IIAT’s Response to Harvey Recovery Czar’s Comments on Insurance Agents

During a Texas Tribune event on Friday, Sept. 29, Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp, named by Governor Abbott to lead the state’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey, commented that the insurance industry, specifically insurance agencies, were waiting on FEMA before paying insurance claims. Sharp said agents need to “step up” and “write a damn check.”

On the heels of Sharp’s comments, IIAT took the opportunity through a press release to Texas media outlets to clarify the role of a Trusted Choice® independent agent in the claims process.

“Independent agents are actively on the ground working tirelessly to help Harvey victims file and resolve insurance claims as expediently as possible,” said IIAT President & Executive Director Marit Peters. “Coordinating coverage among property, flood and wind policies, which are often insured through different companies, can be a complex process.”

Insurance companies pay claims when they are due under an insurance policy. According to the Insurance Council of Texas, insurance companies have already paid out an estimated $2 billion in insurance claims on flooded automobiles and wind damaged homes due to Harvey’s 130-mile-per-hour winds and massive flooding.

IIAT urges all Texans affected by Harvey to contact their insurance agent for assistance. FEMA has provided guidance on applying for disaster assistance at http://www.disasterassistance.gov and information on insurance processing for flood coverage can be found here.

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IIAT Joins Independent Insurance Agents in Victoria and Rockport to Extend Financial Support to Harvey Impacted Communities

In an effort to provide financial relief to two of the communities greatly impacted by Hurricane Harvey, a group of ambassadors from the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT) recently joined local independent insurance agents in Victoria and Rockport to provide area leaders with monetary support provided by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA), the national association for independent agents.

IIAT’s Governmental Affairs Director, Lee Loftis, presented each community with monetary gift cards to be handed out to those in greatest need. “We know that individuals in these communities are just beginning to rebuild and may need the assistance that a small financial gift can provide. We hope that these funds will help lift the spirits of those in distress and let them know that independent insurance agents across the state and country are thinking about them during this difficult time,” said Loftis.

Agents met with Glen Dry, Pastor of Sportsman’s Church at Son Valley Ranch, in Victoria, and heard the story of Leo De La Garza, whose home was completely destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. De La Garza received $1,900 from FEMA, far from the amount needed to rebuild his home.

In Rockport, GSM Insurors have been working closely with Rockport Mayor Pro-Tem Patrick Rios and Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick on area relief efforts. Outside of GSM’s offices, TWIA has set up a mobile claims unit to assist individuals with their insurance needs. “Rockport has made a lot of progress in a short period of time. However, it will take years for our community to be fully restored. We are grateful to IIAT and IIABA for their generosity,” said GSM Insurance Vice President Travis McDavid.

 

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Share Your Harvey Recovery Stories

How have you and your agency been helping in Harvey Recovery? Share your pics on our Facebook page or e-mail HarveyStories@iiat.org.

Impacted by Harvey?

File for assistance through the Trusted Choice Disaster Relief Fund.

If you have suffered a loss that meets the fund’s guidelines, you can submit a grant application. Download the Disaster Relief Fund application and view fund guidelines. For questions, please e-mail IIABA’s Madelyn Flannagan.

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Big “I” 2017 Best Practices Study Update Now Available

Best Practices agencies understand how important it is to work on their business—not just in it. The newly released 2017 Best Practices Study Update can provide insight you can use to more effectively understand your agency’s value and the opportunities you may be missing for improving operations.

Every year since 1993, the Big “I” and Reagan Consulting have released the Best Practices Study, which surveys the best-managed and highest-performing agencies across the U.S. The research enables agencies to isolate by six different revenue categories and compare metrics on growth, revenue per employee, sales velocity metric, mix of business, Rule of 20, employee productivity, revenue distribution and more.

This year’s update also includes a report on agency perpetuation and the merger & 2017-bp-thumbnailacquisition landscape, as well as information about how Best Practices agencies respond and thrive in today’s environment.

Watch this short video to hear how Chris Van Abel of VAST Agency in Marquette, Michigan uses Best Practices information internally. You can also benefit from the experiences of the current group of agencies. Review the benchmarks, test the formulas, determine your operation level and develop your agency performance dashboard. The time you invest will be well worth your while.

The 2017 Best Practices Study Update is available in e-book or hard copy formats. Send questions to Best Practices staff.

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Thanks to IIAT’s Lead Underwriters and Sponsors for Helping Make the Small Agency Conference a Success

Thanks to the agents, company reps and exhibitors who participated in IIAT’s 13th Annual Small Agency Conference in Waco. The Small Agency Conference would not have been a success without the support of all our lead underwriters and sponsors. Thank you!

Special thanks go to IIAT’s Lead Underwriters for their great support and financial backing of all major IIAT events throughout the year – Allied Trust, AmTrust North America, Capstone Associated, Central Insurance Cos., Liberty Mutual Insurance, The Republic Group, Safeco Insurance, Service Lloyds Insurance Co., State Auto Insurance Cos., Texas Mutual Insurance Co., Travelers, United Fire Group, Union Standard Insurance Group and VIP Insurance.

Thanks also to Progressive for sponsoring the New Member Luncheon. Finally, a very special thanks to Allied Trust, Assurant, Insurors Indemnity and Stone Falls Insurance for sponsoring the four suites in the Hospitality Suites Crawl.

View photos  from the 2017 Small Agency Conference.

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Access Group Benefits through the Big “I”

As part of your IIAT membership, you have access to group benefits through the Big “I” Employee Benefits program. The Big “I” Employee Benefits program specializes in small agencies—some coverage lines can provide guaranteed issue with as little as two covered employees.

The Big “I” Employee Benefits program gives members access to great benefits and a dedicated service team. Once enrolled, members can manage their account and pay premiums online.

Available coverages include group life, group short- and long-term disability, group dental and group vision. All lines are available to member agencies and state associations.

Contact the Big “I'”s Christine Muñoz for more information about Big “I” Employee Benefits.

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TWIA Stays in the Coastal Bend as Community Recovers

TWIA announced last week that it is staying in the Coastal Bend area for as long as needed to provide support to its policyholders as they begin to rebuild. TWIA will transition its three Mobile Claims Centers from emergency relief centers to Claims Support Centers as area policyholder needs begin to shift from claim filing, to claim assistance and rebuilding. To date, the three Mobile Claims Centers (MCCs) have served more than 10,000 TWIA policyholders.

The Claims Support Centers’ (CSCs) main focus will be providing policyholders with guidance on existing claims and the windstorm certification requirements for completing repairs or replacement of damaged property. While the CSCs will not issue checks onsite for claim advance payments, they will ensure any claims checks are issued and mailed to the policyholder.

“Our policyholders have repeatedly told us over the past three weeks our presence has made a big difference in their recovery. So, we are going to stay here for a while longer and provide claims process support for as long as we are needed,” said Jennifer Armstrong, TWIA Vice President of Communications and Legislative Affairs.

The Corpus Christi Lindale Recreation Center location at 3133 Swantner Street will operate as an MCC through Wednesday, September 27. The last day for TWIA policyholders to receive a check onsite for a claim advance payment will be Sunday, September 24. The Lindale Recreation Center location will close permanently at the end of the day on Wednesday, September 27. The new Corpus Christi Claims Support Center will open on Thursday, September 28, at 5262 South Staples Street, suite 115.

The Port Aransas Community Center location at 408 North Alister Street will operate as a MCC through Sunday, October 1. The last day for TWIA policyholders to receive a check onsite for a claim advance payment will be Saturday, September 30. It will reopen on Monday, October 2 as a CSC.

The Rockport GSM Insurors location at 1102 East Laurel Street will operate as an MCC through Sunday, October 1. The last day for TWIA policyholders to receive a check onsite for a claim advance payment will be Saturday, September 30. It will reopen on Monday, October 2 as a CSC and remain there until a more permanent location is secured.

All TWIA claims checks will begin to be issued through the mail on October 1. Policyholders can work with TWIA to resolve their claims at one of the CSCs, by logging into Claims Center at TWIA.org/ClaimsCenter, or by calling 877-281-1431.

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Gov. Abbott appoints Kent Sullivan as Commissioner of Insurance

new commishGovernor Greg Abbott has announced the appointment of Kent Sullivan to the position of Texas Commissioner of Insurance. The appointment is for a term set to expire February 1, 2019.

Commissioner Sullivan most recently held the position of Partner at the Jackson Walker law firm. He previously served as a justice on the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, first assistant attorney general for the Texas Office of the Attorney General and a state district court judge. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, Houston Bar Association and the Austin Bar Association and a life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Additionally, he is a member of the Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee and Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee and previously served on the Texas Pattern Jury Charge Committee, State Bar of Texas Board of Directors and the Texas Center for the Judiciary Board of Directors. Sullivan received a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia. He has over 25 years of private practice experience.

“We look forward to working with the commissioner as we pursue our mission to support independent agents in Texas. This relationship is a critical one for all of us,” said IIAT President & Executive Director Marit Peters.

Read the Governor Abbott’s announcement here.

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Harvey Recovery Stories: Hotchkiss Helps Hurricane Recovery Efforts

hothckissFollowing catastrophes like Hurricane Harvey, when people need help getting back on their feet, is when independent agents in the IIAT family really show their value and compassion.

Staff and family from Hotchkiss Insurance Agency in Carrollton is one IIAT member agency that has been on the ground in the Houston area helping hurricane recovery efforts. Hotchkiss shared photos from their relief efforts in a photo album on their Facebook page to inspire others to help aid the recovery process.

In a post on their Facebook page, Hotchkiss wrote, “It’s incredibly inspiring to see people from near and far join together to serve one another. In the midst of such a trying time, we want to be reminded of the kindness that is in action. Here are a few photos of our own Hotchkiss family (staff, clients, family!) helping out. We find these encouraging and uplifting, and hope you do, too!”

Share Your Harvey Recovery Stories

How have you and your agency been helping in Harvey Recovery? Share your pics on our Facebook page or e-mail HarveyStories@iiat.org.

Impacted by Harvey?

File for assistance through the Trusted Choice Disaster Relief Fund.

If you have suffered a loss that meets the fund’s guidelines, you can submit a grant application. Download the Disaster Relief Fund application and view fund guidelines. For questions, please e-mail IIABA’s Madelyn Flannagan.

donate-to-relief-fund

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It’s a Fact of Life – E&O Claims Follow Catastrophes

After a catastrophic event like Hurricane Harvey, there is an increased potential for E&O losses. Remember, always notify your E&O carrier first before taking any action, legal or not, in response to a potential claim.

Westport Insurance Corporation, the leading E&O provider in the U.S., recently sent their clients this helpful document, Top 10 Reasons to Submit Your Claim. If you have insured who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, you may find this advice timely and relevant to your situation in the upcoming months.

Do you have E&O-related questions involving claims handling (or other topics)?

If so, please contact IIAT’s Gunnar Kephart at gkeph@iiat.org or (800) 880-7428. Gunnar can help you with your E&O and claims-handling questions.

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Ask Regina

Q. With the Equifax breach, many of our insureds are freezing their credit as is being reginasuggested. Since insurance companies rely on credit reports, how will this work if the insured freezes their credit?

A. According to the FTC, a credit freeze does not affect your credit score and it does not keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. But if you’re doing any of these, you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily with the pin that you were provided when you freeze your credit. You can lift the freeze either for a specific time or for a specific party. The cost and lead times to lift a freeze vary, so it’s best to check with the credit reporting company in advance.

Certain entities still will have access to your credit report if it is frozen and your report can be released to your existing creditors or to debt collectors acting on their behalf.

View the FTC’s Credit Freeze FAQs for more information.

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