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Sep 15
National Preparedness Month: Manage exposures amid rising natural disaster risks

ready_npm_instagram2.pngAs natural catastrophes, from wildfires to flooding, become more frequent, organizations need to be well prepared and alert to the potential for complex environmental risks to arise. September is National Preparedness Month; the perfect time to plan ahead.  

David Schechter of Beazley shares ways insurers can help companies prepare for and respond to an environmental crisis caused by a catastrophe. 

Create a plan — and follow it 

Keeping an up-to-date emergency response plan outlining what to do in the event of severe weather events and associated environmental risk events is good business practice for industrial sites. At a minimum, the plans should include who to contact in the event of an emergency, including hazardous materials (HAZMAT) and emergency response vendors. 

If or when the worst begins to unfold, it is important for the leadership team to be familiar with their plan and follow it. Not only does this approach help to mitigate loss, but the existence of and adherence to emergency response plans also demonstrates a company’s high standard of care. Many companies may do “dry runs” or “desktop exercises” to regularly test the adequacy of their emergency plans and ensure they are adhering to both state and federal requirements. 

Communicate with stakeholders 

When an incident occurs that could pose an immediate threat to the environment, property or human life, it is important to communicate early and clearly with regulators, law enforcement and emergency responders, community stakeholders and insurers. If local officials lack confidence in an organization’s ability to respond to an incident, they can — and often will — take control. This can result in significant financial and practical consequences. Timely communication can help avoid this situation. 

Be proactive 

In the wake of an incident that impacts others, consider a proactive approach to settling smaller claims or other impacts resulting from the incident such as costs for temporary housing or evacuation. Counsel and the insurer can help develop a strategy to proactively resolve legitimate claims, building goodwill in the community and with regulators.  

Learn the right lessons 

Even the most prepared company with the best of plans and execution can still experience significant losses due to the sheer force and unpredictability of natural catastrophes and resultant environmental damage. Company leaders should work with their counsel, consultants and insurers to review an incident and assess how to mitigate the chances of any future reoccurrence and/or response should another incident occur. 

Working with a specialist broker and insurer that understands the complexities of environmental liability risk helps organizations to prepare for and respond to an environmental crisis, and to mitigate the potential financial and reputational impact. ​

Learn appropriate coverages quickly with Rough Notes  

Rough Notes Advantage Plus, formerly the Big "I" Virtual Risk Consultant (VRC), is a trusted insurance knowledge base platform available at a member exclusive discounted price to Big "I" members. 

Quickly get the information you need to understand your customers operations and exposures while identifying appropriate coverages. Gain access to the resources your agency needs, such as E&O checklists, sales and marketing tools, proposal language, plus training and development support.  

Visit www.independentagent.com/RoughNotes to find out more.​

Sep 15
Nebraska Legislature Hears Testimony on Redistricting Proposals

Chamber9-13-21c.jpgThe Nebraska Legislature has convened for a three-week special session to adopt new political district boundaries that reflect 2020 census populations.  

The state constitution requires that the Legislature redraw certain state political district boundaries every 10 years following the federal census. This is done to adjust district size to account for population shifts and to attempt to ensure equal representation for Nebraskans who live in those districts, according to Monday’s Unicameral update.  

Senators will set new boundaries for Nebraska’s three U.S. House of Representatives districts and 49 legislative districts as well as the Nebraska Supreme Court, Public Service Commission, State Board of Education and University of Nebraska Board of Regents. 

On Sept. 13, the Redistricting Committee introduced its proposed redistricting plans as a package of eight bills.  

Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan and Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne created competing legislative redistricting plans, LB3 and LB4, respectively. Both proposals would make several changes to legislative districts across the state. They each would move one district from greater Nebraska to the Omaha metro area to account for a population shift from west to east.  

Linehan’s proposal would merge parts of existing districts 23 and 24 and create a new district 24 in southeastern Saunders and western Sarpy counties. Wayne’s plan would move District 44 from southwestern Nebraska to southwestern Douglas and western Sarpy counties. 

The Redistricting Committee hosted public hearings in Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha this week. Click here to read a Unicameral update on Tuesday’s discussion in Grand Island, which focused on rural representation. 

​ “It’s critical that we keep a legislator that can speak for us and advocate for our region,” said Kathy Wilmot of Beaver City, who testified that LB4 would split the counties in District 44 among other districts that might not share the same interests.

At the Lincoln public hearing on Wednesday morning, several senators testified, describing how the proposed congressional and legislative redistricting plans would affect their districts.

Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward opposed LB​3, which would merge his District 24 with District 23 and create a new District 24 in Sarpy County. He instead supported LB4, which would keep York and Seward counties together in District 24.

​“I’m willing to compromise,” Kolterman said, “but don’t tear my district apart.”​​​

Floor debate is scheduled to begin Sept. 17, and lawmakers are expected to complete their work by Sept. 30. ​


2022 is an Election Year - Let's Pump Up IIANPAC

It's not too early to start planning grassroots activities for the General Election coming up in 2022, when Nebraskans will elect a new Governor and 24 state Senators.  

To "pump it up", IIAN just introduced a new voluntary IIANPAC contribution schedule which was included in your agency's membership renewal invoice, effective September 1.    Please make sure your agency includes your contribution with your renewal payment!

An effective PAC is the necessary third leg of our advocacy team – without enough PAC funds to back us up, all of your volunteer time and effort on our members' behalf (like reviewing and developing agent legislation, testifying before Unicameral committees, contacting Senators) – as well as the efforts of our professional lobbying force headed by Perre Neilan – could not be nearly as effective.  Click here​ to learn how to get involved! ​​​​

Sep 14
Big ‘I’ Turns 125: Looking Back and Forging Ahead

651207845eb1d36b873b6c42f47ce901.jpgFor 125 years, the Big “I” has held one goal: to protect the interests of independent insurance agents. 

Through grit, ingenuity, foresight and smarts, the Big “I” has been a key proponent of the value independent agents bring to their insureds - from the average homeowner to the largest multinational company - as well as the insurance community as a whole. 

Within the September issue of Independent Agent magazine, you’ll find that the Big “I” has published a special section, “Celebrating 125 Years of the Big ‘I’,” which tells the story of how the association started out back in 1896 and how it became the strong and innovative Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America it is today.​  Read the digital edition here 

The Big ‘I’ at the Vanguard of the Insurtech Revolution 

The Big “I” has always been at the forefront of technological innovation in the insurance industry.  

The impact of innovations during the 1960s and 70s would increase competitiveness against direct writers by making agency operations more efficient and unlocking more selling time. In the years that followed, an industry data communications network was required to allow companies to communicate with agencies, whatever the hardware they had in their office. 

By the end of the 1990s, the internet arrived as the great liberator to market access and independent agent distribution. As the power of the internet grew more sophisticated, it gave birth to real-time quoting, faster transfer of policy information and underwriting terms, comparative rating, APIs and all the other tools agents have access to today. 

After the pandemic in 2020 prompted the sudden and necessary adoption of digitalization, the industry took the opportunity to look back and take stock of how far it had come. The emerging plethora of InsurTechs had in fact met the technological needs of the independent agency channel. The Big “I” and the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) continue to support efforts to create a single platform that independent agents can use to access all markets and companies. 

Raising the Standards 

Big “I” committees on a local and national scale have helped shape the insurance policies in use today, as well as a vast amount of insurance-related legislation. As coverages evolved, the Big “I” Technical Affairs committee has worked with ISO to review policy forms and inform them why certain changes should or should not be made. 

Ushering generation after generation to join the independent agency system is a hallmark of the Big “I.” Since the 1960s, state young agent committees have provided an opportunity for young agents to network and share strategies among their peers. 

In 2021, young agent committees continue to enjoy strong numbers and engagement, where core values include community involvement, networking and fundraising. Ultimately, young agents bind generations of the independent agency workforce, ensuring its continual perpetuation. 

The Big ‘I’ Serves the Consumer First 

From an industry that used quills and typewriters to agency management systems and real-time online quoting platforms, the Big “I” has been at the forefront of insurance innovation.  

“From a group of 20 agents that sought standardized underwriting and fair commissions to an army of nearly 250,000 Big ‘I’ members that took on the might of Wall Street and secured the stability of the economy in the wake of 9/11, the Big ‘I’ has led the way,” said Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “From an industry that focused simply on property insurance to an industry that insures the modern property-casualty market, the Big ‘I’ has been securing the fairness and integrity of the delivery of insurance since its inception.” 

As the insurance world has changed, the Big “I” has been a constant—advocating for its members, consumers and the insurance community on every level. 

And as the industry looks ahead to new challenges, such as cybercrime, extreme weather and economic instability, the Big “I” will be doing the same, striving to uphold its long-held values of fairness, choice and trust. 

Sep 14
New Partner Alert: Berkley Management Protection

BMP_CombinedMark_Color.jpgFounded in 2020, Berkley Management Protection aims to demystify management liability insurance and reinvent the way the coverage is offered in the insurance marketplace.  

They improve the agent, customer and employee experience by providing a new way to engage the market with talent, data and technology. “The Grove” is Berkley Management Protection’s user-friendly agent portal that streamlines obtaining quotes for coverage. It’s an innovative and powerful portal designed to give agents the speed, flexibility and efficiency they require. 

Berkley Management Protection offers solutions catered to small businesses, nonprofits and professional service providers, such as Directors & Officers Management Liability, Employment Practices Liability, Fiduciary, Crime, Miscellaneous Professional Liability and Cyber Liability.  

The Trellis Management Liability Portfolio contains a modular suite of cost competitive and flexible management liability products designed to meet its various insured’s needs.  

Independent agents can apply here for appointment by Berkley Management Protection. 

Berkley Management Protection is committed to offering its agents and customers a level of service and ease of doing business unmatched in the insurance industry. 

Click here to view Berkley Management Protection’s Partner Directory page.  

Sep 13
Big ‘I’ Opposes Tax Increases as Congress Faces Hectic Month

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The U.S. Congress has a "tumultuous” schedule of policymaking this month as the Sept. 30 fiscal deadline approaches.  

One big item on their to-do list is to consider the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. Included in this legislation will be provisions on climate, childcare, education, and expanding Medicare, among others. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee completed its markup on the portion of the reconciliation package which they have jurisdiction over.  ​The Big “I” voiced opposition to the Committee’s passage of legislation that would raise roughly $2 trillion of new revenue through tax increases on businesses and individuals.

 “The Big 'I' was disappointed to see House Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee vote to move forward with a number of substantial tax increases on our nation's small businesses," said Charles Symington, Big “I" senior vice president of external, industry and government affairs. 

“The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for small businesses across the country, with many being forced to close permanently due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Main Street small businesses try to recover, the last thing they need to be worried about is a tax increase coming out of Washington, D.C."

The legislation includes several harmful provisions for small businesses. Important for pass-through businesses, it would raise the current top individual tax rate from 37% to 39.6% while adding an additional 3% surtax on individuals with adjusted gross income exceeding $5 million or $2.5 million for a married individual filing separately. The plan also takes aim at the 20% small business deduction by setting the maximum allowable deduction at $500,000 for joint returns, $400,000 for an individual return and $250,000 for a married individual filing a separate return.

Additionally, the proposal increases the top capital gains tax rate from 20% to 25%, effective after Sept. 13, the date House Democrats introduced the tax portions of their legislation. The legislation also replaces the flat corporate income tax with a graduated rate structure. The rate structure provides for a rate of 18% on the first $400,000 of income; 21% on income up to $5 million; and 26.5% on income thereafter. The benefit of the graduated rate phases out for corporations making more than $10 million.

“The Big 'I' is especially concerned with the combined impact that these tax increases will have on Big 'I' members and their clients," said Wyatt Stewart, Big “I" assistant vice president of federal government affairs. “The Big 'I' urges House Democrats to oppose these tax increases as the legislation makes its way to the House floor. As the economy tries to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, now is not the time to increase taxes on our nation's job creators."​

Funding the NFIP 

One of the most pressing items to accomplish by Sept. 30 is to fund the federal government and reauthorize a number of critical programs, including the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 

Any lapse in the NFIP would mean policyholders would not be able to obtain coverage. 

This could be problematic to policyholders across the nation who are facing an increasing number of severe flooding events. 

Additionally, Congress must act to raise the debt ceiling sometime this fall. Republicans and Democrats are currently arguing whether a debt limit increase should be included in government funding legislation or the reconciliation package. For insurance agents, disagreement between the two parties could lead to a government shutdown, which could then lead to a lapse in the NFIP. 

As many of these issues come to a head at the end of September, the Big “I" will continue to advocate on behalf of its members and strongly oppose any attempts to increase taxes on independent agencies.  

Sep 13
TEKRiSQ Joins Agents Council for Technology

​TEKRiSQ is t​he newest company partner of the National Big "I"'s Agents Council for Technology (ACT)

Tekrisqlogo-blue.pngTEKRiSQ is a cybersecurity company that serves small and midsize businesses and helps independent insurance agents quickly diagnose risk, streamline account marketing and deliver any required risk mitigation for their clients.​​

 “We are eager for TEKRiSQ to join ACT as a supporting partner," says Ron Berg, ACT executive director. “Cybersecurity is top of mind for insurance consumers with the recent concerning reports around attacks. We're looking forward to TEKRiSQ joining our community with their focus on equipping independent agencies with the support and tools to provide clients with seasoned cyber risk management." 

TEKRiSQ helps small and midsize businesses and their trusted advisors—including insurance agents—make critical improvements to minimize technology risks. 

As agents try to guide clients in navigating the threatening cyber landscape in a hardening market, TEKRiSQ partners with agencies to provide more efficient account marketing processes for their clients. The company also guides agencies with managing a reasonable quote-to-bind ratio and helping clients implement cybersecurity best practices.  

“In today's day and age, it's crucial independent insurance agencies can provide their cyber liability clients with thorough risk discovery, highlighting what they can do well and where they can make improvements," says Bill Haber, co-founder of TEKRiSQ. “We're committed to working with these trusted advisors to help their clients to find proper coverage that addresses specific risk and navigate technology risk through efficiency and diligence for powerful long-term results. We're excited to share a dedication to equipping the independent agency system as we partner with ACT to provide leadership in this evolving field."

Learn more at TEKRiSQ's website

Sep 08
Learn the State of Cyber Risk in Coalition’s New Report

Coalition-ClaimsReport_H12021-sm.pngThe cyber liability market and climate has dramatically changed in the past few years. Ransomware variants, the shift to working remotely and the increasing dangers of supply chain attacks have contributed to the change. 

Coalition is an insurance company that specializes in cyber insurance and is available for IIAN members through Big “I” Markets. Members can write their own agency’s cyber policy or their customers’ cyber policy using Coalition.  

Coalition has a unique view into the cyber risks and claims experienced by its policyholders. On any given day, Coalition performs billions of security scans, sends hundreds of critical security alerts, investigates reported cyber incidents, and helps its 50,0000-plus customers navigate an increasingly fast-paced digital world.  

In that spirit, Coalition is excited to share the learnings from its claims experiences in the H1 2021 Cyber Insurance Claims Report. Click here to get a download of the report. 

Within this resource, you will learn: 

  • Why ransom demands have jumped to a staggering $1.2 million per demand — and which criminal hackers are driving the trend. 
  • A comprehensive breakdown of the three types of incidents that account for 70% of all claims: ransomware, funds transfer fraud, and business email compromise. 
  • Predictions from our claims and security teams on how the market will continue to evolve for the remainder of 2021. 

Coalition is conducting a webinar to discuss the state of the cyber liability market and review the findings shared in the report. The webinar goes live Sept. 9 at 12 p.m. CDT, but by signing up, you can receive the recording afterward. 

Coalition's cyber liability products can be quoted and bound through Big “I" Markets, the online market access system available exclusively to Big “I" members. Direct access to Coalition's underwriters and renowned cybersecurity experts is provided to Big “I" Markets registered agents via online chat throughout the sales and underwriting process. Coalition is now admitted in many states, providing agents with a one-stop shop to place cyber liability coverage for small businesses as well as the most complex risks in the surplus arena. 

Sep 08
Pay it Forward: Submit Your Nominations for IIAN Annual Awards

AwardNominations-Social2.jpgEach year, Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska recognizes the contribution of outstanding individuals, along with the  Company of the Year. This year's awards will be presented during the 2021 Annual Convention on October 28. Please take a few minutes to think of someone you know who deserves recognition! 

We're accepting nominations for the following awards:  Outstanding Young Agent of the Year, Company Representative of the Year and Five-Star Company of the Year. 

Click here to nominate a deserving insurance professional. By completing the form, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a FREE Annual Convention registration!   

All nominations are due by October 6. Pay it forward for those who have impacted you!  

Sep 08
Plan Ahead for Disasters During National Preparedness Month
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September is National Preparedness Month, which raises awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. 

Get your personal, household or small business financial records in order before a public health or natural disaster strikes using Plan. Prepare. Prevail. resources.  Share these helpful documents with your employees and customers! 

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has published an extensive website containing disaster-preparedness tools, such as: 

  • Quick checklist for personal/household financial documents to identify and organize key financial records and a personal/household financial inventory form  ​
  • Quick checklist for small business financial documents to identify and organize key financial records and a small business financial inventory form 
  • Other valuable resources and materials you can share with family members, employees and customers 

"At every disaster, I always hear, 'I never thought it could happen here or to me,'" a FEMA liaison said. 

Click here to learn about the Kansas City Fed’s Omaha branch.   

Develop a disaster plan with ACT 

In addition, the Big “I" Agents Council for Technology (ACT) is here to assist you before, during and after a disaster occurs.

ACT's Disaster Guide includes steps for developing a disaster plan, resources and tips to apply during the event, and guidance on what to do once danger has passe​d. 

As we mark National Preparedness Month this September, raise awareness with your staff and with your clients about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies.​​

Sep 08
Attract Talent by Offering Better Benefits

AdobeStock_188101594.jpegAs the COVID-19 pandemic carries on, American workers are caring a whole heck of a lot more about work-life balance, and an increasing number are switching jobs as a result. 

The insurance industry in particular has been significantly affected due to the aging demographics of the workforce. While technology is aiding the efficiency and productivity of the independent insurance agent distribution channel, it's also elevated the need to recruit and retain employees who have the necessary skill set. 

Independent insurance agencies can be an attractive place to work by providing a flexible work environment. The issue isn't a lack of willingness to pay competitive wages either. Most agency owners are at a disadvantage when it comes to offering benefits. 

Daniel Ruppel, CFP and TIAA financial planning strategist, recently shared with PropertyCasualty360 how employers in the insurance industry and across other sectors can not only hold on to their current employees but also lure away talent from others in this era of the “Great Resignation.” Employee benefits like retirement plans, deferred compensation, health savings accounts and student debt relief can make employers can stand out. 

Aside from medical insurance, there are other benefits that rank highly in employee surveys such as retirement, dental and vision, long-term and short-term disability and life insurance. Employees that take a long-range view of their career tend to also want to protect their financial security. Employee benefits are a tax-favored way for them to achieve that security. 

Many agency owners fail to realize how much employees value these benefits. And many agency owners believe that, given the small size of their agency, they can't offer attractive, affordable benefits. 

Fortunately, Big “I" Employee Benefits is a one-stop resource that leverages the collective size of the Big “I" membership to provide "guaranteed issue" benefits: no underwriting (with certain requirements being met). 

If you haven't investigated the Big “I" Employee Benefits offering, you owe it to yourself and your employees to see how affordable it is to offer a robust benefits package.  

The Big “I" has made it simple and easy to get a quote and obtain coverage for your employees. Coverages are provided through The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and include group life, group short- and long-term disability, group dental and group vision. The program offers various coverage options to meet the diverse needs of our members. 

By offering benefits competitive to today's hiring environment, agencies can get and keep top talent. 

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