Insurcon 2019 Preview: Kelly Donahue-Piro

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Agencies Looking for New Talent Have Their Work Cut Out for Them

Taylor Jones, a college recruiting manager at Dallas-based Questpro, IIAT’s endorsed recruiting partner, recently talked with the Insurance Journal about the challenges of hiring new talent in the insurance industry.

“What we’re seeing in particular in Texas, and I imagine in other places, too, is the market is extremely candidate-driven. We are facing a situation where, really, the industry is paying younger insurance professionals larger salaries than what their value is, than what they’re bringing to the table,” said Jones.

That reality is creating big problems for smaller agencies especially, because larger agencies can usually afford to pay for that talent, Jones said. “The smaller, Mom and Pop shops are struggling to keep up with that.”

Read the full article.


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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The Woodlands Insurance Company First To Offer Homeowners Policy With Flood Insurance Coverage Options

FEMA reported that 80% of households affected by Hurricane Harvey were not protected with Flood coverage. Several factors contributed to this tragic statistic, including the false sense of security many had of not living in a “high-risk flood zone.”

The Woodlands Insurance Company, an IIAT member agency, has announced the launch of the first-ever Texas Homeowners Policy that will include flood insurance to all qualifying households.

With a tiered offering of Twico Prime, Twico Prime Plus, and Twico Prime 360, homeowners can choose between a baseline of $5,000 built-in flood coverage or up to full replacement coverage offering much needed peace-of-mind to Texas families.

In addition to flood, Twico is offering identity theft, service line, home cyber protection and home systems endorsements. These coverage options address other traditionally uninsured risks facing today Homeowners.

“Our area has suffered three major flooding events in the past two years, beginning with the Tax Day and Memorial Day floods in 2016 and followed up by the historic Hurricane Harvey in 2017. In responding to these tremendous events, it was disheartening to see so many people affected without coverage. Hurricane Harvey is second to Hurricane Katrina on the total losses paid out from the National Flood Insurance Program. Hurricane Ike (2008) and Tropical Storm Allison (2001) are included on the top 10 Most Significant Flood losses, this highlights the need for Texas Homeowners to obtain flood insurance,” said Gordy Bunch, Founder and Chairman of The Woodlands Insurance Company.

The Woodlands Insurance Company (TWICO) is a Domestic Insurance Company domiciled in The Woodlands, TX, founded by Gordy Bunch.

Mr. Bunch is the founder of The Woodlands Financial Group (TWFG Holdings, LLC) that was founded in 2001, and includes sister operating companies TWFG Insurance Services, LLC, TWFG General Agency, LLC and TWFG Premium Finance Company, LLC. Mr. Bunch was awarded the 2015 Gulf Coast EY Entrepreneur of the Year, is a US Coast Guard Veteran and serves as the Chairman of The Woodlands Township.

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The Age of the Independent Learner

This Spring – the talent entering the workforce will continue to force “change” in the onboarding process. Today’s new hire brings greater technology savvy and expectations for flexibility in training. This generation is much more independent with expectations to have access to the learning and resources they need by just clicking a button.

The goal for the hiring manager is to have a training plan in place that offers a clear path along with flexibility to blend learning with real work. A few things to know:

  1. The 21st Century Classroom: The virtual classroom brings tremendous benefits for immediate enrollment and training for the new hire. There is no need to travel and be away for three weeks to learn the basics of insurance and essential business skills. This new technology addresses the learning styles of the new hire generation. It enables time to apply skills and bring learning back to the classroom throughout the duration of the curriculum.
  2. Build Accountability into a Training Plan: It’s easy to access a full onboarding curriculum within seconds for your new hire. For success, put together a plan with deliverables and request the individual’s transcript on a weekly basis. The independent learner needs a roadmap to create accountability.
  3. Business Skills are a Must: Learning a new system should be easy for the new hire.  This is a core strength. The “other stuff” like communication skills, business writing, negotiations, delivering difficult messages, etc. may not be second nature.  Some call it soft skills or business skills – they are the essential skills required to work with agency clients.  Be sure to build this into the onboarding curriculum.


IIAT’s online New Hire Training is a flexible, affordable and immediate solution to train new employees and current staff. Learn more.

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100-Year Floods Not So Unlikely – Are Your Clients Covered?

Recent flooding in Houston proves that 100-year floods don’t necessarily come only once every 100 years. In fact, it is possible to have more than one 100-year flood in the same year! For many Texas residents, the risk of damage from 100-year events is real and ongoing.

Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, you can be flooded. Many medium and low-risk floodedhouston2001_1areas in the Hill Country and around Houston have experienced flooding in recent years. Hurricane Harvey was a catastrophic reminder of the potentially severe damage caused by flooding.

“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,” Chuck Watson, director of research and development at Enki Research, a company which develops tools to measure hazards told the Austin American- Statesman.  “Asphalt doesn’t soak up rainwater; it just sends it somewhere else, such as into the house next door.”

Does your client own “the house next door?”

“Your clients may be one of those in the medium or low-risk areas (B, C, and X ones) that didn’t have flood insurance and were flooded,” explains Mitch Brown at Assurant Flood. “Between 20% and 25% of all claims are in these areas.

“Be sure your clients are protected from flooding that may occur and protect your agency from a possible E&O claim.”

IIAT Advantage is working together with Assurant Flood and Selective to provide flood coverage options for you to offer to your clients. Assurant and Selective, both A.M. Best rated “A”, are among the top five WYO flood providers. Programs offered include flood insurance for business and residences, standard flood, primary flood and preferred risk policies.

For more information, contact Polly Middlebrook,

For complete details on program features and products, click here


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FEMA Unveils ‘Risk Rating 2.0’

On Monday, FEMA announced changes to the way the NFIP will charge homeowners for flood risks. The change—dubbed “Risk Rating 2.0”—could have a significant impact on flood insurance bills for millions of Americans.

The changes could lead to higher flood insurance rates for some homeowners and lower rates for others. FEMA believes that “Risk Rating 2.0” will enable it to use new data to more accurately price flood risk for NFIP policies. Instead of primarily focusing on whether a property is in a 100-year flood plain, FEMA will now use data based on an individual property’s flood risk and rebuilding cost to price NFIP policies.

As the NFIP moves forward with “Risk Rating 2.0” and rates better reflect the gradation of risk within a flood zone, the Big “I” is hopeful that the result will be more transparent and accurate flood insurance pricing. The Big “I” is also hopeful that “Risk Rating 2.0” will eventually yield better risk communication for consumers, driving an increase in flood insurance take-up rates.

FEMA plans to announce the new flood insurance rates for single-family homes April 1, 2020, and said the rates will take effect Oct. 1, 2020.

The NFIP is currently scheduled to expire on May 31 of this year. “Risk Rating 2.0” could become part of the conversation in efforts to reauthorize the program on a long-term basis.

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Free Webinar: Cyber Coverage Explained

IIAT Advantage has an exclusive partnership with Wingman Insurance to offer cyber liability coverage through AXIS, rated “A” (excellent) by A.M. Best. All insurance agents must carry cyber liability coverage for themselves and recommend it to their clients. With half of all businesses impacted by cyber incidents, the risk can no longer be ignored.

Wingman Insurance provides technology to make selling insurance faster, smarter, and wingman-cyber-1easier. Not only can you skip the long application process and get an insurance quote in less than a minute, but we also equip you with all the tools you need to help your clients understand the risks associated with cybercrime and the need for cyber insurance.

Register for the upcoming webinar!

Cyber Coverage Explained
Wed., April 17, 2019
1 – 2:30 p.m.

Get a breakdown of the cyber coverages currently being offered, how to explain them to insureds, and why they are more important than ever.

  • Learn why you should offer cyber liability to all your clients.
  • Get a breakdown of cyber-liability coverages.
  • Discover effective tools to get your clients to buy cyber-liability.
  • Learn how Wingman makes writing cyber faster, easier, and better than the competition.


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Swiss Re Enhances Risk Management Credit Structure

About 300 days remain until the Swiss Re Corporate Solutions risk management credit change takes effect, but we wanted to remind you of what’s coming up. With so many enhancements and additional credits available, the revised structure is a win for your member policyholders and applicants.

There are two significant changes to be aware of. First, the credit will remain in the event of a policyholder claim. Second, the number of hours required for attendance has been reduced from six to three.

Other changes include:

  • Two-year attendance requirement to align with most states’ continuing education requirements
  • Simplified attendance requirement
  • Definition for “Owner/Officer/Partner”
  • Up to 10% additional credit available for:
    • Use of a coverage checklist (5% credit)
    • Voluntary website review with implemented findings (5% credit)
    • Greater than 50% staff attendance
  • 70% score or higher on a written exam in lieu of class, seminar or webinar attendance (optional)

These changes were developed under oversight of the Big “I” Professional Liability Committee, a group comprised of Big “I” members that oversees and influences the program with an eye toward agent advocacy.

Interested in learning more about the risk management credit change? Stay tuned to the State News e-newsletter. More information is forthcoming, including a comprehensive FAQ document based on questions received from program managers and education directors regarding the impending changes.

Direct any additional questions to Jim Hanley. ​

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2019 Legislative Update: Tracking the Bills that Matter to Your Business


IIAT’s Governmental Affairs team has been busy reviewing the 7,000-plus bills that were filed prior to the Texas Legislature’s bill filing deadline of March 8, 2019. While insurance-related bills have not been the focus of the 86th Legislative Session, a number of bills of interest to IIAT members have begun to make their way through the legislative process.

TWIA Sunset – SB 615 by Buckingham and HB 1510 by Paddie

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is under Sunset Review this session. IIAT worked with the Sunset Commission members during the interim, expressing our concern with portions of the Sunset staff’s report that would have been detrimental to our members. IIAT members Garry Kaufman and Travis McDavid testified on behalf of our members and the final work product reflected the changes that IIAT requested.

Modernization of TWIA processes was the key focus for IIAT. To that end, the Sunset bill includes requirement of TWIA to accept credit card payments, establish monthly installment, and provide direct bill on renewal. Other key requirements include: allowing TWIA to offer an automatic renewal and establishing replacement cost at time of issuance in lieu of time of loss. SB 615 was heard in committee last week and appears to be well on its way to the floor of the Senate. Once it has passed the Senate, it will move to the House.

Commercial Change Notification – SB 590 by Watson and HB 1411 by Lucio III

This bill will revise the notification required when a company makes meaningful changes to a renewal of a commercial policy, much like what we did last session for personal lines policies (SB 417). A couple of differences include: the exemption of notice when the policy falls under the “Large Risk Rule,” and when the changes are agreed upon by the insured and the insurer prior to renewal. As we know, often on larger risks, agents negotiate changes to commercial policies for their clients and therefore no notice would be required when made with the consent of both parties.

Both bills will be heard on Tuesday, March 26th, in their respective committees.  We have worked closely with industry stakeholders to get to a bill that is acceptable to all parties.

Flood Notification – SB 442 by Hancock and HB 1382 by Oliverson

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, IIAT and many others saw the need to improve the notification to consumers regarding flood coverage. There were five separate flood notification bills filed this current session. The stakeholders and the various legislators who authored bills have met and are working on compromise language. While the final bill language is not yet solidified, the intent is to have a notice added to policies clarifying that flood is not covered under a homeowners policy. There is no apparent objection to the bill, just a difference of opinion as to whether to apply to personal and commercial policies or just personal.

Surprise or Balanced Billing – SB 1530 by Hancock and HB 3299 by Lucio III

A matter that continues to frustrate consumers is what is commonly known as surprise or balanced billing by out-of-network medical providers. Chairman Hancock has passed a number of bills relating to surprised billing, but this version is a complete prohibition of billing the consumer when they have done all that is required to go to in-network providers.

The Texas Medical Association is opposed to the legislation and other legislative options have been filed. As in the past, IIAT supports Chairman Hancock’s efforts to protect consumers when credit agencies pursue collection of erroneous, surprise medical bills.



If you have any questions about other specific bills, please feel free to contact IIAT Governmental Affairs Director Lee Loftis at

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