99- 111111, 2011199
V I R G I N I A
2019 YOOUNNNNGG AGGEEEENNNNTS ' CCOONNNNFEEEEREEEENNNNCCEEEE
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A PUBLICATION OF THE INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS OF VIRGINIA
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V I R G I N I A
The Big I Virginia is a publication of the
Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia
8600 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23294
Phone: 804.747.9300 / Toll-free: 800.288.IIAV (4428)
Fax: 804.747.6557 / E-mail: email@example.com / Website: iiav.com
6 Message from the Chairman of the Board – Dennis Winfree
8 Meet Your New Chairman of the Board – Q & A with Dennis Winfree
12 Message from the Carter Lyons, CAE, IIAV Director of Education &
Professional Development/VAIA Executive Director
13 Message from the State National Director – Michael F. Funkhauser
14 2019 Preferred Partner Program
16 IIAV Year in Review
18 IIAV National Convention Highlights
20 Thank You to Our Convention Sponsors
22 Save the Date 2020 IIAV Convention
24 2018 Young Agent Awards
26 Meet Jake Nelson – New YA Committee Chair
28 Registration for A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
30 How to Get Testimonials That Boost Your Credibility
32 Cool Ideas to Attract and Engage Employees
37 Good Things Are Coming!
38 2019 IIAV Education
THANK YOU ADVERTISERS
10 Allstar Financial Group
40 Applied Underwriters
25 Berkshire Hathaway
36 Bloss & Dillard
7 Builders Mutual Insurance
3 Donegal Insurance Group
15 EMC Insurance
31 FCCI Insurance Group
13 Genesee Insurance
11 Harford Mutual
5 Iroquois Group
2 Jackson Sumner &
For more information on advertising, contact Eric Johnson
Blue Water Publishers, LLC / 9406 N. 107th St., Milwaukee, WI 53224
414-708-2059 / fax: 414-354-5317 / firstname.lastname@example.org
34 JGS Insurance/Preferred
21 Keystone Insurance Group
26 Penn National
9 SageSure Insurance Managers
6 Triumph Commercial
IIAV IS AN ORGANIZATION DEVOTED TO
PROMOTING, ENHANCING, SERVING AND
ASSISTING INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS.
Robert N. Bradshaw, Jr., MAM
President & CEO
Cell (804) 929-4134
& Membership Coordinator
Joe Hudgins, CPCU
Cell (804) 929-4138
Linda Loving, CIC, AISM, AIAO
IIAV Chief Operating Officer
& VFSC Executive Vice President
Cell (804) 929-4133
Susan E. C. Perkins
Carter Lyons, CAE
IIAV Director of Education &
Professional Development &
VAIA Executive Director
Bonnie J. Warren,
ACSR, CPIW, DAE, RPLU
Insurance Account Executive
Member Services Assistant
Donald W. Bragg,
CPCU, CIC, CPIA, MBA
Director of Membership
The Big I Virginia is a publication of the Independent Insurance Agents
of Virginia and is published quarterly by Blue Water Publishers, LLC. The
Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia, Inc. reserves the right in its sole
discretion to reject advertising that does not meet IIAV qualifications or which
may detract from its business, professional or ethical standards. IIAV and Blue
Water Publishers, LLC do not necessarily endorse any of the companies
advertising in the publication or the views of its writers. The publisher cannot
assume responsibility for claims made by advertisers, content provided by
the editor, or for the opinions expressed by contributing authors.
4 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
THE FUTURE OF IIAV
As one of the “old guys” its inspiring to see so many
young professionals involved with IIAV’s Young
Agent Program. I had the pleasure to be a part
of the young agents about 40 years ago; this is one of the
highlights of my career. The camaraderie, education, and
friendships I gain will never be replaced. I love going to
young agent events and seeing all this still present. These
young people really value education, connections, service,
My own son is still involved with this group and has the
honor of holding the 2012 Young Agent of Year title, the
same year I was honored with the Golden Eagle Agent of
We are here for you,
like you are for your clients.
a division of TBK Bank, SSB
special program offered for IIAV members
the Year award. We hope to possibly carry on the tradition
with my new grandbaby, Olivia.
I enjoy and make it a priority to attend young agents’
events, especially the Young Agents’ Conference each year
as a demonstration of support from the Board of Directors.
We need to make sure they feel they have our support
as they move forward in their careers and make waves
moving forward in the industry. The industry has changed
greatly from my day. Technological advances make their
daily work processes much different. The connections and
education that the Young Agents’ Program provides is
Over the last year, I have seen this group of agents really
shine. They not only had a large presence at the Virginia
Insurance Day on the Hill but in Washington, D.C., in May
where I got to see them in action. I stood back as Jake
Nelson and Laura Hancock took the reins on lobbying for
crop insurance and Laura Muller steps up and advocates
for the industry she is so passionate about.
The passions this group has goes beyond insurance. You
can see that in every service project they participate in;
from food drives to fundraising to working on houses with
Habitat for Humanity. I have no doubt that our future is
bright with these guys moving up. We are lucky to have
Having been a young agent myself and supporting my
own son as a young agent, it’s easy for me to see the value.
If you struggle to find the value or have not witnessed
these professionals in action, I encourage you to attend
a Young Agent event and send your own young agents.
Make the investment in your young professionals and reap
the rewards. You won’t be disappointed.
6 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
Whether it’s the voice in your head
or the one right beside you,
Builders Mutual is always there,
at work with you.
MEET IIAV’S NEW CHAIRMAN OF
THE BOARD, DENNIS WINFREE
With a new year, comes a new Chairman of the
Board. During the 2019 IIAV Annual Convention
& Exposition, Dennis Winfree was installed by
his son, Adam Winfree, as IIAV’s new chairman. Dennis is
the owner and principal at Horizon Insurance Services. The
following interview will give you some insight to the man
you think you know. Dennis has been an active member of
the IIAV for many years, holding many positions and even
the title of 2012 Agent of the Year.
How did you start in the agency business?
I was working for Virginia Farm Bureau and was offered an
opportunity to become a part owner in a Richmond agency
and own my accounts.
Was insurance selling your first choice of a career path?
Insurance was not really my first career choice; I just wanted
a JOB! Liberty Mutual was hiring for a claims position. My
brother was in the insurance business on the company side,
so I did know a little about it and gave it a shot.
Can you share a little bit about your background,
education, and upbringing?
I was born in Powhatan, Virginia, and worked in the family
farm equipment business through high school and college
at Virginia Commonwealth University. My father was in sales
and I always knew that I would be as well. The claims training
I received from Liberty Mutual was invaluable but was just
a steppingstone to a sales career. I am proud of my 44-year
career in this industry!
What do you consider the best part of the independent
insurance agent system?
The best part of being an independent agent is the opportunity
to work with a wide variety of clients and help them find the
best coverage no matter what the risk. Each is different and
each allows me to think about the coverages differently.
How did you become involved in the insurance association,
I became involved in IIAV as a way to give back to the industry
and to meet fellow agents for the exchange of ideas and
Who has had the greatest impact on your insurance
career and why?
The greatest impact on my career was my father who
instilled in me a quality work ethic and the integrity to
always do the right thing for the customer and the public.
How has being involved with IIAV impacted you both
professionally and personally?
Professionally, being involved in IIAV has given me a broadbased
education and opened doors to markets and other
professionals that have helped me advance my career.
Personally, I have gained many lifelong friends. Having
been honored to serve on the board of directors for 10 of
the past 12 years has stretched my management skills and
given me the opportunity to accomplish my goal of being
able to give back to the industry that has given myself and
my family so much.
What issues do you see as being the most important to
the industry in general in the next 12 months?
There are many federal issues that affect our industry.
The flood legislation has been kicked down the road for
many years and needs to be updated. Other issues such as
legislation to regulate driverless vehicles, health insurance,
not overturning each state’s right to regulate insurance
What issues do you see as being the most significant to
IIAV during your new term as chairman of the board?
As far as IIAV issues go, I feel that we do a great job on
education to our members but need to continue to be
a leader in that area … With the changes to the Virginia
CE licensing, it will be important for the association to
educate the members on the legislation. Our agents will
need assistance understanding those changes. Mergers
and acquisitions are of major concern to the future of the
industry and to our association. I feel that it is important,
regardless of agency size, to provide quality service to the
customers. As independent agencies, our small business
and personal lines customers should benefit from our
expertise rather than finding their way to the direct writers
or another small agency.
8 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
FALL 2018 2019 THE BIG VIRGINIA 9
Do you have any sage wisdom to share
with any young person considering the
agency business as a career?
To the young people that are new to our
industry or may be considering a career in
our industry, I say, it’s a great career where
you are able to impact the lives of others
in a very positive way. The personal and
financial rewards will follow if you put in the
absolute best effort to attain them. In the
beginning of my career, I learned from a
seasoned agent to count your success not
by the commission you make on a sale but
by the people you help with their insurance
needs. Help enough people and you will
be a success.
Priscilla G. Hottle
1st Vice Chair,
Hottle & Associates
2019 - 2020
Eddie Gay, CIC
District 3 Director,
Brown and Brown Insurance Agency
When you are NOT being an insurance
agent and agency owner, what do you
most enjoy doing to unwind and have fun?
When I am not working, I enjoy relaxing
on the beach, good beach music and shag
dancing! Also, I am enjoying holding my
new granddaughter at every opportunity!
Troy Sutter, CPCU
District 6 Director,
LD&B Insurance & Financial Servies
Young Agent Liason,
Hottle & Associates
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10 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
INSURING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH
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We insure restaurants, contractors, mercantile, and other
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IIAV DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT/
VAIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
CARTER LYONS, CAE
A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS
Civilizations have long developed near bodies of
water. Initially, this was merely a survival instinct, but
the benefits of nearby water led to advancements
and possibilities that would not have existed otherwise.
Tides bring an influence all their own and with that
influence, a powerful metaphor. I invite you to explore
the metaphor with me, specifically as it may apply to the
young agent on your team.
They provide necessary and regular change.
The word “change” tends to make us cringe. Change can
be uncomfortable, hard, and even scary. And yes, we see
a great deal of change – or desire for it – with the younger
members of our teams. But, consider that the tide offers
another, very different perspective. High and low tide
each occur twice a day. Every single day, no matter what.
This means that because the water is always moving in
or out, many fish and sea creatures are moving as well.
The constantly changing water levels actually makes life
possible for creatures living in the tidal zone. The lesson
here is that intentional change can actually give life, spur
growth, and create flourishing organizations.
They offer a renewable energy source.
Because the tides are constantly moving, there’s a
renewable energy source right at our fingertips. There are
companies working to develop hydroelectric dams that
capture the energy the moving water provides and uses
it to power turbines. Consider the energy that exists on
your team. It certainly fluctuates day to day, but more than
likely it varies between individuals. What are you doing
to capture high levels of energy? A team dynamic isn’t all
that different from what we see in nature in that energy is
transferrable and with the right approach, exists in a neverending
They play a huge role in navigation.
The crew on a boat must be alert and adapt based on
the level of the water. If the water level is too low, even
small boats are unable to pass through certain areas of the
water. Similarly, the schedule for a vessel to arrive or depart
is dependent upon the rise and fall of the tide and must
be timed accordingly. The level of the tide also matters
when it comes to the construction of a dock. Both high
and low tide must be taken into account and thought must
be given as to what docks can be used during what time.
There are any number of lessons here, but the greatest one
is that fighting the tide doesn’t work – in nature or in the
office – but the ability to adapt makes far more possible.
This requires planning, strong communication throughout
the team, a clear understanding of where the organization
is headed, and the ability to shift course when changes
The parallels don’t end here; these are just a few
observations and there are many others that come to mind.
However, my final point is what I feel is the most important.
You are the tide. Your team is the tide. And when one of
you learns something new, takes the opportunity to grow
professionally, connects with others who know something
you don’t, goes out of the way to serve a client, or simply
brings enthusiasm and joy to work every day – you’re all
better for it. A rising tide lifts all boats. We hope you’ll join
us on this journey!
WHEN ONE OF YOU
NEW, TAKES THE
OPPORTUNITY TO GROW
CONNECTS WITH OTHERS
WHO KNOW SOMETHING
YOU DON’T, GOES OUT
OF THE WAY TO SERVE
A CLIENT, OR SIMPLY
AND JOY TO WORK
EVERY DAY – YOU’RE ALL
BETTER FOR IT.
12 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
STATE NATIONAL DIRECTOR
WAYS IN WHICH IIAV PROVIDES VALUE TO YOU
We all make value-based decisions in business
and our day-to-day lives. In the past year, your
association has scored significant victories for
members on the state and national level. I would like to share
with you some examples of why your investment in the IIAV is
so valuable to you and your agency.
• At the state level, we are fortunate to have Bob Bradshaw
and Joe Hudgins advocate for our members in the General
Assembly. This past legislative session, over 3,000 bills were
introduced. There were about 100 insurance-related bills.
These gentlemen assess bills’ impact on their member
agencies and work tirelessly with legislators and the Bureau
of Insurance to craft the best possible solutions for the
industry. Bob and Joe are held with
very high esteem in Richmond,
and our members are well served
by their dedication, hard work, and
long hours during the legislative
• This past year, the Government
Affairs team of the IIABA secured
a significant victory for its members
when the Treasury Department
issued regulations that ensured
that insurance agents and brokers
could take advantage of the
20% deduction for certain passthrough
two-thirds of Big “I” agencies are
organized as pass-through entities.
That is money directly into the
member agencies pockets! If not
for our Government Affairs team’s
advocacy, agents would not have
had a seat at the table.
• In a recent survey, agency owners
nationwide indicated that
recruiting and hiring qualified
employees was their number one
challenge. This challenge was
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assists agency members in recruiting, assessing, hiring and
educating employees. An agency can choose to use this
program by subscription, or by purchasing various toolkits.
Big “I” Hires has also partnered with Affinity HR (an IIAV
endorsed vendor) to provide Human Resource solutions.
Check it out on the web at bigihires.com.
I encourage each of you to remain engaged with your
association and utilize the tools and resources the IIAV
and IIABA offer. Also, please remain vigilant in the political
process, and donate to VAPAC and InsurPac to make sure
that our industry has a seat at the table in the legislative arena.
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FALL 2019 THE BIG VIRGINIA 13
A special thank you to all of our partners participants for 2019!
(As of 4/9/19)
14 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
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©Copyright Employers Mutual Casualty Company 2018. All rights reserved.
Jason Priest gets his haircut by Bill
Talley, V to be donated and in
celebration of Keystone donation to
VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Dick Spiers teaches the largest P&C
Pre-Licensing class of the year!
261 students attend
IIAV education CE courses.
Young Agents' Conference held in
2018 AIAM Designation
Young Agents' hosted a food drive
for VA Supportive Housing.
Young Agents' host
Annual Holiday Party to thank
16 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
Insurance Day on the Hill held in
conjunction with PIA.
IIAV participated in the fifth annual
Walk for Wishes to benefit
Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia.
IIAV Annual Convention &
Exposition held in Virginia Beach.
We celebrated our 120 convention!
VCU RISC Conference
New CE Law passed in Virginia.
Go to www.iiav.com for more
Annual Young Agents' Bowling
Big "I" Legislative Conference held
in Washington, D.C.
FALL 2019 THE BIG VIRGINIA 17
We Led The
Way at the
“Once again, you have exceeded
expectations! Without a doubt
this was the best convention
ever! I never cease to be amazed
and impressed with all that you
do. I am so proud of our
involvement with IIAV and all of
the wonderful people there.”
~ Cindy Amick, S.L. Nusbaum
Insurance Agency , Inc.
18 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
L Nusbaum Ins Agency Inc.
Eagle Agent of the Year
Person of the Year
Woodson inspired everyone with his
message of creating cultures of
in an organization. His charm,
and easy banter started the convention
with a bang. You would not expect a man
three Super Bowl Rings to be so down
earth, but just ask any of the attendees
got to hold those three rings or take a
with him. Attendees were immediately
in by Ron White. He not only
and amazed the audience but
real takeaways for agents to improve
memory and ultimately build
with their clients and their not-
clients. He memorized a 60 digit number
to him by members of the audience
backwards. Attendees of the
convention will not forget this anytime
& Ron White
"We enjoyed the event and
we came away with lots of
good information to share.
We have several tangible
things that we can
implement to help the
agency grow. "
~ Dustin DeJarnette, Scott
Douglas M. Palias, Esq, JD
Connie R. Boyd, ACSR, AIAM
Charles S. Nusbaum, CPCU
Thank you to our 2019 ConVENTION Sponsors
20 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
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Success is a journey. Let us be your guide.
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©2018 Keystone Insurers Group ®. All rights reserved. This does not constitute an offer to sell
a franchise in any state in which the Keystone Insurers Group franchise is not registered.
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22 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
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• 9 BREAKOUT ROOMS
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MEETING ROOMS SQ FT / CEILING HT THEATER CLASSROOM CONFERENCE U-SHAPE BANQUET RECEPTION TABLE TOPS
Seaside Ballroom 10,738 / 22’ 1,155 450 - - 780 1,000 125
Salon A 1,250 / 22’ 135 50 30 28 90 120 15
Salon B 1,250 / 22’ 135 50 30 28 90 120 15
Salon C 1,250 / 22’ 135 50 30 28 90 120 15
Salon D 3,600 / 22’ 375 150 - 75 250 350 40
Salon E 3,600 / 22’ 375 150 - 75 250 350 40
Ballroom Prefunction 3,750 / 18’ - - - - - 300 35
Seaside Event Terrace 2,750 / - 300 - - - - 250 -
Calloway 1,200 / 13’ 130 50 28 26 85 110 -
Dorsey 528 / 13’ 50 20 14 12 30 45 -
Goodman 1,572 / 13’ 150 60 30 28 110 135 -
Kay 771 / 13’ 80 30 20 18 50 70 -
Miller 762 / 13’ 80 30 20 18 50 70 -
Sinatra 592 / 13’ 60 24 16 14 40 50 -
Fitzgerald 349 / 13’ 30 12 10 8 20 25 -
Executive Meeting Room 721 / 13’ 75 26 18 16 50 65 -
Executive Boardroom 566 / 13’ - - 12 - - - -
Executive Gallery 550 / 18’ - - - - - 45 8
Ocean Lawn 3,000 / - - - - - 200 275 -
FALL 2019 THE BIG VIRGINIA 23
YOUNG AGENT AWARDS
IIAV HONORS TWO YOUNG INSURANCE PROFESSIONALS EACH YEAR AT
THE ANNUAL YOUNG AGENTS’ CONFERENCE. THESE INDIVIDUALS ARE
NOMINATED BY THEIR PEERS, THIS SPEAKS TO THE LEVEL OF PRESTIGE
THEY ARE GIVEN. EACH YEAR IT’S HARD TO PICK JUST TWO INDIVIDUALS
BUT KEEP READING AND YOU WILL SEE JUST WHY LAURA AND CHRIS
STOOD OUT FOR OUR 2018 HONORS, WE ARE SO PLEASED TO RECOGNIZE
THEM FOR THEIR PASSION AND ACHIEVEMENTS.
2018 YOUNG AGENT
OF THE YEAR
LAURA MULLER, CIC
Marketing Assistant, Morgan Marrow Company
One thing I can never get enough of is knowledge and I
feel like I learn something new every day from the people
that I work with. In the insurance industry, I have the
opportunity to work with, and learn from,
so many amazing people. I genuinely
love the people that I work with and I
enjoy helping others, so it makes my job
that much more fun and fulfilling.
I didn’t really know anything about the
insurance industry prior to starting at
Old Dominion, honestly. It all started
when one of my professors approached
me and asked if I had any interest in
insurance because he thought I “really
had a knack for it.” At the time, I was a
double major in finance and accounting.
My initial reaction was “No way!”
because I immediately just thought of
the solicitations you get in the mail for
your personal auto insurance and such.
However, by the end of the semester, I had a broader
understanding of how many different opportunities
there are in the insurance industry, from the retail side,
wholesale, marketing, underwriting, etc. and I was hooked.
I immediately switched my major to the Risk Management
and Insurance finance track and the rest is history! I think it
is so important for our industry that we reach out to young
agents and students to show them what opportunities are
available to them. The best thing I ever did was sign up
for that class!
Young Agents has opened so many different doors for
me. Getting involved on the legislative side by attending
the Big I Legislative Conference the last two years and
attending the Day on the Hill in Richmond the year prior,
has really shown me just how much of a difference we
can make by getting involved and advocating for our
industry, as well as for our insureds. It has
provided several learning opportunities
and I have met so many people who are
just as passionate about insurance as I
am. I am attending the Young Agents
Leadership Institute for the first time this
year and I cannot wait to see what that
has in store for me!
Two of my mentors would have to be
two of our agency’s principals, Edwin J.
(Ned) Morgan and J. Stuart Sim. They
provide me with so many opportunities
to thrive within our company. They are
extremely supportive of my involvement
with IIAV and Young Agents. I can go to
them with any questions or ideas and
feel that my input and opinions are truly
valued and that is a great feeling as an employee. It is
important to me to know that I am contributing to the
success and growth of our agency. I have said it before,
and I will say it again, they gave me wings and let me fly! I
am looking forward to many more years working with and
learning from them!
24 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
2018 YOUNG AGENT
COMPANY PERSON OF THE YEAR
CHRISTOPHER R. SWAIN
Senior Account Sales Representative –
SE VA, Progressive Insurance
The insurance industry found me when I was living in
Fredericksburg working for an environment waste disposal
company, driving box trucks full of hazardous waste out of
Northern Virginia (yes, it was as glamorous as it sounds). I
was looking for an excuse to move back
to Hampton Roads and do anything else.
A longtime friend of mine told me he
just took a job in the claims department
for Progressive Insurance and they had
one more open position. He gave me a
referral and I got the job. Six months later
he left the industry and I found my career!
Before I got into the industry, there was a
certain bliss in pretending the insurance
world did not exist. If you are not earning
a living in the industry, insurance is a
subject no one wants to learn. If you did
learn it, it is because you unfortunately
had a claim. Overnight, I went from zero
to working in claims. When I started working in claims, I felt
like I was drinking from a fire hose for the first year or two
before I felt any level of comfort. However, now being in the
industry for 15 years I’m eager to learn the answer to new
issues and be prepared the next time it comes up.
My involvement in young agents has been invaluable for
my career. Getting to know agents outside of the office or
meeting new agents gives me more opportunities to stay
dialed into real world issues and find tailored solutions.
What I think people should know about the Young Agents’
Committee is to take the time to get involved. Worst case
scenario, you make some new friends
with future leaders in insurance. Best
case scenario, you help ensure the future
of the industry remains bright.
What I love most about the insurance
industry is working with people to build
creative marketing strategies to reach
new customers. I know I can always call
on the IIAV and my fellow young agents
to assist me in this endeavor and others.
A common question that I get asked
about the industry is, “Have you met
Flo?” My answer is always, “No, I can’t
afford her booking fee”.
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FALL 2019 THE BIG VIRGINIA 25
MEET JAKE NELSON - FROM
BASKETBALL GUY TO YAC CHAIR GUY
Jake Nelson is the Vice President at Hottle &
Associates in Warrenton. He has been in the
industry for six years, starting his career in Kansas,
before moving to Virginia but has been an active member
of the Young Agents’ Committee in both states. His main
area of focus is Commercial Lines and he is committed to
professional development, having earned his Associate in
Insurance Services (AIS) and Certified Authority on Workers
Comp (CAWU). He follows in the footsteps of his mother,
who spent 15 years of her career in the insurance industry.
Jake is a basketball guy and when he’s
not with his young family or hard at work,
he’s playing, usually about three times a
week. If you have ever had the privilege
to meet Jake, you know he will fill his
new roll as Young Agents’ Committee
Chair perfectly. Keep reading to learn
who has mentored him into the agent
he is today and scary encounter with a
tornado which made him question his
What do you love most about the
I love the flexibility of the industry from
so many aspects. Whether it’s from
writing all scopes of businesses on a
weekly basis or being able to attend my kids’ 4th of July
parade at their day care.
Before you started your career in insurance, what was
your impression of the industry?
My impression has always been a customer-oriented industry
important to the community. My mom worked for a small
independent agent in Kansas and I saw how he worked to
help and do right by his clients on a daily basis. Not only
that, but give back to the local schools and community
You’ve been involved with young agents for quite some
time. How has this involvement benefited you and your
The benefits of being a part of the YA are amazing. The
camaraderie from everyone at IIAV has made being part of
the Young Agents such a fun part of my career. The program
brings together like-minded individuals that are going
through the same grind day in and day out. Anything that
comes at me in the industry or in my personal life I know I
have four or five people I can call to bounce ideas off or get
advice and that’s all due to being involved with the Young
What positive impacts do you see from other young
insurance professionals like yourself?
I see a large group of younger agents
hungry to take the next step in the field,
to take over or start their own agencies
in order to continue their community
impact. I don’t think there isn’t anything
more positive than that.
Who is your mentor and why?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have
multiple mentors in the insurance field.
I worked for the same small agent my
mom did in Kansas, Lyle Davidson, for a
little over three years before moving to
Virginia. He gave me my shot in the field
and took the time to train me properly
and learn the best methods of being an
agent. Currently, my boss, Pricilla Hottle,
has been grooming and mentoring me with the finer points
of commercial insurance and helping to prepare me for
ownership of an agency one day. I have been very blessed
to have both these individuals in my life and push me to
where I am today.
Tell us something funny that’s happened to you as a
So, this is more scary than funny I guess but after getting
licensed in Kansas, I was given my own office to build and
grow in a nearby community. The first week I’m in this office,
I’m driving home and I see 20 plus storm chasers on the
road leading into the town. There was a tornado heading
straight for this small town that was over a mile wide that
would have destroyed everything. Thankfully the tornado
stopped a few miles from the town and never hit but on my
drive home, I was rethinking all my career choices and what
I would be coming into the next day!
26 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
We look for the best independent agents and build
relationships that last the duration. We are committed
to the independent agency system as the only means
to deliver our products. Because of that, we work
hand-in-hand to help our agencies grow profitably.
Our agents set us apart.
Business • Surety • Auto • Home
Visit our website to find out more.
events are included in the price of registration. Please confirm your attendance
each event by checking the boxes on the left of the form.
RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS
Young Insurance Professional
IIAV Member (over age 41)
Non IIAV Member (over age 41)
5 P M
On/Before 8/31 9/1 - 10/8 On Site
$210 $225 $245
$10 $25 $45
Photo Scavenger Hunt
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2019
(with light breakfast)
Understanding with Kalon Blanchard
10 Objectives Every Successful Agency with David Siekman
(catch up on emails, etc.)
Annual Awards Dinner
Bonfire on the Beach!
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2019
Breakfast & Why the Right Mindset Delivers Big with David Dillion
Young Agents' Committee Meeting
*Optional: Boat rides available following morning session. Sign-ups available onsite.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2019
PLEASE NOTE: You MUST register for any course, activity, or event you would
like to attend to be granted access.
28 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
www.iiav.com/events to register. We recommend this method as it provides
with a quick, easy way to register for the Young Agents Annual Conference
You will receive an email confirmation of your registration. If you need to
changes to your registration please email Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
your registration form (opposite page) and payment information (below) to
Arnold by EMAIL at email@example.com; by MAIL to the attention of
Arnold at 8600 Mayland Dr. Henrico, VA 23294; or by FAX to the attention
Rebecca Arnold at 804-747-6557.
A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS
October 9-11, 2019
Prefix: Mr. Mrs. Ms. *Required
*First Name: ___________________________ *Last Name: ___________________________
*Company Name: ___________________________ Position: ___________________________
*Phone: _(____)___________________________ *Email: ______________________________
*Emergency Contact Name:________________________________
*Emergency Contact Phone: _______________________________
By Check: Please make all checks payable to IIAV and mail with this form to:
IIAV, Attn: Rebecca Arnold, 8600 Mayland Drive, Henrico, VA 23294
VISA MC AMEX
Card #: ______________________________ Expires: ____________ CVV Code: __________
Name on Card: _______________________________
Address on Credit Account: _______________________________________________________
Signature______________________________ Print Name: ____________________________
HOW TO GET TESTIMONIALS THAT BOOST YOUR CRED
“I want to believe you, but I’m not sure I trust you” is the
unspoken question customers ask salespeople. The devil in
every sale is customer doubt. Specifically, a salesperson’s
lack of credibility. Slow down. Forget about “updating”
your “professional profile.” Why? To put is graciously, too
many are being “massaged” by salespeople who think
they need to “enhance” themselves. But, customers aren’t
fooled; bad experiences make them suspicious and they
back off from saying “yes.”
By John Graham
The tool that helps bridge the
“credibility gulf” is the customer
testimonial. But wait a minute;
don’t role your eyes and stop
reading just because testimonials
haven’t worked for you. Here’s why:
all testimonials aren’t equal; most
are lacking credibility. The internet is
swimming in phony testimonials that
are signed “A longtime customer,”
“Ben C.,” “Does a great job,” or “We
love that company.” They are exactly
what they appear to be: nothing more
than thinly veiled fakery.
Even though some testimonials may
be genuine, they’re dull, boring and
lack impact. In other words, they’re
ineffective. Let’s face it, most of those
who are asked to provide a testimonial
don’t know what to say or how to say
it. So, unintentionally, they botch the
For testimonials to do the job of
enhancing someone’s integrity, they
must tell a compelling story (not make
a sales pitch) in a few carefully crafted
words. They must be little jewels. And
this takes skill.
Here’s how to go about obtaining
30 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
testimonials that are believable and
Step #1. Selecting testimonial
Forget about your sister-in-law or your
best friend. Be selective about who you
ask for testimonials. Choose situations
where you’ve made a difference or
saved the day. These are testimonials
that resonate with prospects.
For example, it was during a review of a
prospect’s business insurance program
that a broker discovered several gaps in
coverage that could do serious financial
damage to the company should a loss
occur. When the agent was awarded
the account, he asked the owner for a
testimonial. Needless to say, the new
client readily agreed.
Powerful testimonials often come
from using a PSR or Problem-Solution-
Results format. Present the problem,
followed by your solution, and then drive
the message home with the accrued
results. Whether it’s a testimonial or
a case history, identify people with
their full name, business, and location.
Otherwise, it isn’t credible.
Here’s the key: The right moment to ask
for a testimonial is not when you want it,
but when you have demonstrated your
competence – it’s your performance
that makes testimonials compelling.
Step #2. Obtaining testimonials
that have value
Asking someone to write a testimonial
can be a major mistake. If you do, the
chances are you won’t get what you
expected – or wanted. It’s likely to
be something that’s weak, cobbled
together, and unimpressive. For
example, “We’ve been doing business
with The Zoomfast Company for 12
years and they always do a good job.
Their people are friendly and know
what they’re doing.” How many times
have you seen testimonials like this?
Most people want to be helpful, but
they don’t know what to say or how
to say it. So, they fall back on trite
words and phrases that fail to convey
a meaningful message. Or, they tell
the person asking them, “Just give me
what you want and I’ll sign it.” Either
way, the results are less than inspiring.
A more successful approach is having
someone who can ask questions that
get a person talking to conduct a phone interview
and write up a concise and compelling narrative.
Then, have the person interviewed review it and make
any changes and approve the final content. They will
appreciate the help in giving it a professional touch.
Here’s an example of what we’re talking about. A
client asked a marketing consultant to interview a
customer for a testimonial, who was a co-founder of
a construction company, for a testimonial. The “Why
do you think they wanted you to do this?” was the first
question. And the answer was an instant grabber, “He
saved my business.” Then, he went on to tell how he
was about to lose a large contract but was able to keep
it thanks to the client’s knowledge and quick action.
The resulting testimonial was short and powerful.
Step #3. Putting testimonials to work
Once you have a portfolio of several testimonials, what
are you going to do with them? How are you going to
make them work for you? Take this seriously. There is
nothing more persuasive than having a customer tell
Here are ways for to get the most out of testimonials:
• Include in newsletters
• Showcase on websites and in videos
• Feature in sales letters
• Turn into handouts for meetings and events
• Highlight on social media
• Send when asked for references
• Display on banners at trade shows
• Make seminar presentations
Obtaining interesting and captivating testimonials
is exciting. But there’s one more step: Obtaining
permission to use them. In fact, tell those interviewed
you will send them the proposed wording, along with
a testimonial release form (ask a lawyer to make a
recommendation). Don’t use a testimonial until you
have a signed release in hand.
Testimonials can be one of the most powerful
influencers available to marketers and salespeople.
But get them right and using them effectively to
maximize their benefits takes thought, planning and
John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and
sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the
creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free
monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales
Ideas.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
More than a policy. A promise.
At FCCI, we’ve been working with select
independent agents to insure businesses for
more than 60 years. Your clients are more
than an account to us. We’ll work with you
so they can face the future with confidence.
PROPERTY I CASUALTY I SURETY I RISK MANAGEMENT I SECTOR EXPERTISE
FALL 2019 THE BIG VIRGINIA 31
TO ATTRACT AND ENGAGE EMPLOYEES
By Claudia St. John, SPHR< SHRM-SCP, President Affinity HR Group
One of the best aspects of my job is that I am asked to
speak before audiences of diverse sizes and industries
on topics relating to people management. For many
years, and to this day, I am asked to speak about how
to hire top talent. For quite a while, millennials in the
workplace was a hot topic. Last year, the subject of
how to avoid and address sexual harassment in the
workplace was a major theme. This year, the subject
everyone wants to talk about is how to attract and
retain employees. So, this month I’m going to give
you five cool ideas for doing just that.
But before I do, I want to offer one of the best resources
that I know of for improving employee engagement. It
comes from the Gallup organization. For more than 30
years, Gallup has studied the key elements that highly
engaged employees say are most important to them at
work. This resulted in the Q12 index – the 12 elements
of a job that are tied most closely to engagement
and business performance. These elements are listed
below in order of importance, with the first being the
most important element:
1. I know what’s expected of me at work.
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do
my work right.
3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best
4. In the last 7 days, I have received recognition or
praise for doing good work.
5. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care
about me as a person.
32 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
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6. There is someone at work who encourages my
7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me
feel my job is important.
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to
doing good quality work.
10. I have a best friend at work.
11. In the last 6 months, someone at work has talked to me
about my progress.
12. This last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow.
What I love about this list is what’s not on the list: pay.
Bottom line – compensation does not improve employee
engagement. What is on this list are factors that, with the
expense of just time and effort from leadership, can truly
transform a corporate culture. If you focus on communicating
expectations and direction, celebrating relationships,
providing opportunities for growth, and listening and
providing feedback, employees will be engaged. Spend
some time with this list. What could you do better?
But what about those potential employees who you are
trying to entice to join your company? Here are some ideas
on how to attract them:
1. Ask your employees what matters most to them. You
already have amazing employees. What do they love
most about their jobs? Is it the autonomy? Is it the delish
food you put out in the lunchroom? Is it the wonderful
clients you have? Promote what makes yours a great
company and get your employees engaged in recruiting
more talent just like them. And if you offer an employee
referral program (and you should), make it meaningful.
By that I mean $500 to $1000 if the hire lasts a year. Buy
swag – promote your employees and candidates like a
university promotes prospective students – give them
the mug and the hat and the t-shirt. Make them feel a
part of the team before you’ve even hired them!
2. Help your talent alleviate their debt. Whether it’s an
entry-level blue-collar worker or a recent grad with an
MBA, young workers today are saddled with incredible
debt, either in the form of credit card debt or student
loans. They also question whether Social Security will be
there for them when it’s their time to retire. Offer to help
pay for their debt once they meet certain milestones such
as length of service or performance level. You may even
be able to offer a little less in salary for that huge piece
of mind. There are companies to help you structure the
benefit such as Tuition.io, Futurefuel.io, and Vault. And
if you offer a retirement plan, teach your young workers
about it and the massive benefits of compound interest.
Chances are, they may not know how it works.
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3. Offer flexibility. Study after study show that
employees truly value the ability to work from home
on occasion and most would like to be able to do
so one day a week. Offer this as a perk. For your
service workers such as car wash technicians and
cleaning staff, sometimes life happens. A child gets
sick or a family emergency arises. Workers facing
these situations often become a no-call, no-show
because they know there are no benefits allowing
them to take time to take care of what’s happening
in their life. Reach out to them. Let them know you
understand and that if their situation changes, you
would like to have them back.
4. Remember the Dream Manager. In his wonderful
book entitled, The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly
describes a real-life situation where a janitorial
company dramatically reduced the turnover of its
cleaning crew simply by hiring someone to listen
to the dreams of employees and helping them
develop a strategy to make those dreams a reality.
The act of listening is a powerful tool that can truly
transform lives and your corporate culture. Ask
your prospective employees what their dreams are
and help them to achieve those dreams. They may
leave you in the end, but they will appreciate you
forever, and you’ll have no trouble attracting new
employees with fresh dreams.
5. Offer Sabbaticals. I know, I know. I get grief every
time I raise this but hear me out. What if, after five
years of service, you were offered the opportunity
to take some time off, say a month or six weeks, to
do anything you want. To travel, to study painting,
to visit long-lost family, to write that book! You’d
stay with that company! With no added cost to
you (you’ll still have the same payroll and will only
have to realign duties for a period of time), you can
create loyalty and memories for a lifetime! Who
doesn’t want that?
I’m sorry if you thought I was going to talk about zip
lines in the warehouse or baristas in the break room.
But really, when it comes to attracting and retaining
employees, it starts with you. It starts with the Q12
and listening to your employees. Today talent can get
any job. Make them want yours. Your commitment to
them and their dreams and needs will do just that.
Claudia St. John is president of Affinity HR Group,
Inc., IIAV’s affiliated human resources partner. Affinity
HR Group specializes in providing human resources
assistance to associations such as IIAV and their
member companies. To learn more, visit www.
36 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
can expect more personalized
bare with us as we make this transition, we are here to assist you in using
new system. This includes a new and improved registration process!
We have recently switched to the
new association database,
Check out the video on our Facebook page for more information.
2019 IIAV EDUCATION
September 18 AAI 82C - Specialized Insurance & Bonds | $175/$240 | Course #219238 8:30AM - 5:00PM IIAV* 8 OGI
September 24 CRIS: Property Risk for Contractors | $150/$210 | #219270 8:30AM - 5:00PM IIAV 8 P&C
October 2 ACSR Mod 2: Personal Automobile Insurance | $105/$150 | #219259 9:00AM - 4:00PM IIAV 6 P&C
October 2 E&O Risk Management: Roadmap to Policy Analysis | $105/$150 | #215662 9:00AM - 4:00PM IIAV 6 OGI
October 3 AAI 83A: Principles of Agency Management | $175/$240 | #219239 8:30AM - 5:00PM IIAV 8 OGI
October 7-10 Pre-Licensing - Property & Casualty | $300 8:30AM - 4:30PM IIAV Non-CE
October 16 The Nuts & Bolts of Work Comp & Employers Liability Insurance
$125/$175 | #217405 8:30AM - 4:30PM IIAV 7 P&C
October 21 Commercial Lines Week: ACSR Mod 6: Commercial Property
$105/$105 | #208290 9:00AM - 4:00PM IIAV 6 P&C
October 22 Commercial Lines Week: ACSR Mod 7: Commercial Liability Insurance
$105/$105 | #219262 8:00AM - 4:00PM IIAV 6 P&C
October 23 Commercial Lines Week: ACSR Mod 8: Commercial Auto Insurance
$105/$105 | #219263 9:00AM - 4:00PM IIAV 6 P&C
October 23 Commercial Lines Week - Flood Insurance Basics - FEMA Approved
$45/$45 | #208545 9:00AM - 12:00PM IIAV 3 Flood
October 24 Commercial Lines Week - ACSR Mod 9: Commercial Lines Coverages
$105/$105 | #219264 9:00AM - 12:00PM IIAV 6 P&C
November 4-7 Pre-Licensing - Property & Casualty | $300 8:30AM - 4:30PM IIAV Non-CE
November 13 Agents’ Honor - Insurance With Ethic in Mind | $45/$75 | #219782 9:00AM - 12:00PM IIAV 3 Ethics
November 19 ACSR Mod 8: Commercial Auto Insurance | $105/$150 Course #: 219263 9:00AM - 4:00PM IIAV 6 P&C
November 20 AAI 83B: Insurance Production Environment | $175/$240 | #219240 8:30AM - 5:00PM IIAV 8 OGI
November 20 CRIS Additional Insured Issues| $135/$190 | #212025 8:30AM - 4:30PM IIAV 7 P&C
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September 11-12 Flood Insurance Basics - FEMA Approved | $45/$45 | Course #219262 9:00AM - 12:00PM ACSR, P&C
September 11-12 ACSR Mod 7: Commercial Liability Insurance | $105/$150 | #219262 9:00AM - 12:00PM ACSR, P&C
September 17-18 E&O Risk Management: Meeting the Challenge of Change, Part 1 & 2
$105/$150 | #219209 9:00AM - 12:00PM E&O, OGI, P&C, L&H
October 22 Commercial Lines Week - HomeWork: Managing Risk for Home- Based Businesses
$45/$45 | #217260 9:00AM - 12:00PM P&C
October 25 Commercial Lines Week -Commercial Umbrella vs. Excess Policies-So Many Confusing Choices!
$15/$15 | #218679 9:00AM - 10:00AM P&C
November 5 How to Manage Risk in Affluent Homes | $30/$65 | #217259 9:00AM - 11:00AM P&C
November 8 Underinsurance - The Challenge of Valuing a Home Correctly | $15/$45 | #218672 9:00AM - 10:00AM
November 12-13 ACSR Mod 3: Personal Lines Related Coverage, Part 1 & 2 | $105/$150 | #219260 9:00AM - 12:00PM
November 20-21 E&O Risk Management: Roadmap to Homeowners Insurance, Part 1 & 2
$125/$175 Course #: 217203 9:00AM - 12:30PM E&O, OGI, P&C, L&H
38 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019
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40 THE BIG VIRGINIA FALL 2019