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This Week in Insurance: August 14–18 2017

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Monday, August 14, 2017

  • Florida Workers’ Compensation JUA, Producer Appeals Committee meeting, 11:00 a.m. (eastern), Tampa Airport Marriott. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

  • FAIA Summer Leadership Conference, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra Beach. 
  • Florida Cabinet, 9:00 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room at the Capitol, Tallahassee. 
  • Florida Workers’ Compensation JUA, Audit Committee teleconference, 10:00 a.m. (eastern). To participate, contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

  • FAIA Summer Leadership Conference, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra Beach. 
  • Florida Workers’ Compensation JUA, Investment Committee teleconference, 10:00 a.m. (eastern). To participate, contact Kathy Coyne at 941-378-7408. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

It’s Time to Take IT Security Seriously

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By Paul Peeples
FAIA Vice President & CIO

Ever since Citizens started requiring a Written Information Security Plan (WISP) FAIA started looking to backfill a vacancy in the area of Managed Service Providers (MSP), and Cyber Security experts. This was no easy task since we were not provided an example of an acceptable WISP. Admittedly, technology significantly contributes to the ease of data collection and reduces the time required to write and service policies, but these improvements create risks and exposures of their own that evoke a potential catastrophe for agents if not addressed properly.

After researching several potential providers, the FMS Board vetted a company called VineIT to  fill the need of our members. This is a Florida based company that specializes in not only Managed IT services, but Cyber security too, and can help you be compliant with Citizens requirement (which is also being looked at by NAIC)!

Most agencies have tried to manage their own hardware, software, and security. This is a landscape that is changing rapidly, and one little mistake can cost your agency big. How big? Statistics show that 50% of small and medium-sized business have suffered a cyber-attack in the last 12 months (through YE 2016) – this is only going to increase. Also, the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of small companies are unable to sustain their businesses over six months after a cyberattack. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average price for small businesses to clean up after their businesses have been hacked stands at $690,000. Oh, and for middle market companies, it’s well over a million dollars.

OK…now that I have spooked you, and you should be (since this is some serious stuff), what do you do?  Below is a list of key strategies you should consider very seriously when it comes to your agency’s protection and cyber security.

  • Network Security Assessment: Every compliance standard recommends that a third party perform this type of analysis, and not your IT team. Many lenders even require it. This is basically a comprehensive assessment of your network that tests your core systems using National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework based security analysis (800-53). This is like the starting point for everything. Wouldn’t you or your IT team want to know how healthy your IT environment is?
  • Risk Assessment/Vulnerability Analysis and Remediation: This is a comprehensive area where basically “ The Good Guys” try to hack your systems from inside, and outside your organization using real world exploit type frameworks to find potential vulnerability exploits. The internal testing uses OpenVAS and the Metasploit framework…The what??? Suffice it to say, it is the most widely adopted exploit framework in existence that test your systems!
  • Security Policy and Procedure Creation: Here it is… the creation of a Written Information Security Policy (WISP) which defines exactly how the organization is accomplishing your security policy objectives. This is the living document that states in writing how your agency plans to protect your physical and information technology (IT) assets as well as safeguard the data they collect. This must detail your agency’s operations on security, governance, inventories, controls, continuity & disaster planning, systems monitoring, and internal/external mitigation policies.
  • Security Procedure Auditing: This is an ongoing process. That ensures your procedures are being carried out as defined. You do not want to attest to practices you are not following through on.
  • Security Program Updates: Be sure to regularly update your Policies, Procedures, Risk Register, and Employee Training materials as your environment changes.

OK, so that was a mouthful, and I am sure your eyes are glazed over a bit, but make no mistake, this is very serious stuff, and sorry to tell you this…it’s only going to get worse. Cyber Crime is big business, a fifty billion dollar a year business!

If you don’t have someone helping you in this area, and need some assistance, you can contact VineIT, an FAIA Member Services preferred provider. 

The Agent's Role in Workers' Compensation

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Special to FAIA by the Workers' Compensation Institute 

Far too often, the insurance agent’s role in workers’ compensation has been viewed only as a means of obtaining mandatory workers’ compensation coverage for the Florida employer. When an accident occurs on-the-job, the only personal contact that an employer has with the case is with the insurance agent, and, far too often, the agent’s advice to his customer is to call the claims office for the insurance company.

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For the true professional insurance agent who really is concerned about his customer’s interest—whether it be pricing of premiums payable, types of coverages, prevention of accidents, or handling of claims or just providing much needed general advice to the employer—simply referring the employer to the insurance company provides a great disservice and often adds costs to the ultimate liability of the employer.

This year’s focus at the Annual Workers’ Compensation Conference, sponsored by the Workers’ Compensation Institute is to present two days of breakout sessions for agents/brokers emphasizing the insurance agent’s primary position in making any workers’ compensation system work. The conference takes place August 6–9 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Agents play a very significant role in the workers’ compensation system. Agents breakouts will address topics such as: What exactly is the role of the agent/broker in claims handling? What does the claims handler depend upon the agent to do, and what role can the agent play in assisting in the defense of a claim? What role should the agent not assume?

On the other hand, how does the agent fit into the general risk management program of any employer? For a proactive agent, there is unquestionably a significant role in the pricing of workers’ compensation coverages, and helping the risk manager to appreciate how ultimate costs can be reduced by choosing the appropriate coverage and ensuring that the appropriate premiums are paid. Advocacy in regards to the interest of the insured employer is an essential function of providing value added to the employer’s interest and oftentimes contributing significantly to bottom line profitability of the employer.

Together, FAIA and NCCI will provide the most comprehensive educational session for agents/brokers interested in professionalism in the workers’ compensation industry that is available.

A complete program of the agent/broker breakout sessions and the program of the conference as a whole is available online.

In memoriam: Industry icon John Eubank

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By David Thompson, CPCU, AAI, API, CRIS 

JohnEubankA few days ago, the insurance industry lost an icon when John Eubank, CPCU, ARM passed away. Space does not permit a description of John’s 50-plus career in the insurance industry; you can read John’s biography here. I learned years ago that no one is irreplaceable, but the ability to fill the shoes that John left behind is nearly impossible. 

I first met John through the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America’s Virtual University (VU). The VU has an “Ask An Expert” service where agents around the country can pose questions and the VU director (formerly Bill Wilson, now fellow “Insurance Nerd” and industry veteran Chris Boggs) sends those questions to a cadre of about 50 Insurance Nerd volunteers. Answers are collected and sent to the person who asked the question. I have served as a VU volunteer since the day it was founded, as did John and several other agents around the country. Most VU volunteers would echo my thoughts of, “I have gained 50 times what I gave to the VU.” 

I quickly picked up that John “had it all together.” He was well versed in almost every type of insurance, even when he would say, “I don’t know much about personal lines.” John’s true expertise was in CGL, commercial property, business auto, and especially crime coverage. John could spout off form numbers and edition dates like I spout off good BBQ restaurants. I often said, “John Eubank has forgotten more about insurance that I’ll ever hope to know.” We swapped thousands of emails and scores of phone calls over the last 10–15 years. John could give you the history of almost every ISO form back to the day when ISO was formed. 

Many of our FAIA members had the pleasure of attending sessions John did at our annual convention or at in-house training that John did for FAIA. Many other members benefited from John’s knowledge after emailing me, because I’d copy John for assistance. John had a loyal following among FAIA members. 

John Eubank was like the sportscaster John Madden; neither of them would fly. John drove the biggest Lincoln he could buy all over the country. When I asked John why he didn’t fly he said, “The last time I flew the pilot landed long and we wound up in the parking lot of a gas station.” I must admit, John had a valid reason not to fly! 

John was one of the five members of what we refer to as “The G5.” That is short for “Group of 5 Insurance Nerds.” That elite (and somewhat strange) group of five includes John Eubank, Bill Wilson, Mike Edwards, Jay Williams, and me. Combined, we have 213 years of experience in the insurance industry and 21 professional designations. I am the “rookie” of the group with only 31 years of experience. 

The G5 would swap scores of emails each day, picking the brains of each other. We once debated the proximate cause doctrine for over a week with emails numbering well into the hundreds. No one was shy about telling another G5 member, “You have your head up somewhere that it should not be.” We challenged each other on coverage positions we took on an issue and had no problem saying, “You make a great argument, and you are still wrong.” We would often say to each other, “I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” At times we agreed to disagree. I challenged John a lot, and almost every time it ended by my saying, “Yep, you are right; I don’t know where I came up with that crazy position.” We always said, “If the G5 agrees, you can take it to the bank.” 

Many claims that were initially denied by an insurer got paid after the agent sent comments of the G5 to the adjuster who changed his or her denial. Many FAIA members experienced the wrath…I mean knowledge…of the G5 when I’d copy the G5 on an email and each would reply to the writer. Several agents wrote back saying, “You guys are weird…I mean amazing.” One time a New York attorney I know (specializes in insurance defense work) took a position on a coverage issue that I disagreed with and I copied the G5. A day or so later the attorney replied to the G5, “I give…I give…you guys win.” We bombarded him with dozens of emails in a matter of hours. He learned, the hard way, not to mess with the G5! 

John’s family owned a condo in Destin. Once when John and his wife Barbara were there, Bill Wilson and I joined them for a weekend. John had made a sign for the outside door, “VU Southern Command.” It was classic. The condo was about 15 stories, and it had a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico. The bedroom I used had windows on two sides and I had an amazing view. Other than at night when I got into bed, I don’t think I saw the Gulf. For two full days John, Bill, and I sat at the dining room table with our laptops emailing each other stuff to look at. Non-stop we discussed nothing but insurance and ate BBQ that I had smoked; that’s an Insurance Nerd’s dream weekend! 

The weekend at Destin, John casually said to me, “Next time you teach a commercial property class, ask anyone there to explain the margin clause to you.” I said, “I will, and I bet no one can do it.” Under my breath I said to myself, “What in the heck is the margin clause?” It was something that I had never run across, even though ISO introduced it around 2007. The next day when I got back home (so John wouldn’t know it!), I started my research on the margin clause to learn all the details. Since that time, I have talked about the issue in numerous classes. John had that effect on people; make them learn and be a better insurance professional. 

I learned of John’s death when Bill Wilson sent an email to the G5 with the subject line of simply, “We are now the G4.” The message was short; “John just passed away. I will send more details as I have them.” When I received that I went to my Outlook contact list where I have made a distribution list with the G5 email addresses. When I want to send to all the guys I simply type “G5” in the “to” box and all the email addresses populate. I removed John’s email address from the list; that was hard to do…it was so final. 

I can’t speak for Bill Wilson, Jay Williams, and Mike Edwards, but we are still the G5; I’ll never use the term G4. My distribution list still says G5. I’ll still talk about the G5. There is a huge void in the knowledge base of the G5, but we will maintain the cause that John was part of. That is to read the policies you sell, know the coverages, and never, ever, stop learning. 

Hundreds, probably thousands, of insurance professionals are better educated because of John. I fortunate that I can put my name on that list. John made you learn, but you realized that it was fun learning…especially from him. 

Read John's obituary in The Tennessean.

This Week in Insurance: June 26–30, 2017

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Friday, June 30, 2017

  • Florida Workers’ Compensation JUA, Board of Governors teleconference, 10:00 a.m. To participate in the call, contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408. 

This Week in Insurance: June 19–23, 2017

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Monday, June 19, 2017

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Sheraton Orlando North, Maitland. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Sheraton Orlando North, Maitland. 
    • Board of Governors, 9:00 a.m. To participate by telephone, dial 1-888-942-8686 and use code: 574-373-5657#.
    • FMAP Board of Governors, TBD (upon conclusion of the Citizens Board of Governors meeting). To participate by telephone, dial 1-888-942-8686 and use code: 574-373-5657#.

Friday, June 23, 2017

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Retirement Plan Committee, 10:00 a.m. To participate by telephone, dial 1-866-574-0995 and use code: 9235841#. 

RLI named Florida Trusted Choice Company of the Year

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Longtime FAIA Member Services partner RLI Insurance Company was named Florida's Trusted Choice Company of the Year during General Session of FAIA's 113th Anniversary Convention & Education Symposium. 

RLI has been an ardent supporter of the Independent Agency System since its founding in 1965. Rated A+ “Superior” by A.M. Best, RLI has been FAIA's preferred personal stand-alone umbrella insurance provider for 16 years, and joined TrustedChoice.com's national referral program in 2016. 

RLI has a stellar reputation for niche expertise, superior service, entrepreneurial spirit, and aggressive implementation of cutting-edge technology.  

RLI offers In-Home Business and Personal and Commercial Umbrella coverage through FMS.

 RLI Award 
RLI Chairman and CEO Jonathan Michael (center) accepts the Trusted Choice Company of the Year Award from FAIA President and CEO Jeff Grady (left) and FAIA Chairman Brian Scarborough (right).  

Young Agents Council announces 2018 award winners

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Young agents who exemplify professionalism and ethical behavior were honored Friday during the invitation only Young Agents Council luncheon held in conjunction with FAIA’s 113th Anniversary Convention and Education Symposium at the Gaylord Palms Resort:

  • Young Agent of the Year (tie): Christine Billington, CIC, ACSR, AAI, Rogers, Gunter, Vaughn Insurance, Inc.; and Nicole L. Coppock, AIAM, Frank H. Furman, Inc.
  • Young Agent Associate Individual of the Year: Patrick Banis, CIC, Tower Hill Insurance Group, Inc.
  • Young Agents Company Partner of the Year: Capitol Preferred/Southern Fidelity Insurance Company.