Savino: Put These ?Sacred Cows? Out to Pasture
May 17, 2017
PIA National Vice President/Treasurer Keith Savino thinks there are several agency technology “sacred cows” that would best be made into burgers. In an article in PC360, Savino asserts that small to midsized agencies could — if they embraced new tools — compete toe-to-toe with the larger players in their markets. He says that process involves putting five sacred cows out to pasture once and for all. Read Keith Savino’s article here.
ACA Replacement Could See House Vote This Week
March 21, 2017
Republican leaders are expected to bring legislation to the House floor this week that would repeal and replace pieces of Obamacare even as they work to gain needed support of key GOP holdouts. The bill, the American Health Care Act, could come to the floor as early as Thursday.
Republican leaders didn’t have the votes last week to pass the measure even after President Donald Trump attempted to entice conservatives opposing some of the bill’s measures. GOP leaders can afford to lose no more than 21 votes in the chamber, presuming all Democrats vote against the bill.
While seeking to boost support for the bill, Republican lawmakers also are moving ahead with additional legislation as part of their broader plan to put new health policy in place. These bills would need 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate, whereas the American Health Care Act would need only a simple majority in the Senate.
The full House is expected to vote on the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017 H.R. 372, which would remove an exemption for health insurance companies under the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, which exempts the business of insurance from federal antitrust laws to the extent it is regulated by a state. Insurance industry groups have argued that the measure would reduce competition, threaten state regulation of insurance and potentially harm health insurance markets.
PIA Opposes Health Insurance Across State Lines
March 14, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan said a second healthcare bill will be moved in tandem with the American Health Care Act, Ryan-led legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The second bill will include a provision allowing insurers to sell health insurance policies across state lines. The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) opposes this provision because it would strip states of their regulatory authority over insurance and undermine the foundation on which state regulation of insurance is based.
Allowing health insurance to be effectively exempt from state regulation by permitting insurers to pick their own regulator in one state—and by so doing, evade the requirements of all 49 other states—would, by federal edict, eviscerate local control.
“All insurance is local,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Permitting the designation of any one state as regulator for all states would, in essence, impose a one-size-fits-all solution dictated by Washington, D.C.—which, ironically, has been one of the main criticisms of the ACA.”
Professional Insurance Agents Oppose Proposal to Allow Health Insurance Sales Across State Lines
March 13, 2017
Caution Against Continued Federal Encroachment Post-ACA
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said a second healthcare bill will be moved in tandem with the American Health Care Act, Ryan-led legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The second bill will include a provision allowing insurers to sell health insurance policies across state lines. The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) opposes this provision because it would strip states of their regulatory authority over insurance and undermine the foundation on which state regulation of insurance is based.
PIA is a steadfast supporter of the supervision and regulation of insurance by the states, and opposes all proposals to institute federal insurance regulation. State governors, legislators and regulators know best what will work in their unique markets, and what will not work. Allowing health insurance to be effectively exempt from state regulation by permitting insurers to pick their own regulator in one state—and by so doing, evade the requirements of all 49 other states—would, by federal edict, eviscerate local control.
“All insurance is local,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “This is especially true of health insurance. Proposals that would preempt state authority and not allow states to form compacts among themselves effectively turn aside the collective expertise of the states. The path to constructing a replacement for the ACA should lead to more state control, not less. This proposal would transfer power from the states to the federal government.”
“Permitting the designation of any one state as regulator for all states would, in essence, impose a one-size-fits-all solution dictated by Washington, D.C.—which, ironically, has been one of the main criticisms of the ACA,” Becker said.
Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM. PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com.
The PIA/NU Agent Survey Is Released
March 7, 2017
More than a year ago, PIA began talks with the National Underwriter about joining together to conduct the most comprehensive and exhaustive survey of America’s independent agency force that has ever been attempted to date.
Results of the National Underwriter/PIA Independent Agent Survey have now been released in the March 2017 issue of National Underwriter. Here is a link to the results as they appear in the magazine. On PC360.com online, selected results will be updated daily for the next two weeks. The findings provide revealing insight into the demographics, books of business and industry challenges of independent Property & Casualty insurance agents, as well as rankings of their most highly rated carriers.
“This data will be useful to PIA, in developing our own strategies to help our members succeed, and to carriers in their dealings with their appointed agencies,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “The scope, breadth and depth of this study are truly significant,” Becker said. “Importantly, it probes just what agents need from their carriers to ensure mutual growth and profitability.”
PIA on the Buy Button in Rough Notes
March 7, 2017
The March 2017 issue of Rough Notes magazine has a feature article on the Buy Button as conceived by PIA. PIA National Vice President/Treasurer Keith Savino, a managing partner of Warwick Resource Group LLC, who is a former ACORD board member and current past chairman of NetVU (Network of Vertafore Users), is interviewed in the article.
Savino advocates a concept called the Buy Button and is working with an initiative spearheaded by PIA, with initial support from ACORD, agency automation vendors, other agent associations, and insurers, all dedicated to providing independent agents access to a real-time binding process. PIA has launched a major initiative to promote the Buy Button.
“PIA National took a leadership role,” says association Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Becker. “Part of the impetus was PIA Partnership research showing that commercial lines customers who prefer to do business with independent agents nevertheless want their agents to be fully capable, digitally.” PIA adopted a position in support of the concept, which has been endorsed by the American Insurance Marketing & Sales (AIMS) Society and NetVU, among other organizations. Read the full article.
Appeal of Fiduciary Rule Filed
February 28, 2017
Life insurers and business groups have filed an appeal seeking to overturn a ruling by a Texas federal judge that upheld the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, earlier this month rejected claims the rule was regulatory overreach and awarded summary judgment to the DOL. Federal judges in Kansas and Washington D.C. have also ruled in favor of the DOL. Plaintiffs include the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the Insured Retirement Institute and the Financial Services Institute.
The rule, issued in April 2016, would change how retirement advisers conduct business, while ensuring transactions are in the client’s best interest. The fiduciary rule has an initial deadline of April 10. The Trump administration is working on a rule to delay and possibly repeal the mandates before they take effect.
NAIC: Seek a Better Deal With the EU
February 22, 2017
The National Association Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) wants lawmakers in Congress to seek a new covered agreement with the European Union governing how insurance is regulated between the United States and the European Union (EU). A covered agreement, negotiated by the U.S. Treasury Department and its Federal Insurance Office (FIO), was reached with the EU and submitted to the House Financial Services Committee on January 13. The agreement is not subject to congressional approval and becomes effective after a 90-day review period before Congress.
On Feb. 16, the House Financial Services subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing to discuss the agreement, about which there was disagreement.
“This covered agreement is not the answer, and we urge the Trump administration to reopen negotiations with the EU to obtain a better deal for the United States,” said Ted Nickel, NAIC president and Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance. “State regulators can support an agreement which achieves clear and permanent mutual recognition for our time-tested U.S. insurance regulatory system, includes meaningful state regulator input and transparency.” Nickel has said most state regulators were not allowed to participate in the process.
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Chamness said the agreement could be better. He was critical of the section that removes U.S. collateral requirements for EU reinsurers, if they meet all the other qualifying requirements to do business in the United States, saying it “particularly disadvantages smaller insurers, which are more reliant on reinsurance” and that “the small insurance companies will not have the same negotiating power as larger companies.”
Former FIO Director Michael McRaith defended the agreement, as did the American Insurance Association (AIA). Lee Ann Pusey, AIA president and CEO, calling it a “win-win” that protects the industry and “the U.S. system of insurance regulation.”
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), a former insurance agent, criticized both trade groups for their differences over the agreement and congratulated McRaith for his work. “Today we have an example of the problem we have in the insurance industry. We have two groups representing two different groups of insurance companies that disagree,” he said. “I will tell you from my perspective they had better get on the same page. I am up to here with this dysfunctional infighting.”
PIA commented following the hearing. “The fact that two groups representing insurance companies disagree substantively on the value of the covered agreement demonstrates that the agreement can be improved,” said Lauren Pachman, PIA National counsel and director of regulatory affairs. “Such differences could have been reconciled in advance, had state insurance regulators been fully included in the negotiating process. Although the agreement appears to respect the Unites States’ state-based system of insurance regulation, the valid concerns expressed by smaller insurers should be addressed.”
PIA at Trump Transition Meeting
January 18, 2017
PIA National was represented by Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile at a meeting with senior members from the Trump Transition Team in early January. The meeting’s focus was on financial services issues broken into three issue buckets: Dodd Frank, regulatory relief, and housing and insurance.
PIA National spoke of the importance of a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that expires in September of this year, as well as the need to grow the private flood market. In addition, PIA was the only organization to call for the full repeal of the Federal Insurance Office. We will continue to engage with the Trump Transition Team leading to January 20 when President-elect Trump takes the oath of office.
Michael Consedine Named CEO of NAIC
December 14, 2016
Former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael F. Consedine has been named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), effective in early 2017.
Consedine will lead the NAIC’s Washington, D.C. office with primary responsibility over state and federal government affairs and international activities. He will work closely with NAIC members, representing their interests as an advocate and spokesperson for the association.
Outgoing NAIC President John Huff said the NAIC needed someone with Consedine’s experience with international, insurance industry and state regulatory affairs. “Mike brings valuable experience and energy to this role during a time of transition with a new administration and Congress,” said Huff. “He is highly respected by members of the NAIC and served this body with distinction when he was Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner.”
Consedine will fill the post left open since former U.S Sen. Ben Nelson left on Jan. 31, 2016. Nelson reflected on his insurance career in an interview in PIA Connection [“Mr. State Insurance Regulation”] conducted by PIA National Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski. Nelson will continue as a consultant to the NAIC through January 2017.
PIA?s Gary Blackwell on the Resilience of Agents
December 14, 2016
Despite all the hype about how online sales may “disrupt” the independent agent’s hold on the small commercial market, it just isn’t happening, points out PIA National President Gary Blackwell in an op-ed in the December issue of the National Underwriter [“Resilience in a Digital Age”].
“Survey after survey continues to show that the owners of small and midsize businesses want to work with their insurance agents, much to the ongoing frustration of various direct writers,” Blackwell says. “Clearly, the best strategy for carriers is to continue to support their agency force in providing their customers with what buyers want.”
PIA Open Letter to Carriers
December 13, 2016
PIA National is running an “Open Letter to Carriers” in the December issue of the National Underwriter. In it, PIA notes that the relationship between an independent insurance agency and its multiple carrier partners is designed to achieve mutual benefit, accomplishing together what the parties cannot alone. We offer to every carrier an open door to be a sounding board for changes they may be contemplating. “Such communication can foster more successful results,” we note. You can read PIA’s ad here.
Judge Temporarily Blocks DOL Overtime Rule
November 29, 2016
A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule. The injunction, issued by Judge Amos L. Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, puts a hold on implementation of the rule nationwide. The final rule was to go into effect on Dec. 1.
The rule would expand the pool of employees eligible for overtime by doubling the salary threshold to $47,476. A preliminary injunction is not a permanent order and is subject to modification (including an order making it permanent), or it could be vacated entirely. The DOL issued a statement saying it disagreed with the decision and was “currently considering all of our legal options.”
Prior to the injunction, PIA issued a FAQ on the impending changes.
PIA National has strongly opposed the rule due to its negative impact on small businesses, including independent insurance agencies. We are pleased with the granting of the preliminary injunction before the rule was to take effect. After the injunction was issued, PIA distributed this analysis.
PIA will continue to urge Congress to pass legislation to permanently stop implementation of the overtime rule, and we will continue to monitor judicial activities out of the Eastern District insofar as they affect the future of the rule.
PIA Calls for Repeal of Federal Insurance Office
November 29, 2016
(PIA) is proposing that the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) be repealed.
The election of Donald Trump as president and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress will bring about a unique opportunity to reexamine the regulatory framework for insurance. As part of regulatory reform, PIA is calling on policymakers to fully repeal the FIO.
PIA opposed the creation of the FIO from the outset. In 2010, advocates of federal insurance regulation succeeded in getting the FIO established as part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank)—but PIA, along with the NAIC, fought back attempts to give this office broad authority. In the end, a prohibition on the FIO acting as a regulator of the business of insurance was included.
While over the years the FIO has adhered to this restriction, there have been repeated indications that it favors more federal involvement. Former NAIC CEO Ben Nelson once felt compelled to state that “the FIO does not speak for insurance regulators.” Former Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi recently observed, “Since its creation, the FIO has often taken positions in direct contradiction to the views of the state regulators.”
FIO Director Michael McRaith once gave a speech saying that the insurance sector should be treated the same as the banking and securities sectors, prompting a strong rebuke from PIA.
“One should never forget that all insured risks will always be local,” commented PIA National Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski at the time. “The United States has an effective and efficient state-based insurance regulatory system that protects policyholders and offers them a broad array of competitive choices from many insurance carriers. To those who want a different system, we simply say they are woefully misguided.”
“If the goal is to eliminate unnecessary federal regulation, getting rid of the FIO makes good sense,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “Doing so would reaffirm that regulation of insurance should continue to be the responsibility of the states. PIA will remain vigilant in its efforts to ensure that no new paths to the federal regulation of insurance are created as part of any Dodd-Frank rollback.”
PIA Calls for Repeal of Federal Insurance Office
November 22, 2016
The election of Donald Trump as president and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress will bring about a unique opportunity to reexamine the regulatory framework for insurance. As part of regulatory reform, PIA calls on policymakers to fully repeal the Federal Insurance Office (FIO).
“With Congress poised to significantly roll back key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), we ask that they repeal the FIO,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “A June 2013 report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found the state-based system of insurance regulation helped to mitigate the negative effects of the financial crisis on our industry. This report highlights the unnecessary bureaucracy that the FIO represents. Our longstanding and robust state-based insurance regulatory regime does not require this level of federal oversight.”
“If the goal is to eliminate unnecessary federal regulation, getting rid of the FIO makes good sense,” Gentile said. “Doing so would reaffirm that regulation of insurance should continue to be the responsibility of the states. PIA will remain vigilant in its efforts to ensure that no new paths to the federal regulation of insurance are created as part of any Dodd-Frank rollback.”
With control of both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans are likely to concentrate on the broad goals of reducing regulations, cutting taxes, and generally pursuing business-friendly policies that promote economic growth. PIA looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and the 115th Congress to achieve these goals.
PIA Partners with National Underwriter on Agent Survey
November 16, 2016
National Underwriter Property & Casualty, in partnership with PIA National and Flaspöhler, part of NMG Consulting, will conduct the 2017 National Underwriter/PIA Independent Agent Survey, a project whose findings will provide deep, revealing insight into the challenges, needs, and demographics of independent property & casualty insurance agents across the U.S.
The survey, which launches this week, will be hosted online by renowned intelligence firm Flasphler Research, with which National Underwriter has enjoyed a decade-long editorial relationship. The questionnaire, crafted by NU, PIA and Flaspöhler, will be distributed to NU’s proprietary lists of agents and brokers nationwide as well as by PIA to PIA’s national membership.
The results of this project will be shared in print and online as a data-rich cover feature of charts, graphs and editorial analysis in National Underwriter's February print edition, as well as on PropertyCasualty360.com.
“A survey of this size and scope has never before been attempted, and the findings and insight gained from this project will be a benefit to the industry,” said Shawn Moynihan, National Underwriter's Editor-in-Chief. “Our alliance with PIA in this effort will help us all gain broader perspective on the needs of the people who sell P&C products every day, and will help inform our editorial coverage going forward as we continue to serve them.”
“PIA is pleased to partner with the National Underwriter and Flaspöhler in this groundbreaking survey, which will provide our industry with the most comprehensive and accurate picture of what professional independent insurance agents need to best serve their P&C clients,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Independent agents have achieved an unparalleled track record of success as the preferred distribution system for P&C products. This survey will help them stay on top.”
Who Says Insurance Is Boring? Not Millennials
November 8, 2016
Four out of five millennials are “optimistic” or “very optimistic” that the insurance industry will evolve to attract the next generation of insurance talent, due to productivity and efficiency gains from technology adoption, according to Vertafore’s second annual “Millennial Revolution” study. PIA examined the research results in an article in PIA Connection.
Register Now for the Upcoming Management Track of Omnia Group Webinars!
November 2, 2016
As a PIA member exclusive benefit with The Omnia Group, we recently created educational webinar tracks for a variety of positions within an agency. The first series which started September 14th features subjects for those in management roles.
The next webinar in the series titled How to Succeed as a First Time Manager will take place on Wednesday, November 16th at 2pm EST.
Sign up for one or all of the newly created webinars with Omnia by selecting the track that best suits you.
View the full schedule and descriptions at http://www.omniagroup.com/pia-webinar-registration/ Space is limited so sign up now!
Want to learn more about Omnia as a member benefit?
When first contacting Omnia, PIA members receive a free online, instant assessment or a free custom assessment of an agency employee or prospective employee. Plus, if you buy a package of Omnia Profiles you’ll receive one free.
Get started on your track to success today by calling Carletta Clyatt of The Omnia Group at 800-525-7117, x 1226 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to tell her you are a PIA member.
Or visit The Omnia Group website at www.omniagroup.com/pia-members/
PIA?s Tom Adderhold Remembers Arnold Palmer
September 29, 2016
Many people in the insurance industry—especially agents—have a particular affinity for the sport of golf. That’s why the news of the passing of Arnold Palmer, whom many considered to be among the greatest professional golfers of all time, hit hard. Palmer passed away at the age of 87 on September 25 in Pittsburgh.
PIA National Past President Tom Adderhold of Duluth, Georgia was General Chairman of the PGA Championship in 2011. Tom shares some thoughts on the passing of Arnold Palmer:
“The world has lost one of the true legends of the game of golf, business and life. Arnold Palmer and television turned a game into a mega-million enterprise and influenced the lives of so many people, both in golf as well as the non-golfer. Mr. Palmer established a Legacy to live by: ‘Be a person of principle.’ He liked to say, ‘Success depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting it is.’”
“Mr. Palmer always had time for the fans, the kids and the volunteers. He gave back in so many ways, such as hospitals and scholarships. He was a ferocious competitor, but always a gentleman. He personally answered his own mail and autographed millions of items with a signature that is legible. I hope we all in the insurance world will adopt his legacy and strive to be the best agents in servicing our customers and our industry.”
Past President, PIA National
General Chairman of the 2011 PGA Championship
PIA Statement on Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 5983)
September 14, 2016
PIA National issued this statement on the draft of the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 5983). The bill was introduced on September 9, 2016 by its sponsor, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). It then went to a committee markup on September 13, 2016.
In PIA’s statement, we express serious concerns about the creation of a new federal office called the independent insurance advocate, stating that “we remain unconvinced of the need to create a permanent insurance office in the federal bureaucracy.”