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Producer compensation disclosure.

Dear Steve:

I was disappointed in your magazine when I read the June 24 column by IIABNY Member Liaison Jamie Deapo, praising the IIABNY and its actions regarding New York's Reg. 194, while demeaning other organizations that chose to address the concerns of producers from other angles. The Advocate has strayed from its usual fair and objective coverage on this issue in allowing one of its regular columnists to disparage other groups and factually misrepresent their efforts in order to tout his employer.

The disclosure regulation is, as the entire industry agrees, "a solution looking for a problem." From the outset, PIANY has objected vociferously to the regulation-initiating and participating in a multi-year joint effort of a dozen industry organizations whose objective has been to convince NYSID to dissuade the Department from adopting the regulation. The efforts of these 12 groups-only two of which elected to become involved in a lawsuit-were successful in securing significant changes in the regulation. In fact, issues that IIA objected to most vociferously in earlier drafts of the regulation were removed before the regulation was promulgated.

Since IIABNY announced its lawsuit (on the very day the regulation was adopted), PIANY's Board of Directors deliberated long and hard on the most effective course of action for our association. Ultimately, we decided to take on the critical responsibility of negotiating with NYSID to ensure that the regulation, if it should take effect, would be as simple and easy to comply with as possible. Our board recognized that one more association's involvement in the lawsuit wouldn't affect its chances of success-and that someone needed to work closely with NYSID to make sure the compliance rules (as explained via Circular Letter) would allow producers to comply with the regulation in as simple and non-invasive way as possible.

Over the last few months, PIA's board and professional staff have spent countless hours developing and presenting its arguments to NYSID officials, addressing the issues of concern producers throughout the state have identified. While other groups-specifically, IIABNY and CIBGNY-have been precluded from communications with NYSID on the regulation in light of their lawsuit, PIANY has been at the table.... engaged in detailed, face-to-face negotiation sessions with NYSID to ensure producers will be able to easily comply with the regulation if and when it is enacted.

PIANY will provide step-by-step, authoritative guidance on how to comply with the regulation-guidance that cannot be provided with certainty until the forthcoming Circular Letter is finalized.

In the meantime, PIANY continues to work hard on the issues and keeping members up-to-date on the progress of our negotiations with NYSID, and on NYSID's rulings as they are completed. PIA's Agent & Broker Compensation Disclosure website explains all facets of the regulation, answering producers' questions, and providing tools that can be used to meet the requirements of the regulation.

The regulation is far more important than the PR issue some have turned it into. It is vitally important to producers in New York and to anyone who is licensed in the state. Let's stop fighting among ourselves and recognize that each organization is doing its part to represent not only our respective members but every producer in the state.

Sincerely,

KEVIN M. RYAN, CIC, CPIA

President, PIANY

Editor's reply:

Dear Kevin:

Thank you for your June 30th Letter to the Editor

To respond to your observations, may I note here that we do run Mr. Jamie Deapo's column alternating with a column produced by Mr. Steve Ruchman, each of whom are engaged by the Insurance Advocate to represent their own views and the often differing points-of-view of the respective trade associations with which they are closely associated: Mr. Deapo, as a staff member of IIABNY, Mr. Ruchman as a volunteer leader of PLANK Each writes creditably and interestingly and has no guidelines except general relevance and good taste in their submissions. We are proud that they are on our pages.

That Mr. Deapo would use this podium to advocate the positions espoused by IIABNY should come as no surprise to you or to any of our readers. Any and all of our guest columnists have such latitude and do use it as they see fit. Mr. Deapo's passion in this matter is unmistakable.

More important we think, to sustain a fair and balanced reportage, may I note for you and for our readers that the Insurance Advocate has not taken a position with respect to which is the better approach toward dealing with producer compensation disclosure i.e. the PIANY approach, which has been to negotiate with the department and to attempt to mollify the stinging portions of the proposed regulation, or the position of IIABNY and CIBGNY, which is to fight Reg. 194 in court and to defeat its implementation.

We have opined consistently that the producer compensation disclosure rules should not stand. The approach toward undoing it, toward defeating it, however, has been left up to the affected trade associations whose viewpoints on this aspect we have faithfully and fairly presented.

We have also run a balanced sample of letters to the editor drawn from the scores we have received expressing producers' views.

In fact, if we were to reflect the viewpoints of our readers as communicated to us, there would be asymmetry in our reporting on the issue, as most of the readers who have shared their views of the two different approaches to us favored the IIABNY / CIBGNY approach. We cannot say that this majority of those communicating to us is a fair representation or a truly useful indicator from which to draw inferences, since the total number of responses does not represent a large enough percentage of our readers. Most requested that the letters not be printed. Most of the communications were redundant and added little new thinking to the basic disagreement over tactics.

To be sure, the responses were very entertaining: while one writer called PIANY's approach "like Chamberlain's," another termed the IIABNY / CIBGNY lawsuit "a sure way to p ... off the Department against us."

One writer praised the fact of the two approaches as complementary and beneficial to agents either way and concluded that it was good to have two associations.

One agent tied the IIABNY CIBGNY lawsuit approach favorably to a strong physical symbol of manhood; one agent from Manhattan argued that the PIA approach would wisely soften the rule so much as to make it the same as rarely enforced J-walking and thus not worth calling attention to it.

For our part, we see an over reaching regulation and two approaches that are well intentioned and serious. We do have a personal inclination that would favor the legal battle to obtain a decisive win, but this will not be reflected in our reporting other than in this present letter. We hasten to add that we can comfortably hold a position such as this as we are not regulated by the Department, do not make a living selling insurance to the public nor have dues paying members' futures at stake.

In the final analysis, the dues dollars and the allegiance of producers will speak more eloquently than this editor or any partisan in this matter As to the Insurance Advocate, our reasonableness and objectivity are measured along the same lines, by subscriber renewals.

Thank you.

Steve Acunto
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Ryan, Kevin M.
Publication:Insurance Advocate
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 31, 2010
Words:1215
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