Weekly Dispatch: Oct. 21, 2021

October 21, 2021

News

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

As the threat of cyberattacks increases, it’s important for independent agents to develop smart cyber security practices and safe online habits that protect their agencies against these attacks. To raise awareness about cybersecurity, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott have declared October 2021, as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. And, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., has joined Sens. Bill Cassidy, D-La., Angus King, I-Maine, Gary Peters, D-Mich., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, to introduce legislation that would designate October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Did you know that the average cyber claim payout is nearly $1 million? To help protect your agency and your clients, consider PIA’s cyber liability insurance for your agency.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont highlights streamlining updates to small- and minority-business program

Gov. Ned Lamont announced updates last week to Connecticut’s small- and minority-business program that went into effect Oct. 1, 2021. Over the summer, Lamont signed Public Act 21-76, which modified the definition of small-business enterprise to conform to federal guidelines. This update will eliminate confusion and allow one definition, rather than separate definitions at the state and federal levels. According to federal guidelines, small-business enterprises—known federally as disadvantaged business enterprises—must meet Small Business Administration size standards and cannot exceed an annual gross income of $23.98 million; must be owned by a minority by at least 51%; and must be independent of any other company. According to Lamont’s office, this update has the potential to provide greater exposure to small businesses in Connecticut with the federal procurement opportunities. Going forward, small businesses in the state must register in the Federal System for Awards Management System as a small business utilizing the industry size standards. The State Small Business certification application will include a verification method to ensure the business is registered in the SAM System.

N.H.: NHID and DOS kick off Teen Driver Safety Week

The New Hampshire Insurance Department and the New Hampshire Department of Safety announced Monday that they have kicked off Teen Driver Safety Week. As part of the campaign—which is targeted at parents and teen drivers—NHID Commissioner Chris Nicolopoulos aims to raise awareness about teen traffic fatalities, which have been caused by the use of alcohol and other intoxicating substances, inconsistent or no seat-belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding and number of passengers. In recent years, motor vehicle crashes have been the leading cause of teen deaths in New Hampshire. The statewide rates of these fatalities have decreased over the last five years, but according to the NHID and the DOS, even a single preventable teen traffic fatality is unacceptable.

N.J.: PIANJ members are entitled to a Design & Print rebate

PIANJ has partnered with National General to offer PIANJ members a $250 rebate to use toward PIA Design & Print services. PIA Design & Print is a team of professional and talented design experts who can create tailor-made marketing materials to elevate your brand and educate your clients about the insurance products your agency offers—all at a competitive price. Plus, PIA Design & Print can create flood materials that inform your clients about the importance of flood coverage, and that can help you avoid errors-and-omissions claims. For more information about how PIA Design & Print can help your agency, and to take advantage of this PIANJ member benefit, email PIA Design & Print Account Manager Calley Rupp.

N.J.: AVYST spotlights PIANJ member D’Agostino

AVYST released a customer spotlight last week, which features PIANJ past President John D’Agostino, CIC, CPIA, CRM, of D’Agostino Agency in Hammonton. The spotlight highlights D’Agostino’s extensive experience in the insurance industry, his favorite part about working in the insurance industry and his proudest moment when helping a client. It even covers D’Agostino’s personal theme song and his favorite super hero. According to D’Agostino, he finds that using AVYST’s eForms Wizard has made him more efficient and it allows him to make changes to forms quickly, which makes his professional submissions more attractive to underwriters. Remember, AVYST provides all PIA Northeast members with free access to its bronze-level package. This software package streamlines the process of completing forms while interviewing clients and prospects by removing redundant entry onto ACORD forms. This allows agencies to connect prospects to potential markets quickly.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul announces $33 million in federal funding to strengthen nonprofits’ security

Gov. Hochul announced Monday that more than $33 million in federal funding has been allocated to support the efforts of 198 nonprofit organizations facing an increased risk of terrorism. These funds will allow nonprofits to strengthen the security of their facilities and enhance their overall preparedness. The funding—which is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through its Nonprofit Security Grant Program—is being allocated to New York through two separate awards. Organizations within the New York City metropolitan area will receive $27 million, and organizations throughout the rest of the state will receive $6.4 million. The FEMA grants complement the additional $25 million in state funding that Hochul announced recently, which will be awarded to New York’s nonprofit organizations to bolster security and enhance preparedness against hate crimes and related attacks.

Vt.: Gov. Scott announces release of ARPA funds for home weatherization efforts

Gov. Scott and the Department for Children and Families announced yesterday that the American Rescue Plan Act includes $7.9 million in funding to expand the Weatherization Assistance Program. Weatherization helps eligible households reduce their energy use, lower their utility bills, and improve the comfort and safety of their homes. A household is eligible for no-cost weatherization services if their gross household income is below 80% of the median income in their area. Free weatherization services include energy audits (e.g., blower door testing and infrared scans); energy renovations (e.g., insulation, air sealing, heating system upgrades); efficiency coaching; health and safety improvements (e.g., improving ventilation, addressing carbon monoxide and unsafe heating issues); and referrals to other programs and services.

Advocacy

PIA opposes small business reporting proposal

Recently, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., defended Democrats’ Internal Revenue Service bank-reporting proposal, which was proposed as part of the U.S. House’s current reconciliation package. If the reconciliation package is signed into law with this proposal, financial institutions and other providers of financial services would be required to track and submit information on all inflows and outflows—including cash—of every account that grosses $10,000 or more annually, to the IRS. Originally, the proposal would have required this financial tracking for any account that exceeded $600. But, Reuters reported on Tuesday that, amid backlash from business groups—including PIA—the proposal now would affect accounts that exceed $10,000. However, this adjustment would not reduce the scale of this new IRS program significantly. According to PIA, this requirement would create a liability for anyone whose bank account balance exceeds $10,000, because it is unclear how the IRS will store, protect or use this information. To support PIA in its opposition against this proposal, the national association has encouraged agents to contact their federal legislators to express their opposition.

N.Y.: Agents Advocacy Coalition is preparing for next year’s state elections

Did you know that October is Financial Planning Month? Agents Advocacy Coalition (formerly PIANYPAC) is using this month to start planning for the 2022 election season. Next year is an important election year in New York, especially since it will be the first election since the state was redistricted. All members of the state Legislature—and the governor—are up for reelection. To prepare for the election, the PAC has myriad decisions to make—like which candidates it wants to support. Meet the team in charge of these decisions.

Educating insurance agents

Educate your clients about LTC insurance

Do you have clients who are asking questions about the benefits and policy differences of long-term care insurance? A handy resource to help agents explain the different plans available to clients is available on PIA Northeast News & Media. With this tool, you can educate your clients about traditional LTCI, hybrid life insurance with LTCI and life insurance with an LTCI rider. 

Five tips for negotiating with clients

Occasionally, independent agents will have to negotiate with their clients about their insurance policies. To negotiate successfully, it’s important for agents to use tact and respect. But, that’s just half of it—it’s critical for agents to understand how to negotiate in order to preserve their relationships with their clients and their carriers.

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Oct. 26: PIANJ Golf Classic

Nov. 9: NJPIAPAC Trivia Night

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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