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How-To: Transform Your Digital Presence

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

By: Matt Banaszynski | CEO of IIAW

This article was featured in our May 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Click here to read the full May 2020 issue. 

The IIAW welcomes Kaylyn Zielinski to the team. Kaylyn has some wonderful tips to share with our readers about digital marketing and using social media for your agency. She has also created a complete Digital Marketing Playbook, which all of our members have access to. Enjoy these quick tips from Kaylyn, the new IIAW Marketing Specialist.


person holding cell phone


When today’s consumers are looking for insurance, they turn to their phones, computers and tablets to find exactly what they’re looking for at exactly the time they’re looking for it. Consumers are no longer looking in a phone book to find providers in their areas. To capture the attention of these digital-age consumers, you’ll need to show up on their devices. Now, more than ever, you will need to debut on their screens and stick in their minds. There’s no time like the present to develop your digital footprint.

With a proper marketing plan, a website and a social media presence, you can create an online existence that will push your agency ahead of your competitors. The best part of this process is that most digital marketing is free. The biggest investment you’ll face is in the time and the attention you will spend developing your online presence. However, this time investment will pay off.

Your Marketing Plan

A quick Google search for “how to create an online presence” will leave your mind reeling as you decide where and how to start. First, start by creating a marketing plan. If you already have a marketing plan for traditional outlets, it’s time to apply it to today’s new medium by focusing on your website and social media sites. Next, run through your agency’s strengths and develop goals on how you plan to exploit those strengths online. Finally, determine your target audience. As an insurance agent, you may describe your target audience as individuals, families, business owners and commercial businesses in XYZ city or certain area.

Understanding your goals and your target audience will help you further develop content that will put your agency at the forefront of their online searches.


Computer with IIAW Website

Your Website

Your website should be the cornerstone for all information coming from your agency. If you don’t have a website already, today’s the day to start. The Big I partners with ITC, Forge 3, Titan Web, Advisor Evolved and Marketing 360.

When creating or optimizing your website, keep these best-practices in mind: 

• Prioritize your top-visited webpages - 

On average users spend about 15 seconds on a website, according to Tony Haile of Chartbeat. Those visiting your website don’t want to have to spend a lot of time to search around. If they have to search, they may go elsewhere (potentially your competitors) to find the information. The most visited webpages should be the easiest to find. If they’re not, it’s time to rearrange your layout.

 • Check your analytics and create content that’s targeted to what your most visited pages are. (Your website host may offer built-in analytics, otherwise, Google Analytics is a helpful tool for reviewing your website stats.)

• Keep visitors engaged by making your website visually appealing.

• Ensure your website is mobile friendly. According to Statistica, over 52 percent of all web traffic worldwide is done on a mobile device.

• Have a complete website. Ideally, a complete website will answer these questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. A customer on your website should have no problem finding the answers to their questions and they should feel compelled to start the process by requesting a quote.

Social Media Icons

Your Social Media Presence

Social media is a great way to freely engage with your audience. You can get to know your clients, and your clients can get to know you too. While there are multiple social media sites you can join, keep these rules in mind across all platforms:

• Keep your pages consistent by having all accounts under the same profile name. Your customers will be able to find you easier by keeping the same name. Along the same lines, make your profile photo the same. We recommend using your agency logo as your profile photo for your business pages.

• Create a publishing schedule and stick with it. Keep your pages relevant by posting up-to-date content on a regular basis.

• Allow your agency’s personality to shine through your social accounts. You want your social media platforms to be the go-to spot for engagement, and the most engaging content is humanizing content. Social media allows you to show the human side of your business and allows you to build a community that others want to be a part of. If it aligns with your brand’s marketing plan, stay away from overly formal content on your pages. You can share formal ideas, but make them fun to understand and/or interact with.


Now you have the framework to get started on developing your online presence. Read our Digital Marketing Playbook here

Tags:  digital agency  digital marketing  digital presence  Insurance Bartender  social media 

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Virtual University - COVID-19: Are There Any Weird Homeowners' Coverage Exposures

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2020

By: Chris Boggs | Big "I" Virtual University Executive Director


* This article was featured in our May 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Click here to read the full issue for May. 

Front of a House


Currently 42 states are under a “stay-at-home” or some other similar order. However, this does not necessarily keep people in their homes. 


People leave their homes for necessities (healthcare, medicine, groceries, take-out orders, etc.) or to exercise. Some work in businesses that have become known as “essential” and are going to work every day. Still others are going outside to visit and/or check on friends and neighbors. 


But some are even going inside each other’s homes. There are reports that parties, albeit small, are being held. 


This leads to the question: Does having friends over during a state-mandated

stay-at-home order create any insurance issues regarding COVID-19? What about when it’s over? These sound like weird questions.


As weird as the questions sounds, the answer may be weirder. If the insured is held legally liable for someone contracting COVID-19, or any other disease, while at a house party, there may not be any coverage extended from the homeowners’ policy. 


Don’t believe me? Here is the relevant policy language: 







Coverages E and F do not apply to the following: 


6. Communicable Disease


“Bodily injury” or “property damage” which arises out of the transmission of a communicable disease by an “insured”


A Communicable Disease? 


COVID-19 is unquestionably communicable; but is it a disease? In a roundabout way, yes. It’s not the virus that causes harm. It’s the disease or sickness that results from the virus. The immune system destroys some viruses before they can cause any harm, but some viruses overpower the immune system and lead to sickness and disease. 


Because COVID-19 is a communicable disease, if the insured “communicates” the disease to someone else, the exclusion applies. 


Legally Liable


If the insured throws a “stuck-in-the-house” party or other gathering and about 14 days later one of the guests is diagnosed with COVID-19, the natural inclination would be to assume the disease was contracted at the party. Once the lawyers begin trolling, the ill person will certainly be convinced to sue the party host asserting that: 

• The host made them sick (read the exclusion, remember, an insured must spread the disease); and

• The homeowner was negligent in and legally, liable for causing the sickness. 


To be found negligent in the process of ultimately proving legal liability, the injured person must: 

• Prove the accused homeowner is guilty of “Negligent Conduct.” 

To prove negligent conduct, the injured person must prove the homeowner owed a duty to the injured party and breached that duty owed; 

• Suffer actual monetary damages; and

• Prove the wrongdoer’s “Negligent Conduct” is the proximate cause of the injury or damage. 


There are far more nuances and legalities than the above ultimately establish legal liability, but detailing legal liability is not the focus of this article. For more information on what is required to prove legal liability see, “How Does a ‘Person’ Become Legally Liable.”


Proving negligent conduct and legal liability often requires court involvement. If: 

• An insured hosts a party during a lockdown

• An insured is contagious; and 

• A guest is sickened by that insured

The communicable disease exclusion somewhat clearly excludes more than just coverage, it also excludes defense. 


A Different Situation. A Different Result? 


Let’s change the situation. Assume a guest at the party rather than an insured is sick and passes along the little nasty; does this exclusion apply to the homeowner/host? 


If the policy is taken literally, which is the expectation, the exclusion does not apply. Notice again that the exclusion applies only when an insured communicates the disease to someone, not when their actions make it possible for the disease to be communicated by and to someone else. 


So, the infected and contagious next-door neighbor is invited. During the party she spreads the virus to the other party guests. One gets sick and sues the homeowner. Is the homeowner covered for this suit? Yes, this appears to be covered because an insured did not communicate the disease; they only made it possible for the disease to be spread. 


But just like in the previous example, the injured party must prove the homeowner/host was guilty of negligent conduct and is legally liable. In this case, the legal precept proximate cause (the “but for” requirement) seems to indicate that, “But for the insured hosting the party, there would not have been bodily injury.”


Even if the homeowner is not found or held to be legally liable for the sickness, the policy pays to defend the insured because this is not an excluded incident. 


What About the Neighbor?


Is she covered for making the other guest sick? No, there is no coverage. This points directly back to the applicable exclusionary wording. A liability exclusion is not limited to the insured’s premises. If the insured communicates the disease to another person - even at a party - the exclusion applies. 


Parties or No Parties 


Homeowners’ coverage, or the lack thereof, for spreading COVID-19 isn’t a weird question. Depending on the situation, coverage may be excluded for the insured. Don’t host or attend parties for a while. 

Tags:  COVID-19  erros and omissions  homeowner coverage 

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Agency Operations - Key Leadership Practices for Virtual Teams

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2020

By: Donna J. Dennis, Ph.D. | Virtual Team Leadership Expert


*This article was featured in our May 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Click here to read the full May 2020 issue. 


Virtual Team Meeting


We are living in an environment where circumstance forces change!  Work teams everywhere have been forced to shift quickly to a work from home setting.  


The MyAgencyCampus team reached out to virtual team leadership expert Donna Dennis, PhD to learn more about “Key Leadership Practices for Virtual Teams.”  See below for some just-in-time recommendations.


Both leaders and team members must cope with many 

other challenges. A study conducted by the Business 

Research Consortium (BRC) in association with American Management Association survey of 1,500 individuals 

revealed the following seven suggestions for companies that want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their virtual teams. 


1. Remember that good leadership is different.


It is tempting to believe that traditional leadership qualities are so general that they easily translate to virtual team 

leadership. Unfortunately, that is just not true.  


2. Emphasize communication even more


Yes, nearly every leader has been told to “communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more.” What is true for leaders in general is doubly true for virtual leaders. In fact, it’s usually true for all virtual team members. 



Fully 72% of respondents to the BRC survey strongly agreed with the idea that virtual teams require more team 

communication than do co-located teams. 


3. Adjust to the medium. 


The study shows that team member engagement is 

strongly influenced by the degree of visual feedback 

members are getting. For example, participants in voice-only virtual meetings (the kind so common in the corporate world today) are much less likely to be engaged than participants in face-to-face meetings and in meetings with high-quality videoconferencing. Without a visual 

element, leaders must do things such as: 


           Pick up on more subtle cues (such as tone of voice)


           Know nuances of cross-cultural communication


           Ask more questions to get to a common under               standing of a problem or issue


4. Do more to establish trust.  


Because virtual team members often lack the time and opportunities to talk to each other informally, trust can be hard to build. The best virtual leaders tend to build “swift” trust, knowing that distance makes it more difficult. They provide goals, roles, responsibilities, strategies, and a 

vision to create a common purpose and shared objectives. 


They establish agreements and make expectations clear so that all team members understand responsibilities and proper etiquette.


5. Develop robust processes and, where needed, 



Not only must virtual leaders make expectations clear, they also must establish more checkpoints with explicit 



6. Reduce or avoid “storming” when possible. 


Back in the 1960s, Professor Bruce Tuckman developed the idea that teams need to go through four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Virtual teams are 

different in that the “storming” stage (during which 

different members strive for a time to put forward their ideas) is often curtailed. This does not mean virtual teams need to avoid all disagreements and conflicts, only that leaders and members should be proactive and handle 

different perspectives right away, as opposed to letting them linger. 


7. Devote resources to development. 


Most organizations do not develop leaders and other employees in the art of virtual teaming. Yet, the BRC study indicates that a lack of experience among members of virtual teams is a serious challenge. 

Therefore, we think it pays to educate not only leaders but also potential team members about how to thrive in a virtual team environment. The study also indicates that first-level and middle managers tend to have fewer virtual leadership skills than senior managers and project 



About Donna J. Dennis, Ph.D.

Donna is a leadership development professional 

specializing in solutions for leaders working in virtual and remote teams. Earlier in her career, Donna worked for, Chubb and Son, Inc as well as other corporations in various leadership development positions. Donna’s teaching academia experience includes The Wharton Business School, the University of Pennsylvania and Rider University.  



Online courses for training agents and brokers including property and casualty new hire curricula, business skills for sales and service team members and upskilling new

 leaders. Visit  (An offering from New Level Partners LLC).


If you are interested in scheduling a webinar on Virtual Team Leadership, please contact

Tags:  Agency Operations  digital agency  leadership  virtual teams 

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Virtual University - How Business Income Responds to COVID-19 In Under 975 Words

Posted By IIAW Staff , Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2020

By: Chris Boggs | Big "I" Virtual University Executive Director


*This article was featured in our May 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Click here to read the full May 2020 issue. 


Person Resting Hand on Work Paperwork


Business Income


Before any insurance policy responds to a claim, the loss must first meet all the requirements of the insuring agreement. The insuring agreement is the broadest the coverage will ever be. If the loss is excluded by the insuring agreement, there is no coverage.


The Business Income insuring agreement reads: We will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain due to the necessary “suspension” of your “operations” during the “period of restoration”. The “suspension” must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to property at premises which are described in the Declarations and for which a Business Income Limit Of Insurance is shown in the Declarations. The loss or damage must be caused by or result from a Covered Cause of Loss.


Key Points: 


Suspension must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to property. Direct property damage is required. Damage is generally defined and understood to mean “a distinct, demonstrable, and physical alteration” of a property’s structure. A virus cannot cause such damage.


There must be a covered cause of loss. There are two exclusions that disqualify a virus as a covered cause of loss. One is within the policy and the other is found in a mandatory endorsement.


• ISO’s business income policy excludes:  Discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of “pollutants….”


  A “pollutant” is defined to mean: “any solid, liquid,

    gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including

    smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and     waste”

  Contaminant is not a defined term, but it is a biological     term of art defined as “a contamination of food or

    environment with microorganisms such as bacteria,     VIRUSES, fungi or parasites”

• A virus is an excluded cause of loss.


• CP 01 40 – Exclusion of Loss Due to Virus or Bacteria endorsement is attached to the policy. 

  Introduced by ISO in 2006 as a mandatory     endorsement.



  ISO introduced this endorsement to negate “efforts to    expand coverage and to create sources of recovery

  for such losses, contrary to policy intent.”

• When attached, there is no question coverage is    excluded.


Coverage applies only during the Period of Restoration: 


The business income policy pays during the Period of Restoration, this is the period that the business is shut down and unable to operate due to a covered cause of loss.


• Because there is no property damage as understood by the courts; and because the presence of a virus is excluded, the insured never reaches the period of restoration. However, assume the courts decide the opposite.


• To trigger the Period of Restoration, the courts must decide: 

• The presence of a virus does cause direct physical loss    or damage; and

• Neither the pollution exclusion nor the CO 01 40    excluded the loss.

• The period of restoration most often begins 72 hours after the business-closing loss (this time period can be endorsed down).


• A University of Alabama study published in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that the maximum amount of time the virus can live on certain surfaces is up to three days – which is 72 hours. The period of restoration does not begin for 72 hours in the unendorsed Business Income form. By the time the POR begins, the virus is no longer causing property damage.


Result: NO Business Income coverage for COVID-19!


Civil Authority


There is one exclusion in all Cause of Loss forms few are discussing. The concurrent causation section specifically

excludes governmental actions, including business closures:


We will not pay for loss or damage caused by or resulting from any of the following: Acts or decisions, including the failure to act or decide, of any person, group, organization or governmental body.


Government shutdowns are specifically excluded. Any discussion of Civil Authority coverage begins with this exclusion. Civil authority coverage is granted only because of the “Additional Coverage – Civil Authority.” This is important to understand because when coverage is given as an exception or in direct response to an exclusion, the carrier gets to control the breadth of coverage granted.


The additional coverage granted by the Civil Authority provision contains three requirements also found in the business

income coverage:


• There must be physical damage to property;

• Damage must be caused by a covered cause of loss; and

• Coverage begins 72 hours after the order of the Civil Authority


But Civil Authority is subject to a few unique requirements or rather limitations:


• The damage occurs at premises other than the insured’s premises;

• The damage must be within one mile of the insured’s premises (unless altered by CP 15 32 Civil Authority Changes – the distance is up to the carrier); and

• Coverage is provided for up to four weeks (unless changed by the CP 15 32 – up to 180 days).

If all the above Civil Authority conditions are met, other coverage triggers still preclude coverage for COVID-19 losses:


• The actions of the civil authority prohibit access to the insured premises. Access to the insured’s premises is NOT necessarily prohibited; these are shelter-in-place orders with exceptions;


Access to the area immediately surrounding the damaged property is prohibited by civil authority as a result of the damage. Access to the area is NOT prohibited, people are still in the area – especially if there are “essential” businesses in operation. And if the insured is an “essential” business (like a restaurant), people can

still come, they just can’t stay. There is no preclusion or prohibition of people in or to the area.

The action of civil authority is taken in response to dangerous physical conditions…. These aren’t dangerous physical conditions, at best (or worst, if you like) these are dangerous biological conditions. 


Result: NO Civil Authority coverage

Tags:  COVID-19  Virtual University 

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Risky Business - Are Mortgage Companies Requesting Replacement Cost Estimators

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2020

By: Mallory Cornell | IIAW Vice President and Director of Risk Management


* This article was featured in our May 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Read the full May 2020 issue here


The coronavirus pandemic is having a tremendous effect on many different aspects of life. While all of this has certainly influenced your personal and professional habits, it’s important to focus on how changes are managed from an operational standpoint within the agency. 


It has recently been brought to our attention that mortgage companies are making more frequent requests for replacement cost estimates. While it has always been a fairly common practice for a lender to verify a valid insurance policy is in place, the exposure now is the language used to describe the policy and limits and as well as the documentation requested.



The Danger of Guarantee


Independent agents should always be careful when providing anything at “100%” or “Guaranteed”. There is too much variability and change to offer this wording in the insurance industry. So, what about mortgage company requests for “guaranteed replacement cost”? As a licensed insurance agent, you could face disciplinary actions for misrepresenting the coverage the homeowner has in place as indicated in Wisconsin statute 628.34(1)(a). It is extremely important to standardize the response to these requests from mortgage companies. 


Recommended language has been shared from the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA) and advises agents to use the following: 


“It is the practice of this agency to insure structures for their estimated replacement cost as determined by the insurance company. Building limits are estimates only and are arrived at based on information provided by the policyholder and/or industry standard software used to estimate replacement costs. The actual cost to rebuild the structure may exceed the policy limits, especially during a catastrophic event and/or where an ordinance or law impacts repair or replacement.


The agency makes no assurances that the policy limits provided will be adequate to rebuild the structure.”


Sharing Replacement Cost Estimator (RCE) Documents


In an effort to expedite the processing of this request, many agency procedures include sending the RCE to the lender. While this may seem like the easiest solution, it is important to be mindful of any contractual language with carriers and vendors that would prohibit the agent from sharing such documents with a third party. While it may be difficult, at times, to push back on this request it could result in other consequences for the agency. 


Take the time to update internal workflows and procedures to ensure your response is consistent and does not create unintended exposures for the agency. Agency exposures greatly increase when operational changes occur, and employees should be diligent about questioning new requests and procedural inconsistencies. 


If your agency has any questions regarding agency operations or responses, please reach out to Mallory Cornell at

Tags:  errors and omissions  Replacement Cost Estimator (RCE)  Risky Business 

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E&O Risk Management and the Coronavirus

Posted By IIAW Staff, Friday, May 1, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2020

By: Swiss RE Corporate Solutions

*This article was featured in our May 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Click here to read the full May 2020 issue. 

Hospital Hallway

You are all very aware of the events of the last several weeks and the Coronavirus. We are not health experts and there are many others more qualified to give you that advice. We CAN, however, give advice regarding how to reduce the likelihood of an errors and omissions exposure as a result of this event. We have already become aware of some attorneys who are trying to take advantage of this situation for monetary gain against insurance agents. Our advice during this event is no different from what we have said in the past. If your agency has developed good practices, you will be better positioned to avoid problems. Here are the practices of a good insurance agency:


• DON’T MAKE CLAIMS DECISIONS! Let the insurance carriers do that. 

• DON’T ADVISE YOUR CUSTOMERS IF CORONAVIRUS related    items are COVERED OR NOT! Let the insurance carriers do that. 

• If a carrier takes the position that losses arising from the Coronavirus are not, or may not be covered, do not engage in advocacy asserting that “We thought it was covered...” That will simply be used by your client to prove that you knew the client wanted coverage for perils like the Coronavirus, but you failed to procure coverage.

• Report all claims and potential claims to EACH AND EVERY    CARRIER that could potentially have a policy that could apply. This includes CGL, Personal lines, Umbrella, Excess, Workers Compensation, Specialty and any other policy in place for your    customers.

• USE THE RESOURCES PROVIDED BY YOU BY THE IIABA. It is a valuable resource for you, your staff and your agency that provides many sources of information. 

• Be empathetic, but don’t tell anyone that something is covered    or not. You can continue to tell them you feel sympathy for all affected by the Coronavirus, but customers MUST report a claim to their insurance carrier to determine if there is any coverage for the event.

• Remember, if you executed an agency agreement with one or more insurance companies, you MUST report all claims or potential claims as required by that agreement, even if your customer tells you not to do so.

• Maintain vigilant contact with your insurance carriers to determine what action THEY want you to take.

• DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT!!! This continues to be

the foundation of sound E&O risk management. DOCUMENT 




• Assume that any telephone conversations with your customers or carrier claims representatives ARE BEING RECORDED. While some states prohibit recording of telephone conversations without advising that they are doing so, IT DOESN’T STOP SOME PEOPLE FROM DOING SO. 

• If you use social media for your business, make sure it is up to    date! Do not make any promises that something may or may not have been covered by insurance companies and policies. 

• DO NOT GIVE ANY STATEMENTS, RECORDED OR OTHERWISE, WITHOUT FIRST CONTACTING YOUR E&O PROVIDER. The Swiss Re Corporate Solutions/Westport Insurance Company/First Specialty Insurance Company claims staff are available if you have any questions about any communications you receive. 

• If you have a conversation with your customer that leads you to believe that they may be fishing to make a claim against you, DO NOT HESITATE to contact our claims department. 



insurance carriers do that. We know this was stated before, but it must be ingrained in your mind. 

• If the Coronavirus ends up being declared a “catastrophe” by 

the ISO Property Claims Service, you may be eligible under your Westport policy for “Cat Extra Expense” benefits: “CATASTROPHE EXTRA EXPENSE. We will pay up to $25,000 per catastrophe subject to a per POLICY PERIOD aggregate limit of $50,000 for the actual extra expenses incurred by you as a result of a catastrophe during the POLICY PERIOD beginning on the date of a catastrophe and for thirty (30) days thereafter. The extra expense incurred must be incurred by you only to assist in the insurance claims processing needs of your customer(s) who have been affected by the catastrophe. The catastrophe must be a declared catastrophe by the Property Claims Services. A $500 deductible for each catastrophe shall apply. Limits provided by this paragraph are part of and not in addition to the limits

provided by this POLICY.”


We hope that this will help you as this event progresses. If you should have any questions, please let us know. 

Tags:  coronavirus  COVID-19  E&O Risk Management  errors and omissions 

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How-To: Build a Better Hiring Plan

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

By: Aggie Alvarez | Caliper


Hiring During Interview


*This article was featured in our April 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Click here to read the full April 2020 issue. 


Do you have enough talent to help you achieve your business goals? 

Do you have enough volume to support your growth? These questions are the reason that having a strategic hiring plan is so important.


The new year is a great time to reflect and set new goals for your organization. Your people are an integral component in your ability to achieve those goals, so it’s crucial to evaluate the climate of your workforce. Do you have enough talent to help you achieve your business goals? Do you have enough volume to support your growth? These questions are the reason that having a strategic hiring plan is so important.


Anticipate Workforce Needs


In order to create a hiring plan, you need to assess your current workforce. You want to consider both the quality and quantity of your workforce. The quality of the workforce is reflective of how your employees are rated on their current performance and future potential, whereas the quantity of the workforce measures the numerical impact of new hires, employee turnover, and internal promotions.


There are a number of ways to get a sense of your current employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. You can reference old resumes to identify training and certifications that may not be utilized in an employee’s current role. You can discover your employees’ hidden talents, hobbies, and passions through simply having regular conversations with them. Performance reviews are also a great resource to find employees that are performing outside of their scope and are ready to take on more responsibility. In fact, evaluating performance and identifying career advancement opportunities for your employees is crucial to keeping them and creating long-term success.


Ask yourself: how many employees do you typically need to replace in a given year? Do you have a plan in place for turnover? Not only do you need to think about the new positions you anticipate needing to fill, but there will also be departures and promotions for which you’ll need to be prepared as well. Plan ahead of time, so you aren’t taken by surprise and are  rushing to fill critical gaps later.


Identify the Gaps

By now you should have a clear snapshot of how your company’s workforce will look throughout the year. But, there’s a second aspect that has a major impact on hiring plans: Annual business goals. Leadership will set a course for the year, whether that be to launch a new product, add a new department, or increase sales. Any major objectives for the year might have an effect on your talent acquisition strategy.


Key questions for the HR department when crafting a hiring plan include:

Does the company have the right talent for the year’s business strategy?

Where can I anticipate skills gaps in order to meet company objectives?


But, plan your talent strategy carefully. When putting together your hiring plan, focus on the activities and elements that aim to improve your quality of hire rather than to receive as many applicants as possible. Here are some examples of these types of activities:


• Revamp your job descriptions. Poorly written job descriptions can attract candidates that are the wrong fit and deter qualified candidates from applying. Effective job descriptions should be able to give a complete picture of what a candidate needs to possess to be successful in the role.

• Fine-tune your sourcing channels. Job boards and staffing agencies account for nearly half of sourcing spend but yield only 35% of applicants. Reevaluate that spend and strategy and shift your focus to the sourcing channels that are driving the largest pool of applicants.

• Implement an employee referral program. Employee referrals are not only the shortest time to hire and onboard, but they also improve quality of hire. Who better to know the best cultural fit for your company than your own employees?


By implementing these activities, you can attract applicants that have the right knowledge and skill set. You want to be able to confidently select the candidates that are the best fit for both the job role and your company.


Personality assessments are one of the best tools for determining candidate fit. After all, 82 percent of companies are using some form of pre-employment assessment. For example, Caliper’s assessment evaluates a number of competencies and behaviors including inclination to interact with peers and managers, attitude toward performance-related obstacles, and approaches to time management. The results are then measured against validated job models, which makes it easy for managers to see how well a candidate fits into the desired role and enables them to make better hiring decisions.


Resumes and interviews can give you a picture of how a candidate has performed in the past and the present, but they lack the clarity of how a candidate will perform in the future and for your company. Personality assessments are able to raise the predictability of success, which you can pair with resumes and interviews for a more well-rounded view of your candidates and can improve time to hire and quality of hire metrics.


Assess Your Acquisition Strategy


An important aspect of your acquisition and hiring process is to make sure those candidates you’ve selected will choose you in return. 

You’ll want to consider:

• Assessing your rewards and incentives programs. Is what you’re offering going to meet the expectations of your ideal candidates? If not, it could 

be difficult to attract and retain top talent.

• Implementing professional development plans. This is a key benefit that candidates search for in a company. Building professional development 

into your long-term success plan keeps employees on track and shows them that you want them to succeed.

• Evaluating your company culture. Having a strong company culture not only attracts highly qualified candidates, but also influences these individuals to stay with your company long term because they personally identify with the beliefs and attitudes. In fact, companies that actively manage their culture boast 40% higher retention.


The new year is a great time to assess your hiring plan and implement changes that will affect the long-term success of your company. However, 

it’s important to keep in mind that HR planning is an ongoing process and you should continue to evaluate your strategy as your organization and industry trends change.


For more information on the ways Caliper can help you find the best candidate fit for your company, reach out to our experts today to start building a better hiring plan.



View original article here

Tags:  business plan  hiring 

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Commentary from Counsel - IIAW Ransomware Coverage

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

By: Josh Johanningmeier | IIAW General Counsel

* This article was featured in our April 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Click here to read the full April 2020 issue. 

Computer Lit Up

Federal Court Rules Business owners Policy Covers Ransomware Attack Damages


In late January, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, in National Ink & Stitch, LLC v. State Auto Property & Casualty Insurance Co., ruled that a business owners policy provided coverage for an embroidery and screen-printing business that had fallen victim to a ransomware attack.  The court described its decision as a continuation of a nationwide trend of courts finding coverage for loss of data or systems functionality following a cyber-attack.  Implicit in the court’s decision may have been a recognition of the increasing frequency and severity of ransomware attacks across the country.  It is critical that you and your agencies also take note of these trends.


The National Ink & Stitch Case and Decision


In December 2016, National Ink & Stitch suffered a ransomware attack, which prevented it from accessing all art files and other data contained on its server along with most of its software.  The attacker demanded payment in the form of bitcoin to release access to the software and data, which National Ink & Stitch paid.  However, the attacker then requested further payment.  At that point, National Ink & Stitch contracted with a security company to replace and reinstall its software.  While the business’s computers functioned after the reinstall, the new protective software slowed the system.  Further, National Ink & Stitch still does not have access to the lost data, meaning it has to reproduce all of the lost art files.  Finally, computer experts found that it was likely there are still remnants of the virus on the business’s computers, which could ultimately “re-infect the entire system.”


Due to past and continuing damages resulting from the attack, National Ink & Stitch presented a claim to its insurer, State Auto, for the cost of replacing its computer system.  The relevant business owners policy states that State Auto “will pay for direct physical loss of or damage to Covered Property…resulting from any Covered Cause of Loss.”  The policy defines “Covered Property” to include “Electronic Media and Records (Including Software).”  However, State Auto denied the claim, finding its insured did not experience “direct physical loss of or damage to” its computer system under the policy. National Ink & Stitch then sued to resolve the coverage dispute.


Ultimately, the court held that State Auto’s policy did provide coverage for National Ink & Stitch’s losses.  The court began with the policy language, which explicitly includes “data” and “software” within the definitions of “Covered Property.”  The court also construed the phrase “physical loss or damage” to include the inefficiency of National Ink & Stitch’s computer system following the installation of protective software, finding that a computer can “suffer ‘damage’ without becoming completely inoperable.”  While the court came to its conclusions based on an analysis of Maryland state law, it noted that its interpretation tracks with holdings “reached by the majority of courts interpreting similar policies.”


 Now What?


Before getting to the potential effects of this ruling on your agencies and clients, it is important to understand the basics.  Ransomware is a computer virus that effectively holds a computer, or an entire system, hostage until a fee is paid.  Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years.  In the first four months of 2019 alone, there were more than 40 million ransomware detections.  Experts predict that by 2021, a business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds.  Further, the costs for businesses targeted with ransomware can be incredibly high.  The total damages associated with ransomware in 2019 surpassed $11.5 billion, or an average of $141,000 per incident.  In other words, this problem is common, it’s expensive, and it’s not going away any time soon. 


So what does this all mean for your agency?  To start, as reflected by the National Ink & Stitch decision, courts across the country have begun to construe business owners policies to cover damages arising from ransomware attacks.  Given the severity and frequency of the problem, and its effects on organizations ranging from multi-national corporations to small towns, courts are unlikely to reverse this trend.  As a result, it is critical that you and your agencies understand the policy language you are presenting to your clients and the coverage they are requesting.  Further, it is increasingly important to have connections with consultants, lawyers or firms that have expertise in not only insurance law, but in the expanding field of data privacy and cybersecurity, so that evaluating response strategy, security planning and coverage can be accomplished.  




Ransomware attacks may soon become a daily headache for your business clients.  In order to recoup some of the costs associated with these attacks, those clients are likely to bring claims under their business owners policies.  If past is prelude, courts may be sympathetic to those claims and you need to be prepared to handle coverage requests and claims arising from these attacks.

Tags:  commentary from counsel  cybersecurity  ransomware 

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Risky Business - Friend or Foe? Don't be a victim of social engineering

Posted By Kaylyn Zielinski, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

By: Mallory Cornell | IIAW Vice President and Director of Risk Management

* This article was featured in our April 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent Magazine. Read the full April 2020 issue here

As a true crime junkie, the idea of social engineering is intriguing to me; it also presents a significant risk for our members. We are aware of at least two instances of social engineering at our member agencies in 2020 and unfortunately there are likely to be more by year end. To try to prevent additional ‘attacks’, here is some education to share with family, friends and colleagues – because knowledge is the best defense against this type of criminal. 

“Ask any security professional and they will tell you that the weakest link in the security chain is the human who accepts a person or scenario at face value. It doesn’t matter how many locks and deadbolts are on your doors and windows, or if have guard dogs, alarm systems, floodlights, fences with barbed wire, and armed security personnel; if you trust the person at the gate who says 

he is the pizza delivery guy and you let him in without first checking to see if he is legitimate you are completely exposed to whatever risk he represents.” (“What is Social Engineering?”)

Social engineering is when a cyber criminal manipulates a person into providing confidential information. This act is typically done by either posing as a friend or posing as someone you know or by posing as a friend or by acting as another trusted source (think vendor or customer). 


Oh look, grandma forwarded a cute email chain!

If you receive something that you need to “click on the link” to access or that you need to download, pause and think twice about what (or who) might be hiding behind that request. Links and downloads are some of the easiest ways for has hackers to gain access to your computer, email accounts, social media accounts and contact lists. 

Trusted Sources

I need to make this payment! 

According to an annual data breach report from Verizon, phishing attacks and pretexting are responsible for 93% of successful data breaches. The reason for their success might be the tactics that are used to get the attention of the person on the receiving end. Here are examples of what to look for so you can avoid an expensive breach.

• Displays an urgency to help a friend in need

• Seems to come from a familiar sender either as an email, text, instant message from a well-known company, bank or other institution

• Request for a charitable donation

• Request for you to verify information

• Notification that you’ve won and need to claim your prize

• Posing as a boss or colleague 

It would be very difficult, if not impossible to avoid becoming a target, but you can arm yourself with knowledge so that you don’t fall into a spammers trap. Educate yourself and all employees about what to look 

for to keep your information safe.

Tags:  cybersecurity  phishing  Risky Business  social engineering 

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Insurance Bartender - The Coronarita

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

By: Matt Banaszynski | IIAW CEO

* This article was featured in our April 2020 Wisconsin Independent Insurance Agent Magazine. Read the full April issue here

The Coronarita is a drink that seems to defy gravity. You would expect that, when you flip the beer upside down in your cocktail, the mixture would overflow and spill all over the place. But curiously, it all stays in place.

How the Coronarita works has to do with pressure. If you flipped a bottle of Corona upside down normally, the beer would fall out and be replaced inside the bottle by air. But, in a Coronarita, the mouth of the bottle is surrounded by liquid, which prevents air from entering the bottle. The air that is inside the bottle creates pressure that keeps the beer from spilling out into the margarita. But, when you sip on the margarita with a straw, the liquid level in the glass will go down, and the beer inside the bottle will then flow into the glass to make up for the missing liquid.


 Insurance Bartender

Matt's Mixology - Coronarita



• Ice cubes

• Rimming salt

• 1 1/2 oz. silver tequila

• 3 oz. lime sour mix

• 1 12 oz. bottle of Corona, Dos Equis, Pacifico, Tecate, Carta Blanca, Modelo or your favorite Mexican beer


Steps to Make It: 

1. Pour ice cubes, tequila, triple sec, and lime sour mix into a cocktail shaker.

2. Shake the mixture and strain it into a salted pint glass.

3. Quickly flip the beer upside down and place it into the drink, so it dispenses slowly as you drink your delicious Coronarita from a straw.

Whether you call it a Coronarita, a Mexican Bulldog Margarita, or a Mexican Car Crash, this tequila-inspired Mexican drink recipe is sure to be a hit with your friends and family. Though this drink is not always served in a traditional margarita glass, it still delivers on the familiar and refreshing flavors of two classic beverages. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

Tags:  Insurance Bartender 

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