Industry News

  • Chinese Regulators Echo U.S. on Global Insurance Standards

    August 3, 2016

    Chinese insurance regulators echoed the sentiments of U.S. regulators, urging the international regulatory community to take a gradual approach to the development of international insurance capital standards that should allow for jurisdictional control over implementation.

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  • National General Insurance Joins The PIA Partnership

    July 27, 2016

    PIA National is pleased to announce that National General Insurance has joined The PIA Partnership. “We are extremely pleased that National General Insurance, a distinguished company with a solid track record of supporting the American agency system, has joined The PIA Partnership,” said Robert W. Hansen, Jr., PIA National President. “Their participation demonstrates National General’s ongoing commitment to the continuing success of professional independent agents across the country.”

    “National General is excited and honored to be part of an organization as critical to our industry as PIA and we expect our membership in The PIA Partnership will further the great work already accomplished for PIA members and National General agencies and brokerages,” says Rick Pierce, Senior Vice President of Independent Agent Development for National General Insurance.

    Current PIA Partnership companies include:  Central Insurance Company; Encompass Insurance; Erie Insurance; Liberty Mutual Insurance; MetLife Auto & Home; National General Insurance; Nationwide Independent (formerly Harleysville Insurance);  Progressive Insurance; Selective Insurance Group; State Auto Insurance Companies;  The Hanover Insurance Group; The Hartford; and The Motorists Insurance Group.

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  • Pennsylvania Agent Still Going Strong at 85

    June 28, 2016

    PA Agent 85Pennsylvania insurance agent Don Ruschak still goes to work every day at the agency he created in 1957. The 85-year-old who opened Ruschak Associates Insurance & Real Estate nearly 60 years ago still wakes up each morning at 6AM and heads into the office. Even though Ruschak turned over his business to his sons years ago, he says he just can’t keep away.


    “I love helping people, especially those who are going through a difficult time,” Ruschak told the Herald-Standard, which covers local news in Ruschak’s Charleroi, Pennsylvania hometown. “That’s what attracted me to the insurance business initially, and that’s what keeps me going today.”

    “Age doesn’t hold me back,” he said. “I still go out and inspect homes, and I help with appraisals. Working helps me to stay youthful. I tell other seniors to keep working as long as they can. The longer you work, the better you feel.”

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  • PIA Comments at NAIC Cybersecurity Task Force Interim Meeting

    June 1, 2016

    On May 24-25, PIA participated in an interim meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Cybersecurity Task Force, chaired by North Dakota Commissioner Adam Hamm.  The meeting was an opportunity for interested parties who had expressed substantial concerns about the Task Force’s Preliminary Working and Discussion Draft of the Insurance Data Security Model Law, which was first exposed in March and discussed at the NAIC’s National Meeting in New Orleans in April. 

    PIA provided comments to the Task Force in writing in advance of the New Orleans meeting, verbally during the New Orleans meeting, and plans to provide comments in writing again later this week.

    During the interim meeting last week, the Task Force invited interested parties to provide feedback on each section of the Preliminary Draft, one at a time.  Regulators engaged in a dialogue with interested parties in response to their expressed concerns.  Of particular interest were:
    ·         the value of uniformity across all states as a goal and the likelihood of this model to achieve that goal
    ·         the scalability of the requirements the draft imposes on small-business licensees, including insurance agencies
    ·         the feasibility of meeting the requirements imposed on third-party vendors
    ·         questions about the notice requirements to commissioners, consumers, and others
    ·         the enormous discretion provided to commissioners to edit consumer notifications, set forth appropriate consumer remedies in breach cases, and promulgate additional regulations as needed

    Following the interim meeting, the Preliminary Draft was again exposed for a 10-day period.  A second exposure is anticipated and is expected to end before the NAIC’s next National Meeting in the latter half of August. PIA intends to comment on the second exposure and remain extremely involved in the NAIC process on this important issue.

     

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  • NetVU Endorses PIA Position on Buy Button for Independent Agents

    May 17, 2016

    WASHINGTON — The Executive Board of NetVU, the Network of Vertafore Users, has voted to formally support the position of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) regarding the Buy Button as conceived by PIA.

    The Buy Button is the ability for agents to bind a policy in a once-and-done fashion, in real time in their agency systems, from among their appointed carriers, regardless of the point of engagement or policy sale. The technology exists to do this, but has yet to be used in this manner.

    Currently, agents must leave their systems, or bridge to the carrier system, to bind a policy. The buy button will empower agents to bind coverage in real time for prospects or clients who call on the phone, walk into the agency, meet, or visit online.

    “The goal of NetVU’s formal support of this initiative is to be able to provide consistent messaging to our members, carriers and vendors in support of making buy button functionality a reality for independent agents,” said NetVU Chairman of the Board Keith Savino.

    In January 2016, PIA National initiated an industry-wide dialogue on the concept of independent agents offering real time binding of insurance policies, which could include a level of purchasing capability on their websites. PIA convened a meeting among all stakeholders—carriers, agents and technology vendors—held at the headquarters of ACORD, the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development, in Pearl River, New York, to discuss the topic.

    In March 2016, PIA adopted a position in support of the buy button concept. That position was then endorsed by NetVU.

    “This is all about empowering agents, carriers and consumers,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “The buy button will create new opportunities to reach markets that currently go untapped for most agents. It will expand choices for consumers and build business for our carriers. PIA thanks our colleagues at NetVU for their support of PIA’s initiative.”

    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.



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  • Professional Insurance Agents Laud House for Passing Bipartisan Private Flood Insurance Bill

    April 28, 2016

    WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) commends the House of Representatives for passing the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (H.R. 2901), in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 419-0 vote on April 28.

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  • Surviving a 100-Year Flood Doesn?t Mean 99 Years of Safety

    April 27, 2016

    The recent flooding in Houston could be considered a 1-in-100-year event, but that label is a misnomer in that it can mislead people into thinking that such flooding literally happens once every 100 years and that they will thus be safe for 99 years out of 100. The U.S. government has used the label to suggest that a flood of that severity has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year, not that it could happen only once per century. However, the label does not take into account other conditions that can alter those probabilities, such as climate change, El Niño, and La Niña.

    “That’s why the 100-year event is such a moving target, especially in an urban environment. Someone builds a couple of parking lots, and you just turned a 100-year event into a 70-year event because of the impervious surfaces,” says Chuck Watson, director of research and development at Enki Research. Weather Research Center founder Jill Hasling suggests that residents of places like Houston that get more than one flood per year buy flood insurance. “If you are not in the flood zone, buy it anyway; it will just be cheaper,” she said.

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  • Driverless Cars Could Be Targets of Terrorists, Nations

    April 21, 2016

    U.S. Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin says Internet-connected and driverless cars could be targets for hackers, including hostile nations and terrorists, and he urged the automotive industry to ensure that such vehicles have built-in cybersecurity protection. The market for Internet-connected cars could reach a value of $42 billion by 2025, with more than 220 million vehicles on the roads. Toyota Motor Corp., Google, Ford Motor Co., and Baidu Inc. intend to introduce driverless cars in as soon as five years.

    “There is no Internet-connected system where you can build a wall that’s high enough or deep enough to keep a dedicated nation-state adversary or a sophisticated criminal group out of the system,” said Carlin.

    Questions about the auto industry’s responsiveness were raised last year when Fiat Chrysler waited 18 months to tell federal safety regulators about a security flaw in radios being installed in more than a million vehicles that security researchers exploited in July, seizing control of a Jeep just to show it could be done. The episode led to the recall of almost 1.5 million vehicles — the first auto recall prompted by cybersecurity concerns.

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  • PIA Comments on Draft NAIC Data Security Model Law

    April 14, 2016

    PIA recently commented on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Cybersecurity Task Force’s Preliminary Working and Discussion Draft of its Insurance Data Security Model Law. PIA’s comments expressed reservations about the model law approach generally and expressed concern about the need for a model law that would be passed with the expectation of adoption in some form in each state, in light of the fact that state laws on this subject already exist in 47 jurisdictions. PIA is also aware of potential conflicts between the Preliminary Draft, existing state law, and existing federal law. PIA continues to monitor this important issue and intends to provide verbal feedback on the Preliminary Draft at the forthcoming NAIC National Meeting in New Orleans.

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  • Is the Internet Taking the Place of Agents? PIA Research Says No

    April 12, 2016

    Is the Internet rising up in the small commercial marketplace—taking the place of agents? No.

    What is actually true is that small business owners strongly prefer independent insurance agents as they make choices in today’s online world. But at the same time agents need to be more engaged online—using the Internet to demonstrate and reinforce the value they provide.

    These are among the findings of recent research by The PIA Partnership, PIA’s national agency-company council. Read all about “Small Business Insurance & The Internet—The Voice of the Commercial Lines Customer” in this in-depth article in Rough Notes magazine.

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  • Just a Few of the Many Benefits from PIA

    April 7, 2016

    Did you see the 2016 PIA National Guide to Member Benefits inserted into the January issue of PIA Connection? Below we’ve listed just a few of the PIA programs highlighted in the most recent Guide to Member Benefits.

    DocIT for Agents: Save time and money by placing drivers with the right auto insurance carrier earlier in the quoting process using DocIT for Agents’ online database of driver violation data.

    PIA Agency Marketing Guide: Our hands-on marketing tips from industry experts, published annually.

    Floodbroker.com: A unique tool for the flood insurance industry that provides National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) information to PIA members’ clients and prospects to quickly and easily get a flood insurance quote.

    Rough Notes Producer Online: Helps identify risk exposures and provides detailed coverage analysis. PIA members get a special rate.

    Hartford Flood Insurance: Easy enrollment, dedicated local sales directors and book transfer/rollover team, training/CE, free certified zone determinations, 24/7 claims reporting and great commissions. Not comfortable with flood insurance? Try the “Flood Solutions” option.

    The PIA Partnership: Our national company council continually conducts real life applicable research campaigns and makes the results available to PIA members as a dynamic, evolving process — not simply discussed and put on a shelf.

    Employee Profiling from OMNIA: OMNIA's behavioral assessment programs give you the insight to take the guesswork out of personnel decisions. Whether you are hiring a new employee, deciding on future roles for current employees, team building or creating a succession plan for your business, Omnia can help.

    Agency Revenue Tools: Boost personal lines sales by engaging in employee worksite marketing using your appointed markets at regular commission rates.

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  • Survey: 7 in 10 Small Businesses Uninsured From Disasters

    April 4, 2016

    In a recent Nationwide survey, 66 percent of small business owners said they still lack business interruption insurance, and 75 percent said they do not have a disaster plan in place. About 51 percent of owners said they are taking steps to prepare for the impact of climate change and El Niño on their companies, though many are divided on the impact of climate change and El Niño. Nationwide President and COO Mark Berven said small business clients should be reminded about the benefits of business interruption insurance. “Some of America's small business owners may be feeling overconfident, even as we head into the spring storm season. There hasn't been a major U.S. disaster in years, so there may be a sense of complacency,” he said.

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  • April 1st FEMA/NFIP Changes Move Forward

    March 18, 2016

    This is a further update and summary on PIA's previously issued special bulletins on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and these changes.  It is more critical than ever that PIA members work very closely with their WYO partners through this next set of changes.

    Despite the efforts of both the Flood Insurance Producers' National Committee and WYOs and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) Flood Committee, as of this moment the REVISED Manual incorporating the April 1, 2016 changes has NOT yet been published (as final revisions are being polished).

    Thus far, the inventory of NFIP bulletin references involved in these changes can be found here and here.

    2016

    w-16010 – Changes to the FEMA Mapping Center Services - As FIPNC requested.

    w-16003 - Addendum #3 to the April 1, 2016 Changes – a rate table

    w-16002 – Revised & Approved EC & Floodproofing Cert.

    2015

    w-15063 – Addendum #2 to April 1, 2016 Changes – Correction to premium language

    w-15055 – Addendum #1 to April 1, 2016 Changes – Revised rates - high-rise condos

    w-15046 – The original and core content of April 1, 2016 changes

     

    Be sure to review the procedures for the Newly Mapped Program and its transition. We also encourage members to read the section for property owners, and the one for lenders on this subject as well so that you have a fully rounded appreciation.

    PLEASE NOTE: The FEMA/NFIP Specific Rating Guidelines "paper" published by FEMA in December for the April 1, 2016 changes is no longer completely accurate.   So, please rely on your WYO for guidance and education/information.

    WHY Flood Coverage & WYOs ARE Important: Since 4th quarter 2010, and more especially since 4th quarter 2015, many areas of mid-America and elsewhere that have not experienced flooding in a long time have been flooded, and most are experiencing repeating events.

    PIA agencies know the value of risk management for their agency and their customers.  Hence, it is critical that all private sector insureds remember that the typical private sector property insurance policy does not cover the perils of, nor damage from, floods and flooding events to include mud-flows.  Further, property insureds should also be aware that the federal government program, NFIP, provides coverage for property and contents from damage by flood and flooding events to include mud-flows.  While NFIP is not as complete a claims answer for your customers as anyone would like, the private sector property insurance policies are no answer to the damage after a flood.

    PIA members operate best in off

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  • PIA Discusses ?Buy Button?

    February 26, 2016

    AccordBuyButton

    (Left to right) Bill Hartnett, Keith Savino, Mike Becker

    Just what does the independent agent “Buy Button” mean? How could utilizing technology to allow an agent to bind policies in real time anywhere he or she decided—in person by the agent during a consultation, or after hours on the agent’s website by the customer—be an advantage? What are the possible pitfalls?

    The Buy Button is being likened by its advocates to earlier milestones in technology development in the insurance industry.

    ACORD’s Bill Hartnett discusses these issues with PIA’s Mike Becker and Keith Savino, following up on an industry-wide discussion session that was convened by PIA in January and held at the headquarters of ACORD in Pearl River, New York. [video]

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  • Google Compare Insurance Site to Shut Down

    February 26, 2016

    Google is shuttering Google Compare, its U.S. comparison-shopping site for auto insurance, credit cards and mortgages, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The company said in an email to its partners that Google Compare’s U.S. and U.K. services would start winding down this month and terminate on March 23, according to the Journal. Google said the service didn’t meet its expectations and that the company will now focus on AdWords and future innovations, the paper reported citing the email.

    “Google has apparently discovered what independent insurance agents have always known: when it comes to insurance, customers appreciate that it is a complex transaction that requires professional advice,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “PIA’s research has consistently shown a strong preference among both personal lines and commercial lines customers for doing business with a local agent.”

     

    “However, independent agents should not interpret this decision to wind down Google Compare as an indication that they need not compete in the digital arena,” Becker cautioned. “Customers also want local agents as experts who are capable of online interaction concerning their accounts and are backed by the efficiency of the Internet.”

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  • PIA EVP & CEO Mike Becker Op-ed in Insurance Journal

    February 18, 2016

    PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker discusses the need to determine what customers want, then deliver it, in an op-ed in Insurance Journal. He discusses the research findings regarding the current buying preferences of our customers, compiled by The PIA Partnership. He also talks about an industry meeting PIA held to discuss the inability of a consumer to bind a policy on an independent agent’s website.

    “The customer is always right. This is such a simple concept, but it often gets lost. Only by listening to your customers can you find out what they want. If we listen and then deliver accordingly, we will thrive. Our customers win, too – and so do our carriers,” said Becker.

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  • Sen. Ben Nelson?Doing The Right Thing

    February 18, 2016

    Sen. Ben Nelson—Doing The Right Thing: On January 31, 2016, Senator Ben Nelson stepped down after three years as CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). For the past 50 years, no one person has done more to ensure that the insurance industry of the United States has a firm, sensible, state-based regulatory system.

    Last month, PIA published Part One of a two-part interview focused on Nelson’s insurance career. In this month’s Part Two, Nelson reflects on his political career, his accomplishments, his role in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what he thinks it will take to end the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

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  • PIA Releases 2016 Advocacy and Policy Priorities

    February 9, 2016

    PIA’s 2016 Advocacy and Policy Priorities have been released. They include preserving the role of agents in healthcare reform; defending state regulation of insurance; cultivating agent licensing uniformity; promoting small business & tax reform; and safeguarding important property/casualty programs. The full document is available here.

    “This Congress has broken free of gridlock to act on many issues to the benefit of professional insurance agents and their customers, approving bills endorsed by PIA,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “We look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to support the independent agency system and Main Street insurance agents everywhere.”

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  • PIA Releases 2016 Advocacy and Policy Priorities

    February 2, 2016

    PIA’s 2016 Advocacy and Policy Priorities have been released. They include preserving the role of agents in healthcare reform; defending state regulation of insurance; cultivating agent licensing uniformity; promoting small business & tax reform; and safeguarding important property/casualty programs.

    The full document is available at: /docs/2016/piapolicyplan2016/.

    “In 2015, PIA had great success in advocating for independent insurance agents at the federal and state level,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “PIA successfully defended the independent agency system and advocated on behalf of independent agents at the federal level. We intend to build on that success in 2016.”

    PIA helped achieve two victories in the year-end “omnibus” appropriations funding measure: a two-year delay of the “Cadillac Tax,” a 40% tax on certain employer-based health plans, and the passage of the Policyholder Protection Act.

    PIA also successfully advocated for the reversal of a $3 billion cut to the Federal Crop Insurance Program. In addition, PIA actively advocated for the passage of the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (PACE), enabling states to keep the current definition of a small group market in health insurance at 50 or fewer employees.

    “This Congress has broken free of gridlock to act on many issues to the benefit of professional insurance agents and their customers, approving bills endorsed by PIA,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “We look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to support the independent agency system and Main Street insurance agents everywhere.”

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  • PIA National Holds ?Buy Button? Forum at ACORD

    February 1, 2016

    PIA National hosted an industry meeting it called on January 21, 2016, at the headquarters of ACORD in Pearl River, New York, to discuss the concept of agents offering a level of purchasing capability on their websites, known as a “buy button.”

    BuyButtonNewslineMore than 50 agents, carriers and vendors attended the session, participating in discussions by three panels. There was a sense among participants that the industry is moving toward an online binding capability that independent agents may choose to utilize. Some participants likened development of a “buy button” capability to earlier milestones in technology development.

    There was considerable discussion of whether or not independent agents offering an online purchasing/binding capability on their websites would undermine the agent value proposition, or add to the value that the agent brings to the process.

    “We have to recognize as agents, we have an ability to possibly use this technology to reach a market segment that we’re not currently getting to—but yet, we also have to be aware of our value proposition. So, it’s kind of a delicate balancing act,” said PIA National President Robert W. Hansen, Jr.

    PIA National conducted this forum to put the topic on the table, with agents and their views at the center of objective discussion, as a means of performing due diligence on an emerging issue.

    “This is a new concept for many, so it’s important to carry out due diligence and have objective conversations about the effect it could have on the industry,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “We are particularly grateful to ACORD for hosting this meeting, which enabled some the industry’s top forward-thinking leaders to share their thoughts on the matter.”

    Stay tuned for additional details on the discussions held at this PIA National forum.



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