Custom On-Hold Messages for Independent Agents

What do your callers hear when they need to wait On Hold on the phone?  Are you presenting a professional image, showing appreciation, and conveying helpful information?

Commercials On Hold easily converts “hold time” into a powerful customer relations transmedia-logo-web-darktool.  You’ll notice more inquiries about your various insurance products featured in your on hold messages.  Order by APril, 1, 2019 and try the service 90 days for no charge!

Options start at just $29 monthly before your 10% IIAT discount.  Visit www.commercialsonhold.com/iiat for details or contact 800-832-4653 sales@commercialsonhold.com.  Commercials on Hold makes it EASY!

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Make an IMPACT: Invest in a Cause Committed to Your Livelihood

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Fundraising for IMPACT, IIAT’s state political action committee (PAC), is underway! Why is IMPACT important to you, your business and your clients?

IMPACT funds work to support business-minded candidates and elected officials whose decision-making directly affects the overall independent insurance agency system in Texas.

With an over 93% successful bill passage rate over the last decade, it is clear that IMPACT’s success has afforded IIAT with the opportunity to create lasting relationships with those in and around the Capitol.

Often, during a legislative session, eliminating negative legislation is just as important, or more so, than getting a priority bill passed. In either scenario, IIAT is able to collaborate with state legislators to generate the best possible outcome for you and your business.

Whether it is improving the licensing process, allowing access to needed data, providing greater options for agents to present to their clients, or creating enhancements at TWIA, IIAT is the only voice speaking for agents at your state capital. View the key issues IIAT is tackling during the current legislative session.

Contribute to IMPACT!

Click the button below.

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Questions? Contact Jill Douglas at 800.880.7428 to pay over the phone.

 


IMPACT is prohibited by law from accepting corporate contributions.  Investments may be made via personal or partnership check/credit card AND the following business entities may contribute via company check/credit card:

  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC’s) with no corporate partner members of their LLC
  • Limited Partnerships (LP’s) or Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP’s) with no corporate partner members of their LP or LLP
  • Partnerships with no corporate partners members of their Partnership
  • Sole Proprietorships with no corporate partner members of their Sole Proprietorship
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NFIP Changes Effective April 1

In accordance with current flood reform laws, April 1, 2019, NFIP Changes will include:

  • An average premium increase of 7%,
  • An expansion to the primary residence designation, and
  • The addition of a severe repetitive loss premium and a clear communications message added to the Declarations page.

Premium increases will apply to new business and renewals effective April 1, 2019, and are in accordance with both B-W12 and HFIAA flood reform laws.

  • The average premium increase is noted as 7.3%, including the HFIAA and Federal Policy Fee. ICC Fee will have an increase of 3% (Included in the total increase) for all policies except PRP and Newly Mapped rated policies.

Primary Residence guidance will be expanded for policies effective on or after April 1, 2019, to allow a 2-4 family building owner to be a primary residence for the purposes of assessing the HFIAA Surcharge. Proper documentation will be necessary to show the insured as a primary resident.

Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) Premium has been newly established for all properties officially designated as SRL and will be 5% of the Annual Subtotal Premium. The 5% is included in the premium caps of 18% for full risk and 25% for subsidized rates.

Please refer to www.fema.gov/cost-of-flood for more information about flood risk and policy rating.


IIAT Advantage offers flood insurance programs for IIAT members underwritten by Assurant Flood Solutions and Selective. Learn more.

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Political Clout: How Main Street Agent Groups Stack Up

Political clout in Washington, D.C. is largely measured by political (PAC) fundraising, grassroots strength, and relationships with elected officials. The Big “I” has proven itself unparalleled when it comes to representing main street independent insurance agents in these areas.

Year-end financial disclosure reports have been filed with the Federal Election Commission, officially closing the 2018 fundraising year and election cycle. Last year, InsurPac not only established a new fundraising record by topping $1.13 million in receipts, but also set a new standard for the election cycle. See a contrast of main street independent agent PACs below. political muscle

The groups with the largest PACs develop and strengthen the most relationships and achieve the greatest results. Take a look at this comparison to see how much money Main Street agent PACs gave to your state Congressional delegation. Legislators are keenly aware of which groups have large PACs, because a large PAC reflects a thriving, active membership that is engaged in the policy decisions that come out of the nation’s capital.

The Big “I” uses its brand and relationships with elected officials to achieve meaningful results for independent agents. In addition to maintaining a strong daily presence on Capitol Hill, the Big “I” produces the most effective and largest federal legislative conference in the insurance industry – a key measure of grassroots strength.  The annual Big “I” Legislative Conference is widely recognized by both Capitol Hill and carrier partners as the preeminent event of its kind. It has featured keynote addresses from U.S. presidents, Senate and House majority and minority leaders, committee chairs and virtually every other elected official that is critically important to the insurance industry.

In 2018, approximately 1,000 attendees heard from both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and now House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland). Other main street agent group legislative events are a fraction of the size and don’t feature the same caliber of keynote speakers as seen in as seen in this chart.

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Agents are actively engaged in their communities and with their customers. Now is the time to carry that same activism and advocacy to Washington, D.C. by registering for this year’s Legislative Conference, to take place May 8-10.

 

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Formulating an Exit and Succession Plan

Click here to read the full article.


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IIAT Advantage partner InsurBanc is the bank of choice for Texas Independent Insurance Agents. Learn more.

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RLI Personal Umbrella Rate Change Approved in Most States

Effective April 1 for new business and June 1 for renewal business, RLI has received approval for a modest rate increase in most states, including Texas.

RLI will also introduce additional rating changes at this time, including:

  • A 5% increase on excess uninsured and underinsured rates, including states rated on a per driver basis. For example, a household paying $150 per driver will now pay $158 per driver.
  • An increase in the incident surcharge for drivers under 22 years old and over 80 years old from $100 per incident to $200 per incident. In addition, Question 14 on the new business application will be split into 14a and 14b in RLI’s portal but will remain as a combined question on the paper application.
  • For new business, removal of the $100 surcharge for households with a driver who has been licensed less than one year, has a permit or has an international license (Question 13). A response greater than zero will still place the risk in the personal umbrella policy special tier and restrict coverage to $1 million.
  • A surcharge increase for households with a youthful or inexperienced operator, as well as drivers over 80 years old, in New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

The updated rates will be available when quoting within the RLI portal or the online Quick Quoter, and will be in compliance with state-approved filings.​

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Big ‘I’ Member Resources Available on Pass-Through Tax Regulations

In January, the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations concerning a new tax deduction for “qualified business income” under Section 199A of the tax code. The Big “I” lobbied aggressively on this regulation as it is critically important for owners and shareholders of insurance agencies and brokerages organized as pass-through entities, such as partnerships and S-corporations.

The rule confirms that agency and brokerage owners and shareholders are eligible for a tax deduction of up to 20% on qualified business income—regardless of taxable income level. The new deduction reduces the top effective tax rate on pass-through income to approximately 29% from 37%. For those in the 24% bracket, it can reduce the rate to as low as 19.2%.

In response to the regulation, the Big “I” has posted multiple new resources for members on the Big “I” website. Big “I” members must log in to view the materials, which include:

  • recording of the 30-minute webinar the Big “I” hosted last week, for any members who were not able to attend
  • PowerPoint presentation that provides a comprehensive explanation of how the new tax deduction benefits pass-through owners and shareholders, including discussion of the specific sections of the over 200-page regulation relevant to insurance agencies and brokerages
  • one-page overview of the new tax rate for C-corporations and the new tax deduction available to some pass-through businesses
  • four-page FAQ document that outlines the must-know facts about the new 199A deduction

While a major victory Big “I” members, the regulations are complex. The Big “I” encourages members—especially those who derive income from non-traditional activities—to consult a tax professional to determine how the new deduction specifically impacts their businesses.

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Register for the 2019 Big ‘I’ Legislative Conference

Online registration is now open for the 2019 Big ‘I’ Legislative Conference. Agents don’t want to miss this opportunity to speak to their federal legislators with a unified voice. Early-bird registration pricing ends Friday, March 8. Hotel accommodations always sell out fast, so don’t delay in making guest room reservations.

Keep an eye on the State News e-newsletter in the coming months for more programming details.

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Apply for ACT’s Comparative Rating Pilot

The Agents Council for Technology (ACT) has a unique and exciting opportunity for IIAT members!

The ACT Small Commercial Rating Work Group is working with a handful of comparative rating vendors to offer a free 60- to 90-day pilot to select Big “I” member agents that write commercial lines. These members will have the opportunity to access a participating vendor’s rating platform to quote small commercial lines such as business owners policies, commercial auto and workers compensation.

ACT is looking for a mix of tech-savvy agencies, those that have implemented comparative rating in some form and struggled with the workflow and those who have never used it—all are welcome to apply. By obtaining feedback from a mix of agencies, ACT will receive a range of insights to help move our industry forward.

If your agency is interested in being considered for this opportunity, please complete the online questionnaire by Friday, Feb. 15. If your agency is chosen to participate, you will be provided with additional details on the process and participant expectations, as well as training and support.

A total of 15-20 agencies for each comparative rating vendor will be selected. All submissions will be reviewed, and every applicant will receive a response about whether they have been selected to participate.

ACT focuses on bringing independent agents, carriers, vendors and other key industry stakeholders together to improve technology workflows, enhance productivity and increase profitability. Here’s how the pilot will benefit key distribution channel stakeholders:

  • Agents: Increase awareness and utilization of existing solutions; allow for feedback on improvement; and increase the number of carriers participating.
  • Carriers: Provide real-world stats and insights to create internal ROI.
  • Vendors: Deliver input on areas for streamlining quoting workflow.

Direct questions to Ron Berg, ACT executive director.​

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High Rollers: Serving the High Net Worth Insurance Customer

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Dealing with high net worth customers is not the same as dealing with your other customers. If your agency is fortunate enough to have such a client, you will have to pay special attention to them.

While it may seem counterintuitive, affluent customers are often frugal when purchasing insurance. Often these insureds will have high auto limits coupled with umbrella coverage to protect their substantial assets from claimants anxious to share in that wealth; but because it costs extra, they won’t necessarily want the umbrella coverage to include UM/UIM coverage … until they are badly injured in an accident, at which time they will argue that they would have gladly paid the premium had it been offered to them.

Some high net worth customers are asset rich through inheritance, but cash poor. When you have such a customer, insist on appraisals and document that the customer refuses to insure to value. Consider the case of an affluent client who owns a family mansion built in the 1850s, or more recent construction with “high end finishes.” The customer directs his obliging agent to insure the home based on what it would cost to build a new, ‘generic’ 10,000 square foot home. During a thunderstorm a large tree is blown over onto the home, damaging the roof, 3rd story framing and causing water damage through all three floors. The carrier will pay the loss, but will not replace the roof with the original hand-hewn slates. Nor will the 150 year-old hard wood floors or 12 inch crown moldings be restored to their original condition. Your client’s inevitable response? Unacceptable!

The problem is, simply putting the square footage of an old or otherwise unique structure into a calculator will not give you an adequate assessment of coverage needed. Go on record explaining why an appraisal is required to put an accurate value on the coverage needed not just to ‘replace,’ but to restore the home to its former glory.

Affluent customers can also be very hard to reach. An agent will usually be dealing witheo-180x150-tx-agent-1 an assistant, and will sometimes be told to sign the customer’s name on applications for him. Cutting corners due to the customer’s inaccessibility may seem like a practical necessity during the application process, but what if there is a loss? It will insulate the client, setting you up for an E&O claim. For that reason, be sure to deal directly with your client or, at the very least, obtain documentation from the client expressly authorizing a third person to make these decisions. And whether he is rich, poor or somewhere in between, never sign an application for your customer.

As part of their mobile lifestyle, a great many affluent clients own multiple homes. They can only be in one place at a time, so their various residences often sit empty for weeks or months. Regular homeowner policies exclude coverage for certain exposures, e.g., water, freezing or mold damage, if the home sits vacant for a specified period of time, which is something the customer needs to understand. If you are placing multiple homeowner’s policies for a high net worth client there are carriers who have policies well-suited to these well-to-do insureds.

Finally, moneyed clients often have extravagant toys and exotic pets. Insist on visiting the home and any other properties they own. Look for things like a commercial water slide at the residence, pet tigers, yachts and planes. We have seen claims on all of these items, which were overlooked by the agent when placing coverage for his wealthy insured.

To avoid these problems with affluent clients you should review their coverages annually, because they have the ability to make major changes to their insurance needs – purchases, sales and renovations — more often than other customers. You are also likely to place coverage for a well-off customer that you have never placed before. Be prepared to consult with an expert or enlist the help of a broker when you first place the coverage to make sure you get it right.

Wealthy customers can be a terrific source of business, but you need to pay special attention to them for their sake and yours. Their losses are going to be outsized, so your E&O exposure will be, too. It’s even more important than usual to document everything you offer to your high net worth client because, in the event of an un- or under-insured loss, they can afford the best lawyers money can buy. To make matters worse, knowing that they can afford to lose, affluent litigants are more likely to ignore the cost of litigation and roll the dice simply to make a point.

For such unconventional clients, you would do well to heed unconventional wisdom: the bigger they are, the harder you fall.

About the author
Jim Redeker is vice president and claims manager at 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.

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. 

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