time)? Go hit a bucket of balls? Do something that will give you a jolt or energize you in some way. I dare you!!!

Here are some upcoming webinars we have planned – I invite you to join us for one, or two..

**** and don't forget our upcoming E+O webinars…Go here for all the details and to save your spot: https://www.biginy.org/eoseminar


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