Ask Regina

Q. Our insured has a TDP-3 and during a storm, lightning hit and split a tree. Is thereregina coverage on the dwelling fire policy for the tree and does the deductible apply?

A. Yes, there is coverage if the loss was caused by fire, lightning, explosion, aircraft or vehicles not owned or operated by a resident of the described location. There is also coverage for damage caused by vandalism and malicious mischief, riot and civil commotion and damage by burglars. Damage caused by a windstorm is not covered.

The maximum limit of liability is 5% of the dwelling limit, subject to a maximum of $150 for any one tree, shrub or plant, including the cost of removal. The deductible clause does not apply.

Got questions? Regina Has Answers.

IIAT Technical Specialist Regina Anderson is your lifeline when it comes to all insurance-related questions. Regina has more than 43 years of insurance industry experience and has been answering IIAT agents’ regulatory and technical questions for 31 of those years. Don’t get stumped. Ask Regina. Call her (Mon. – Fri., 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.) at 800.880.7428 or e-mail .

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Richard Deal Named Business Development Manager at LevelFirst

RichardDealLevelFirst, the service-based wholesale broker and MGA binding facility owned by IIAT Services Co., is pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Deal as Business Development Manager.

In his new role, Deal is tasked with maximizing the potential of existing relationships as well as growing revenue from new business and augmenting the potential of producers.

Deal’s vast industry experience includes work as a National Sales Director for Aetna Retirement Services, an Underwriter for EMC Insurance and as a retail agent. He has a degree in finance from the University of Texas and is a Certified Financial Planner.

“Richard has the skills and personality necessary to strengthen our market presence, build on existing relationships and forge new paths,” says LevelFirst Executive Vice President April Moeser. “His varied experience brings a comprehensive understanding of what is necessary to excel in his new role.”

 

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Sen. Cornyn to Speak at IIAT’s Annual Conference – REGISTER NOW!

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IIAT is excited to announce that U.S. Senator John Cornyn will be the featured speaker at the annual business meeting luncheon on Saturday, June 17, during IIAT’s 120th sen-john-cornyn-r-texasAnnual Conference & Trade Show in Fort Worth, June 15-17. Don’t miss your chance to meet and hear from Sen. Cornyn in person as he addresses key political issues for the insurance industry.

In addition, the conference schedule is packed with engaging speakers and fun networking events, including a dynamic keynote from Sam Glenn, the Attitude Guy, MarshBerry VP Tommy McDonald, the ELITExas Community Service Project Field Day benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters and a live concert with the Pink Flamingos.

There is also a special conference track designed just for young professionals and ELITexas members, which includes #ProjectAttract — a fun collaboration between young agents and young people who are thinking about entering the insurance industry. Similar to the project young agents performed at the Young Professionals Summit held a couple years ago, the goal of #ProjectAttract is to generate innovative ideas that will help attract new talent to the insurance industry.

Get more information and register.

 

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Ransomware Attacks on the Rise

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In 2015, victims paid a collective $24 million in ransom and another $325 million to disinfect machines and restore backup data. In 2016, the cost was expected to total $1 billion.

Ransomware is malicious software that locks one’s computer or network until a sum of money is paid, at which point the cybercriminal provide a code to unlock the system. If the ransom is not paid with a set timeframe, they will wipe the data. And, any organization that relies on access to data, and cannot afford to lose access to that data at any time, is the prime target of a ransomware attack.

In most cases, you have two choices: Either pay the ransom or rely on the quality of your system back-up and the expense that goes along with restoring it.

Steps to minimize the risk include:

  1. Avoid suspicious emails and links. This is behavior-based risk management and like all things behavior-based, probably imperfect. The key is training and auditing.
  2. Patch software and block suspicious emails and websites. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are at least one step (if not two, three or more steps) ahead of software patches and email/website blacklists. Nevertheless, have the latest version of everything installed lets the security experts working for your software providers do their jobs.
  3. Disconnect immediately upon an infection. The more ransomware spreads, the more difficult and expensive to address. Again, training is key. Your IT person must be notified immediately and the infection quarantined as soon as possible.
  4. Best defense: Backup everything regularly. This removes most of the risk of suffering a ransomware attack. The worst case is you lose only information added since the last back-up. Make sure the system back-up includes data created with portable laptops and other devices.

For more detailed prevention tips, check out the FBI’s Ransomware: What it Is and What to Do About It. For a more comprehensive approach to agency security, check out How to Protect Your Agency’s Data? published by the ACT Security Issues Working Group.

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Award Nominations Due May 1: Drex Foreman Award, Young Agent of the Year & CSR of the Year

Drex Foreman Award
Nominations are being accepted for IIAT’s highest honor, the 2017 Drex Foreman Award. Candidates for the award must be (or have been) an owner, partner, manager, employee or associate of a member agency. Send nominations to . Please provide the nominee’s name, agency and a brief description of accomplishments and achievements that support the nomination. The award will be presented at the 120th Annual Conference Awards Luncheon on June 17 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

CSR and Young Agent of the Year Awards
The CSR of the Year award honors a customer service representative who has given his or her talent, energy, and enthusiasm for the betterment of both agency and community. Complete an online nomination or send an e-mail to  with the nominee’s name, agency and a brief description of the nominee’s professional and personal contributions to the agency and/or community.

The André Juneau ELITExas Young Agent of the Year Award recognizes the achievements of young independent insurance agents in Texas. Candidates must be 40 years old or younger and must be affiliated with a member agency. Nominees must have demonstrated service to the industry, their professional trade associations and their community in a manner that would be considered exceptional for a person of his or her age. Complete an online nomination or send a nomination to .

All awards will be presented at the 120th Annual Conference & Trade Show, June 15-17, at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

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InVEST Now Accepting Scholarship Applications – Deadline April 21

High-school InVEST students planning to study insurance and risk management can apply for InVEST scholarship funds. The InVEST scholarship program is open to any student who has taken at least some portion of the InVEST program at registered schools. Teachers are eligible for a $50 gift card if at least one eligible student applies for an InVEST scholarship.

Learn more at www.investprogram.org/students/scholarships. If you have any questions about the scholarship program, please reach out to  program manager at InVEST. The deadline for applying is April 21.

Also, don’t forget about the InVEST Volunteer of the Year and InVEST Teacher of the Year awards. Click on the above links to nominate a colleague or a stellar volunteer today! Deadline for both is May 15, 2017.

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In the Groove: 5 Steps for Onboarding New Producers

By Bill Harwood, co-founder and managing partner of New Level Partners, LLC, a learning and development company specializing in insurance

New producers face a dual challenge when they join an agency: absorbing the massive range of information about their new employer, and gaining a clear understanding and appreciation for their new working environment.

The solution? A comprehensive and disciplined onboarding experience. According to the Brandon Hall Group, organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%.

A full orientation is essential for fully assimilating new employees to your agency—and, ultimately, to their success as a representative of your firm. But most new-hire orientations are limited to the agency’s history, organizational chart and management team, brief descriptions of key staff and business units, and an introduction to the department they’ll be joining (yawn).

1) Develop a formal plan. Build a comprehensive, organized onboarding plan and timeline for the new hire. The onboarding plan should:

  • Identify all critical knowledge elements the producer must acquire.
  • Register all operational elements they must understand and execute.
  • Document all critical background and historical contexts they need for efficient and effective performance.

An effectively designed onboarding plan expands the new hire’s knowledge beyond their own practice, creating opportunities to not only meet and greet but engage with other individuals from the other practices or service teams. A holistic menu of what the agency offers creates a culture of collaboration from day one—and it can prove beneficial down the road.

Ideally, the onboarding plan should include detail for the first two or three weeks, with day-by-day goals and activities. After the first few weeks, it should transform into a month-to-month plan with big-picture objectives and goals for the individual to map into their days and weeks on the job, as well as real work contributions.

The plan must strike a balance between self-directed activities that motivate direct action and manager engagement that adds important details and context—and ensures the individual’s onboarding stays on track. The onboarding plan should also include firm, realistic deadlines to hold your new hire accountable, plus give them a sense of accomplishment as they complete tasks on their list.

2) Don’t curb the enthusiasm. The traditional orientation process is fine, but it lacks passion, and it fails to give new employees enough opportunity to interact and engage with the content. The best orientations for today’s worker offer extensive interaction with a firm’s value proposition and strategy, including specifics about competitive advantages in the agency’s territory and markets.

Ask yourself questions like: What differentiates your agency from the rest? Why did your new hire make the best choice by joining your agency? Why are you passionate about what you do? Good producers have a clear understanding of insurance coverage and sales tactics; great producers also lead with excitement and emotion. Give your salesperson the heart fuel they need to get their engines revving early, and keep it going to make sure they accelerate into the future.

Giving a new salesperson an assignment to research and articulate your agency’s value proposition is an excellent, self-paced task for not only acquiring the necessary perspectives on operations, but also engaging with multiple internal resources. The process builds relationships across the agency, giving the new hire access to a range of valid perspectives on what drives agency success.

3) Gauge existing knowledge and skill level. Next comes a big challenge: accurately understanding the new employee’s knowledge, skills and competencies. While professional designations and certifications are decent indicators of previously acquired professional knowledge, how the employee has used and leveraged their knowledge and skills in prior jobs can also be influenced by the environment of their prior agency.

For example, was your new recruit the lead resource or subject expert for certain topics, or was their role supporting the lead resource? Can they cite contextual examples or stories of how they applied their expertise to provide advice to a client? How complex were some of their account or clients?

Engage in open and positive discussion about the use and application of a new salesperson’s knowledge and skills at their previous agency. Don’t interrogate or give the impression that you are disappointed in what they tell you—very few new hires will share the exact skills and competencies of the most proficient of your existing staff. Most will be anxious to get involved and contribute as quickly as possible, but your agency’s accounts may have other complexities, internal workflows and decision-making processes to which they must adjust.

4) Compare and contrast. As you compile a summary of the new hire’s knowledge and skills through ongoing discussions and interactions over their first weeks, you should also compare that summary with known job requirements. Most should already be codified in job descriptions, but your active engagement with the new hire will likely generate important customized knowledge and skills that will flesh out the original job description. For example, the role may have unique elements related to the type of accounts or territory the new hire will be responsible for.

Ultimately, the two-step process of compiling detailed knowledge and skills, then cross-referencing those elements to exact job needs, will serve both the new hire and manager well. The manager obtains an advanced set of validated expectations, while the new employee receives a detailed breakdown of most critical elements of the job.

5) Sustain the enthusiasm. Providing encouragement and observations immediately will set the pattern for future feedback discussions. After that, hiring is an investment that requires attention. Set up time each week to meet with the new recruit—you may have them accompany you to client visits or meetings, but that’s no substitute for one-on-one time.

Try meeting every Monday for 20 minutes to set the week’s objectives, and again on Thursdays to review progress. Ask questions and encourage the new hire to share their observations and perceived challenges. Part of creating an open dialogue is avoiding judgement. Listen and offer suggestions—jumping to conclusions early in the process doesn’t do any good.

As a new producer’s onboarding moves past the initial phase and into the regular execution of their responsibilities, transitioning into ongoing development marks the handoff between the agency’s onboarding track and the company’s performance management process. New hires often sense a strong drop-off in coaching and feedback after demonstrating core performance over their initial three months with an agency—a transition gap with many negative consequences, considering most new employees are still adjusting into an agency during their first year of employment.

At most agencies, full orientation to a book of business happens over the 12-month renewal cycle. Regardless of account similarities, the full profile of accounts and the multitude of relationships involved with both clients and carriers is not complete until the producer has handled all renewals. And in addition to the account work, the new employee is still building cross-departmental relationships and skillsets during that first year.

Even with solid introductions to all resources and experts at the beginning, a relationship isn’t strong until a new employee regularly works with others to solve issues at hand. Once these relationships actualize, your new hire will achieve significantly higher job productivity—as well as job satisfaction.

With this combination, clients get better service, the new salesperson gains confidence and feels appreciated, and the agency team becomes stronger and more effective.

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New to the industry or have new hires that need training? Start with IIAT’s online New Hire Training packages. 

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Free Webinar: Discover How You Can Become a “Savvy Agent” for Cities and Counties

Join IIAT for a free webinar presented on behalf of Travelers to discover how you can become a “savvy agent” for cities and counties.

During the hour-long webcast, Travelers Managing Account Executive Hector Ortego will discuss these topics and more:

  • How cities and counties can become a “sticky” and consistent revenue stream for your agency
  • The “key players” at cities and counties and how you can raise your profile with them
  • Unique city/county insurance purchasing processes
  • Key operations and exposures to understand
  • Positioning yourself to win with cities and counties

This program is available even if you do not currently have a Travelers appointment.

Register for the webinar.

You Can Become a ‘Savvy Agent’ for Cities and Counties
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
10 -11 a.m. Central
There will be time for Q&A immediately following the webinar.

This webcast is NOT eligible for CE.

 

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Ask Regina

Q. Our insured is having a house built and the contract with the builder is requiring a waiver reginaof subrogation on the home for any damage and for liability after the home is completed and closed so it would fall under the homeowner policy.  Is that possible?

A. Yes, both the TDI and ISO homeowners have a subrogation condition that applies to property and liability.  It states that an insured may waive in writing before a loss all rights of recovery against any person. So the insured may waive his or her right of recovery in writing prior to any loss.

Got questions? Regina Has Answers.

IIAT Technical Specialist Regina Anderson is your lifeline when it comes to all insurance-related questions. Regina has more than 43 years of insurance industry experience and has been answering IIAT agents’ regulatory and technical questions for 31 of those years. Don’t get stumped. Ask Regina. Call her (Mon. – Fri., 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.) at 800.880.7428 or e-mail .

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Denton and Collin Counties Pounded by Large Hail

Thunderstorms, producing up to softball size hail, pounded several cities north of Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex Sunday night causing extensive damage.  Thousands of homeowner and auto claims had already been reported by sunrise.  The entire insured dollar loss won’t be determined for several days.

Damaging hail fell on several cities including Frisco, Lewisville, McKinney, Argyle, Little Elm, Sanger, Paradise, Justin, Krum and Double Oak.  The largest hail appeared centered around the Denton area.  Major insurance companies are sending catastrophe teams to the area to ensure that an adequate number of insurance adjusters will be able to hhailandle the large volume of claims.

State Farm spokesman Chris Pilcic said homes and cars in the path of the storms received heavy damage.  “We’ve heard from hundreds of customers who have reported damage including broken windows and skylights on their homes and severe damage to windshields on their cars.”

Both homeowners and auto owners are urged to assess the damage to their property and contact their insurance companies as quickly as possible.  Homeowners are urged to avoid contact with storm-chasing roofing contractors and others who may simply be out to take advantage of your insurance claim.

Because of the chance for more storms in the coming days, both homeowners and auto owners are urged to make temporary repairs that could prevent further damage to their property.

The Insurance Council of Texas has prepared this brief video to warn homeowners about what to do after a storm and what to avoid.

 

https://vimeopro.com/user37251318/storm-chasers-video-r1

 

 

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