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Jan 18
Unicameral Update - January 18, 2021

​We are 8 days into the session and there have been over 500 bills and constitutional amendments introduced. There was discussion before the session started that senators should consider limiting the number of bills they introduce in order to limit the need and opportunities for the public to be in the capitol. Clearly some people didn't get that memo. There are 2 more days of bill introductions and it seems like we could see approximately 700 bills, which is what we typically see in the first year of a biennium.

Gov. Ricketts gave his State of the State address last Thursday where he outlined his priorities for the state and presented his budget. His priorities include tax relief; supporting military families and veterans; public safety/building a new prison; and investing in broadband.

Typically hearings would start this week and next week would see the body engaging in floor debate in the morning and committee hearings in the afternoon. It is not a typical year though. This year hearings will begin on January 25th and, in order to limit the number of people in a hearing room at one time, there will be a morning hearing session and an afternoon hearing session. Floor debate on bills won't start until sometime in February.

However, this week will see the body debating a motion to adopt the permanent rules. There are several rules change proposals and debate is expected to last a day or more. Wednesday the 20th is also the last day for bill introductions, and IIAN's Legislative committee will meet on January 25 to determine positions on new bills.

You may have seen that Department of Insurance Director Bruce Ramge has announced his retirement effective April 9.  He began at the department in 1984 and has served as director for the last 10 years. We have appreciated the good working relationship and open lines of communication and wish him well in retirement.

Committee hearings that have already been scheduled include the Insurance Department bills on continuing education and annuity transactions, LB 21 and LB 22 respectively. See the full hearing schedule – click here.

The committee membership changed slightly – see the final make up - click here.

We are still reading the bills as they are introduced and narrowing the list for your consideration. We welcome and encourage you to read, review and make recommendations. Please find below a potential list of Bills of Interest.

​BILLS OF INTEREST – 2021 Session

 LB 21

Change insurance provisions regarding administrative penalties, health maintenance organizations, and continuing education

Introduced by: Williams

Committee: Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Notice of hearing for January 25, 2021

 

 LB 22

Change provisions of the Nebraska Protection in Annuity Transactions Act Introduced by: Williams

Committee: Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Notice of hearing for January 25, 2021

  

LB 52

Provide for immunity for injury or death resulting from COVID-19 exposure Introduced by: Lathrop

Committee: Judiciary Committee

DateAction
01/11/2021Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

 LB 77

Prohibit insurance risk classifications and rate adjustments based on the fact that the insured is deployed in the military

Introduced by: Gragert

Committee: Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Notice of hearing for January 25, 2021


 LB 106

Change fees relating to access to drivers' records and provide for a new motor vehicle operator's license services system

Introduced by: Friesen

Committee: Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Notice of hearing for January 25, 2021

  

LB 139

Adopt the COVID-19 Liability Protection Act Introduced by: Briese

Committee: Judiciary Committee

DateAction
01/12/2021Referred to Judiciary Committee

  

LB 170

Change provisions relating to the date when compensation begins under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

Introduced by: Hansen, M.

Committee: Business and Labor Committee

DateAction
01/12/2021Referred to Business and Labor Committee

  

LB 171

Change provisions of the Employment Security Law relating to weekly benefit amounts and maximum annual amounts

Introduced by: Hansen, M.

Committee: Business and Labor Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Hunt name added

  

LB 172

Change provisions relating to benefit payments under the Employment Security Law Introduced by: Hansen, M.

Committee: Business and Labor Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Hunt name added


 LB 207

Change provisions relating to the date when compensation begins under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

Introduced by: McDonnell

Committee: Business and Labor Committee

DateAction
01/12/2021Referred to Business and Labor Committee

  

LB 256

Change provisions relating to lump-sum settlement approval and the filing of releases under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

Introduced by: Hansen, M.

Committee: Business and Labor Committee

DateAction
01/13/2021Referred to Business and Labor Committee

  

LB 263

Require occupational boards to issue certain credentials based on credentials or work experience in another jurisdiction

Introduced by: Briese

Committee: Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Brewer name added

  

LB 299

Adopt the Firefighter Cancer Benefits Act and provide an income tax exemption for such benefits

Introduced by: McDonnell Committee: Revenue Committee

DateAction
01/14/2021Referred to Revenue Committee

  

LB 326

Provide immunity for claims against first responders operating motor vehicles and arising from vehicular pursuits and provide for policies, training, and duties relating to vehicular pursuits

Introduced by: Slama Committee: Judiciary Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

 LB 343

Change identification inspection provisions under the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act

Introduced by: Friesen

Committee: Transportation and Telecommunications Committee​

DateAction
01/15/2021

Referred to Transportation and Telecommunications

Committee

  

LB 363

Change provisions relating to banking, finance, securities, consumer protection, dividends, and installment sales and loans

Introduced by: Williams

Committee: Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

DateAction
01/15/2021Notice of hearing for January 26, 2021

  

LB 422

Change the sales tax rate and impose sales tax on additional services Introduced by: Briese

DateAction
01/15/2021Date of introduction

  

LB 439

Change provisions relating to stacking of coverage under the Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Act

Introduced by: Hansen, M.

DateAction
01/15/2021Date of introduction

 

 LB 441

Change provisions relating to compensation for individuals affected by COVID-19 under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

Introduced by: Hansen, M.

DateAction
01/15/2021Date of introduction

 

 LB 463

Change provisions relating to physical examinations of injured employees under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

Introduced by: Arch

DateAction
01/15/2021Date of introduction

 


Jan 15
Trusted Choice Success leads to Member Success

 


Our content team has been hard at work every day writing keyword-rich content for your state that educates consumers and drives insurance buyers from Google to TrustedChoice.com to purchase insurance from your agent members.

In order to compete with other insurance websites, our team produces hundreds of articles each month about insurance to remain relevant and grow our platform. Each piece of content goes through a detailed process:

  • We research what consumers want to know. 
  • We take that research and design a content plan to match. 
  • Each writer is assigned a topic and paired with an insurance expert to get the best information.
  • Each article is reviewed, designed, optimized for Google and published.

We are happy to share your improved state landing page dedicated to providing valuable insurance information to buyers in your state.

In 2020, TrustedChoice.com saw remarkable success in multiple areas:

* We welcomed our 30 millionth insurance shopper in July, since launching in 2013

* 5,300,000 Appetite-Matching Agency Recommendations in 2020

* 180,400 Consumer-to-Agent new business interactions (delivered referrals + delivered leads + inbound phone calls) in 2020

* 61% of new Advantage subscriptions onboarded in Q3 and Q4 were annual contracts with up-front annual payments!

* Highest agency satisfaction with Advantage subscriptions ever - 95% annual retention rate in Q3 and Q4

* WebAward Winner: Best Insurance Website of 2020

 We also saw a record number of free Member-Plus agency profiles claimed by Big I members across the country. 

Contact IIAN today to activate your complimentary Member-Plus profile!​​

Jan 15
PPP Reopened for Small Businesses

​The Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Department of the Treasury met earlier this week, with the Payback Protection Program (PPP) being one topic of discussion. It was decided that the PPP would be reopened, with $284 billion added to the program due to a COVID-19 relief bill President Trump signed back in December. 

Starting Monday, January 11, community financial institutions had first draw at PPP loans, and second draw started on Wednesday, January 13. The program will be opened to those with $1 billion or less in assets who are eligible on Friday, January 15. On Tuesday, January 19, the program will be fully opened to all PPP lenders who are eligible.

​The SBA has also released first draw and second draw application forms for PPP loans. For a second draw, a business will need to meet certain criteria:

  • Has receieved first draw PPP loan and intends to or has used it all for authorized use
  • Has no more than 300 employees
  • Can show a 25% or higher reduction in gross receipts between 2019 and 2020

Updates will be provided as they come. Click here to read the full article.

Jan 14
Nebraska Receives an "A" in Insurance Regulation Report Card

The R Street Institute has once again graded each of the 50 U.S. States in terms of their insurance-business climate. Reports were gathered up in the Insurance Regulation Report Card.

Nebraska was one of 8 states to receive an "A" in this report. Strengths listed include both competitive auto and home markets and small residual markets. A big honor for insurance agents across the sate of Nebraska. It is certainly something to be proud of.

Grades are based on 3 questions:

  • ​How much freedom do consumers have in choosing their insurance products?
  • How much freedom are providers of insurance products given?
  • How effecitve are states at monitoring insurer solvency and fostering private insurance markets?

“The insurance market is both the largest and most significant portion of the financial services industry to be regulated almost entirely at the state level,” said R.J. Lehmann, author of the report card. “This report demonstrates that, on balance, states do an effective job of encouraging competition and ensuring solvency in insurance markets.”​


Click here to read the full article

Jan 14
125th Anniversary of The Big "I"


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2021 marks the 125th year of Big "I", also known as the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. Time sure does fly! Big "I" was first formed in 1896. Back then, it was called the National Association of Local Fire Insurance Agents. 

How old is Big "I"? Here is some insight on what was going on when the Big "I" was born:


As you can see, Big "I" has been around for a while, and we plan on being around for many years to come. Thank you for all of the support over the last 125 years! 

Here's to 125 more!​

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Jan 14
Trusted Choice Launches National Independent Insurance Agency Directory

​Trusted Choice has launched a new service to help independent agents be discovered in the post-COVID era. The National Independent Insurance Agency Directory gives agencies across the country more exposure and creates a directory for prospective clients to find them. ​Plus, Google and Bing index the directory and help involve these agencies into their search algorithm.


Click here​ to check out the landing page

Jan 14
Hard Market Conditions to Come in 2021

​Willis Towers Watson's 2021 Insurance Marketplace Realities Report anticipates hard market conditions to continue in 2021.​ Lines expected to be hit the hardest include umbrella (30-150% rate increases), property (15-25% rate increases), directors and officers (D&O) (as high as 70% rate increases), and cyber insurance (10-30% rate increases). Rates for workers' compensation are slightly increasing, and are the leading casualty line in terms of COVID-19 claim activity. 

"Our experience in this hard market is that there is a wide range of results; renewal results are not huddled around the mean. This means underwriters are underwriting, and there is the opportunity to differentiate your risk," said Joe Peiser, global head of broking at Willis Towers Watson.

A hard market comes about when insurance in the market becomes harder to get and more expensive. Hard marekts usually result from major setbacks, such as a pandemic. The insurance industry works to take in more premiums in order to pay losses during this time. Premiums may be divided to send some to reinsurers, some to reserve funds, and some to investments. Insurers need to stay alert to have enough reserve funds set aside for the near future. Policyholders may even seek other methods to insure their risk, or even go without. 



Click here​ to read the full article

Jan 11
Unicameral Update - January 11, 2021

We are underway in Nebraska. The legislature returned to the capitol on January 6 for the 90 legislative day session. However, lobbyists largely did not. As a result of protocols in place due to COVID, lobbyists continue to work differently via Zoom, text, email and some socially distanced meetings. Each office is different, and we are trying to be respectful of their comfort level of engagement.

There was discussion leading up to the start of session that senators may limit the number of bills they introduce in order to decrease the need or opportunity for the public to be in the capitol for hearings and debate.

However, there have already been 212 bill introductions and five proposed constitutional amendments. Bill introduction continues until January 20.

We are reading bills as they are introduced. See below for potential list of Bills of Interest to IIAN members.

Chair Matt Williams introduced bills on continuing education (LB 21) and NAIC Annuity model (LB 22) for the Department of Insurance. We are already in discussion with the Department about LB 22, regarding concerns that we have for member agents.

This week they will continue bill introduction before starting committee hearings.

New Senators, Leadership

The first day brought the swearing in of senators who were most recently elected in November. In what is a first in the Nebraska legislature, we have a brother and sister serving at the same time. Sen. John Cavanaugh was elected in November to represent LD 9 in Omaha. He joins his sister Sen.

Michaela Cavanaugh who represents LD 6 in Omaha.

Sen. John Cavanaugh is joined by four other first-time senators and three senators who are returning after having set out a term or more due to term limits.

The swearing in was followed by the election of a Speaker and committee chairs. Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln ran unopposed for Speaker as did several committee chairs. The afternoon saw senators receiving their committee assignments for the next two years.

The other Chairmanships of note include Ben Hansen who defeated current Business & Labor Chair Matt Hansen for that position. Matt Williams remains Chair of Banking, Commerce & Insurance.

Please call, text or email anytime.

James P. Cavanaugh (Cavanaughlawfirm@aol.com)                                              Perre Neilan (Perre@NeilanStrategyGroup.com)

Office: (402) 341-2020 ​

BILL OF INTEREST

LB21WilliamsChange insurance provisions regarding administrative penalties, health maintenance organizations, and continuing education
LB22WilliamsChange provisions of the Nebraska Protection in Annuity Transactions Act
LB52LathropProvide for immunity for injury or death resulting from COVID- 19 exposure
LB77GragertProhibit insurance risk classifications and rate adjustments based on the fact that the insured is deployed in the military
LB106FriesenChange fees relating to access to drivers' records and provide for a new motor vehicle operator's license services system
LB139BrieseAdopt the COVID-19 Liability Protection Act
LB170Hansen, M.Change provisions relating to the date when compensation begins under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act
LB171Hansen, M.Change provisions of the Employment Security Law relating to weekly benefit amounts and maximum annual amounts
LB172Hansen, M.Change provisions relating to benefit payments under the Employment Security Law
LB207McDonnell

Change provisions relating to the date when compensation

begins under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

​ 


Jan 07
Partner Spotlight – Safeco Insurance & Liberty Mutual Business Insurance

LMI_Safeco_logo_CMYK_New_Brand.jpg

At Safeco Insurance and Liberty Mutual Business Insurance, we help people and businesses preserve and protect what they earn, build, own, and cherish. Keeping this promise means we are there when our policyholders need us most. Our beliefs extend to how we do business in striving to be independent agents' best partner for the future.

 

Unwavering dedication to independent agents — a deep, enduring commitment to build upon our shared success.

National and local — a unique ability to invest, scale and add value to local, empowered partnerships.

Robust, innovative and expanding product line — accommodate customers' evolving personal and business insurance needs with products built to give agents a one carrier solution.

Easy to do business with — we innovate, build and continuously improve best-in-class digital experiences, programs and service capabilities for agents and customers.

Here today and tomorrow — a business approach that provides stable, open markets for independent agents over time and through disruption.

Delivering peace of mind — partner with agents to support our customers when, where and how they need us most.


We have operations in 29 countries, rank 75th on the Fortune 100 and are the fifth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S.


Visit our Partner Directory to learn more about Safeco Insurance and Liberty Mutual Business Insurance.

To inquire about a Safeco Insurance, please reach out to Jeff Ewen at 402-321-5473 or Jeffrey.Ewen@Safeco.com.

To find out more about a Liberty Mutual Business Insurance, contact Sam Phillips at 402-326-7174 or Samuel.Phillips@LibertyMutual.com. ​

Jan 07
Unicameral Update - January 7, 2021

​The Nebraska Legislature returned to the Capitol to begin a long session (90 legislative days). Although much has changed from when they convened a year ago, much remains the same from the “mini session" they had in July/August last year.

Due to COVID, several protocols, practices, and changes that were first implemented in July remain in place.  There continue to be physical changes in the chamber including plexiglass partitions. Senators are encouraged to wear masks. A limited number of staff are allowed on the floor at any one time.  Hearing room capacity will be capped at less than their normal occupancy.  And no lobbyists in the rotunda!  Although necessary, this last change makes for a very different legislative process.

And while much looks different from a year ago, or two years ago at the beginning of the last biennium, much remains the same.  

Forty-one current senators and eight new senators start anew on doing the people's business.  Of the eight new senators, three are returning after having set out for a term or more due to term limits…Ray Aguilar from Grand Island, Mike Flood from Norfolk and Rich Pahls from Omaha.  Five other senators are new to the body and have already gotten a flavor of what the legislative process is like from new senator orientation and the countless meetings that filled their schedules these past couple of months….Eliot Bostar from Lincoln, John Cavanaugh from Omaha, Jen Day from Gretna, Terrell McKinney from Omaha and Rita Sanders from Bellevue.

The first day saw an election of a Speaker and committee chairs.  As expected, Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln was elected Speaker.  He is a pro-business, conservative member from Lincoln in his fifth year.  The other Chairmanships of note include Ben Hansen who defeated current Business & Labor Chair Matt Hansen for that position.  Matt Williams remains Chair of Banking, Commerce & Insurance.

They are discussing committee membership behind closed doors this afternoon. That will be followed by up to 89 days of tackling the issues facing the state including prison overcrowding, tax reform, social justice/police reform, school funding, the budget and redistricting. The latter two are the only two issues the body is required by the constitution to address.  And in terms of the budget, Nebraska appears to be faring better than most other states and it's anticipated the state will have more revenue than expected when COVID first hit in March last year.

We understand BCI Chair Williams introduced the bills on continuing education and NAIC Annuity model.  The DOI decided not to strike the language on “best interest", so we will have to work the issue leading up to the committee hearing in a few weeks. 

The newly elected Speaker and Chair of the Exec. Board will quickly make decisions on how the legislature will proceed.  It's expected, at least initially, the 'look and feel' of the legislative process may be a little different.  Floor debate may be limited.  Hearings may take up most of the day.  And it all may look different day-to-day.

Due to the pandemic, some senators have indicated they may introduce few bills this session in order to limit the need for the public to come to the capitol to testify or be present.  It remains to be seen if that will be the case or not.  

Currently the legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 10th but it could be earlier depending on how the session proceeds.  

The upcoming session, like all others, will have moving pieces and various personalities that will determine what happens.  We will be engaged and keep you updated.

Tomorrow is dedicated solely to bill introduction.  Senators have until January 20 to introduce legislation for consideration this year.

 

Below are the Committee Chairs for the 2021-2022 sessions:

 

1. Steve Halloran - Agriculture

2. John Stinner - Appropriations

3. Matt Williams - Banking, Commerce and Insurance

4. Ben Hansen - Business and Labor

5. Lynne Walz - Education

6. Tom Briese - General Affairs

7. Tom Brewer - Government, Military and Veterans Affairs

8. John Arch - Health and Human Services

9. Steve Lathrop - Judiciary

10. Bruce Bostelman - Natural Resources

11. Mark Kolterman - Nebraska Retirement Systems

12. Lou Ann Linehan - Revenue

13. Curt Friesen - Transportation and Telecommunications

14. Justin Wayne - Urban Affairs


Click here​ to view preliminary committee assignments

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