Alexandria, Va. - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big "I") disagrees with, and is disappointed by, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's decision that four leading companies can no longer offer incentive compensation to agents and brokers selling their products.   Spitzer announced on Nov. 30 that he has notified ACE, AIG, St. Paul Travelers and Zurich that, under agreements reached with his office earlier this year, they may no longer offer this form of compensation because they have crossed the 65% "tipping point" in those agreements as to homeowners', personal auto, boiler and machinery and financial guaranty insurance. Those agreements bar carriers from paying incentive compensation to their sales forces when more than 65% of that line of insurance is sold by companies that do not pay incentive compensation.   "The independent agent and broker community is greatly distressed by this development," says Big "I" CEO Robert Rusbuldt. "These carriers are now unable to use what otherwise is a perfectly legal way to compensate their sales forces, just as is done in virtually all industries across America. It is ironic that the illegal activities uncovered by Mr. Spitzer occurred in commercial lines, not personal lines, and yet, it is largely in personal lines that the fallout is being felt today. The solution imposed on carriers and agents of banning incentive compensation is totally misplaced and directed at business that was never a problem to begin with."   The Big "I" continues to defend incentive compensation as a legal, legitimate form of compensation that is employed in all sales-based industries. Any compensation system can be abused, but the problem lies with those few who abuse it, not the system itself.   "There is no doubt that a few bad actors in the commercial lines area abused the system, and we have always agreed that those who break the law should be punished to the fullest extent possible," Rusbuldt says. "But it is absolutely wrong and indefensible to penalize the innocent majority for the misdeeds of a handful of people. This decision will impact thousands of agencies across the country as they face reductions in compensation that will hamper their ability to create jobs in their communities, train staff, invest in their agencies, and provide consumers access to insurance. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of agents and brokers across America who had no part in the dishonest activity of a few, we will continue to fight to preserve the right of companies to pay legal incentive compensation."   Founded in 1896, IIABA (the Big "I") claims to be 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 products.   Source: The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America

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