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In memoriam: Industry icon John Eubank

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By David Thompson, CPCU, AAI, API, CRIS 

JohnEubankA few days ago, the insurance industry lost an icon when John Eubank, CPCU, ARM passed away. Space does not permit a description of John’s 50-plus career in the insurance industry; you can read John’s biography here. I learned years ago that no one is irreplaceable, but the ability to fill the shoes that John left behind is nearly impossible. 

I first met John through the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America’s Virtual University (VU). The VU has an “Ask An Expert” service where agents around the country can pose questions and the VU director (formerly Bill Wilson, now fellow “Insurance Nerd” and industry veteran Chris Boggs) sends those questions to a cadre of about 50 Insurance Nerd volunteers. Answers are collected and sent to the person who asked the question. I have served as a VU volunteer since the day it was founded, as did John and several other agents around the country. Most VU volunteers would echo my thoughts of, “I have gained 50 times what I gave to the VU.” 

I quickly picked up that John “had it all together.” He was well versed in almost every type of insurance, even when he would say, “I don’t know much about personal lines.” John’s true expertise was in CGL, commercial property, business auto, and especially crime coverage. John could spout off form numbers and edition dates like I spout off good BBQ restaurants. I often said, “John Eubank has forgotten more about insurance that I’ll ever hope to know.” We swapped thousands of emails and scores of phone calls over the last 10–15 years. John could give you the history of almost every ISO form back to the day when ISO was formed. 

Many of our FAIA members had the pleasure of attending sessions John did at our annual convention or at in-house training that John did for FAIA. Many other members benefited from John’s knowledge after emailing me, because I’d copy John for assistance. John had a loyal following among FAIA members. 

John Eubank was like the sportscaster John Madden; neither of them would fly. John drove the biggest Lincoln he could buy all over the country. When I asked John why he didn’t fly he said, “The last time I flew the pilot landed long and we wound up in the parking lot of a gas station.” I must admit, John had a valid reason not to fly! 

John was one of the five members of what we refer to as “The G5.” That is short for “Group of 5 Insurance Nerds.” That elite (and somewhat strange) group of five includes John Eubank, Bill Wilson, Mike Edwards, Jay Williams, and me. Combined, we have 213 years of experience in the insurance industry and 21 professional designations. I am the “rookie” of the group with only 31 years of experience. 

The G5 would swap scores of emails each day, picking the brains of each other. We once debated the proximate cause doctrine for over a week with emails numbering well into the hundreds. No one was shy about telling another G5 member, “You have your head up somewhere that it should not be.” We challenged each other on coverage positions we took on an issue and had no problem saying, “You make a great argument, and you are still wrong.” We would often say to each other, “I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” At times we agreed to disagree. I challenged John a lot, and almost every time it ended by my saying, “Yep, you are right; I don’t know where I came up with that crazy position.” We always said, “If the G5 agrees, you can take it to the bank.” 

Many claims that were initially denied by an insurer got paid after the agent sent comments of the G5 to the adjuster who changed his or her denial. Many FAIA members experienced the wrath…I mean knowledge…of the G5 when I’d copy the G5 on an email and each would reply to the writer. Several agents wrote back saying, “You guys are weird…I mean amazing.” One time a New York attorney I know (specializes in insurance defense work) took a position on a coverage issue that I disagreed with and I copied the G5. A day or so later the attorney replied to the G5, “I give…I give…you guys win.” We bombarded him with dozens of emails in a matter of hours. He learned, the hard way, not to mess with the G5! 

John’s family owned a condo in Destin. Once when John and his wife Barbara were there, Bill Wilson and I joined them for a weekend. John had made a sign for the outside door, “VU Southern Command.” It was classic. The condo was about 15 stories, and it had a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico. The bedroom I used had windows on two sides and I had an amazing view. Other than at night when I got into bed, I don’t think I saw the Gulf. For two full days John, Bill, and I sat at the dining room table with our laptops emailing each other stuff to look at. Non-stop we discussed nothing but insurance and ate BBQ that I had smoked; that’s an Insurance Nerd’s dream weekend! 

The weekend at Destin, John casually said to me, “Next time you teach a commercial property class, ask anyone there to explain the margin clause to you.” I said, “I will, and I bet no one can do it.” Under my breath I said to myself, “What in the heck is the margin clause?” It was something that I had never run across, even though ISO introduced it around 2007. The next day when I got back home (so John wouldn’t know it!), I started my research on the margin clause to learn all the details. Since that time, I have talked about the issue in numerous classes. John had that effect on people; make them learn and be a better insurance professional. 

I learned of John’s death when Bill Wilson sent an email to the G5 with the subject line of simply, “We are now the G4.” The message was short; “John just passed away. I will send more details as I have them.” When I received that I went to my Outlook contact list where I have made a distribution list with the G5 email addresses. When I want to send to all the guys I simply type “G5” in the “to” box and all the email addresses populate. I removed John’s email address from the list; that was hard to do…it was so final. 

I can’t speak for Bill Wilson, Jay Williams, and Mike Edwards, but we are still the G5; I’ll never use the term G4. My distribution list still says G5. I’ll still talk about the G5. There is a huge void in the knowledge base of the G5, but we will maintain the cause that John was part of. That is to read the policies you sell, know the coverages, and never, ever, stop learning. 

Hundreds, probably thousands, of insurance professionals are better educated because of John. I fortunate that I can put my name on that list. John made you learn, but you realized that it was fun learning…especially from him. 

Read John's obituary in The Tennessean.

Slate set for 2017-2018 Board of Directors

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FAIA’s Nominating Committee is pleased to announce the following agents for leadership positions and seats on the 2017-2018 FAIA  Board of Directors:

FAIA Chairman-Elect: E. Anthony DuBose

Anthony DuboseAnthony is the principal of Coastal Community Insurance Agency in Panama City Beach. He has been an active member of FAIA, serving as a member of the Young Agents Council and on the FAIA Board of Directors. He served as chairman of both the FAIA Audit and Finance committees.

Anthony served as chairman of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce. He has been a board member of the Bay Defense Alliance and served on the Bay County Economic Development Alliance Board. Anthony graduated from the University of Alabama and has served as present of the local University of Alabama Booster Association. Anthony and his wife, Tiffany, are the proud parents of Ella Katherine, Emma, and Reece.

FAIA Vice Chairman: Brendan Lynch, AIP, AAI

Brendan LynchBrendan is an owner of The Plastridge Insurance Agency, a general insurance agency established in 1919, now with four offices in Florida. He currently serves on FAIA’s Good Works and Finance committees, as well as on the FAIA Member Services Board. He’s a former board member, and has been involved with numerous task forces and councils since 2002.

Brendan is an active volunteer in his community. He has served as director of the Business Development board of Palm Beach County, and as a board member of 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast, Junior Achievement of Palm Beach County, and North Palm Beach County Chamber, among others. Brendan graduated from East Carolina University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts, and earned an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Chris Black

Chris BlackChris is the principal agent of Chris Black Insurance with offices in Lutz and Sarasota. He is active in FAIA’s Young Agents Council, serving as the local council chair, and with the Tampa local board, serving on its board from 2014 to 2016.

He serves on the board of The First National Bank of Pasco, and just finished board service on the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. Chris is a graduate of the University of South Florida, where he was a member of the men’s golf team. He and his wife, Morgan, are the proud parents of Tripp and Emmy.

Brad Havemeier

Brad Havemeyer

Brad is president and CEO of Gulfshore Insurance in Naples, an agency founded in 1970. Brad joined the agency in 1980 after moving to Florida from his home state of Minnesota and has served as president since 1985. Brad has been active in insurance related industry associations, currently serving on several company advisory boards.

In addition, Brad has been active in community related organizations and currently serves as a board member of Avow Hospice, the Community Foundation of Collier County, and the Gulfshore Insurance Humanitarian Foundation. Brad is a graduate of St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. He and his wife, Jenny, have three children and two grandchildren.

Bob Moore

Bob MooreBob is the chief operating officer at Corporate Insurance Advisors in Ft. Lauderdale. He has served on numerous FAIA committees, including as chairman of the FAIA Member Services Board of Directors, and currently serves on Workforce Development Committee.

In his community, Bob is active with the Legal Aid of Broward County and Christmas Adopt-a-Family. He attended the University of Florida and graduated from USF with degrees in finance and accounting. Bob and his wife, Mylin, have two children.

The election will be held during Saturday’s Business and Awards Breakfast at FAIA’s Convention.

Best Practice Webinar Series Kicks Off This Month

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Join the Big "I" and Reagan Consulting throughout 2017 for this year's free Best Practices for Agency Operations webinar series. Each 15-minute session will provide bits of information on important topics for agencies that are developing a Best Practices agency culture.

Registration and session descriptions are available for the entire series, which includes:

  • April 24: Key Data: What to Watch; What To Be Concerned About (on-demand delivery)
  • June 28: Sales Velocity (live 1:30-1:45 p.m. ET)
  • July 11: Navigating Unconscious Biases to Enhance Your Agency's Success (live 2-2:15 p.m. ET)
  • Aug. 24: Technology Insights (live 2:30-2:45 p.m. ET)
  • Sept. 20: Best Practices Study Update Highlights (live 1-1:15 p.m. ET)
  • Nov. 27: Preparing for 2018 Data Collection, with Applied Management Systems (on-demand delivery)

Send any Best Practices or webinar questions to Best Practices staff.

How to explain AOB fraud to consumers

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This short video explains what Assignment of Benefits fraud is and how to prevent it.

AOB Video Tool:

This video explains what Assignment of Benefits fraud is and how to prevent it.


Improve agency operations 15 minutes at a time

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The Best Practices for Agency Operations webinar series winds down Dec. 14 with Tom Doran discussing producer recruitment and development.

Since March, the free webinar series from the Big "I" and Reagan Consulting has provided informative 15-minute sessions to explain how the study's metrics can help your agency create a performance dashboard.

Register today for the final session, and don't miss recordings of previous sessions:

  1. Best Practices–Key Metrics: March 30 
  2. Mergers & Acquisitions: June 15
  3. 2016 Best Practices Study Highlights: Sept. 21
  4. Perpetuation Planning: Oct. 19 
  5. Producer Recruiting and DevelopmentDec. 14, 1-1:15 p.m. ET

Now available for purchase, the 2016 Best Practices Study is a comprehensive examination of the top performing agencies across the country. The annual study compiles benchmarking data on agency performance and value, including revenue growth and profitability, financial stability, expense management, and sales and operations productivity.

Send your webinar questions to Best Practices staff

Interest-free, emergency bridge loans available

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In an effort to speed up the recovery process for small businesses economically and/or physically impacted by Hurricane Matthew, Gov. Rick Scott has activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.

 Under the program, short-term, interest-free "bridge" loans up to $25,000 are available to small business owners located in all 67 counties in Florida.

 These loans are designed to help impacted small business owners meet immediate financial obligations until long-term financial recovery resources are secured, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance

Owners of small businesses with two (2) to 100 employees located in the designated counties may apply for $1,000 to $25,000.  Loans are granted in terms of 90 or 180 days and are interest-free for that time period.

To be eligible for bridge loan, a business must have been established prior to Oct. 3, 2016, and demonstrate economic injury and/or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew. 

Applications may be downloaded at Complete eligibility and loan development details as well as additional resources may also be found on the website.

Applications will be accepted through Nov. 11, 2016.

Following Hurricane Matthew, Report Losses Quickly and Protect Yourself from Potentially Unlicensed Individuals

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Following the landfall of Hurricane Matthew, many Floridians are now beginning the process of notifying their insurance carrier of damaged property and items and taking steps to make temporary repairs to prevent additional damage. CFO Jeff Atwater, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, and Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James encourage Floridians to be prompt in notifying their insurance companies and cautious of repair deals that sound too good to be true.

They offer the following information to consumers who are navigating the insurance claims process:

  • Notify your insurance company first. Many insurance companies have reporting deadlines, so it is important to act quickly. Take steps to make temporary repairs that prevent further damage, but remain in contact with your insurance company regarding any outside vendors that are brought in to make repairs. If you need help locating contact information for your insurance company, click here to access the Office of Insurance Regulation’s directory.
  • While making temporary repairs, obtain the licensing or training credentials of all third-party vendors before signing any work agreements. Beware of fly-by-night repair companies and hire only licensed and reputable vendors. Use the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Contractor License lookup to make sure all contractors are properly licensed and bonded. Access DBPR’s licensee search here.
  • Fully review all documentation you are asked to sign and ask questions to make sure you understand the agreements you are signing. Ask specifically who is responsible for paying the vendor, you as the consumer, or your insurance company.
  • If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, ask for identification to verify that the adjuster is licensed. To verify the license of any Florida insurance agent or adjuster, use the Department of Financial Service’s licensee search here.
  • Understand how much a public insurance adjuster charges as well as what services are included before signing any contract.
  • If you suspect fraud or suspicious activity, call the Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services Insurance Consumer Helpline immediately at 1-877-693-5236. Your concerns will be promptly referred to insurance fraud investigators.

Consumers who have questions about their insurance coverage are encouraged to call CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236. Insurance experts will be available on Saturday, October 8, and Sunday, October 9, starting at 8:00 a.m. EST to answer consumer questions and to aid consumers with filing insurance claims. This helpline can also help consumers to gain contact information for their insurance company, and can also help to verify the license of an insurance agent or adjuster.

Hurricane Deductibles 101

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While there is an exception to almost every rule, the “general rule” is that Florida residential insurance policies (that would include homes, residential condominium associations, homeowners associations, and residential apartments) have a separate deductible that applies to losses occurring during a hurricane. Therefore, most residential policies have an “all other peril” (AOP) deductible for losses caused by perils such as fire, lightening, and theft, and a separate deductible for hurricane losses. The hurricane deductible is mandated by Florida statutes.

The hurricane deductible is expressed as a percentage, typically two percent, but higher percentages are available. The percentage is a percentage of the coverage amount, not a percentage of the loss. For example, a structure insured for $400,000 with a two-percent deductible would have a deductible of $8,000 for damage caused by a hurricane.

The hurricane deductible applies only for a hurricane as defined in the statutes. According to Florida Statute 627.4025, a hurricane means a storm system that has been declared a “hurricane” by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service. Note that a named tropical storm does not trigger the hurricane deductible.

According to the statutes, the duration of a hurricane in which the hurricane deductible would apply includes the time period:

  • Beginning at the time a hurricane watch or warning is issued for any part of Florida by the National Hurricane Center.
  • Continuing for the time period during which the hurricane conditions exist anywhere in Florida; and
  • Ending 72 hours following the termination of the last hurricane watch or hurricane warning issued for any part of Florida by the National Hurricane Center. 

To summarize, to trigger the hurricane deductible there must first be a named hurricane. Then, a hurricane watch or warning must be issued for any part of Florida. There have been situations when these conditions did not exist and some carriers incorrectly applied a hurricane deductible. For example, in 2013, Tropical Storm Karen formed October 3. Simultaneous with the National Hurricane Center naming Karen as a tropical storm, the center issued a hurricane watch and warning for parts of Florida, anticipating that Karen would likely become a hurricane. Karen was never declared to be a hurricane. As such, wind damage caused by Karen was not subject to the hurricane deductible; the AOP deductible applied instead.

The deductible applies on a calendar-year basis. (For commercial residential policies such as a condominium association policy, the customer can select either a hurricane deductible on a calendar-year basis or a hurricane deductible that applies to each hurricane.) Using the earlier example of the $8,000 hurricane deductible, that $8,000 applies for all losses during the calendar year for losses due to hurricanes.

For example, in 2004 some areas of Florida were hit by three major hurricanes in about 40 days. This calendar year deductible applies only if the customer was insured by the same company (or group of companies if an insurer has multiple companies) during all hurricanes. Assume that a hurricane causes $40,000 in damage; the claim is paid less the $8,000 deductible. If there is a second hurricane during the calendar year, the $8,000 hurricane deductible does not apply; instead the AOP deductible applies.

In a different example, suppose that the first hurricane causes damage of only $3,000. Due to the $8,000 deductible, nothing is paid. If a second hurricane were to cause $35,000 in damage, the claim is paid less a $5,000 deductible ($8,000 hurricane deductible less the $3,000 that applied for the first hurricane, leaving $5,000 deductible). If a third hurricane were to cause damage in the same calendar year, the AOP deductible would apply. Many, if not most, insurance policies require that the customer report all hurricane losses, even those that are clearly below the deductible. Failing to do so could result in the full application of the hurricane deductible for second and subsequent hurricane claims.

There are other key points to keep in mind:

  • Policies are different; it’s key to read the specific policy in question to see how deductibles are structured.
  • The statute dealing with hurricane deductibles applies only to “admitted” insurers; it does not apply to surplus lines insurers. While surplus lines insurers typically also use a hurricane deductible, they are not required to do so.
  • Wind damage that is not associated with a hurricane (such as a tornado or summer thunderstorm) is not subject to a hurricane deductible. An insurance company may, however, issue a policy with a separate “windstorm” deductible that would apply to wind losses not due to a hurricane as long as the deductible was approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
  • Hurricane deductibles on policies typically can only be changed at the renewal date of the policy.
  • Commercial non-residential policies (for example policies covering a hotel or office building) are not required by the statutes to have a separate hurricane deductible. If an insured desired to use a hurricane deductible for these type of structures, she would be free to do so as long as it was approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
  • Florida Statute 627.701 contains the information on deductibles; F.S. 627.4025 defines "hurricane" and "hurricane coverage."