Feb - Mar 2016        

It was brought to our attention that we inadvertently left off Columbia Insurance Group as one to the exhibitors that made it to Kearney.  We apologize for this error.                   
"Snowmageddon" vs. IIAN Winter Conference
Winter Storm Kayla Hits Day Before Conference - But 100 Brave The Storm 
Scene outside Kearney Holiday Inn on February 3
In spite of a huge storm system packing blizzard-force winds and near record-breaking snow accumulations which hit Nebraska February 1 and 2, about 100 hardy agents and company personnel - including 18 trade fair exhibitors - made it to Kearney February 3 and 4 for IIAN's 39th Annual Winter Conference at the Holiday Inn.  Over 250 agents and company personnel were pre-registered, including 53 "first-timers" and 66 young agents.
     Conference attendees earned up to 12 CEUs, enjoyed the traditional prime rib buffet, and visited with the 18 exhibitors who braved the storm.  Featured conference instructors were agribusiness expert  Robin Souza, CPCU, CIC, AFIS,  who was able to fly into Kearney a day early, Nebraska crop insurance guru Ted Cremers, and popular instructor Lisa Worley, CIC, ARM, who got stuck in Chicago for a day on her way from Alabama. 
     Kevin Krull of Minden was the lucky winner of the raffle prize - a three-night Vegas Vacation for two at The Venetian - and the raffle raised over $3,000 for Big "I" PACs!   Vince Christensen with Christensen  Insurance in St. Paul was the winner of a $125 Young Agent scholarship, sponsored by IIAN member  Jim Steider  of Seward.   The conference is presented each year by IIAN's Farm & Small Agents committee, chaired this year by Jim Steider (who got snowed in).  See more photos on our Facebook page.
2016 Unicameral Session Half Over
Few Insurance Measures Will Pass
The 60-day 2016 Unicameral "short" legislative session is now half over, and law-makers begin all-day floor debate this week.  "Priority" bills named by senators, committees, and Speaker Galen Hadley stand the best chance of being acted upon this session.  There are three Priority bills on IIAN's "watch list" - none of which directly impact agents.One of them - LB 772 - is in a group of four bills introduced at the request of the Nebraska Insurance Department.
     Some of the bills IIAN is watching which would impact the insurance industry and consumers, but do not currently have Priority status, and thus have almost no chance of passing:
LB 740 - Past IIAN president  John E. Bush testified in support of this bill on February 16 at its hearing before the Banking, Commerce & Insurance Committee.  The bill would make an unfair claims settlement practice of failure to disclose information used by the insurer in determining the value of a totalled vehicle, prior to settlement of the claim.
LB's 223 and 856 - Would amend the
Homeowners Protection Act to bar residential contractors from representing a residential real estate owner in an insurance claim, or take assignment of a claim.
LB 1041 - Would provide for disapproval of certain insurance rate filings if they use "price optimization".  Insurance company lobbyists testified against LB 1041 at its hearing on February 16.
LB 1045 - Would establish independent contractor status in law for drivers who utilize "on-demand platforms", such as drivers for Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar.  Proponents say that passage would promote the free marketplace and the use of digital platforms; opponents are concerned it would encourage employee misclassification and permit unfair competition with businesses that have employees. 
LB 276 On Hold Until 2017 Session
IIAN's top issue for the 2015-16 legislative session,  LB 276 , was introduced last year by Business & Labor Committee Chairman Burke Harr of Omaha at IIAN's request, to address the growing problem of independent contractors who do not insure themselves for workers compensation, and the risk that they could be determined to be employees by the WC Court after an injury. 
    After a successful grassroots campaign by IIAN members last spring, LB 276 was advanced to General File (ready for first-round debate), and also garnered 11 co-sponsors this year.  In a hard decision, IIAN's Legislative committee has decided to discontinue work on the bill for the rest of the 2016 session.  After several attempts to forge a compromise on proposed amendment language that would have been outside of the initial intent of the bill, time ran out for LB 276 to be named a Speaker Priority bill, which is critical for passage during the 2016 "short" session. 
    "I want to thank our Legislative Advisory Council members and Big "I" Ambassadors for educating their Senators this year, and gathering so much support for the bill," commented IIAN Legislative committee chairman Bob Hoppe.  "When we reintroduce the bill next year we will already have a leg up."  

Click here for this week's complete Unicameral Update by IIAN Legislative Representative Jim Cavanaugh, and check back every week for an update at www.iian.org.
"Mobile" Leads List of Tech Trends Affecting Independent Agents
What trend influences all others in how your agency will do business in the coming years? Look down at your phone.   It's all about mobile.
The Strategic Future Issues Work Group of the Big "I" Agents Council for Technology (ACT) has updated and released its 2013 hard tech trends report, to reflect the major technological developments that will impact the insurance industry over the next few years.
     Mobile, along with social and cloud computing, is what has enabled the cultural transformation and the emergence of the connected consumer. Mobile permeates everything and will change how agencies offer and present insurance products, as well as interaction on services. 
See what the other six trends are, and link to the full report:   click here.  

Nebraska Ranks 6th Best Insurance Regulatory Climate In U.S.
In the recently released "R Street" policy study, Nebraska was given an "A-" for its overall regulation report card.  The top five:  Vermont, Utah, Iowa, Virginia, and Kentucky.  Nebraska's strengths were listed as:  Low politicization, anti-fraud resources, fiscal efficiency, and Workers' Comp market competitiveness.  This is good news for Nebraska companies, agents, and consumers!   
     R Street, a conservative free market think tank based in Washington, D.C., aims to answer three questions for each state in its research:
  • How free are consumers to choose the insurance products they want?
  • How free are insurers to provide the insurance products consumers want?
  • How effectively are states discharging their duties to monitor insurer solvency, police fraud and consumer abuse and foster competitive, private insurance markets?
This year's report adjusted the weightings of some categories and incorporated new data, including the use of capitalization ratios to gauge the solvency of property and casualty markets. The report card ranked each state in 10 categories: politicization, solvency regulation, consumer protection, anti-fraud resources, fiscal efficiency, the Auto insurance market, the Homeowners' insurance market, the Workers' Comp market, rate regulation and underwriting freedom.
Agent Growth & Profitability Down In 2015
According to a report by Reagan Consulting:
  • Agent-broker organic revenue growth slowed to 4.6% for 2015 (compared to 6.2% 2012-14).
  • Profit margins declined to 20%, a year after reaching record profitability in 2014. Profitability, as measured by EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), was 21% in 2014.
  • The pace of growth slowed in commercial and personal lines as well as employee benefits.
  • The key factors affecting growth and profitability: a soft market for commercial p-c premiums, continued slow growth in the U.S. economy of only 2.4%, and a sharp decline in crude oil prices. 
P/C Insurers' Profitability Grows 1.2 Percentage Points In 2015
Private U.S. property/casualty insurers' net income after taxes grew to $44.0 billion in the first nine months of 2015 from $37.8 billion in the first nine months of 2014. Insurers' overall profitability as measured by their annualized rate of return on average policyholders' surplus grew to 8.8 percent in nine-months 2015 from 7.6 percent in nine-months 2014, according to ISO, a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq: VRSK) business, and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
   Insurers' combined ratio improved to 96.9 percent for nine-months 2015 from 97.7 percent for nine-months 2014, and their net underwriting gains increased to $7.1 billion from $4.2 billion. Net written premium growth increased to 4.1 percent for nine-months 2015 from 4.0 percent for nine-months 2014. Insurers' net investment income increased to $34.8 billion in the first nine months of 2015 from $34.5 billion a year earlier, and insurers' realized capital gains increased slightly to $8.9 billion from $8.8 billion, resulting in $43.7 billion in net investment gains4 for nine-months 2015. 
    The nine-months 2015 net investment gains were the highest since 2007, when they were $47.8 billion, and the second-highest since the beginning of ISO's quarterly records in 1986.
Thanks To These Exhibitors Who Braved The Storm!
ADM Crop Risk Services
AgriLogic Insurance
All Star Auto Glass
Berkshire Hathaway GUARD
Capital Premium Financing
Columbia Insurance Group
Dairyland Auto-Cycle
Diversified Crop Insurance
Farmers Alliance
Great American Insurance
Imperial Premium Financing
Jones Insurance Agency
Markel FirstComp
Mid-America Risk Managers
Midwest Ins Agency Alliance
Rain & Hail

Click here for complete list of exhibitors and sponsors with contact information.

Free* CE For IIAN Members!

May 23 - North Platte
May 24 - Kearney
May 25 - Columbus
May 26 - Ashland/Mahoney

Up To 6 CEUs -
3P/C & 3 Ethics

(Approval Pending)
Dick Hartzen, Instructor
Gaps In Personal Lines -
Personal Auto/Homeowners 
Ethics For You

Find Out  More & Register Today!

*$1 per credit hour NDOI
processing fee

New Big "I" Members

These independent insurance agencies recently joined

Central States Licensing
& Insurance 
Cindy Soller

Grand Island
Simmons Insurance Services
Clint Simmons

 The Big "I" Blog 

Association Happenings & Things You Need To Know - Weekly Update From IIAN's Staff

By Nancy Robeson
Warm weather brings spring floods. Nancy gives you links to information on the recent FEMA flood map changes, and a webinar on March 14 which meets Nebraska Insurance Department requirements to sell flood insurance.  Click here to register.
3 P/C CEUs (approval pending) 

By Jeremiah Gudding
Jeremiah talks about how to identify and use your existing agency leaders to attract new talent to your agency, and gives you a link to a valuable recruiting tool.

How Should You Go About Correcting COI  Mistakes?
In light of the upswing in E&O cases involving agents and certificates of insurance (COIs), this agency is doing all it can to take care of COI requirements.  But no one is perfect.
See how IIABA Virtual University expert Bill Wilson answered the agency's questions:   click here.

The VU "Ask An Expert" service for Big "I" members only is a great resource to get  your technical insurance questions answered.

Thanks To IIAN's 2016 Industry Partners!
Each year IIAN hosts a number of conferences, seminars, and public relations events which cost more than we can generate in registration fees. So, we ask the companies that do business with our member agencies to step forward and help support these events financially by becoming IIAN Industry Partner members.
   Realizing the value that the Big "I" brings to Nebraska's independent agents, many give generously - without their collective support we could not offer affordable, high-quality programs for members.

Thanks to all of IIAN's Industry Partners, who stepped up their support in 2016!
Don't see your company's name on the list?   Click here to discover the benefits of being an IIAN Industry Partner.

IIAN Partners of the Month - Thank You! 
February                         March

Their support enables IIAN to present affordable, high-quality member programs.
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Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska