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PIA Affiliate Roundup

As we approach the end of the year, a number of PIA affiliates from around the country were kind enough to share with PIA National...
December 1, 2002

As we approach the end of the year, a number of PIA affiliates from around the country were kind enough to share with PIA National some stories of the great work being done by PIA members and staffers. These accomplishments are impressive. Each item was written by the individual PIA Affiliate. Here's a sampling of what some of the PIA affiliates wanted to share with members across the country.

PIA of Florida

Although it came down to the last minute, the wait was worth it. On the day before the 2002 Florida legislature adjourned, lawmakers passed the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (CPIC) bill.

On the next and last day of the session the legislature also passed the Policyholder's Protection Act of 2002 and the Producer Licensing Bill, (moving Florida closer to the requirements of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, but holding firm on our refusal to accept any "dumbing down" of current standards). The passage of these initiatives made this the most successful legislative year in the history of PIA of Florida. Every single bill we supported was passed and with our language intact. Not one initiative we opposed was passed. The real history that was made in this outcome is the fact that PIA, FAIFA and FAIA formed a coalition and harnessed the combined influence of the entire Florida agent network towards a common goal.

Our successes on the legislative front would have been more than enough to cap a great year but it turned out to be only the prelude. PIA of Florida had struggled for almost two decades with stagnant or declining membership, but 2002 saw that trend come to a screeching halt. As we continued the commitment to a process designed to focus on the real value of membership, the first fruits of our labor started to show late in 2001. Since August of 2001 we have had a net increase in membership every single month. 2002 has seen membership growth in excess of 20% with retention running at almost 97%.

In October, our efforts were recognized by the Tallahassee Society of Association Executives as PIA of Florida was selected as the TSAE 2002 Association of the Year.

PIA of Indiana

PIA of Indiana continued to grow stronger as it focused on the core issues and services important to agents. More effort on proactive advocacy for agents than ever before helped produce improved carrier relations. PIA events continue to be highly rated across the state, with PIA of Indiana's Annual Convention in May and Golf outing in August drawing a record number of participants and sponsors.

To help make the process of supporting PIA through sponsorships, advertising and exhibiting hassle-free, the "Star Treatment" program was developed as a way for carriers to offer differing levels of financial commitment, while still maximizing their exposure to agents. Indiana agents responded well to the improved service received from PIA of Indiana's Agency Services staff regarding insurance and revenue products, as the affiliate strives to become "The Agent's Agent" in the state.

Agents received new and improved publications, including a newly formatted Indiana Insurance News magazine and an all-new, comprehensive Annual Resource Guide, putting information on everything PIA has to offer at their fingertips. The PIA of Indiana web site at www.indianapia.com contains continually-updated information, including new online education offerings in the PIA e-training center.

PIA of Louisiana

This year's accomplishments for PIA of Louisiana included:

  • Growth in membership -- 50 new agency members!
  • Purchased an office building
  • Endorsed a premium financing company that provides PIA members an additional source of revenue
  • Passed the million dollar mark in our E&O book
  • Enhanced our scholarship program to provide scholarships to agency members interested in pursuing professional designations
  • Developed a Technology Fair to help assist members in this area

Missouri Association of Insurance Agents

MAIA secured passage of its priority legislation, a credit-scoring bill. House Bill 1502 will take effect July 1, 2003 and establish Missouri as one of the first states in the nation to establish such consumer protections. House Bill 1502 will prohibit insurers from using credit information or the lack thereof as the sole factor in underwriting and ensures that Missouri consumers won't damage their credit histories by shopping for insurance.

Passed House Bill 1468, which containsminor but necessary "clean up" of the state's existing commercial deregulation law. This bill also contained an amendment permitting the Missouri Property & Casualty Guaranty Association to accept claim forms other than their own. Several Superior National claims were denied because the receiver's claim forms (not the Missouri Guaranty Association's) were used.

Passed a dram shop liability bill, another MAIA priority. House Bill 1532 preserves "dram shop" immunity, except for situations such as serving a minor or an obviously intoxicated person.

In addition, MAIA partnered with SAMBA Holdings to provide members with real time MVRs and driver monitoring products and held our largest Young Agents Conference ever, June 2-4. Total attendance was 119 - including 54 agents.

PIA of Montana

In our ongoing effort to deliver unmatched value and quality to our members, PIA/Montana this fall packed up our annual convention and took it on the road to Missoula, Bozeman and Miles City. The response was tremendous, with hundreds of agents, agency staff and company representatives attending the events. The "Convoy Convention" offered all the education, networking and entertainment our members expect -- but without dragging them from around the state to a far-away place and making them miss several days from their homes, families and offices. The "Convoy Convention" was such a success that plans are already underway for similar traveling conventions in Big Sky Country in 2003 and 2004!

PIA of Nebraska

The hard market has arrived in Nebraska, and it is affecting both personal lines and commercial lines. Combined with severe storm activity, the hardening market has prompted some insurers to restrict their writings of residential dwellings, and others are completely withdrawing from the habitational market.

Prompted by growing concern over these withdrawals, PIA Nebraska, in conjunction with the Department of Insurance, organized a meeting with representatives of twenty-one companies to address critical market issues. There are no easy answers or quick fixes to the availability problems arising from a combination of hard market and excessive storm losses, however other jurisdictions have successfully met these changes, and so will we.

PIA of Nebraska has arranged to manage the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) program for the State of Nebraska. We will continue to hold five seminars each year and they will continue to be conducted in Omaha and in Lincoln.

There were two new legislative enactments of consequence in the last session of our Unicameral, which runs just 60 days. One is a workers comp law that is effective January 1, 2003. It now requires all qualifying executive officers to "opt in" instead of the old practice of "opting out" of coverage.

PIA of Nebraska's legislative committee has been very supportive of safety legislation. We worked with Senators in getting our child passenger restraint system (Booster Seat Law) passed. We also created the motor vehicle identification database within the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act. This may be the first step toward creating a cost-effective infrastructure necessary to prevent uninsured motorists. Many companies opposed it, since Nebraska has such a low percentage of uninsured motorists, less than 10%.

A big step was taken by PIA in our efforts to enable public entities to take bids on their insurance when they are in one of the four property and casualty pools which we have. The statutory rules make it almost impossible for an entity to get out of the pool and get a timely quote from an independent insurer. We are optimistic that we will have significant changes this coming session!

PIA of NY, NJ, CT and NH

Hard Market Assistance

Assisting members in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York to cope with hard market conditions was one of PIA's top priorities this year. Weekly updates on industry conditions, company changes, and more were sent to PIA members and posted on the associations' web site, www.piaonline.org In addition, PIA produced informational materials to explain the hard market and corresponding rate increases to commercial insureds. More than 50,000 copies of the informational pieces were distributed by PIA members in the four-state region to their clients.

PIA surveyed members this spring and developed a region-by-region analysis of market conditions based on the responses of nearly 800 agencies in the four-state region. This data was provided to members, to the media, and to lawmakers. Survey results are available online in the Hard Market Watch section of the PIA web site.

Industry Connections

PIA expanded its connections to industry organizations throughout the northeast this year, when it became the management arm of the Council of Insurance Brokers of Greater New York (CIBGNY), an association representing brokers in the Metropolitan New York area. PIA Glenmont also manages other industry organizations, including the Insurance Brokers Association of the State of New York (IBANY) and the Professional Insurance Wholesalers Association (PIWA), providing PIA members with strong inter-industry connections throughout the region.

Web Site Additions

More and more members go to PIA's four-state web site (www.piaonline.org) every day. In the last six months alone, more than 30,000 individuals have accessed the PIA web site, visiting a total of 150,000 times! PIA's web site is constantly evolving, becoming easier to navigate and adding new features and services.

More than 450 QuickSource documents are now available through PIA's Industry Resource Center, which fields more than 10,000 member inquiries per year. This year, PIA made QuickSource documents even easier to access by putting them online. Now, more than 300 QuickSource documents are just a mouse-click away! Nearly 100 new QuickSource documents were developed this year.

Fundamentals of Insurance Training Program

New in 2002: PIA's Fundamentals of Insurance certificate program, which offers comprehensive training for those who are new to the industry. The Fundamentals of Insurance program was developed by the four state PIA affiliates in cooperation with its PIA Alliance partners, PIA of Pennsylvania, Maryland & Delaware and PIA of Ohio and Indiana. Fundamentals programs focus on the basics of personal and commercial insurance, agency operations and customer service.

Networking and Professional Development

The second annual joint PIANY/PIANJ conference was the largest gathering of insurance professionals in the Northeast - nearly 1,300 people attended the June 2002 event. PIACT's annual convention in March drew well over 500 people, making it the largest insurance gathering in the state.

The Young Insurance Professionals organizations in NY, NJ, and CT initiated a new series of professional development roundtable programs in each state, allowing members to learn from industry experts and their peers about management and career development concepts.

Advantage Program Growing Stronger

PIANJ's Advantage program celebrated its five year anniversary this fall. This unique member benefits program allows interested members to participate in additional programs and services, in addition to their standard member benefits. Nearly 25 percent of PIANJ member agencies are now participating in the Advantage membership level, which provides savings on education programs, marketing and advertising, special seminars designed to help educate commercial insureds, legal consultation services, electronic agency newsletters, free additional memberships and more.

PIA of Ohio

PIA of Ohio enjoyed a year of continued growth and innovation. Enhancements to existing programs coupled with new revenue-producing initiatives helped fuel another year of A1 member growth. Ohio generated interest with its 2002 Company Rating Survey, helping carriers understand the needs and wants of agents and giving them opportunities to work with PIA to solidify their relationships.

Members benefited from Ohio's successful cooperation with PIA National on several important agency agreement reviews. These reviews produced valuable changes for agents in contract language. The use of credit scoring for insurance transactions was a key issue in 2002, and a PIA of Ohio task force took the lead in advocating agent concerns with lawmakers and regulators as restrictions were contemplated.

New education offerings focused on the creation of the "Reality CE" series, which discusses timely real-world problems facing agencies. On the advocacy front, increased grassroots involvement by agents helped elect two justices to the Ohio Supreme Court who will reverse the trend of "judicial advocacy" in the state and help return fair and reasonable decision-making to the court. Recent rulings from the court have cost the insurance industry billions of dollars in losses for which no premium was ever collected.

PIA Oregon/Idaho

Quality, service and value -- especially in these challenging economic times -- are the primary mission of the PIAO/I. This year, PIA arranged an exclusive arrangement with Argonaut Insurance Co. to offer their outstanding workers' compensation insurance line through our member agents in Idaho. ArgoVantage has been offered in Oregon for a year now and has been an unqualified success. We are sure PIA members in Idaho will also find a ready market for ArgoVantage here. Meanwhile, PIAO/I continues to search for the best products and services from the best vendors to offer our member agents.

PIA of Puerto Rico & the Caribbean

Membership is the lifeblood of any association. That is why we are proud to report to all of our fellow PIA Family members that PIA of Puerto Rico & the Caribbean was the fastest-growing PIA affiliate in 2001-2002 -- posting a 44 percent increase in membership!

In September, PIA of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean filed a lawsuit seeking to freeze an agreement between Puerto Rico Insurance Commissioner Fermin Contreras and seven insurance companies, until the terms of the agreement are made public. The suit was in San Juan Superior Court. (See PIA Connection, October 2002).

In addition, we conducted a consumer education campaign about auto insurance, in cooperation with the Insurance Commissioner and the Consumer Affairs Department.

PIA of Virginia & DC

Our proudest accomplishment is having another winner of the PIA National  Company Representative of the Year award! We are honored to have G. Baxter Barger chosen and so pleased that our winner from last year, Gordon Fette, was in Cleveland to see the "crown" passed on to another Virginian.

We're giving a $1000 scholarship each year to an insurance student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and Howard University in Washington with the hope that we will enable more students to continue their insurance studies and go into the insurance agency business upon graduation as well as get the PIA name in front of these colleges.

We've had orientation programs for new directors for a good while but expanded it to a Leadership Seminar and we now ask committee chairmen to also come and open it to all members.

PIA of Virginia & DC raised $30,000 for Special Olympics this year and a check was presented during the convention.

Our Young Professionals Council had its first education program this summer; this is a fairly new group so we are glad to see them expanding into education. They are now working on encouraging mentors and having discussion groups in various areas of our region.

We are better and better known to legislators and regulators. We had tremendous attendance at some of our education programs and very small attendance at others. The sniper attacks in our area hurt our attendance at some programs.

Our June convention and our October fall conference were well received. In 2003 we are having a joint convention on May 4-6 with the PIA of North Carolina, and we are looking forward to that.

PIA Washington/Alaska

In a hard market, some products and services can be harder for agents to find and provide to their clients. PIAW/A's focus this year has been on opening access to some key commercial markets for our smaller agency members. We're proud to offer our agents access to CNA and The Hartford through Black/White, providing small-to-medium sized agencies the commercial products they need for the clients they serve.

PIA of Wisconsin

For the 8th consecutive year, PIA of Wisconsin's "Choices" advertising and public relations campaign was a huge success. Over 700 commercials were aired on ABC-TV stations throughout Wisconsin.

With a heavy concentration of ads on evening news and some prime time programs, the TV ads garnered nearly 20 million "impressions" during this past year. The TV campaign is a cooperative effort between PIAW, insurance carriers and participating agencies.

In addition to the television component, PIAW ran "Choices" radio ads on the Milwaukee Brewers statewide radio network broadcasts throughout the season. PIAW also provides members with radio and newspaper ads that members can use in their markets. The campaign is built on the basis that independent agents can offer their clients "Choices" that single company agents and "1-800" numbers cannot provide.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2002 PIA Connection.

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