Changes coming to 2019 CIC institute format

Certified Insurance Counselor designation logoWe have great news about changes coming to next year’s CIC institute offerings!

If you’re a CIC designation holder, you’ll only have to attend two days of instruction to obtain an update on your CIC designation in 2019. This saves you time out of the office and the expense of a hotel room for an additional night.

For those pursuing a CIC designation, you’ll no longer have to cram both instruction and test-taking into the third day. In the 2019 institutes, you’ll experience two full days of instruction, with just your exam taking place on the third morning. In order for the institute to count toward your designation, you still must attend the third morning to complete (and pass) the test.

As a result of this change, 2019 CIC institutes will now be offered for 16 credit hours of continuing education per institute instead of 20. This is the same amount currently offered in the James K. Ruble Graduate Seminars.

Please note: these changes take effect in the December 2018 CIC Company Operations institute, as well as all of the 2019 institutes. The rest of the 2018 institutes remain in the traditional three-day format.

More good news

We have released the 2019 CIC institutes schedule and are accepting registrations!

These institutes are popular and book up fast, so check out the calendar or click on a title below to secure your spot!

2019 Ohio CIC Institute Schedule

Have questions about our education programs?

Contact Sam

Ohio's 2018 Outstanding CSR of the Year award winner announced

2018 Outstanding CISR of the Year logoAUSTIN, TX – Each year, a group of exceptional insurance professionals are chosen by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research to represent their states and compete to become the National Outstanding CSR of the Year.

This prestigious award, regarded as the foremost national award of its kind, recognizes the contributions and commitment of those who serve clients within the insurance industry.

To qualify for the top state honor, the 2018 candidates submitted an essay on the following topic:

“In today’s business environment, CSRs are finding that more work is required from a smaller staff pool. As a CSR, what four ways have you found beneficial in helping you accomplish work tasks while still providing excellent customer service? In short, how do you do more with less?”

Additionally, entrants must have demonstrated commendable service to their agencies, their industry, and their community. The only eligibility requirement for this award is that the candidate must be an insurance customer service representative or have primary responsibility for insurance customer service duties.

“The Outstanding CSR of the Year Award recognizes the annual exemplar for exceptional customer service representatives across the nation,” said Danielle Janecka, Senior Vice President of The National Alliance.

“Through their essays, contributions to their agencies, and their letters of recommendation, every one of the state winners helps to raise the standard for personal and professional excellence. We honor them for their clear contributions to their colleagues, teams, and organizations. They are the face of customer service for our whole industry.”

Each state winner receives a framed certificate and is eligible to compete for the national honor, which carries a $2,000 cash award, a gold and diamond pin, $1,000 cash award for the nominator, and a scholarship for the recipient’s employer to any program offered by The National Alliance.

Additionally, the name of the Outstanding CSR of the Year is inscribed on a sculpture permanently displayed at the national headquarters of The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research in Austin, Texas.

State Winners:

State Name Agency
Arizona Kathleen A. Dragan Hill Insurance Services, LLC
California Jenny Chea-Vaing, CISR Singlepoint Insurance Services, Inc.
Delaware Maria T. Metcalfe, CISR Bellevue Insurance Services, LLC
Florida Catrin Liffner Beck Partners Insurance
Illinois Sara K. Mancini, CISR Elite, AIS Market Financial Group, Ltd, a division of
Arthur J. Gallagher
Indiana Amanda Stoller Ovation Insurance
Iowa Jeremy Smith, CIC, CISR The Accel Group
Kansas Kimberly Andersen, CISR J. Goodman Insurance Agency
Kentucky Brandy Marcum Market Finders Insurance Corporation
Louisiana Kristen G. Fligg, CISR Amerisafe
Maine Lori Duval F.A. Peabody Company
Maryland Gregory A. Clem HUB International Mid-Atlantic, Inc.
Michigan Brian St. Charles, CISR Michigan Community Insurance Agency
Minnesota Starr L. Marshall, CISR Reliable Agency
Mississippi Laura A. Freeman, CISR Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance, Inc.
Nebraska Michele Koehler, CISR Integrity Insurance Group
North Carolina Teresa P. Gedraytis, CIC, CISR James E. Moore Insurance Agency, Inc.
Ohio Beth Ann Mitchell Lauber & Will Insurance Agency
Oregon Kendall I. Pori, CIC Protectors Insurance, LLC
Pennsylvania Ashley M. Fitzsimmons, CISR Fitzsimmons Insurance Agency, Inc.
South Carolina Anna M. Kocuba, CISR Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort
Tennessee Elizabeth A. Wilkins Martin & Zerfoss Insurance
Texas Linda M. Dailey Insurance Partners/SWBC
Utah Stephanie Holden, CISR, CPSR SentryWest Insurance Services
Vermont Katie LaFreniere, CISR Crowley Insurance Agency
Washington Amy Hayes Duncan & Associates, Inc.
Wisconsin Stacey M. Migliano, CISR The Trottier Insurance Group
Wyoming Cindy Gerhold HUB International

The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, the nation’s premier provider of advanced educational opportunities for insurance and risk management professionals, includes the Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) Program, the Certified Risk Managers (CRM) Program, the Certified Insurance Service Representatives (CISR) Program, the Certified Personal Risk Managers Program (CPRM), the Certified School Risk Managers (CSRM) Program, the Dynamics Sales Training Series, the School for Producer Development, and The National Alliance Research Academy.

For further information, contact:

The National Alliance
P.O. Box 27027
Austin, Texas 78755-2027
phone: (800) 633-2165

ODI Business Entity Licenses Expire Sept. 30

Ohio insurance agencies with a business entity license through the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) must renew their licenses by Sept. 30.

Licensed insurance entities may submit a renewal application as early as 90 days prior to the license expiration date.

Business entities should renew the license electronically using the NAIC electronic application found at Instructions to help you renew your license can be found here.

Reminder: Business Entity License Changes Must Be Reported Within 30 Days

Are you aware that changes to your business entity license information must be reported to ODI within 30 days?

ODI requires that any change in a business entity name, address, email, licensed agents, officers, directors, members, or owners, with a 10 percent or more voting interest in the agency, must be reported within 30 days of such a change.

To check your business entity’s information, use ODI’s Agent/Agency Locator.

To make any changes to your business entity license, click here.

Update business entity license


Contact Carolyn Mangas, Government Affairs Manager, at (800) 555-1742.

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD now writing personal lines in Ohio

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies logoBerkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies has begun offering homeowners and complementary personal umbrella coverage in Ohio.

According to GUARD CEO Sy Foguel, “We have always relied upon independent agents to deliver our policies to consumers, so our goal is to feature products that fill a need within their offices. We believe our homeowners coverage, which provides the same high level of security and service currently enjoyed by our commercial customers, will do just that.”

Senior Vice President of Personal Lines Dovid Tkatch explains that this new initiative has been designed to reflect a few core principles of the company by “providing a quality, easily understood product on a simple platform as well as a high level of service to both agents and policyholders.”

Targeted markets include one- to four-family dwellings, renters, and condo units (both owner-occupied and those held for rental).

“In addition to standard exposures,” Tkatch adds, “Berkshire Hathaway GUARD aims to provide a bridge between certain business and personal insurance needs by considering Homeowners coverage for residences owned by corporations and LLCs; dwellings held for rent; and residences where incidental business activities occur.”

GUARD’s Senior Vice President of Sales Dave Simmons says, “We believe we can provide a great service to agents that write both commercial and personal accounts. We feature a competitively priced product with a variety of available discounts, including one for insureds who have commercial policies with GUARD. We also believe certain aspects of our underwriting appetite are unique and will appeal to producers anxious to cross sell and achieve a greater client share.”

GUARD’s product is generally aimed at dwellings valued at $75,000 to $2,000,000.

By mixing and matching policy forms, endorsements, and optional coverages aimed at broader protection, each policyholder can obtain property insurance suited to his or her exact circumstances.

A personal umbrella with limits up to $5,000,000 can also be added.

According to Tkatch, “We’ve already introduced these personal lines coverages in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois and have been pleased with the response. In 2018, we hope to expand into a few other states as the year progresses.”

As a national carrier, long-range plans call for offering the product countrywide he said.

In October of 2012, GUARD was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. – an international holding company with diverse interests that include insurance and reinsurance. In 2013, GUARD unveiled a new identity as Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies. 

GUARD offers a national footprint with a growing list of insurance products, including: workers’ compensation, property/liability via a businessowner’s policy, commercial auto, commercial umbrella, professional liability, disability, homeowners, and personal umbrella.

Each of the organization’s insurance companies (AmGUARD, EastGUARD, NorGUARD, and WestGUARD) is rated A+ (“Superior”) by A.M. Best – a leading source of independent rating information on the insurance industry.

Agents interested in learning more should visit

New tax regulation is a big win

Tax reform red tape

Written by Jennifer Webb, Big “I” federal government affairs counsel, originally published by IA Magazine

Yesterday, the Internal Revenue Service issued a draft regulation on a key provision of the 2017 tax law (26 U.S.C. §199A) that allows for a 20 percent deduction on “qualified business income” for owners and shareholders of pass-through businesses.

Under the draft regulation, owners and shareholders of insurance agencies and brokerages can take the 20 percent tax deduction on qualified business income, no matter their taxable income levels, because the IRS does not consider insurance agents and brokers to be a “specified service trade or business.”

Owners and shareholders of specified service trades and businesses cannot take advantage of the deduction if their taxable income is over a certain level.

What does that mean?

The relevant part of the draft regulation reads as follows:

“Proposed §1.199A-5(b)(2)(x) uses the ordinary meaning of “brokerage services” and provides that the field of brokerage services includes services in which a person arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller with respect to securities (as defined in section 475(c)(2)) for a commission or fee. This includes services provided by stock brokers and other similar professionals, but does not include services provided by real estate agents and brokers, or insurance agents and brokers.”

Section 199A provides the 20 percent tax deduction to an owner or shareholder of a pass-through entity where the owner or shareholder’s annual taxable income does not exceed $315,000 for joint filers and $157,500 for single filers in 2018.

In other words, all owners or shareholders that are organized as pass-throughs under the above income thresholds can utilize the full 20 percent deduction, and any regulations or guidance released by the Treasury Department, including the draft released yesterday, will not impact this.

However, an owner or shareholder of a specified service trade or business with an annual taxable income between $315,000 and $415,000 (joint) and $157,500 and $207,500 (single) will see the deduction phased out.

Those with an annual taxable income above $415,000 (joint) and $207,500 (single) will be prohibited from utilizing the new deduction.

Why was this an issue for insurance agents?

While the regulation is only in draft form, it was previously unclear whether insurance agencies and brokerages would be considered specified service trades or businesses.

Because insurance agencies and brokerages are not a specified service trade or business, it means that those with annual taxable income above the $315,000 (joint) and $157,500 (single) thresholds can take advantage of the deduction.

But, the total amount of the deduction for those at these upper income levels cannot exceed 50 percent of employee W-2 wages, or 25 percent of W-2 wages plus 2.5 percent of capital assets (e.g. tangible property purchased for the business), whichever is greater. Alongside the draft rule the IRS released a proposed procedure for calculating W-2 wages.

The Big “I” has been aggressively advocating before Congress and the Treasury Department that insurance agencies and brokerages should not be considered a specified service trade or business.

In April, the Big “I” sent a letter to key Treasury Department officials and had a meeting with the department. As a follow-up to the meeting, the Big “I” sent another letter to the Treasury Department, specifically addressing questions about the term “brokerage.” The Big “I” has also had a number of meetings with key congressional offices on this issue.

Beyond the “specified service trade or business” definition, the draft regulation covers several issues related to the Section 199A deduction which may impact agents and brokers depending on individual circumstances.

For example, financial advice and retirement planning services would qualify as specified service trades or businesses, and consulting is considered a specified service trade or business to the extent that a fee is charged for such services. However, “consulting that is embedded in, or ancillary to, the sale of goods, if there is no separate payment for consulting services” is not considered a specified service trade or business.

Also of note, a trade or business is not a specified service trade or business if it has “gross receipts of $25 million or less (in a taxable year) and less than 10 percent of the gross receipts. . .[are] attributable to the performance of an SSTB.”

If gross receipts are above $25 million, the relevant percentage is 5 percent. This means an insurance agency that has predominantly a property-casualty book of business, but also has a small retirement planning, consulting or financials services component, would not be considered a specified service trade or business under the draft regulation.

Where things stand right now

The Big “I” is currently reviewing the draft regulation, which is open for a 45-day public comment period. A public hearing on the regulation is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 16. Because the regulation is in draft form and open for public comment, changes may occur before the rule becomes final.

The Big “I” will provide comments to the IRS and additional guidance to members over the next few months. Final regulations are expected before the end of the year.

OIA will keep members informed as we learn more.

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