Constant Reinforcement: How Best to Learn Coverages

Acquiring coverage expertise will never result from one test, one seminar or one long day’s reading with a lot of coffee! Coverages are a hash of complex concepts, legal language blended with the unique structure of insurance policy design. We all learn core coverage knowledge as we start our careers but the vast majority of our learning occurs as we apply coverage to situations we experience when providing support to clients.

IIAT’s online New Hire Training Commercial and Personal Lines classes can be used as ‘reinforcement’ education for agents – beyond using with new hires, transferees between departments or interns.

The by-coverage design of the Coverage Basics™ curriculum is 100% flexible to enable any learner to focus on the coverage concepts they want reinforced most. Learn more and register for IIAT online Coverage Basics classes.

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Participate in the Trusted Choice® Distracted Driving Campaign

The Trusted Choice® Distracted Driving campaign emphasizes the importance of both driving without distractions and having proper auto insurance in the event of accidents or injuries.

Campaign elements, including graphics, videos and audio ads, are all available online for 2018-trustedchoice-displayads-texting-imgBig “I” members to use in their own marketing materials.

While the powerful campaign has already received positive feedback from the Big “I” Board of Directors and company partners, Trusted Choice plans to further expand the campaign this fall. New elements will emphasize the dangers of driving while applying makeup, as well as driving while smoking.

You can access and order campaign elements by logging in to the Big “I” website and viewing the campaign on the Made for You webpage. You can also leverage the Distracted Driving Toolkit elements to raise awareness and encourage members to support the movement.

If you have any questions or would like to receive additional information, contact Madeleine Stern.​

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Phishing Scams on the Rise: Be On the Alert for E-mails Pretending to be from IIAT and TDI

Both IIAT and Texas Department of Insurance have received reports of fake emails that appear to be from the association and agency. Unfortunately, these types of social engineering/spoofing campaigns are on the rise and are exceedingly difficult to mitigate.

Please check the address carefully before opening attachments or clicking links. Emails from IIAT always come from the domains or Scammers have become adept at spoofing e-mail addresses, but a properly configured Spam filter will be able to block malicious “spoof” emails.

If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, please contact IIAT directly at 800.880.7428. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

For more information, refer to the Department of Homeland Security’s Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks.


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IIAT Receives Big “I” Excellence in Insurance Education Award

IIEIEAT was recognized by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) with an Excellence in Insurance Education (EIE) Award at the recent Big “I” Education Convocation in Springfield, Massachusetts. IIAT received a Gold award for its insurance education programs. This is the sixth time IIAT has received recognition.

The EIE awards recognize state associations and staff who have made significant contributions to insurance education for their members and the industry through a variety of traditional and cutting-edge educational programs.


IIAT’s Linda Silgero and Sheridan Roe with the Excellence in Education award.




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TDI Update: Online Application for Insurance License Now Required

Candidates who have passed the exam to be a Texas insurance agent must apply for  licenses online. Paper applications are no longer accepted for licenses that have an online application.

Candidates for most license types can apply on Sircon. You have one year after passing the exam to apply for an insurance license.

Applicants for the following licenses must use the paper Application for Individual Agent License:

  • Temporary license
  • Insurance service representative
  • Life and health insurance counselor
  • Risk manager
  • Public insurance adjuster

Questions? Fill out TDI’s online form.

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Governor Abbott Orders Increased Readiness Of State Operations Center As Tropical System Approaches The Gulf

Last week, Governor Greg Abbott has ordered the Texas State Operations Center (SOC) to elevate its readiness level as a potential tropical system is expected to develop and move into the Gulf of Mexico and toward the Texas coast. The SOC increased its readiness level from level IV (normal conditions) to level III (increased readiness) beginning at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Additionally, Governor Abbott has made state resources available to assist local officials in their response efforts.

“We are closely monitoring a tropical system expected to approach the Gulf of Mexico and potentially impact the Texas coast in the coming days,” said Governor Abbott. “In light of recent heavy rainfall across the state, we are on high-alert as any additional rain could quickly create dangerous flash flooding conditions.  I urge all Texans to take precautions and review their emergency plans now to prepare for any potential impact to their community.”

State and partner agencies engaged in this effort include:

  • Texas Department of Public Safety (Texas Highway Patrol)
  • Texas Department of Transportation
  • Texas Engineering & Extension Service
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
  • Texas Forest Service
  • Texas Military Department
  • Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
  • American Red Cross
  • The Salvation Army

Here are several measures residents can take now to prepare for potential storms:

  • Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions.
  • Review hurricane evacuation maps, and select a route for you and your family.
  • Plan how all family members and pets will evacuate safely.
  • Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly.
  • Stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area.
  • Follow the instructions of local officials if a storm develops.

For more information about hurricanes and tips on how to prepare for the 2018 hurricane season, visit the DPS websiteor

Additional information can also be found at the National Weather Service website.

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Need Tax Reform Insights? Register for a Free Webinar

Last year, President Trump signed into law the widest-ranging tax reform legislation in decades. Learn more about how the new federal tax law and regulations will impact your business during a free webinar hosted by the Big “I.”

Click on the link below to register:

The new legislation will impact the tax liability of agents and brokers in 2018 and beyond. The centerpiece of the law is a reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

The law also changes tax rates for individuals and creates a special 20% deduction for pass-through businesses. The Treasury Department recently released draft regulations that outline how insurance agencies and brokerages can benefit from the new pass-through deduction.

The webinar will provide a brief introduction to the tax law and its impact on C-corps, as well as changes to individual tax rates. It will also offer a comprehensive explanation of the new deduction for pass-through entities and the draft regulations that directly address how insurance agents and brokers can use the new deduction. Approximately two-thirds of Big “I” members are organized as pass-through entities, such as S-corps and LLCs.

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Need CE? Attend the Small Agency Conference in Waco


IIAT’s Small Agency Conference, Sept. 23-24, in Waco, is right around the corner. We know that it’s hard to get out of the office when you run a small agency with few employees, which is why the Small Agency Conference starts on a Sunday and runs to 3:30 on Monday, giving you plenty of time to get back to the office for the work week.

The schedule is packed with sessions that contain practical insights for smaller independent agencies. Plus, if you need CE, the Small Agency Conference has you covered!

CE sessions include:

Industry Trends & Challenges Filed for 1 CE
The IIAT staff will bring you the latest on Texas and national issues affecting independent agents.

Personal Lines Claims Issues Filed for 1 CE
Claims are never easy, but they also don’t have to be difficult. Learn some common problems associated with claims that should be addressed with your customers before a loss occurs.

Texas Law: Certificates & Liability Transfers Filed for 1 CE
Texas has enacted laws restricting the transfer of liability in some construction agreements. Learn how they apply along with a review of the Certificate Law in Texas and Owner Controlled Insurance Programs.


E&O Basics for Personal Lines Filed for 1 CE
Everyone wants to do the right thing for customers. Learn some of the most common mistakes made relating to servicing Personal Lines customers.

PLUS, when you attend the Small Agency Conference IIAT will give you a promo code voucher that you can use to attend three 1-hour InfoCentral CE webcasts.



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Ask Regina

Q. We just had a client call asking about rental coverage for U-Haul Truck they will beregina renting to move their household goods. They currently have an ISO Personal Auto policy. What coverage do they have, if any?

A. A non-owned vehicle in the physical damage section of the ISO PAP is defined as a private passenger auto, pickup, van or trailer. A U-Haul truck would not fit the definition so the policy would not provide physical damage to the truck but would still provide third party liability.

In regard to liability, the named insured and any family member are covered while using any auto. Since the word “auto” is undefined in the PAP, coverage applies when renting any type or size of vehicle for personal use, even a large truck. See the InfoCentral Coverage Issues report in regard to rented vehicles.

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Insuring Against Large Losses: What Size is Your Umbrella?

More and more people are becoming concerned about protecting themselves and their families from liability exposure and damages they might incur in the wake of a serious accident. More people are purchasing personal umbrella policies to cover those large exposures should the worst happen.

The well-trained insurance professional will take great care in procuring such a policy, and with good reason. Significant E&O claims have arisen out of the marketing and procurement of personal umbrella policies and the lack thereof. Let’s take a look at some landmines that we have seen blow up on an agent placing personal umbrella coverage.

Does the personal umbrella policy provide coverage above the primary auto policy on an underlying Underinsured Motorist (UIM) or Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim?  Personal lines carriers vary on whether their policies cover this exposure. The cautious insurance professional should always check with the umbrella carrier to see if their policy covers UIM or UM coverage above the primary limits and advise the customer in writing if it does not. Otherwise, if the customer is involved in a catastrophic accident and the umbrella does not provide coverage, they could – and often do – turn to the agent and their E&O carrier for relief. This is a growing area of concern in the E&O world because umbrella claims tend to involve substantial damages.

2. Late notice
Failure to promptly report claims to the carrier is another common trigger of E&O claims. That includes those involving umbrella policies.  The agency notifies the primary carrier of an accident or loss involving one of its policyholders, but fails to notify the personal umbrella carrier at the same time. The most common reason for such failure is that the underlying loss does not appear serious at first blush. Sometimes the initial investigation is inaccurate or the facts change as the investigation progresses.  Another possible scenario – the policyholder confidently assures the agent that he or she was not at fault for the accident.

Invariably, the agency is never made aware of a change in circumstances with respect to the underlying claim and therefore does not report the loss to the personal umbrella carrier. The problem is, most personal umbrella policies contain language requiring the loss to be reported to them as soon as possible or as soon as practicable.

To avoid this exposure, it is critical to report every claim to every potential carrier as soon as the agency is aware of the claim. This way, the agency has satisfied their duty to report the claim, eliminating a potential future E&O exposure for failure to timely report.

3. Mind the gap  
The thorough insurance professional will determine whether the primary policy limits satisfy the requirement of the umbrella policy. That is particularly true if the primary and umbrella policies are with different carriers. A common example: the customer procures his own primary auto policy from one of several ‘direct’ carriers, while the independent agent places homeowners and personal umbrella coverages. Umbrella policies usually have an attachment point that requires a certain amount of underlying coverage before their coverage will attach.  The agent should always get a copy of the declaration pages for all primary policies and should advise the customer in writing of potential gaps in coverage.

4. Changes in circumstances
The agency should handle any policy change request from the customer with fresh eyes. For example, if an insured couple gets divorced, the agent should follow state law in executing any policy changes. Information regarding who is to be insured following the divorce has to be received in writing, clearly stated. Any policy change with respect to named insureds should be communicated to all parties in writing, especially if a separated spouse winds up with less coverage than they had in the marriage.

5. Limits
Does the umbrella policy provide the amount of protection needed by the client? For example, is a $1 million umbrella enough? The savvy insurance professional will carefully review the umbrella policy with the client to confirm that the umbrella policy meets the client’s expectations with respect to limits and the exposures it covers. As in many other lines of insurance, personal umbrella policies differ in the amount of limits they offer and whether they “follow form” to cover the underlying risks covered by the primary policy.

Placing personal umbrella policies can result in large E&O claims if the placement is not handled with care. Imagine a storm is coming and you hand your customer an umbrella that is too small, has holes in it, or simply does not open. Will they be pleased with the service you provided? Doubtful. Experience tells us that your agency is likely to be soaked financially by the time that customer is through with you.

About the Author
Brian Butcher is a vice president, claims expert with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and teleworks out of the office in Overland Park, Kansas. Insurance products underwritten by Westport Insurance Corporation, Overland Park, Kansas, a member of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. 


Have questions about your E&O or need a quote?
Contact IIAT Advantage E&O’s Cari Senefsky or Gunnar Kephart at 800.880.7428.

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