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Government Affairs - IIAW Joins Coalition Supporting COVID-19 Premises Liability Legislation

Posted By IIAW Staff, 12 hours ago

By: Misha Lee | IIAW Government Affairs

This article was originally published in our October Wisconsin Independent Agent. Read the full October issue here

State Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Representatives Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) recently unveiled a legislative proposal that would shield Wisconsin businesses, schools, universities, and otherentities from the threat of lawsuits alleging  liability for COVID-19 exposures. Many are still struggling amid the prolonged pandemic and some lawmakers are actively seeking ways to keep the economy moving despite the   Legislature not being in session.

Under the proposal, such liability protections would only apply to those entities that take adequate precautions to keep their premises safe for their employees and customers.  Specifically, the bill protects from the threat of litigation by providing “safe harbor” to owners, lessees, occupants, or other individuals/entities in control of a premises so long as they follow public health orders and take reasonable precautions to protect the public. This liability exemption does not protect bad actors who knowingly violate public health orders or act in a manner that is reckless, willful, or wanton. Passage of this  legislation would put Wisconsin among a growing list of states that have taken the commonsense step of protecting businesses, schools and other entities against predatory lawsuits as a result of COVID-19. As Wisconsinites look to reboot our economy and return to some sort of normalcy in an extremely challenging environment, passage of liability protections are also essential to ensure that people do not fall victim to predatory  lawsuits by some unscrupulous plaintiff’s attorneys who view the pandemic as an opportunity.

In early September, a broad and diverse coalition of 70 groups, including the  Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin (IIAW), Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), National Federation of Independent  Businesses (NFIB-Wisconsin), Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC), Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB), Wisconsin Builders  Association (WBA), Wisconsin Restaurant

Association (WRA), Midwest Food Products Association (MFPA), many local chambers of

commerce and Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin (ABC), sent a memo urging the Legislature to co-sponsor and take  action on the bill with committee hearings and floor votes in both houses. Unfortunately, the Legislature is not in session as lawmakers are in full campaign mode with the November fall elections approaching quickly. There is a slight possibility that the Republicans would convene a extraordinary session following the election to act on this and other targeted issues related to the pandemic. It appears more likely that any action on liability reforms will happen in early 2021 when the Legislature convenes its 2022-23 session. However, it also is unclear whether or not  Governor Tony Evers would support such a  measure.

See a copy of the proposal LRB-6434 relating to COVID-19 Safe Harbor Liability Reform at

Tags:  COVID-19  government affairs  insuring Wisconsin  legislation  wisconsin independent agent  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog 

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Big I Buzz - October 21, 2020

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, October 21, 2020

On this week's Big I Buzz, we are discussing our upcoming Agency Leadership Webinar, the second round of We're All In Small Business Grants and how COVID-19 is impacting U.S. homeowners.

Agency Leadership Webinar Series: State and Federal Election Preview

Join us tomorrow at 10 a.m. as IIAW Government Affairs, Misha Lee and IIABA's Charles Symington give us a preview of the state and federal election. You'll get a peek at some of the election predictions and how those may affect the industry. 

We're All In Small Business Grant

Applications are now open through November 2 for the second round of We're All In Small Business Grants. The grants are available to all eligible small businesses, including those who have previously received the first round of We're All In Grants from WEDC. Priority will be given to businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, such as restaurants and taverns, hair and nail salons and barber shops, and other services. 

Eligibility requirements: 

• be a Wisconsin-based, for-profit business; 

• in 2019, have had 75% or more of company labor costs in Wisconsin and 75% of their assets in Wisconsin; 

• earn more than $0 and less than $1 million in annual revenue (gross sales and receipts); 

• have started operating prior to Jan. 1, 2020 (seasonal businesses should use the highest total FTEs employed during the season); and 

• have filed their 2019 taxes.

To apply, visit Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, November 2. 

New Study Reveals COVID-19 Impact on U.S. Homeowners

A new study from Hippo Insurance and SimpliSafe has found that most Americans (78%) feel a deep lack of security concerning their current situation while over a third (39%) are far more insecure about their financial situation than they were at the beginning of the year. 

According to NU Property Casualty 360, "More than half of homeowners in the U.S. (55%) say the importance of protecting their financial value of their home is more pressing today than when they first bought their house. The study also revealed two in five American homeowners (42%) indicate that they will spend more time at home compared to last year, even when economies reopen following the pandemic. With all this time spent at home, it makes sense that 57% of homeowners prioritized home improvement during the first three months of COVID-19 crisis and continue to place an emphasis on making their homes a place where they want to stay."

For more news, check out the Action News section of our weekly e-newsletter   Big I Buzz.   If you aren't subscribed, click    here     to add your email to our emailing list. We hope that everyone has a great rest of their week! 


Tags:  Big I Buzz  independent insurance agents  insuring wisconsin  wisconsin independent insurance agent association  wisconsin insurance association  wisconsin insurance blog 

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Big I Buzz - October 14, 2020

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, October 14, 2020

On this week's Big I Buzz, we discuss the recent updates regarding Gov. Evers' order limiting indoor public gatherings to 25%, how judges are proceeding with cases demanding COVID-19 tuition refunds and Wisconsin's new mandated UI notice for employees at separation. 

Updates to Gov. Tony Evers' order limiting bar and restaurant capacity: 

Tavern League Sues Gov. Evers over Order Restricting Capacity to 25%

The Tavern League of Wisconsin is suing Governor Tony Evers' administration for his order limiting public indoor gatherings to 25% of the room or building's capacity. The lawsuit attempts to block the enforcement of Evers latest emergency order arguing it did not go through the rule-making process, calling it "illegal", according to WQOW. Read more about the lawsuit here

Wisconsin Judge Blocks Order from Gov. Tony Evers Limiting Bar and Restaurant Capacity as Virus Surges

According to The Associated Press, this morning (October 14th), a Wisconsin Judge temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers' administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places. 

Judges Refuse to Dismiss Cases Demanding COVID-19 Tuition Refunds

Students forced to return home after abrupt closures of their colleges and universities during the first COVID-19 lockdowns are suing for refunds for tuition and fees paid. According to NU Property Casualty 360, "About 200 class actions hit the courts soon after campuses closed this spring, most asserting breach of contract and unjust enrichment on behalf of various classes of students seeking refunds for tuition, fees, and housing and meal costs. Judges in Michigan, Ohio and Florida have allowed some of those claims to survive, despite assertions from the schools that students have not identified a contract or proven that, once in a virtual setting, they had breached it." Read more about the cases here

EMPLOYER ALERT: Wisconsin Mandates UI Notice for Employees at Separation

Starting November 2, 2020, all employers covered by Wisconsin's Unemployment Insurance (UI) law must provide employees with written notice regarding the availability of UI benefits upon separation from employment.According to Godfrey & Kahn, "Employers can satisfy the new UI notice obligation by simply providing employees with a copy of the DWD's UI poster, or by including the following DWD suggested language in other written communications to an employee, at the time of separation. Read more and find the digital poster here

For more news, check out the Action News section of our weekly e-newsletter  Big I Buzz.  If you aren't subscribed, click  here   to add your email to our emailing list. We hope that everyone has a great rest of their week! 

Tags:  Big I Buzz  insuring Wisconsin  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog 

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The Power of People

Posted By IIAW Staff, Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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

This article was originally featured in our October 2020 Wisconsin Independent Agent. You can read the full October 2020 magazine, which focused on our Exclusive Supporting Company Members here

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” - Henry Ford

By now, we hope that you recognize this quote from Henry Ford as it has become somewhat of a compass for us here at the IIAW. On March 12th, the IIAW launched its COVID-19 website and vowed to bring together our community and offer support, encouragement, and direction in any way that we could. Likewise, we saw our members step up in ways they never have before. Yes, there was a continued focus on customers, but also a new sense of urgency and attention for communities and employees.

As we continue our focus on “staying together”, the IIAW will be launching an Online Community to help facilitate networking, connecting, and supporting one another. And your participation will not go unnoticed. The IIAW wants to support your local communities through donations to area restaurants and non-profit organizations and will regularly be recognizing our conversation starters, thought leaders and reputable users in the Online Community.

We couldn’t have done this without direction and support from our Exclusive Company Members, featured in this month’s publication. The amount of kindness and compassion that has spread across the state and the nation is beyond belief. Here are just a few ways that our Exclusive Company Members have had an impact on their communities in the past six months:

AAA Logo

AAA: This company has done a great job of continuing to raise awareness of safe driving and is doing so by giving back to the community. The company joined forces with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the MSG2TEENS Driving Safety Video contest. In addition to this campaign, AAA donated over $100,000 in grants to assist public health, safety and law enforcement partners addressing the issue of marijuana impaired driving.

Acuity: Acuity is well-known for its community programs which have not skipped a beat during the last few months. The organization announced a $450,000 donation to the UW-Whitewater Cyber Defense Program to support the university’s commitment to providing education and awareness of cyber attacks. Acuity also recognized independent agents who were going above and beyond in serving their communities through their Acuity Agents Have Heart campaign.

Burns & Wilcox Logo

Burns & Wilcox: The giving spirit runs deep throughout Burns & Wilcox and their efforts did not slow down during the pandemic. The company continued to support employees and their communities by dedicating the month of May as a month of giving. In addition, Burns & Wilcox donated $63,840 to benefit hunger-relief organizations including Feeding America and Forgotten Harvest.

IMT Logo
IMT Insurance: With the headquarters in Iowa, the team at IMT acted when it came to storm clean up needs after Derecho devastated many areas of the state. The company also supported the American Cancer Society with sponsorships on multiple projects and supported local community projects by partnering with independent insurance agents during their 2020 Community Contest.

Integrity Insurance: The team at Integrity gave back in a big way and the employees were an important part of their efforts. Through support of local community blood drives and filling backpacks for kids going to back to school, the team did not disappoint. In addition to these local events, the Grange Enterprise Gives campaign raised $490,160 to support the communities of their employees.

Liberty Mutual/Safeco: The team at Liberty Mutual took a strong stand in support of systemic racism and we applaud their efforts. The company donated $1,000,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative and matched employee donations to similar organizations. In a time of need, the Safeco team mobilized and headed West to set up Mobile Response Vehicle support centers for individuals impacted by the destructive wildfires in places like California, Oregon and Washington.

Penn National Logo

Penn National: The United Way does amazing things for local communities and Penn National showed their support this year by donating $50,000 towards COVID relief efforts. In addition to their financial support, the company donated 19,000 face masks to a Pennsylvania hospital to show support for the tireless work of healthcare professionals.

Progressive Logo

Progressive: Progressive is no stranger to giving back to communities, but this year it is the Big “I” that is extending a huge thank you. The company donated $2,000,000 to establish the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund. The fund allowed independent insurance agencies to apply for grants through the national Big “I” and provided financial relief for many agencies during a time of uncertainty.


SECURA: This company has put in the time, effort and hard work to help their community and was recognized for their efforts. SECURA was named one of the Top 10 Generous Workplaces by the United Way of the Fox Cities. Whether they are partnering with local independent agents to provide financial support for community programs or holding their first annual plant sale in the parking lot, this team is giving back!

SFM Logo

SFM: The SFM Work Comp Experts are dedicated to their communities and to helping provide future opportunities for young people looking to further their education. This year, the SFM Foundation awarded 14 post-secondary scholarships totaling $250,000. When the future can seem daunting, we thank you for making it a little brighter for these students!

Society Logo

Society Insurance: During these times, many families struggled to put food on the table due to the economic impact of the pandemic. That is where Society stepped up in a big way. The company provided financial support to the Coronavirus Rapid Response Fund at Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin. They also partnered with local independent agents to donate 375 meals to organizations helping people in need.

West Bend Logo

West Bend Mutual Insurance: The West Bend Mutual Insurance Charitable Trust provided grants to more than 20 nonprofit organizations to directly support COVID relief efforts in local communities. Two of these organizations were Feeding America and the Red Cross of Southeast Wisconsin who each received $50,000 to help with their relief efforts during these uncertain times.

This is truly remarkable…and only a piece of what you have done to support the people within your communities. During a time where there is so much negative media, the Facebook posts and Twitter feeds filled with stories of people supporting one another remind us how powerful we can be when we work together. Watch for an invitation to join the IIAW Online Community so that we can continue to support our communities, together. Keep up the great work!

Tags:  insuring Wisconsin  Risky Business  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog 

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Insurance Bartender - Schedule Rating Update & City of Milwaukee Contractor Insurance Requirements

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

By: Matt Banaszynski | CEO of IIAW


Thank you!

I want to start off by thanking all our company sponsors. Without their support, the IIAW could not do what we do on behalf of the independent  agency channel. Their support is critical to our mission of serving independent agents. As a member of the association, please take a moment the next time to chat with one of our company supporters and thank them for their support of your association.

Schedule Rating Update

As you may know, several carriers have been advocating for the implementation of schedule  rating. Early last year the IIAW Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose efforts within the  Workers Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB) to recommend to the Commissioner of Insurance that Wisconsin move to adopt schedule rating. As a result, IIAW Government Affairs Chairman Jeff Thiel and I have been very active in presenting at and attending WCRB meetings and voicing our opposition to any  effort to adopt schedule rating. The IIAW has also discussed our opposition with Insurance  Commissioner Mark Afable and his staff.

On September 2, 2020 a motion was brought forward within the WCRB’s rating committee that would have advanced the exploration of schedule rating in 

Wisconsin. The vote on the motion resulted in a 6-6 tie. In the event of a tie, the motion goes to OCI to break the tie. On September 16th, the IIAW was notified that OCI had chosen to abstain from voting on the motion whether to move forward with further evaluating the extent of industry support for schedule rating in Wisconsin.Pursuant to WCRB Bylaws, Article XI, Paragraph 2, because a majority of members of the Rating Committee did not assent to the motion and the OCI abstained, the motion did not pass.

We will continue to monitor the situation, but we hope, for now, the issue of advancing schedule rating in Wisconsin is dead. If more action is taken, we will be sure and communicate accordingly to our members and move aggressively to defeat it. The IIAW wishes to thank those carriers that voted against schedule rating and stood with their independent agency sales force in opposition. If you have any  questions regarding the events that occurred and would like additional insight and information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

City of Milwaukee Contractor Insurance Requirements

Over the last month, I have been contacted by several agency members regarding whether the City of Milwaukee’s standards preclude permitting  contractors who meet the City’s insurance requirements through surplus lines insurance. The City of Milwaukee (or one or more of its departments) has denied permits to contractors who seek to meet the City’s insurance requirements through surplus lines insurance. The City has relied on contract terms which require that a contractor’s insurance carrier “be  authorized to sell insurance in the State of Wisconsin and . . . submit its agent’s license with the certificates [of insurance].” The City’s reliance on those terms appears to be misplaced.

In working with IIAW’s Legal Counsel, Josh Johanningmeier, we reviewed the sample terms which the City has cited when denying contractor clients permits. According to the team at Godfrey & Kahn S.C., “the short answer is that the City’s standards  likely do not preclude the use of surplus lines insurance. As an initial matter, Wis. Stat. § 618.41  permits domestic surplus lines insurers and nondomestic insurers that have not been licensed by the State to place surplus lines coverage in  accordance with the statute. Such surplus lines insurers are, thus, “authorized” to sell insurance in Wisconsin.

In addition, published terms and conditions governing City of Milwaukee contracts require that contractors provide the City with a certificate of insurance that is either issued by a company licensed to do business in the State of Wisconsin or signed by an agent licensed by the State of Wisconsin. A contractor should thus be permitted to meet the City of Milwaukee’s insurance requirements through surplus lines insurance,  provided the contractor supplies the City with a certificate of insurance signed by a licensed surplus lines agent.”

I wanted to share this information with you in the event you are having any similar issues with the City of Milwaukee or any other municipality as it relates to their insurance requirements. IIAW’s legal counsel has prepared a memo for the Association on this topic that is available to members to provide to municipalities in the event you are faced with a similar situation or interpretation. If you are, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss the situation further and receive this memo.

Tags:  contractor insurance  insurance bartender  insuring Wisconsin  schedule rating  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog 

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Big I Buzz - October 7, 2020

Posted By IIAW Staff, Tuesday, October 6, 2020

On this week's Big I Buzz, we are discussing the new Emergency Order from Gov. Evers, frequently asked questions about the new order limiting mass gatherings to 25% and a reminder about our next Agency Leadership Webinar Series. 

Gov. Tony Evers' Administration Limits Capacity to Bars, Restaurants and Stores to 25% as Virus Surges

On Tuesday, October 6th, Gov. Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-Designee, Andrea Palm, to issue Emergency Order #3 limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of a room or building's total occupancy. You can learn more about the full order and the list of exemptions here. The directive takes effect at 8 a.m. on October 8th, 2020 and will remain in effect until November 6th. This order applies to any gatherings at locations that are open to the public such as stores, restaurants and other businesses that allow public entry, as well as spaces with ticketed events, according to the Press Release. 

Receive alerts as soon as they come in with the IIAW Text Alerts. Text IIAW to 833-384-0094 to subscribe. 

 Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Order #3, Limiting Public Gatherings

In addition to their press release limiting mass gatherings to no more than 25% of a room or building's total occupancy, the Office of the Governor also released a FAQ page on the new order. Below are some questions from the FAQ: 

• What does the order prohibit? The order prohibits large groups of people from gathering in indoor spaces that are open to the public (unless an exception applies). The order prohibits groups larger than 25% of the indoor room's occupancy, as determined by the local municipality. A place is open to the public if it is accessible to the general public, such as stores, restaurants, bars or ticketed events. 

• Does the order apply to outdoor spaces or events? No, the order only applies to indoor spaces. The order does not apply to outdoor areas, such as park shelters, outdoor dining areas or playgrounds. 

• Does the order apply to weddings?The order applies to indoor, non-religious weddings or receptions that are open to the public. The order does not apply to private wedding ceremonies or receptions, religious wedding ceremonies or outdoor weddings or receptions. 

• Who is exempted from the order?

- Child care settings, before and after school programs, virtual learning support programs and other child welfare locations listed in the order

- 4K-12 schools

- Colleges and universities

- Health care and public health operations

- Human services operations, such as long-term care and assisted living facilities

- Public infrastructure operations, such as food processing and production facilities, airports, construction projects and public transportation

- State and local government operations and facilities

- Religious events, political events, demonstrations and other events with protected First Amendment speech

- State facilities under the control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court on the Wisconsin Legislature

- Federal facilities under the control of the federal government. 

Read more of the FAQ here

Agency Leadership Webinar Series - State and Federal Election Preview 

Join us on October 22nd at 10 a.m. for our second installment of our Agency Leadership Webinar Series. We'll be discussing a preview of the state and federal election. Lee Government Relations is a Wisconsin-based, multi-client lobbying firm specializing in influencing public policy to directly to the needs of the Independent Agents of Wisconsin. Misha is one of Wisconsin's top-respected, connected and effective lobbyist. He has experience dealing with all faces of Wisconsin state government and can open doors to top leaders in the Wisconsin Legislature, Office of the Governor, and state agencies attached to the Executive Branch. Register for the State and Federal Election Preview Webinar here

 For more news, check out the Action News section of our weekly e-newsletter  Big I Buzz.   If you aren't subscribed, click   here   to add your email to our emailing list. We hope that everyone has a great rest of their week! 

Tags:  Big I Buzz  insuring Wisconsin  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog 

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Big I Buzz - September 30, 2020

Posted By IIAW Staff, Tuesday, September 29, 2020

On this week's Big I Buzz, we are discussing the kick-off of our Agency Leadership Webinar Series, what the future of Wisconsin hotels & lodging may look like and an update on COVID-19 in Wisconsin. 

Impact of COVID-19 on the Insurance Industry

Our Agency Leadership Webinar Series kicks off on Thursday, October 1st at 10 a.m. Our featured speaker, Dr. Steven Weisbart will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the insurance industry. Dr. Steven N. Weisbart oversees the Insurance Information Institute's program of economic research and analysis, preparing studies in support of the organization's communications mission, speaking to media and conducting briefings for member companies, industry organizations and public policymakers. Since joining the I.I.I. in 2005, Dr. Weisbart has authored several significant research papers and articles on a variety of insurance issues, including the threat of an avian flu pandemic and the effect of US population on the property/casualty insurance industry. Register for this webinar here

Wisconsin Could Lose Nearly Half of Hotels & Lodging Establishments without Financial Assistance

According to The Wheeler Report, "The Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association recently shared numbers from an internal survey showing that 47% of lodging facilities could close within 12 months without loan or grant assistance. The survey also shows that more than 50% of the state's lodging property staff remained furloughed or laid off." National studies from the American Hotel & Lodging Association has reported that 68% of hoteliers are reporting that they will only be able to last six more months at current projected revenue and occupancy levels absent any further relief. Learn more here

Wisconsin Hits 2,817 Infections, Record for New Coronavirus Cases Reported

On Saturday, September 26th, Wisconsin hit a record for the number of COVID cases in a day. Health officials reported 2,817 people tested positive for the virus. 

According to Insurance Journal, "Over the course of the pandemic, 113,645 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Wisconsin. About 83% of those people have recovered, while over 18,000 have active infections and 1,281 have died. Read more from Insurance Journal here

 For more news, check out the Action News section of our weekly e-newsletter Big I Buzz.  If you aren't subscribed, click  here  to add your email to our emailing list. We hope that everyone has a great rest of their week! 

Tags:  Big I Buzz  insurance news  insuring Wisconsin  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog  wisconsin insurance news 

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Agency Operations - Your Remote Hiring Plan

Posted By IIAW Staff, Friday, September 25, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Employee at Laptop

By: Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC | Founder & CEO, Work at Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE)

This article was originally published in our September Wisconsin Independent Agent. Read more from our September issue here


In-house hiring practices don’t often translate to hiring employees that will work remotely. What modifications do you need to make your hiring process? 

By all accounts, the pandemic-related work-from-home business model is here to stay, at least for the time being. For the most part, many companies were able to transition quickly, albeit not without some significant challenges.

Yet now another significant challenge is looming: how to hire employees you may not meet in person, either during the course of the pandemic or for the duration of their employment with your company. 

For the insurance industry, that challenge is multiplied by a shortage of viable candidates. Veteran insurance professionals are retiring at an alarming rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that between 2016 and 2020, 400,000 insurance  

professionals will head off to retirement.

The situation is made more dire by the fact that millennials are showing little interest in insurance industry careers. According The Millennial Survey conducted by The Hartford, a mere 4% of millennials would consider an insurance industry career.

Yet the very pandemic that has challenged insurers to adopt remote work strategies may be somewhat of a saving grace in the quest to find remote workers. According to World Economic Forum data, 85% of millennials are seeking full-time remote work opportunities. What’s more, 82% expressed higher company 

loyalty to those companies with remote work programs. 

In fact, remote work is appealing across a wider age demographic than just millennials; a recent Zapier-commissioned Harris Poll reveals that 95% of all knowledge workers (those working in a professional setting and using a computer as part of the job) want to work remotely. That means companies that were forced to shift to a remote work arrangement are now facing the very real challenge of trying to build a remote hiring process. 

No matter how big or small your agency is, remote hiring takes planning. But if executed properly, your hiring process could do more than just help you hire good talent – it can elevate the 

number of candidates to choose from, and deliver candidates that have the exact skills needed.

But First, Soft Skills

Yet your new hires need a few more traits than a standard in-house hire. Because remote work can be isolating, employees need the right set of traits to be able to perform effectively and productively.

Before you hire, make sure to understand common soft skills that make for a successful remote worker. Your next remote employee should to be able to work with minimal supervision. Ideally, your remote worker should be able to manage time effectively so that daily tasks as well as projects are completed on time. 

To do that, your employee should demonstrate the ability to solve common issues as well as some of the more complex challenges that they may face. And your employee should be comfortable with remote communication tools and methods.

Interviewing from a Distance

Any organization that has worked remotely recently knows the need for video conferencing. That same technology is what’s needed to conduct remote interviews. While phone interviews can work for initial screening, they fail to pick up on physical cues, such as body language and facial expressions. Plus, video conferencing is a way to vet those candidates on their comfort level with technology your company uses.

That comfort with technology should extend to all technology your company employs. How familiar is the candidate with those tools? Have they shown proficiency in related technologies? In some cases, technology can be similar, so that the learning curve for your particular application would not be prohibitive. 

What could be problematic is your candidate’s ability to maintain connectivity with your team. Spotty internet may not be a deal-breaker unless your team needs to be able to connect quickly during office hours. By conducting a distance interview, you can assess the quality of the connection.

You can assess also how conducive the candidate’s available workspace is to the tasks at hand. For instance, if you’re hiring a salesperson, having a noisy location or too many people in the residence could hinder the salesperson’s ability to connect with prospects. Your ideal candidate should have a distraction-free location, or a plan for keeping it quiet and distraction-free during work hours.


That last point can be difficult to navigate. As many families are home with young children and daycares are closed, your ideal candidate may have temporary distractions. If that’s the case, shift the questioning a bit: Would your candidate be able to put in hours after children are in bed or napping? Would a more flexible work schedule help them complete the work necessary?  

Identifying the Self-Starters

Another question to consider: How much training will your new hire need? Every organization has a unique set of processes, and new employees need to learn them. However, in a remote 

position, that means your new hire needs to be able to train on their own with minimal supervision. 

To ensure they can, find out how they best learn: in-class instruction or independent, self-paced learning? Have they completed any self-guided learning before? What were the results? How easily can they get used to new systems or technology? What challenges them most about technology?


That matters because in remote work, technology is key to getting the job done. And by asking these questions at the outset, you can set expectations for your candidates so that they know what is expected of them.

Hired: Now What?

That’s important too after the candidate is hired. We recommend using the hiring process to outline both your expectations and how you will measure their performance.

One suggestions we ask you to consider is dropping an hourly expectation and replacing it with a per-outcome expectation. As mentioned previously, not all candidates can do their best work during traditional nine-to-five hours. By measuring your new hires, as well as all your employees, by benchmarks met and project outcomes, you will get a true measure of their productivity. 

Moreover, such a move boosts employee morale and motivation. In an environment in which employers and employees alike are trying to carve out the best way to conduct business, adopting a more flexible employee management style makes the most sense, and helps workers succeed in a remote setting.

Hired, Retained 

That success results in higher employee satisfaction, which translates into better employee retention. In a global workforce environment that is adapting to what could be permanent

changes to business, your business has a great opportunity to grow and to thrive. A strong remote hiring process, complete with vetting for soft skills, setting expectations, and outlining new 

management strategies can help your organization gain an advantage of those organizations that are still trying to do everything through the traditional business lens.

By setting your remote business on the right path at hiring time, your organization can adapt quickly to whatever changes may come in the future. That flexibility can keep your entire 

organization moving into a stronger, more resilient future.

Tags:  agency operations  insuring Wisconsin  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog 

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Big I Buzz - September 23, 2020

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, September 23, 2020

In this week's Big I Buzz, we are discussing the new Emergency Order from Governor Evers, the cost of damage from violence in Kenosha and the USDA's plans for $14B more in virus relief for farmers. 

Governor Evers Issues New Public Health Emergency Due to Campus Outbreaks, Issues New Face Coverings Order

On September 22nd, Governor Tony Evers extended the statewide mask mandate with a new COVID-19 emergency order. Originally, the first mask mandate in Wisconsin was set to expire at the on Monday, September 28th. Now, his new order will extend the mask mandate through November 21, effective immediately and remains in place for 60 days or until a superseding order is passed. 

Damage from Violence In Kenosha, Wisconsin, Tops $11M

According to Kenosha, Wisconsin's fire chief, damage from the unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake has now topped $11 million. According to the Kenosha News Fire Chief Charles Leipzig told commissioners, "To put it into context, that's three years of fire loss for us in the span of about a week." Read more here

USDA Plans $14B More in Virus Relief for Farmers

On September 18th the U.S. Department of Agriculture released details of its plan to provide "financial assistance that will give producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic", according to Insurance Journal. The first mention of the aid came during President Donald Trump's speech in Wisconsin on Thursday, September 17th. During his speech he promised favorable trade and and regulatory changes, as well as tax cuts. According to Insurance Journal, "Much of the additional money will come in direct payments for crops that meet a specified threshold of price delicne. This includes corn, soybeans, wheat and some cotton. Chicken, eggs, milk, beef cattle, pigs and lambs will also be covered, as will tobacco, wool, alfalfa, oats, peanuts, rice and hemp. The program places a payment cap of $250,000 per person or farm entity for all commodities combined. Gross income can't be more than $900,000, unless at least 75% or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities." Read more about the financial assistance plan here

For more news, check out the Action News section of our weekly e-newsletter Big I Buzz.   If you aren't subscribed, click   here  to add your email to our emailing list. We hope that everyone has a great rest of their week! 

Tags:  big i buzz  insurance industry news  insurance industry updates  insuring Wisconsin  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog 

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Wisconsin Primary Election Yields Few Surprises

Posted By IIAW Staff, Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Voting Ballot

By: Misha Lee | IIAW Government Affairs

This article was originally published in our September Wisconsin Independent Agent. You can read the full September issue here


The results from Wisconsin’s August primary election yielded few surprises as we now head into what is expected to be a hotly contested November general election from the top of the ticket all the way on down. The primary election also proved to be a good night for incumbents with only one losing to a challenger candidate. 

Looking at Congressional races, all 8 of Wisconsin’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election this fall and there are no U.S. Senate seats up this cycle. 

U.S. House primaries of interest were: 

• Longtime Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald (R-Beaver 

   Dam) won the Republican primary with nearly 80 percent of the 

   vote in the 5th congressional district primary. Fitzgerald will face 

   Democratic opponent, Tom Palzewicz, who retiring 

   Congressman Sensenbrenner defeated with 62 percent of the 

   vote in 2018. Fitzgerald should easily win this election. 

• In the 3rd congressional district, Republican Derrick Van Orden 

   (R-Hager City) won a two-way primary to challenge 12-term 

   Democratic Congressman Ron Kin. Van Orden is a retired former 

   Navy Seal, actor and business consultant. Kind won re-election 

   in 2018 with 60 percent of the vote. This race will be one to 

   watch on election night. 

• Democrat Jessica King (D-Oshkosh), an attorney and former 

   State Senator and Oshkosh City Council member, easily won 

   a three-way Democratic primary with 75% of the vote to 

   challenge three-term Republican Congressman Glenn 

   Grothman of Campbellsport in the 6th congressional district. 

   Grothman was re-elected in 2018 with 56 percent of the vote 

   and is favored to win re-election. 

In state legislative races, 16 of Wisconsin’s 33 State Senate seats (even-numbered districts) and all 99 State Assembly seats are up for re-election this year. There were nine legislative incumbents who faced primary challenges and eight of them easily won their races all surpassing 60 percent of the vote. Republicans currently control both the Senate (18-13, 2 vacancies) and

Assembly (63-34, 2 vacancies) and are expected to return to 

power for the 2021-2022 legislative session. Democrats are working to protect Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ line item veto by trying to make sure Republicans in this election cycle do not reach the two-thirds majority in each house (22 seats in the Senate and 63 seats in the Assembly) needed to override a gubernatorial veto. For Democrats, preserving Evers’ veto is not just about ensuring that Republicans do not run the table on the next biennial state budget or legislation, but it’s more importantly about redistricting in 2021 and making sure Republicans don’t have sole discretion on drawing new legislative district boundaries for the next decade. Next session, the Legislature is charged with drawing new district lines based on new census data. Republicans, who are all but guaranteed to control the Legislature next session, will draw their map and Governor Evers will likely veto it and then it will be up to the courts to draw the new districts.


State Senate primary races of interest were:

6th Senate District (Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, 


State Senator LaTonya Johnson easily held off a challenge in the Democratic primary by Michelle Bryant (D-Milwaukee), who is Chief of Staff to State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee). Johnson captured 77 percent of the vote.

10th Senate District (Sen. Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset, 


Rep. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) captured 66 percent of the vote in the Republican primary versus Cherie Link (R-Somerset). Stafsholt was first elected to the Assembly in 2016 and 

re-elected since. He is a farmer and owner of multiple small businesses. Stafsholt will now face incumbent State Senator Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset) in the general election.

14th Senate District (Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, not seeking re-election)

Rep. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) won her Republican primary with 69 percent of the vote for the opportunity to succeed retiring Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). Ballweg was first elected to the State Assembly in 2010. Ballweg and her husband own a John Deere farming implement dealership. Ballweg will face Democrat Joni Anderson on the November ballot.

16th Senate District (Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, not seeking re-election)

Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) won the two-way Democratic primary to succeed retiring Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona). Sargent is a former member of the Dane County Board and has served in the Assembly since her first election in 2012. Sargent captured 77 percent of the vote.

26th Senate District (Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, not seeking re-election)

Kelda Helen Roys won the 8-way Democratic primary to be the first person to represent what is now the 26th Senate district other than Sen. Fred Risser since 1962. Roys is a former member of the Assembly and unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial candidate. She captured 40 percent of the vote and does not have a general election opponent.

28th Senate District (Sen. David Craig, R-Big Bend, not seeking re-election)

Republican Julian Bradley captured 43 percent of the vote in a five-way Republican primary to succeed Sen. David Craig (R-Big Bend) in the 26th Senate district. Bradley will face Franklin 

entrepreneur and business owner Adam Murphy in this heavily Republican seat.

30th Senate District (Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, not seeking re-election)

Democrat Jonathon Hansen, the nephew of Sen. Hansen, a member of the DePere City Council and a mortgage lender for a community bank, won the Democratic primary in the 30th Senate District with 62 percent of the vote. Hansen will face Republican Eric Wimberger, an attorney and unsuccessful candidate for the 30th Senate district.

32nd Senate District (Open Seat, Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, resigned her seat)

Democrat Brad Pfaff won the Democratic primary to succeed former Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) with 63 percent of the vote. Pfaff previously ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate in 2004. He has served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Congressman Ron Kind, Executive Director of US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency and as Secretary-designee for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection until his confirmation was voted down by the State Senate. Pfaff will face Republican Dan Kapanke, a former state senator and baseball team owner in La Crosse. Kapanke previously represented the 32nd Senate district from 2004 to 2011 when he lost a recall election during the height of the Act 10 recall races. This race is a rematch of the 2004 Senate race where Kapanke defeated Pfaff by 5 points.

State Assembly primary races of interest are:

8th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, 

D-Milwaukee, was elected to the Milwaukee Common Council)

Democrat JoAnna Bautch narrowly won her Democratic  primary to succeed her sister Rep. Zamarripa in representing the 8th Assembly district. Bautch is a director with Citizen Action Wisconsin and a community organizer with the Reproductive Justice Collective. The current margin is 18 votes.

9th Assembly District (Rep. State Rep. Marisabel Cabrera, 

D-Milwaukee, incumbent)

Rep. Cabrera was successful in fighting off a Democratic primary challenge, capturing 58 percent of the vote. Cabrerra is an immigration rights attorney and former chair of the Milwaukee Police and Fire Commission.

11th Assembly District (Rep. Jason Fields, D-Milwaukee, not 

seeking re-election)

Dora Drake won a four-way Democrat primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee). Drake is a member service coordinator at the Center for Self Sufficiency where she provides re-entry services to support persons re-entering society. Drake captured 47 percent of the vote.

14th Assembly District (Rep. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa,


Republican Bonnie Lee will be the candidate to challenge freshman Democrat Rep. Robyn Vining. Vining was the only Democrat to win a previously held Republican seat two years ago. Lee is the director of outreach ministry at Northwest Baptist church and was endorsed by Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) who formerly represented the 14th district. Lee captured 80  percent of the vote.

17th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. David Crowley, 

D-Milwaukee, was elected Milwaukee County Executive)

Supreme Moore Omokunde captured 56 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary to succeed County Executive David Crowley. Omokunde is a Milwaukee County Board Supervisor and son of Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore.

29th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond, is running for the State Senate)

Clint Moses won the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond). Moses is a chiropractor and school board member. Moses will face Democrat John Calabrese.

Calabrese previously ran for the State Senate and State Assembly losing to Stafsholt in 2018.

35th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, is running for the State Senate)

Calvin Callahan won the two-way Republican primary to succeed Rep. Mary Felzkowski who is running for the State Senate. Callahan is a Lincoln County Board Supervisor and the owner of Callahan Wholesale. Callahan will face Democrat Tyler Ruprecht on the November ballot.

41st Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. Joan Ballweg, 

R-Markesan, is running for the State Senate)

Republican Alex Dallman captured nearly 50 percent of the vote in a four-way Republican primary to succeed Rep. Ballweg as the Republican nominee for the 41st district. Dallman is a long-time staffer to Congressman Glenn Grothman. Dallman will face Democrat Nate Zimdars, a production line worker at Saputo Cheese in Alto.

48th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. Melissa Sargent, 

D-Madison, is running for the State Senate)

Madison Alder Samba Baldeh won a competitive four-way Democratic primary with nearly 50 percent of the vote to succeed Rep. Sargent in representing the 48th district. Baldeh is the

former President of the Madison Common Council and an IT Project Manager at American Family Insurance Company.

55th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, 

R-Neenah, not seeking re-election)

Rachael Cabral-Guevara won the three-way Republican primary for the opportunity to succeed retiring Rep.Mike Rohrkaste with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Cabral-Guevara is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner and a licensed Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber. Cabral-Guevara will face Democrat Dan Schierl on the November ballot. Schierl is a retired worker at a local plastic manufacturing plan.

69th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, not seeking re-election)

Republican Donna Rozar captured 53 percent of the vote in the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Bob Kulp (R-Stratford). Rozar is medical-surgical RN in the cardiac unit at Marshfield Clinic Hospital and a Wood County supervisor. Rozar will face Democrat Brian Giles in the GOP leaning district.

76th Assembly District (Open Seat, Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, not seeking re-election)

Francesca Hong won the seven-way Democratic primary with 27 percent of the vote to succeed Rep. Chris Taylor in representing this heavily Democratic 76th Assembly district covering downtown Madison. Hong is the co-owner of Morris Ramen Restaurant and co-founder of the Culinary Ladies Collective and Cook It Forward.

90th Assembly District (Rep. Staush Gruszynski, D-Green Bay, incumbent)

Kristina Shelton of Green Bay defeated one-term incumbent Rep. Gruszynski in the Democratic primary with nearly 80 percent of the vote. Gruszynski was the only incumbent on election night to lose. He was forced out of the Assembly Democratic caucus after he sexually harassed a Capitol staffer and the Democratic campaign committee supported the campaign of Shelton with over $124k.

Tags:  government affairs  insuring Wisconsin  wisconsin independent insurance association  wisconsin insurance agency help  wisconsin insurance blog  wisconsin primary election 

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