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January 07
An uber-agenda: Insurance group has long list of concerns for legislative session

OKLAHOMA CITY – When Denise Johnson said she’s concerned about an uber-insurance issue in 2015, it’s not just hyperbole.

The Uber in question is the California-based company that disrupted the taxi industry nationwide by eliminating the overhead costs of fleet ownership and distributing jobs to nearly anyone who owns a vehicle. Johnson, who heads the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, has an interest in Uber, Lyft and other services because municipal and state governments are still trying to figure out where the onus of drivers’ liability insurance lies.

“I think we’ll have to address the Uber-Lyft issue. Many states are waiting to see what the cities are doing,” Johnson said. “And so are we.”


Johnson said 2015 promises to be an active legislative year for the insurance industry, with several issues carrying forward from 2014. Funding for the workers’ compensation program, for example, remains tangled at the administrative level, she said, and insurance providers must continue to support the state Workers’ Compensation Commission through the issue.

In December, the state Supreme Court ruled that the so-called No Pay, No Play law from 2011 is unconstitutional, opening the door for uninsured motorists to sue for pain and suffering in vehicle accidents even though they haven’t been paying into the insurance system.

Johnson and her peers will gather to set their annual list of legislative concerns in just a few days. She said it could potentially be a long list, as the industry continues to spin off new products and approaches.

Buddy Combs, director of public policy for the state Insurance Department, also has his eye on Uber, and many of his concerns overlap Johnson’s. However, he emphasized that his agency’s perspective is different from that of a company.

“We try to maintain an independent voice for general insurance regulation for legislators,” he said. “Our annual agenda will obviously differ from Denise’s organization. I know the industry has several issues they’re focused on – premium tax credits, for example, and texting and driving.”

Insurance Department officials are interested in looking into private market participation in flood insurance policies and catastrophe savings accounts. The latter issue was introduced

by Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe in early 2014 as a bill that would establish a new, tax-preferred savings account for the purpose of fortifying a residential property in preparation for an impending natural disaster and for rebuilding afterward. Combs said he expects the concept to earn a lot of attention and that his department needs to be prepared to take the lead in oversight.

Combs said he’s pleased that registering so-called navigators for the insurance policy exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act was made a responsibility of the Insurance Department in 2014. Providing background checks and educational materials to protect consumers will continue to be a major focus into 2015, he said.

Source: The Journal Record - January 6, 2015

November 20
Workers Comp Commission Funding


When SB 1062 passed in 2013 the result was landmark legislation that majorly reformed the workers’ compensation system in Oklahoma,  including changing from a judicial to administrative system.  The legislation went into effect February 1st of this year and has already produced positive results for Oklahoma  businesses.  A minor hurdle occurred during this year’s session of the Oklahoma Legislature when funding levied for the sole purpose of providing proceeds to the new Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) was appropriated back to the General Revenue Fund and then administered to the WCC and the Court of Existing Claims, causing confusion and redundancy.  On November 18th,  Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued an opinion stating “tax proceeds that were levied may only be used for the use and benefit or at the direction of the Commission”, and furthermore “the appropriation of tax proceeds for the Workers’ Compensation Commission violates the Oklahoma Constitution provision” assessing the funding to the WCC. 


Attorney General Pruitt’s decision was the right one for Oklahoma businesses. The WCC should now be able to operate as the law intends with regards to funding, however it could still have other hurdles to cross.   I will keep you informed. 

November 14
As we continue… the 1st 90 days...

It's still becoming real and all is still good.

There are so many activities that go on here in the Fall. We had a great turnout for our Fall Conference (KAIROS) which was held at the NCED in Norman. I've always enjoyed this conference and find I learn a lot. It's geared more to the risk management side of the business (we toured the Postal Facility) to find out how large organizations manage risk. The Conference itself was a success. Garrett Reed, the State FFA President came and spoke with us, we heard a presentation on Trusted Choice and got some great insight from Nancy Friedman (The Telephone Doctor). She had an amazing gift to share communications skills. If you missed her at least check out her website at

Did I mention we added a new event this year?? Sporting Clays! (Yes, that's me holding a gun) We were so happy with the turnout – saw some new faces. Special thanks to Incoming Chairman, Phil Eitzen and Fred Barker with IPFS. They were right, we should always try new things.

In early October I headed up to the Tulsa area to visit with some of our member and speak to the Tulsa Association. I love seeing our members – they're so encouraging. So many of them have great business models – I always learn something.

I visited the Fred Daniel & Son Agency. Found a picture of Fred's grandpa, Fred in our Hall of Fame. We have a great linage in our association.

(Best part of Tulsa? Chocolate bread pudding at a little tea room. I walked away happy.)


I also got to visit with the famous Dick Teubner. Not only has he been a national president for IIABA but he also got to meet President Reagan. No Joke, that picture is real! He is still a wonderful inspiration – I could talk to him for hours.

Time to start thinking about politics. This year has been very interesting. We have 3 of our own members that will be serving in the House/Senate. We have to keep our voice alive. It's a good time to plug OK PAC – we gave over $30,000 to state races this year and had a 95% success rate. Our PAC is a good way for YOU to have your say for your industry. I would encourage you to keep up your support.

We have worked very hard over the past few years on Workers Comp Reform and we have better system because of it. It will take all of us to keep pressing forward – the work is not over. We'll have a few clean up actions that will need to be done – you need to let your representative know that this is important not only to our industry but to our strong business environment.


Last week I got to have a nice visit with Commissioner John Doak and staff (Amanda, Kyle, Tyler and Buddy – they actually have really impressive titles, but this is how I know them) in Tulsa along with newly elected State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. We were able to spend some time telling her about the InVest Program. ( InVest promotes insurance education to high schools, career techs and colleges. The curriculum is free to teachers and once a school is an InVest school those students are eligible for scholarships if they choose to pursue a career in insurance. The possibilities are endless and can be of great value to our members looking at the future generation.


Have I mentioned the great staff here at IIAO?

It's Holiday time – hope your Thanksgiving is good. I'm abundantly thankful for more than I deserve. Blessings to you and your families.

September 30
My First Month in Review…

I've made it through the first month without Dan. Here's some things that have happened since September 1:

I decorated my new office. In case you're wondering - today is the day… (If you happen to be into Pinterest, we took an old insurance textbook and used it for the artwork).

I had to buy actual books for the bookshelves – all of my favorite books were on my iPod or iPad.

Dan bought these for me – guess he gets the last laugh. (So much for technology!)

Went to Grand Rapids, MI for the IIABA Fall Leadership Conference. Lyra got an award for Outstanding Young Agent Liaison – Susie and our Education Department got an award too. We're rockin' it!

I also got this… I'm going to miss being on this Board, but know our state group will be awesome for InVest! Had a great time with IIAO Chairman Mark Carlin, Susie, Lyra and the Young Agents. I can now say that I've watched football in a sports bar…

This is watermelon balls from one of our Young Agents garden (yes, it's yellow) – thank you Ryan Teubner!

The Young Agent group let me sit at their table at the IIAOKC Annual Dinner…

I was able to attend a State Chamber event with Senator Inhofe, Senator Coburn and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran. It was very informative (and insightful). I also attended the Workers Comp Commission Education Conference. I love that our state has a pro-business attitude. More to come!

We got a new magazine Editor – reminds me of our national magazine… looks like we have good taste in magazine ideas.

Here's our newest Trusted Choice Logo… I really like it – it says it all. Ready for Month 2!

#iiao #iiaba #iamagazine #okyoungagents #nationalinvest

June 27
OKPAC Picks Winners in Day 1!


​With the 2014 Primary Election behind us I thought you should know that OKPAC is batting 1.000 for this election cycle!  OKPAC endorsed and provided financial support for Insurance Commissioner John Doak and extends him our heartiest congratulations on a landslide victory!  Two IIAO members made it through the first round - Darcy Jech from Kingfisher,who is running for Senate District #26, and Jeff Coody from Grandfield, who is running for House District #63.  They both had tight races and it is so good to see them advance to the General Election in November.  Runoff elections will be held for 12 legislative seats in late August - then the final sprint to November.  In addition to those mentioned above, OKPAC has provided financial support to the re-election of Senator Mark Allen, Senator Brian Bingman, Senator Randy Bass, Representative Paul Wesselhoft, Representative Aaron Stiles, Representative David Dank, Representative Lewis Moore, and former Representative George Faught.  It takes money to provide this sort of support. We have the Runoff and General Elections ahead of us and could use your help.  Please go to the Government Affairs section of our website and click on the Political Action section to download your contributor statement​ - then send your check or credit card information.  We welcome any contributions regardless of size - we need your help! Thanks.

June 16
Primary Election Day is next Tuesday, June 24th

​Round 1 of the 2014 election cycle is upon us!  Many races will be decided in the primary election next Tuesday, so it is important that you become informed and vote!  Many times you can find yourselves in the voting booth without a clue as to which candidate to vote for (been there/done that), but there are some new tools available to help you. The REID report is a non-partisan, easy to understand scorecard, that helps inform voters on how legislators voted on issues that affect business.  I have found this to be extremely helpful in the past - it sort of helps sort through all of the advertising. 


As a citizen, it is your duty to vote.  It is also your responsibility to be an informed voter. 


June 03
The Transition Has Officially Begun!!!

​I am pleased to report that yesterday, Denise Johnson reported aboard to begin the transition process to become the new leader for IIAO!  I am very excited for her and look forward to working with her, the IIAO staff, and the IIAO Board of Directors during this transition period.  Denise brings a wealth of knowledge and agency experience to the job.  Her experience as an agency owner will serve her well as it gives her a clear understanding of the day to day challenges of IIAO members. She has a terrific understanding of the association, its mission, and our IIAO value proposition as she has been actively engaged as a Board member and has served as its former Chairman. I know that all IIAO members and associate members will enjoy working with Denise and welcome her to her new position.  Congratulations, Denise! Welcome aboard!

DanDenise2014 002.JPG

May 19
It Was Just a Year Ago


Tornado sirens blasting, storm chasers speeding in harm's way, and weather crews keeping Oklahomans current with the latest in tornado information  - that was life around here just one year ago.!  May 19 and 20 of 2013 will certainly go down as momentus days in Oklahoma as storms ripped through central Oklahoma and lives were turned upside down.  Last week I attended a celebration in Moore to recognize the progress that has been made.  Around the affected communities houses are being rebuilt, neighborhoods are becoming occupied again, and people are moving on with their lives.  This is certainly not a new story for Oklahomans  - it is one we  have become accustomed to, but I always amazed at our resiliency in times of crisis whether it be the aftermath of the bombing in 1995 or tornadoes of 1999 and 2013.  Oklahomans have the ability to pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and press on.

Did you ever think about how much more difficult that would be if we hadn't been here to help them with the advice we gave or weren't here to provide the money needed ?  The insurance industry is the ONLY one that can step forward during these lifechanging events and put them back on course.  Oftentimes the media only reports the problems and never tells the amazing work that our industry does as it helps put lives back together.  Be proud that you are in this incredible industry and have been provided an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives.  I know I am. Thanks for all you do! 

May 01
Attention Walmart Shoppers - Auto Insurance Now On Sale in Aisle 10!

walmartinsurance.jpgWe should have seen it coming...Walmart is now your newest competitor!  In a recent news story an agency in New Jersey has teamed with the nation's largest retailer to bring the sale of insurance products to Walmart shoppers.  Oklahoma is one of the eight states where they have acquired a license to sell insurance. 


walmart-aisle.jpgThere has been so much money spent on making consumers believe that insurance is a commodity that this should come as no big surprise that Walmart has decided to enter the picture.  It has never been more important for Trusted Choice Independent Agents to seize the day and let their clients know the value you bring and the difference you provide.  What's next?  Surgery specials on aisle 13??? 


April 30
The IIAO Member Human Resources Tool Kit at Your Disposal


One of the biggest issues facing any small business, including yours, is what to do about Human Resources? Your agency probably doesn't have its own HR Department, but that doesn't relieve you of your duties and responsibilities to comply with the law.  It doesn't mean you don't need an evaluation program to help hire the right person.  It doesn't mean you don't need job descriptions for the different positions in your agency.  The IIAO HR tool kit is being provided to help you with these matters.  You will find it under the drop down menu for Resources on our website.  Please take advantage of this IIAO member benefit that has been designed to help you with one of the biggest issues for any insurance agency.


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 About this blog


Welcome to The Exec's Corner. This is a spot on the website we have created for IIAO's CEO, Denise Johnson, to keep you up to date with important industry and association news.