by Kathy Haenszel - Sales Executive
We all know about locating underground utilities before digging, but do you know the final step you should be taking before firing up the backhoe?
It’s not uncommon for us to see claims for cut lines if the locates were inaccurate, even though the water system had underground utilities located prior to digging. For whatever reason, sometimes the utilities are marked incorrectly. And when the water system digs, they hit the mismarked underground utilities. You can help your system’s insurance loss record if you’ll take some pictures of the locates before you start digging. It’s especially helpful if your pictures have a landmark or two in them (a tree, fence, gate, road sign, etc.) so in the event the utilities are mismarked and you accidentally cut one, your insurance adjuster can use your photos to document that the problem is with the locate and that you did everything you could to avoid damaging the other utilities. This may enable the adjuster to shift the claim to the responsible party and help improve your utility’s loss history, thereby allowing you to qualify for insurance discounts available to those with lower losses.
If you have any questions or comments about this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our water industry insurance agents.
Tom Newby is in his 30th year as an Employee Benefit Insurance Agent. In 2007 and 2008 he was named in ForbesTM magazine by Goldline Research as One of the Ten Most Dependable Insurance Professionals in Texas and the Central U.S., respectively. In 2011 he was named by Benefits ProTM as One of the Top Ten Brokers in the U.S. He is a graduate of Baylor University with a Bachelor of Business Administration for Economics, Entrepreneurship and International Finance.
Serving as the Director for Employee Benefits at Winstar Insurance Group, LLC he is responsible for the department’s growth and direction within WinStars’ primary client niches: fire and emergency service organizations, water supply entities and craft beverage businesses. A self-described insurance nerd, Tom thrives in the niche insurance industry. Prior to joining Winstar he worked with Physician and Chiropractic Organizations to develop their employee benefit programs.
Tom strives to understand all facets of his client industries including how they operate on a day to day basis, how they are funded, their market competition and any existing constraints. He is then able to create an employee benefit program on a large scale that can be tailored to the individual client groups within the niche client industry. As the Director for Employee Benefits at Winstar he has developed insurance programs for the State Fire Fighters & Fire Marshal’s Association of Texas. He is currently developing an employee benefit insurance pool for Emergency Service Districts (ESD’s) statewide. Tom understands the importance of staying abreast of the ever-changing rules and regulations with employee benefits. He strives to streamline the enrollment process, making it interesting and providing his customers with the tools they need to make educated decisions.
When asked to describe himself in five words he gave us these: Entrepreneurial, Dedicated, Tenacious, Passionate and Intelligent. Tom has two loves in his life: his work and his son Ezra. Tom adopted his son from Guatemala when Ezra was only a few days old. Today Ezra is 15 years old going on 30. Those of you with teenagers will completely understand what he means. Tom spends his free time learning to cook gluten free dishes and working in his garden.
WinStar Insurance Group is a thriving insurance agency based in Austin, Texas that specializes in serving niche industries. WinStar was founded in 2016 by Barbara Marzean, President; Steph Dew, VP; and Glenn Hastings, VP. The owners were previously employees of Regnier & Associates and purchased the assets of Regnier & Associates in 2016 upon retirement of the owner, Ted Regnier.
Since its inception in 2016, the agency has grown exponentially and has gone through many changes. WinStar has more than doubled their premium volume and has grown from 19 employees in 2016 to 28 employees today. Previously focusing on Property & Casualty only, the agency created a very successful Employee Benefits Department led by Tom Newby. Newby joined the agency in 2018 and has quickly grown the Employee Benefits Department to more than $10M in premium volume.
The agency devotes their time and resources to fully understanding the unique challenges and needs of their customers while partnering with key carriers to find viable solutions. WinStar is recognized as a key partner protecting the financial well-being of their clients through comprehensive insurance coverage, risk management solutions, education, training and safety. Instead of trying to know a little about of lot of industries, the agency seeks to dive deep into the specific niches they serve and become an integral partner. When their clients encounter new challenges, WinStar works with their long-standing carriers to develop products to specifically address their needs.
The largest niche WinStar serves is the emergency service community with over 1,500 emergency service organization clients throughout Texas. Additional niche industries include wineries, breweries, distilleries, water-related companies, for-profit ambulance companies and child care facilities. The agency is very active in client industry associations and has excellent relationships with each of these groups. The agency is recognized as the leader in these fields and has built their reputation one client at a time with hands-on involvement. As evidenced by their 98% client retention rate, WinStar has developed lasting relationships with their customers. In fact, many customers have been clients for over 30 years.
WinStar is dedicated to continuing the vision and commitment that the agency was founded upon in 1982. Every employee within the WinStar family recognizes they are part of something unique and special. They understand that success is measured when clients place their trust in WinStar Insurance Group to provide the best value, service and expertise in their industry.
It is with extreme sadness to announce the death of Ted Regnier, the former Chairman of the Board of Regnier & Associates / VFIS of Texas. He passed on December 9, 2020 due to complications from COVID. Ted was the face and fearless leader of our agency for many years before retiring to the hill country in October 2016.
Ted was a staunch supporter and fierce advocate for the fire service. He would walk the halls of the State Capitol at every legislative session with Babe Schwartz to fight for our first responders. He loved to travel and to visit with our first responders. He had a deep respect for what they do and he always wanted to help them in any way that he could. He was very passionate and made a huge impact on our state’s fire departments and EMS providers. His tireless efforts, positive influence and significant contributions continue to benefit emergency service organizations today.
Ted’s funeral was held in Boerne, Texas on December 19, 2020. He leaves behind his loving wife, Sherry Moses Regnier, and his granddaughter/daughter, Izabelle Regnier, along with a legacy that will last forever.
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.