NY DFS Changes Again

The saga continues!  IIABNY recently learned that NY is requiring that all license holders file their exemption status on the Department’s website.  This means that each individual that has a producer license must go to the NY DFS portal, and submit their exemption status by September 27th.  You can read more about IIABNY’s efforts HERE.

Thankfully, the process is quick and painless, once you know where to go.  To help your folks stay compliant, we’ve put together the following instructions:




  1. Browse to the NY DFS website: https://myportal.dfs.ny.gov/web/cybersecurity/
  2. Click “Create Account”, and put in your name and email address. Then, click “Save.”  DFS will email you a temporary password.
  3. The link in the email that you receive will not work, so please note the password and refer back to these instructions for the proper website link. Once you enter your credentials, you’ll be prompted to enter a permanent password.
  4. Once logged in, you’ll click the “Submit Cybersecurity Notice of Exemption” button on the left.
  5. Type your Entity ID in the field. Your Entity ID is the same as your license number.  The rest will prefill for you.  Click “Next”
  6. For your Exemption Reason, you’ll want to choose 500.19(b). 19(b) is an exemption for employees and agents that work under the Cybersecurity Program of another Covered Entity.  Click “Next”
  7. Enter in your personal contact details and check the box to swear/affirm. Click “Submit”.

Once submitted, you should receive a confirmation via email.  Please forward a copy to your licensing manager, and keep a copy for your own records.



The Untapped Potential of Consumer Drone Insurance

Drones have been a part of the public consciousness ever since the U.S. military began using them for surveillance and air strikes. In more recent years, drones (technically termed Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS) have evolved beyond military usage and have found their way into the hands of civilian consumers. While the civilian drone market was initially slow to grow, the market is now exploding thanks to recent advancements that increase ease-of-use as well as lower prices. Close to 700,000 drones were registered with the FAA in 2016.

For under $1000 USD, a consumer drone is capable of 40mph flight, has a max altitude of 16,000 feet and has a flight range of up to 8 miles away from its controller. The newest models have multiple systems to prevent accidents, including GPS assisted flight and auto return-to-home functions. Nonetheless, accidents can and do occur, which is a cause for concern whenever an object falls out of the sky. While most drone operators control their craft in a safe manner, there are exceptions. One drone pilot is facing up to a year in jail and thousands in fines after he lost control of his drone, knocking a woman unconscious. Yet another is looking at reckless endangerment charges after he crashed his drone into the Seattle Space Needle.

Issues like this raise questions of liability. While it is not yet mandatory for drone operators in the U.S. to have insurance coverage, it is nonetheless a topic of great interest in the drone community, both in terms of coverage for the drone itself as well as liability in the event of an accident.

Drone insurance can broadly be divided into two categories: Commercial and personal. Drones have been used commercially in a number of ways, including but not limited to: real estate photography, Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement and Agriculture. For those using drones commercially, it is important to note that many homeowner/rental policies will only cover drones used recreationally. A good commercial drone policy should cover the drone itself, as well as liability coverage.

Options for personal drone usage are much more limited. I recently purchased a drone for personal use, and was very interested in finding insurance coverage for it. I discovered that many agencies do not yet offer insurance for personal drone use. They can be covered under a standard homeowner or rental policy, but oftentimes the deductible on these policies renders filing a claim pointless. However, thanks to the internet I was able to find drone coverage under one agency: State Farm. State Farm offers drone coverage under a Personal Articles Policy. The cost varies by location (and is entirely unavailable in California), and not all State Farm agents are even aware that drone coverage is offered in this manner. Generally, the cost for coverage through State Farm is $60 for one year, with no deductible, and does not require the insured to have any other policies with State Farm. The policy covers essentially anything that could happen to the drone, including crashes, water damage and fly-aways (where the drone loses connection to its controller, and literally flies off, never to be seen again). The one drawback to State Farm’s Personal Articles Policy is that it offers no liability. However, this will likely be covered through the insured’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

Not long after purchasing the drone, and not long after getting it insured, I also had the misfortune of filing a claim. I was flying the drone in a river valley, taking some video, when the drone lost contact with the remote controller. The drone is designed to return to its launch point when this happens, but due to poor signal it didn’t do so. Naturally, the experience of losing a new, expensive toy was pretty devastating. But, I called my State Farm Agent the following day. Two hours later, a check was in the mail for the full cost of the drone.

There is a great deal of untapped potential revenue in the drone world, particularly regarding personal drone use. There are a substantial number of people looking for the peace of mind an insurance policy can bring.

Agency Management System Optimization

Your agency management system is at the heart of your business, tracking and organizing all of the operations and tasks completed by your staff on a daily basis. Because of this, it’s important to review and subsequently “tune-up” periodically to ensure that your management system continues to promote top efficiency.

Don’t Ignore Software Updates

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to ignore software updates and continue working with the version you are accustom to. However, it is important to at least find out what Applied is changing. Many updates translate to improvements in efficiency. This is an excellent opportunity to determine if your original procedures are still effective. With Applied Epic, if the update ends with a number that has a decimal (example: MU 2.1), then it’s a minor update (maybe some patches installed, some errors corrected, or a few additions). If the update ends in a zero or with a year (Epic 2017), it’s a major update (functionality may have changed, a module may have been added). Read the update’s release notes and see if this changes your procedures or requires fine-tuning of a workflow. A “Best Practice” to strive for is re-evaluating your management system after every major software update. The “Realistic Practice” would be to look at your management system configuration every few years.

Clean up Your Data

A leaner, streamlined management system allows your staff to work more efficiently. For example, a client is easier to find when you don’t have to page through all the inactive or lost clients. (Producers – I just found your prospect pipeline!) Less choices in activity codes will lead to quicker decisions. Think of the time savings from scrolling down the list of current carriers versus the carriers that you brought over at conversion. Do you meet the minimum volume for profit sharing with these carriers? Can you move these policies to carriers that you do receive profit sharing from? How many carriers do you have 1-5 policies with? How many policies with excess and surplus lines brokers can be moved to a standard market (there’s an easy 5% commission) or to a program for better coverage?

If your agency just migrated to a new agency management system, you may think that none of this applies to you. Unfortunately it still does if you want to get the most out of your management system. For those agencies that recently migrated to Applied Epic, Applied recommends that you do “optimization” 4-6 months after activation. The purpose is to check that the initial “Configuration” set up is working as planned. You may find that what you thought would work in theory isn’t working in reality. (Who knew that adding a policy opened 3 activity codes that no one is using?). Now that your staff has actually used the system on a daily basis, they may had found faster or better ways to process work. Do you have too many activities popping open? If the activity is not used to document, to follow up, or to track on a report, do you really need it?

There are specific areas within your management system that you should re-assess. You can do this by running a current book of business report on policies in force and see if you can consolidate or inactivate:

Activity Codes
Policy Codes
Unsuccessful Reasons
Transaction Codes
Agency Defined Categories/Conglomerates
Sticky Notes
Attachment Descriptions
Attachment Folders
Template Letters
Summary of Insurance
Download Set up (New companies and policy types may need to be added.)
Real Time Set Up

So take the time to optimize your agency management system. Each choice or each click that you can eliminate will save your staff minutes per day. Multiply that by the number of employees and the number of work days each year. You just freed up some time to work on strategic matters and revenue generating activities. After all, isn’t time money?