new uninsured driver laws to go into effect TOMORROW in Tennessee

As of tomorrow, a new law in Tennessee will go into effect revolving around higher penalties for those driving uninsured.

According to an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Penalties start with a $25 ‘coverage failure fee’ if an uninsured vehicle is detected. Another $100 fine kicks in if proof of insurance is not provided within 30 days. The maximum general fine is $300, though the state Department of Commerce and Insurance may seek a special “civil penalty” of up to $250 per day of uninsured driving in some situations.”

Drivers that aren’t able to provide proof of insurance during a traffic stop may risk having their car towed on-scene as well as having their registration revoked if they do not show proof of insurance within 30 days.

Right now, an estimated 1.1 million drivers of the registered 5.5 million vehicles are without insurance in Tennessee alone.  The hope is that “…the bill will bring many who now simply ignore the state’s poorly enforced law into compliance at a relatively modest cost, lowering insurance rates for law-abiding Tennesseans who pay higher rates because of uninsured motorists.”

Source: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/apr/27/no-insurance-no-car-tag-coverage-requirement-will-be-enforced-if-governor-signs-new-law/301313/

convene with us at our convention!

The Professional Insurance Agents Association of Tennessee will be hosting it’s 80th Annual Convention and Trade Show this year at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee from July 27 – July 29!

This year’s theme will be all about taking your agency to new heights!  Please join the top insurance professionals from across Tennessee for three days of development, networking, and celebration.

The convention will kick off Monday, July 27 with a golf tournament at 8 a.m. Tuesday is the Agency Staff Day, so bring your CSRs! Aside from the educational opportunities the convention brings, be sure to stop in the trade show Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday!

For more information and to register (as an attendee or exhibitor) and to book your hotel, please go to http://www.piatnconvention.com.

the end of the hurricane era?

Colorado State University’s annual benchmark forecast for Atlantic hurricanes is unlikely to change significantly when it is updated June 1, according to CSU hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach, as the increasing likelihood of moderate to strong El Nino conditions in the Pacific reinforces the original prediction of a season of relatively few storms.

There is increasing evidence over the past few years, along with the expected below-normal activity this year, that may indicate the close of a 20-year period in which active hurricane seasons were the norm.

“The environment is as non-conducive for hurricanes as we’ve ever seen,” research scientist Klotzbach told a crowd of about 150 actuaries at a session titled “Predicting Hurricanes” at the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Spring Meeting in Colorado Springs.

Many property actuaries work with catastrophe models, which attempt to estimate how much insured loss a hurricane will cause. At the session, Prasad Gunturi, a senior vice president at Willis Re, discussed how catastrophe modelers try to forecast medium- and long-term storm frequency.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/05/29/369925.htm

Every April, Colorado State forecasts the number of tropical storms, hurricanes and severe hurricanes for the June-to-November season, then makes updates in early June, July and August. The 2015 forecast of storms is likely to increase by one, Klotzbach said, to account for May’s Tropical Storm Ana. Updating the prediction for Ana would mean the forecast predicts eight named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane with winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.

That doesn’t mean coastal residents and insurers can relax. In 1992, the founder of CSU’s seasonal forecasts, William Gray, correctly predicted just one major hurricane. That storm,Hurricane Andrew, struck the Miami area with Category 5 winds and became, at the time, the most destructive event in insurance history.

“It just takes that one storm to make it an active season,” Klotzbach reinforced, which is a message that bears remembering as the United States hasn’t been struck by a major hurricane since Hurricane Wilma in 2005 – a record stretch.

An active season needs warmer-than-normal water in the tropical Atlantic. These warmer waters provide more fuel for developing hurricanes. They also create a more unstable atmospheric environment, thereby promoting thunderstorm development, which helps sustain hurricanes.

An anticipated moderate to strong El Nino, the warming of Pacific waters near the equator, reinforces the mild-season prediction. The warm waters create stronger upper-level winds, which “tear apart” storms and forestall hurricane development, he said.

End of Era?

“The environment is as non-conducive for hurricanes as we’ve ever seen. – Klotzbach”

If the forecast proves out, 2015 will be the third straight year of mild hurricane activity. This would be a large anomaly given the Atlantic is considered to be in a 20-plus-year era in which active seasons are the norm. The lull has caused scientists to ask whether the active Atlantic hurricane era has come to an end. The North Atlantic has gotten colder over the past decade and ocean salinity appears to be dropping, both of which would indicate that lower hurricane activity may be in store for the Atlantic basin.

Still, Klotzbach said, other active storm eras have had fallow periods like this one. And he noted that the active/inactive rubric really doesn’t apply to storms forming in the Gulf of Mexico or hitting the Gulf States. Storms that form in the Gulf are governed by a different dynamic.

“Your odds of Gulf landfall and Gulf formation don’t really change,” in an inactive period.  The odds of landfall decrease significantly along the Florida Peninsula and East Coast, however.

In his talk, Gunturi noted that catastrophe models have both short-term and long-term event frequency forecasts. The long-term event frequencies use historical averages, he said, while short-term event frequencies use forecasts of meteorological phenomena like El Nino.

The frequency forecast constitutes part of the models’ event set, a sort of encyclopedia of all storms that have hit, augmented by computer-simulated storms that incorporate the patterns of historical storms.

For their forecasts, Gunturi said, the models split the coastline into a series of gates and predict the frequency and severity of storms at each gate.

The models further include a hurricane windfield module that estimates windspeed at a location for any given storm, accounting for surface roughness, Gunturi said – a measure of how built up an area is. Winds passing over urban areas weaken faster than winds passing over a barren plain.

To estimate insurance losses, the models also include a damage module, which indicates how well a specific building type will withstand any storm.

Short-term event frequency forecasts use a five-year forward-looking time horizon, a standard forecast length in the insurance industry for hurricane, earthquake, and other types of natural peril risks, Gunturi said.

two PIA-backed bills advance in Senate

The Senate Banking Committee has included two bills endorsed by PIA in broader legislation scheduled for markup on May 21. The Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015 includes both the Policyholder Protection Act of 2015 (S.798) and the International Insurance Capital Standards Accountability Act (S. 1086).

The Policyholder Protection Act, sponsored by Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ensures that insurance companies structured under larger financial firms are not held financially responsible for an affiliated bank’s failure or financial crisis. The International Insurance Capital Standards Accountability Act ensures that state insurance regulation is afforded appropriate deference in any federal or international decision-making process.

“Both of these bills provide key protections for insurance policyholders,” said PIA National Director of Federal Affairs Jon Gentile. “We commend Chairman Richard Shelby for including them in the larger package and urge the Senate Banking Committee to consider the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015 favorably in the markup.”

funny friday: the loyal wife

There was a man who had worked all of his life, had saved all of his money, and was a real miser. Just before he died, he said to his wife, “When I die, I want you to take all my money and put it in the casket with me. I want to take my money to the afterlife.”

And so he got his wife to promise him with all of her heart that when he died, she would put all of the money in the casket with him.

Well, he died.

He was stretched out in the casket, his wife was sitting there in black, and her friend was sitting next to her. When they finished the ceremony, just before the undertakers got ready to close the casket, the wife said, “Wait just a minute!”

She had a box with her; she came over with the box and put it in the casket. Then the undertakers locked the casket down, and they rolled it away.

So her friend said, “Girl, I know you weren’t fool enough to put all that money in there with your husband.”

The loyal wife replied, “Listen, I’m a Christian. I can’t go back on my word. I promised him that I was going to put that money in that casket with him.”

“You mean to tell me you put that money in the casket with him?!”

“I sure did,” said the wife. “I got it all together, put it into my account and wrote him a check. If he can cash it, he can spend it!

Have a good weekend, everybody.

tornadoes: the two w’s

“Tornadoes are violent by nature. They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). Although severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains States, tornadoes have been reported in every state.” – American Red Cross Association

During this time of year, the weather issues two different types of cautions for tornadoes: a tornado WATCH, and a tornado WARNING. It’s important to know the difference so you can best protect your loved ones.

Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

dude, where’s my website?

All of us are small businesses, and as we’ve learned this past year, it’s more important than ever to have a strong online presence. Businesses can whither and fail without it. So, have you logged on to Google and searched your product to see where you fall on the list since April 21st? If not, try typing in “insurance in Chattanooga,” “life insurance Hixson,” “car insurance Harrision,” or whatever applies best to you, and see where you come up.

Are you on the first page? What about the first five pages? Did you used to be, and now you’re not?

If you’re not any longer, you could have been affected by MOBILEGEDDON. Google changed their algorithm for online searches to rank mobile-friendly websites much higher than those website that aren’t.  The impact was huge. Read more about what happened, and test to see if your website was affected by Google’s last algorithm change, now called “Mobilegeddon,” here.

Remember – more internet searches are done from mobile devices than desktops and laptops. May Google be with you.

Gene Galligan: PIA Helped Save My Agency

Membership to the PIA is vital to so many insurers. This article, written by Gene Galligan, is an excellent example of how his membership to the PIA helped save his agency in a time when catastrophe ripped (quite literally, as you’ll read) through his hometown, and he almost lost everything he had built.

THE DATE MAY 4, 1989, will be etched in my memory forever. On that day my home town Monroe, Louisiana, and Ouachita Parish were hit by a catastrophic hail storm. We did not have pea, dime, quarter baseball or even softball-sized hail; we had jagged pieces with sharp edges that ripped and tore through buildings and automobiles. That evening, we had torrential rains that flooded areas and entered homes through the damaged roofs. My agency sustained losses 10 times my volume.

Within a week, my major carrier at the time announced that they were ceasing to write new business and would leave the state within 6 months. As time passed, every company that we represented canceled contracts. We were not alone, other agents our size were experiencing the same fate, and many were selling their agencies to the larger agents and working for those agencies. We had received numerous calls and visits about selling our agency.

At that time, we had been a member of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Louisiana (IIABL) for 15 years and had recently joined the PIA. The offers to purchase had come from several IIABL members, with the quip that the one man shops were a dinosaur and fast becoming obsolete. I had contacted numerous companies about planting with our agency, but had been unsuccessful.

Then I attended our local PIA chapter luncheon and another agent asked if we had been able to locate another market. I told him “no,” and he advised that if he heard anything he would let us know. He did more; he spoke to his friend who managed a general agency. After the meeting, his friend approached me and advised that he wanted to come by my office immediately after the luncheon. I assumed that my contract with them was going to be canceled. Instead, Mickey Slaughter, who was the general manager of Southern States General Agency, said he had heard about our problem. He told me that he had talked to Trinity Universal Insurance Company and that a contract was in place and we could start binding business with them immediately.

Because of our PIA affiliations, we were able to continue in business; from there we were able to plant with other companies. Twenty six years later, we are still in business and still a member of PIA! From those acts, I realized that PIA agents are not just competitors but part of a family, and I needed to be an active member in that family.

We would like to hear your success stories as well. If you have a testimonial about how the PIA helped you, please E-mail us at chattpia@gmail.com.

Little tricks of the trade in the surplus lines business

Good information for all of us!

Insurance Infoshare

Group of Business People Meeting

Over my 29 years, I have learned a few things and I would like to share some of those items with you.  Take them or leave them, they may help you out too.

  • Take a little time to learn about the prospective account. I have worked on many accounts where the “story changed” two or three times before getting down to what the account really did.  It is tough when a rush item is sent in, then going back and forth with the underwriter after the “story changed” when we asked more questions.  This causes the underwriters ears to “perk up” and they feel they need to dig deeper in order to have a comfort level.
  • Sometimes coverage is available on admitted paper. Do not assume just because you are going to s surplus lines broker that they will always use non-admitted paper.
  • Find out what endorsements you will need…

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