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PIA Affiliate Update

Each year, PIA Connection invites all PIA affiliates to send in a brief summary of accomplishments that benefited their members during the preceding year. Participation...
December 9, 2004

Each year, PIA Connection invites all PIA affiliates to send in a brief summary of accomplishments that benefited their members during the preceding year. Participation is voluntary and these are not meant to be all-inclusive - just a quick "snapshot" of some of the things going on.

Tennessee

As part of PIA of Tennessee's 2004 Strategic Long Range Plan, two items have been accomplished on behalf of our members. First, PIA committed to and has hired a Marketing Representative. Anita McCumber joined the PIA staff in July, 2004 as our Director of Marketing.  Her job is to be "on the road for PIA" three days per week visiting both members and prospects. The benefit to our members is that she will be a major sounding board for our members to let our board and committees know what they need from PIA. At the same time, we hope for an increase in member participation in our products and services as she talks one on one with our members about how PIA can help their agency. Obviously, we also hope to increase PIA membership as well.

Second, the PIA leadership decided that the association should support a charity on behalf of its members. The charge was given to our Convention committee, which decided to pick a different charity each year from the area where our convention is held for that year. At our PIA of Tennessee's 2004 convention in Gatlinburg, PIA raised almost $3,000 through a silent auction benefiting Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains, a group that since 1993 has raised over eight million dollars to fund projects that benefit the National Park. In 2001, they returned elk to the Smokies after 150 year absence and they have educated over 10,000 students in the Parks as Classroom program. As our 2004 convention will be held in Memphis, PIA will be holding a silent auction there to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Ohio

An event-filled year for PIA of Ohio saw the organization locating to its newly constructed facility, the passage of two key pieces of legislation to benefit agents and another year of membership growth. 

The new building offers on-site classroom and meeting space, state of the art communications and technology infrastructure and room for PIA of Ohio's internal insurance agency operation.  PIA-backed bills will protect agent-owned information from resale by credit information providers and stop the practice of repayment of earned agent commissions to the state's insurance liquidator during the carrier insolvency process.  Ohio continues to promote its efforts to increase agent clout with legislators, regulators, carriers and other entities.  It's annual Insurance Company Satisfaction Survey of agents saw a record number of responses from agents and increased participation for the carriers being rated.

Indiana

Strong recruitment and retention efforts by the PIA of Indiana put the organization on track for a year of positive membership growth, bolstered by a number of successful events that drew member and non-member agents throughout the year.  The 58th annual convention, with the theme "Challenge Everything" and featuring nationally recognized insurance systems expert Virginia Bates, was held in May in Indianapolis and drew one of the largest crowds in recent memory.  The organization's annual golf outing in August continues to develop into a networking opportunity that the entire industry looks forward to attending.  PIA of Indiana capitalized on a number of opportunities in the marketplace to increase sales of products and services such as E&O and education to Indiana agents.

Wisconsin

As part of our continuing "Choices" public relations campaign, PIA of Wisconsin has authored seven articles and press releases which were distributed to every daily and weekly newspaper in Wisconsin. The articles have highlighted consumer interest topics such as credit scoring, identity theft, fire safety and back to school safety.

In addition, we have produced and distributed nine audio public service announcements on MP3's and distributed them to every radio station in Wisconsin. These announcements were timed to coincide with seasonal hazards or events, including "black ice," spring storms, motorcycle safety, teen driving and fire safety.  Each press release and public service announcement tells consumers that only professional, independent agents can offer them "Choices" of coverages and companies. They are directed to look for the PIA logo or visit our web site to locate a PIA member near them.

Virginia/DC

Clearly the association's major accomplishment for 2004 is the development of a new Strategic Plan built on a Board vision of PIAVA/DC as the preferred resource for Professional Insurance Agents and an association culture that celebrates positive change.

The 2004-2009 plan focuses PIAVA/DC resources on seven major goals that build on the association's traditional strengths.  Each goal in the one-page plan includes at least one quantifiable characteristic that makes goal achievement measurable; a specific deadline for goal achievement, and specific accountability by a committee, group and individuals who are responsible for goal achievement.

First priority is membership growth by 50% of licensed p/c agents (focusing on attraction and retention of young agents); the six succeeding goals all dovetail with the primary membership growth goal.

Goals 2 thru 7 include enhancing education offerings and delivery by 50%; developing a new web-based information and education platform by year-end 2004; develop/implement a communication and public relations plan to boost image, communication public policy, promote programs and disseminate positive information about the association's members by year-end 2004; develop/implement an effective new legislative/regulatory advocacy network by year-end 2004; grow attendance at Convention and Fall Conference by 50% by 2009; develop/implement a plan of identifying new non-dues revenue sources and launching new benefits/services to attract/retain membership by May 2005.

The plan is a daily guide designed around what members identified as our priorities.   Board meeting agendas, committee work, management's annual performance goals and all staff work is now prioritized by the seven goals in the strategic plan.

NY-NJ-CT-NH

PIA of New Jersey made agents' voices heard in a successful battle to protect agents from expanded errors and omissions liability this year, when it filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the case of President v. Jenkins. This case could have raised the standard of care producers owe to their clients and could have required producers to become guarantors against coverage gaps. PIANJ's action helped ensure that the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of agents and maintained the current standard of care agents and brokers owe to their clients.

PIANJ also achieved a victory for agents by convincing the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to allow agents to recover costs they incur when obtaining motor vehicle records and other underwriting documents for new auto insurance applications.

After several years of lobbying PIANJ also saw the DOBI adopt its proposal clarifying which activities - undertaken by professional employer organizations and employee leasing companies - require licensure as an insurance producer. And PIANJ provided testimony for and supported the DOBI's proposal to set standards to safeguard customer information. The proposal brings New Jersey in compliance with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' model for developing such standards.

In New York, PIA of New York helped to secure a guarantee of notice for agents when their customers' personal lines policies are being terminated or coverage cut. For personal or commercial policies, producers and their customers now must be told the actual amount owed when a policy is cancelled for nonpayment.

PIANY backed important protections against credit information abuses. Thanks to these efforts, companies will provide uniform notices on the use of credit history and any negative actions taken on that basis, and agents will be indemnified for company actions. PIANY also fought to eliminate the annual sunset of the New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association. NYPIUA's authority was extended though June 2005, and PIANY continues to fight to make this vital market a permanent legal entity like the New York Auto Insurance Plan.

Since October, PIANY has been working closely with PIA National to defend legal compensation agreements (such as contingency commissions and including profit-sharing between independent agents and their appointed carriers) in the wake of the New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's lawsuit against certain national insurance brokers.

PIA of Connecticut successfully urged the Insurance Department to issue a bulletin that requires the use of conditional renewal notices in that state when a company seeks to renew a policy with less favorable terms than contained in the original policy. In addition the association supported gulatory amendments to allow producers to charge increased service fees.

PIA of New Hampshire worked to ensure effective language in a bill that maintains a state law requiring banks to keep insurance-related transactions and retail banking activities physically segregated. PIANH also worked to protect independent agents from any implications of state legislation in play in New Hampshire that exempts direct writers from the agency termination law.

PIA of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York each launched an Agency Staff Assistance Program (ASAP) , to provide members with tools to recognize, recruit and train new employees.

PIANY and PIACT each conducted their second and third company performance survey, respectively. The surveys are a forum that allows members to give feedback to the insurance companies with which they do business. Agents responded in record numbers in both states; companies particularly were interested in how they ranked and companies that were not included in the survey wanted to be included next year.

PIANY, PIANJ, PIACT and PIANH successfully launched their Lunch 'n' Learn Series, a new, multi-media audio-conference series created to help agencies educate their staff at little cost in the convenience of their own office. The Lunch 'n' Learn programs are designed to arm insurance agency staff with valuable skills to become more productive, efficient and gain a mastery of timely insurance topics.

The PIANY/PIANJ joint annual conference at Bally's Atlantic City in June celebrated record numbers. Attendance of nearly 2,000 and the sold-out trade show made this the largest gathering of insurance professionals in the Northeast. During the conference, the New Jersey Young Insurance Professionals celebrated the 20th anniversary of its annual Fun Run, which benefits Special Olympics New Jersey. To date, in conjunction with the annual PIANJ Golf Classic, which took place in September and featured a celebrity appearance from Joe Piscopo, $1.75 million has been raised for the organization. PIA of Connecticut and New Hampshire also held annual conferences, at Foxwoods Casino and in Concord, respectively.

Utah

Our Utah Association was able to raise enough money to give a $1000 college scholarship to eight Utah high school seniors in 2004. The money is raised from insurance agents, insurance companies and other insurance associations contributions. Detailed applications are received from high school students from all over the state of Utah. Finalists are chosen from the applications and interviewed by our scholarship committee before being awarded a scholarship. Many of our past scholarship recipients are now working in the insurance industry.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2004 PIA Connection.

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