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FAIA and Industry News

FAIA offers special CCSR or ACSR to CISR conversion opportunity

(Member News, The National Alliance) Permanent link

In 2011, FAIA's board of directors chose the Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) program as its exclusive continuing education offering for customer service representatives. In an effort to add value to agents who may already have the Certified Customer Service Representative (CCSR) or  Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR) designations, FAIA has developed a simple path toward acquiring the CISR designation. Best of all, you don't need to give up anything to participate!

Customer service reps with an existing professional designation will automatically receive the CISR designation upon successful completion of any one of the nine CISR courses. This would be equivalent to your first CISR update. Successful completion requires that you pass the examination at the end of the course.

If you choose to transfer into CISR, simply enroll in a CISR course between now and December 31, 2013. Your credits will automatically transfer provided The National Alliance has received documentation supporting that your CCSR or ACSR designation is in good standing. If you have any questions regarding your credits in the CISR program, contact, Shelley Rogers, director of Program Services at The National Alliance, at 800-633-2165 ext. 6158.

Volunteers needed to promote InVEST Scholarships

(InVEST) Permanent link

Invest_gifALEXANDRIA, VA—Each year, InVEST® awards thousands of dollars to students and graduates across the country who are pursuing insurance-related studies or careers. But somehow, giving out free money seems to be so difficult! 

Of the more than 13,000 students enrolled in InVEST last year, only 122 applied for scholarships. InVEST has determined the information is just not getting to the students, and it is seeking volunteers to visit InVEST classrooms, with ready-to-go PowerPoint presentation and handouts, to encourage students to apply for the scholarships.

In addition to the FAIA-specific scholarships, two additional scholarships are available for InVEST students: Higher Education scholarships, which provide dollars to students pursuing insurance-related studies at a two- or four-year college; and Classroom–to-Career scholarships, which offer up to $500 to assist with costs associated with licensing or designations.

For more information on the scholarship program and how to promote it to InVEST students, contact InVEST Task Force Chair Lindsey Shank at 727-803-8126, or IIABA’s Jennifer Robinson at or 800-221-7917.

InVEST Schools in Florida

Alee Academy—Eustis

Blountstown Middle School—Blountstown

Booker T. Washington Sr. High—Miami

Buchholz High School—Gainesville

Cardinal Mooney High School—Sarasota

Coral Gables High School—Coral Gables

Deerfield Beach High School—Deerfield Beach

Dr. Phillips High School—Orlando

Glades Central High School—Belle Glade

Home School—West Palm Beach

John A. Ferguson Senior High School—Miami

John I Leonard High School—Greenacres

Majory Stoneman Douglas High School—Parkland

Manatee High School—Bradenton

Mater Academy High—Hialeah Gardens

Miami Beach Senior High—Miami Beach

Miami Coral Park High School—Miami

Miami Edison Senior High School—Miami

Miami Southridge Senior High School—Miami

Palmetto High School—Palmetto

Paul J Hagerty High school—Oviedo

Royal Palm Beach High School—Royal Palm Beach

Samuel W Wolfson High School—Jacksonville

Southwest Miami Senior High School—Miami

Spanish River High School—Boca Raton

St. Johns CommunityCollege—Palatka

St. Petersburg Catholic High School—St. Petersburg

Valenicia College—Orlando

Westland Hialeah Sr.—Hialeah

William R. Boone High School—Orlando

This Week in Insurance: Feb. 25–March 1, 2013

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 

  • Joint meeting, EDR: Social Services Estimating Conference, 1:30 p.m. in Tallahassee, Room 117K. Topics include: Medicaid Expenditures, FMAP. This event is available live on WFSU-TV. 

Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013

  • House of Representatives, Select Committee on PPACA, 1:00 p.m. in Tallahassee, Room 17H. Topics include: member discussion on state employee group plan and insurance regulation. 
  • ACA Panel Discussion, 8:00 a.m. in Tallahassee at the Hotel Duval. Panelists include Michael Garner (Florida Association of Health Plans), Peter Gosselin (Bloomberg Government), Marshall Kappand (Center for Innovative Collaboration in Medicine & Law at FSU), and Rose Naff (Florida Health Choices), with moderator Christopher Flavelle (Bloomberg Government). 

Friday, Feb. 29, 2013

  • Joint meeting, EDR: Social Services Estimating Conference, 9:00 a.m. in Tallahassee, Room 117K. Topics include: Medicaid Long Term Expenditures, Affordable Care Act. 
  • Department of Financial Services, Rule Hearing on 69C-6.0003 (updates to the rule due to changes to and clarifications of the federal deferred compensation regulations), 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee, Room 440-C Hermitage Bldg. 
  • Florida Senate, Bill Requests Deadline. 
  • Florida House of Representatives, Bill Requests Deadline. 

Does someone in your office deserve to be the Outstanding CSR of the Year?

(Member News, The National Alliance) Permanent link

Nominate the 2013 Winner and Receive a $1,000 cash award!

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 National Outstanding CSR of the Year. This award, sponsored by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, is the highest honor for insurance customer representatives who have distinguished themselves through contributions to their industry and profession.

Open to everyone regardless of affiliation or professional designation, candidates must: 

  • Be an insurance customer service representative, or have primary responsibility for customer service duties,
  • Write an essay of no more than two pages double-spaced (approximately 1,000 words) on the following topic, “Communication is one of the most important parts of building strong relationships with your clients, companies, and coworkers. Identify and explain the four greatest barriers to effective communication that you face (or have faced) and how you’ve worked to overcome these barriers,” and
  • Submit letter(s) of recommendation from a professional reference(s). 

To make your nomination, please complete the form (PDF) and mail or fax today so your nominee may be contacted.  NOTE: You may nominate yourself; please use the Competition Entry Form (PDF) for self-nominations. All essay entries become property of The National Alliance, inclusive of permission to reprint.

Deadline for all materials (including essay) is May 1, 2013. 

What are the rewards of winning?

Nominees will first compete on a state level. State winners will automatically be entered into the national competition.

State Winners Will Receive 

  • Framed Certificate of Achievement
  • State recognition
  • Advancement to national competition

4 National Finalists Will Receive 

  • $500 cash award
  • National recognition
  • Gold and garnet pin

National Award Recipient Will Receive 

  • $2,000 cash award
  • Gold and diamond pin
  • Employer receives a scholarship to a National Alliance program
  • Nominator receives a $1,000 cash award

This Week in Insurance, Feb. 18–22, 2013

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 

  • House of Representatives, Select Committee on PPACA, 1:00 p.m. in Tallahassee, Room 17H. Topics include: Medicaid expansion. This event is available live on WFSU-TV. 
  • Senate, Select Committee on PPACA, 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee, Room 412K. This event is available live on WFSU-TV. 

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Information Systems Advisory Committee, 1:00 p.m. via conference call. Call 866-361-7525, Conf. ID: 4869641229, to participate. 
  • Department of Financial Services, Rule Hearing on 69L-6.026 (Periodic Reports, repeal), 10:00 a.m. in Tallahassee, Room 102 Hartman Building. 
  • Department of Financial Services, Rule Hearing on 69L-26.003 (Computation of Time, repeal), 10:30 a.m. in Tallahassee, Room 102 Hartman Building. 
  • House of Representatives, Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, 3:00 p.m. in Tallahassee, Room 404H. Bills to be discussed: HB 95, 211, 223, 343, and 553. 

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

  • Florida Workers' Compensation JUA, Reinsurance Committee, 1:00 p.m. in Jacksonville at the JM Family Enterprises' office. 

Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

  • Florida Workers' Compensation JUA, Board of Governors, 10:00 a.m. in Jacksonville at the JM Family Enterprises' office. To participate, contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408. 
  • Senate, Banking and Insurance Committee, 8:00 a.m. in Tallahassee, Room 110S. Topics and bills include: Citizens Property Insurance, PIP, SB 558. 

Friday, Feb. 22, 2013

  • Florida Health Choices, Executive Committee, 11:00 a.m. in Tallahassee at Florida Health Choices' office. 

This Week in Insurance, Feb. 11–15, 2013

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Board of Governors Meeting, 9:00 a.m. via conference call. Call 888-942-8686 to participate. 
  • Florida Senate, Select Committee on PPACA, 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee, Room 412K. Topics include: Economic impact of the PPACA on Florida, Medicaid expansion impacts on Florida hospitals and in other states. This meeting will be broadcast live on WFSU-TV, the Florida Channel. 

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013

  • Florida House of Representatives, Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, 9:00 a.m. in Tallahassee, Room 404H. Topics include: HB 341, Uninsured Motorists Iinsurance overage; PCS for HB 335, Commercial Insurance Rates and Forms. 

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013

  • Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Board of Governors Meeting (rescheduled from 2/4/13), 2:00 p.m. via conference call. Call 888-942-8686 to participate. 
  • FWCJUA Investment Committee Meeting, 10:00 a.m. via conference call. Contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408 to participate. 
  • FWCJUA Operations Committee Meeting, 1:00 p.m. via conference call. Contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408 to participate. 

Friday, Feb. 15, 2013

  • FWCJUA Rates & Forms Committee Meeting, 2:00 p.m. via conference call. Contact Kathy Coyne at (941) 378-7408 to participate. 

With Friends Like That...

(Citizens, Property Market) Permanent link

By Jeff Grady 

Jeff Grady-updated-002That’s what agents are probably asking themselves after hearing the testimony of Capitol Preferred Insurance Company’s (also Southern Fidelity) CEO, Jimmy Graganella when he appeared before the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee yesterday in Tallahassee. Most of the committee’s time was reserved for discussion on Citizens reform measures proposed before the 2013 Florida Legislature. Incredibly, when Mr. Graganella finally received his turn at the podium, he quickly made the following statement about agents who place business with Citizens,  

“Reducing commission is a very good incentive. You don’t pay them commissions, they are not going to put policies there (Citizens). So, I am in support of all that…” 

To see Mr. Graganella’s entire testimony, which begins approximately 91 minutes into the meeting, watch the testimony on the Florida Senate's website.  

Mr. Graganella’s absurdly reckless statement was in response to Senator Gwen Margolis’s (D-Dade) earlier recommendation to reduce Citizens’ policy count by eliminating agent commissions. The senator went on to suggest that agents are likely being paid 15–20 percent and if Citizens stopped paying commissions, agents would find another place for the business. Obviously, Senator Margolis, who ironically is insured by Citizens for wind, is poorly informed about agent commissions and the reasons consumers generally find their way to the state owned property insurer.  FAIA is providing the senator with additional information to assist her understanding of these issues. 

Mr. Graganella however, is a self-proclaimed “expert” in the Florida property market, so his comments are far more troubling. With that in mind let’s examine his public statement a little more closely.

He used the term “agents” and in doing so, implicated all agents – independent and captive.  He urged Senators to eliminate commissions for Citizens agents and since he made no distinction between the various lines of coverage, his recommendation covered all Citizens’ accounts—PLA, Coastal, Commercial Residential and Commercial.

Does he really believe that Citizens would have no policies if agents weren’t paid commissions? If his answer is yes, then he must also be committed to the belief that his companies and others like it are willing to write all of Florida’s coastal wind, older homes, mobile homes, sinkhole prone properties, condo associations etc. If he’s unwilling to make this commitment, then his comments are extremely hypocritical and worse yet, he believes agents should work for free. I wonder if Mr. Graganella, his investors and his associates work for free?

Mr. Graganella’s company formed a retail insurance agency a few years ago, which essentially competes with the very same agents he appoints.  If Capitol Preferred’s agency writes a policy for Citizens because no private market is willing to offer coverage, does he believe they should work for free?

Mr. Graganella publicly stated that agents are improperly incented, or said another way, are being over compensated, for the work they perform for consumers who can’t find coverage with his company or others like it. Perhaps it would be a good exercise to make comparisons. FAIA can easily demonstrate that Citizens pays the lowest rate of commission in the industry, highlighted by a pathetic Dade county PLA commission rate of 5.5 percent (effective). I wonder if Capitol Preferred would be willing to disclose what it makes on Citizens takeout policies, including the $25 MGA fee it charges on each renewal. It’s notable that Mr. Graganella mentioned during his testimony that he plans on forming a fourth company, presumably via a Citizens takeout. That suggests the gettin’ is pretty good on the company’s recent takeout activity, especially with an additional 16 points of ceding commission thrown in for incentive and no requirement to even renew the business. Either that or maybe, just maybe, Mr. Graganella and his investors are doing it all for free.

During his “expert testimony,” Mr. Graganella also lamented the cost of reinsurance to private insurers, stating that it absorbs between 40-52 percent of the premium.  Further, he recommended the Florida Senate should authorize Citizens to provide depopulation incentives to take-out companies by subsidizing their cost of reinsurance. Hmmm…isn’t the required amount of reinsurance a function of how much risk the company can retain on the exposure it chooses to insure?  And isn’t a company’s retention a function of its accumulated surplus? Before the Florida Senate, Citizens, OIR or any other government body considers Mr. Graganella’s recommendation, perhaps they should carefully examine whether Capitol Preferred’s gross earnings are adequately contributing to its surplus. In other words, how much of the company’s earnings are being siphoned off through its internally owned MGA and returned to investors? It seems that question needs to be answered before asking Citizens to subsidize its cost of reinsurance.

Comments like those of Mr. Graganella only add fuel to the ongoing examination FAIA is performing on Florida’s private residential property insurance market.  Increasingly, the association is receiving complaints from agents about declining compensation, archaic policy administration technology, RCE manipulation, coverage reductions, bad claims practices, etc. Ultimately, it will boil down to the question of “who is being served…consumers, agents or companies?” For the system to work, it must be all three. Anything less and FAIA’s mission requires that a fix be found—through all means necessary.

P.S. As independent agents can clearly see, folks like Mr. Graganella are speaking for them to legislators. While you can be assured FAIA lobbyists are busy refuting his harmful remarks, there is no substitute for the voice of an agent. I strongly urge you to register today for FAIA’s Legislative Fly-in on March 19–20 and speak for yourself!

FAIA Good Works Fund supports DVIC with $5,000 grant

(Member News, Good Works Fund) Permanent link

FORT MYERS, Fla.—Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers, dedicated to helping disabled U.S. veterans by providing new opportunities for training and employment in the insurance industry, has been awarded a $5,000 grant from The Florida Association of Insurance Agents Good Works Fund, which supports charitable giving in the insurance field with an emphasis on insurance education.

The grant will assist DVIC with program capabilities, including the development of state-of-the-art training techniques that will prepare disabled veterans with skills for sales support and cross-selling personal insurance products for careers in the insurance industry by January 2015.

“DVIC thanks the FAIA and Good Works Fund for their support,” said Gary V. Trippe, DVIC director and co-founder. “Many disabled veterans will receive employment opportunities in the insurance industry, including education and licenses.”

DVIC will invite the participation of leading agents and brokers identified by leaders in the industry. Agents, brokers and insurance companies will initially work with the nonprofit organization by outsourcing sales and customer service functions to the veterans group.

“FAIA Good Works Fund is honored to support DVIC’s mission in educating, training and assisting our veterans in the insurance industry,” said Jeff Grady, FAIA president and CEO.

Through a partnership with an accredited institution of higher learning, training of up to one year will be provided through online courses and virtual classrooms. A stipend will be paid during training. All work will be completed via telephone and computer, thereby eliminating the burdens often associated with physical challenges. The goal is for the disabled veterans to work from a home office setting.

About DVIC

Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers is a nonprofit organization with the mission to educate-train and generate meaningful employment opportunities for physically disabled veterans who will excel at proactively cross-selling personal lines insurance products on behalf of leading independent insurance agencies. For additional information, call 239-433-8523 or visit

This Week in Insurance: Feb. 4–8, 2013

(This Week in Insurance) Permanent link

Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 

  • Florida Senate and House of Representatives joint meeting, Select Committee on PPACA, 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee in Room 412K. 

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013

  • Florida Senate, Banking and Insurance Committee meeting, 10:30 a.m. in Tallahassee in Room 110S; Topics include: Citizens, PIP. 
  • Florida Comprehensive Health Association (FCHA) Board meeting, 1:00 p.m. in Tallahassee. 

Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013

  • Florida Cabinet, meeting, 9:00 a.m. in Tampa at Entertainment Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds; Topics include: presentation by Kevin McCarty on final adoption of rule amendments (Notification of Insured's Rights and Standard Disclosure Form, Forms).