August 2008

In this issue:

Industry News Update

Featured Benefits

Education Update


Industry News Update

Governor Says Sick Leave Proposal Must Be Defeated

Finally joining PIAA and other employer representatives, Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher recently announced they are opposed to Issue 4, the mandated sick leave proposal. Saying the proposed state law is “unworkable, unwieldy and would be detrimental to Ohio's economy”, they also asked Ohioans to oppose it, as well. Their opposition comes following the governor’s unsuccessful efforts to broker a compromise between proponents and the business community on the issue to keep the issue off the ballot. Activists who believe Ohio employers should be required to offer seven paid sick leave days - with little to no ability to structure paid time off benefits according to what best fits production and service needs - filed the issue with the Secretary of State on August 5.

The proposal calls for employers with 25 or more employees to provide seven days of paid sick leave per year for full-time employees. The proposal counts 30 hours per week as full-time, which sets a costly precedent for employers. Currently, employers are not required to offer paid sick time under federal or state laws. This proposal would not only mandate seven days, but may also allow employees to carry over up to seven days of sick time per year. Employees would only be required to provide their employer with medical documentation regarding their absence after three consecutive days of absence, creating an opportunity for the leave to be abused. Employees could take leave in amounts as small as an hour or less, and in practice could do so with little or no notice, disrupting workplaces that depend on a critical mix of staffing.

The measure will gut long-standing benefit packages that have been worked out cooperatively between employers and employees. For example, employers who now offer paid-time-off benefits – leave that can be taken for any reason – will be forced to allot some of those days to paid sick leave, reducing the number of discretionary leave days that could be taken for things such as vacation or personal matters.

While employers in the short term will need to shuffle benefit packages to pay for this mandate, the long-term result will be increased costs of goods and services.

A coalition of business groups called Ohioans to Protect Jobs and Fair Benefits is leading the effort to oppose the measure. The coalition includes PIAA, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio Restaurant Association, Ohio Home Builders Association and Ohio Farm Bureau, among others. The group has formed a political action committee to fund a media effort to defeat the measure. A Web site, www.saveourjobsandbenefits.com, was recently established to provide more information on the proposal.

Earlier this year, PIAA’s board of directors voted to formally oppose the sick leave proposal, which if enacted, would be detrimental to PIAA members and Ohio’s entire business community – negatively impacting Ohio’s already struggling economy by discouraging new employers from locating businesses within the state and encouraging companies already here to look for less expensive states to operate in.

It is important to educate your family and peers about the ramifications of this proposal if passed. No other state in the country requires employers to offer paid sick leave. While the proposal sounds appealing, it will ultimately result in employers being forced to make difficult decisions to meet the requirements of the proposal, such as modifying other benefits already offered (such as health insurance) or making staff cuts. Additionally, if the issue passes, it will open up the door for more government mandates and interference.

For more information about this issue, contact PIAA’s Public Affairs Team at (800) 555-1742 or by e-mail at publicaffairs@ohioPIA.com.

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Reminder: PIAA’s Publications Available Online

Did you know that PIAA’s publications are available on our Web site, www.ohioPIA.com? In fact, we have a Web page dedicated solely to our publications. Not only can you find articles from the latest editions of Professional Independent Agents magazine, ProAction newsletter, PIAA Connection magazine and Quick Update electronic newsletter, but you can also find archived issues of ProAction and articles from Professional Independent Agents. To visit PIAA's publications Web page, click here. To view archived issues of PIAA’s monthly magazine and monthly newsletter you will need to use your member login and password. If you need assistance, please contact us at (800) 555-1742.

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Insurance Department Investigating Home Repair Contractors Suspected of Fraud

The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) recently announced they will be investigating home repair contractors believed to be committing insurance fraud, as well as exploring situations where it appears contractors are violating Ohio insurance laws. ODI is implementing new techniques to detect and investigate situations where it is believed home repair contractors have committed insurance fraud. The department further plans to take action against home repair contractors who, on a consumer’s behalf, assist in the negotiation or settlement of a personal property claim.

As part of ODI’s initiative, companies and organizations in the home repair industry will be provided with information about Ohio’s Public Adjuster statutes.

Educational information about this initiative (for consumers and contractors) is available on ODI’s Web site in their Avoiding Home Improvement Scams Online Toolkit. Click here to view this information.

ODI’s Fraud and Enforcement Division can be contacted at (800) 686-1522 if it is suspected a general contractor has committed fraud.

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Ohio Creates New Director of Insurance and Financial Development

State Representative Jim Raussen (R-Springdale) was recently appointed by the Ohio Department of Development as Ohio’s new director of insurance and financial development. This new position is responsible for creating and implementing policy for growing and strengthening Ohio insurance companies and financial institutions.

As director of insurance and financial development, Raussen will collaborate with Ohio’s university system, the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) and the Ohio Department of Commerce on workforce development efforts for Ohio’s insurance and financial industries. He is also charged with developing and implementing a strategic plan to grow and retain insurance companies within Ohio, as well as developing a strong workforce to support this expansion. He will report directly to Lieutenant Gov. Lee Fisher and will also provide updates and information to ODI.

Raussen, 37, was a member of the State Legislature since 2003 and served on the House Insurance, Health, Public Utilities and Economic Development committees during his tenure, and was chairman of the House Health Care Access and Affordability Committee.

He has more than 10 years experience in the property and casualty insurance industry with Progressive Insurance and American Financial Group. He also served two years as director of community relations for Rural/Metro, Inc., for Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, and for four years as a township trustee.

PIAA will be looking for opportunities to work with Raussen to address staffing and perpetuation concerns for agencies and carriers, as meeting the challenge for the industry not only affects all sectors of the industry, but will also require collaborative participation from industry, government and academia to really make a difference.

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Slight Changes to Home and Auto Insurance Rates in 2007

The average rates for the state’s top 10 auto insurers decreased for the third consecutive year, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI). The average rates for the state’s top 10 homeowners increased by 1.5 percent in 2007. Based on the most recent information available from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), auto insurance rates dropped $17.22 since 2006, taking the average auto expenditure down 2.6 percent to $645.09. Homeowners insurance averaged $535.10; a $7.91 increase from 2006 rates. From 2005-07, the average increase in homeowners insurance premiums was $4.10.

Ohio has the 13th lowest auto insurance and 6th lowest homeowners insurance average premiums in the country, according to the most recent figures from the NAIC.

Based on the rate activity thus far and industry data, ODI analysts expect the 2008 rate activity to differ from 2007. For auto insurance, the average rates will likely increase slightly, and for homeowners insurance, the average rates will likely increase in greater percentages similar to a few years ago.

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Have You Registered for the Agency Management and Profitability Conference (AMPC) Yet?

The 2008 Agency Management and Profitability Conference (AMPC) will be held October 2-3 at the Columbus Marriott Northwest. Don't miss this opportunity to network with colleagues, participate in top-notch education seminars, attend the Annual Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony--and more! This year's AMPC presenters include: Greg Arnold of Advanced Automation, Inc., Nancy Flynn of The ePolicy Institute and Edwin (Ed) L. Lamont, CIC, CRM of Lamont Consulting Group, Inc.

Even if you’re not able to join us for the entire AMPC, you can still attend the cocktail reception and Marketplace Exhibit Hall for just $20!

The cocktail reception begins at 5 p.m. followed by the Marketplace Exhibit Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the Columbus Marriott Northwest Hotel. Plan now to attend to connect with carriers, vendors, colleagues and other business partners.

Companies Exhibiting Include:

AFC Insurance

Medical Savings Affordable Choice Health Plan

Allied Insurance

Mennonite Mutual Insurance Company

American Commerce Ins Co (ACIC)

The Motorists Insurance Group

AMS Services

Ohio Casualty

Applied Systems

Ohio Mutual Insurance Group

Arlington/Roe & Co

Ohio Public Risk Insurance

Bar List/Insurance Field Publishing

Pekin Insurance

Celina Insurance Group

Pennsylvania Lumberman's Mutual Insurance

CompManagement/Sedgwick CMS

S.M.A.R.T. Services

Diamond State Insurance

State Auto Insurance Companies

Donegal Group

Strategic Insurance Software

Encompass Insurance

Travelers

Frankenmuth Insurance

UPAC Insurance Finance

The Hanover Insurance Group Inc

Utica National Insurance Group

HawkSoft Client Management System

Venture Insurance Programs

J M Wilson

The Vision Insurance Group Representing Alfa Companies

Kemper Insurance Cos

West Bend Mutual Insurance Co

MarketSource

 

To view the AMPC agenda, download a registration form or to find out more information, click here.

For overnight accommodations, please contact Columbus Marriott Northwest at (800) 228-9290. Room reservations must be made by Sept. 10 to get the discounted room rate of $135. PIAA cannot guarantee room availability after Sept. 10 and the price may go up after this date.

To request sponsorship and advertising information, e-mail Kelly@ohioPIA.com.

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IMPACT Fundraising Critically Low In Important Election Year

PIAA would like to thank those members who have contributed to IMPACT. To date, IMPACT has only raised about $17,000. At this point, we are $4,000 behind where we were at this time last year, a non-election year. It is up to you to make the decision to help PIAA in its efforts to support qualified candidates. If only one person in each agency gave $20 to IMPACT, PIAA could easily surpass our fundraising goal of $25,000. That is all it would take. Remember, the candidates who win are going to make changes to policies that may affect your livelihood and personal economics. Please help us elect those who will be best for you and the industry. It is especially crucial that PIAA offers financial support to candidates who can help improve Ohio's economy - a necessary ingredient for agency growth to transpire and flourish.

Please consider making a contribution immediately, as well as encouraging your employees to contribute, so we can reach our goal and continue our efforts to support candidates facing competitive races this election season.

Is your name on our contributors list? To view a current list of 2008 contributors, click here.

If you would like to contribute to IMPACT, mail a personal check to PIAA, made payable to IMPACT, or call Carolyn Mangas at (800) 555-1742 to make your contribution over the phone. Please remember that corporate contributions are prohibited by law.

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Featured Benefits

iiX Motor Vehicle Reports*

Insurance Information Exchange (iiX) offers nationwide Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) at a reduced rate for PIAA members. iiX offers QuickTime/instant MVRs through ExpressNet, iiX’s easy-to-use online MVR product. ExpressNet offers service and function you can count on, including user-friendly features with no software upgrades needed, as well as a secure Web site and storage of your reports at iiX’s data center.

With iiX ExpressNet, your fees are reduced:

  • One-time account set-up fee of only $50
  • Monthly fee of $7.50
  • Save on MVR report costs

iiX has been delivering accurate and reliable reports to thousands of insurance agents for more than 20 years. iiX also provides services for commercial lines clients. Helpful customer support is available toll-free by phone and using online chat. Call iiX at (800) 683-8553, option 1, and refer to your PIAA membership to set up an account today!

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Human Resources Consulting

PMG Employment Consultants has more than 25 years of human resources experience in the insurance industry. They are a human resources consulting firm that offers expertise in all areas of employment, such as employment policies, recruiting, compensation, benefits, employee relations, compliance, performance management and training. PIAA members are eligible to receive discounted services. For more information about this benefit, call Phil Georgenson at (614) 873-3850.

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MarketSource*

MarketSource provides agents with access to more carriers and markets, allowing agents to meet the ever-growing volume requirements of their lead carriers while still having access to other markets. MarketSource has negotiated with regional, national and specialty carriers so that participating insurance agents are able to write business at full commission, requiring no fees.

MarketSource is owned by agents. Because MarketSource investors are independent agents, they have a direct stake in its success. This interest in providing quality submissions and business provides carriers with the assurance that MarketSource will represent a win-win for their companies: quality business, improved efficiency and more access to more companies.

For more information on how you can participate, call PIAA at (800) 555-1742 or visit www.marketsourceagents.com.

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Sircon Services*

By using Sircon for all your agency licensing needs, you can save up to 70 percent over your current costs. Sircon will help you with license applications for resident and non-resident producers and agencies, real-time producer letters of certification, producer license renewal requests, producer name and address changes, continuing education transcripts, finding your license number and checking your status with a state.

PIAA members receive a 15 percent discount on all Sircon's licensing and compliance services. Learn more about Sircon's Producer Workbench and get started today!

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*These benefits are offered through The Ohio PIAA Service Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc.


E&O for CSRs: Meeting the Challenge

Learn how to uncover and handle E&O loss exposures in today's technical and fast-paced business environment. In addition to discussing the E&O exposure, this seminar will discuss the reason E&O claims occur, proper documentation, outlining positive practices to minimize errors and omission claims and reducing coverage gaps in the insured's insurance program. This course isn't only for CSRs - agency principals and producers can benefit from this program as well.

About the instructor:

Mark Reilly, CPCU, CIC, CRM, has been in the insurance business for more than 25 years. A highly-regarded instructor for PIAA, he earned PIAA's 2006 Jack V. Hedges Educator of the Year award. He has taught subjects ranging from commercial lines to management issues such as planning; mergers and acquisitions and organization and workflows.

Mark is also a past president of PIAA and earned PIAA's 2007 Industry Person of the Year award for his work with PIAA's stellar internship program.

Toledo -September 10

To register online, click on the class date above. To download a registration form, click here.

Errors and Omissions: Implementing Real World Solutions

This seminar will walk you through real-life examples of some costly errors and omissions claims. Learn now what you can do to keep your agency out of the courtrooms, no matter what size your agency is. Agency principals, producers and CSRs can all learn from this beneficial seminar!

About the instructor:

Larry France, CIC, CPIA, CLU, LUTCF, will lead this outstanding class. Larry is a highly-regarded E&O instructor for PIAA and has been in the insurance business for more than 30 years.

Cleveland
October 9

To register online, click on the class date above. To download a registration form, click here.

Using Positive Practices to Minimize Claims

Errors and omissions (E&O) is probably the greatest exposure to loss that agencies face today. It is critical that you know the risks you write and to make sure the correct coverage is in place. After all, writing the correct coverage will help you avoid E&O claims.

This seminar will teach you how to uncover and handle E&O loss exposures in today's technical and fast-paced business environment.

About the instructor:

Ralph Guarasci, CIC, will lead this outstanding class. Ralph is a favorite instructor amongst students of PIAA classes. Ralph earned PIAA's Educator of the Year award in 2005.

Cincinnati -October 9

To register online, click on the class date above. To download a registration form, click here.

Registration Fee: $69 for members/$79 for non-members
CE Credit: Four hours (exam not required for CE credit)
Level: Intermediate-level course

These seminars are sponsored by Utica Mutual Insurance Company.

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Dayton/Lima
Commercial Casualty
August 28

Columbus

Personal Residential
September 9

Toledo
Personal Auto
September 16

Cleveland
Commercial Casualty
September 30

Registration Fee: $155 per person (add $8 if you need OH CE)
CE Credit: Eight hours for each class (exam not required for CE credit)
Level: Intermediate-level course

To register online, click on the class date above. To download a registration form, click here.

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Cleveland
Personal Lines
September 17-19

Akron/Canton
Commercial Property
October 22-24

Registration Fee: $390 for regular institutes (add $20 if you need OH CE)
CE Credit: 20 hours for each institute (exam not required for CE credit)
Level: Advanced-level course

To register online, click on the class date above. To download a registration form, click here.

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PIAA's Lunch 'n' Learn programs bring practical, "must-know" topics right into your agency. Agency staff will learn information targeted to help them perform their jobs better - all in under an hour (starting at noon), without leaving the office.

Register for Lunch 'n' Learn and, using a speaker phone, you can offer this learning opportunity to multiple staff at once - for one price - no matter how many people participate. Just register for the program, provide the e-mail address of the primary participant and let PIAA do the rest!

Collision Damage Waiver vs. Auto Insurance – The Good, The Bad and The Really Ugly!
September 18

Valuation – Part 1: A Slippery Slope*

October 23

Valuation – Part 2: So Many Choices*
October 31

*Register for both Valuation Parts 1 & 2, and pay only $80 members/$120 non-members for both live teleconferences; $110 members/$170 non-members for both live teleconferences with CD-ROM.

Approximate start time: Noon; duration approx. 45 minutes - 1 hour
Place: Your conference room/office
Participants will need: Internet e-mail access to receive/view support materials; a telephone (or speaker phone if multiple participants)
Registration fees per phone dialing in: Live teleconference only: $49 members/$69 non-members; Live teleconference with multimedia CD reproduction of program: $65 members/$95 non-members

For more information about the classes above or to register, click here.

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Pre-Licensing

Columbus - October 16-18 and October 23-25

Registration Fee: $249 per PIAA member/$274 per non-member
CE Credit: There is no CE credit for agent licensing classes
Level: Introductory-level course

To register online, click on the class date above. To download a registration form, click here.

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