N.J./N.Y.: Insurance rock stars, rockin’ events—Annual Conference was hopping

June 14, 2023

Some 1,500 insurance professionals gathered at the Annual Conference hosted by PIANJ and PIANY, at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Atlantic City on June 4-6, 2023. Those who wanted to grow their relationships and industry connections; energize their businesses; and increase their knowledge found just what they were looking for during this multiday event.

There were new ventures—from participating in a mock cyberattack, to a keynote address by America’s funniest motivator, Ross Shafer, to a Deep Dive Live on Leveraging Technology—to time-tested favorites—from a sold-out trade show, to the Nighttime Beach Party featuring the Goodman Fiske Band, to the 39th Annual NJYIP Fun Run to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey—everybody who attended the event could find something that benefited their businesses and clients.

Keynote addresses

During her first address as newly elected PIANJ President Connie Mahoney said: “Insurance is a dynamic industry that is constantly evolving. With new ideas, products, and ways of doing things emerging every day, it is vital that insurance agents stay connected and engaged with one another. I believe that every agent should feel like an integral part of the ‘insurance conversation.’ Each one of us brings unique experiences, insights, and perspectives to the table. By networking and engaging with fellow agents, we can gain valuable knowledge, and uncover fresh approaches to our work. Collaboration is the key to success in our ever-changing industry.”

To be engaged and a part of the conversation, she encouraged every independent insurance agent to be involved in PIANJ. PIA offers a diverse range of resources and support and a vibrant community of like-minded individuals, who are eager to share their knowledge and experiences.

During his address at Monday’s luncheon, PIANY President David Sidle, CIC, CPIA, said: “Today, I stand before you as a proud member of the PIA community. In my journey with PIA, I have come to recognize a remarkable trait that unites us all: we understand that our purpose encompasses serving our communities and our clients with unwavering dedication.”

He continued: “Every priority we pursue carries the essence of serving our communities and clients at its core. We believe that insurance should be transparent, fair, and accessible to all. We strive to create an environment where our clients feel protected, understood, and supported throughout their insurance journey. I am grateful and humbled by the opportunity to lead this incredible organization, and I’m inspired by the collective spirit of altruistic capitalism that binds us together. Let us continue to serve our communities and clients with unwavering dedication, always striving for a better and brighter future.”

PIA National President Gerald Hemphill, CIC, LUTCF, traveled from Richmond, Va., to be a part of the Annual Conference. He also addressed the crowd at the keynote luncheon.

Motivational Speaker Ross Shafer used his experiences and humor to discuss how to find new business, inspire loyalty, and motivate employees.

Regarding how to find new business he encouraged people to just go with new ideas, and not to get bogged down by testing something and waiting for it to be perfect—this will help you get to market faster. Your clients will tell you if it works. He also encouraged people to go outside of the insurance industry to find new business—to go to events in different industries. Once you are there, you will get involved in conversations with people who are talking about their problems, and you may be able to identify the solutions to those problems.

When reaching clients, Shafer said that: Wowing the client doesn’t work anymore. It’s short-term and it won’t win you loyalty—it’s less about the “wow” and more about solving people’s problems. “The biggest risk to loyalty is when you fail or disappoint them,” he said.

To inspire employees, Shafer said: “It’s going to start with leadership. It’s going to start with you being inquisitive enough with the people you work with—and the clients that you have—to ask questions and get them drawn out … get them to explain what they really want. Let them really open up to you. And try not to jump in [with your own stories or experience] because you aren’t going to learn anything.”

He also asked everyone to encourage those around them. They may not be looking for a mentor, but they certainly want an advocate—someone who will help them get to the next level and listen to them.

Photos from the luncheon.

Knowledge = power

The Annual Conference featured four education sessions, which were approved for continuing-education credits in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Representatives from Tag Solutions, led Surviving a Cyber Attack: A Mock Cyber Event. By walking through the step-by-step actions of a cyberattack and how those in an agency can respond to them, the demonstration identified possible gaps in agencies’ current cyber security programs. The goal was to ensure that what agents are doing today protect their businesses now and in the future.

On Monday morning, Cathy Trischan, CPCU, CIC, CRM, AU, ARM, AAI, CRIS, MLIS, TRIP, taught Contractors: CGL Coverage Issues. Attendees expanded their expertise and enhanced their professional development as they explored the complexities of commercial general liability policies and how they respond to various liability exposures encountered by contractors.

Steve Lyon, CPCU, CIC, CRM, AAI, ARM, AIS, CRIS, taught two classes: 21st Century Insurance Exposures on Monday afternoon, and he closed the conference with The Ins-and-Outs of Errors & Omissions on Tuesday. In the first class, he discussed how insurance carriers and the courts are interpreting coverage for virtual currencies, blockchain, hashgraph; medical/recreational marijuana; nanotechnology; self-driving autonomous vehicles; unmanned aerial vehicles; genetically modified organisms; ride sharing/car sharing/slugging; and social media/internet activity. In the second class, he focused on how an agent’s standard of care to his or her client is at the heart of every errors-and-omissions claim.


Insurance professionals visited with representatives from the 158 exhibitors in the sold-out trade show. Dedicated trade-show time made sure that the exhibit hall was jumping with activity and a chance to catch up with old friends and connect with new business partners.

Photos from the trade show.

Nighttime Beach Party

Back by popular demand, PIA took over the LandShark Bar & Grill for a Nighttime Beach Party. Those who attended were able to enjoy each other’s company and the beach atmosphere, while playing beach games and dancing the night away to the live music of The Goodman Fiske Band.

Photos from the Nighttime Beach Party.

YIP Nitecap

The Young Insurance Professionals and other conference attendees met up for a night of great music, dancing, and craft drinks at the Hard Rock Café Backstage. The young minds that are shaping the insurance industry were able to hone their skills, build their networks, and perfect their dance moves.

Photos from the YIP Nitecap.

Fun Run for Special Olympics raises over $80,000

The NJYIP 39th Annual 5K Fun Run was held on Tuesday morning on the Boardwalk outside the Hard Rock Casino. Over 70 runners participated in this year’s event—and fundraisers and sponsors raised over $80,000 to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey.

Special Olympics Athlete Cameron DiTroia took first place overall this year with an outstanding time of 16:49. With other notable placements this year, the Fun Run promoted healthy exercise while making it possible for other Special Olympics Athletes to succeed. Additional top male finishers included Ed Chadwick in second place (22:06); and David Mojica in third place (22:45). Top female finishers included Claire Goble in first place (26:47); Mary Boyd in second place (28:45); and Kelly Raser in third place (28:59).

In keeping with the annual NJYIP versus NY-YIP competition, New York managed to keep the fastest YIP title with the help of NY-YIP immediate past President Ed Chadwick.

Congratulations to all the fundraisers who got support for this event. This year’s top fundraisers: top overall individual fundraiser: Ken Bull ($3,619); top agency fundraiser: Jimcor ($4,070); and top company fundraiser: FMI ($21,080).

Photos from the Fun Run.

PIANJ honors industry professionals

During the Annual Conference, PIANJ honored the following individuals with its 2023 Distinction of Professionalism awards:

PIANJ past President Gary Rygiel, CIC, CPCU, ARM, CRM, AIS, was honored with the Distinguished Insurance Service award posthumously. “In honoring Gary with the Distinguished Insurance Service award, we acknowledge his exceptional achievements and the lasting impression he has left on our association and the insurance community,” said outgoing PIANJ President Tom Wilkens. “May his memory continue to inspire us to strive for excellence, to embrace collaboration, and to never lose sight of the true meaning of service.”

The Professional Agent of the Year award was presented to PIANJ past President and Owner of Blum & Walsh Group Bruce Blum, CPIA, TRA, for his exceptional achievements and unwavering commitment to the insurance industry.

The Director of the Year award recognized PIANJ Director Lisa Hamm, CIC’s hard work and dedication to the association’s board of directors. She has contributed remarkable time and talent to help support the association and its many programs—this is the second consecutive year she has received this award.

The Company Person of the Year award was given to American Property and Insurance Co.’s Chairman and CEO James Gorman for his support of individual, independent insurance agents, his involvement in community affairs, and his performance as an industry spokesperson. As he accepted his award, Gorman remarked about how so many “next big things”—direct writers, banks selling insurance, InsurTech—were going to put independent agents out of business. What’s the latest “next big thing”?—Large agency aggregators controlled by private equity firms. However, he said: “If history is any indication on what will happen, their producers will want more customers and they will quit. They will form their own new independent agencies and get appointed by carriers also wishing to grow their customers and the cycle of life for the independent agency system will endure once again.”

Photos from the PIANJ Awards Dinner.

Change of administration: PIANJ, NJYIP

PIANJ 2023-24 officers

PIANJ elected its full slate of officers during the annual business meeting:

  • President: Connie Mahoney
  • President-elect: Andrew Harris Jr., CIC, AAI, CISR
  • Vice president: Roger Butler, CIC
  • Vice president: Beth Frederickson, CPIA
  • Treasurer: Aaron Levine, CIC
  • Secretary: Lisa Hamm, CIC
  • Immediate past President: Thomas Wilkens

PIANJ 2023-24 board of directors

The following individuals were newly elected to serve on the PIANJ board of directors for a three-year term ending in 2026:

  • Ken Bull
  • Walter Conroy

Re-elected to serve on the board of directors for a three-year term ending 2026:

  • Michael Beckerman, CPCU
  • Yossi Bolanos
  • Alyssa Delaney
  • Maria Escalona, CPIA
  • Connie Mahoney
  • William McMahon III, CIC, CWCA
  • Christopher Powell

NJYIP 2023-24 officers

The NJYIP officers installed were:

  • President: Peter Leone
  • First Vice President: Timothy Latimer
  • Vice President: Michael S. DeStasio
  • Treasurer: Josh McManigal
  • Secretary: Walter Conroy
  • Immediate past President: Alyssa Delaney

NJYIP 2023-24 board of directors

The following individuals will serve as directors with terms expiring in 2025:

  • Lila Khiry Cirillo
  • Bart DiMattina
  • Amanda Gallo
  • Kaiti Loughlin
  • Shanna Muscavage
  • Lauren Scott

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s event a success. Plans are underway for next year’s event. Watch your PIA publications for more details.

PIA Northeast

Jaye Czupryna is publications manager for PIA Northeast and editor-in-chief of PIA Magazine. She started her career in public relations, and she has been with PIA for more than 20 years. She has overseen PIA Northeast’s various publications, including the award-winning magazine since 2009. Jaye graduated cum laude from Siena College where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Communications.

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