Question: We have an insured with a homeowners insurance (HO3) policy, and she recently filed a theft claim for 350 pounds of hemp that she had stored in her home. She claims that the state's Department of Agriculture, state police, and the local sheriff conspired to steal her hemp worth a large amount of money that she had been growing to sell. How do you think the policy would respond?
Because of job losses and shrinking payrolls during the pandemic recession, the workers' compensation industry's net written premium dropped 10% to $42 billion in 2020. However, private insurers posted a profitable calendar year combined ratio of 87, the industry's fourth straight year with a combined ratio below 90.
Based on the well-known fact that humans respond particularly well to chocolate – aka, incentives – what are cyber insurers offering to customers to elicit better cyber hygiene and to encourage more comprehensive cyber risk management?
When a new ransomware group popped up on the scene last year, the hackers did what's in vogue for digital extortion organizations these days: They issued a press release.
The hackers had already made “millions of dollars" in profit working as affiliates for other groups when they decided to go out on their own, the announcement said. “We created DarkSide because we didn't find the perfect product. Now we have it."
Homeowners are more vulnerable than ever to a wide range of cyber-related risks. But at home, many take more of a casual attitude towards cybersecurity, perhaps because they think their personal information is less valuable than the commercial information they're dealing with every day at work. This will be an up and coming market for agents to consider for their personal lines customers.
The huge demand for pandemic cover is forcing insurers to puzzle out how they can add pandemic risk back to policies without making them prohibitively expensive.
While photos and AI were used pre-pandemic just over a year ago, the industry was heavily reliant on in-person interactions and touchpoints — staff reporting to call centers to deliver customer support, appraisers appearing in-person to inspect vehicles and generate estimates, and auto shops checking-in vehicles in need of repair. Things changed in an instant.
It's a pretty safe bet that “active hurricane season" won't be first on their lists of reasons why it was a memorable year. But for the people in the business of watching hurricanes, it was a year for the record books. 2020 was the most active hurricane season on record.
From casual Fridays to after-work drinks, weekly rituals once taken for granted are returning as you and your staff head back to the office. But it won't be easy. Covid-19's damage may be felt in the workplace long after the pandemic has receded. That's thanks to the mental and emotional toll the pandemic has taken on employees who, like everyone else, have spent the past year living in fear, isolation and sorrow.
The next great financial crisis could come from a cyber attack. At least, that's according to New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Linda Lacewell in a statement regarding DFS' recent report outlining its investigation into the SolarWinds attack. The report summarizes the attack, the response by DFS-regulated companies and key measures to prevent future events of a similar nature.
Cyber insurance can serve as “the final safety net" for your agency in the worst-case scenario that something happens to you. It cannot act as a replacement for the cyber security controls that you should be implementing. Rather, it is there to provide a financial safety net, as well as breach response, to help you through the doomsday scenario.
Under the revised National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), 3.8 million homeowners are expected to see their insurance costs increase, according to ValuePeguin.com. A majority of policyholders — 80% or more — in Hawaii, Texas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Florida and Louisiana are expected to see premiums increases, the site reported. Additionally, more than 10,000 households in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York are projected to experience the highest price increases ($240 or more annually).
The construction segment has endured many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, from supply chain disruptions and material shortages to social distancing requirements and ill workers. However, 2021 offers a silver lining as the economy rebounds, with 84% of owners expressing optimism about the strength of this year's peak season and their businesses' preparation to meet increased demand.
Coronavirus long-haulers have been in the news for some time now, with symptoms from the virus stalking them for months after they've contracted it. This in turn has had implications for workers' comp claims, but what's coming down the pike for such claims is yet to be determined.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the next few years, approximately 400,000 employees are expected to retire from the insurance industry. The issue is compounded by a lack of interest from millennials, who are choosing careers in technology or health sciences rather than insurance.
In the pandemic era, small businesses are finding more negotiating power than ever before. If your agency is re-negotiating a lease, it may be easier to get cuts on things like maintenance costs and utilities, instead of the rent itself. Extending to a longer-term contract may also work in your favor.
Ransomware is a dominant source of concern in the cyber insurance community today. In recent years, there has been a significant uptick in the frequency and severity of ransomware attacks, impacting businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. Hackers have grown more sophisticated and targeted in their attacks, aiming for larger organizations that can afford bigger ransoms. As a result, cyber insurance claims have exploded in severity.
InsurBanc—the bank established to serve our community—is 20 years old. It opened in 2001 with an initial investment from the Big “I" and capital from the W.R. Berkley Company.
The Big “I" created InsurBanc to help independent agents compete with bank entrants into the insurance distribution space.
The new site is packed with tools for you, it's much easier to navigate and will help you propel your agency forward.
Today, we achieved a monumental victory for independent insurance agents with a unanimous ruling that the controversial “best interest” standard (the first amendment to Regulation 187) for life insurance and annuities imposed by the NYSDFS is unconstitutionally vague. While other member associations backed down over the course of this fight, Big I New York has continuously challenged the amendment since November 2018.
[Read the complete text of the ruling]
“Today’s ruling is a victory, not just for the state’s independent insurance agents and brokers, but for our customers,” said David MacLachlan, CPCU, Big I NY Chair of the Board. “This regulation has been virtually impossible for brokers to meaningfully comply with, raising concerns that many would stop selling life insurance and leave customers without the trusted advice they need.”
While the trial court initially ruled in favor of the NYSDFS, we remained concerned and appealed the ruling in March.
Lisa Lounsbury, CAE, President and CEO of Big I New York, said, “As advocates for their customers, independent insurance agents share the NYSDFS’s interest in protecting consumers; but the so-called ‘best interest’ regulation did the opposite. It provided little if any protection beyond the already robust laws of conduct and accountability for insurance agents, and actually harmed consumers by reducing access to affordable life insurance products and the trusted advice of an agent.”
Big I New York is represented by the firm of Keidel, Weldon, and Cunningham of White Plains. Jim Keidel, the association’s counsel, said, “I am very pleased with the court’s unanimous decision finding that the amended Insurance Regulation 187 is unconstitutional. It is apparent from reading the decision that the judges took the time to understand the serious issues and problems that this regulation creates.”
When it comes to standing up for you and your customers, Big I NY always has your back.
The New York State Workers Compensation Board has announced that the maximum weekly Workers Comp benefit will increase in July. The new maximum weekly benefit will be $1,063.05.
Under New York Workers' Compensation Law, the maximum weekly disability benefit must be adjusted every year on July 1 to equal two-thirds of the statewide average weekly wage. According to the announcement, the New York State Department of Labor recently reported to the state Department of Financial Services that the average weekly wage in 2020 was $1,594.57.
The new maximum applies to workers' compensation claims with dates of injury during the period from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. The current maximum is $966.78.
The Basic Cybersecurity Controls That Every Company MUST Have
When it comes to cybersecurity, don't underestimate the importance of basic controls. You and your employees are exposed in the pandemic-induced work from home environment to new cyber risks, raising the stakes for cyber best practices and education. Cyber criminals seek out the lowest hanging fruit. They're attacking organizations without the most basic controls, such as those with insecure remote desktop protocol (RDP) and those that lack multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote access or administrative access into corporate networks. Make sure your agency is promoting basic cybersecurity measures.
Employee benefits offerings that were important a year and a half ago might not seem as important to employees now, and benefits they had never even thought about might now be at the top of their wish list. Be sure you are in tune with your employees so that you can retain those that are of value to you.
As more individuals receive vaccines for COVID-19, businesses have begun to make the shift from a work from home environment and are now adjusting to a hybrid that blends remote and in-person engagement. There have been four issues affecting employment practices liability: the coronavirus, social inflation, a rise in biometric claims and an increase in sexual harassment claims. Are you adequately covering your commercial clients?
Email marketing may seem like a black box for you, especially if you don't have much experience with launching such campaigns, but there are a few key steps and tips that can help demystify the process.
Trusted Choice has marketing materials you can start using today. Get started.
From homeowners to auto coverage to health and life insurance, cannabis use may not have automatic repercussions, but there certainly are areas where pot can sneak in to affect personal lines clients' premiums. Be sure you are educating your staff and your policyholders on these risks.
Big “I" Chairman Jon Jensen presented the State of the Association address to Big “I" Virtual Legislative Conference attendees, offering hope and encouragement after what can only be described as a very difficult year.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) encouraged congressional leaders to reach across the aisle to support America's economic recovery and return Capitol Hill to its founding principles.
“Despite what you may see on Twitter, TV and on cable news with all the screaming and yelling, there's still plenty of us that are focused on where we can get agreement and where we can find common-sense solutions," Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) said.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) discussed how federal overreach by the Biden administration will negatively impact small businesses and the economy's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri) warned that for small businesses to continue to recover, stimulus via the federal government should be temporary.
On April 20, the startup insurance company Lemonade announced its plans to launch Lemonade Car within the year. Interested customers can register online now for updates as the company rolls out the coverage at a later date.
Join this complimentary webcast for a deep dive into the research, while hearing about real world examples from agents who are winning with digital. During the webcast you will learn how to:
- Embrace digital transformation successfully through research and case studies
- Identify which specific digital capabilities to implement to drive revenue growth
- Learn what high growth agencies are prioritizing in 2021.
There's no fee to attend.
A recent survey of nearly 600 U.S.-based independent agents from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance sought to understand how independent insurance agencies are evolving to meet new expectations. The results, published in the “Rise of the Digital Insurance Agency" report, found that digitally-savvy agencies grow an average of 60% more than their less digital counterparts.
See marketing materials from Trusted Choice here.
During the first quarter of 2021, commercial property & casualty rates saw an overall gain of 7%, according to MarketScout Corp., which reported umbrella, professional liability and D&O all saw double-digit increases. The best defense is a good offense, so talk with your customers now so they are not surprised at renewal.
Across the country, businesses are reopening in some fashion, but going back to work after months of operating from home will look very different. As you and your staff navigate returning to work during the pandemic, there are multiple issues to be considered as you balance the needs and concerns of your employees against those of your customers and clients.
Nearly 40% of U.S. motorists are somewhat or very concerned about cybersecurity and safety of connected and autonomous vehicles, according to a survey from Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), a Munich Re division. Additionally, 35% said they feared a virus, hacking incident or other cyberattacks could damage or destroy a vehicle's data, software or operating systems.
Researchers compared the 50 states across the three tax types of state tax burdens — property taxes, individual income taxes, and sales and excise taxes — as a share of total personal income in the state and New York tops the list.
A panel of experts examine everything from SolarWinds, to the COVID-19 pandemic, to the best prevention methods and tips for you.
The firming of the cyber market is having a big impact you and your customers. Not only do you to work harder to secure adequate coverage for your clients, but you also have to educate yourself and continue to develop your technical skillsets around cybersecurity controls and best-practice cyber risk mitigation. This is vital if you want to differentiate yourself in a hardening market.
The Biden administration appears poised to reinstate masking and other social distancing rules for recalcitrant governors — at least in the workplace. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is preparing to issue new short-term regulations to protect workers from catching COVID-19 on the job, according to lawyers tracking the agency's efforts.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency unveiled the details of an overhaul to the National Flood Insurance Program, the initiative's first major update in 50 years. Most homeowners in the program will have lower or stable premiums, but roughly 11% of homes — largely the highest value ones — will see increases in premiums of at least $10 a month. Those could continue to rise until they reach a cap of $12,000 a year.
New York Federal has denied an insurer's dismissal of a COVID-19 coverage case, issuing a favorable decision for an insured. In what stands as the first win for policyholders in a New York COVID-19 insurance coverage case, the ruling found that the contamination exclusion was ambiguous and that the Court lacked a sufficiently developed factual record to rule on whether the Loss of Use exclusion encompassed the insured's losses.
While COVID-19 was top of mind for everyone in 2020, dominating both our personal and our professional lives, it was not alone in determining the health of the global insurance industry. The industry had to deal with a very costly natural catastrophe year, combined with low interest rates, years of soft pricing, and certain types of social inflation or expectations.
CNA Insurance expects its corporate email and other functions to be fully operational soon as it continues its recovery efforts following a March 21 cyber attack. The company said it is now safe to conduct business and communicate with the insurer via email.
Zurich Insurance and Farmers Exchanges have closed on buying MetLife's U.S. property/casualty business for $3.94 billion. The business acquired includes 2.4 million MetLife Auto & Home policies, $3.6 billion of net written premiums (2019) and 3,500 employees, according to Zurich. The deal provides the Farmers brand an opportunity to gain more of a national presence and strengthen its position a major personal lines carriers in the U.S.
The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has announced the new construction payroll limitation for 2021. Effective July 1, 2021, insurers can apply a maximum of $1,594.57 per week for payroll when calculating Workers' Compensation insurance premiums.
New York insurance law limits the amount of payroll that insurers may apply when determining Workers' Comp premiums for employers in the construction industry. The limitation is a function of the state's average weekly wage and must be reset every year on July 1. The previous limitation was $1,450.17.
During its current legislative session, New York is considering a proposed privacy bill that would greatly enhance consumer privacy rights, increase business obligations and create new litigation/enforcement exposure.
With the vaccine continuing to roll out across the country, you may have questions besides if you should or shouldn't require your employees to be vaccinated, like - do vaccinated employees need masks? Should we track who has been vaccinated? Learn more about this important considerations as you re-open your agency.
One-quarter of independent insurance agencies report COVID-19 had a significant impact on their operations, revenue and commercial lines customer base, according to the 2020 Agency Universe Study COVID-19 Impact Summary.
COVID-19 is not in the rearview mirror yet and we know many of you continue to struggle with paperless processes, remote relationship building and digital communications. It can feel difficult to keep people at the center of business when most people are secluded at home and avoiding in-person interactions.
Still, it is never too late for you to modernize their business and recommit to building stronger relationships. Three insurtech trends are critical to adapting to this moment and thriving.
Legislation requiring certain insurers to disclose to current and future policyholders whether their business interruption policies cover pandemics was approved by the New Jersey Assembly. Several other states are also considering bills seeking to create business interruption coverage, including New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Your agency was forced to adopt and adapt to technology at a head-spinning pace to remote work as a result of COVID-19. Will you and your staff return to the office, or will business as usual now include some form of a virtual workforce? Get some tips from work-at-home experts at WAHVE. Learn more about what WAHVE can offer you here.
Future One, a collaboration of the Big “I" and leading independent agency companies, has released key findings from the recently completed Agency Universe Study, hailed as the most comprehensive look at the independent agency system. The study shows that the number of independent insurance agencies has remained stable and business conditions continue to improve.
How can you help your insureds move into adopting more standalone cyber coverage? Learn the key challenges and possible solutions to help you place more cyber risk and better protect your clients. See Big I NY's cyber insurance.
Find out why these cyber carriers can help you meet the needs of your customers and their cyber exposures.
If the National Association of Insurance Commissioners doesn't act this year to correct systemic racial bias in insurance ratemaking and other processes, Congress may pass anti-discrimination laws that apply to insurance, a consumer advocate said earlier this month.
A new study released by Global Disability Inclusion, in collaboration with Mercer, found that disabled workers are less engaged and rank their work experiences lower than workers without disabilities.
The ten-year study underlines the challenges faced by disabled people, who represent 15% of the population. The project collected more than 12 million responses from workers around the world and found an “engagement gap" that was significant in a range of areas.
What sort of workplace experience would you provide for a disabled worker in your agency?
From career and leadership strategies to beyond, the Women in Insurance Summit promises a day of inspiration and empowerment on May 25, 2021. The agenda is full of industry presentations and panel discussions featuring speakers from top companies. It will provide insights and ideas to advance equality for all women in the profession.
CNA Central and cnasurety.com, are back online. This means that you can now get quotes for CNA's small business through CNA Central and surety agents can access cnasurety.com to issue surety bonds through the online application.
As president and CEO of ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) - the global standards-setting body for the insurance and related financial services industries – Pieroni has a unique perspective on the insurance industry, based on ACORD's 36,000+ members.
The insurance industry is dedicated to assisting people in times of need. As such, the industry is uniquely suited to be a philanthropic leader, adapting its skill-set to charitable endeavors. On behalf of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, Big I New York is pleased to invite your company or agency to nominate a charitable organization for a local grant.
IICF helps communities and enriches lives by combining the collective strengths of the industry to provide grants, volunteer service, and leadership.
In an effort to expand the reach of IICF across communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the foundation is offering 10 local grants in the amount of $2,500. All charities awarded a grant must be sponsored by an insurance entity, so this your chance to nominate a worthy organization your company or agency supports or is familiar with in your community.
The application process is simple. Please communicate with your chosen nonprofit that you are nominating them to apply and ask the charity you are sponsoring to complete this application
. They must provide the requested corroborating documentation and submit all items electronically to Lauren Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org
by 5:00 p.m. on Friday May 28, 2021. Additional information is detailed in the local grant guidelines
We appreciate your help in recognizing outstanding charities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Formed in 1994, the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity funded and directed by insurance industry professionals representing a broad spectrum of the industry. Since its inception, IICF has contributed over $40 million in local community grants, over 300,000 hours of volunteer service, and the leadership of over 100,000 industry volunteers.
Biennial study reveals stability and challenges in independent agency system.
ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 29, 2021—The number of independent insurance agencies has remained stable and business conditions continue to improve, although at a slower rate than 2018, according to the 2020 Agency Universe Study.
Future One, a collaboration of the Big “I" and leading independent agency companies, has released key findings from the recently completed Agency Universe Study, hailed as the most comprehensive look at the independent agency system.
“The 2020 Agency Universe Study reveals good news for the independent agency system, including continued adaption to the digital solutions and innovations that enable independent agents and brokers across the country to serve their clients and communities most efficiently," says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I" president & CEO. “The study also offers a pulse read on key areas agencies should focus on to better prepare for the future. Women and people of color continue to be underrepresented as agency principals, and the Big 'I' is committed to continuing its outreach efforts to address this issue so agencies can serve all insurance consumers better."
The study looks at many statistics about independent agencies operating in the U.S., including their numbers, revenue base and sources, number of employees, ownership, mix of business, diversification of products, technology uses, non-insurance income sources and marketing methods. For 2020, the study continued to examine those trends, focusing on agency perpetuation challenges and the impact of emerging purchase channels and trends.
“The study provides independent agency principals and managers with insights into how their peers operate, as well as business strategies that may be helpful to them," says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I" vice president of agent development, education and research. “In particular, as agencies express concern over emerging purchase channels threatening their consumer segment, the study revealed how crucial adaptation to social media and digital marketing strategies are key to agency success. Overall, though, the channel has fared well during the economic upheaval of the last year."
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdown orders in 2020, the study was halted in its traditional fielding time in March and re-started in September. The study also included survey questions related to COVID-19's impact on the independent agency channel, the results for which have been released separately.
Key findings from the 2020 Agency Universe Study include:
- The number of independent agencies remains stable. In 2020, the estimated total number of independent property/casualty agents and brokers in the United States stands at 36,000. This is consistent with 2018 number of 36,500.
- Business conditions remain favorable but growth slows. Business conditions continue to improve, as they have for the past several waves, but at a slower rate. The majority of agencies (70%) report increases in total revenue between 2018 and 2019, with an average increase of 20%. However, this is slightly lower than in 2018 when 76% reported an increase, with average increases of 25%. Agencies are slightly more likely to report increases in personal lines revenue (67%) than commercial lines (63%).
- Principal aging remains consistent. The aging of the independent agency universe is consistent with 2018 findings as the average age of agency principals is 55 years old, with 17% age 66 or older. Agencies may be starting to consider perpetuation planning. Nine in 10 have a perpetuation plan (on par with 2018), though it often centers around children and family. Four in 10 anticipate some ownership change in the next five years.
- Social media and digital marketing strategies are key. All the top marketing strategies cited in 2020 are digital: social media and digital marketing (58%), creating and maintaining the agency website (49%), portal technology on the agency site (30%), search engine optimization (30%), and e-marketing activities (20%).
- Emerging purchase channels remain a concern. The impact of emerging purchase channels remains a concern, particularly for personal lines, with 35% of agencies believing personal lines direct purchase through the insurance company will have a significant impact on their agency over the next two years—and 27% believing the same issue will emerge with non-insurance website purchases. Approximately 1 in 4 express similar concerns about small commercial direct purchase or purchase through emerging online providers.
- Inclusion continues to be a challenge. Women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in the independent agency universe. Forty-two percent of agency principals are women. Nearly 9 in 10 of agency principals are white. Larger agencies are especially likely to have male principal or senior managers. However, newer agencies are more likely to have at least one African American principal (12% versus 5% of established agencies).
The 2020 Agency Universe Study is the fourteenth in a series that was first conducted in 1983. Since 2002, the study has been completed biennially. Since 2004, the Agency Universe Study has relied on internet data collection. In total, 1,437 respondents were included in the 2020 study, conducted by Zeldis Research in cooperation with Future One.
To order a copy of the 2020 Agency Universe Study Management Summary, which provides an overview of the highlights from the complete study, visit the Big “I" Agency Universe Study webpage.
In addition to the Big “I," the Future One coalition includes the following company partners: Allstate/Encompass, Amerisure, Central Insurance Companies, Chubb, CNA, Foremost, Grange Insurance, Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), Liberty Mutual Insurance/Safeco, Nationwide, Progressive, Selective, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford, Travelers and Westfield Group.
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.