AUSTIN, Texas - 08/26/2020
WinStar Insurance Group dba VFIS of Texas continues for the 2nd year to be part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) Best Practices Study Group.
The agencies comprising the study group are selected every third year through a comprehensive nomination and qualifying process and awarded a “Best Practices Agency” designation. The selected Best Practices agencies retain their status during the three-year study cycle (2019-2022) by submitting extensive financial and operational data for review each year. During the 2020 Study year, only 262 independent agencies throughout the U.S. qualified and retained their status as a Best Practices agency.
The Best Practices Study was initiated by IIABA in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual Study of leading independent insurance agencies, which is conducted by the Big “I” and Reagan Consulting of Atlanta, GA, documents the business practices of these “best” agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.
For nearly 30 years, the Big “I” has developed a family of products and webinars designed to help cultivate a Best Practices agency culture. The offerings include materials such as the Agency Comparison Workbook, Guide to Producer Contracts, the Customer Service Experience Handbook, Sales Potential Quick Check, Interactive Agency Self-Diagnostic Tool, and Best Practices Joint Planning Tool Quick Step. Many of the publications include guidelines, worksheets, and case studies to help agents apply the information contained in each report and move beyond theory into practice.
In addition to these materials, hundreds of workshops and seminars have been conducted at various producer association functions, company sponsored agency meetings and national automation users group conventions.
The Big “I” and Reagan Consulting jointly maintain the Best Practices Gateway website (www.reaganconsulting.com/reasearch/best-practices) that provides executive summaries of the annual Best Practices Studies and various Best Practices tools. The Gateway, as well as the annual study, is made possible in part through the financial sponsorship of various insurance companies and industry organizations.
The 2020 Best Practices Study sponsors include: Amerisure, Applied Systems, Allstate, Beyond Insurance, Central Insurance Companies, Chubb, EMC Insurance, Encompass, Grange Insurance, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford, Imperial PFS, InsurBanc, Integrity Insurance, Liberty Mutual, MetLife, Nationwide, Progressive, Safeco Insurance, Travelers, Vertafore and Westfield.
WinStar Insurance Group LLC dba VFIS of Texas purchased the assets of Regnier & Associates, Inc. on October 1, 2016. Regnier & Associates, Inc. was founded in May of 1982 providing coverage through the VFIS program for emergency service organizations in Texas. WinStar Insurance Group LLC also dedicates our time insuring niche industries including craft beverage, water districts, commercial ambulances, child care facilities and more and is dedicated to continuing the vision and commitment that Regnier & Associates, Inc. has provided for the past 34 years.
For more information on the Best Practices Study, contact Jennifer Becker at IIABA, 1-800-221-7917.
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.
In an emergency meeting called this morning, TABC Commissioners voted in favor of a set of emergency rules to loosen the requirements necessary for retailers (including brewpubs) to obtain a Food & Beverage Certificate for the purposes of qualifying as a restaurant and re-opening in compliance with Executive Order GA-28.
TABC's stated background and purpose for these amendments:
The emergency amendments to §33.5 would enable retailers who sell alcoholic beverages for on premises consumption to more easily qualify for a food and beverage certificate. The amendments remove some of the more difficult and costly requirements for qualification for the food and beverage certificate so that these businesses can qualify without making major changes to their business models or investing in expensive equipment. Making the food and beverage certificate available to more businesses encourages them to operate in a manner more akin to a restaurant, serving food as well as beverages."
Under the updated rules, retailers must still offer multiple entrees. However, commercial cooking equipment is no longer required, offering commercially pre-packaged items will count as food service, and clarifications enshrine that third party food trucks do indeed count as food service.
In the meeting, it was stated that these changes will take effect TODAY. So, if you are a brewpub who has previously been denied a Food & Beverage Certificate for not having an in-house kitchen or haven't yet applied because the requirements were too difficult or costly to comply with, hopefully today's changes will offer some measure of increased flexibility.
Below, you can read the emergency rule changes that were adopted this morning, as well as TABC's August 7th industry notice which contains the application form for the Food & Beverage Certificate, as well as the Retailer & Producer affidavits for industry members seeking those alternative routes to reopening.
Information provided from the Texas Craft Brewer's Guild
Severe Weather Resources
With Hurricane Laura upon us, we want to remind everyone to be as safe as possible, even as the need for your services increases. With that being said, here are some resources and procedures to help after the storm.
After the Storm
Claims should be turned in ASAP. The sooner a claim is submitted, the quicker the adjusters can get the assignment. We are recommending if there is any damage to a vehicle that you take a photo showing the height of the water on the vehicle (i.e. water line mark). This will help the adjusters determine what will be needed: repairs, fluid replacement, or just inspection.
In addition, you should set aside damaged property for inspection and assemble an inventory of damaged items. If your building is flooded, please contact a mitigation contractor immediately to start the water extraction process.
The sixth annual Education & Safety Summit kicked-off on Monday, hosted by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. The conference is 100% online this year, and will feature over a dozen seminars on a wide variety of technical and business topics spread out over two weeks. (August 3rd - August 13th)
We will miss seeing and interacting with everyone this year! But we are excited to help sponsor this safe and accessible conference available FREE to members all across the state.
Register for free and view the Week One schedule below. Also, check out our digital flyer in the Virtual Swag Bag and enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
In an effort to streamline the payment process and comply with the shelter in place mandate in Travis County, we have removed the $3 ACH fee when bank payments are made online through ePayPolicy.
When possible, please utilize the ACH feature to make payments as we will be notified immediately of your payment. Our employees are working from home and are happy to respond with any questions or concerns.
The common denominator is presenting the benefit as a set dollar amount.
Why is the Defined Contribution Employee Benefits Program gaining in popularity? Each employer will have their own reasons for choosing this method, but the list below are the most common reasons.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WinStar Insurance Group dba VFIS of Texas has been selected to be part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America Big “I” “Best Practices” Study Group.
Only 267 independent agencies throughout the U.S. qualified for inclusion in the 2019 Best Practices Study. An IIABA affiliated state association or an insurance company must first nominate the agency which then must qualify based on outstanding customer retention, growth, stability and financial management. More than 1,300 agencies were nominated this year.
The Best Practices Study was initiated by IIABA in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual study of leading independent insurance agencies, which is conducted for IIABA by Reagan Consulting of Atlanta, Ga., documents the business practices of these high performance agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.
Hundreds of workshops and seminars have been conducted at various producer association functions, company sponsored agency meetings and national automation users group conventions.
The IIABA and Reagan Consulting jointly maintain the Best Practices Gateway website (http://www.reaganconsulting.com/research/best-practices) that provides executive summaries of the annual Best Practices Studies, the Best Practices Study Comparison Workbook tool and ordering information for Best Practices products. The Gateway, as well as the annual study, is made possible in part through the financial sponsorship of various insurance companies and industry organizations.
The 2019 Best Practices Study sponsors include: Agency Business Solutions and Amerisure, Applied, Beyond Insurance, Central Insurance Companies, Chubb, EMC Insurance, Encompass/Allstate, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford, Imperial PFS, InsurBanc, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Safeco Insurance, MetLife, Nationwide, Travelers, Vertafore and Westfield Insurance.
WinStar Insurance Group LLC dba VFIS of Texas purchased the assets of Regnier & Associates, Inc. on October 1, 2016.
Regnier & Associates, Inc. was founded in May of 1982 providing coverage through the VFIS program for emergency service organizations in Texas. WinStar Insurance Group LLC also dedicates our time insuring niche industries including craft beverage, water districts, commercial ambulances, child care facilities and more and is dedicated to continuing the vision and commitment that Regnier & Associates, Inc. has provided for the past 34 years.
For more information on the Best Practices Study, contact Jennifer Becker at IIABA, 1-800-221-7917.
Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance – property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement precuts. Web address: www.independentagent.com.
by Matt Lee of Innovative Building Materials
Breweries can be a very dangerous places if one isn’t careful. Between broken glass and all the chemicals that are part of the brewing process, one must be careful in order to promote the safety of workers and customers alike.
Here are 8 tips to keep in mind to avoid any injuries, accidents, or lawsuits.
1. Protection from Glass
Many breweries use glass bottles to store their beer. With the presence of glass comes the possibility of broken pieces of glass. Make sure to keep your brewery floor clean and free of glass. Use a separate broom to clean up glass from the one you use for other cleanup duties around the brewery.
2. Chemicals Need to be Separated
Using chemicals to make sure your kegs, tanks, and beer are sanitary and safe is brewery 101. But the chemicals themselves need to be separated to avoid contamination. One way to approach this would be to color code chemicals.
One color for sanitizing chemicals and another for the caustic and acid chemicals you use for the kegs and tanks. Caustic is used in order to maintain the beer’s flavor. If your beer is tasting buttery then you know you haven’t done enough caustic cleaning, and probably need to up the amount you do. It is recommended you do a caustic cleaning every 2-3 weeks.
Acid cleaning you can do less of, it is recommended you do about one every 3-4 months. Using acid to clean your tanks gets rid of the beerstone. Beerstone and calcium buildups will hold on to beer from the previous brewing, and will leave your new beer tasting like the old.
Make sure you don’t mix up your chemicals in order to keep your customers safe and your beer tasting good.
3. Do Not Use Unsealed Concrete Flooring
Breweries are messy places, and with that in mind, brewery flooring has to be able to keep up with mess. Sealed concrete means there won’t be any holes in the floor. Holes in the floor can lead to beer or other liquids getting underneath, which can cause bacteria and mold to grow. If unsealed concrete is used for brewery flooring heavy loads and foot traffic could also damage it, meaning you would shortly have to buy new flooring to replace the damaged floors.
4. Keep the Dirtiest Part of Your Brewery Clean
The dirtiest place in a brewery is the brewery floor drains. Many liquids go down that drain everyday, and your employees go by it everyday. If you don’t have the proper floor drains, you could face bacteria build up, and no one wants a large amount of bacteria in their breweries. Invest in a proper drainage system that prevents build up. It needs to be long enough and big enough to keep any bacteria away. A sanitary drainage system equals a sanitary brewery!
5. Keep Your Hose Clean
Rubber hoses can be the dream home for all sorts of bacteria if they’re not cleaned properly. Make sure all fittings are securely fastened, and check for any holes or cracks that could invite moisture right in, as bacteria loves moisture. It is very important to all hoses up to par.
6. Check That All Sanitary and Cleaning Supplies Have Correct Labels
Mixing up your sanitation supplies and the supplies you use that come in contact with your product can lead to a health disaster, so make sure things are properly labeled to avoid any confusion. This is one of the easiest safety tips to abide by, don’t let this simple step cause issues for your brewery.
7. Clean Your Cooling Unit Coils
Your cooling unit coils might not be something you think about routinely, but they’re important for energy saving (aka money saving) and prevention of bacteria growth. Clean coils don’t have to work as hard to keep air moving, which means they use less energy, which saves you money. Since they move air around, any bacteria growing inside them can move into the air and contaminate your brewery’s walls, racking, and ultimately your product. Avoid contamination with the proper cleaning.
8. Reevaluate Your Cleaning Methods Every 6 Months
Not everyone’s perfect. Things can always be changed or improved, so take time to reevaluate your methods. What are customers saying? What have they said about the taste of the beer? Has it been positive or negative? If people aren’t pleased with the taste of the beer you should check and see if it is because of your cleaning methods.
Cleaning up is half the work in a brewer’s world, and there’s a lot of different things that have to be cleaned. As long as you keep a mental list of everything and keep a cleaning schedule and routine, you should be able to avoid any sort of problem. This way you can just focus on what you love: making beer and serving consumers.
As the number of breweries opening continues to grow, so does the competition. Quality of beer, quality of people, and branding are all important factors in helping determine the success of a brewery, and so is creative marketing. Hosting fun events at the brewery is a great way to not only stand out, but to also highly engage with your community. However, the more creative breweries get, the more risk is associated with these events. If your insurance carrier is paying close attention, some of these events may even be specifically excluded on your Liability policy, leaving your brewery exposed if any accidents occur. Athletic or active events, such as running, games, or yoga come with an even higher risk of participant injury. It only takes one serious incident to bring about a potentially large lawsuit.
In order to lessen your risk from any potential lawsuits, we suggest having each event participant sign a participant waiver form or "Prospective Release, Indemnity, & Hold Harmless Agreement." We've drafted up a sample form you can download below, and we encourage you to use it the next time your brewery has an event featuring participants, especially events of a more athletic or physical nature.
During harvest, bottling and special events/festivals, many wineries utilize volunteers to help. While this can be a cost efficient form of adding extra labor, it also presents your winery with additional liability. By allowing volunteers to help with your winery operations, you become liable for any bodily injury or property damage that occurs to or in conjunction with the volunteers. In order to protect yourself, we suggest having each volunteer sign a volunteer waiver form or "Prospective Release, Indemnity, & Hold Harmless Agreement." We've drafted up a form you can download below and encourage you to use it the next time your winery utilizes volunteers.
*Please consult your attorney before utilizing this form to ensure it follows effective legal protocols and language.