March 30, 2017
Kelli Backman, IIAN's New Talent Program Director
Kelli Backman Is New Talent Program Director
IIAN and the IIAN Foundation have joined together to develop a new program to connect Nebraska college students with jobs and opportunities in the independent agency system.  "This new program has been one of the Board's strategic priorities for some time - it's good to see the work and research started last summer by our New Talent Task Force start to develop," says IIAN President Krae Dutoit.  "We know that member agencies need an influx of new talent as agency principals and long-time staff approach retirement in the next five years.  We're excited to have someone with Kelli's experience spearheading the program for us."
Backman comes to IIAN with 17 years' experience in recruiting college   students throughout Nebraska.
Over the next year, Backman will be developing a turn-key agency internship program, a jobs pipeline to help IIAN member agencies connect with business students across Nebraska, and eventually basic insurance training for interns and new hires.   "We're starting with Metropolitan Community College students and Omaha agencies this spring, and we'll apply what we learn to expand to other colleges this summer and fall,"  says Backman.  "I look forward to working with IIAN member agencies and colleges all across Nebraska."
IIAN members can contact Kelli at, 402.476.2951.
EMC Contributes To IIAN Foundation's Talent Network Fund
EMC Resident Vice President Jay Sillau, CPCU, presented a $2,000 contribution to IIAN Foundation President Dee Sykora, AAI, AU, at a meeting of the Foundation's Fundraising Steering Committee on March 15 at Mahoney State Park.  Sillau also serves as vice president on the Foundation board of directors.    
     The newly formed Steering Committee met to plan fundraising activities for the coming year to support the new Trusted Choice ® Talent Network program.   "Most IIAN members think of scholarships when they think of our Foundation," Sykora commented.  "Now the Foundation Board has decided to re-focus our fundraising efforts on supporting the Talent Network program - and we'll still be providing scholarships to Nebraska college business students with potential to find a career in the independent agency system."  
EMC Omaha Resident Vice President Jay Sillau, CPCU (second from left), presents a $2,000 contribution from EMC Insurance/ Foundation, to IIAN Foundation President Dee Sykora, AAI, AU, and Fundraising Chairman Dave Chastain, CPCU, on March 15 - while  IIAN Vice President Greg Zimmer, AAI, left, and Secretary-Treasurer
Sandra Ryks, right, look on. 

Unicameral Session Short On Insurance Legislation So Far
As of March 23, of the 667 bills introduced in 2017, 32 have been passed - and no measures on IIAN's watch list have passed so far.  Last week the legislature concluded committee hearings, and switched to full day floor debate  this Tuesday , for the remainder of the session. Senators will focus on priority bills, the two-year budget, and consent calendar (non-controversial) bills.  This will make it difficult for bills without priority status to be considered and passed this year.
     Seven bills on IIAN's watch list have been advanced for first-round consideration (General File), including:   three Insurance Department bills -  LBs 137 (Speaker priority), 231 (IIAN supports),  and  241 (IIAN supports );   LB 181  to allow an employee who disputes medical findings in a workers' compensation claim to choose a physician and obtain an additional medical exam (Sen. Quick priority-delayed until January, 2018); LB 406 , which would allow notice of cancellation of policies by first class mail, in addition to certified or registered mail; and LB 486 (IIAN supports), which would allow up to 6 CEUs (out of 24 every 2 years in Nebraska) for "active participation in a professional insurance association". 
     IIAN's two major issues are still being considered by their respective committees of jurisdiction, and have not yet been advanced for first-round debate:   LB 553, to address the continuing problem of independent contractors who do not insure themselves for workers' compensation (Business & Labor Committee); and LB 643, which would double the current minimum auto financial responsibility limits. IIAN has been working with industry representatives over the last several weeks to craft amendment language for LB 553, to address concerns expressed at the bill's hearing on February 27.   
Check  every Monday for Jim Cavanaugh's "Week In Review" report for updated status on all of the bills IIAN is watching   - see this week's update here.  
Go to to see the full text and status of any bill.
IIAN and Trusted Choice® Help Raise $130,00 For Make-A-Wish®
Wish Ball: A Night With Oscar In Lincoln Grants Big Wishes
Lori Ruzicka and Greg Zimmer at "A Night With Oscar", with Jack Johnson and honorary MC Violet Sparato
 IIAN vice president Greg Zimmer and Board member  Lori Ruzicka represented IIAN and Trusted Choice ® at the "A Night With Oscar" Wish Ball on February 27 at Lincoln Station.  Also attending were IIAN CEO Carol McClelland, Marketing Director Jeremiah Gudding, New Talent Program Director Kelli Backman, Communications Coordinator Abbie Gentrup, Bill McClelland, and Rhonda Lieske.  An overflow crowd of community leaders contributed over $130,000 during the evening to help grant wishes for kids with life-threatening medical conditions.   Two wishes were featured during the event.  Jack Johnson, age 8, realized his dream of being an official member of the Cornhusker football team before and during the Nebraska-Maryland game last fall - and was introduced at the ball by Tommy Armstrong.  And 9 year-old Adalynn Erickson got her wish to go to Disney World this month. 
    This is the first of four Make-A-Wish ® fundraisers IIAN and Trusted Choice ® will sponsor this year across Nebraska - we'll be the Title sponsor for the Blue Jeans Ball in Omaha on April 8, 2017, and upcoming events in Kearney and Scottsbluff this fall.   IIAN is committed to sponsoring such a great cause, and promoting our Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent brand to community leaders across the state.                              

Big "I" Fights Cuts To Crop Insurance
Also Opposes Expected AFFIRM Act
In anticipation of President Trump's budget outline, last week the Big "I," along with the D.C Agriculture Coalition, sent letters to top decision-makers in Washington, D.C. The letters outline opposition to proposed cuts to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) in the President's budget, as part of the congressional budget process, and as part of the appropriations process.
   The letters highlight that the 2014 Farm Bill made a multitude of cuts to this critical farm safety net. In addition to these cuts, the Congressional Budget Office projects that crop insurance will be more than $20 billion under budget compared to the costs projected when the 2014 Farm Bill passed.
    The letters also express opposition to further cuts to the FCIP in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill. The Big "I" expects Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin) to introduce legislation - known as the AFFIRM Act - that attempts to severely limit farmer participation and cut critical resources for the crop program. The Big "I" will strongly oppose this misguided legislation which reduces participation in the crop program by singling out certain farmers based on size or crop value production.
Read more . . .     
Congress Questions Flood Compensation
IIABA Leads The Charge On Commissons
As Congress seeks to reform the NFIP before it expires on Sept. 30, it's examining lowering the compensation that insurance companies and independent agents earn for administering the program.  Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held a hearing  in which the Subcommittee Chair alleged annual compensation paid WYO insurers topped $1 billion and implied that total was too high given that the companies do not share in the underlying risk. 
      IIABA led the charge in drafting and coordinating joint testimony from the major agent trade associations on flood insurance commissions - and will continue educating Congress on the essential role agents play in delivering flood insurance. To help with this effort, the Big "I" has prepared the following documents (for members only).
Members In the News
Cole Williams, AIP with Insurance Associates in Norfolk, was recently recognized as one of the top specialty brokers in the country by Insurance Business America.  Williams' program provides extensive coverage for meat processors, including retail meat stores and butcher shops, as well as processing plans and wholesale packing operators. Williams serves on IIAN's Board of Directors, and New Talent Fundraising Steering Committee.

Learn More

Innovative Leadership Program Starts May 8-9 In Lincoln
Applications Due April 15
Auto-Owners Agents Eligible For 50% Tuition Reimbursement

There's still time to apply for IIAN's 2017-18 agency and leadership development program! 
Innovative Leadership  is for  emerging agency leaders  - and their agency managers - who want to thrive now and in the future by implementing proven strategies for independent agency success and excellence.

You'll learn about and develop innovative tools for building your business, enhancing team productivity, and growing your agency's value, including:

o    Building a strategic business plan
o     Creating and increasing agency value
o   Managing sales production
o   Managing operations and change
and much more!     Click here for all the details and to download an application.
Auto-Owners agents,  click here for more information.  

Thank You!
Their support enables IIAN to present affordable, high-quality member programs.

Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska
(402) 476-2951