Fundamentals of Flood CE Classes Coming in May


Starting in May, IIAT will be offering a three-hour Fundamentals of Flood CE class. Last year’s record rainfall and subsequent devastating flooding is an urgent reminder that it’s always a good time to talk to your clients about flood insurance. In the class, flood insurance specialist Mitch Brown from Assurant Flood Solutions will provide the latest details on the National Flood Insurance Program’s ever-changing regulations.

Get the information you need to accurately talk to your clients about flood insurance and its importance.

Register for Fundamentals of Flood Today!

Click on a link below.
Each class: $100 member | 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. | 3 CE credits

Houston – Wed., May 2, 2018
Austin – Wed., May 9, 2018
San Antonio – Wed., May 16, 2018
Dallas – Tue., May 22, 2018


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Cari Senefsky Joins IIAT as E&O Sales Executive

Staff Page_Circle Icons_CariIIAT is pleased to announce that Cari Senefsky has joined the association as E&O Sales Executive. Cari has more than a decade of insurance sales experience and success, with five of those years dedicated to Independent Insurance Agents E&O coverage development and placements.

Cari has extensive experience working with agencies of all shapes and sizes and is committed to finding, developing and customizing insurance solutions to protect specific agency needs. In her tenure, she’s worked on behalf of a national E&O program administrator, as a broker and a retail agent. Throughout her experience, Cari has demonstrated a keen ability to quickly review a program or policy form from multiple angles to determine coverage eligibility, benefits and restrictions. Her understanding of the dynamics of the current carrier marketplace has produced agility in working with carriers to create coverage solutions for the agent.

“I know that not all agency needs are the same and that no two insurance policies are the same. I’ll work diligently to find a strong, competitive match between agency and E&O policy,” said Cari. “I’m excited to meet IIAT members and use my experience to help the association and its members achieve their goals,” she said.

“We are very excited to bring Cari on board. Her proven skills, expertise and commitment to helping agencies find the right insurance solutions make Cari a valuable addition to the IIAT team, and a trusted resource for members,” said IIAT Executive Director & President Marit Peters.

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Ask Regina

Q. An insured’s wife, who is insured on a PAP, hit her husband’s company car that is reginainsured on a BAP with her personal auto. He is the primary owner of the business but the car is titled in the name of the business entity. The PAP carrier has denied the claim. Is this correct?

A. No, the only exclusion they might use to deny the claim is the property damage to property rented to, used by, or in the care of the insured. The insured on the PAP is the wife, and the company car the wife hit was not rented to, used by, or in the care of the wife, so the liability on the PAP should pay for the damage.

Have a regulatory or technical insurance question? Ask Regina.

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Help Out Texas Foster Kids at the Community Service Project Hosted by ELITExas

Join ELITExas, IIAT staff and colleagues for an afternoon of community service and camaraderie at the annual community service project held on the first day of IIAT’s Annual Conference — Wed., June 13 at the JW Marriott San Antonio.

ELITExas has joined forces with Together We Rise, a non-profit organization that helps twrfoster kids. There are many issues and setbacks in the foster care system, and it can be a confusing and scary experience for a child to go through on their own. The goal for Together We Rise, with your help, is to make every child in foster care feel like they are not alone, and we are rooting for them.

Volunteers can choose to help by packing sweet cases and building bikes:

Sweet Cases
Create Sweet Cases filled with a hygiene kit, pillow pet, blanket, coloring book and other essentials.

When foster children move from home to home, they’re usually given two trash bags for elitexasheader_email-blasttheir belongings. No child deserves to carry their belongings in trash bags, so Together We Rise sends Sweet Cases to those in need all over the country.

Build a Bike
Construct bike kits for foster kids.

Most teens have a means of transportation, but most foster kids don’t. When foster youth age out of the system, Together We Rise helps provide them bikes so they’re able to get to their jobs and school classes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2015
JW Marriott San Antonio
1 – 3 p.m.


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The Road Ahead: Meeting Old Challenges with New Technology


Think about it: just 100 years ago, people traveled by horse, wrote letters to communicate and used candles to provide light. Can you imagine doing all three simultaneously? Well, today that same person would be driving down the road in a much-improved ride, using his headlights for illumination while speaking to a customer on a hands-free device. How times have changed!

Technological innovations have indeed changed our everyday lives, both at home and at our local insurance agency. They have provided boundless savings in time and money, but can also lead to inconsistencies and confusion.

The ever-increasing utilization of e-signatures has revolutionized the way agencies work and, in some respects, made them more efficient. A producer can quickly and easily reach her customers at a moment’s notice when time, schedules and geographic distance would otherwise be a barrier.

E-signatures, if used properly, can actually enhance an agency’s defense if a lawsuit is filed against them. Take the example of an agency that procured a commercial property policy for a new client. The producer reviewed the application over the phone with the client and discussed each question before inputting the answer. The client responded “no” to the question regarding whether he had filed bankruptcy in the past 5 years. This response was recorded on the application. The completed application was uploaded to an online service (such as DocuSign, Silanis and DocVerify), then tagged with special annotations where signatures were required and sent to the client for his e-signature. Client e-signed, emailed to the agency, the application was processed and a policy issued.

A few months later, a fire engulfed the property which burned to the ground. A claim was submitted to the carrier who completed an investigation and discovered that the client had filed for bankruptcy less than a year before the fire. Not surprisingly, the policy was rescinded based on material misrepresentation in the application. The client sustained a significant loss with no money coming from the carrier. As a result, he decided to pursue a claim against the agency for inputting incorrect information on the application. The client swore up and down that he told the producer about the bankruptcy and never actually signed the application.

What the client may not have known is that, in most jurisdictions, electronic signatures are both legal and binding to the same extent as a ‘wet’ signature. An e-signature on an application demonstrates that a person intends to commit to the contents of the insurance contract. In the case above, we were able to submit as evidence relevant details such as location, time, date and IP address of the e-signing party — information that bolsters the legitimacy of an e-signed document if a dispute over the authenticity of the signature arises.

The case above was a perfect example of how new technology can work to an agency’s benefit. But these benefits do not come easily. Ongoing innovations and changing technology come with a need to be fully informed as to how the systems function and – just as important — consciously aware of how the systems ‘look and feel’ to the user and how they actually operate.

In another case, an agency procured a homeowner’s policy for a client living in Florida. A screen enclosure endorsement was added to the policy, which is not unusual in the state. A request was made after policy inception for an increase in Building limits. A signed approval was received from the client to complete the limits increase. All good so far – but next came the tricky part: the producer accessed the carrier’s website and inputted an increase in limits. The change request was approved by the carrier and the limits were increased.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in September 2018 causing minor damage to the client’s house but completely destroyed the pool cage. It wasn’t until the carrier began their adjustment of the loss that the client was notified that she had no coverage for the pool cage. How could that be?! Screenshots from the carrier’s website clearly show that the Screen Enclosure endorsement box was unchecked at the same time the limits increase was entered. The producer had no recollection of doing this, but the presumption is that he must have inadvertently clicked on the Screen Endorsement box without realizing what had occurred.

Having direct access to a carrier’s system can facilitate the process placing or renewing coverage and reduce the time it takes to effectuate policy changes. Nonetheless, be forewarned: inadvertent changes can have significant negative ramifications for your client and, ultimately, your agency.

As a wise man once said, “Technology is great – until it isn’t.” There’s a simple message there: technology may have improved, but it will never be foolproof. That new ride with its fancy headlights and hands-free phone may be sweet, but never forget that there will always be a new pothole to match it just around the corner…

Call IIAT’s Gunnar Kephart at 800-880-7428 to learn how IIAT Advantage E&O can help protect your business against E&O claims.

The author of this article, Barbara Rocco, is an Assistant Vice President and Claims Specialist with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and works out of the Chicago officeInsurance products underwritten by Westport Insurance Corporation, Overland Park, Kansas, a member of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

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The Texas Economic Forecast: Perryman Group Projects Continued Expansion

The Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm led by noted economist Dr. M. Ray Perryman, recently released its annual Texas Economic Forecast report. Perryman’s most recent projections indicate that the state economy is set to continue its upward trend.

Looking ahead, growth in the Texas economy is projected to outpace the nation over the next five years. Real gross product is projected to increase at a 2.89% annual pace through 2022, reaching a level of $19.3 trillion. About 11.7 million net new jobs are also expected to be gained over the period, a 1.55% annual rate of growth.

For the state, the expansion pace will be even faster. The Perryman Group is forecasting that the Texas population will grow by about 2.1 million between 2017 and 2022, reaching 30.5 million. Almost 1.4 million net new jobs are projected to be added, representing a 2.05% annual rate of growth over the five-year period. Services industries will drive job gains, with net new jobs concentrated in health care. Wholesale and retail trade businesses are also likely to see notable hiring.

Real gross product in all major industry groups is projected to expand through 2022, with the services, mining, trade, and manufacturing segments likely to experience the largest growth. Real gross product is forecast to expand at a 4.01% rate over the period, with the mining sector (largely oil and natural gas in Texas) leading the way with 6.15% yearly growth expected over the next five years.

Read more.



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ELITExas Spotlight: 5 Questions

Circle Headshot_Billy

Billy Crocker
Vice President / Real Estate Practice Leader

Higginbotham, Austin

How did you get into the insurance industry?
I was recruited for the commercial real estate industry by a large national broker to support the development of a niche industry practice specializing in providing broker and risk management services for real estate clients. The CEO told me in my first interview that the goal was to “teach a real estate person insurance, not to teach an insurance person real estate.”

What do you like most about your job?
It has allowed me to learn about many different industries and work with clients located all over the U.S.

What is the most challenging part of working in the insurance industry?
The ability to provide an incredibly technical product and convey the importance of complex coverages in a simple and easy to understand way.

What is something about the insurance industry most people don’t know?
The majority of the industry is in finance and not sales.

What would you tell young people who are considering insurance as a career choice?
No other industry provides as many opportunities for every skill set, personality type, and background as insurance. It is the “O Positive” of industries and is universally compatible with all professional strengths and abilities, allowing any professional the opportunity to be successful and meet their potential.

Bonus Question: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I was a classically trained musician and toured with a country western band playing the drums as a college job.


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The Sales Lion Talks Tips on Selling to the Digital Consumer at IIAT’s Annual Conference

Kown as the “Sales Lion,” Marcus Sheridan has been named by Forbes  as “1 of 20round-headshot_marcus-sheridan speakers you don’t want to miss an opportunity to see.” IIAT Annual Conference attendees will have two opportunities to see Marcus speak on Friday, June 15 at the JW Marriott San Antonio.

In his first session, Show it: How the Video Revolution Has Changed Buyers Forever and What the Insurance Industry Must Do about It, Marcus will show attendees how to go beyond basic videos and start using video to truly build your brand, increase new business and sales, and become the trusted leader within the insurance space. If you’re looking to be inspired in ways you’ve never thought about video before, and want actionable steps you can immediately apply to your agency, this is a session you won’t want to miss!

For his keynote address during the Annual Awards Luncheon, Marcus will present, The Digital Consumer: How Today’s Buyer has Changed and What Your Business Must Do About It. More than any other time in the last 100 years, the buyer of today has made a dramatic shift in the way they make purchasing decisions. In this talk, Marcus brings clarity to the way buyers have changed and exactly what companies must do to not only align themselves with this shift in buyer patterns, but take advantage of the digital age as well.

This summer, it’s all business (and fun), at IIAT’s Annual Conference and Trade Show, June 13-15, in San Antonio. Bring the whole family along to enjoy a mini-vacation at the beautiful JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort.

Get Details and Register.



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Exciting Changes at IIAT

You will be seeing exciting changes at IIAT! As we are always in a “continuous improvement” mode, we constantly seek input from our members and look to other “best-in-class” organizations and associations to learn and find ways to collaborate. Our ultimate goal is to serve you better while providing quality products and services (much like you do in your agencies every day).

Some changes have already occurred and others are in process. We will continue to encourage your feedback on our performance.

As many of you know, IIAT has transitioned the management of its MGA, LevelFirst, to Scottish American. The association’s main purpose for doing this is to increase market availability, improve levels of service, and gain access to new technologies. If you haven’t given them a try recently, please do.

IIAT is enhancing its E&O team to increase capabilities, expertise and ability to serve. We’re excited to announce the addition of a new team member, Cari Senefsky, who’ll be leading IIAT’s sales initiatives. Cari previously worked for CITA Insurance Services in California where she was charged with sales and business development. She has a deep knowledge of professional liability and experience handling complex accounts. Watch in the next Texas Agent for a more detailed introduction to Cari.

IIAT is also collaborating with the Trusted Choice Insurance Agents of Colorado to share resources and boost the association’s underwriting and service capabilities. As a result of our collaboration, we’re pleased to welcome three new account managers to the E&O team: Nicole Hanna, Jessa Osborne, and Jasmyne Lucero. And, yes, we still have Gunnar!

The E&O team has been “under construction” this past month and we’re pleased to announce that we’re successfully coming out of transition with a stronger program for you!

As part of the IIAT Board’s 2021 Strategic Plan, it’s critical that IIAT gains a deeper understanding of your needs and gathers feedback on the association’s performance, product and services. IIAT aims to balance the needs of its smaller agencies with those of larger ones.

To increase our ability to offer hands-on guidance and service, IIAT is adding an Advantage Coach to its arsenal of experts. MaryPeyton Sumners is joining the association and she’ll be working directly with members to make sure IIAT is offering the quality products and services members need and expect. She’ll also help guide insurance start-ups and smaller agencies through the challenges of growing and make sure they leverage the most appropriate member benefits. MaryPeyton has 14 years of commercial underwriting, business brokering, and insurance marketing experience. Read more about MaryPeyton.

IIAT is here to help!

We’re passionate about ensuring the sustainability of the independent agent system in Texas and promoting the value of independent agents. From professional development and governmental advocacy to competitive insurance markets and E&O, IIAT’s people, products and services are designed to help you succeed.

move forward

Our Core Values: Continuous Improvement | Service Excellence | Integrity

Our Guiding Principles: Independence | Innovation | Consumer Interests | Expertise


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MaryPeyton Sumners Joins IIAT as Advantage Coach

MPSIIAT is pleased to announce that MaryPeyton Sumners has joined the association as IIAT Advantage Coach. In this newly developed role, MaryPeyton will be working directly with members to make sure IIAT is offering the quality products and services members need and expect. She’ll also help guide insurance start-ups and smaller agencies through the challenges of growing and make sure they leverage the most appropriate member benefits.

MaryPeyton has 14 years of commercial underwriting, business brokering and insurance marketing experience. Most recently she served as a professional liability underwriter for Admiral Insurance Group in Austin where she worked on large E&O accounts and developed new business relationships. Previously, MaryPeyton served as a business development manager at ACE Group in Houston and as a professional and management liability broker at McGowan, Donnelly and Oberheu in Austin. She started her insurance career as a commercial casualty underwriter at Ironshore Specialty Insurance in Dallas.

“MaryPeyton’s diverse experience and the connections she’s made with agencies across the state make her a valuable addition to IIAT. She will strengthen our ability to deliver on the association’s promise to provide the best resources and services to help our members succeed,” said IIAT Executive Director & President Marit Peters.

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