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Why Agents Need to be Concerned About Technology Legislation

So, you might ask, "why are technology issues being discussed on Capitol Hill important to me and my agency?" The answer is that technology...
September 5, 2005

Bill JenkinsBy Bill Jenkins
Vice President, Business Development
PIA National

So, you might ask, "why are technology issues being discussed on Capitol Hill important to me and my agency?"

The answer is that technology has become so much a part of how we do business every day that changes in laws, regulations and requirements can have a dramatic impact on an agent's day to day business life. As an industry, we've already experienced some of these effects in Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation aimed at bank agencies and other financial services institutions.

Any agency dealing with medical records is also required to comply with the mandates of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act - otherwise known as HIPAA. Then, there's the National Do Not Call Registry and its State specific lists, the CAN-SPAM Act and various FAX solicitation laws. Put simply, federal laws, regulations and requirements covering various aspects of technology can and often do have a dramatic impact on agency operations.

The PIA Insurance Technology Coalition has been created to help our entire industry to be better informed and better positioned to monitor and speak to federal level technology issues having an effect on everyone in our industry. That is why it is composed of agents, carriers, vendors and other organizations primarily focused on how technology is used to reduce expense, make our lives easier and help us better meet the needs of our customers. PIA-ITC is not, in and of itself, a lobbying organization, but rather a means of focusing resources on these issues.

Data security and identity theft are important concerns for both the business community and each of us as individuals. Each of us can relate to the need for personal privacy and having confidence that our personal information will only be used for legitimate purposes.

When this type of high profile issue makes its way to Members of Congress and their staff members on Capitol Hill, they need our input and we need to be participants in the discussion. The PIA ITC gives PIA National the opportunity to not only have a dialogue on Capitol Hill but also with those who serve as agents' business partners including carriers, technology providers and service organizations such as IVANS and ACORD.

Beyond the political issues themselves are questions of how our customers' information is collected, stored, maintained and shared with others. While these are questions relating to technology and security, they are also questions which relate to our industry's business practices, the legal contractual obligations of agents and our role in the marketplace.

Through the PIA ITC, our purpose is to place a sharp focus on how these issues affect each other and intersect. This will help enable PIA to better prepare and inform member agencies of these changes and how they can best respond. It will also help PIA communicate to agents a better understanding of the effect these issues have on both existing and new business arrangements and obligations, and how they need to view and address them in the future.

Although technology is complex, it serves us in important ways. PIA ITC will serve to help PIA members maximize the advantages it creates while not letting its complexity overwhelm us.

For more information about the ITC contact Bill Jenkins at PIA National at either billje@pianet.org or 703-518-1363.

Editor's Note: A comprehensive article on the PIA ITC appears in the September issue of Rough Notes magazine, entitled "Weathering the Privacy Legislation Blizzard." It is available online at www.roughnotes.com.

PIA Connection

This article originally appeared in the September 2005 PIA Connection.