Cracking the Code: The Cyber Coverages You Need to Know Now

content_abstract-cyber-lockThis fall, Equifax revealed that hackers had stolen more than half the U.S. population’s Social Security numbers earlier in the year.

Beyond the public fallout, the breach will have significant effects on industries throughout the country—not least of all insurance. But in a market as young as cyber, it’s still too early to predict the full impact of the Equifax breach.

“We’re still in the infancy of this coverage,” says Karen Johnston, technical commercial consultant—staff underwriting at Nationwide Insurance. “With cyber, we really don’t have the aggregation of data like we do in the other lines of coverage. There could be large aggregate losses stemming from one major event. There are a lot of unknowns.”

But while “Equifax may have impact on larger account premiums,” says Anthony Dagostino, global head of cyber risk at Willis Towers Watson, “it’s going to have more of an impact on underwriting scrutiny. You’ll see more questions around patch management and asset protection.”

For your average small to midsize business, then, “it’s still going to be competitive,” says Dagostino, who notes that at least 60 carriers are currently vying for cyber business. “The underwriters see that as more of a quantifiable risk—these types of companies usually aren’t holding millions and millions of records.”

“Pricing will likely decrease in the middle market, depending on how quickly coverage expands in the next six months,” agrees Dan Burke, cyber and technology product head at Hiscox USA. “It’s a little hard to say, because in the cyber marketplace, the coverage is expanding rapidly. As that continues to happen, that helps dictate pricing a little bit.”

“There’s always going to be that next coverage that carriers are going to put out there to try to differentiate themselves,” agrees Eric Cernak, vice president at Hartford Steam Boiler. “That will command additional premium.”

Read More about Distinguishing Coverage Options in Independent Agent Magazine.

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Joe Vincent Preview: The State of the Industry According to MarshBerry


Attend IIAT’s Joe Vincent Management Seminar in Austin, Jan. 28-30, to hear MarshBerry VP Brad Unger present “MarshBerry’s State of the Industry: Where the Industry is Trending and How to Ensure Your Agency is Built to Last.”

Unger will paint a picture of the challenges and opportunities that are likely to present


Brad Unger, MarshBerry, VP

themselves in the upcoming year to independent insurance agents and brokers. Highlights include the current state of the marketplace, trends in M&A, creating a strategy around value, and perpetuation best practices.


Learn more and register for the Joe Vincent Management Seminar.


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Higginbotham’s Rusty Reid Named Insurance Business America CEO of the Year

Higginbotham President & CEO Rusty Reid was awarded the Agency CEO of the Year at

FF9199 Reid_Rusty_139-web

Rusty Reid, President & CEO, Higginbotham, Fort Worth 

the Insurance Business Awards 2017.


More than 450 insurance leaders attended the awards event at the Navy Pier in Chicago on Nov. 29 for a bash to celebrate the industry’s best and brightest stars. Reid described the award as a “great honor.”

“The insurance industry is a fabulous industry. To be recognized among so many great CEOs … I’m very, very, very flattered,” said Reid.

Read more to view the full list of winners.


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Plan Your CE for the Year – View the 2018 Education Calendar

Plan your CE for the year with IIAT’s 2018 Education Calendar. IIAT offers an array of
personal and commercial lines, ethics and other professional development and training insurance CE classes across Texas.

  • Texas Independent Insurance Agent (TIIA) Personal Lines Classes
    • Personal Auto Exposures
    • Personal Liability Exposures
    • Residential Property Exposuresnew_np_continuing_education
  • Texas Independent Insurance Agent (TIIA) Commercial Lines Classes
    • Commercial Property Exposures
    • Workers Compensation and Specialty Policies
    • General Liability
    • Business Auto
  • E&O Risk Management
  • Ethics
  • Commercial Lines Quick Start

View IIAT’s 2018 Education Calendar | Register for Classes

CE Requirements for License Renewal

Remember, all licensed agents must complete 24 hours of continuing education during a license cycle. At least two of the hours must be an approved ethics course. At least 12 of the hours must be classroom or classroom equivalent.

Online Education Optionscontinuing-ed

If you can’t leave the office, you can sign-up for IIAT’s monthly InfoCentral CE webinars or one of the many online classes offered on IIAT’s Agents & Brokers Education Network or WebCE. Also, check out IIAT’s online New Hire Training and Customer Service Training.

IIAT Offers Training By Request

Do you want an IIAT class to come to your city? All IIAT classes are available on a “Training by Request” basis. If there is enough interest in presenting a particular program in your area (a minimum of 10 students), IIAT will make every attempt to schedule the program.

Contact Sheridan Roe, 512.493.2428 | for more information.

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Original Content Rules on Social Media

Red Create Keypad on Keyboard. 3D Illustration.Social media can increase sales. It can also aid in positioning a personal brand or company brand. Many of us who see the value in social media spend a great deal of time browsing the internet looking for content to share that will help with that positioning. Experts say that time would be better spent creating original content.

A recent article in confirms creating and sharing original photos, articles, videos, quizzes and the like will help social media users maintain a consistency of quality directly tailored to audiences. And most beneficially, original content keeps efforts centered on promoting products, services, and brands.

But there’s a cautionary tale here as well. Original content doesn’t always have to mean strict brand promotion. No one likes someone who talks only about themselves. When creating content, consider how your audience will benefit from what you’re promoting and what else may interest them.


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Every Contractor Needs Contractors Professional and Pollution Liability Coverage

inspector on the construction site with his laptopMost contractor risks end up with potentially expensive coverage gaps. That’s because Coverage Part A of the commercial general liability policy is limited in scope, extending coverage to claims arising from only bodily injury and/or property damage. Couple this limited scope with the CGL form’s absolute pollution exclusion (“f.”) and you will begin to want for a solution. Contractors professional and pollution liability is key to covering these gaps. Often referred to as contractors pollution and professional insurance, contractors protective professional indemnity coverage, or simply “CPPI,” this multiperil form specifically addresses and closes the majority of pollution and professional liability coverage gaps arising from the limited protection under the CGL’s Coverage Part A.

A recent article in Independent Agent magazine provides an in-depth analysis of these coverage gaps and explores solutions designed for general contractors, construction managers, design-build firms, heavy and highway contractors, specialty, trade and artisan, contractors, environmental contractors and others.

Read the full article.

Chris Barnes, Senior Vice President at IIAT-Owned Wholesale Broker and MGA, LevelFirst is available to discuss CPPI and other contractor coverages. Call 800-366-4428 or visit

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Ask Regina

Q. We have a new employee and were wondering if the personal lines license would reginabe an alternative to the General Lines Property & Casualty License. What is a Personal Lines Property & Casualty Agent allowed to do?

A. A personal lines property and casualty license is required for any individual or entity that receives commission and is involved in the solicitation of, negotiation for, procurement of, or collection of premiums on an insurance contract offered primarily for personal or household use by any type of insurance carrier authorized to sell property and casualty insurance products, including:
  • An inter-insurance exchange;
  • A mutual company, including a farm mutual or a county mutual;
  • A reciprocal exchange; or
  • A Lloyd’s plan insurer.

The authority for this license does not include farm and ranch liability exposures.
An individual or entity with this license can be either (1) an agent with an appointment from an insurance company, or (2) a subagent with an appointment from another licensed agent or agency. A general lines property and casualty license holder is not required to hold this license as well.

For more information on licensing see the IIAT Licensing Toolkit.

Have a regulatory or technical insurance question? Ask Regina.
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ELITExas Spotlight: 5 Questions


William Page
Managing Director
Wortham Insurance, Austin

How did you get into the insurance industry? 

My father was in the agency business and a partner with Nieman Hanks and Puryear which sold to Frost Bank in 2000.

What do you like most about your job? 

The independent, self-starter mentality, camaraderie with coworkers and the ability to work with coworkers to come up with the best solutions for clients’ needs.

What is the most challenging part of working in the insurance industry?

The email maze

What is something about the insurance industry most people don’t know?

The insurance industry has many moving parts. You can’t know everything about every aspect of the business, which is why teamwork is so important.

What would you tell young people who are considering insurance as a career choice?

If you are willing to work hard, listen, ask questions and follow through, you will succeed in the insurance business.

Bonus Question: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?

I enjoy doing yard work.

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Renters Insurance: Why Bother?

For rentRenters currently head up more U.S. households than at any time since the 1960s, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis.

Pew reports that although the total number of households in the U.S. grew by 7.6 million between 2006 and 2016, the number of owned households remained relatively flat during that time period—while the share of rented households increased from 31.2% in 2006 to 36.6% in 2016.

A recent article published in Independent Agent magazine, titled “Renters Insurance: Why Bother?” points out that the obvious culprit behind this trend is the 2008 housing crisis. The housing crisis “caused many consumers to either need to rent or reconsider the benefits of renting,” explains Teresa Scharn, assistant vice president, personal lines product development at Nationwide. “Renting allows greater mobility for those seeking new jobs and opportunities in other areas.”

According to Alan Dobbins, director at Conning Research, prior to the housing crisis, a home appeared to be a great place to invest. But “people think that’s not such a truism anymore,” he says. “If you look at the growth in the housing stock before the housing crisis and after, you had pretty steady growth in homeowners up until that point. After that point, growth in homeowners was flat to negative, and growth in rentals was pretty impressive.”

It’s no surprise that renting is particularly appealing for millennials, many of whom came of age or graduated college in the years surrounding the crisis. “You have a group of people whose approach to homeownership is shaped by the housing crisis,” Dobbins says. “There’s a good-sized segment out there that’s very comfortable in not owning things, and that younger group is becoming a bigger and bigger portion of the population over time.”

Even millennials who are interested in homeownership “often don’t yet have the means,” Scharn points out. Between urbanization, massive student loan debt and waiting to start a family, it makes sense that “millennials and other younger groups are waiting longer to make big life decisions.”

Nationwide observes an uptick in homeownership among millennials in the 30-35 age bracket—but as they creep in to the market, their parents are on their way out. “As the baby boomers age, many are finding they prefer to rent to avoid the costs and time of maintaining a home,” Scharn says.

Interestingly, Pew’s analysis reveals that between 2006 and 2016, renting increased among demographic groups which have historically been less likely to rent—including white people and middle-aged adults. “A lot of independent agents are insuring an older demographic, and those people are renters in some cases,” Narcisco says. “They were probably homeowners first, and now they’re renters and they’re still with the independent agent.”

That means even beyond the millennial cohort—which is now the largest generation in history, by the way—“there’s a great opportunity for the industry to engage renters on the reasons why they need insurance protection, and then begin to grow a relationship with them that can turn into a long-term, multiproduct relationship,” Scharn says. “The more products a customer has with an agent or company, the higher the retention. Taking the time to cross-sell renters for an existing auto customer is likely to improve retention and revenue within the agency.”

It’s simple: “Since you have more and more renters out there, that’s just more conversations for the agent to have,” Dobbins says.

“The biggest problem in the end is just the mindset around selling a renters insurance policy,” Narcisco adds. “Don’t let that mindset cloud your judgment. Focus instead on figuring out how to acquire a policyholder at a low cost. You can always sell that policyholder more, and a lot of independent agents are in this game for the long-haul, so focus on the long-term value of every customer. Maybe they’re small now, but soon they’ll have other insurance needs.”

Bonus: Because renters insurance is less prone to impact from catastrophic weather events, it can result in “more stable earnings for an agency during periods of high weather loss events that go towards their loss ratio performance bonuses,” Scharn points out.

Sure, it may not be the heftiest commission you’ve ever raked in. But that doesn’t mean going after a renters policy is a waste of time. “Why bother? Because you’re in the business of selling insurance,” Narcisco says. “If you don’t want to be in the business of selling insurance in the future, some of those customers will be my customers, and thank you.”

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What’s In a Website? How Does Your’s Stack Up?

Web design conceptHow does your website rank as far as attractiveness and user experience? Is it easy to navigate? Are visitors able to quickly find what they want?

Research shows people judge how a website looks in a fraction of a second. Simpler is usually better. The more complicated a site is, the less likely it will be deemed attractive. Simple navigation, singular-purpose pages, and a consistent color scheme can help improve the look and increase conversions.

As far as content, be sure and include information about your company and what you do (even if you think it should be self-explanatory), information on the physical location, contact information and a call to action such as “call us now” or “click here.” Create singular-purpose pages to limit complications.  Also, consider including third-party validation messages such as testimonials and don’t be afraid to convey a bit of your unique character with images and text.

For more information, check out “10 Things Customers Want on a Website” in Entrepreneur.

Website Magazine offers some additional tips on visually evaluating your site.

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