It is with gratitude for his 42 years of service that I share Big I Connecticut President Warren C. Ruppar will be retiring on March 31, 2021.
Warren truly built the Big I Connecticut of today. His greatest strength has always been in building relationships. Relationships with agents across our great state, insurance carriers, our national association, and legislators at the capital. Connections that earned us influence, access, and success. He led us through obstacles, including challenges to agent compensation, preservation of state regulation of insurance, and a pandemic. He brought us forward with a brand change and a new relationship with our New York sister association to increase members' benefits. Warren has always been committed to you and our industry.
In a recent conversation, Warren shared the following:
"It's been a privilege to serve Connecticut's independent agents. One of my greatest joys has been watching their success grow. It's been remarkable seeing agents just starting in one of my classes become agency principals.
From visiting agencies on Main Street to fighting on their behalf in D.C., there hasn't been a bad day. We had a job to do, and we did it together. I'm grateful for this wonderful career."
Though Warren will continue to be a champion for agents, his decision to retire allows him to enjoy more time with his wife and family, especially his greatest source of pride - his daughter.
As a member, you'll see a continued increase in benefits and communication from us. We're growing our relationship with Big I NY, streamlining to serve you the very best and reinvigorating our community. Big I NY will work with the wonderful team we have in our Wethersfield office.
From all of us on the Big I Connecticut board, our sincerest thanks to Warren for his leadership and to you for allowing us to serve your agency.
Big I Connecticut - Chairman
By Allison Just, Event Coordinator
Thank you! We put out a challenge to rock social media with how awesome it is to work in insurance. Rock you did. Not once did I see an agent with a briefcase at a kitchen table (what I used to think of insurance before I joined the industry; my parents tidying up before our agent came to our house). What did I – and the rest of the social media world – see?
Smiling faces. People with their dogs. Babies on laps (future agents, perhaps?). Bags of groceries being donated to a neighborhood charity. Posts about being thankful to work in this industry.
Agents, brokers, carriers, and customer service repsposted using #DayInTheLife and #InsureMyCareer on February 25th to just show how diverse this industry really is. People of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. Check out the many, many great pictures and videos.
But the challenge isn't over yet. We need you to keep promoting our industry. Share socially when your agency gives back to the community or helps a client. Volunteer for the InVEST program. Mentor a team member and encourage them to get licensed.
The #DayInTheLife #InsureMyCareer Social Challenge will be back next year. I can't wait to see what you do between now and then.
Legislation to make small business deduction permanent reintroduced in House and Senate.
WASHINGTON, DC, February 26, 2021— The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") is grateful for the reintroduction of the “Main Street Tax Certainty Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Jason Smith (R-Missouri) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana). The legislation would make permanent a 20% deduction on qualified business income for some owners and shareholders of pass-through businesses.
“The Big 'I' thanks Reps. Smith and Cuellar and Sen. Daines for their work to reintroduce the Main Street Tax Certainty Act," says Charles Symington, Big “I" senior vice president of external, industry and government affairs. “More than two-thirds of the insurance agencies and brokerages the Big 'I' represents are organized as pass-through entities and are currently seeing significant benefits from this deduction. These agencies and brokerages employ millions of people across the U.S. and occupy numerous retail locations in every state. This crucial deduction has allowed insurance agency and brokerage owners to reinvest and grow their businesses, hire new employees and better serve their customers."
A provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added a section to the individual tax code (26 U.S.C. §199A) that created the 20% deduction on “qualified business income" for some owners and shareholders of pass-through businesses, such as subchapter S corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships. On Jan. 18, 2019, the IRS issued final regulations implementing Section 199A of the tax code, ensuring that a greater number of owners and shareholders of insurance agencies and brokerages organized as pass-through entities are eligible for the new deduction.
However, unlike the C corporation rate reduction in the 2017 tax reform law, the 20% deduction for small businesses was not made permanent. Currently, the deduction is only available through the end of 2025. For the deduction to be available in 2026, Congress must extend Section 199A of the tax code for an additional amount of time or make the deduction permanent.
“Making the small business deduction permanent is crucial to enabling Main Street insurance agencies and brokerages across the country to compete with their C corporation counterparts," says Wyatt Stewart, Big “I" assistant vice president of federal government affairs. “A permanent small business tax deduction will allow insurance agencies and brokerages to continue to compete with larger employers of all industries for the best talent. To avoid an unlevel playing field in the future, this inequity must be rectified by making the 20% deduction for small businesses permanent."
Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I") is the nation's oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing more than 25,000 agency locations united under the Trusted Choice® brand. Trusted Choice independent agents offer consumers all types of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products—from a variety of insurance companies.
Governor Lamont released the schedule for when people can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The governor said the state decided to continue using an age-based approach to expand vaccine eligibilty because other scenarios were too confusing and could slow down the process of people receiving the vaccine.
Here is the schedule of when people can receive the vaccine.
- March 1, 2021: Expands to age group 55 to 64
- March 22, 2021: Expands to age group 45 to 54
- April 12, 2021: Expands to age group 35 to 44
- May 3, 2021: Expands to age group 16 to 34.
Appointments are required to receive the vaccine. People in the 55 to 64 age group need to wait until March 1st to schedule an appointment.
Effective March 2021, some functionality within RLI Portal will no longer be supported on Internet Explorer. For optimal experience, use a different browser:
A guest post from My Agency Campus
Is your agency continuing to work remotely?
There is a good chance that many agency teams will continue to remote work for some portion of 2021. The good news is that most companies have figured out how to achieve operational performance over the past 12 months. Many have been able to find efficiencies and growth during this unique period of time.
Now, it’s time to get back to providing educational and engaging opportunities to agency team members. Start with a 3-4 month plan. Make it simple and integrate it with a variety of elements.
Create a Blended Strategy:
- Make it Personal: Start the conversation. Schedule a 20-30 minute meeting with each staff member to discuss their interests and where they wish to grow.
- Purposely Mix Training Elements: Integrate opportunities for live learning elements with subject matter experts based on timely topics and offer immediate online courses. The online courses are selected based on the personal goals from #1.
- Leverage Your Inside Experts Too: A regular monthly feature should include inhouse agency experts to deliver 30-45 minute small-bite informational sessions. The sessions could be related to risk management advice, emerging trends, facts that build knowledge, etc. This will also help inside experts upgrade their presentation capabilities too.
- Mix and Match Resources: Make your investment count and diversity the resources available. Online courses are a flexible and affordable option to plug-in for new hire training, upskilling or expanding technical expertise. Longer term investments should align with the goals in #1 above and receive ongoing positive support from leadership. Resources range in price.
- Run Fun Moments and Contests: The mission is to create laughter in the workplace – even when it is remote. Find random reasons and dates for celebrations. Create a video contest around a company value element, great customer experience or the cool-factor of insurance! There might a superstar on your team who can make videos for the agency in the future.
- Grant Time for Learning: It is a surprise that many organizations expect learning to only take place after hours. Learning happens all of the time – any part of the day – structured and unstructured. Team members need to know that there is time allotted during their work week for learning.
An investment in learning always pays the highest returns. ~Benjamin Franklin
Applications are being accepted for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Small Business Administration (SBA) re-opened the loan portal this morning to businesses with $1 Billion or less in assets.
The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19th to all participating PPP lenders to submit first and second draw loan applications to the SBA.
Application forms for first draw PPP loans are available now. Forms for second draw PPP loans are also available, however, the following criteria need to be met:
- Previously received a first draw PPP loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
- Has no more than 300 employees;
- Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.
You can also visit InsurBanc, a Partner in Progress, for assistance in applying.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance has a reminder about workers' compensation for the new year.
Effective January 1, 2021, the maximum payroll for executive officers or members of limited liability companies included on a workers' compensation policy for businesses that operate in the State of Connecticut, will remain $2,700 per week.
The minimum payroll for an active officer will remain $1,350 per week.
The fixed amount to include for either covered partners or sole proprietors has increased from $69,100 from last year's minimum to $71,400.
Payroll Limitation Rules - State of Connecticut
Workers' Compensation - Effective January 1, 2021
|Not covered unless they opt in. Fixed Amount is $71,400.|
|Automatic coverage; if one opts out, all must opt out. Fixed amount is $71,400 per partner per year.|
|Corporate Officers||Automatic coverage may elect exclusion. Maximum salary $140,400 per year. Minimum wage is $70,200 per year.|
|LLC Single Member||Treated like an officer. Automatic coverage. May elect exclusion.|
|LLC Multi Member||Treated like an officer. Automatic coverage. May elect exclusion.|
Jan 1, 2021
Earlier this afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted to override President Trump’s veto of the “National Defense Authorization Act" (NDAA). The House voted to do the same earlier in the week meaning that the NDAA is now set to become law.
Pertinent to Big “I” members, the NDAA contains a provision that would create a burdensome new federal reporting requirement for most small businesses. This onerous new requirement was originally meant to cover nearly all small businesses including insurance agents.
However, working with key legislators the Big “I" was successful in securing a full exemption for independent agents and brokers by showing that insurance producers already provide this beneficial ownership information to state regulators and that the additional burden of providing it to the federal government would be duplicative and unnecessary.
Throughout the legislative process, the Big “I" was the only producer group that advocated on behalf of agents and brokers to exclude them from this new onerous requirement. For various reasons, the other producer groups did not engage.
Without this exemption, the beneficial ownership provision would have required agencies with fewer than 20 employees to file new reports on their beneficial ownership with the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Agencies would have to comply with the new requirement annually starting within two years of the law's enactment for existing businesses or upon the incorporation of a new business. The penalties for failure to comply with these reporting requirements are severe, with civil penalties of up to $10,000 and criminal penalties of up to two years in prison.
The Big "I" is especially grateful to Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) for their determined work on this provision. Throughout the NDAA negotiations, the Big “I” worked with both Chairman Crapo and Rep. Maloney to improve this legislation and make sure insurance agents and brokers remain free from these duplicative burdens while still ensuring that bad actors would be prevented from using anonymous shell companies to hide illicit activities.
As many of you know, legislative victories come in various forms: sometimes it means passing legislation beneficial to the IA system, other times it means stopping legislation harmful to independent agents, and here it meant securing our exemption to protect independent agents from this new requirement that will apply to many other small businesses.
A big benefit of being a member is that the national Big 'I' covers your annual ACORD forms license.* The license allows you to access the ACORD Forms you need.
This benefit requires an annual renewal. Starting Friday, January 1st, you need to go through the ACORD Forms license renewal process.
The ACORD License FAQ page explains the details, including how to get your complimentary license.
If you have additional questions, you can call ACORD Support at 845-620-1700.
*Note: this benefit is for agencies with less than $50 million in annual P&C revenue.
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