PIA Expresses Concern on Proposed Overtime Regs
December 9, 2015
PIA has joined with a coalition of 163 cosigners in sending a letter urging members of Congress to contact Administration officials, and urge them to reconsider proposed changes to overtime pay requirements. On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed to amend overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The changes would be made to the exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees (the “white collar exemptions”).
The Department proposes more than doubling the salary level required to qualify for the white collar exemptions, from $455 per week/$23,660 per year to $970 per week/$50,440 per year. DOL also proposes automatically increasing this minimum salary going forward on an annual basis and publishing the increased minimum salary only 60 days before it becomes effective, with no opportunity for comment or input from employers who will have to comply. The Department is expected to finalize the rule in mid-to-late 2016.
What It Means to Agents: PIA is concerned that the proposed regulations will have unintended consequences for insurance agents and agencies. The proposed regulation, while well intentioned, will be unnecessarily burdensome for PIA member agencies leading to decreased opportunity and flexibility for agency employees.
Nelson: State Regulation Will Not Be Subservient to Solvency II:
November 24, 2015
Ben Nelson, CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), said the U.S.’s state-based system will not become subservient to Solvency II regulations. Nelson made the remark in an interview with A.M. Best during the NAIC’s fall national meeting. The U.S. Trade Representative and Treasury Department are going to negotiate a covered agreement with the European Union E.U. and Nelson said that in achieving some measure of equivalence, “the state-based system is not going to become subservient to Solvency II. It’s not.”
During a wide-ranging interview for an article in an upcoming PIA Connection, Sen. Nelson told PIA National senior vice president of industry affairs Patricia A. Borowski that the bigger threat to state-based insurance regulation these days comes from the E.U. in the form of Solvency II.
“They [the E.U.] are now in a position that they feel they can dictate that you have to be equivalent,” Nelson said. “But there’s a difference between equivalent results and equivalent structure. Each group is comfortable with their own system because they know how it works. That I understand, but to try to export Solvency II to the United States is a failed effort because the different scope of what the protection is, is monumental. They protect the entity, we protect the public. So, if you can’t recognize and accept that difference, then you could be easily misled thinking that it wouldn’t hurt us to adopt their system. Well, yes it would. Yes it would.”
The PIA Partnership Research Creates Industry Buzz
August 19, 2015
In the week since the release of research results compiled by The PIA Partnership, the findings are getting noticed in the industry. The National Underwriter/PC360 did an article on how small business owners strongly prefer independent insurance agents, but that agents must take steps to continue to demonstrate their value and also be more engaged online.
Carrier Management, a publication targeted to P/C insurance executives, also reported on the PIA Partnership research results. "Research findings determined that agents offered great value to small business clients, who sought relationships with those who understood their business, offered quick service responses, personal attention and could reassure them that they were making the right insurance decisions," the publication said. Insurance Business America also covered the news.
For more detailed research results, see the project website at www.voiceoftheclcustomer.com/.
Agents Win: Groundbreaking Research by The PIA Partnership (PIA 08/13/15)
Millennials Value Face-to-Face Meetings
August 19, 2015
Born roughly between 1980-2000, Millennials are often portrayed as preferring texting to talking and online to real life. The truth is that they prize face-to-face meetings as much as previous generations. That's one of the conclusions of a report by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) and Skift, an industry intelligence and marketing platform in travel.
The report says there is a significant body of research supporting the importance that Millennials place on face-to-face meetings and goes on to cite examples. The report asserts that the top motivating factors to attend meetings and conventions revolve around considerations regarding destination, people, content and the overall meeting experience. One primary takeaway shows that Millennials desire to attend live meetings and events even more than older generations. Download the report here.
Clements: With Hurricanes, It Only Takes One
June 3, 2015
This is the time of the year when forecasters issue predictions of how many tropical storms will be formed and how many will make landfall in the United States. The problem with this is people may only read a headline and conclude that there's not much to worry about.
PIA National President Richard "Richie" A. Clements points out that, "When it comes to hurricanes, it only takes one to cause massive death and destruction. The fact that it may be one of only a few storms during a season does not matter a whit." Read Richie's full President's message about the start of the hurricane season here.
My PIA Family Helped Me Save My Agency
May 6, 2015
The date May 4, 1989 will be etched in Gene Galligan's memory forever. On that day his home town Monroe, Louisiana was hit by a catastrophic hail storm. Soon after, Gene's agency was hit by carriers pulling out. But his agency survived, thanks to his PIA colleagues lining him up with a new carrier, when he needed it most.
"Because of our PIA affiliations, we were able to continue in business; from there we were able to plant with other companies," said Galligan "Twenty-six years later, we are still in business and still a member of PIA! From those acts, I realized that PIA agents are not just competitors but part of a family, and I needed to be an active member in that family." Read Gene Galligan's compelling story here.
My PIA Family Helped Me Save My Agency (PIA Connection April 2015)
Millennials Value In-person Advice More Than the Internet
April 29, 2015
The picture of millennials as wanting to do everything online continues to be challenged by what they say in surveys. Nearly 40% of the 2,122 people ages 21 to 48 surveyed by a retirement investment firm, Topeka, Kansas-based Security Benefit, say an adviser is a major source for financial information—more than twice the amount who listed the internet as their go-to resource. And people born between the mid-1960s to the early 1990s want in-person education.
Recently, another myth was exploded. It turns out that millennials don't all prefer to do their reading online. A University of Washington study of digital textbooks found that a quarter of students still bought print versions of e-textbooks that they were given for free. Pew studies show the highest print readership rates are among those ages 18 to 29, and the same age group is still using public libraries in large numbers.
PIA Releases Testimony for Three Congressional Hearings
April 29, 2015
PIA National has released testimony for three congressional hearings on insurance matters held over three days this week on Capitol Hill.
On Tuesday, April 28, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled, "The State of the Insurance Industry and Insurance Regulation." Then, on Wednesday, April 29, the House Financial Services Committee Housing and Insurance subcommittee scheduled a hearing entitled "The Impact of International Regulatory Standards on the Competitiveness of U.S. Insurers." Finally, a hearing was set for Thursday, April 30, in the Senate Banking Committee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment subcommittee on "Examining Insurance Capital Rules and FSOC Process."
PIA's testimony states our support of a modernized state-based insurance system and opposition to any federal regulation or international standards that would destabilize or supplant state-based regulations. In addition, PIA comments in support of transparency, especially by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), which recently voted to close many of its meetings to stakeholders.
PIA expresses concern with the level of transparency in the decision-making process of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), as it has the power to designate "systemically important financial institutions" (SIFIs). PIA also cautioned against applying bank-centric standards to insurance companies.
"While banks and other financial institutions profit by actively seeking out risk, insurance companies profit by insuring against risk. Therefore, it is not prudent to attempt to apply bank centric standards to insurance entities, as they are completely different," the PIA testimony states.
PIA National Names Sarah Sun 2015 Customer Service Representative of the Year
April 1, 2015
WASHINGTON — Sarah Sun of Klinger & Associates in Germantown, Maryland, was named the 2015 PIA National Customer Service Representative (CSR) of the Year. The award was presented March 27, 2015, by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) and was sponsored by The Hartford.
“Sarah Sun exemplifies what a professional CSR should be,” said PIA National President-elect Rob Hansen. “She goes above and beyond the call of duty to take care of her clients. She is responsible for one-quarter of Klinger & Associates’ commercial line book of business—over 1,350 renewals, plus new clients. Her retention on her book of business over the past nine years is 94%. Sarah has also helped the agency serve a growing number of customers in the Asian community.
Hansen added that when agency principal Bob Klinger was deployed to Iraq for 18 months, Sarah and Bob’s wife ran the office while he was gone. Sarah worked tirelessly to help make sure that the agency continued to operate as normal.
The PIA National CSR of the Year award is given annually to an outstanding agency customer service representative who works for a PIA member insurance agency. Nominations for this award are made by PIA members. The award recognizes a CSR who has improved operations of the agency, served their clients in a unique or extraordinary way and engaged in community involvement and activities to advance the betterment of the insurance industry.
“We congratulate Sarah Sun on being the recipient of this year’s PIA National CSR of the Year award, which recognizes a CSR’s critically important role in an agency,” said Marie Alvarado, assistant vice president of agent and broker engagement at The Hartford and head of The Hartford School of Insurance. “The Hartford is proud to sponsor this award for the eighth consecutive year as part of our commitment to the independent agency channel and the talented staff that serve our customers.”
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.
PIA National's 2015 Policy Plan
February 11, 2015
PIA National has released its 2015 policy issues of focus. PIA's top five issues of focus for 2015 are agent licensing uniformity, fighting for agent compensation in healthcare, promoting small business & tax reform, protecting state insurance regulation and safeguarding important P&C programs. In addition, PIA will continue to focus on a multitude of other business and policy issues that impact independent agents, as well as monitor and address emerging policy issues as they arise. PIA's 2015 Policy Plan is available here.
PIA National Releases Advocacy and Policy Priorities for 2015
January 23, 2015
PIA National has released its 2015 policy issues of focus. PIA's top five issues of focus for 2015 are agent licensing uniformity, healthcare reform, promoting small business & tax reform, protecting state insurance regulation and safeguarding important P&C programs. In addition, PIA will continue to focus on a multitude of other business and policy issues that impact independent agents, as well as monitor and address emerging and emergency policy issues as they arise.
PIA's 2015 Policy Plan is available here: /docs/2015/2015piapolicyplan/.
"In 2014, 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. "In the first weeks of 2015, we have already seen early success with the renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and passage of the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers. Throughout 2015, PIA will continue to tirelessly fight for independent agents."
PIA Digital Leaders: What Your Agency Needs to Do Right Now
January 9, 2015
Two innovative PIA National leaders whose agencies have been on the cutting-edge of our industry's digital transformation share their insights in "Digital Destiny," in the January 2015 issue of the National Underwriter.
Stanley G. Logan Jr., an agency principal at Logan Lavelle Hunt Insurance Agency LLC in Louisville, Ky., and a member of the PIA National board of directors, representing PIA of Kentucky; and Keith Savino, a principal with the insurance agency Warwick Resource Group LLC in Warwick, N.Y., ACORD board member and recipient of the PIA National 2014 Excellence in Social Media Award, commented extensively in the article.
"What I hear from our customers is that they like to be with an agent and an agency that is spending the money to be relevant to them," says Logan. "When I talk to my insurance company partners, they are interested in sales. That's still the No. 1 game in town, and they want more and more from us. Having the right tools to do that job is the edge that forward-looking agencies can enjoy, if they're willing to do the homework."
Savino rattles off the technical advancements incorporated in his agency's business plan, but bristles at calling them "tech." "These are just communications tools. I don't see them as 'technology,'" he explains. "Some people don't even view smartphones as 'tech' anymore. I see it as a required part of business; I don't think of it as an advantage as much as a requirement. I challenge people to think differently about that."
"The big challenge is communicating your value to your clients," he continues. "The minute you stop offering a service because you will not implement new business tools, you're intentionally putting up a roadblock to a good customer experience."
Read the full article here.
PIA Praises Passage of Six-year TRIA Renewal
January 8, 2015
Senate Action Follows House Passage by One Day; President Obama Expected to Sign the Bill
WASHINGTON – The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) praised the U.S. Senate for passing bipartisan legislation [H.R. 26] that extends the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) for six years. Action by the Senate followed by one day passage in the House.
“The message is clear: America will remain insured against acts of terrorism,” said PIA National Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Becker. “PIA commends Congress for its strong leadership in taking this vital action to ensure that America’s businesses will remain protected from financial devastation in the event of terrorist attacks.”
“PIA is very pleased that the leadership of the new Congress made this its first priority upon convening,” Becker said. “The overwhelming votes in both the House and the Senate demonstrate that when it comes to protecting the citizens of the United States against terrorism, there is no partisanship on Capitol Hill. We are hopeful that this forging of bipartisan consensus will serve as a template for dealing with other insurance issues going forward.”
Approval by the Senate by a vote of 93-4 came just one day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan bill on a near-unanimous vote of 416-5. The bill also includes a provision that benefits Main Street insurance agents, the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB II). President Obama is expected to sign H.R. 26 into law shortly.
Despite widespread support, passage of the six-year reauthorization of TRIA hit a roadblock in December 2014 when one retiring senator who was opposed to the inclusion of NARAB II placed a hold on the legislation, preventing a vote.
“This is a victory for consumers, businesses, the American economy and our national security,” said PIA National Director of Federal Affairs Jon Gentile. “It is an example of legislation in which everybody truly wins.”
“Renewal of the terrorism risk insurance program was a top legislative priority of PIA, because the customers of Main Street insurance agents need the certainty that it provides,” Gentile said. “It is an example of what we all can achieve when we work together toward a common goal.”
Notable for PIA, the bill also includes the creation of NARAB II, an independent, non-government, non-profit membership organization based in Washington, D.C. designed to facilitate multi-state producer licensing. PIA supports NARAB II. “NARAB will provide agents with a streamlined multi-state licensing process, while protecting states’ rights and the independent agency system,” said Gentile.
PIA cautions that in accordance with how the legislation is written, the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) should have no role whatsoever in the implementation of NARAB II.
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 AmericaSM. PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com.
National Underwriter Profiles PIA's Andrew C. Harris in Cover Article
September 4, 2014
PIA National Immediate Past President Andrew C. Harris is the subject of a major cover article and profile in the September 2014 issue of the National Underwriter.
The profile of Harris looks at how he decided to get into the insurance business 38 years ago (after majoring in biology and chemistry in college), and why he has never regretted his decision. It traces his path from working commercial accounts for Liberty Mutual to his decision to start an independent insurance agency, and the resulting success he has achieved. Harris also shares his views on the challenges facing the agency distribution system. "Our challenge is to show our customers that the money they are paying is well spent, and that the value they're getting is worth it," he says.
The article details Harris' decades-long involvement in PIA, at both the national level and with PIA of New Jersey. He also talks about the need for young agents "to become truly independent and not just join a direct writer," observing that PIA is "uniquely positioned to help brand-new agents starting in the business."
"In my entire insurance history, I have never asked another agent for help on anything and been rejected or denied," Harris said. "As an industry, we are the most incredible, benevolent competitors you can imagine."
Read the full National Underwriter profile of Andy Harris here.
Andrew C. Harris – The Player (National Underwriter September 2014)
PIA National Honors PIA of New Jersey, New York on 75th Anniversaries
June 12, 2014
All of PIA honored PIA of New Jersey and PIA of New York on both associations’ 75th anniversaries. PIA National President John G. Lee presented PIA of New York with a special commemorative plaque, marking the occasion; while PIA National Immediate Past President Andrew C. Harris presented a plaque to PIA of New Jersey. Both presentations were made this week during a joint convention held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“I can still remember all of the problems that were caused by Eliot Spitzer, and his attack on Main Street agents getting contingent commissions,” said Lee. “PIA of New York was at the forefront of our battle against Spitzer as PIA National filed a legal brief opposing Spitzer’s actions. PIA of New York and PIA National worked together—in the courts and also in the court of public opinion—to successfully defend all PIA members.”
Harris thanked his fellow New Jersey agents for the support they provided him as PIA National president. “I always had the unqualified backing and support of PIA of New Jersey,” he said. “PIA of New Jersey has been an organization of strident professionals for 75 years. We were there during 9/11. We were there during Hurricane Sandy. We were there fighting Eliot Spitzer.”
PIA National President Johnny Lee: Insurance Is Not ?Stuff?
June 2, 2014
Recently, the CEO of one of the strategic partners who is helping a big online retailer market auto insurance was quoted saying, “Consumers don’t want a relationship with an agent or even a carrier,” and “The consumer is looking for a store or aisle in a store where the shelves are stuffed with every risk management product they need.”
PIA National President John G. Lee takes issue with this in his most recent President's Message. Lee says that contrary to the claims of those who try to market insurance as a commodity, consumers don’t see it that way. They know that insurance is a contract to protect people and their property, and a promise to be made whole in the event of a loss. It’s not something that can be found in a box next to the canned tomatoes at a discount store.
“They can stuff their shelves with whatever they want,” Lee stated. “If you look at the facts as opposed to the hype, consumers want a relationship. Statements to the contrary come from our competitors. What would we expect them to say?”
“Insurance is serious business,” Lee said. “It is not ‘stuff.’”
PIA of North Dakota Celebrates 50 Years
May 14, 2014
PIA of North Dakota just had a very successful annual convention last week. The event in Bismarck marked the 50th anniversary of PIA of North Dakota. PIA National President Johnny Lee delivered the keynote address.
“Throughout the years, there has been no more stalwart PIA affiliate than PIA of North Dakota,” said Lee. “No matter what the issue, we can always count on PIA of North Dakota to ask: ‘Is there any more we can do?’”
“So, on behalf of our entire Association—and every PIA member in the country—I would like to present this plaque in honor of PIA of North Dakota’s 50th Anniversary,” Lee said. A total of 23 of the 34 living Past Presidents of PIA of North Dakota attended and were acknowledged, along with four original PIA charter members still living.
PIA Challenges FIO Assertion That Insurance Should Be Regulated Like Banks
March 27, 2014
PIA takes issue in a press release with an assertion made by Michael McRaith, the director of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), in a recent speech.
In remarks to the Networks Financial Institute’s Insurance Public Policy Summit on March 12, reported by Best’s News Service, McRaith said this: “We need to get past the notion that the insurance sector in the United States should be treated separately than any other sector because of this historic debate going back to 1904.”
“Rather than needing to ‘get past’ opposition to treating the insurance sector separately, advocates of greater federal involvement need to get over the idea that insurance can be regulated the same way the banking and securities sectors are by the federal government,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker.
PIA National Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski added, “When Mr. McRaith says the insurance sector should be treated the same as the banking and securities sectors, he is dead wrong, and in conflict with current federal laws, among them the McCarran-Ferguson Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). The fact that insurance is regulated by our state-based regulatory system is why our sector – and the policyholders it serves – emerged almost completely unscathed from the financial crisis of 2007-2009, in marked contrast to the federally-regulated sectors.”
Read PIA’s full press release here.
PIA Challenges FIO Assertion That Insurance Should Be Regulated Like Banks, Securities
March 24, 2014
PIA Responds to FIO Director’s Speech Advocating Federal Involvement
WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) takes issue with an assertion made by Michael McRaith, the director of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), in a recent speech.
In remarks to the Networks Financial Institute’s Insurance Public Policy Summit on March 12, as reported by Best’s News Service, McRaith said this: “We need to get past the notion that the insurance sector in the United States should be treated separately than any other sector because of this historic debate going back to 1904.”
“When Mr. McRaith says the insurance sector should be treated the same as the banking and securities sectors, he is dead wrong, and in conflict with current federal laws, among them the McCarran-Ferguson Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA),” said PIA Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski. “The fact that insurance is regulated by our state-based regulatory system is why our sector – and the policyholders it serves – emerged almost completely unscathed from the financial crisis of 2007-2009, in marked contrast to the federally-regulated sectors.”
PIA is disappointed that the FIO, in its recent report to Congress, did not take into account the report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on June 27, 2013, that found that multiple regulatory actions and other factors helped mitigate the negative effects of the financial crisis on the insurance industry and its policyholders and that state regulators were especially critical in maintaining general stability in the market during the crisis.
“Rather than needing to ‘get past’ opposition to treating the insurance sector separately, advocates of greater federal involvement need to get over the idea that insurance can be regulated the same way the banking and securities sectors are by the federal government,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Insurance is different. Congress recognized this by mandating that the FIO serve a narrowly defined role that does not include insurance regulation, a fact that Mr. McRaith has noted repeatedly in previous congressional testimony.”
“The Dodd-Frank law assigns to the FIO a series of responsibilities involving monitoring that are all advisory in nature,” Becker said. “We agree with Congress’ decision in this regard that our state-based insurance regulatory system is best suited to regulate the business of insurance.”
“Federal law has already defined its relationship with the state-based business of insurance,” Borowski said. “The disagreement is whether we will continue the productive federal-state relationship in insurance as it is currently defined or go the way suggested by Mr. McRaith of a federally-directed industry.”
“One should never forget that all insured risks will always be local,” Borowski added. “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. Needed modernization is accomplished through state-based organizations like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL). Our system protects both the American economy and the global economy. To those who want a different system, we simply say they are woefully misguided.”
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 AmericaSM. PIA’s web address is
PIA?s Borowski Comments on Cyber Liability in National Underwriter
March 6, 2014
New risks and high-profile data breaches have opened up a new opportunity for agents and brokers to offer cyber liability coverage. PIA National Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski addressed the new opportunity in comments in an article in the March issue of National Underwriter.
“Even among large mid-market insureds, there is a huge uptick that has to happen in terms of their attention to the real scope and detail of this exposure. This is even more the case with smaller commercial accounts,” said Borowski, adding that she believes the tipping point in cyber purchasing will ultimately come not through broker outreach, but by the growing recognition of risk across the business community.
Into the Breach (National Underwriter March 2014)