Declaration of Independents: Tracy Lange

Independent Agent magazine recently profiled Tracy Lange, VP of Higginbotham’s Callynth PhotographyTransportation Group, for the magazine’s regular Declaration of Independents feature.

Before transitioning to a career as a trucking and transportation insurance specialist, Tracy spent nearly three decades in the health care field.

His work encompassed a wide range of patients but focused especially on pediatric and neonatal intensive care, including helicopter and fixed-wing transport of newborns.

“You think everything’s going to translate from helping people who can’t breathe,” says Lange, who now works with commercial insurance clients in industries ranging from distribution to oil and gas. “But it turns out insurance is not quite so straightforward.”

Read the article.

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Texas Exceeds 2017’s Record-Breaking Premium

The Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas (SLTX) has reported another record-setting year, with a recorded $6.08 billion in E&S premium for 2018. This represents an 11.4% growth over 2017.

Certain coverages have continued an upward trend of increased premium. Fire and allied lines showed a growth of 15.5% (from $1.51 billion to $1.74 billion), while cyber liability increased by 15.8% to $89.7 million. Additionally, pollution increased by 9.1% to $167 million and terrorism rose a whopping 50.7% from $3.4 million to $5.1 million.

It is evident that the increase can be attributed to general rate and pricing upticks, as SLTX saw only a marginal increase in filing totals for the year. In 2018, 1.05 million filings were recorded, compared to 1.03 million in 2017, a 1.24% increase.

Surplus lines premium has continued to increase over the past few years. In Texas, SLTX has experienced several years of record-breaking growth, each building on the last. This year’s total is double the amount recorded 15 years ago in 2003 at $2.95 billion. It will be informative to see the national growth as other states finalize premium and filing totals for the year. There is more to come in the new year as the market continues to evolve and grow.

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Wish List 2020: What’s Next for the Insurance Industry?

January is always a time for resolutions, but no one can do it all on their own.

Every independent agency relies heavily on its carrier partners for support. As you ring in the New Year and begin to forecast your agency’s short-term future, what’s on your wish list in terms of coverages, products, issues and trends you’d like to see them tackle by 2020?

According to the 2018 Future One Agency Universe Study, agents believe these are the top five most important issues for carriers to address:

  • New insurance coverage/products to sell: 51%
  • Clients’ cyber risks/data security: 41%
  • Sharing economy: 36%
  • Usage-based insurance: 30%
  • Internet of Things for commercial lines: 25%

Independent Agent provided a sneak peek at the status of these trends as we look ahead to 2020. Read the article.

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Joe Vincent Preview: Making 2019 Ridiculously Amazing

If you are attending the Joe Vincent Management Seminar, Jan. 27-29,  you are clearly committed to making 2019 your agency’s best year ever! The insurance industry is changing, and educating yourself on the best practices has to be a top priority to stay competitive. As a speaker at the event, I am pleased to help support your agency executing your vision for 2019.

My first session will review The 10 Objectives That Every Successful Agency Must Practice. If you are looking to run a business rather than just be an agent this is a great session to attend. We will review how agencies are embracing things like culture, recruiting, technology and processes that drive the highest results. Every participant will learn 2-3 strategies that you can take home and start working on in your agency. Here is a list of the topics we will be covering:

  1. Routine work and development of agency culture
  2. Development of a forever recruiting strategy
  3. Consistent agency meetings on site and off site
  4. Identification of agency leadership with all team members
  5. Detailed performance feedback
  6. Goal setting with incentive plans and clear goal tracking
  7. Relentless pursuit of maximizing agency technology
  8. Constant training and development of people
  9. Investments in marketing and branding
  10. Clear identification of agency target markets

For many agents marketing is a bit of a foreign entity. It can seem like you’re spending money but not sure if you’re getting an ROI, or maybe your agency has always done well with referrals, but growth has slowed down and you’re looking for a boost. In our Smarketing (Sales Based Marketing) session we will break down how to market your agency, all while obtaining an instant ROI. We will review how to prospect, market to contacts in your sales cycle and turn every sale into your next opportunity! This course covers:

  • Agency Branding
  • Niche Marketing
  • Sales Process
  • Targeting Lost Customers and Unsold Quotes (that you want to win back!)
  • Marketing to Your Current Customers
  • Using Claims as an Opportunity

During this session we will share exact strategies that you can take back to your agency. Why recreate the wheel when we know what top agencies are doing in these areas to boost growth!

The key to any successful conference is the opportunity to not only learn something new, but to also take it home and make it work for you. During the seminar make sure to connect with other agency owners to learn how they implemented processes, procedures and technology to boost their agency’s performance.

I promise attending my sessions will be worth your time. Attendees will be emailed copies of the materials and bonus material that will help you execute the plan. In addition, my sessions are filled with interaction and giveaways. I hope I see you there!

About the Author

Kelly Donahue-Piro is the founder and president of Agency Performance Partners. She iskelly-donahue-tmb-small a no-nonsense effectiveness expert who has helped hundreds of insurance agencies identify and capitalize on sustainable improvement opportunities. Over the past several years, Kelly has worked with small businesses across the country to build and implement successful programs to boost revenues, profits and efficiency. In 2014, she created Agency Performance Partners with a mission to “partner with insurance entrepreneurs who dream to take their business to the next level – and beyond – by relentlessly pursuing excellence in world-class service and sales strategies.”
More info

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Satisfy Your State-Mandated CE Requirements with IIAT: 2019 Education Calendar Now Available


Continuing education is required to keep your insurance license in good standing. It also keeps you informed and helps you better serve Texas consumers.

Most licenses require 24 hours of continuing education every two years. education-2019__400x400b9dcac2c13f86e8abf34ff000050eb61

  • Some license types require specific topics to be included.
  • Two hours must be ethics-related.
  • At least half of the hours must take place in a classroom.

To check how many credits you need: Visit the TDI website and click on the type of license you have to learn how many hours are required.

To check how many credits you have: Visit the Sircon website to get a copy of your transcript, look up approved courses, and check your licensing renewal status. If some of your credits are missing, contact the course provider. Or send a copy of the certificate of completion and an explanation to or fax it to 512-490-1054.

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How to Bridge the Generational Divide: 5 Best Practices to Build Multigenerational Teams

For the first time in history, we now have five generations in the workforce, with employees ranging in age and experience across six decades. How do you manage multigenerational teams with such diversity and possible differences?

The good news is that it might be easier than you think, since most generations want essentially the same things in a workplace, including camaraderie, interesting work and respect (and I am betting most wouldn’t turn down a healthy dose of flexibility and work/life balance, either).

Still, challenges are inevitable when you try to integrate people with many different life experiences, communication preferences and technological comfort levels into one cohesive group. Here are some recent articles that give insight and tips into bridging the generational divide and building more united and effective multigenerational teams.


“To optimize employee satisfaction, companies should consider cross-training for different positions with a focus on the development of transferable skills. This will help to keep the younger generations engaged, while honoring the experience and tenure of older workers.”—Read more at


“Left to their own devices, employees may tend to bunch up in age-based groups. So it can be helpful to use team-building activities or develop collaborative projects that pair younger employees with older ones to foster a greater atmosphere of understanding in the office. If they have different skills particular to their ages, they may even teach each other a thing or two.”—Read more at The Job Network.


“Try to focus on the end result rather than how you get there. Be open to the idea of letting the Generation X staff work from home on occasion, or create open workspaces that allow Generation Y staff to work collaboratively with their team. Allow Traditionalists and Baby Boomers to work modified work schedules or part-time hours in order to allow them the flexibility of semi-retirement, or have them take on mentorship roles with the younger staff so that they can share their experience and wisdom with emerging team members.” —Read more at


“Working with people who are different from you may challenge your brain to overcome its stale ways of thinking and sharpen its performance. … Diverse teams are more likely to constantly reexamine facts and remain objective. They may also encourage greater scrutiny of each member’s actions, keeping their joint cognitive resources sharp and vigilant. By breaking up workplace homogeneity, you can allow your employees to become more aware of their own potential biases — entrenched ways of thinking that can otherwise blind them to key information and even lead them to make errors in decision-making processes.” —Read more at


“The newest generations in your office grew up having computers in their pockets with instant access to virtually any piece of information in the world available at all times. This means that knowing the ‘what’ is no longer exciting, so the ‘why’ is even more important. Rather than just telling your team what to do, tell them why it’s important. Millennials and Gen Zs will expect to know as much as possible; Traditionalists, Boomers and Xers will see this as a fantastic bonus.”



IIAT has partnered with insurance recruiting specialist Questpro to help IIAT members hire, train and retain the next generation of insurance professionals.

Get 5% Off Questpro’s Hiring Services

IIAT members get an exclusive 5% discount on Questpro’s staffing services and a portion of the fee will go to support ELITExas, IIAT’s young professionals group.
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Millennial Business Owners Most Likely to Work with Insurance Agents

As reported by, millennial business owners are more likely than other generations to work with insurance agents on a wide variety of insurance and financial issues, according to recent survey data.

According to Nationwide’s fourth annual Business Owner Survey, 69% of millennial business owners work with an insurance agent, followed by boomers at 66% and Gen X at 59%.

The most common reason for working with an insurance agent among all generations is the trust that business owners place on the guidance and expertise from an agent.

Further, millennials are relying on agents for guidance in more areas than other generations, especially boomers. Retirement (37% vs. 26%), banking (25% vs. 4%) and succession planning (21% vs. 9%) show a wide generational gap.

Use of insurance agents is widespread among business owners.

  • Over six-in-ten business owners (63%) report having an insurance agent, while almost seven-in-ten millennials have one (69%).
  • Business owners with between 100-299 employees are most likely to work with an insurance agent (80%), those with fewer than 50 employees are least likely (57%).
  • Guidance and expertise (41%) are the driving forces behind the agent relationship, more so than practical considerations like level of coverage (25%) and efficiency (23%).

Read More

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Congress Passes Farm Bill

Last week, Congress approved a five-year Farm Bill, which President Trump has indicated he intends to sign.

The bill passed with strong support in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, with votes of 87-13 and 369-47, respectively. Earlier in the week, the Big “I” and several state associations submitted a letter for the congressional record urging passage of the bill.

The Farm Bill reauthorizes many farm support programs and legalizes hemp production—meaning hemp farmers will be eligible to purchase federal crop insurance. Among other things, the bill also reauthorizes the supplemental nutrition assistance program, commonly referred to as SNAP, with only minor revisions, and does not make major changes as the House had previously contemplated.

Of note for Big “I” members, the Farm Bill protects the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP). The bill mostly maintains status quo for the program, with only relatively minor changes and no substantive cuts. Over the past year, the Big “I” and several Big “I” state associations successfully advocated against multiple amendments to the Farm Bill that would have limited participation in crop insurance, made insurance more expensive for farmers, or harmed private-sector delivery of the FCIP.

In another win for Big “I” members, during negotiations to finalize the Farm Bill, the Big “I” and other agent trade associations worked together to obtain language to address a recent court decision that could potentially expand rebating in the FCIP, which the Big “I” opposes.

The conference report—a document that helps show legislative intent and give direction to the USDA and Risk Management Agency (RMA) on how to implement the Farm Bill—included language noting that rebating is “strictly prohibited” in the FCIP, with only “specific limited exceptions.” The report also commended RMA, which oversees the FCIP, for taking rebating prohibitions seriously.

Following the successful passage of a Farm Bill that supports a strong FCIP, the Big “I” will continue to work with Congress to avoid future attempts to make cuts to the program though the budgeting process or otherwise. The association will also work with RMA to help ensure that the crop insurance title of the Farm Bill is implemented appropriately.

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Fore! Avoiding Bogeys on Golf Course Coverage


A golfer shouting “fore!” is a warning to others that trouble could be on its way – usually an errant ball headed in the wrong direction.  For an agency looking to procure coverage for a golf course, there are several warning signs and red flags to look “fore” prior to placing these risks.

There are roughly 35,000 golf courses in the world, 45% of which are in the U.S., with eo-2018-we-got-your-back_400x400Florida having more than any other state.  E&O experience tells us that both Mother Nature and mankind can wreak havoc on these expensive pieces of real estate, which are often underinsured.  For an insurance agent, knowing the various types of exposures that require insurance and to what limit can help minimize or even avoid E&O claims.

Damage to golf courses can be caused by flood, hail, ice, wind and even vandalism. Even so, an agent who is experienced in the placement of golf course coverage – something not many can say — may wonder, ‘How much can it cost to replace a few trees and replant some grass?’ The answer, it turns out, is ‘quite a lot’. Recent hurricanes along the Gulf Coast as well as heavy flooding in the Northeast have caused extensive damage to entire golf courses, properties that average 75 acres, with some up to double that size.  On that scale, the loss of trees, shrubs, grasses, sand in sand traps and landscaping can amount to millions of dollars in replacement costs – plus debris removal — after a severe flood or storm.

An agent ought to know the specifics of each golf course. Are the trees large and established or young and easily replaceable?  What is the value of the shrubbery and landscaping? What grass types are there in the fairways, rough and greens? Is the sand in the traps from a local supplier or is it an expensive, imported ‘high-angular’ product?  What type of irrigation system is in place or not in place?  Knowing the make-up and value of the course is a must.  In addition, knowing the climate, weather patterns and geographic location is essential in properly assessing exposure. Is the course in a coastal area?  A flood plain?  An earthquake region?

Some carriers specialize in coverage for golf courses (private, public and semi-public,) country clubs and resorts.  For the course itself, “Tee-to-Green Coverage” insures tee boxes, fairways, greens and other golf course property, including sprinkler systems, ball washers, signage, benches, cart paths, fountains, etc.

Structures including clubhouses, golf cart sheds, restaurants, lounges, pro shops, and other amenities present their own set of exposures: Commercial Property, Commercial General Liability, Liquor Liability, Auto, Crime and Inland Marine (golf carts, mowers, etc.) Golf course insurance packages can include these coverages as well as coverage for Directors & Officers liability, Business Income Loss, Employment Practices Liability Insurance, and Pollution coverage (arising from the runoff, etc., of the use of pesticide and herbicides).

The need for stand-alone flood and (where appropriate) wind policies should be evaluated and discussed in detail with the proprietor. Exploring umbrella and excess flood coverages is very important, as well. In fact, special attention should be paid by an agent in the assessment of potential exposure for each of these risks.

And yet, it is not uncommon for golf course policies to have just a $1 million limit, which would be woefully inadequate to cover damage sustained as the result of a massive natural event or catastrophic injury to a patron.  Good luck finding a club to get you out of that sand trap.

This article is intended to be used for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon or used for any particular purpose.  Swiss Re shall not be held responsible in any way for, and specifically disclaims any liability arising out of or in any way connected to, reliance on or use of any of the information contained or referenced in this article.  The information contained or referenced in this article is not intended to constitute and should not be considered legal, accounting or professional advice, nor shall it serve as a substitute for the recipient obtaining such advice.

About the author
Julie Carter is an assistant vice president, claims specialist with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and works out of the office in Kansas City, Missouri. Insurance products underwritten by Westport Insurance Corporation, Kansas City, Missouri, a member of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.


Have questions about your E&O or need a quote? 
Contact IIAT Advantage E&O’s Cari Senefsky or Gunnar Kephart at 800.880.7428.

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Ask Regina

Q. Does IIAT have any checklists when reviewing or recommending coverages to an reginainsured?

A. Yes, IIAT’s Agency Guide to E&O Loss Control contains helpful Surveys and Checklists on Best Practices for Marketing and Selling insurance.

Also, the Client Lifecycle section of the Agency Guide on E&O Loss Control features sample letters and documents that might also be helpful when communicating with your clients.

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