PIA National Holds "Buy Button" Forum at ACORD
PIA National hosted an industry meeting it called on
January 21, 2016, at the headquarters of ACORD in Pearl
River, New York, to discuss the concept of agents offering
a level of purchasing capability on their websites, known
as a "buy button."
More than 50 agents, carriers and vendors attended the session,
participating in discussions by three panels. There was a sense
among participants that the industry is moving toward an online
binding capability that independent agents may choose to utilize.
Some participants likened development of a "buy button" capability
to earlier milestones in technology development.
Industry leaders meet during PIA's forum on an agent
There was considerable discussion of whether or not independent
agents offering an online purchasing/binding capability on their
websites would undermine the agent value proposition, or add to
the value that the agent brings to the process.
"We have to recognize as agents, we have an ability to possibly
use this technology to reach a market segment that we're not
currently getting to—but yet, we also have to be aware of our
value proposition. So, it's kind of a delicate balancing act,"
said PIA National President Robert W. Hansen, Jr.
PIA National conducted this forum
to put the topic on the
table, with agents and their views at the center of objective
discussion, as a means of performing due diligence on an emerging
"This is a new concept for many, so it's important to carry out due
diligence and have objective conversations about the effect it could
have on the industry," said PIA National Executive Vice President &
CEO Mike Becker. "We are particularly grateful to ACORD for hosting
this meeting, which enabled some the industry's top forward-thinking
leaders to share their thoughts on the matter."
Stay tuned for additional details on the discussions held at this
PIA National forum.
PIA National Releases Advocacy
Policy Priorities for 2016
PIA National released PIA's 2016 Advocacy and Policy
Priorities, which include preserving the role of agents in
healthcare reform; defending state regulation of insurance;
cultivating agent licensing uniformity; promoting small
business & tax reform; and safeguarding important
"In 2015, PIA had great success in advocating for independent
insurance agents at the federal and state level," said PIA
National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. "PIA
successfully defended the independent agency system and
advocated on behalf of independent agents at the federal level.
We intend to build on that success in 2016."
PIA helped achieve two victories in the year-end "omnibus"
appropriations funding measure: a two-year delay of the
"Cadillac Tax," a 40% tax on certain employer-based health
plans, and the passage of the Policyholder Protection Act,
which prohibits federal regulators from using assets designated
to pay out insurance claims to "prop up" an affiliated bank.
PIA also successfully advocated for the reversal of a $3 billion
cut to the Federal Crop Insurance Program. In addition, PIA
actively advocated for the passage of the Protecting Affordable
Coverage for Employees Act (PACE), enabling states to keep the
current definition of a small group market in health insurance
at 50 or fewer employees
"This Congress has broken free of gridlock to act on many issues
to the benefit of professional insurance agents and their customers,
approving bills endorsed by PIA," said PIA National Vice President
of Government Relations Jon Gentile. "We look forward to continuing
to work with lawmakers to support the independent agency system
and Main Street insurance agents everywhere."
The full document is available at:
Storm Damage Could Cost Billions
Insurance experts predict that the blizzard that recently
hit the East Coast will cause economic damages in the billions
of dollars. Aon Benfield, a global reinsurance firm, released
a report on January 24 about the considerable water damage that
storm surges from the recent storm caused to homes, businesses,
beaches and infrastructure in coastal areas. While the storm
buried parts of the Northeast in snow, coastal portions of New
Jersey and Delaware were beset by storm surges that sparked
coastal flooding. The storm surge caused considerable flood
damage that some experts say far exceeds 2012's Hurricane Sandy.
"We're potentially looking at one of the costlier winter storm
events in recent memory," said Steven Bowen, meteorologist for
Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute,
said that the level of insured losses from severe winter weather
is increasing. Hartwig cited data compiled by the institute showing
that losses for both of the last two years were significantly higher
than the average losses the industry faces each winter. Insured losses
related to weather totaled approximately $2.9 billion in 2015, an
increase of 26 percent compared with the $2.3 billion in 2014 and
53 percent compared with the $1.9 billion in 2013. Hartwig noted that
despite the large increase in losses during recent years, the U.S.
insurance industry is "financially prepared for anything Mother Nature
has in store."